Just Because

Author's Note: You would think that with a big multi chapter Covert Affairs fic and an even bigger multi chapter SVU fic in the works right now my desire to write would be more than satisfied. Yeah, apparently not. This story idea popped into my head on the way to practice, and despite the fact that I got home at 9:30 at night utterly exhausted I had to write it. Obviously Joan has quite a bit of power in my head. Plus there just aren't enough Joan and Arthur stories out there. Considering this was story was written in an hour when my brain was pretty mush means it's probably not as elaborate as my usual ones, but oh well.


Despite how long her day at the office had felt Joan had actually managed to get out at a decent hour. Even so, she was completely exhausted, but that had pretty much become the norm lately. That exhaustion was likely to continue to get worse until the baby was born though. She would just have to find a way to deal with it. Unfortunately she couldn't plan to come home earlier each day, especially since the world was not going to go crisis free for the next few months. If anything it would get more complicated just to spite her.

Joan slowly pushed the front door open and stepped inside. She slipped her shoes off and decided to leave them by the door. Normally she wouldn't do that, but her feet hurt and she didn't want to bend over to pick the shoes up and put them where they actually belonged. In her mind keeping the house neat and organized was not overly important at the moment. All she really wanted to do at the moment was sit down and put her feet up. There was nothing going to stop her from doing that either.

At least she hadn't thought anything would. As she walked further into the house her eyes drifted over to the dining room and she stopped dead in her tracks. The table was set for two and candles were burning. There was some kind of meal already set on the table as well, but she couldn't make out what it was. It reminded her of the time she'd come home from the operation to help Megan, only less elaborate.

"Arthur?"

Her head swiveled around to look into their sitting area when she didn't get a reply. She found her husband watching her over the top of his glasses. When her eyes met his he smiled warmly at her. The paper he had been reading was discarded, and he came over to join her. Joan's mouth was still hanging slightly open by the time he reached her.

"Welcome home."

"I… yeah," she stumbled, for once at a bit of a loss for words. "You made dinner?"

"I did, and this time I actually cooked. Or at least I attempted to. Nothing fancy of course."

Joan had been thrown off by his gesture before, but she was even more so now. Arthur never planned dinner, and he definitely never cooked. Finally her brain clicked into gear, and she began processing what he had done and what it could possibly mean.

"Why?"

Arthur looked a bit taken aback by that question, but he recovered quickly and leaned forward to gently kiss her cheek.

"I wanted to do something nice for you."

Most women wouldn't question a special, for no reason dinner surprise, but Joan knew her husband. His surprises didn't come very often and when they did they meant something. Usually his special kindnesses were his form of an apology, sometimes even a pre-apology if he knew he was about to do something she wouldn't like. It was Arthur's way. In fact, Joan couldn't think of the last time a "just because" gesture didn't have an ulterior motive. Minus the return trip to the Chesapeake he had offered, which didn't really count since it hadn't actually happened. Even the dinner after that had been an apology.

"What did you do?" she asked warningly.

Her suspicions pierced at Arthur, but he could see the reason for it. Sort of. It wasn't like they were on fully good terms yet either. His face softened, and he reached out to stroke her cheek.

"Joan…"

"Stop dragging it out and just tell me."

"I made a mess in the kitchen, but I cleaned it up. That's the only thing I've done," he insisted. "Is our relationship really that broken that you would believe this is more than me just wanting to make you happy?"

"I know you, Arthur…"

"And if I had wanted to apologize I would have offered you a much better dinner than spaghetti."

He did have a very good point. Normally if he wanted to appease her he went a lot more elaborate or decided they were going out for the evening. Another look at his face revealed only sincerity. The tension left Joan's body, and she smiled at him. Arthur took that as acceptance and smiled in return.

"Here. Let me show you," he said as he took her hand and led her toward the table.

"You really did make spaghetti," Joan nearly laughed when she saw the spread of pasta, sauce, and meatballs.

"It was the one thing I was confident I wouldn't mess up," he admitted. "That and the salad."

"Mm," she returned.

Joan released his hand and stepped closer to the table and took a better look at Arthur's dinner. His simple dinner at home was starting to look rather nice. When she looked back up at him her eyes were dancing.

"What happened to the meatballs?"

At first glance the meatballs looked relatively normal. On further inspection though, it became obvious that nearly every meatball was flat on at least one side.

"A minor setback."

"Oh?"

Joan's eyes were nearly laughing at him now. The meatballs looked absolutely ridiculous, and his explanation was just as comical.

"I wasn't expecting them to squish down like that."

"You pressed on them with the spatula, didn't you?"

"Just once!" he insisted, his eyes going wide in the process. "They still taste fine though."

Worried that she wouldn't believe him again he reached out and grabbed one with his fingers before putting it into his mouth. Joan was desperately trying to hold back laughter.

"See?" he asked.

She responded by leaning forward and kissing him gently on the lips. Instead of pulling away when she was done she rested her forehead against his and draped her arms around his neck.

"I believe you. Thank you, Arthur."

"You like it then?"

"I do, but there's just one thing."

The smile that had blossomed across Arthur's face when she said she liked it quickly died after the but. He was pretty sure that he hadn't done anything that she wouldn't enjoy. In fact, he'd been very aware of what would work and what she would like when he'd planned the meal. The worried look on his face made Joan smile softly.

"Your plate's in the wrong place."

Confusion flashed across Arthur's face, and he looked over at the table. He'd set his plate up directly across from hers. There didn't seem to be anything wrong with that. When he looked back toward Joan she was still smiling at him.

"It's much harder to hold your hand when you're over there," she explained with a tiny tip of her head and glittering eyes.

This time Arthur's smile lit up his entire face. It had been a long time since he'd seen this side of his wife. Teasing and a touch seductive. He definitely couldn't doubt that she still loved him.

"That's easily remedied."

He moved to go rearrange the plates, but Joan caught his arm to stop him. Before he knew it her lips were pressed to his in a kiss, though not in the gentle way he'd received so far that night. Arthur returned the kiss and held her close as her arms wrapped around his neck. There was no doubt that he still loved her too.