Chapter 1: Away From The Gray And Frenzied Hurly-Burly
The hospital in Arcadia is at a slow, soft hum. Most of the patients, their relatives and friends or have long since turned in for the night both in here and in other places. Visiting hours won't begin for another two or three hours, so the only staff members around are three interns, four orderlies and two doctors, but most of them are either asleep on their assigned areas or getting ready to turn in themselves.
In one such room on the intensive care unit floors lies a teenaged girl with long brown hair. She curls underneath the thin white blankets, bunching them around her with her uncovered arms. Her long lips move slightly, and if the room's lights have been switched on, one would see that they've taken on a blue colour from the cold. The patients' information sheet at the footrest of her bed reads "Joan Girardi, 16 years old."
A boy walks in wearing a camel corduroy jacket and fading jeans, his rubber shoes making only soft squeaks. He finds the lamp and tugs on the cord, flooding the sleeping girl's face with light.
Joan stirs, lips parted in a smile while she tries to touch the slightly rough fingers on her cheeks. His warmth improves her complexion, so she presses his fingers closer. He laughs softly at her innocence – it's good that she doesn't recognise who he is, yet. He whispers, "Good morning Joan," as he gently caresses her face.
"Gah!" she yelps as her eyes open, not so much because of the light as it is because of his voice having registered through her sleep. She directs her shock and annoyance to God, who currently manifests Himself as a "cute Boy". "You… You… do You know what time it even is? How did You get in?" 'Argh, I thought it was Adam…! The nerve…'
He shrugs. "It's early morning." Then He raises an eyebrow. "When did you ever care about the time?"
Joan pouts, then lets a yawn slip from her. In order to demonstrate that it is indeed morning, He turns for a moment to the windows and reveals the sun, still peeking from under the earth, behind the blinds.
"Come with Me. We can't talk here."
"Wha-? But what about-?"
"Relax," He cuts her off. "I know you hate it in here anyway." He offers His hand to her, the same hand that caressed her cheeks just minutes ago. "C'mon."
She shuffles, grabbing a jacket (which looks like something owned by her mum, now that she thinks about it) and putting on her slippers. She takes His hand, knowing that this will be in the context of "business." He smiles as Joan does her best to tiptoe and reduce the scuffling sounds that her feet make, especially since His rubber shoes are just making soft squeaks.
"Hold on to me," He instructs her, "I wouldn't want to lose you." She blushes as He tightens His grip.
Soon they're on the street outside the hospital, holding hands. Joan wraps her jacket tightly around her hospital gown with her free hand, shivering from the cool early morning wind. He chuckles.
"Yeah yeah, but I was in a hurry, okay?" Joan looks pointedly at Him. She hates it when He's amused at her expense. "You didn't let me change!"
"Why are you always in a hurry to change?" comes His retort. He always has one ready. Only this time, she's not sure if He's being literal or figurative. She gives out a huff before pouting and stomping ahead of Him. He shakes His head, His chuckle giving way to laughter.
All this is forgotten once she feels the sun beating down on her during the walk. She wipes the sweat forming on her brow and remarks loudly, "Wow, I knew the weather forecast today would be sunny, but I didn't think it would be scorching hot…!" She looks at Him and is not surprised that, for all the layers of clothing He's wearing, He hasn't broken a single bead of sweat.
He walks ahead of her on the leaf-covered streets. "Are we there yet?" she asks. They've walked at least five blocks now, and she's already winded. When He doesn't answer, she whines: "Hey, I came from the hospital You know, or have You conveniently forgotten?"
"All things come in due time, Joan."
She hopes He won't give her His trademark look of irritation, but before she can apologize He grabs her hand again, and soon links His arm into hers. She's surprised to find that they're about to walk up to a hill that wasn't originally in Arcadia. She pulls away angrily. "Oh no… where are You taking me exactly, Mister?"
All she gets is a raised eyebrow. She huffs again.
The path is fairly steep, alternating with ramps and particularly high steps. He yanks her hand again so she doesn't fall behind. By this point her muscles are throbbing in pain. She winces, hoping He'll notice, but He still has a smug smile on His face which she promises she'll wipe off the moment they arrive at the top.
Finally they get there. The surroundings have changed – below their feet, the forest gives way to coconut trees, the sun shines even more brightly, and the sea is as blue as the sky it kisses. There is sand further ahead, almost white. When Joan looks behind her, Arcadia is gone.
"Whoa…" she gasps in amazement. She lets go of His hand, blinks, rubs her eyes, and pinches her cheeks; the beach is still there. She turns to Him. "Wait. What is going on here? Where are we and what happened to Arcadia?"
He smiles, one of the rare genuine smiles He gives her, because she usually finds Him smirking. "This is heaven – or rather, heaven as I know you want to see it."
She jumps back involuntarily, suddenly afraid. "Am I… am I dead?" If she is truly in heaven, it can only mean one thing – she has died and He has come to collect her soul.
"No, Joan," He shakes His head, laughing. Then His smile fades a bit. "It isn't your time yet, not yet."
She sighs in spite of herself. Part of her may be afraid of dying, but right now part of her also wishes she's actually dead. That way, she wouldn't be such a burden to her family, her friends and Adam, and she wouldn't have to face Ryan by herself. She peeks over His face, looking for a reaction, but strangely doesn't find any. He's only looking ahead.
The pair now walk their way down more ramps and stairs. While she's happy that the way down is easier, she's wondering if she should just plop down on her bum in the hopes that He'll drag her down the rest of the path. But before she can execute her plan, she finds herself outside a bungalow.
The rooftop seems to be made of clay tile, which reminds her of pueblos that she has seen from books about Mexico and the southern United States. The walls are large, at least twice as tall as her, and coloured like yellow sand. The rest of the house screams "Asia" however: the gates are made of thick hard wood, with golden knobs like in the pictures of Chinese palaces she has seen in history books, and ajar. There is no door, only an open doorway. She can see furniture inside which she thinks looks Asian. Strangely, with all the influences, nothing seems out of place.
"Welcome to My home, Joan," He says with the most charming grin to match. He opens the gates with one hand and brings her inside with the other.
The House of God is nothing like Joan expects. So she was right about the Asian influence, with the assortment of round and curvilinear furniture, mostly wooden, arranged in tasteful chaos. Every section is zoned perfectly, sometimes with the help of curtains made of what can possibly be metallic threads embroidered on fine silk, at other times with what looks like hand-woven carpets. She notes that the only walls of the house are the walls which basically define the House.
Meanwhile, the floor is made of brightly-coloured mosaic tiles, forming abstract patterns of swirls and circles. The large windows at the sides don't open out, but are made of wooden sliders with what seems to be an opaque white glass. Best of all, there's another open doorway directly facing the beach.
She is reduced to gaping openly at Him. He replies, "Sorry, I don't do design… I'm a carpenter, remember?" with matching cocked eyebrow.
Joan soon oohs and aahs again, fingering the drapes, bouncing from chair to chair. She throws open the doors of every single cabinet to find porcelain and silverware of all kinds, and gains a "pick up after yourself please" look from the Houseowner. While returning everything she's picked out into their proper places, she muses on how both her mum and Adam would love the way each single, elegantly-made piece in this House flows together to form a cohesive, beautiful whole. Finally, she turns to Him with a flushed, pleased smile. "Wow… I really like Your taste."
"That's not even half of it, Joan, believe Me," He winks back without skipping a beat. She knows He's teasing, and while she normally would pout or sulk or simply express her annoyance, her stomach suddenly grumbles. This earns her His genuine laughter, which makes her fold her arms over her chest, sit down and grunt.
Then He sits cross-legged across her, with a low table with curved, paw-like feet between them. On the table is a bowl full of oranges, grapes, apples and other fruits she doesn't ever remember trying in her life. "Eat. You'll need the energy and strength."
She nods wanly, taking hold of an orange. He watches her intently as she uses her nails to dig deep into its skin, peeling it off to reveal the pulp inside. He notes how she picks a piece and pops it into her mouth, chewing carefully, using her tongue to feel for seeds (there are none). She gathers all the peeled skin in a pile, although not an orderly one, on the table.
Finally, in between munches, she asks, "So… if I'm not dead, why'd You bring me here?"
To be continued…
Chapter 2: Friends Are Harder To Find
In between munches of orange pulp, Joan Girardi asks God, "So… if I'm not dead, why'd You bring me here?"
"Joan," He says, His gaze fixed on her, "I brought you here because I want you first to just relax. I mean, really relax. Don't censor yourself. Tell Me everything you want to say, things you've kept inside."
She raises her eyebrows, noting the words "first" and "relax." She also remembers that He was in such a hurry to bring her there in the first place. She answers coolly, "Y'know, this isn't like You… Didn't You have something to say?"
He opens His mouth as if to speak, but shakes His head and smiles. "That can wait. Right now, you need a break." As her eyebrows rise to new heights, He hastily adds, "Hey! Be glad you have a break. You know I don't like being this lenient to you or all my other charges."
She giggles. 'God being defensive? This is new.' She would have to file today in the diary of her mind for the many firsts she was experiencing with God.
Then she realizes what He's said. "There are… others?"
"There have always been others, since the existence of this earth," He answers.
"Yes, and mystics, and others who I ask to do My errands, like you."
"Like Joan of Arc?" Joan asks, suddenly wondering if she is anything like her namesake. After all, why would God choose another Joan from another era?
He cocks His head to the left and gives a smile. "Yes, and no. Hers was an extraordinary job. It was just too bad that the free will of the politicians and royalty of the time overpowered her. I'm glad I reached her before she lost her own voice."
She starts, furious. "You mean that by having them kill her You got to her in time?"
"Joan," He answers with sudden sternness, "when have you not thought that I'm keeping you from using your free will?"
She is shocked. She's used to Him countering her questions with His own, but for Him to use this tone...
He answers His own question on cue, completely somber. "You know, between you and I, I don't always enjoy sending you out on these errands. Especially not this errand. But hardly anyone believes in Me now… I can't always keep materializing as a human and staying on earth even if I want to, there are too many things in the universe that need My attention. The longest I've stayed human is 33 years."
That's when it hits her: He really has been accommodating her this whole time, using a human shell so she can understand what He's trying to say without throwing her off any more than He has to.
He continues, "I've tried to talk to Ryan again. But he's closed now. He won't even speak to Me. Sure, sometimes he follows, but he does it because he's got his own mind, and while I do understand that more than anyone, I can't stand on the sides knowing that he's hurting My charges, and not just you in particular."
"But he's trying to get to You through me," Joan finishes, before adding, "Y'know, for being, well, God, I don't know why You don't deal with Ryan through fire or brimstone, or at least some form of punishment. I mean, my parents usually leave me alone and I learn by getting burned, or something…"
Then she sputters and hastily covers her mouth with her hands. While she's comfortable enough to talk about Him about almost anything and everything, this last bit is just too presumptious and familiar, especially considering Who she's talking to.
He smirks, raising an eyebrow. "Wow, who would've thought a girl would be giving advice to God…"
All too soon He's serious again: "Remember what I told you when We first met? I don't work that way. I don't enjoy being rough on My charges. I'd much rather wait and see if they'll actually follow My advice. If they do, then great! If not, well…" He shakes His head.
"But thanks, really. For all My snippiness, you do care after all. It gets lonely without anyone to talk to, you know…?" He smiles.
He looks so earnest, so human. It's giving Joan ideas that she shouldn't have around God, of all Beings. But then she looks into those eyes, His eyes, and remembers the universe between Him and herself.
Then He retorts, without skipping a beat, "Besides, if I did work that way, you do realize We wouldn't be having this conversation and I'd have thrown fire and brimstone at you for all your snippiness. Because, you know, nobody should snip at God."
She tries not to grimace at the thought. Suppose He does get sick of her snippiness and decides to throw fire and brimstone at her? She sighs.
"Hey, I didn't bring you here to lecture you," He says, His voice with somewhat uncharacteristic concern. The tone is close to what He used when she tried to dismiss Him as a hallucination, as a part of her imagination, in the days right after she returned to Arcadia from Crazy Camp.
"Yeah, so… why did You bring me here? I thought I was supposed to fight Ryan…"
He shakes His head and chuckles. "You're catching on pretty quickly."
"I learn from the best," she smirks, raising her head with pride. He smiles in spite of Himself. She's certainly going to need it, especially after what He's about to tell her.
"Listen, Joan. Ryan will attack at any moment, in any place, with anyone you know and love. You'll have to be ready for his next move."
Joan nods, then frowns. "But how do I? I mean, he's bought his way into the school board, the police department, the newspaper… pretty much all of Arcadia, save for the church and the synagogue maybe..." And even then she's not so sure about Father Ken and Rabbi Polanski, never mind if the rabbi happens to be as opinionated as his daughter, her friend.
Ryan Hunter has an enormous advantage over her – he's rich, influential, intelligent ('cunning,' she amends to herself), good-looking (well, she has to admit it sooner or later), and, most of all, ruthless. All she has are her family, her friends and Adam … and already she's lost them all to him. Even if they're both God-talkers–
His voice cuts through her thoughts. "He doesn't have everyone in his grasp, Joan. Not yet. But you'll have to work harder at putting your army together. He's not the only force at work this time."
'He's not the only one…? Don't tell me…' She groans in frustration. "Y'know, when I agreed to be Your errand girl, I totally did not sign up for this! How am I going to beat a man who knows You and has everything? I'm just plain little ol' 16-year-old Joan Girardi! Do You want me to become a demon hunter or a nun, like Lily used to be?"
He stares squarely at her, and she shudders from the intensity. For a moment His voice is strangely booming. The Almighty seems tired from the masquerade of being a boy. "I'm not asking you to do any of those things, Joan. And I certainly don't want you to kill him, though it hasn't been beyond Me to contemplate on doing that, Myself."
"Wait, You wanted to kill him?" she stares at Him in shock and fright. The God she knows may not always look this handsome, or act this young, but she knows Him well enough to know that it's against His own rules to take the life of another person this way.
"No," He shakes his head, brows furrowing. "No good would come out of his death. No good ever comes out of the act of killing." He then shifts so He's leaning forward, looking business-like. "What I want you to do is to oppose his actions firmly, but without hurting him or anyone else."
She begins massaging her temples and groans again. "Look, if You want me to fight Your battle, could You at least make sense for once? Please?"
"I'm not asking you to fight, Joan. I don't work that way either and you know that."
She throws her hands up in the air. "Then what do You want me to do?"
He gives her a kindly smile, one that reminds her of her teachers at school or her parents. "Just be honest. To yourself, to your family, to your friends, to Adam, and even to Ryan. Don't let him scare you, no matter what he does to you." Then He switches back to His teenage voice. "I want you to let him know that I still care for him too, even if he's acting like this."
"Well," Joan asks, still unable to understand His point, "I guess I can, but how exactly do I do it? Everyone listens to him, not to me."
"Then let yourself be heard," is His reply. "You talk so easily with Me, surely it can't be as hard to talk to Him or anyone else on Arcadia, right?" He looks at her with some exasperation, but still has a patient smile.
She's about to start talking again when His words hit her. She is comfortable with Him, though she doesn't exactly want to explore how comfortable the feeling is right now. More importantly, what's stopping her from talking to Ryan Hunter? Sure, that stunt he pulled on her at the forest was a serious bitch, but for every single thing he has, he is still human. For one thing, he can't take on multiple forms, not like the Boy in front of her. And she has Him on her side, right?
"Y-You're right," she stammers, wondering why she hadn't thought of what – or Who – she has to back her up. 'Ryan's only human and has only himself. I have God. He should have other weaknesses, shouldn't he?'
"Listen, Joan, you're over-thinking this," God says, giving her a more easy-going smile. "That's always been your problem – thinking too much. You need to relax, you know? Everything that has been kept secret will be revealed in time."
She nods and smiles, sheepishly, in spite of herself. "You're definitely right on that one." She has never forgotten that even the worst scrapes He has put her through has brought about many good ripples. In fact, the good ripples – and not just the hope that she will finally get some positive feedback from Him in this form – are what keep her going as "His errand-girl," as she thinks of herself oftentimes.
His smile widens. "There we go. Now why don't we enjoy the beach? I did promise you some rest and relaxation, right?"
With His hand stretched out to hers, and His smile so… well, handsomely God-like, she can't help but smile and take it.
So they walk to the other end of the house, outside the doorway, and towards the beach. The sun is still beaming brightly, but she doesn't feel very hot.
She spies an especially large four-poster bed nearby, which curiously doesn't look out of place considering it's outside the house. It has wooden pillars which connect as they rise to create a roof of sorts. She tries to think only of how lovely its white lace curtains are, but can't help wondering how it would be like to lie in it … to rest, of course. 'I wish they had that in the hospital…'
He looks at her with amusement, then chuckles, "It's soft."
She blinks and shakes her head violently after He speaks. He leans in, His forehead touching hers, with a smile that's both sly and sincere. "Remember, I brought you here so you can relax and be comfortable."
She looks at Him, surprised and flushed at His invitation. Then she cringes in horror, shaking her head. 'Don't think that way! This cute guy is still God! At the very least He's your Boss, not your boyfriend! Focus Joan!'
Before she knows it He's on the bed, patting it. He looks so foreign on it, especially with His Western clothing. "Well, don't you want to join Me? It sure is comfy here…"
She tries not to grumble about how wrong it is for God to invite a mere slip of a girl into His bed.
To be continued…
Chapter 3: Let's Stop and Talk Awhile
Now more than ever, both Instrument and Creator must depend on each other in the fight against Ryan Hunter. In the proverbial calm before the storm, Joan Girardi begins to grasp the depths of her feelings for the Almighty … and realises that maybe, just maybe, He is capable of feeling the same way for her.
Finally, the last installment (for now, anyways...)! Thanks for reading guys. X3
I am hoping to expand this eventually, but I lost all my original notes. :(
Joan Girardi tries not to grumble about how wrong it is for God to invite a mere slip of a girl into His four-poster bed. But she also knows that the argument is a moot point, considering that He's giving her that gloating smirk that she keeps associating with this Form. She climbs onto the pristine white sheets of His four-poster bed.
She tucks one leg under her bottom and draws a deep, long, dejected breath, then suddenly straightens, surprised to find that the sea breeze has improved her disposition. "Whoa," she whispers, "it's like I'm breathing energy…!" He chuckles.
His laughter dies slowly, but His ingratiating smile is still in place. "So, humor Me. I'd like to get to know you better, Joan Girardi."
She gives him an "Are you kidding?" look. "What can I possibly tell You that You don't already know?"
"Just hit Me," He says, in a slightly huskier voice. He's smirking and leaning over to her again.
She draws back. "Could you please not do that? It's making me … oh, graaaaaaargh!" It takes all of her willpower not to kiss Him or strangle Him. Unfortunately, she's not sure what she wants to do to Him first.
He senses her struggle and gives a particularly smug smile. "See, I told you you'd like Me!"
She resists the urge to stick her tongue out at Him, settling for a sneer instead. 'If You weren't the Almighty, and if You weren't so handsome at the moment, I'd deck You.' He laughs even more. 'Damn omniscience.'
Joan tries to retort but throws her hands in the air instead. He shifts positions so He's lying down facing her, with His head leaning on one hand. "Well? I'm waiting."
So she sighs again, takes a deep breath, and begins. First she tells Him how happy and grateful she is that He's taken her out of the dreary hospital. She soon launches into an animated discussion about school, like how she originally thought Vice-Principal Gavin Price was the spawn of Satan. Her hands move quickly as she tries to illustrate to Him exactly what she sees in her mind at the same time she talks.
Her eyes light up as she describes the progress Kevin is making as a journalist, though His brows furrow when she sighs sadly over her older brother's seemingly permanent disability. She giggles as she describes catching Grace and Luke together, wondering aloud what her younger brother sees in her boyish, sarcastic best friend. She even hints that He and Grace could get along, to His amusement.
Then she goes into details about how annoyed, frustrated, guilty and sad she is that Adam prefers dating Iris or having sex with Bonnie to just being around her. Her emotions over the death of her Crazy Camp friend Judith nearly makes her cry, but she settles for yelling at Him instead. She shares all her other secrets to him – some happy, some sad, and is amazed that she's comfortable discussing everything with Him. (Even about, and especially about sex, which embarrasses her to no end.)
Finally she shares her apprehension over Ryan Hunter's hold on Adam, and how the other God-talker has already affected everyone else she loves. She expresses her sorrow over the vandalism at the synagogue and the fire of the church. She shares the pain of seeing her friends and relatives, save for a few like Grace, think and speak highly of Ryan. Again she tries not to pin the blame on Him, but she can't help let a few stinging words, some particularly nasty curses and not a few tears out at Him. She flings herself to Him without caring about the contact, sobbing into His chest.
Meanwhile, His gaze on her never wavers, and He mostly nods and smiles. He either laughs with her or looks at her with concern, but He never asks her to explain herself nor interrupts her. He does nothing to spare Himself from her anger – of course, He knows she needs to let it all out on Him, if at no one else. He pats her back gently as she begins to cry, an expression of unfathomable sadness on His face, but she doesn't see it.
And as they talk – well, more like as she talks and He listens – she realises that she feels great right now 'It's definitely much better than being at Crazy Camp, even better than talking to Judith and Adam,' she admits to herself.
Sure she isn't talking to Adam, but after everything that He has been through with her, shouldn't He be considered a friend too? Even if He happens to cause all her problems, who is she to deny that He also helps her solve them in His own strange, impersonal way?
She wipes her tears with the back of her hand and smiles weakly as her crying spell fades. "Thanks," she chokes out, grateful that He has been patient with her through it all. It seems like hours since she began talking, but if this is really Heaven, who knows how long her one-sided conversation with Him has gone on?
She blushes when she discovers herself in His arms. The embrace of God is soft and warm. But at the same time, it registers to her that no other teenage boy, and for that matter no human male, would have arms this strong and this firm. Neither her father nor Adam would be able to wrap their arms around her this tightly, the way He does.
She tries to pull away, but He only grips her tighter. "Why don't we just stop and talk awhile, alright?" He smiles up at her with what seems to be pleading eyes. She becomes conscious of just how lonely He might really be. If He were any other teenager, she would understand completely, but this is God, and she can only imagine how many millennia He might have gone without company…
Joan replies, relaxing against Him, "Alright… but I'd like to get to know You better too."
He shakes his head in a firm "No." "You know I can't do that."
"C'mon," she teases gently, "we're friends, right? At least tell me something that You know won't affect history just because You've shared it with me."
He looks at her sadly. Understanding dawns on her.
"Will everything be alright, God? Will I be alright?" she asks in a small, scared voice.
"Yes," He replies, facing her. His voice is again older than His form, and His resolve is unnerving yet calming. He whispers, "I'll make sure of it," but she doesn't hear Him.
They stay on that bed, long and silent. Joan breaks of and half-reclines beside Him, with her head on resting on her hand. God shifts again, this time lying down with His head under both hands. They relax and enjoy the fresh sea breeze and bright, but not glaring, sunshine.
"Come, we've stayed here long enough," He suddenly says, rising from His lying-down position. "Let's go back to the hospital."
She whines, "So soon?" 'It's no fair… I really want to stay here.'
"You know you'll have to face Ryan sooner or later, Joan. And I don't want your family worrying about you. They need you right now."
She sighs, nodding and taking His hand.
"Will I be back here next time?"
The next thing she knows, the bungalow by the sea is gone. There are no coconut trees, no white sand and water stretching for miles. She's walking back into the leaf-covered streets of Arcadia and into the hospital, trailing behind Him. Joan frowns. "Geez, I thought I was leaving this place already…?"
"What did I tell you about everything I do?" She doesn't have to look at Him to know He's cocked His eyebrow again.
"I know, I know, everything has a purpose…" she mumbles, rolling her eyes.
After a few more steps into the lobby He stops, turns around to face her, and draws closer until the distance between them is about an arm's length. He tries to smile, but something tugs at the corners of His mouth. He digs His hands into His jacket pockets and shakes His head. "I'm sorry. I hate having to put this on your shoulders. But right now, free will is at stake … not just your family's, your friends', or Adam's, but even Ryan's as well." He clears his throat and looks around furtively, as if He's uncomfortable at what He's about to say next. "As much as I am proud and satisfied for having created free will, I don't want to lose you, any of you…"
Joan wishes that He says something to the effect of "You most of all," just for her, but He just sighs.
And so she nods instead, noting the tone – she remembers Him after Lyme disease and Crazy Camp, again. Now that she looks at Him really hard, she finds so much sadness in all of Him. He really looks like He's carrying the weight of the universe on His teenage shoulders now. She wishes He could be as cold or as snippy as He seemed to be when they first met, and she wants to be snippy just to make them both feel better, but what can she possibly tell Him?
She begins to understand the task He has assigned to her. It won't be easy. It must hurt. And at the end of the day she'll have to go through it alone. But, hoping against hope, she asks, "Will You be around?"
He draws upon a breath, and sighs. "I wish it were so easy. Unfortunately, there are other things taking up My time besides this. The war in the Middle East, the chaos in Africa… I don't know if I can keep materializing at all."
Her face falls. He draws forward and lifts her chin with one hand. "If you'll let Me, I'll talk to you through your dreams. And always remember that you can find Me anywhere, in anyone and anything, especially when you need Me most. You just need to look." He smiles, eyes boring directly into her face.
Her cheeks are burning, but she nods and smiles back. Damn it all that He does this – make her life difficult and yet keep her optimistic through a smile and a touch.
Joan wishes the moment can last longer, but too soon He says, "Let's go, you need to rest a bit more before your family arrives." Then, His smirk returns: "Besides, you don't want to be seen walking around Arcadia in that gown, do you?" Her cheeks are flushed once more –then again, how can you argue with the Boy (well, Man) who technically invented "naked?"
She tries not to groan as they take stairs, which makes them less prone to being seen. Once she's outside the door to her room, He smiles, waves, and walks away.
Satisfied that His charge is safe for the time being, He continues playing the game of "being human," taking the stairs and exiting the lobby. Nobody knows that He is God in teenaged form here in Arcadia other than Joan. It amuses Him that none of the staff have even bothered to ask which part of the hospital He has come from.
As He walks out He smiles at the recent memory of being with Joan. His eyes crinkle at the way she looks so sweet and innocent as she sleeps, and how all of that is replaced by her sarcasm and her reluctance to believe whenever she's awake. Suddenly a wizened man with a cane bumps into Him. "Tsk tsk tsk. The last time I saw You this lovesick was when Mary tried to hold onto You after You rose."
His eyes narrow as the old man walks behind him. When He doesn't answer, the old man stops to continue talking. "Your love for Your creations will be the death of You, old friend."
He stops walking and replies, "But see, I've always chosen death over My own personal desires, especially if My death keeps My creations – all of them – alive. That's what makes us different, old friend." His voice grates on the last two words, His control slipping against the other man.
"Indeed." The older man snarls before he laughs harshly.
Joan wakes up inside her room, on her bed, with nothing out of place but the blinds slightly tilted to let the light in. She looks outside her window to find the clouds gathering on what was originally forecast to be a dry, sunny day.