(Disclaimer: I have no business connection with JOAN. My only purpose in writing this story is to have fun and maybe share it)

(Author's Note: This story is part of a series speculating what might have happened to Joan after the end of the series. In prior stories Joan has let Adam, Luke, Helen, and Lily into the secret, and is now married to Adam. Kevin is married to Lily.)

(Author's Note: In my last story, The Quest, Joan's life was endangered during a mission, and she was rescued by her father, who shot her assailant. Will is still dealing with the fallout now)

(This story is set during the Christmas season of 2006.)

Chapter 1 Nightmare

The gunman had a hostage! Will, from hiding, drew his gun, but he reminded himself that he was here as a consultant, and was supposed to let the FBI handle the crisis.

The young woman wriggled partially free, and Will finally got a good view of her face. Joan! What was she doing here? About to get herself murdered, basically.

Will aimed his gun and fired, and Joan's head exploded. Then the universe exploded, and Will was engulfed in turmoil.

Then he awoke and sat up in bed, gasping. He was gripping the sheets tightly.

Another nightmare, but it took several seconds for him to sort out illusion from reality. Joan wasn't dead. She was sleeping in her old room, along with her husband, just down the hall. It was the gunman that had died.

He willed himself to stay quiet. His wife Helen was sleeping peacefully at his side, and he didn't want to wake her. Indeed, there were several people whose sleep he had to worry about, because the house was more crowded than it had ever been. Kevin had moved back in several months ago, with his pregnant wife. Joan and Adam had come back from Baconia University for the Christmas holidays. Luke had come down from Harvard, and was the only family member sleeping alone.

Will slipped out of bed without shaking it, and found his robe by feel. He tiptoed toward the door. Downstairs, he could get something to drink that might put him back to sleep, and even if he failed to sleep, at least he would be somewhere where he didn't have to worry about waking others.

As he walked down the stairs, he suddenly noticed that the kitchen lights were on. Being a policeman, he thought: burglars! But a second later he heard Lily's voice from the kitchen, nervous.

"Who's there?"

"Will," he said hastily.

"Thank God. I thought – well never mind. Come in."

He walked the rest of the way to the kitchen, and saw Lily pouring milk. Her robe was somewhat too small to cover her stomach – she was more than six months along now - and he could see parts of her bra and panties. He tried not to look. It was an awkward situation to get in with his daughter-in-law, though Lily seemed oblivious to it.

"Had a nightmare," she said. "Hormones, I guess."

"I had one too."

"I'll pour two glasses, then. Let's sit at the table."

They sat. The cosy breakfast-room table looked a bit spooky in the darkened room at 1:00 in the morning. "Is the baby OK?" asked Will in concern.

"Oh, fine. I'm really looking forward to having her. I know she's going to be special."

Every parent's dream, though Will politely did not say so. It was what made it so much more painful when something went wrong – as when your firstborn son gets partly paralyzed in an accident, or when the daughter you tried to protect nearly gets herself killed. He confined his questioning to a minor issue. "She? You've done the ultrasound for the baby's sex?"

"No. It's just – a feeling I've got."

Was she about to say something else? Is she hiding something from me? Nonsense, you're getting paranoid, Will. Letting your difficulties with Joan distort your perceptions of everybody else.

"What about you, Will? Is something bothering you?"

Will thought to deny it, but that would be silly. "I killed a man a week ago."

She nodded. "Yes, I heard the story. He had taken Joan hostage and was threatening to kill her, and you saved her life. As I see it, the guy brought about his own death."

"His threat might have been a bluff."

"Well , you can scarcely feel guilty about believing somebody will do what he says. What do your colleagues say? Didn't they hold a hearing?"

He knew that she knew the answer to that; she was trying to get him to talk. "Yes. Permissible use of deadly force to save a life. But there was one question I couldn't answer: Why Joan was there. Joan won't tell me."

"But why feel guilty because Joan won't tell you something? Joan's 19, and married. Old enough to be responsible for her own behavior."

"I ought to have a trusting relationship with my daughter."

Lily got up and started walking, waddling a little because of the burden in her womb. Will was regretting getting in this conversation. Lily was looking forward to her own "special" daughter; why pour cold water on her dreams by talking about problems with adolescent girls?

"Maybe it's like this," she mused. "Joan did something that she now realizes was stupid. Playing Nancy Drew. Or imitating that friend from California, what's her name?"

"Veronica Mars."

"Then she got in a deadly situation that could have claimed her life, and did end up claiming somebody else's. Now she's too embarrassed to talk about it, particularly if it will end up getting repeated at an FBI inquiry. Wouldn't you be reluctant to tell a professional FBI detective that you were playing Hardy Boys?"

Will tried to put himself in Joan's head, and realized that he was too drowsy and too oppressed by the nightmare to be that objective. "Yeah. Maybe it's just something like that." He sighed. "I've got to get back to bed. Thank you for listening, Lily. You'd make a good mother-confessor."

"There aren't any mother-confessors."

"I know. One of the things your church ought to reconsider." Yikes, that was not a good thing to say, even if I believe it. The last thing I need is to debate the pros and cons of Catholicism at 1:30 in the morning. "Sorry."

She waved it off. "Yeah. Well, let's get back to bed, and we'll be thinking more clearly in the morning. Good night."

"Good night."