Hey guys! So the soundtrack to this fic is "Only You" by Ellie Goulding. Last week's episode told me that Henry is getting more reckless and dangerous, and I think something like what I wrote about in this story might actually happen. This story is also sort of influenced by Perception, and my constant need to create backstories for Joan, since the show does not provide much. Anyway, without further ado, ENJOY!
"Henry, no! Please, Henry…"
Joan was begging, tears in her eyes. If she weren't 7 months pregnant, she would have been on her knees.
The last thing she heard before everything went dark was Arthur's pained whisper: "I'm so sorry, Joan. I love you."
She jolted awake with a start, her back stiff from the uncomfortable hospital chair. She had this dream every time she closed her eyes, but instead the ending was more ambiguous. Six days ago, when it really happened, there was more before everything went black and she hit the ground. Two sets of gunshots, and then another gunshot, from a gun farther away. The clacking of stiletto heels on the concrete floor, and the tapping of a cane. The faint smell of grapefruit, and rust.
It was in the same parking garage she, Annie, and Arthur had held a clandestine meeting 4 months ago. Annie had informed them about the ALC bomb threat, and she had given Arthur the cold shoulder.
The last week was blurry to her, but every time she forgot what happened, Auggie relayed to her what the doctors had told them. Arthur had been shot, and the bullet was lodged in one of his major arteries, lessening blood flow to the brain. Due to the severity of the injury, he couldn't be operated on until he was in an urgent state of near fatality.
A petite nurse with an auburn ponytail smiled at Joan sympathetically before scribbling some notes on her clipboard and leaving the room. Joan didn't need x-ray vision to see what was on the other side of that board; Arthur's condition hadn't changed a bit.
Annie and Auggie had captured Henry and were holding him hostage in the garage of Annie's house. Joan told them to whatever they deemed necessary, just to keep Henry alive. If Arthur didn't wake up, she wanted to kill Henry herself. She wanted to watch the light drain from his eyes as he looked up at her, the last reminder of how his selfish acts had cost her a husband, and her baby a father. It had been a while since she killed anyone, and honestly, she relished the idea of killing Henry Wilcox with her bare hands.
She hated sitting in hospitals by still beds, watching for moments that would never happen under a watchful eye. She remembered sitting in a hospital just like this when she was 20, watching her father die. Slowly, painfully, and without any hope. She instinctively caressed her stomach, tears welling up in her eyes. She had lost her father, but her child would not lose his or hers.
They didn't know the sex of the baby yet. Even though they could have found out at the 3-month ultrasound, Arthur had insisted on being surprised. But as Henry continued to wage war, surprises of any kind, even good ones, were unwelcome. So on that morning six days ago, they were supposed to find out. They should have been on the other side of town, but Annie called an emergency meeting, and Henry had found out somehow.
So now the baby was still a mystery, a large and looming question mark. Just like the rest of their lives, for the foreseeable future. Joan refused to let the baby be born without his or her daddy. Doctors had been promising that some sort of change would come, some break in Arthur's condition. They had said it 3 days ago, and yesterday, and today.
So now all she could do was wait. Waiting drove her crazy. It's why she tried not to think about all the kinds of trouble Meg could be getting in on her missions. It's why Joan had turned to drugs as a young operative. To distract from the anxiety, the waiting, the pain.
Shallow, shaky breaths were the only kind she could take. Her insides felt numb, and her limbs loose. She would have screamed, but she had been doing so much of that lately that her voice was practically gone. Screaming into her balled-up coat, or over the sound of running water in the hospital bathroom late at night.
Joan couldn't keep it together much longer. She felt like she had some sort of weird combination of PTSD, schizophrenia, and amnesia. She kept seeing the parking garage, hearing things and seeing things in the shadows that weren't there.
Joan stared at the doorway and blinked a few times. The figure was still there, so she pinched herself.
"Not a dream, Joanie," Henry chuckled, taking a few steps towards her. She shook her head.
"But you're supposed to be in Annie's garage. Auggie told me that Annie shot you in the leg after you shot Arthur, and then they imprisoned you. It's impossible for you to escape, they assured me of that."
"Just because it's not a dream, doesn't mean I'm not really here."
Joan sighed and slouched in her chair. "So I'm in such a state of distress and pain that I'm hallucinating. Couldn't it be someone I like, at least? Instead of you?"
"Like me, darling?"
Joan turned around, her long blonde ponytail whipping her face.
Her father smiled and nodded, walking to sit beside her. She sighed again and rubbed her temples. Dark gray hair and kind blue-gray eyes (just like hers) and wearing a black t-shirt, half-zip Harvard sweatshirt, jeans, and sneakers – his weekend uniform. He had been in his fifties when he died, but her dad had always looked younger than he was. He claimed that his students kept him young.
"So now I am hallucinating a dead man." She turned back to the doorway, but Henry was gone.
"You know, my dear, that Henry guy seems like a total asshole," Joan's father said, taking his glasses off and cleaning them on his t-shirt. Joan laughed and nodded in agreement, then smiled.
"You always were cleaning those glasses, even when they were pristine."
He smiled and put them back on. "I was always a perfectionist, darling. History professors are best when they are detail-oriented."
"But you didn't go to the doctor when you should have," Joan whispered sadly. Her father picked up her hand and squeezed it.
"I was often preoccupied. This sounds like an awful thing to say, but I'm glad that I ignored my symptoms and not my family. When I wasn't writing or teaching, I was with my lovely daughters and beautiful wife. I would only have gotten a few more years anyway, and I had already lived every moment to the fullest, just as you do."
Joan shook her head. "I don't live life to the fullest, daddy."
"Yes, of course you do. You risk your life for your country every day, you threw yourself into love fearlessly, and you fight for what you believe in."
"I became a drug addict due to my need to stay in the field continuously, I was the other woman in Arthur's first marriage, and my fights sometimes backfire."
"But you are still my little girl, and your heart is strong," he said, hugging her. "Arthur will be grateful when he realizes that you've been at his bedside this whole time, as painful as it has been for you. He seems like a kind and loving man, and it is quite unfortunate that we will never meet."
Joan sighed, leaning into her father. "You two would've gotten along," she whispered, touching her stomach. "And you would've been a wonderful grandpa."
Her father smiled and covered her hand with his. "Oh, Joan. I wish I could be here for you, I truly do. I love you and your sisters so much, sweetheart. I'd do anything for you, you know that?"
Joan nodded, tears in her eyes. "I do, daddy," she choked out, closing her eyes and letting the tears fall. She felt a shift at her side, and opened her eyes again. Her father was standing up.
"Where are you going?"
"Darling, I need to go. This is harder than I thought," he said, bending down to kiss her forehead.
"Wait!," Joan said, standing up and grabbing her father's hand. "Stay with me, please. I can't sit here by myself in this room anymore, waiting for something that may never come."
"Arthur will wake up soon, my dear," he said sternly. "I know it. He's a lucky man; he'll live to be older than I was, even get to see his daughter's wedding. It kills me that I missed yours."
Joan wrapped her arms around her father. "I love you, daddy," she whispered, more tears falling. She looked at his face one last time, wiping tears away so her vision wouldn't be blurry. She wanted to see her father perfectly.
"Daddy, if we have a son, I want to name him after you."
He smiled. "Thank you, sweetheart. But it would be just as wonderful for you to have a daughter. I can tell you from experience that having a daughter makes every father a better man. You and your sisters made me a much better person than I ever could've been without you."
"Well, I'll still name her after you," Joan insisted. Her father smiled, and then let go of Joan.
"When that baby is born, I'll be with you. Goodbye, Joan. I miss you."
"I miss you too, daddy," she whispered, blinking back tears and staring at the floor. When she looked up, he was gone. She barely had time to process that she had just been visited by a hallucination of her dead father when she heard a stirring behind her.
She turned and saw Arthur moving, his eyelids fluttering. Joan ran back to the bed, cradling Arthur's face in her hands.
He grunted something random and began to shake, and Joan ran out into the hallway, calling for a nurse as panic seeped into her mind and adrenaline rushed into her heart, like a room being flooded with water.
"Nurse, excuse me?! I need help, my husband is…"
She couldn't finish her sentence and she slumped against the wall, barely able to breathe, let alone speak. A pair of nurses ran into the room and quickly moved Arthur onto a gurney, taking him from the room as Joan slid down the sit on the floor, head in her knees.
She heard footsteps, heavy yet cautious. The swish of a silk skirt, and voices.
"Joan? Joan, hey, can you hear me?" Someone was shaking her shoulder gently, and she finally looked up to see Annie staring at her with concern.
"Just take deep breaths, okay? Just try to stay calm. Auggie is finding out what happened."
Auggie entered the room and Joan stared at Annie, standing up slowly.
"Auggie?," Annie asked softly, placing her hand on his forearm.
Auggie sighed. "Something in Arthur's body caused the bullet to move slightly, which caused the artery it was lodged in to leak into his body. He's being prepped for emergency surgery as we speak, but there is a chance that if the bleeding is rapid enough, it could get to his brain."
"Oh my god." Joan clasped her hands over her mouth, tears welling up in her eyes. Her father had said Arthur would wake up soon, that he would survive and recover and be at their daughter's wedding.
It only took her a few seconds to realize how stupid that sounded. A stress-induced hallucination of a dead person had told her the sex of her baby and that her comatose husband would be 100% healthy in a matter of days.
She pushed past Annie and Auggie, running out of the room and down the hallway to the elevator. She needed to breathe; she needed space and fresh air.
The hospital courtyard was empty except for a teenager with casts on both his legs sitting in a wheelchair, with people who seemed to be his mother and sister sitting on a bench beside him. They were deep in conversation, and didn't notice Joan sit down on the edge of a planter box on the other side of the garden.
"Joan, you should be up there with Arthur."
Joan looked to her right and saw her dad sitting next to her, cleaning his glasses on his shirt again. She shook her head and looked away.
"Sweetheart, you don't really mean that."
"Yes, yes I do. Go away!," Joan nearly shouted, tears streaming down her face. "You lied! You said he would be okay, but he isn't. You lied to me! You said you would never, ever lie to me! You said…" She stopped as the tears came faster, and she started to sob.
Her father pulled her into his arms and rocked her back and forth.
"Shh, honey, it's okay. It's all going to be okay."
"No, it's not," Joan whispered. "I need Arthur back."
"And you'll get him back, I promise." Her father kissed her hair and then stood up. "I really do have to leave this time. Go be there for your husband, ride out the storm."
Joan nodded, wiping tears from her eyes. "I wish I hadn't told you to go away."
Her father chuckled. "Oh, Joan. I can't stay, no matter what. You know that."
She nodded and watched him go. He turned a corner and she knew that she would never see him again, and that made her heart ache. She hadn't realized just how much she missed her dad until he was standing in front of her almost 20 years after his death.
Joan sat by herself in the courtyard for almost an hour before she returned to Arthur's hospital room to find Annie and Auggie where she had left them. Arthur's bed was still empty, and she sat on it, placing her hands on her stomach.
Annie mumbled something about checking with a nurse of the status of Arthur's surgery, and Auggie walked over to the bed. Joan held her hand out to him and he squeezed it, sitting beside her.
"Joan, I wish I knew what to say," he whispered, his voice raspy. Joan sighed and leaned against him.
"Just being here is enough. Thank you, Auggie."
He nodded and they sat together in silence, waiting for time to pass.
Annie took a deep breath before turning the corner and walking back into Arthur's room. In the fifteen minutes since she had left Joan and Auggie alone, they had barely spoken. She cleared her throat and Auggie turned his head towards the door. Joan didn't move, just squeezed his hand.
"Joan, Arthur made it through surgery, and he's stable," she said, smiling at her boss. "They moved him to a bed in the recovery unit, you can go see him now."
Joan beamed at Annie, sliding off the bed with one final squeeze of Auggie's hand.
"Thanks, Annie," she said, walking past her and leaving the room. Auggie got up from the bed and walked over to Annie, taking her hand in his.
"Let's give them some space. Dinner?"
Annie nodded and kissed Auggie's cheek, leading him to the elevators.
Two floors above, Joan was walking down the hallways to the recovery unit, holding her breath. She saw Arthur in a bed at the very end of the room, and exhaled when she saw him smiling at her.
She ran over to him and kissed him gently, taking both of his hands in hers.
"Hey, honey," he mumbled, his voice raspy. He was still a little conked out on pain meds, but Joan didn't care.
She sat in an uncomfortable plastic chair next to his bed, still holding his hands.
"How are you?," she asked, looking at him as though she hadn't seen him in years. She felt so full of love and hope and happiness, and she couldn't look away from him.
"Oh, fine," Arthur chuckled, as if he hadn't suffered more than a bruise to the shin. He let go of Joan's hands and put his hand on her stomach, smiling.
"How's the baby?"
"Good," she whispered, putting her hand on top of his. "Listen, I had this… feeling about the sex of the baby, so I called our doctor while you were in surgery –" she paused, leaving out the part where her hallucination of her dad told her the baby was a girl and she sat in the courtyard thinking about it until she finally got up the nerve to call her OBGYN. "- and our baby is... we're having a daughter."
Arthur's eyes widened. "Really? A daughter?"
She nodded, unable to stop grinning. "Yeah."
"Oh, honey, that's… wow. I can't believe it. A baby girl," Arthur said, still dumbstruck. He kissed Joan's hand. "I love you."
She smiled. "I love you too."
They sat and talked for a while before a nurse came over to give Arthur some medication to help him sleep. Joan promised to be back in the morning to pick him up, and as she drove home, she could've sworn she heard her father's low hum harmonizing with her Led Zeppelin cd.
Three days later, Arthur and Joan were snuggled in bed watching a movie in the early afternoon. Joan had taken a few days off to be with Arthur while he rested, and they were making the most of their lazy days.
"Hey, Arthur?," Joan said, picking up the remote and pausing "Horrible Bosses" on a frame of Jason Bateman making a funny face. "There's something I want to talk to you about."
Arthur shifted Joan out of his arms and sat up so he could face her. He stroked her cheek and nodded.
"I know we haven't talked about this much, but I wanted to name the baby after my father."
Arthur looked confused. "Honey, we're having a girl."
"I know," Joan said, laughing. "But, um, I had kind of an unconventional idea. My dad's full name was Jameson Rowan Brady, and I read online that Rowan can be used as a girl's name. Since my dad went by James, I thought that could be her middle name – so she would be Rowan Jaymes Campbell."
Arthur thought about it. "I like it," he stated, smiling at her. "It's unique and has a special meaning."
Joan grinned. "Really?"
He nodded, pulling her into his arms. "Yeah."
After they pulled apart, Arthur tucked a lock of Joan's hair behind her ear and looked at her thoughtfully.
"Honey, you never really talk about your father. Where did this come from?"
"Well, you know my dad died from cancer when I was 20," Joan said slowly. "Being in the hospital reminded me of when he died, and I… I sort of saw him."
"What do you mean?"
"I had a… well, not a daydream. A vision, I guess. I don't know. He said that he didn't care that he waited until it was too late to see the doctor, and that he ended up having no choice but to live out his last few months in the hospital. It was worth it to him to have the extra time before the diagnosis with my sisters and my mom and I, instead of going to the doctor right away and having to go through chemo and all that. He lived his life to the fullest, and his daughters were the most important things in the world to him. He said he wouldn't have traded us for anything, and that he wanted me to live my life to the fullest as well. He also said he wishes he could've met you. It sounds crazy, but he really helped me through everything. He comforted me, and promised me you would recover and live to see your daughter's wedding, even though he didn't live to see mine." A few tears were gathering the corners of Joan's eyes and she stopped to take a breath, studying Arthur to see if he thought she was crazy.
"I just miss him so much," Joan said sadly, looking at Arthur with her beautiful gray-blue eyes. "Seeing him… it felt so real, like he was still here."
"Oh, Joan," Arthur said, kissing her forehead and holding her close. "It's not crazy, it's beautiful. Sometimes in the hardest moments, the loved ones we've lost speak to us, there's nothing weird about it. I love the name, and I wish I could've met your father too."
Joan smiled, letting Arthur wipe away her tears with his thumb.
"Yes," he said, putting his hands on her stomach.
"Hey, Rowan," he whispered at Joan's belly. "I love your momma, and she loves you more than anything in this world. Her daddy loved her a lot too, and that's why she's naming you after him. Because there's no love stronger than a parent's love for a child."
Joan almost teared up again at Arthur's beautiful words. He saw her eyes sparkle with tears and kissed her again, resting his forehead on hers.
"I love you, and I love our daughter," he whispered. "Just 2 months, and it will be Arthur and Joan and Rowan."
Joan nodded. "God, I love the sound of that."
Over Arthur's shoulder, Joan saw her father in the bedroom doorway. James mouthed "me too," before waving to her and walking away, and Joan smiled to herself.
After all the years of feeling alone, something had changed. She was protected, loved, and safe, in the arms of the man she loved and under the watchful eyes of her father, and with a beautiful daughter on the way.