Eyes meet from across the room. The first thing that comes to mind is, "Wow. That is the most beautiful person in the universe." He smiles, and you smile back. Maybe you wave. That feeling bubbles up in your chest of a new beginning, and then you both look away shyly. You know he felt it, too.
Sounds like how every girl in every movie usually meets her true love, right?
Well, Joan Andrews met hers by spilling coffee on him.
"Oh my god!"
The warm brown liquid goes flying as the lid pops off of her latte. It soaks the front of his shirt, complete wrecking his tie.
"Crap, I am so sorry," Joan frets, dabbing at his shirt with her napkin. She looks up, flustered, and sees his eyes. Deep blue, and piercing. He looks amused.
"It's okay," he assures her, looking down. He lowers his voice. "I actually really hate this tie."
She looks at it. It's striped, with various shades of green, the most prominent being a swampy brown-green color. It's quite ugly.
She laughs nervously. "Um, yeah. It's.."
"Hideous? Yeah, I know. My mother gave it to me."
Joan smiles. He's that kind of guy. She's about to open her mouth, maybe tease him in a flirty way, when someone on the other side of the bullpen yells, "Campbell!"
"That's me," he says, placing his hand on her shoulder for a brief second. She nods, and he walks past her.
"Catch you later, coffee."
She stands there smiling until someone waves a hand in front of her face.
Joan shakes her head and comes out of her reverie, eyes snapping to the person in front of her.
Annie frowns. "Are you okay? You have coffee on your blouse."
Joan looks down. It's not as bad as his, but sure enough, her light blue button down has some brown spots.
"C'mon," Annie says, grabbing Joan's arm. Joan dumps her now-empty coffee cup in a nearby trash can and follows Annie out the DPD door.
Annie sits on the bathroom counter and turns on the water, while Joan un-tucks her shirt from her black pencil skirt and inspects it.
"So, someone's got a crush," Annie says with a mischievous glint in her eye as she hands Joan a damp paper towel. Joan blushes.
"I was in Auggie's office, we saw it all. Well, I did, and I recounted it to him."
Joan groans. "Great. I bet I looked like an idiot."
"Only a little bit," Annie says gently, taking Joan's used paper towel from her and handing her another one. Joan sighs, dabbing at her shirt. The stains are lighter, but still there.
"So," Annie says casually, watching her friend tuck her shirt back in. "Who is he?"
Joan looks at her. "I don't know... someone Campbell."
Annie snorts. "Nice."
"Annie, he was so sweet," Joan said, leaning against the counter and smiling. She closes her eyes. "He was wearing a tie his mom gave him."
"That you doused in double vanilla latte," Annie pointed out, getting off the counter. Joan sighs.
"Whatever. He's that kind of guy, you know? The sensitive kind who wears things his mother gives him, even if he thinks they're ugly. He's the opposite of Seth."
"Okay, fundamental girl rule: you cannot compare a guy to your ex if you don't even know his first name," Annie says with a laugh. She and Joan head back to the DPD, Joan still thinking about him. Her volatile, drug-dependent relationship with Seth ended 8 months ago, but sometimes, she still felt drawn back to it. But when she saw coffee guy's kind smile, she knew that she was over Seth, once and for all. No more drugs, no more waking up hungover, and no more fights ending in tears. Stable and loving, that's what her next relationship would be. And she had this gut feeling that she could have that with this guy.
Right before they walk back into the bullpen, Joan grabs her friend's arm and pulls her to the side.
"Will you find out who he is?"
"Really? Joan, it's not 8th grade." Annie sighs, knowing she'll do it no matter what she says. Joan throws in a slight pout and Annie throws her hands up in defeat.
"Thank you," Joan says, wrapping her arms around Annie in a quick hug. She winks at her, and then they walk back into the bullpen. Joan heads to Auggie's office, and Annie goes back to her desk.
"Oh, Joan! Allen's tonight with me and Auggie?," Annie asks, turning around after walking only a few steps. Joan nods and smiles.
"Auggie?" Joan knocks on the doorframe, watching the tech op slide his fingers over his Braille keyboard. He looks up, a goofy grin on his face.
"Hey. I head about the coffee."
"Shut up," she says, swatting his shoulder. He laughs.
"I'll let you tell me the details tonight at Allen's. You're coming, right?"
"Where else would I be on a weeknight? And who else would I be with? You guys are my only friends, remember?"
"Oh, stop being so self-pitying," Auggie says. "You're not a lost puppy."
Joan laughs, but she still does feel like the lost puppy she was 3 years ago. She was moving through life with no true purpose, and then she was at a bar, with a co-worker (she worked at the Gap) who pointed to a cluster of guys and whispered something about them being spooks. Joan applied to Camp Perry a week later.
"Plus, maybe one day in the future, you'll have coffee boy." Now he's smirking, and Joan shoots a foul look at him. But she is grateful for him, because he always keeps her grounded and calm.
"Frowning at you right now," she says, walking out of his office. She hears him laugh.
"See you at 6!"
Joan smiles to herself as she sits down at her desk, a few yards away from Annie's, and starts sifting through a stack of Nicaraguan newspapers. Level 4 Spanish may be awesome, but when your division is a relatively new one and the few multi-lingual people (like Annie) know a lot more than the average Spanish and French, you get stuck with all the Spanish newspapers. And op-eds. And health codes (don't ask).
Later that night, Joan sits at a table on the patio at Allen's with Auggie. Annie said she had "a few things to do," so Joan drove Auggie and her to the bar, and ordered a beer the second she arrived.
"Slow down, tiger," Auggie comments. Joan looks at her half-empty beer and laughs.
"How do you do that?"
"It's lighter when you set it on the table, which you've only done once since we got here."
Joan tucks her hair behind her ears. "It's been a hell of a day."
"Yep. Sorenson sent me an email saying he wants me in his office at 8 am sharp tomorrow morning to give me an assignment."
"You love the travel part of the job almost as much as Annie does," he says, confused. Joan sighs.
"Yeah, but he said I'll be partnering with an operative who is more skilled at bringing in assets."
"Well, that doesn't mean anything. They're probably just a few years older, maybe they have more experience."
"Yeah, or they're an asshole. Sorenson doesn't like me." Joan is referring to their boss, who she swears stop liking her after she asked him to stop hitting on her.
"No man likes to be shot down before the game ever starts."
"Ew," Joan crinkles her nose and takes another swig of beer.
"Hello, party people," Annie chirps, sliding into the seat next to Joan. She flags a waiter and orders a beer.
"Hey," Joan says glumly. Annie looks at Auggie.
"What's with her?"
"Getting a new assignment tomorrow, and she's convinced her partner in crime will be a dick, because Sorenson is still mad that she asked him to stop staring at her chest."
"And legs," Joan adds. She polishes off her beer and grabs another one. Annie just smiles.
"Well, I have a present for you, so stop being moody." She hands Joan a piece of paper folded in half. Joan unfolds it and sees his face. The guy with the insanely perfect blue eyes.
"Arthur Campbell," Annie says, mostly for Auggie's benefit. "30 years old, and got recruited for the DPD when it formed due to his impressive rate at bringing in assets. He's from Brooklyn, and excelled at student government in high school. Oh, and he has an affinity for Scotch."
Joan looks up from the file, grinning. "Thanks, Annie."
"No problem," she says, sipping her beer. Joan drops the file into her purse and chats with her friends, trying to think of the best way to start a conversation with Arthur tomorrow.
I hope you all enjoyed the first chapter of what I think is the most fun, challenging, unique story I have ever written about Joan & Arthur! Just for future reference, every chapter will be named after a song. The whole story is "More Than I Deserve " by Christian Kane, and this chapter is "Deer in the Headlights" by Owl City! Anyways, review & let me know what you think!