not my intellectual property.


You're about ready to admit that Joan and Adam have adopted you into their alternative lifestyle family, especially since this Thanksgiving they've invited you to go home with them. "Uh," you say to Joan, because it's really her that made the offer since they're going back to her house. "Uh," you say again.

"It'll be fun," Joan says brightly, then almost immediately takes it back, rolls her eyes. "okay, well, probably my brother and dad will fight, Luke will try to hide that he's engaged, and my mom will cry a lot because our family apparently have a lot to be thankful for--"

Adam put a hand on her shoulder, squeezed gently. You want to hang up your apron right then and there, because no one will ever, ever know exactly how to comfort you like that... but at least they offered, and Joan is nothing if not sincere in every single thing she does. "So basically it'll be awkward?" you ask, but you smile.

Adam smiles shyly, and the hand on Joan's shoulder becomes an arm around her shoulders. She leans into his touch, and Joan says, "my brothers are good people. And so is Grace, Luke's fiancee-- but you can't tell my parents they're engaged-- and really it's just my mother that'll be weird."

"Helen's great," Adam says. Something in his mild voice holds some kind of disappointment. "Grace will be staying in Joan's room, so."

the unspoken so it's not like you'll be a third wheel staying at the house, Simon, you won't be intruding on our marital bliss. You'd will be a third wheel anyway, and you'd mind except that it's apparent from every ebb and flow around them that it took a long time for them to get to this point. It's taken them a long time, and they're inviting you into their little universe, which is enough to be thankful for.


The drive is long and painful, because Adam is in a bit of a sulk and Joan doesn't want to listen to the radio. They're supposed to be picking up Luke on the way, which will hopefully make things louder - or at least less quiet - in the car. Simon's volunteered to drive after MIT, so hopefully things will be better. And they should be, except that Grace is coming with them too, and now it's five people in a cramped car for over three hours, with Simon being the one that's causing all the problems.

"move over, runt," is Grace's opening line, so apparently Simon can't even help by driving. Joan forestalls the impending argument by putting herself in the middle of the backseat and pulling Adam in beside her. Grace gets in the driver's seat, and immediately her knuckles turn whitish from the strain of gripping the steering wheel. Apparently it wasn't a good day for more than just you. You see Luke's hand go to her knee, and it doesn't visibly help because Grace still looks as surly as she did a moment ago, but if it were you in the driver's seat, it would have helped.

"could you please put a cd in or something before we get settled into complete silence for the rest of the drive?" Grace pulls out onto the highway, and you're a little scared about her anger bleeding into the road, but Grace drives carefully and within the speed limit, so you relax and eventually fall asleep against the window to the sounds of Modest Mouse.

when you wake up, you're pulling off the highway, and Luke and Grace are murmuring to each other in low voices. You catch something from Luke about parents, and an answer from Grace that's not angry anymore, just a sad, tight tone. You yawn, and Grace's eyes meet yours in the rearview mirror, and for a minute you imagine she's appreciative of the fact that you let her know you were awake enough to listen. You look over at Joan, fast asleep on Adam; at Adam's palm running over Joan's hair. you watch his hand, not his face, until Grace says low, "we're here."