Actions

Work Header

Between the Lines

Chapter Text

Diane emerges from his bathroom wearing nothing but his flannel shirt, lazily buttoned, and he can’t help but stare.

He is aware that he is open-mouthed, googly-eyed, breathlessly staring and he doesn’t even care. Those legs, the way she walks, that completely knowing smirk… And why shouldn’t he stare? This didn’t happen nearly often enough.

This is, in fact, the first time she has stayed over that they had not fallen into bed dead-tired and half-drunk. This time, they had not made it past the first beer before she crawled into his lap there on the couch by the fire. He can’t help but return the smirk at the flash of memory. But it has left them here, now, in this unfamiliar situation.

He has brought out some extra pillows — he doesn’t know how many she likes. He feels silly, but he fluffs them on her side of the bed. He just wants this to be nice for her. He wants it to be right.

He walks back toward the closet for another blanket (she might get cold in the middle of the night; he doesn’t know) and misjudges her movement, bumps into her awkwardly. They stand face to face for a moment, and she laughs softly. “Hello,” she whispers, her voice in its lowest octave — he might have thought it was calculated to drive him insane, but something about it…

Could she feel as uncertain as he did? It seemed impossible, and yet…

Mercifully or cruelly, he isn’t sure which, she pulls his face toward hers and kisses him lightly, lingeringly. It stops his anxious thoughts for a moment, at least.

She breaks away almost shyly then, making her way around the bed toward the left side.

“No, wait—” he reaches out, his fingertips grazing her elbow as she passes.

She whirls around. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing— I thought— I mean, I—” He gestures at the right side of the bed, too embarrassed to complete the sentence. I made that side nice for you.

“Oh,” she raises her eyebrows, confused. “I’m sorry, I thought that was your side — you were…”

She stops, perhaps suddenly understanding.

“Oh. Of course.” She flashes him a smile, moving back around the bed.

“You like the left side,” he smiles back, sheepishly.

“No no, either is fine.”

“But you sleep on the left.”

She looks over at him, biting her lip — to keep from laughing at him, probably. He thinks he should feel embarrassed but he can’t, quite; she is wearing his shirt and nothing else, she hasn’t bothered to fix her mussed hair, and she is biting her lip, staring back at him. She is the sexiest fucking thing.

He sighs. “You can have the left side.”

“No! Of course not, it’s your house, Kurt.”

“Yeah, but now I’m going to feel bad.”

“Oh my goodness, why?” She does, then: she laughs at him, and tries to suppress it.

“Forget it.” He shakes his head, runs a hand through his hair. This was so much easier after they’d had a few more drinks. “Do you want another blanket?”

“No, I think this will be perfect.” She has stopped laughing, perhaps just to be kind, slipping under the sheets on the right side.

“Okay.” He walks around to the left, as if finally admitting defeat. He gets into bed beside her, painfully conscious of how strange this is.

She reaches behind her, removing one of the extra pillows, letting it fall to the floor.

He frowns slightly. She must think he’s ridiculous. Who needs three pillows?

She rolls onto her side, facing him. And she smiles. Not the smirk that drives him wild, not the teasing smile that makes him feel sillier than he ever imagined he could. It’s that rare, deep and resonant smile that lights up her whole face, that has no agenda, that makes him almost blurt out the words he’s starting to suspect are true.

He reaches out to turn off the light instead, and settles down beside her.

“Comfortable?” he asks.

“Mmmhmm.” She slips her arm around his waist, pulling herself a bit closer. “The right side isn’t so bad.”

“No?” He brushes her hair from her forehead, letting his hand rest on her neck.

“I like the view from over here.”

The smirk is back, and everything that comes with it. She leans in to kiss him, now with definite intent. He pulls her closer still and suddenly everything feels right.

Chapter Text

Diane wakes with a start. Her eyes struggle to focus and finally land on the alarm clock: 5am. She lays still, listening, wondering what had disturbed her. After a few moments of silence, she decides it must have been Justice making her morning rounds. If she is lucky, she might be able to fall back asleep for the better part of the hour before she has to get up.

She has nearly dozed off when that sound jars her awake again, loud and close — in her bed. She turns over and finds Kurt sprawled beside her, snoring. Momentarily shocked, she sits up, her back against the headboard, gathering the sheet around her. As she watches him sleep, she isn’t sure how she feels about it. This is the first time he has been in her bed. It has been a long time since any man has been in her bed.

Bit by bit the memory of the night before comes back to her sleep-fogged brain. He had called her, late. She was already home, relaxed and settled in for the night, one glass into a bottle of wine. Somewhat annoyed, she named a bar nearby where they could meet. She intended to yell at him for calling so late, an afterthought, but he disarmed her with a kiss. There was more wine, and more kisses. And they had ended up here.

And as she remembers the rest — laughing as he kissed her neck while she fumbled for the door key, his appraisal of her bookshelves and how good Sarah Palin looked there, and how good she looked there, and his hands on her and his lips on her and the blur of rooms he hasn’t properly seen yet between the living room and the bedroom — she realizes she is glad he is here, now, in her bed. It’s strangely intimate and not what she expected, but she is glad.

And she wants him to know she is glad. She does not say these things readily. As easy as it would be to kiss him awake, slide one leg between his, make him feel how much she wants him here — she thinks, not like that, not this once. That was becoming almost too easy.

She decides to show him another way, and quietly slips out of bed, padding toward the kitchen. She starts a pot of coffee and contemplates her poorly stocked fridge and pantry. She isn’t much of a cook, but she can manage some fruit and toast. The message should come across just the same.

She has a tray set with various spreads, the bread is in the toaster, and she is cutting up a fruit salad with great focus when suddenly his arms snake around her from behind, his breath warm on her neck as he murmurs, “I thought I smelled coffee.”

She lets the knife drop, forgotten, as she turns around to face him.

"You’re making me breakfast?" he asks with a satisfied hint of a smirk.

"Yeah," she says, and it comes out huskier than she intended, and she sees the effect it has on him. The smirk vanishes. He has understood what breakfast means. It makes him serious, and it makes him want her.

And in the same instant she panics briefly, asking herself the same question she has over and over since their first date: What am I doing? No really, what am I doing? But she doesn’t ask it out loud anymore, because he will answer with the frank truth she isn’t quite ready to hear, nevermind that she wanted this. You’re making me breakfast, he might say as if it were nothing, but it is not nothing. It makes her nervous, and it makes her want him.

Their lips meet and their hands are all over each other again, pushing aside what little clothing they bothered to put on. She shoves the fruit tray aside as he backs her up against the counter and some of it falls and scatters across the floor.

"Sorry," he mumbles into her mouth.

"Don’t care," she laughs back breathlessly, pulling him closer.

A moment later he breaks away. “I think the toast is burning—”

"Forget breakfast." She pulls him back again, diverting his attention with kisses.

Inwardly she curses herself — not forget breakfast, that’s not what she wanted; it meant something, and she doesn’t want to take it back; but this is easy and this is good and this makes sense and she doesn’t want to stop this. This first, and then breakfast. This first… and then…

He hoists her up to sit on the counter, sending more fruit falling to the floor.

And she too forgets, for now, all about breakfast.

Chapter Text

The night she comes over, they decide they will keep it more casual this time. But then they have another beer or two and wind up predictably in bed. And the first outing he suggests is the most elaborate, coupley thing they’ve ever done, and they have a great time. And he can’t resist calling her spontaneously just to hear that throaty, carefree laugh. It’s wonderful when they’re together but other times it just seems like a lot more than she bargained for.

She sees Jack a few more times because it’s easy and meaningless and he makes her laugh, too, and there’s zero chance it’s going anywhere and she’s fine with that, really. At root he’s just not a very serious person and Kurt can be so serious.

She really doesn’t have much time for either of them, as the firm’s financial situation gets worse and worse. She takes longer and longer to return their calls, breaking more dates than she keeps. It doesn’t take long for Jack to disappear completely. Kurt understands, gives her space — reminding himself this was supposed to be casual, that was the deal — but one day when he’s in town he gets the idea to stop by and see her, a simple bunch of flowers in hand. He’s sure she’ll think it’s funny. They don’t do things like flowers. He’ll hear that laugh again; it’s all he wants, really.

He gets to the receptionist’s desk and asks to see Diane. Noticing the flowers, the young woman smiles knowingly and says, “Jack?”

He sets the flowers down and leaves without a word.

When the receptionist gives the flowers to Diane, she has a pretty good idea what happened.

They don’t call each other again after that.

Chapter Text

The day caught up with Diane all at once. Between the case, what Kalinda had uncovered about her father, the stress of seeing Kurt again… She looked at her watch. She didn’t have time to go home and freshen up, and all of a sudden she didn’t have the energy, honestly, to sit there politely and be charming and pretend everything was fine.

Her hand hovered over the phone hesitantly for a moment, then she picked it up quickly and dialed before she could change her mind. He would understand — or he wouldn’t. She didn’t have much left to lose with him, either way.

"Hello," his voice was sharp, a statement not a question.

"Hey, it’s me — listen, about tonight, do you mind if I take a raincheck?"

"Okay."

That was it, not enough to tell if he was angry or hurt or anything at all. So she rambled on.

"It’s been a long day — I wouldn’t be very good company."

"It’s always a long day, Diane."

She winced. That was it, he was upset and counting this as another in a long line of disappointments.

After a pause he added, more gently, “But you’re always good company as far as I’m concerned.”

She broke out into a helpless grin at that. “It’s not that I don’t want to see you, I’m just not up for—”

"I understand," he interrupted her. He never really did want explanations. Just whatever she chose to share with him.

"I knew you would," she winced again, wishing she had. "Maybe tomorrow? I think all I want tonight is to curl up on my couch with a glass of wine and then go to bed early."

"Look, no pressure, Diane, but if that’s really what you want there’s no reason you can’t do it here. If you want to see me."

"What?"

"There’s a cozy little loveseat in my room. I can get wine. You can relax, no frills." He paused, then added quickly, "Or another time, if you’d rather."

It struck her that that was exactly what she wanted -- relaxation, wine, and him.

"No — that sounds lovely. I do want to see you, Kurt."

"Good. I want to see you, too, Diane." Then to relieve the moment suddenly charged with intimacy he joked, "Not worried about being seen slipping into your ballistics expert’s room?"

Her father sprang to mind again. Compared to all that, where did this figure in the grand scheme of moral transgressions? “Screw it. I’m on my way.”

Chapter Text

The process of moving into each other’s lives and homes was a gradual and — mostly — natural one. Each time he spent a few nights in the city, or she in the country, they left more and more things behind them, without really talking about it. Both grew accustomed to seeing reminders of the other around when they weren’t there, and for two people who had lived most of their adult lives alone it was surprisingly… nice. Comfortable.

As they began to more seriously think about married life they agreed it made sense to keep their separate homes, but they’d make an effort to make each space feel like it was really theirs. Diane didn’t hesitate to move most of her casual wardrobe, and a decent chunk of her nicer things, into his modest closet space. She took over half of the master bathroom, which amused him more than anything. And although there wasn’t much she would change about the decor — it was all part of the charm and romance for her, just as it was — she brought a couple paintings that he never would have chosen but had to admit did something for the place.

Concerned that he seemed less interested in bringing more than a couple days’ change of clothes to her apartment, and hoping she wasn’t making him feel somehow unwelcome, she told him he should “move in” officially one Saturday morning. She cleared out several drawers and closet space for him (a challenge, and a sacrifice). She made room on her bookshelves for his ballistics manuals and even, if he had to, some of his political books. She considered what furniture she might move around or put into storage if he wanted to bring in something he’d feel more comfortable sitting in. As his truck pulled up, she braced herself for the patched leather recliner to come with him. She could get used to it, she told herself, as part of the package deal.

When she opened the door she gave him a quick kiss and said, her voice low, “Happy moving day.”

He laughed and set a duffel bag and garment bag down on the floor, closing the door behind him. He embraced her and kissed her properly, both grinning stupidly back at the other when they pulled away.

"Should we get the rest of your things now?" she asked.

"That’s it."

She looked doubtfully at the two fairly small bags. “That’s it? Kurt, that’s not moving in.”

He shrugged. “I take half of that when I go on a week-long trip. It’s all I need.”

"But what about books or pictures or — I don’t know, anything to make it feel like home?" She frowned; it bothered her. Did he not want to do this, or did he think she didn’t?

"Diane," he said lightly, putting his arms around her again, "I don’t need a lot of stuff to feel like I’m at home."

"But you don’t need more than that?"

"I don’t really need more than this," he said, kissing her soundly again. "Besides, you already have the Palin bio."

She shoved him playfully, breaking away. She picked up his bags, handing the duffel to him and carrying the lighter garment bag herself as she led the way to the bedroom. “All right, then. Let’s get you moved in.”

She laid the garment bag carefully across the bed and opened the drawers she had cleared for him — she smiled to herself knowing she could take a few back now. “Just clothes?” she asked.

"Mostly," he said, staring to lay things out in neat piles on the bed.

"What’s in the garment bag?"

"My one nice suit. The one I’m going to marry you in."

She turned around to see him grinning at her again. She couldn’t help but grin back. It did feel like moving day, after all. They were really doing this.

She crossed the room and kissed him again, more deeply than before, backing him up to the bed. They didn’t finish unpacking until much later.

Chapter Text

"Why are we getting married, Kurt?"
"Do you not want to?"
"I don’t know."

He held her gaze for a long time, waiting. There were no more questions to be asked. Just that final one, hanging in the air, unanswered.

Finally he sighed, starting up the truck again, and pulled back onto the road.

"What are you doing?" She asked quietly.

"Can’t wait forever," he said simply.

She looked over at him, studying his face, unreadable and carefully avoiding looking back at her. Tears stung at her eyes. She wanted to reach out to him, just put an end to this. But she didn’t know. She really didn’t know.

After a few minutes he frowned, as if it had just occurred to him what that sounded like. He amended his statement: “Can’t wait forever on the side of the road, I mean.”

An interminable length of time passed, him staring straight ahead, her watching him miserably, before he broke the silence again. “You just let me know when you know, Diane.”

Something in the way he said this made her stomach churn — suddenly she understood him. He was so gentle, so guileless; he meant precisely what he said. Let me know when you know. He had always spoken his mind, but he had also been unfailingly patient. It had never stopped him from moving ahead, but he had waited — maybe he would wait forever.

She sat up straight, turning her focus away from him, digging in her purse. “Pull onto the highway.”

"Back to Chicago," he muttered, but followed her instructions.

Diane pulled her phone out of her purse, noting the time — 10:30. She flicked through her apps, searching. This is crazy, but maybe…

He was confused when she waved him off from taking the exit closest to her apartment. Without any explanation, she directed him turn by turn, until they reached the destination she had in mind.

"Diane, what is this?"

She frowned, regarding the dimly lit storefront in a rundown shopping plaza. She checked the time again. 10:50.

"Diane?"

"There aren’t a lot of jewelry stores open until 11 o’clock," she laughed, turning toward him, giddy all of a sudden.

He laughed too, catching up with her all at once. “Okay. You had me worried for a minute. But this—”

She interrupted before he could finish his protest. “Kurt, let’s get married tomorrow.”

He looked at the store again skeptically, one neon light in the sign burned out. “This isn’t what you want.”

"You’re what I want. Nothing is going to change that. And I know you feel the same way."

"I do," he said emphatically, turning to study her face again, trying as always to figure her out. "So there’s no rush."

"No rush," she confirmed, smiling slyly. "But no reason to wait."

He seemed to be looking for some assurance that this wasn’t a reactionary whim she would soon regret. After a few moments, he must have found the answer he needed.

"All right," he grinned back at her. "Let’s get married tomorrow."

When they entered the store, an old man at the back counter called out, “Sorry, we’re just about to close!”

Diane strode toward him, almost pulling Kurt along at her side. “I think we have three minutes. We don’t need more than that.”

"Oh?" The old man looked at them as if he rarely saw either of their types here. "What are you interested in?"

They exchanged glances — funny, they had never really talked about it. They had talked about how they would arrange and combine their lives, they had talked about how it would impact their respective jobs, they had talked about how they could live with their differences. But they hadn’t worked out the last few little problems, until tonight. They hadn’t thought of the last little details, until now.

"Two simple gold bands?" she suggested.

"Two simple gold bands," he agreed.

Chapter Text

She drops her purse on the foyer table, slips out of her shoes, shrugs out of her coat. It is the same slightly inefficient routine she follows every night — half an hour later, while checking her emails on her phone, she will circle back to put the things away properly. It is simply such a relief to unburden herself the moment she walks in the door, today more than ever. She has lost her last case - she has lost her judgeship - she has lost her place at the firm she spent years of her life building. It is hard not to feel she has lost everything. She lets her things fall lifeless from her body.

It is so new still that she almost forgets there will, a moment later, be a disruption to this routine. In a moment he will pop out of some room and kiss her cheek. He will appear and despite it all he will say something to make her smile. It is so new that it still surprises her, but tonight she anticipates it, she finds unexpected solace in it. Let them take everything else from her; she will still have him.

She walks down the hall, peeking in the living room, the kitchen, the room they had turned into his makeshift office. He does not pop out to greet her; he is nowhere. “Kurt?” she calls out as she approaches the bedroom. He is not there, either. Slowly it dawns on her that he is gone.

She stands in their bedroom — their bedroom, it is theirs now: there are political biographies and forensics textbooks on the bedside table; he makes the bed slightly differently than she does; his presence touches everything that was once hers alone — and she is momentarily stunned. He had planned to be home tonight. There is no note, no text message to tell her his plans have changed. How could he just leave?

In the next moment she is furious at herself: that makes two of their rules she has broken in one day. He had been right that morning; they agreed they would have no say in each other’s cases. And now she is feeling abandoned when they had both sworn to each other they would come and go as their lives and jobs demanded. They had decided from the start they could only make this work if they didn’t feel bound by the usual rules — and now what was she doing?

A darker thought still occurs to her — what if he had left not because something called him away, but in response to their fight? Her weary mind races, conjuring up any number of terrible imaginings. What if he had decided this was all so much more than he had signed up for? Had she strongarmed him into marriage, had he never really wanted this at all? What if she truly had lost everything?

"Diane? You home?"

She hears his voice call out first, then the sound of Justice’s nails clicking on the hardwood floor as she runs toward her. The dog jumps on her and knocks her backward onto the bed, licking her face eagerly.

A moment later he appears in the doorway, grinning at the sight. “We just went out for a walk,” he says, then pulls a white paper bag from behind his back. “And for takeout.”

She laughs, a forced and pained laugh, expelling all of the anxiety that seems so silly now. “Oh, you’re wonderful,” she says, then turns her focus to Justice, who is still climbing all over her. “What do you two do when you go out? She always comes back so worked up!”

"She’s just excited to see you. I know the feeling." He crosses the room to sit beside her on the bed and lowers his voice. "Sometimes takes all the restraint I have not to jump on you like that when I first see you."

She laughs again, shoving him playfully. Then she turns serious. “I thought you might be angry with me.”

"Angry, why? Oh - this morning?" He waves dismissively as if it were nothing.

"I was wrong. You were right to take the case. I’m sorry."

He smiles slightly in acknowledgment of her apology, and seems to be about to tease her for it when finally he fully gathers how drained she looks. “You okay?”

"I think I had just about the worst day of my life today," she says, a note of bitterness creeping into her voice again. She looks back to him and softens, finding a smile for him. "But it’s getting better."

"What happened?"

"Let’s talk about it over dinner." She takes the bag from him and sets it on the floor — dinner can wait. She pushes Justice off her lap, too, and moves closer to him, taking his face in both her hands.

She marvels at the thought that she had even considered giving him up for the judgeship. It was crazy to think now she almost let him walk out her door again. She kisses him, certain she made the best decision of her life that day when she chose this happiness.

And this day has proven her right: she may have nearly lost everything, yet she still has everything right here.

Chapter Text

Shortly after their marriage, Diane and Kurt take the two-hour drive to visit his mother. She can’t help being a little nervous — she hasn’t met a man’s mother like this since she was in college — but he assures her that his mother will adore her because all she has ever wanted for him was to get married. 

"She used to complain that she’d die before she could see me get married — and I told her she was right," he laughed. "Only way to deal with Mama, throw it right back at her."

"Sounds like the right way to handle any McVeigh," she teased him.

"Yep. She was right, though. I had no intention of ever getting married. Until you roped me in.”

"Oh, is that what I did?" And she kisses the smirk off his face, and it calms her somewhat.

Mama McVeigh IS delighted to meet Diane, or so she seems to be, greeting her with a warm hug before she can even say “Hello.” But before long Diane realizes the dream she had for her only son was a wife — AND kids. She keeps asking how other women are doing — Miranda, and other names Diane doesn’t recognize. Other younger women. “Oh, it’s too bad you don’t see much of Stacy anymore!” “I always did like Kelly; she was a real sweetheart.”

Diane notices Kurt fidgeting uncomfortably as he tries to turn the conversation back to more neutral subjects. She thought she was over her concerns about the younger women in his life — they are his friends, they are his students, she knows that — but now that her mother-in-law is relentlessly bringing them up one after the other she can’t help but wonder how she had occasion to meet so many of them. 

And Kurt does not seem to be as quick to put his mother in her place as he said he was — or perhaps he is just too set on keeping the peace between the two strong-minded women he loves most. But surely he can see his mother is out of line, Diane thinks, and that it’s upsetting her — she can’t help it, an edge is creeping into her voice, she’s going to lash out and ruin the whole day if this doesn’t stop…

"Well, it’s a shame you’re never going to make me a grandmother, Kurt…" Mama sighs, finally coming out and saying it.

And Diane laughs. She can’t help it, she just laughs right out loud, a tickle in her throat gradually building to a full-blown cackle. 

Kurt looks nervously from one woman to the other.

"I’m sorry," Diane says, mastering herself. "I’m just picturing a lot of half-dressed children running around the woods behind the cabin, shooting toy guns at each other."

Mama McVeigh doesn’t miss a beat, adding, “And there would be Kurt saying, ‘They’re crack shots, too.’” She does an excellent impression of his voice and manner, then collapses into a fit of giggles too.

Diane laughs again, shoving him playfully, her shoulder falling against his.

Watching them, Mama McVeigh settles into a pleased smile. “You know, Diane, I only wish Kurt had met you sooner.”

Kurt looks from one to the other again, knowing this is high praise from his mother. He sees that Diane seems to accept it for what it is.

And looking at Diane, he can’t look away again for long moments. He says quietly, more for her than for his mother, “We’re happy exactly as we are.”

That look of helpless wonder, absolute adoration, has come over him, and if his mother doesn’t know now that he has found the perfect woman for him now, she never will.

Mama McVeigh just smiles.

Chapter Text

Diane felt a little guilty when she first told Kurt she was going to New York for the conference. She was just telling him — it hadn’t even occurred to her he might like to accompany her. She watched his face rise with unexpected excitement and then fall as he realized she wasn’t asking him. Surprised by his response, she asked him if he wanted to go, but he brushed it off, saying he knew it was just going to be business, they’d barely see each other if he did go, it was fine. She insisted she wanted him to go, and that it would be a whole lot less business if he were there, in that sly, seductive voice of hers that made him believe anything she said. 

And she felt guilty again when Will offered to have his admin book the same itinerary for them both. She declined gently, mentioning that she planned to extend her trip to spend another day in the city with Kurt. He said okay, and she knew it bothered him because he couldn’t even manage a playfully snide comment. She wasn’t sure if he was resentful that she was devoting less time to the firm since her marriage or if he had just been looking for someone to go to dinner with. He was more vulnerable these days, but, she reminded herself, it had been the other way around any number of times they had traveled together before. And she had earned the right to forget about work entirely once in a while.

While Will was at the diner with Alicia, an exhausted but content Diane was just getting out of the shower and settling down for a low-key room service dinner with Kurt. Snuggled up against him, she listened and ate voraciously as he told her how he’d spent his day, walking all over, going to the Museum of Natural History, getting into an argument with college students trying to get him to sign a petition for some liberal cause or other. When he had brought her up to speed and asked about her day, she shook her head and smiled, reminding him, “No business.” And she set aside her plate, grabbing his face with both hands and pulling him closer.

The next day, they are in no rush to get out of bed. It’s midmorning by the time they seek out chocolate croissants and coffee at the little bakery around the corner. They walk for a while, aimlessly, enjoying they day and each other and whatever they happen upon, and she has that rare, fine feeling that they are just like any ordinary couple, any boring tourists who really care more about who they’re with than where they go, and she likes that. They go to a matinee, a play Diane has been dying to see and which Kurt pretends to like. Apart from that they go through the day with no definite plan, eating where and when they like, stopping off for a drink, stealing a kiss on a park bench. 

When they take a taxi to the airport the next morning, Diane cuddles up against him. He asks, “What?” and she says, “Nothing,” with a little laugh in her voice. But what she’s thinking is, they need to find time for many more weekends like this. And she will learn not to feel a bit guilty about it.

Chapter Text

Diane has told the partners and she has called his sisters. She has seen Alicia — the hardest, and yet most affirming, conversation she has had since it happened. And now she has sequestered herself in her office to reach out to the long list of major clients and close mutual friends she must call before she is done.

The message is not easier to deliver with repetition, but she knows both sides of the dialogue by heart. The words sound hollow, routine, what everyone always says. We’ll see each other through this. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. The words are trite, perhaps, but also true.

Outside her office, she watches as people stop to embrace one another. She has been there with them, and she has cried with them. But she has not really let herself go, as part of her wishes she could, and find a dark room to sob in alone for an hour. She is there with them, but she has to be there for them, too. She has, still, so many calls she must make.

She sighs and flips through her address book. Most can hear it on the news. Others can wait a day or so to hear from her. She looks for the names who are owed a call, or who deserve a call; it is the same conversation, either way, only with varying degrees of warmth and formality.

She picks up the phone again and starts to dial, but instead of the intended number she finds herself dialing Kurt’s. She stands, her back to the mourners outside her office. Just for a few minutes, she needs something normal and untouched by this. She just needs to hear his voice.

"Hey," he answers simply, knowing it is her. His voice is warm and bright and alive, and it brings a small smile to her face.

She opens her mouth to respond, and finds the words don’t come. The script is not so clear now.

"Diane, are you there?" He waits; then a note of worry creeps into his voice as he asks again, "Diane?"

She takes a deep breath and composes herself. “I’m here,” she says, and it comes out more forcefully than she had intended. It is not so much a statement as it is an affirmation, a promise.

"Is everything okay?"

She has said the words many times and she will say them many more times before the day is over, but she finds she cannot say them to Kurt — not yet. She has told everyone else because they needed to know. But she will tell Kurt because she needs him, and she is not ready for that. He is the place she will go to instead of that dark room, alone, to sob, but she can’t go there. Not quite yet.

"I just — wanted to call you to tell you I love you."

"Well I love you, too, Diane."

She smiles again because she can imagine his face now, a slightly puzzled lopsided grin on it, holding himself back from teasing her. She doesn’t want to lose that. Not yet. Later he will tell her he loves her over and over, but it will come from a place of sadness she isn’t ready to hear.

"I snapped at you over something stupid this morning. I don’t even remember—"

"The dishwasher," he reminds her in that same teasing tone.

"Right," she laughs lightly. "I’m sorry about that. It was stupid."

"Has this been niggling at your conscience all day?"

"Not really. I just…" she trails off, about to utter one of those trite but true phrases out of the script. These tragedies make you think about how you leave things with people. What if she had yelled at him about something trivial, left without a kiss goodbye, and never seen him again? She shuts her eyes tightly — no tears, not yet. Besides, he hasn’t held a grudge. She could have left him with any words at all, and he would still know she loved him. Will knew, too, surely…

"Diane?" He sounds concerned again, and she knows he is aware that this call is not like her. He knows something is wrong, but he will wait until she is ready.

"I should go — I have a lot to do, but I won’t be home too late tonight. Will you be home?" She catches herself as if she has misspoken, adding quickly, "I mean my apartment. You know what I mean."

"I know what you mean. I’m starting to think of it as home, too," he says softly, and the warmth in his voice is exactly what she needs to get through the rest of this day. "Yeah, I’ll be there by the time you are. I’ll grab some takeout on my way."

"That would be lovely."

"OK. See you soon. Love you."

"Love you too. Bye."

She hangs up and looks out over the city, collecting her thoughts. Mixed in with the overwhelming grief now is this sense of being incredibly lucky, loved, alive, and she is grateful for it. She will go home (home, it is home; they aren’t just living together but building a life together) and then, finally, she will let go of everything, she will break down, she will sob, and she will allow him to be for her what she has been to everyone else. And they will hold one another and love one another and go on living for one another, more reverently, more mindfully at first, gradually giving in to the petty annoyances and disagreements of the everyday, occasionally leaving without an ‘I love you’ and a kiss. It is not the last moments that one is left with, but a lifetime of little moments. Kurt would know she loved him. Will knew she loved him. She knows he loved her.

She turns around and sees partners, associates, paralegals and assistants alike are still clinging to one another, some crying, some already laughing, telling stories, remembering the man. Trite, yes, but true. We will see each other through this.

Resolved, she sits at her desk again, flips through the address book, and dials.

Chapter Text

More nights than not, now, they fall asleep together. Most mornings, they wake alone. Different schedules, busy lives, the deeply ingrained habit of waking with the alarm means one is usually in the shower by the time the other rises, if not already gone. Most days there is time for little more than a kiss and a hurried dinner suggestion, leaving behind half a pot of coffee.

On the rare weekends at the farm when they can get away entirely they don’t set an alarm. Inevitably they wake earlier than either would like, too hard-wired to the dawn, but when they stretch there is unexpected contact. Then there is remembering, contentedness, burrowing in. One reaches out and by instinct the other responds. Hours could pass in sleepy touches and lazy kisses, the warmth and sounds of the other’s rest lulling each in turn back to sleep.

She wakes again and slowly becomes conscious of the light pressure of his hand at her waist, the feeling of his soft stomach under her hand. She snuggles closer, squeezing him lightly and breathing deeply of him. He responds with a lingering kiss on her forehead, saying into her skin, “Good morning.”

"Good morning." She lifts her head for a proper kiss, smiling into it. She has lost track of how many mumbled good mornings there have been so far.

She lets her head fall back to his chest, slowly running her fingertips up and down his body. She is awake for good this time, probably, but there is nothing to say and nothing to do and she is in no rush.

After a while, he stops her hand with his, holding her palm against his chest. He traces its outline, up and down every finger, so lightly it makes her shiver. He clasps his fingers under hers, his thumb stroking across the back of her hand, her knuckles, lingering on her ring. He follows the grooves of the delicate band up and down, over and over.

She does not pull away, but she raises herself up, propping her chin on her other hand. She looks down at him with a bemused, questioning smile.

As if in answer, he lifts her hand to his lips, pressing kisses against her fingertips, and then again the ring.

She understands him, her tender-hearted cowboy. He does not spout Proust, but he has never failed to express all that he feels, in his own eloquent way.

She kisses him again, her hand on his cheek, so that he can feel the cold reality of the ring against his skin. They grin at each other when she pulls back — the sheer giddiness of loving has not worn off yet.

"I was thinking we might take a hike. Finally starting to look like spring," he says. "Some flowering trees out here you’ve probably never seen."

"That sounds lovely," she agrees, then hesitates. "But later?"

Just a little while longer like this, in this languid perfection. She lets her head rest against him again, entwining her fingers with his. Just a little while longer…

Chapter Text

It has been another in a series of endlessly wearying days, but as she walks with Kurt to dinner it all begins to melt away. He has been particularly attentive since Will’s death and the turmoil at the firm that followed. He has listened to her rant, held her at night, and not least of all always seen to dinner. She senses he feels he doesn’t know what to do for her, that he doesn’t quite realize that’s everything. She slips her fingers between his, squeezing his hand. She will have to make sure he understands this. It will be rough for a while yet, but he makes everything a little easier to bear.

They are about to turn a corner when a voice coming from the other direction rises above the traffic. "Diane Lockhart."

Diane’s eyebrows shoot up. She would know that voice anywhere. Suave, bemused, with a way of making every word sound like a double-entendre. Thickly Australian.

She whirls around. “Jack?”

The other man approaches them, grinning. “You’re a sight for sore eyes,” he says, boldly grabbing her hand and kissing it. He notices her wedding band immediately. “And taken now, I see.”

Diane’s smile is forced as she pulls her hand back, gently reaching out for Kurt. “Jack, this is Kurt. My husband.” She intends to say it matter-of factly, but she can’t help but look over at him, beaming. She has not managed to introduce him this way with a straight face yet.

Kurt, however, does not look amused. He tends to size people up quickly and he has already decided this man falls short.

She knows this is uncomfortable for him and tries to keep things light, laughing as she explains, “Jack and I met when he was serving me with a subpoena.”

"Ah," Kurt acknowledges, extending his hand as a mere formality.

Jack shakes it jovially, apparently unaware of any tension. “Nice  to meet you, Kurt. Lucky man,” he smirks, then turns his attention back to her. “How long has it been, Diane — two years?”

She notices Kurt’s eyes narrow slightly — perhaps doing the math.

"I guess it has been, yes."

"Busy two years," he laughs, looking at Kurt meaningfully.

She can feel Kurt becoming more tense every moment now, withdrawing into that quiet place he goes to when he is trying not to say exactly what he’s thinking for her sake. It’s sweet of him when he does it to keep the peace with her friends or colleagues. But it isn’t worth it for Jack.

"Yes, busy tonight, too, I’m afraid — we’d better run if we’re going to make our dinner reservation."

Jack shrugs, his smile a knowing one. “I won’t keep you. Good to see you, Diane. Kurt.”

"You too. Goodbye, Jack."

She slips her arm around Kurt’s as they walk away, conscious that he hasn’t completely relaxed, but he has taken on a wry smile.

"What?" she prompts him, knowing he’s just dying to say something.

"That's the guy you threw me over for two years ago?"

She laughs lightly, shaking her head. “It wasn’t like that.”

"No, I get it, he’s a colorful guy, handsome, charming — I guess the accent goes a long way. Doesn’t seem like your type, though."

She looks at him sideways, teasing him back. “Kurt, are you jealous?"

"Any reason I should be?"

"Of course not!"

"Then I’m not."

"You are jealous!" She pauses, almost amazed. "I have to admit, that makes me feel better."

He scoffs as if he hasn’t accepted the premise yet, but asks, “Why?”

"I felt so silly after the way I reacted when you introduced me to your friends. I was jealous, Kurt, or just afraid — I don’t know why. It’s comforting to think you could be so silly over me, too, that’s all."

He takes a sharp breath as if he’s about to protest, but lets it out slowly, acknowledging some truth in this. “I don’t know if ‘jealous’ is the right word…”

She stops walking suddenly, pulling him into a closed storefront. She looks at him seriously — they don’t need to dwell on it, but he should know this. “I went on a couple dates with him. It was never going to be anything.”

He looks at her for a long time as if trying to read her. He is still looking for something else. It finally occurs to her that it isn’t Jack in particular that bothered him. After the way they drifted apart two years ago, perhaps he has always wondered if there was a Jack, and why she preferred him.

"It really wasn’t like that, Kurt. Work got in the way, and my own… issues. It was never him."

"Okay," he says simply, but she can tell he has accepted it. She can feel he has finally relaxed.

All in all he has handled this more gracefully than she did that night he pulled his truck over and told her, in fewer words, roughly the same thing. But they have both come a long way together since that night. There is a core of trust and certainty between them now. There would be no more running away.

She leans over to kiss him, a tender gesture that gradually deepens and for a moment she forgets everything, as she always does.

He pulls back finally with a regretful smile. “We really will be late for dinner.”

"Yeah." When he starts to turn back to the sidewalk, she grabs his arm, holding him there for a moment longer. The thought has come into her mind again suddenly: all the things he does, large and small, that make her life easier, happier, fuller. And bringing up the past has reminded her how close she came to missing all of it. "Thank you," she says, and she hopes he knows what she means. "For everything."

He smiles, offering his hand to her. She takes it, returning his smile. They walk off, arm in arm again, leaving the rest behind.