The instant before the glass falls, she knows that it's going to happen: she reached with the wrong hand again, carrying through with the motion before proprioception could tell her that no, she didn't have a solid grip after all. She watches in frustration as the inevitable unfolds, the glass slipping from her hand, striking, shattering. Glass shards and water scatter across the kitchen floor.
She takes a deep breath, trying to suppress her reaction. She has no business complaining, and she won't complain. Marcus has to live with this every day.
She hears her own chuckle from somewhere behind her. "Maybe I should nip back over to the apartment and bring over my old plasticware." It's her voice, of course, and what she wouldn't give for it to be Marcus's. She misses the comfort of his rumble.
"Don't bother," she says, trying for light, but she can hear a thickness in his voice that shouldn't be there. "It was Sherlock's. Hell, we should break all his glassware for getting us into this mess." She eyes the cabinets speculatively. It's all Sherlock's, of course, and it would be so damn satisfying to watch it all shatter.
"Hey, now," Marcus says, and it's her voice still, and she hates it, hates it. It plays badly in her head, too much like that first long year after she killed Gerald Castoro, when she pushed everyone away and only had herself for comfort. Marcus's steps are wrong as he crosses the kitchen—too light, too quick—and when his arms wrap around her it should feel more secure than this. His voice should rumble right in her ear, not be this higher and lighter one spoken from somewhere behind her shoulder. "It's okay, baby," he says, and this time she hears his accent, his rhythms, and that helps a little. "We'll get this fixed. Sherlock is working on it triple-time, and you and I are no slouches, either. And then everything will be back the way it should be and I'll spend all my time marveling at the way you live your entire damn life in three-inch heels."
That earns him something between a laugh and a sob: the first thing he did, after, was take too long of a step and fall on his butt. Joan's muscle memory took over soon after that, but they had taken only one look at the staircase before retreating to dig out a pair of ballet flats from the back of her closet for him. And then he slipped on the stairs anyway, expecting traction that wasn't there. He's been wearing her running shoes ever since.
She turns in his arms, letting her head rest in the crook of his neck and shoulder, focusing on the sensation of being held. There's comfort in a hug, almost irrespective of the body doing the hugging. "It's not the same thing, and you know it." She kicks petulantly at his running shoe. "I can take the heels off."
He's silent for a long moment.
She's known from the start that pitying him for his arm would kill the thing between them. Or, flipside-and-the-same, considering him brave for living with it. And here she is, two days in, a barely-contained mess of everything she had promised herself she would never feel. Angry and frustrated, and guilty about both. Determined not to feel sorry for herself, but having disallowed pity for herself, it only swirled around until it became pity for him. Because—and it kept coming back to this—he had to live with this every day forever. That was the mantra in her head that she couldn't shut down, as she kept being brought up short by his arm: he has to live with this every day forever.
Walking a day in someone else's shoes is supposed to help you understand them, bring you closer to them, but Joan fears that living in his shoes is going to destroy what they've built over the past two years. It will, if she can't get her head under control.
She begins to apologize and pull away, but his arms tighten around her, pulling her back. He presses a kiss to her temple. "Stop it, Joan. What's happening now, that isn't what it's like for me. It's only been two days."
She makes a derisive noise into his neck, because that's exactly the problem: it's only been two days.
"I spent a whole lot of time in occupational therapy, plus therapy-therapy, plus a whole lot more just walking around in the world. I know some things you don't know shit about. You remember what you said about your gross anatomy cadaver?"
She groans. "Oh, god. Don't remind me." She had tried to tell him that his arm was sexy.
He laughs. "Okay, there might have been some fetishization going on there." He presses another kiss to her temple. "I forgive you. Even the great Joan Watson is allowed to screw up."
She lifts her head enough to press a kiss to his neck in return, intensely grateful that he knows all her failures and flaws and shortcomings, and loves her anyway. She is luckier than she deserves.
"But it's true, our bodies shape us. Two days, all you know is what it's like to live with that arm for two days. Two years, three years, it's a different thing. Do us both a favor, don't try to extrapolate."
He pulls far enough back to see her face, then laughs. "Okay, that's weird, seeing me cry."
She laughs, too, even if it's watery. "Any less weird than seeing me wandering around in the middle of the day without any make-up?"
"As if you're not every bit as gorgeous without it," he teases. She wants to cry again, and tucks her face back into his shoulder instead. Even if it's all wrong, there are still some things that are right.
"You've always shown me the respect of not pretending to know how it is for me," he whispers into her ear. He gives the nape of her neck an affectionate shake, but there's a sternness in his words, a warning that she's standing on the line. "You still don't know how it is for me. Capisce?"
"Capisce," she agrees. They stand there a moment longer. "Can we do a Godfather marathon tonight? Because I've about hit the end of—"
"God, yes," he agrees. "Me, too. And that asshole—" he pitches his voice to carry, "—isn't invited. Sherlock, stop lurking behind the door."
She pushes back from Marcus, wiping her eyes, as Sherlock steps into view, looking abashed. "You, ah, appeared to be having a moment."
"And you appear to not have any manners." Marcus stands belligerently between them, giving her a moment to collect herself. Sherlock shoots her a skittish look over Marcus's shoulder. She tries to dredge up a smile for him. She's still furious at him and his fucking mad-science experiments, and when this is over she's going to lay down some rules that will make the harshest institutional review boards look like pushovers, but she can concede that it's been a bad couple of days for Sherlock, too.
"Tell me you've got some good news for us," she says.