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3 times Javier and Joan had coffee (and one time they didn’t)

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Stumpton Coffee Roasters.
20 West 29th Street.

The fern floating on top of her latte is almost too beautiful, too delicate for her to break, but she takes a sip anyway, and the coffee's rich flavor lights up her mouth.

"Gregson asked me where I was from," Javier says after taking a sip of his own coffee—black, two packets of sugar-free sweetener.  He rolls his eyes.

"And that would be?"

"Queens."

"Nice.  I have an aunt there."

Javier sets down his coffee and leans forward, gesturing as he cocks an eyebrow.

"No, but get this—then he says, 'no, I mean, where are you from originally?'"

Joan groans and covers her face with both hands.  Of course.  Because their faces say elsewhere; because their skin says miles away, from some other land.

"And so I'm like—‘well, I was born in Brooklyn, if that's what you mean.’"

She laughs, bright and clear, and for a moment, their eyes meet.

"Me too."

*

Dunkin’ Donuts.
638 Lexington Avenue.

It’s 11pm.  This coffee tastes like someone took yesterday’s grounds, watered it down, and mixed it with cigarette butts.  Javier takes a bite out of his donut; the powdered sugar clings to his beard.

Joan turns over another piece of paper, highlights something that might be important, and chokes down another sip.  They’re nowhere near done.

Javier’s cell phone buzzes, and he digs it out of his pocket, flips it open, and presses it against his ear.

“Yeah.  Eu sei.  Sorry—important case.  I’ll be home soon—no, no, don’t wait up for me.  Yeah.  Sorry.  Te amo.  Bye.”

He flips the cell phone shut again and shoves it into his pocket, then sighs.  Joan offers him a smile.

“Long night,” she says, and Javier lets out a bitter laugh.

“Eh, I’ve had worse.  Made a house call at 3AM once—NYPD, you know, you get used to being a little nocturnal.”

He shuffles through a few papers and finishes up the rest of his donut.

“Well, you know what they say,” Joan says as she grabs a napkin and hands it to him—“thanks”—“Manhattan never sleeps.”

*

Abraço.
86 East 7th Street.

The iced coffee is cold against her fingertips.  The cup shines with condensation, and Joan traces a circle in the droplets, takes a sip and lets the chill spread through her bones.  The case beside the counter is piled high with twelve, fifteen kinds of sweets, with round white writing on the glass labeling each one, but she’s not hungry, and Javier’s also only eaten a bite of his cake.  The shapes on the walls are too bright.

“Holmes,” Javier says, letting out a bitter laugh.  He downs the rest of his espresso.

She doesn’t say a word.  She hasn’t said anything for the past half hour.

*

The kitchen.
221b Baker Street.

He’s lying on the couch, limbs limp, fingers brushing against the carpet, and this—seeing a great mind like him in a crumpled heap, skin and ink visible for her to see, tank top damp with sweat and spots of vomit—is jarring, breaks something inside her.

(But at least he’s alive.  And that’s what’s important, after all.)

The switch on the electric kettle clicks off, and Joan pours the water, hot and steaming, over the brown powder at the bottom of the mug.  Instant will have to do.  There’s nothing else in the apartment.

(Figures.  Turn your back on him for just a few days—he may be a genius, but he’s no more than a child in the end.)

She sets the mug down before him and leans against the arm of the couch, reaches over and smooths down his hair.

“Careful; it’s hot,” she says, and Sherlock pulls himself up and lifts the mug with trembling hands, then takes a sip.

“Thank you,” he murmurs, but the rattling of the air vents drowns out his words.