Spoilers: Season 3 through Suffragette City
Disclaimer: Not mine, unfortunately.
Author's Note: Just a little one shot that popped into my head. I love exploring the psyche of Joan Campbell and showing her sensitive side. Minor reference to my other fic, Past. Feel free to read that, too. *cheap plug!*Please review to let me know what you think.
She was unflappable. She had stared down more guns than most people even saw in a lifetime. She once took out 3 armed men single handedly. She was Joan Campbell, damn it, and Joan Campbell didn't cry.
But those two words spoken tenderly by a loving husband after Annie had nearly died? They were enough to break her.
Letting out a muffled sob, one that Arthur knew she was trying desperately to keep in, Joan Campbell threw herself into her husband's arms.
Tears flowed shamelessly, soaking Arthur's shirt. He wrapped his arms around his wife. Pulling her closely to his chest, Arthur kissed the top of her head.
"Shh…I've got you, Joan," Arthur soothed. "It's okay."
"She was gone, Arthur," Joan sobbed into his chest. "She was dead."
"But we got her back," Arthur told his wife. He gently rubbed her back, comforting Joan. It wasn't often that Joan broke down, but when she did, it hit her hard.
"When I go back to that room and heard the long tone of the heart monitor, I thought…I thought it was over. I failed her," Joan said, refusing to look at Arthur as she pulled away.
Tilting her chin up, their gazes met. Sadness reflected in Joan's watery eyes. Arthur felt anger when he saw the bruise under Joan's eye: a reminder that Lena Smith had hurt so many.
Arthur pushed his anger aside, tenderly bringing a hand up to hold the side of Joan's head. He kept his other hand on the small of her back. He brushed his thumb carefully against her face, wiping the tears away and gently touching the rapid swelling over her eye. She barely flinched, but it was enough for Arthur to see.
"The only person who failed Annie is Lena Smith," Arthur said, unable to keep the bitter tone out of his voice when he spoke the woman's name. "You saved Annie, Joan. You didn't fail her."
Joan laughed, though there was no mirth in the sound. "She got away, Arthur," Joan reminded him. "She's probably miles across the world by now."
"And we will find her," Arthur told Joan. "Whether it is tomorrow or a year from now, we will get her."
"She doesn't deserve tomorrow or a year," Joan muttered. The scowl on her face made the mark on her cheek even darker. "She deserves to rot in hell."
"I don't disagree with you, honey," Arthur told Joan, pressing a kiss to her forehead. "But the most important thing is that Annie is still with us. She will still be here to piss you off and drive you up a wall, and you will still scare the shit out of her and care for her as if she were your daughter."
Joan laughed slightly, bringing her teary gaze up once again. Closing her eyes, she pressed her forehead to Arthur's. "She's still here," Joan breathed.
"She is," Arthur confirmed. He felt the slight nod of Joan's head. He held his wife closely for several moments, waiting for her to pull back.
When she finally did, Joan sniffled and rubbed a hand across her cheeks to wipe the tears away. Arthur felt anger rise again when she made contact with her bruise, wincing at the action.
"Does it hurt?" Arthur asked.
"Not as bad as getting shot," Joan replied. She gently touched the area again, probing it.
Arthur sighed at her reply. He knew the guilt Joan felt went deeper than just the day's events. He knew his wife well enough to know that a million 'what if's' were flying through her head.
What if she had been faster?
What if she had succeeded in exposing Lena so long ago?
What if she fought to keep Annie under her command?
What if she had been carrying her gun today?
"Joan, you can't torture yourself with questions," Arthur told her. The statement was followed by another sigh as Joan moved away from him, walking into the living room.
Arthur knew he had to give Joan a few seconds of space. He made his way into the kitchen. Opening the freezer, Arthur found the icepacks they had bought so long ago: soft fabric filled with lavender scented pellets that helped to sooth nerves as well as injuries. They had been well used over the years. Arthur took out the smallest one, shutting the door.
He made his way to the spacious living room, not surprised to see Joan staring out the huge bay window. The dark curtains were wide open, leaving Joan to look at the sprawling woods surrounding their house.
Arthur didn't speak as he came up behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist so he too could look out. A light snow had fallen a few days prior, leaving the area blanketed. It made for the perfect winter scene.
Feeling the cold pack against her hip, Joan glanced down. Wordlessly, she took the pack, gingerly pressing it to her eye.
She glanced at Arthur as he rested his chin on her shoulder. "It's beautiful out," Arthur said softly. "We are always so busy that we seem to forget to take the time to appreciate what we have." He pressed a gentle kiss to her neck. "And who we have," he added.
Joan closed her eyes, leaning back into the safe, warm embrace of her husband. Her head and back throbbed in tune with each other. She had yet to see the damage done when Lena had shoved her into the tray next to Annie's bed. "You know what makes me mad?" she asked softy.
"Me?" Arthur joked.
Joan laughed slightly, shaking her head. Arthur was glad to see that she was beginning to show color again in her already pale skin. "No, you goofball," she replied, opening her eyes. She turned and wrapped her arms around her husband. She held him close to her body for a long moment.
"What makes you mad, sweetheart?" he prompted quietly as she pulled back. He placed his hand over hers, helping her to hold the cold pack in place.
"I'm mad that I wasn't able to get one hit in on Lena. She threw me off balance when I pushed her off Annie, and when I regained my footing she sucker punched me hard enough to knock me into a metal tray," Joan recalled. "I couldn't even get one shot in."
Anger filled Arthur once again. Not only did Lena try to hurt Annie, but she fought dirty with his wife. There was no doubt in Arthur's mind that in a hand to hand combat, a fair fight, Joan would win, hands down. There were very few operatives who held the fighting skills that his wife did, and even though she had been out of the field for years, Joan still could hold her own.
"You'll get her," Arthur promised. "She will pay for her sins."
"God, I hope so Arthur. I know that Annie's going to be out for blood the second she is released from the hospital." Joan punctuated her statement with a long sigh. She puffed out her cheeks slightly, wincing as she reached back a hand to massage her lower back.
"You okay?" Arthur asked, mot missing the action. Seeing Joan contemplating her response, he added, "And I want the truth, Joan."
She still hesitated, thinking of how to word how she was feeling. "My back hurts," she finally admitted. "I landed pretty hard against the tray when Lena punched me, and I hit the wall."
"Let me see," Arthur said to her, already moving to stand behind Joan.
"What Arthur? No," she protested, swatting at his hands. She regretted the action when a dull throb filled her lower back at the action. "I'm fine," she insisted.
"Joan, humor me," Arthur replied.
With a slight grumble, Joan complied, shrugging off her leather jacket and untucking her silk blouse. Arthur pulled the shirt up for her. Anger filled him when he saw the long bruise along her lower back. His fingers ghosted over the dark bruise.
"Well?" Joan asked, glancing over her shoulder.
Arthur met her gaze, giving her a slight smile. "Are we still keeping track of bruises and rating them?" he asked her.
Joan chuckled slightly, remembering how whenever either of them came back from a mission, they counted the number of bruises the other had and gave each a rating on a scale of one to ten, with one being minor and ten being major. "I lost track of the number of bruises," Joan admitted.
"I'd give this one a nine," Arthur replied, touching her skin again.
"A nine?" Joan scoffed as she turned. "Why not make it a ten?"
"Well, I don't want to give Lena the satisfaction of knowing that she gave you a 'ten' bruise," Arthur replied, pressing his lips to Joan's momentarily. "Not that she knows about our game, but it's just the principle," he added before kissing her bruised eye.
"Good call," Joan said. A peaceful silence lingered for several moments before Joan spoke again. "I think I need a hot bath and a massage."
"I should take you to the ER to make sure you don't have a broken orbital bone or a fractured vertebra," Arthur answered.
"No, no hospitals," Joan spoke firmly. "Ever since Switzerland…"
"I know, I know," Arthur cut her off gently, knowing that they were drifting into dangerous waters. "I said that I should, not that I was going to."
Joan nodded slightly, resting her head against Arthur's shoulder. "When I get done…will you just hold me tonight?" she asked almost shyly. "I just…I need you to hold me, Arthur, to remind me that I'm still here." She closed her eyes for several moments before adding, "That we are still here."
Arthur nodded, using a finger to lift her chin again. Blue eyes met blue eyes, and Arthur gave her a watery smile. "I'm not going anywhere, Joan. And yes, I will hold you," he whispered.
"Good," Joan breathed, "Because I need you."