Disclaimer: I can't even try to claim either of these shows, there are higher powers watching;)
Not-So-Random Acts of Faith
“I need you to do something for me.”
Joan Girardi heard the dreaded words as she was walking across the park toward her house. She looked up at the clear blue sky and sighed. There was no use appealing to a higher power up there. God was right behind her. Turning around reluctantly she had to look down to see the twin girls that were the form that God had chosen to use this time.
“My schedule is all filled up right now,” she told the girls, “I’ve got this evil dude trying to make all kinds of trouble and a paper due in English. Can’t you get some other vict…I mean helper to do your dirty work.”
“It’s one of my other helpers that I need help with,” the girls spoke simultaneously. They were frowning slightly. Joan didn’t like it when God frowned. It usually meant very bad things.
“Ohhh?” Joan was intrigued. She had no idea that God had other helpers like her out there. It made sense, she guessed. One girl couldn’t save the whole world after all.
“Go to this address,” the girl on the right handed her a piece of paper with an address on it. “Tell him you’ve been sent by the PTB’s.”
“The what?” Joan was very confused. Unfortunately that was not an uncommon thing when dealing with the Supreme Being.
“He’ll get it, don’t worry. Here’s what you need to tell him…” The twins took turns dictating the oddest message Joan had ever been sent to deliver.
“Hey,” Joan asked when they were done, “Is there a reason behind all this? I mean, not that I don’t appreciate it, but these are the most detailed instructions you’ve ever given me before. Usually it’s something like ‘go get a job here’ or ‘build a rocket out of toothpicks’.”
“These people are used to direct messages,” the twins explained, “Besides, you’d never move your way into their circle unobtrusively. They’d probably kill you thinking you were something bad.”
With that enigmatic statement the twins grinned at her and spun around, running back through the park. Their high pitched giggles could be heard for a while.
“Kill!” Joan gulped and looked back up at the sky, “There had better not be any killing involved here! I still have an English paper to turn in. Why do I put up with this stuff? It’s not like I understand the stupid message anyway…” Muttering under her breath the brunette girl marched through the park, clutching the piece of paper with the address in her clenched fist.
“Hello,” Joan managed to squeak as the man who answered the door at her knock stared down at her. She had managed to find the place; it was a hotel room actually. Joan had been fairly impressed; a suite at this hotel was fairly pricey. But the guy glaring at her was a different story.
He was a little taller than her with shaggy dark brown hair and a scruff of a beard. He was dressed in worn out jeans and work boots, with a grinning pirate head on his baggy t-shirt. She supposed the pirate head matched his eye-patch that gave him such a menacing aura.
“Can I help you?” He frowned at her slightly.
“Yeah, hi,” Joan shoved her hair behind her ear, squinting. There were huge windows on either side of her, flooding the hallway with sunlight. “This might sound a little weird but the PTB’s sent me.”
Joan gulped as his frown turned into a full blown scowl and he latched onto her arm and dragged her into his hotel room. She opened her mouth to scream when she realized they weren’t alone in the room. He wasn’t likely to kill her with a bunch of girls looking on.
There were six of them sitting in the foyer, sprawled on the floor or sitting on the numerous chairs. They all watched curiously as the man started cussing loudly and throwing his hands in the air, ranting. Their gazes moved to Joan and she shifted nervously. They were looking at her as if they expected her to grow horns and roar or something. At least they weren’t all tied up and drugged though. Joan hadn’t looked forward to being taken hostage again.
“What do they want?” Eye-patch man finally stopped yelling and glared at her again.
“Why don’t we start over here,” Joan suggested, extremely nervous. “Hi, my name is Joan Girardi. My father is the sheriff of Arcadia.” She tried to slip the information in, just in case.
The man studied her for a second and then nodded. Sitting down in one of the chairs he directed her to sit as well. “My name is Xander Harris.”
“It’s very nice to meet you,” Joan managed a bit of a smile at him and the rest of the girls in the room. “Like I said, the PTB’s sent me. I’m supposed to deliver a message to you.”
The girls all stirred at this. The looks they gave her now were a mixed bag of contempt and awe. Joan was so very confused.
“So get with the messaging,” Xander urged.
“Ahhhh?” Joan looked around at their audience.
“They’d all hear about it in the end,” Xander snorted, “We don’t keep secrets, unlike the old Council.”
Joan thought a moment, then shrugged. God hadn’t said the message was exclusive. She had also come to another conclusion. Xander and his little entourage were not normal people and obviously thought Joan was in on whatever little secret they were hiding. Joan, for her part, had no interest in correcting that assumption. She still remembered what God had said about killing.
“Okay,” she closed her eyes and called up the words spoken to her by the twins. “I’m supposed to tell you that Arcadia doesn’t require your services. That there are treaties in place that keep things stable. The battle being fought here is on a different field than the one you’re used to fighting on.”
“That’s it?” Xander asked. The girls whispered among themselves, stirring in a way that Joan wasn’t entirely comfortable with.
She had her own thoughts about the message that God had told her to give. She knew now that there really was a battle being fought in Arcadia. She was reminded of her last conversation with God about Ryan Hunter and the fact that the past two years of her life had been practice. Considering what those last two years had been like Joan got a little nauseous when she thought of what would be coming.
“There’s something dark creeping into your town, Joan,” Xander Harris told her. “We’re the ones that fight things like that.”
Joan looked around the room at the girls that were watching her intently. Xander himself, despite the eyepatch, seemed almost normal. She finally figured out what bothered her about the six girls ranged around the room. They were completely still and they never blinked, not once. Joan got the feeling she should be very scared of them, that they were capable of doing things she couldn’t even imagine. But for some reason she couldn’t be.
“I know what the dark thing is, Mr. Harris, or who, rather,” she told him, “And while I totally love the fact that someone out there over the age of 18 believes me, I think the message is correct. I-I kinda get the feeling that you guys are a little to eager to get to the fighting part of this whole…fight.”
Xander just shrugged and a few of the girls smirked. In a way, Joan felt very comforted simply by the fact that there were other people out there that, if not exactly like her, where on the same side. She didn’t feel quite so alone anymore. She wished that they could stay and help her but something told her that their services were needed elsewhere.
“The thing that we’re…that I’m fighting, it can’t be fought through physical means.” It seemed to be coming to her now, exactly what she had to do. “This is a war about faith, about what people believe in. This is a war for peoples’ hearts.”
The message wasn’t just for them, Joan realized. She looked down at her hands, smiling slightly. God always did have lessons within lessons. Often, she didn’t even realize the real results of her assignments until way after they’d been completed. This time, she got it right away. This was her battlefield, not theirs.
Xander’s single eye watched her for a moment. His gaze reminded her of her father’s when he came home after a hard day. Then he seemed to come to a decision. He slapped his hands on his knees and rose to his feet.
“Alright, Joan Girardi, we’ll leave this one in your hands.” He turned to the girls. “Pack it up, kiddos. We’re headed back home.”
“Uhmmm,” Joan stood up and rubbed her hands on her jeans. “I had another message for you, but I get the feeling that one’s a little more personal.”
“Go ahead,” Xander told her.
“Anya…she’s not in a place with any rabbits.”
Xander’s one eye widened and his tanned skin abruptly became very pale.
“How did you…Why…?” He took a deep gulp of air and put his hand on her arm. “Thank you. Tell them…thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” Joan turned to leave. She didn’t quite get the whole rabbit thing, but she figured it wasn’t any of her business.
“Wait a second,” Xander stopped her and slipped a business card into her hand. “I know you say you don’t need us, but it never hurts to have backup. Call us, even if you just need advice.”
“Thank you,” Joan looked down at the card. It was a plain white card with one phone number on it and the letters WC on it. She clutched it in her fist and walked out the door. There was a new resolve in her heart. What she was doing was important and now she knew she was the only one who could do it.
“I hope we don’t have to clean up after her the way we did Angel and his crew,” Xander muttered as he watched Joan Girardi leave the hotel suite.
“I don’t think we will,” Suzan, the leader of the squad, commented as she walked out of the adjoining room.
“What’d you mean?” Xander asked. He had liked Joan. She hadn’t seemed like the normal kind of PTB patsy.
“The girls and I checked out the town while you were getting these fancy digs. Xander, there’s not one vampire or demon in this entire town.” The squad leader was incredulous.
“With the explaining please?” Xander pushed for clarification. Sure, they’d found towns with no baddies in them before but they were usually tiny places out in the middle of nowhere. Arcadia was a fair sized town. There should be some kind of demonic presence here.
“We checked everywhere, the sewers, the warehouses, nothing. I even set Megan loose.” Xander’s eyebrows rose sharply. Megan had the best ‘spidey sense’ of any slayer he’d ever met. The girl could track a vampire in a blizzard.
“Will wonders never cease,” Xander grinned and scratched his head. “I wonder if the girl has something to do with it.”
“Megan said she got the coolest feeling from her. Said it was the opposite of the feeling she gets from a vampire.”
“Huh,” the one-eyed man remembered the last message she’d given him and smiled sadly. “Okay then, send a message back to the school. Tell them Arcadia is off limits unless Ms. Girardi calls us in. Hopefully she never will, but we’ll come running if she ever needs us.”
I loved Joan of Arcadia, it explored so many different issues. I thought it sucked that it got canceled after only two seasons, but I guess that's t.v. Hope you like it!
Thanks to Whedonist for the title idea!