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Lilies and Gunpowder

Chapter Text

An outsider could have mistaken it for a regular Friday.

She got up at an early hour and went downstairs to feed Justice who was already running around her bare feet in excitement, almost stumbling down the stairs as she did so, being her usual adorable and quirky self. Diane then took a long shower, did her hair and make-up and got dressed. She decided on a tight, black, knee-length dress, black stiletto heels, an elegant red blazer, golden jewellery and a red lip. Red had hardly ever failed to make her feel more confident.

Not that she normally needed that.

The sun just began to rise when Diane took Justice for a walk. The colours of the sky shone down on the city streets of uptown Chicago and seemed to dye them in a deep tone of peachy orange. Justice's little tail flipped from side to side as her short legs scurried on the ground next to Diane, the sounds of her small paws and Diane's thin heels hitting the concrete ground being the only sounds on the almost empty streets as the city was just beginning to awake.

Looking down at the small dog she could not help but think of the first time she had introduced her partner Will to her pet a few years ago at his first visit to her townhouse.

...

"I didn't know you were a dog person!", he said excitedly in an unusually high voice, smirking while he placed his glass of scotch on her coffee table, his eyes fixated on the little dog that jumped on the couch between them.

"Well, I bet there's still a lot you don't know about me.", she answered, arching an eyebrow.

"I guess so. I would have taken you for a cat person."

"Good lord, no."

He bent down to scratch Justice behind the ear. "You know how they say that dogs tend to look like their owners?"

Diane took another sip of scotch and raised her eyebrows, shooting him a meaningful gaze instead of answering his question.

Will started to laugh. "Well, I see the resemblance."

"You can't be serious."

"Actually, I am." He had sat back again. "The hair. The pointed nose. It's a match."

"Oh, shut up.", she giggled. "Just look at how tiny she is."

"Yeah, I mean you're..." He paused. "... thin."

She broke out with laughter. "Uhm, thanks... I guess."

"You're welcome. What was her name again?"

"Justice."

"Of course.", he laughed and picked up his glass again. "I'll drink to that."

"Two lawyers drinking to justice. When did we become so cliché?" She clinked her glass against his anyway.

"Not cliché, Diane.", he said smirking after swallowing his drink. "You and I, we're iconic."

...

When they re-entered her townhouse, Justice speeded off into the living room and curled up on the couch. Diane went to her study to grab her planner and a few files from her last late-night-working-session and put them into her oversized-yet-more-than-fashionable purse.

Normally, she would take another look into her planner before taking off to make sure she would not forget about anything on her packed schedule for the day. But today was different. She knew exactly what was waiting for her today. And had she opened her planner, the first thing she would have seen beneath the date was a small post-it with the letters 'J.S.' scribbled hastily on it, which she wanted to avoid. She did not need to see it on paper. It being on her mind was already enough.

She grabbed her black coat off of the counter in the entry, which is where she had thrown it carelessly after her morning-walk with Justice. The little dog came running towards her as soon as she heard her owner grab her keys.

Kneeling down to gently pet her head, Diane told her: "I need to go to work. Don't set the house on fire. Jane will be here in about an hour, okay?"

Jane was a nice sixteen-year-old girl who lived next door with her parents. She had dropped out of high-school because she wanted to be a writer- and because she wanted to rebel against her parents who would have liked to see her become a surgeon one day- and she had since then offered Diane to watch Justice while she was at work.

Diane had seen the girl grow up, learn how to walk, learn how to speak and later dye her hair black and get a nose-piercing. But she was reliable and smart and Justice liked her a lot. And so did Diane.

Justice seemed to have calmed down a little and so Diane took off. She stepped into her car and put on the radio after she had started the engine, as if it were a regular Friday.

Except it was not. The Beretta resting in her nightstand spoke for itself.

The voice of the radio speaker interrupted her thoughts. "...and apparently today they are going to decide whether or not he's getting out of jail after ten years. We will keep you updated on the subject of Spellma-"

Diane shut the radio off and breathed in deeply, trying to focus on driving and nothing else, especially not on the man hidden behind the two scribbled letters on the post-it note in her planner.

J. S.

Jeffrey Spellman.

Chapter Text

A knock against the doorframe to her office caused her to raise her head from the file that lay open on her desk in front of her. She had read that file about fifteen times that day already anyway.

"Hey.", Will said. "Can I come in?"

Diane looked at him over the frame of her black reading glasses. The expression on his face was soft, which puzzled her since their last discussion about the prioritisation of cases a few days prior had not been particularly pleasant.

"Sure."

He carefully stepped inside her office, continuing to look her in the eyes as if he were trying to search them for answers to questions he had not asked.

"You okay?", he began carefully.

Diane took off her glasses and carelessly dropped them on the opened file. They fell down on the crime-scene-photo of Jeffrey Spellman's first victim of murder. She exhaled deeply, leaning back in her chair. "I don't know."

Will took a seat on one end of her couch. He tilted his head, silently asking her to join him. Diane slowly pushed herself off of the chair behind her desk and glanced at her golden wrist-watch. Half past seven. Good.

She moved to the small wooden cupboard in the corner of her office and poured a generous glass of scotch for Will and an even more generous glass of red wine for herself. He reached for the scotch as she sat down on the other end of the couch, crossing her legs.

"Thanks.", he said, clinking his glass against hers.

Diane nodded and took a big sip. The warmth spread inside her and made its way through her body as she swallowed the liquid, finding a sense of momentary comfort in the simple act of drinking. She looked up to the window front across the room. It was already dark outside and they were likely the last ones left at the office. It was still a Friday after all.

"No plans for tonight?", she asked, releasing the question of no importance into the unusually thick air that had formed between them, without even turning to look at him.

"Except for drinking with my favourite literal partner in crime? No." His attempt to lighten the mood went to waste.

Another moment of silence passed before he continued in a suddenly more serious tone. "Look, Diane, I'm sorry. I just didn't know. Had I known... I wouldn't have reacted that way. I was just thinking about the firm and its finances..." He sighed. "And I should have asked you what was wrong."

She leaned back into the sofa and shifted her gaze to meet his eyes. "Will, it's okay. You were right about the case. It just... wasn't about the case." She paused and a small frown formed on her face. "Did Kalinda tell you?"

"Not exactly. She hinted at it and basically called me out for being a jerk, so I looked it up. She's worried about you. Of course, she didn't say so, but she is. And so am I. But the real question is, why didn't you tell me in the first place?"

She shrugged and took another sip of wine before answering his question. "I don't know. I guess I didn't want anyone to know because... I didn't even know if he was going to get out at all. There's no point in making a lot of fuss about nothing."

Will bit on the inside of his cheek, his gaze drifting away from her. "But now he did.", he stated in a low voice.

"Yeah." She scraped her front teeth over her bottom lip.

Will nodded slowly. "Look... You can always stay at my place for a while, if you want.", he said softly.

Diane arched an eyebrow. "We would kill each other within the first two days and you know it." They chuckled lowly even though both of them actually found it to be really bizarre in a situation like this. "Thank you for the offer though. I really appreciate it.", she said honestly.

"Of course. Just give me a call if you change your mind, okay?"

"Yes. Thank you. But..." She shrugged. "I can manage."

Will furrowed his brows as he eyed her intensely. "Diane, it's fine if you don't want to talk about it but you don't have to pretend that this isn't getting to you. Because I know that it is."

Diane finished off her glass in another long sip, swallowed hard and took a deep breath. Sometimes it could be a real pain that he had learned to look right through her like that over the years.

"Kalinda gave me a gun."

Will's eyes widened. "Seriously?"

She nodded. "She wants to take me to the shooting range tomorrow and teach me how to... use it. Properly."

"Okay. Wow." He paused. "Might actually not be a bad idea though."

"I know.", she mumbled. And she did. She knew they were right but it still felt wrong.

She got up to get the bottle of wine, craving a refill. When she had sat down again, refilled her glass and taken another sip, Will slightly bent forward and cupped her free hand with his.

"If there's anything I can do, you just tell me, okay? You can take a few days off if you want to... I don't know, leave town or something like that. You can always come to my place if you don't feel safe at home and you can always come to me if you want to talk."

She squeezed his hand and managed to give him a small smile. "Thank you, Will."

...

When she came home that evening, she dropped off her purse and took Justice for a short walk. It was dark outside, even though it could actually never be fully dark in a city like Chicago. The city never truly slept and right now she appreciated that more than she remembered to ever have done before.

Diane felt her heart pounding as she passed a random man in a dark hoodie. She let out an audible gasp when she heard a small branch falling from a tree a few meters behind her and Justice. And she wanted to kick herself for being so god damned scared when she was trying so hard not to act like that.

Back at her townhouse, Diane kicked off her stiletto heels, fed Justice and went to the bathroom to take a hot and long shower. She normally would not shower twice a day but she hoped that it could help her release some of the tension in her body that had begun to form inside it ever since she had gotten up in the morning.

After getting redressed she almost instantly fell in her bed but she already knew that she was likely not about to get a lot of sleep that night.

Chapter Text

When Diane came home from work after the Rutgers' case, Jane was still there, sitting on her couch in the living room, one hand flying over the keyboard of her laptop that she had placed on the glass coffee table in front of her in a fast manner, the other one absent-mindedly caressing Justice's fur.

"Hey.", Diane said, leaning against the doorway.

She saw Jane flinching. "Man, Ms. Lockhart", she exclaimed, removing the hand from her laptop and clutching her chest, wrinkling up the black and yellow Nirvana-shirt she was wearing. "You almost scared me to death!"

Diane smirked, took off her blazer and placed it on the arm of the couch before she sat down next to the girl. Justice got up, jolting her small body and climbed over Jane's legs to curl up on Diane's lap. She gently scratched her behind the ear.

"Well, lucky us that I didn't. Thanks again for staying on such short notice." Her mind wandered to the satin evening gown in the trunk of her car she had been wearing at a fundraiser event when Sonia's call had come in over forty-eight hours ago.

Oh, the great fun that was the profession of law enforcement...

"Oh, no biggie, Ms. L.", Jane said, leaning back into the couch to face Diane. "I was actually glad to have an excuse to get away from home. Really, I should be the one who pays you.", she laughed.

Diane grinned. "I'll keep that in mind. How is it going with the novel?"

"Pretty great. Wrote through the whole night. I'm half-way through with the sequel and a publisher I sent the first one to wants to meet up. I'm going to have to take my mom with me though, since I'm not of full age yet." She rolled her eyes.

"My mother and I never got along too well either.", Diane said. "She always wished for me to find a wealthy man, get married, have children and... well, live life the way she did. But as you get older you begin to look past things like this. Your parents are going to accept you the way you are once they realise that you are good in what you want to do and determined to work for your goals."

Jane nodded slowly. "I'm... I'm considering going back to school. Not high-school, but maybe sign up for a few classes on literature or something like that."

"You should do that. It's always good to be safe." Diane had always liked Jane and she was glad that she seemed to begin to see things in a more realistic way. She had a strong opinion on dropping out of school herself but also knew it was not her place to play the parent. Not that she wanted to, but...

Jane yawned deeply.

"Go home, Jane. You need to get some sleep.", Diane said softly. "Did you eat?"

Jane nodded. "Ordered Chinese. I didn't know when you would be home or if you would eat at the office, so I ordered something for you too. It's in the fridge."

"Thank you. That's very thoughtful of you."

"Well, you paid, didn't you?" They laughed.

Jane closed her laptop and packed up her things. Diane escorted her to the door and handed her some cash. Jane was almost out of the door when she suddenly stopped and turned around to say, "Oh! I almost forgot to tell you, there's a package for you on the kitchen counter. All fancy with a bow and shit. Someone must have dropped it off personally last night. They rang the doorbell, but when I opened the door there was no one there. Maybe some secret admirer?". She chuckled.

...

Diane walked into the kitchen later that night, after she had awoken from her well-deserved nap when she had realised how hungry she was. She got the cardboard box containing the food out of the fridge, put it in a bowl and placed it into the microwave. Her gaze flew through the kitchen as her eyes landed on the package on the counter. She had almost forgotten about it.

It was a small shimmery lilac box, decorated with a white satin bow. Diane opened it and was instantly hit by a strong and sharp smell of iron. She squinched up her nose.
Inside was a golden brooch in the detailed shape of a leaf, neatly placed on dark and silky red fabric. It was actually really pretty and tasteful, something she would have bought for herself, too.

And then she realised. The smell of iron. The dark red fabric.

It was soaking with blood.

Diane let out a loud gasp, dropped the small box back on the kitchen counter and stumbled backwards until the small of her back hit the cold edge of the kitchen isle.
The microwave beeped. Her food was done but she suddenly did not feel hungry anymore. Instead, she rather felt like she was just about to throw up.

She let out a few heavy breaths before she approached the package again and saw the scribbled words on the inside of its lid she had not noticed before.

'A little something for my attorney.
It made me think of you when I saw it.
See you soon.
JS'

Diane dropped the lid to the floor. Her hands were trembling and she hurried over to the kitchen window and shut the blinds roughly; marched to the front door and locked it twice; went upstairs to close her bedroom window, turning on every single light she passed on her way there. Then she went back to the kitchen, got a garbage bag from the bottom of a cupboard and tossed the box in it. She tied it shut and threw it in the trash can underneath the kitchen counter.

Could it really be him? Or was it just someone messing with her? But who in their right mind would do that? 

How would he know where she lived? Could he actually know where she lived? And the blood... Where was all this blood coming from?

Diane inhaled sharply. Her pulse was racing. She put the food from the microwave right back into the fridge.

She left the lights on when she went to bed that night. People were less likely to break into a house if they thought that the owners were still awake, right? She was sure that she had read that somewhere.

As she lay in bed, she thought that the silence was going to kill her. It left too much room for her thoughts but she did not dare to put on some music either, too afraid she would not be able to hear properly in case someone was making their way inside the house.

If this was real, it was definitely a new kind of threat, a worse kind of threat. Back when she had been his attorney and a few weeks ago around the time of his parole hearing, it had been different with letters and notes being sent to her in the office. But this- this- was different. This was her house, the place where she was not only Diane Lockhart the lawyer, but where she lived. A place of privacy. A place of safety.

And as she lay there in her bed, scared as she had never been before in her life, a part of her wished she had never given the Beretta back to Kalinda.

Chapter Text

The days went by and Diane did not receive anything else from Spellman. A month had passed since his release and she began to wonder if maybe she had been overreacting. After all, she could not even say for sure that it had really been him who had sent her the package. Maybe it was all just an exceptionally bad joke.

She tried to convince herself of that and felt herself steadily diving head-first into an uncomfortable state of denial. And still, every time she left the house she felt like she was being watched. And every time she walked through her house she flinched at shadows or sounds made by Justice. No matter how hard she tried, she could not help herself but be paranoid. And she despised it.

She had considered asking Kalinda to give her the gun back again, just for the feeling of safety, but she did not want to have to explain the reason behind her request to the private investigator, so she did not. She also knew how uncomfortable the weapon had made her feel in the first place and she was not sure how much good would come out of that in the end.

She had also considered talking to Will about it, just for the sake of telling someone, but he would most likely voice his genuine concerns about her and she could not use yet more worries at the moment. She was scared enough as it was.

She had told Jane that she was not to answer the door again when she was watching Justice. Jane had given her a puzzled look but agreed without asking any further questions, which Diane was thankful for.

...

Kurt McVeigh, the new ballistics expert, really was something... Something else. Their views, preferences and appearances could hardly have been any more different from one another, but she could not help herself but find him... attractive? Was that the right word for it? She was not sure.

He made her giggle like a school-girl and distracted her usually so focused and dignified self. It would have truly been almost concerning would it not have felt so right at the same time.

That night, she found a flat, long and beautifully wrapped package on the desk in her office and her mind instantly wandered to Spellman. Until she saw the enclosed card.

'McVeigh', it simply stated in squiggly and ornamental but beautiful handwriting that was so different from her own sleek and neat one.

Subtle., she thought to herself and sank down onto the chair behind her desk as Will approached her office.

"Who's it from?", he asked, pointing towards the package in front of her.

"Oh, no one... I mean, I don't know.", she lied, trying very hard to look as clueless as she could.

"From a secret admirer?" He smirked.

"Yeah, people seem to assume I have a lot of those these days." She rolled her eyes playfully.

Will frowned at her in confusion.

"My dog sitter, she said the same thing to me the other day and-" She stopped herself from rambling as he amusedly raised an eyebrow at her. "Nevermind."

...

Sarah Palin's biography. Seriously. She could not help but break out with laughter when normally she probably would have been extremely offended.

That night, when she walked Justice, she was too trapped in her thoughts about Kurt McVeigh to even be paranoid about weirdly shaped shadows or strange sounds on the streets. 

When she later lay in bed, unable to find any sleep, she got the book out of her purse and began to read until she felt too annoyed to continue. She then placed the book on her nightstand, rolled over and for the first time in weeks, got more than three hours of sleep that night.

In the morning, she would wonder why the lights in the house were all turned off until she would realize that she simply had forgotten to think about Spellman that evening.
For the first time in a while, she had not been scared.

...

Diane was standing in her kitchen, attempting to cook a so-called 'simple dinner for one' and came to regret the three glasses of wine she had been drinking on a somewhat empty stomach earlier. She had never been a good cook to begin with, all the pans and pots you needed to keep an eye on and the mess it made in her kitchen... It was exhausting. And being tipsy surely did not make it any easier.

Just as she heard the loud splashing sound of hot water making contact with her cooking plate, her cell phone started to ring.

"God damn it", she exclaimed and turned down the classical music coming from the small stereo on the counter before she answered the phone without looking at its display, capturing it between her ear and shoulder, as she lifted the heavy, overcooking pot of boiling potatoes off of the burner with both hands. And boiling, they were!

"Hello?", she asked loudly over the sounds of the failure of her cooking-attempt and did not even try to hide the distress in her voice. She was a grown woman, after all, a shark in the courtroom, so how the hell could 'making dinner' have escalated that quickly?

"Hi. Is this bad timing?"

The sound of his low, amused voice almost made her drop the heavy pot.

A huge smile crept across her face, washing the previous frown off of her forehead in less than a second. "No, no! Just give me one second...", she said, placing the pot on the counter, and turning to put the two frying pans next to it. The food was most likely already ruined and she would probably just end up ordering in anyway.

"Are you sure?"

She could hear him chuckling lowly on the other line. It was a rather pleasant sound, she had to give him that. Not that she would tell him that, she could already picture the smug smile he would shoot her because of it.

Wait, what?

"I can call you back in a few minutes if you want."

"No-no-no! Just a second..." She put the phone on the counter, turned off the heat and placed the pans on the counter, one of them still making a prickling sound while burning the clumpy sauce at its edges. She picked up the phone again, blew a loose, blonde lock out of her eyes and leaned against the kitchen counter, her legs momentarily wobbling beneath her because of the wine. "Okay. I'm good."

"Okay. Good.", he laughed. "Where are you?"

"Home. In my kitchen."

"That was the sound of your kitchen?"

She rolled her eyes and decided not to answer, instead waiting for him to change the subject since he had been the one to call. A few silent seconds later she gave up hope that he was about to make an effort to carry the conversation. "Uhm... did you only call to mock me about my lack of cooking skills or what?", she asked in a less harsh tone than she actually would have found to be appropriate.

"I got your book.", he simply replied. A man of few words, he was.

She smirked. "Did you enjoy it?"

"Let's say it was a light read."

She giggled. "So was yours."

"I, uh... I thought you'd like it."

"The chapter where she brings big oil to heel? Just gripping!" Stretching the last word in exaggeration, she heard him laugh but he did not say anything further. "So... You were calling to thank me?"

Getting him to talk really was a pain. His silence almost seemed rude.

So why was she standing there, smiling like an idiot?

She decided to blame it on the wine.

"Yep. But I'll also be in town for the next few days. I'm on another case. Just wanted to let you know."

Diane furrowed her brows. "Okay?" She paused and there was another moment of silence.

"I take it you're not a good chef?"

"Wha-"

"Dinner? Tomorrow?"

She raised her brows. "I-uh... I probably won't get out of the office before eight." What was she doing? Of course she wanted to have dinner with him!

Uhm... what?

"Okay. Tomorrow, nine pm. I'll pick you up." This time it was not a question, but a statement.

"Oh. I... I-okay." Her voice was unusually high pitched. It made her feel like she was fifteen again and she was not sure if she disliked it that much, which, come to think of it, really was even more startling.

"Okay. See you then."

"O-okay." She hung up.

Diane tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear and pressed her lips together to keep herself from giggling like a mad person. She failed remarkably.

The sound of an incoming text message interrupted her.

Unknown number.

'You forgot about the chicken.
See you soon.
JS'

Diane's smile dropped. She frowned and turned to face the oven. Light grey smoke streaks were streaming out of it.

And all of her earlier lightness was suddenly blown away.

He was watching her.

Chapter Text

She glanced nervously at her wristwatch.

8:21 pm.

David Lee momentarily stopped his seemingly endless rant and looked at her, arching an eyebrow as he did, his lips remaining parted. "I'm sorry, am I boring you, Diane?"

Will's gaze shot up to her and he felt the need to suppress a smirk.

"No, David, of course not. Do go on." She swallowed her sigh. Will rolled his eyes.

It was almost half past eight. David Lee could not have found a worse time to discuss the issues he had had this week with his arch-enemy (his words, not hers) Julius Cane. Diane had half an hour left to go home, walk Justice and make herself look more presentable for her... date.

"David,", Will said with a side glance to Diane. "why don't we talk about this on Monday? There's nothing we can do about it right now anyway."

David turned to face Will. "Fine. But we will talk about it... tomorrow!" He marched out of Diane's office. The both of them left let out the deep sighs they had been holding in for the last thirty minutes.

"There goes a peaceful Saturday at Lockhart/Gardner.", Will groaned.

"Thank you.", Diane said, not having it in her to take note of Will's dry attempt of a joke and instead already reaching for her purse and coat. "I owe you one."

"My pleasure. You have plans?" He quirked an eyebrow at her.

"I do.", she said without looking at him, not interested in any further discussion regarding the subject. "See you tomorrow." She rushed past him, out of her office and towards the elevator.

"Get some!", she heard him yell after her in a mockingly playful tone. She rolled her eyes but could not hide her laughter as she walked through the hallway.

"You betcha!"

...

It was 8:59. He glanced nervously at his wrist-watch before he rang the doorbell with the pointer finger of his free hand, the other one holding the flowers.

From the other side of the door, he could hear high woofs and the quiet sound of light but hasty footsteps approaching the door. He heard her muffled voice and a smile crept across his face as he ran a hand over his shoulder in an attempt to smooth out a non-existent wrinkle on his suit jacket. It made him wonder why he was suddenly feeling so self-conscious about his appearance when normally, he would not be caught giving even the slightest hint of a damn about it. Let alone wearing a suit jacket in the first place...

She unlocked the door.

...

The traffic was horrible that night. Diane did not arrive at her house before 8:40, even though she did not live that far away from the firm at all. On her way home, she had called Jane and asked her to take Justice for another short walk, which she had agreed to without another word.

God bless that girl, Diane thought to herself.

They were still on their walk when Diane stepped into the house. She hurried upstairs and began to undress on her way up, not even bothering to try and fold today's work attire neatly, as she normally would have done. Instead, she just tossed them carelessly on the comforter on her bed.

Standing in her dressing room, eyes roaming over shelve after shelve, all full of options, in her underwear, she thought she was about to lose her mind over the task of deciding on an outfit for the night when her eyes fell on an elegant, deep blue dress. It was tight, the colour was not too wild and the neckline revealed just the right amount of cleavage to be a tasteful tease.

Good enough, she thought.

She got dressed in record-time and hurried to the bathroom to reapply her make-up and attempt to do something to her hair to make herself look a little less like someone who had been up and working for more than eleven hours that day after getting three hours of sleep during the night. She had just sprayed on some perfume when she heard the door and the sounds of Jane and Justice entering the house.

A quick glance at her watch. 8:53.

Not bad, she thought to herself.

She walked down the stairs and greeted Jane who stared at her with wide eyes.

"Whoa! Going on a date, Ms. Lockhart? Seriously, you look amazing!"

"And you deserve a raise.", she laughed. "Your money's on the counter and thanks again."

"My pleasure. See you and... have a good night.", the girl said, winking at her suggestively before she took her money and saw herself out.

Diane rolled her eyes, smirking, and ran back upstairs to get some accessories, shoes and a matching purse. She was just putting on a golden creole when she heard the doorbell, followed by the high squeak-like barks of Justice.

"Christ", she panted, looking at the watch on her nightstand that confirmed that it was indeed exactly nine pm.

"Justice, for god's sake, stop it with the squeaking! It's just a guest.", she mumbled as she passed her dog who stood in front of the front door. "Be nice to him!", she warned her and the little dog looked up at her with a look in her eyes that feigned innocence.

She unlocked the door and turned on her heels to hurry back upstairs and finish getting ready.

...

"Come in, it's open. I just need a minute!", he heard her voice.

Kurt turned the doorknob, opened the door and was immediately greeted by a tiny, whitish fur-ball of a terrier. Kurt knelt down to approach it and it let him pet its tiny body, its small barks stopping immediately.

After a few moments, he stood up straight again and looked around. The decor was really elegant and feminine, though decorated in fewer pastel tones than he would have expected for some reason. From what he could see, there were lots of framed paintings and vases of flowers but it was not overdone and it all looked very carefully and thoughtfully placed. It was all very her and he could not help but be amazed at it, even though it could hardly have differed any more from the decor in his own house. 

It also smelled intoxicatingly good. Sweet and bloomy and also of something else he could not yet place but what he would soon come to be able to identify without a doubt as her own personal scent.

When he heard the sound of heels clicking on the staircase he turned towards it and saw her approach him.

She was so stunning, it almost caused him to drop his jaw. Not just beautiful but completely and utterly stunning. The blue dress she wore fitted tightly around her slim figure and the colour brought out the sparkling light blue of her eyes. Her black heels made her legs seem even longer, making her appear yet more elegant as she walked towards him.

She smiled at him when she came to a halt in front of him, only a few inches of air parting her body from his and the sight of her smile made him feel warm inside.

"Hi.", she greeted him.

"Hello."

"I'm sorry for making you wait. I'm usually very punctual."

He shook his head. "You are beautiful."

Her smile widened and her gaze fell on the floor, as she blushed lightly. He smirked while his eyes still took in her appearance. It almost startled him that she seemed to not even realise just how beautiful she was.

Raising her head again she nodded towards Justice who had sat down next to their feet. "This is my dog. Her name is Justice."

He chuckled. "Seems fitting."

She locked her eyes with his again, lightly and seemingly absent-mindedly scraped her teeth over her bottom lip and the tension between them threatened to become too much for him to handle.

Kurt raised his left hand that was still holding on to the arrangement of white calla lilies he had bought for her. The sight of her had almost caused him to forget about it.

Her smile now reached her eyes and she showed off her perfect white teeth. "Thank you.", she said as she took them from him. Their fingers touched for only a little too long and Diane breathed in deeply.

"Let me just put them into a vase and then we can go."

"Okay."

...

The waitress at the Westin led them to their table when Kurt gently placed his hand on the small of her back. The touch of his fingers on her body sent shivers all the way up on her spine beneath her dress and she suppressed the urge to gasp at the sensation by capturing her bottom lip between her teeth.

He pulled her chair out for her to sit down when they arrived at their table. She ordered a glass of white wine, he ordered a beer.

"How was your day?", he asked and she could really tell that he was stepping out of his comfort zone to try and begin the conversation, even though he did not seem to be uncomfortable with it at the slightest. Nevertheless, she appreciated the small gesture.

"Long.", she sighed. "Things are a little... out of place at the moment. The firm's financial troubles, partners whining about office space or going at each other's throats, messed up clients... you know, the usual thing with a pinch of more insanity." She tilted her head and smiled. "How about you?"

"Turned down a case today."

"The client's guilty?"

It was odd to her that he refused to work on cases when the client was not innocent. All the work he would have done up to that point went to waste and the financial aspect did not help it either. But to her own surprise, she also found herself feeling deep respect for his determination and the importance he placed into standing up for his values.

He nodded. "Based on my experiments, she is, yes."

"Experiments.", she repeated slowly. "Sounds like you're examining wound tissue rather than shooting firearms for a living. Quite scientific."

He grinned and clinked his bottle against her glass. Both took a sip, their eyes never leaving each other.

"Sorry", she said when he did not say anything further. "I didn't want to offend you. Again." She bit down on her lower lip.

"No, no." He shook his head. "I take no offences from pacifist Hillary-supporters."

Her jaw dropped and she could not help but start to laugh.

"Okay. Right. You can't know anything about guns if you're pro gun control. Sure."

He raised his brows. "Ever fired one?", he asked even though he was sure he already knew the answer. Still, the thought of it kind of intrigued him. Her with her expensive, high-fashioned clothes and perfectly done hair, narrowing those beautiful, light blue eyes at her target, her slim fingers with her perfectly manicured nails slowly pressing down on the metal of the trigger as she bit her crimson lips in concentration...

He forced himself to push the thought away. At least for now...

"Actually" She slightly leaned forward. "Yes. And I am, in fact, a pretty good shot."

"Really."

"Yes. I once owned a Beretta." She decided that he did not need to know that she had only had it for a week. It kind of amazed her how she could turn an unpleasant subject like that into something that sounded so carefree when she was trying to use it to impress him.

Wait, why was she trying to impress him? That was definitely not her style.

His eyes broke the contact with hers as his gaze wandered down on her arms, shoulders and towards her waist. He then nodded and looked her in the eyes again.

"Good choice."

...

"Your wine, Ma'am."

"Thank you. I'm sorry, what were you saying?"

"Forget it.", he said. "We won't come to the same point on this anyway, so let's just drop it and... I dunno, agree to disagree on this."

"Oh, surrendering, are we?" She playfully quirked an eyebrow at him while she brushed the tip of her pointer finger over the rim of her wine glass. "And well, that's just because you're failing to see that your point is wrong.", she added, taking another sip of wine.

He involuntarily smirked at her former remark. "I don't think so. The point is, that a life is taken away. It's murder and you can't say anything agai-"

"Okay, no." She interrupted him, the playful expression immediately washed away from her face. "Stop. Don't... talk." She slightly leaned away from him and held up a hand.

He chuckled, shaking his head.

"You know, men like you..." She paused. "Okay, no. I won't generalize. But, I mean, of course you can't see the point. You don't have to consider an abortion, because the only injured party in this is the woman. And that is a fact and you can't say anything against that. She has to go through a pregnancy, she is the one giving birth and she is the one putting herself- her body and health- at risk. So, guess who should be the one to deci-"

He shut her off by leaning forward and pressing his lips on hers. She quickly overcame the moment of surprise, closed her eyes and responded to his kiss by parting her lips to capture his bottom lip between them. The hair above his upper lip lightly scratched her cheek when she leaned into him a little further.

Her mind suddenly went blank. Nothing mattered at that moment except for the touch of their lips that left both of them longing for more. He was literally kissing her senseless.

When he leaned back and broke their kiss she still felt like tingling little shock waves were buzzing through her lips. She opened her eyes slowly and blinked a few times at him before she pressed her painted lips together and cleared her throat.

He gave her a half smile underneath his beard. "Let's get out of here."

She nodded and found herself unable to say anything other than "Okay.".

Chapter Text

They stood next to each other facing the closed metal doors, waiting for the elevator to arrive. When she felt his fingertips softly brushing against the back of her hand, she closed her hand around his fingers, slowly stroking his palm with her thumb. His hand moved and he intertwined their fingers.

His hand was big and warm, his skin soft and rough at the same time. It gently heated her cold fingers and the warmth slowly but steadily seemed to spread throughout her body. All that just from the touch of their hands.

The elevator made a ping-sound and the doors slid open. He led her inside, pressed one of the numerous buttons and turned to face her as the doors closed again. He let go of her hand to tuck a strand of her hair behind her ear, his fingers gently and slowly brushing against the sensitive skin beside her hair line. Diane slowly released the air from her lungs, the breath she had not realised she had been holding in. His fingers made its way down, flying over her neck, and collarbone and they came to rest on her upper arm. He placed his other hand on the small of her back, drawing her closer to him. His eyes never left hers, reflecting his desire and also maybe something else she was unable to identify, while she was too lost in looking into his green orbs.

Diane ran her fingers through his soft, dark grey hair before she rested her hand on his jaw, her thumb brushing over his rough cheek. They leaned in and came closer to each other. She could already feel his warm breath against her lips and closed her eyes in anticipation of what was about to come, as the elevator pinged.

Diane opened her eyes and slighty drew away from him. She saw an amused smile on his lips and could not help but snicker. His smile widened as he heard the pleasant sound of her sweet laughter.

They parted and he grabbed her hand again, leading her through the carpeted hallway and to his room. He took the key card out of his pocket, slid it in and opened the door when the small light on its handle flickered in green.

Diane's eyes had not yet adjusted to the lack of light in the room when she heard the door fall shut behind her and suddenly felt him press her against the wooden material a second later, kissing her hungrily and full of passion.

She dropped her purse and moaned against his lips, a mixture of the feelings of surprise and need building up inside of her. Placing one hand on his neck she drew him closer to her, parting her lips to run her tongue over his bottom lip before lightly capturing it between her teeth. He groaned into her mouth and grabbed a fistfull of her blonde hair, his touch the perfect balance of forceful and inviting and all in all very arousing.

With her free hand, Diane attempted to rip his suit-jacket off of him, but his hand in her hair prevented her from doing so, his strong arm around her like a cage that kept her from what she desired. She tugged on it and managed to let it fall down on one side. She parted their lips by pushing him away from her with both hands on his chest. Biting her lip, she slowly tugged on the other arm of his jacket and threw it to the side. She looked at him suggestively before she began to unbutton his shirt.

Her fingers made contact with his bare chest and she ran them down on his skin, digging her manicured fingernails into it. His chest vibrated beneath her hands as he grunted lowly before he leaned forward and began to place featherlight kisses on her throat.

"Kurt", she moaned, throwing her head back to grant him better access and she ran her hands underneath the neckline of his shirt to grip his shoulders, to keep herself steady. His fingers found their way to the side of her breast where he drew small circles with his thumb. Her nails painfully dug into his shoulder blades when his thumb wandered over to the blue fabric above her nipple, making them groan in sync.

When Diane tried to reach for his belt he spun her around in a quick motion. He brushed her hair to the side to place small kisses on her neck, grinning against her skin when he heard her exhaling deeply. He slowly unzipped her dress, taking his time to take in every inch of her flawless, pale skin shining in the almost non-existent light that shone in through the window from the surrounding buildings, as he uncovered it.

Diane tried to keep her breathing steady while he unzipped her dress until she suddenly felt him pinch her behind.

"Ow!", she let out, turning around to face him, her lips parted and she quirked an eyebrow at him. He looked at her with a puzzled expression as if he did not know what had made her react that way. She shook her head, trying to hide her smile by biting her bottom lip and failing remarkibly. She slipped his shirt off of his upper body and it fell down on the floor. Leaning forward, she wrapped her arms around him tightly and bit down hard on the skin on his shoulder.

"Truce?", she asked in a low voice against his skin.

A deep groan of pain and arousal escaped his throat and she felt his hand sneaking underneath the fabric of her dress on her back.

Slightly leaning away, she pulled him in for a passionate kiss. Their tongues and lips moved together, exploring the other, while he reached out to tug on the arms of her dress. It fell to the floor, pooling around Diane's shoes. He pulled away to look at her, standing in front of him, only wearing her silky black lingerie and her equally black pumps. His eyes darkened with desire.

Diane seized the moment to make quick work on his dress pants, unbuckling his belt and pulling down the zipper. Kurt slipped out of his shoes, pulled down his pants and stepped out of them when they hit the ground around his feet.

Kurt offered Diane his hand to help her step out of her dress on the floor, which she accepted with a smile. He wrapped his arms around her, after she had taken a step towards him, and grabbed her behind with both hands.

"Ah", she moaned from the force of his touch, as he drew her closer and pressed the bulk in his boxers into her lower abdomen, showing her the effect she had on him.

Before she realised what he was doing he had already lifted her from the ground. After a gasp of surprise, she wrapped her arms around his neck and entwined her feet behind his back, securing her self against the upper part of his body, all the while careful about not letting the heels of her shoes push into his skin and cause him pain. She pulled him closer to kiss his lips as he walked them to the bedroom.

Kurt gently sat her down on the comforter on the bed and attempted to step back to be able to look at her, when she increased her grasp on his neck to pull him down towards her and kissed him tongue-first. The sudden force on his neck and the electrifying contact of their lips were enough to make him fall down towards her and she giggled into his mouth.

As they parted, Kurt came into a seating position and pulled her upwards with him before he moved around her to unclasp her lacy black bra. He pressed a gentle kiss on the centre between her shoulder blades and it caused her to throw her head back, as he brushed the straps of the fabric off of her shoulders.

Diane tried to spin around to face him when she felt him leave his spot behind her.

"What-", she began when she saw him walk around the bed.

"I need to see you.", he said in a low voice and switched on a small lamp on the nightstand. It flooded the room in soft, warm light and Diane's gaze fell down towards the comforter beneath her as she tried to hide the pink tint on her hot cheeks.

Kurt reached out to toss her bra rather carelessly towards the floor before he kneeled down in front of her to tuck the edge of his index finger under her chin, gently and wordlessly asking her to look at him. Light blue eyes met his darker green ones. Diane placed her hand on the back of his head and her fingers caressed the light hair on his neck. His gaze shifted to take in her appearance, the only articles of clothing left on her body being her black heels, lace panties and golden earrings and a matching bracelet.

His eyes met hers again.

"You are so beautiful.", he whispered.

She almost looked shy when once again, her eyes left his and she bit down on her bottom lip, the corners of her mouth lifting up in a smile of flattery.

He did not take her for an insecure woman. He knew that she was in fact quite the opposite of that. And still, he came to realize that she really had no idea of just how beautiful she was and he wondered, how she apparently could not be able to see what he was seeing. Not only her stunning looks but her whole appearance. Her attitude, her intellect, her integrity, every little part of her he had yet gotten to know about her fascinated him.

But tonight he was going to show her. He was going to show her just how beautiful she was.

Chapter Text

Diane tucked one of his legs between hers and drew random patterns on his chest with her fingers, right next to where her head was resting. She leaned into his touch when he stroked her damp, messy hair and placed his free hand on her waist, holding her tightly against his body as if he were attempting to mould their skin together.

"Do you always sleep with women on the first date? Because that would explain what the whole stoic-silence-thing is about.", she asked playfully in a slightly husky voice.

"Nope."

She chuckled. "Nope.", she imitated him before she tilted her head to press a soft kiss on his chest, right above his heart.

"Why?", he asked a few moments of comfortable silence later.

"Uh, I was just joking, I gue-"

"That's not what I meant."

She frowned and shifted in his arms, leaning on her right forearm and pressing her palm on his chest to be able to look at him. "Well, what did you mean?"

He smiled at her and tucked a stray lock behind her ear, his hand coming to rest on her cheek. "Why did you own a gun?"

"Oh." She looked away and sat up, clutching the bedsheet to her bare chest, even though she knew it was silly since there was nothing he had not already seen. She felt him move beside her until his back came to rest against the headboard next to Diane. She felt his eyes on her.

"I was just wondering. I mean, you're clearly a pacifist and..." He paused, not sure how to continue.

"No, you're right. It's... complicated. And a long story." And she did not feel like killing the mood by telling it.

"You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to, but... I've got time." His arm snuck around her bare shoulders and she gave in to him and his inviting warmth, which was not only physical, and leaned her head against his shoulder. He pressed a kiss over her hair on the crown of her head and she closed her eyes, inhaling deeply.

She found herself wanting to tell him. She liked him. She trusted him. Talking to him was easy. Though she was not sure if it would overstep a line. After all, it was still their first date and the matter was a bit dark for a first-date-post-sex-conversation.

But he was... different. Being with him- whatever they were at this point- was different. And when she looked into his eyes, she could see that he was being genuine.

"Ten years ago, there was a drug dealer who got convicted for the murder of two people. Jeffrey Spellman." She paused. 

His fingers moved and ran up and down on her arm. She leaned back into their embrace and shifted her head to the side to inhale his scent.

"When he was convicted, he threatened to kill his attorney when he would get out."

She felt his body tense beside her at her words.

"And... A little over a month ago I spoke on his parole hearing. I spoke against his release. But he got out anyway." His grip on her tightened a little.

"I... I guess I panicked and I wanted to be able to protect myself. To at least feel like I could protect myself if I had to. So Kalinda- our PI- got me a Beretta and took me to the shooting range to show me how to use it. I gave it back to her after only a week."

He cleared his throat but his voice was still rough when he spoke. "Why?"

"I wasn't... comfortable with it."

He shifted to look at her, his eyes slightly narrowed. "You liked it."

Her eyes widened as he seemed to read her mind, seemed to get it. "Yes. And I didn't like liking it."

He nodded. "I see."

Diane pressed a soft kiss on the corner of his mouth.

"You know...", he continued. "It often takes some time until you begin to feel comfortable with it. Time and lots of practice. You can learn to get used to it."

She smiled. "I bet you can. But I don't think I want to get used to it."

"You should consider it. It's safer. And I could help you with it."

She shook her head. "No. Thank you, though."

He did not push it any further at the moment. He felt like it was not really his place to interfere. After all, it was still their first date and he did not need to play the concerned boyfriend before he could even call himself her boyfriend, risking that she would be creeped out by some overprotective guy she had just met.

"So...", he broke the silence. "Do you always sleep with men on the first date? 'Cause that would explain what the whole fierce-feminist-thing is about."

"Oh, shut up!", she laughed and leaned in to kiss him.

...

"All rise!" The loud voice echoed through the courtroom.

Diane stood up, brushing her hands over her lap on the fabric of her white dress, smoothing out non-existent wrinkles. From the corner of her eye, she could see the junior associate whom Stern had assigned to second chair on the trial. He stood between her and her client. He was not particularly tall, but bulky and he looked like a safety wall between Diane's slim figure and the much taller and muscular Jeffrey Spellman. It made her feel a little better. Or at least a little more secure.

The jury and the judge had taken their respective seats and Diane's hands were trembling when her eyes fell on the pieces of paper that one of the jurors clutched in his hands. The verdict. She swallowed.

"I take that the jury has reached a verdict?"

"Yes, your honour.", the juror with the papers in his hand said, standing up. "On the charge of second-degree murder in two cases, we, the jury, find the client..."

Please, Diane thought. Please don't.

She knew it was wrong of her to hope for a guilty man to be able to get out of the charges, but-

"... guilty in both cases."

The sound of the judge's gavel was audible once. The usual mumbling after the reading of a jury's decision was interrupted by screams.

"NO!"

Diane flinched, her head shot to her side.

The bulky junior associate was grabbing Spellman, whose dark eyes glared at Diane.

"THIS IS YOUR FAULT! YOUR FAULT!"

Spellman pushed the junior associate to the side. He fell and Spellman marched over to Diane who could do nothing but hold up her hands and back away. Spellman reached forward, his face contorted with anger. He did not even look human anymore but rather like a wild animal that had drawn blood.

He was suddenly right in front of her and Diane was unable to move.

"Jeffrey,", she choked out. "I'm-"

"SHUT UP!" He grabbed and pushed her against the nearest wall. The back of her head banged hard against the wall and she could not see for a moment because of the dull, blinding pain that was shooting through her head and made her see stars.

He was just striking out to punch her when three security guards appeared from behind him and secured him between their grasps on him. He furiously struggled against them but they managed to pull him to the back door. Before they disappeared behind it, she could hear one last yell.

"I'M GOING TO KILL YOU! THIS IS YOUR FAULT, I'M GOING TO KILL YOU!"

...

Diane woke up from a dreamless sleep around five am. Her cheek was resting on Kurt's chest and her arm was wrapped around his torso. He was quietly snoring while he held her against him, his hands meeting on her lower back. Laying there with him, she could not remember when she had ever felt as safe and secure before, in all her life, as she did at that moment.

She shifted slowly, careful not to disturb his sleep while she attempted to get up to get a glass of water. He mumbled in his sleep when she broke the contact of their skin but he did not wake up. She eyed him for another moment before she left the bed. He looked so peaceful, so at ease. It made her smile. It made her feel like there could not be a single bad thing in the world.

When she arrived in the kitchen area, her eyes fell on his white button-down-shirt on the floor. She bent over to pick it up and slipped into it, closing a few of the buttons. It smelled wonderful. It smelled like him.

She poured herself a glass of water, downed half of it immediately and then walked towards the door to pick up her purse. She got her cell phone out of it and turned it on.
She had gotten a few business-related e-mails, and unanswered calls, as she always did, and two text messages.

David called because he couldn't reach you.
Enjoying date night? ;)
See u at work,
- Will

Diane smirked and rolled her eyes, choosing not to reply to his message and instead opened the second one.

That's right.
Enjoy the time you've got left.
Won't be long.
- JS

Diane shut her eyes, attempted to breathe steadily for a second and shuddered when she opened her eyes again.

She put her phone back into her purse in a fast motion. Then she quickly but quietly stepped back into the bedroom where she found Kurt. He had shifted to lay on his side, his arms wrapped around her pillow, still asleep.

She swallowed, then turned to pick up her underwear, which she put on quickly. She got her dress from beside the door in the main room and ran her hands through her hair in an attempt to make it look a little less messed up. Her eyes fell on the desk next to the door. There was a small pile of paper next to a huge pile of files. She grabbed a pen from her purse and quickly wrote a message for Kurt that she placed on the now empty side of the bed, next to his sleeping figure.

Diane bent down to press a soft kiss on his cheek and found herself hoping that he would wake up and convince her to stay. To tell her that it was early, to stretch out his arms, the remainders of sleep in his only half opened eyes, tilting his head to silently ask her to lie back down next to him. To stop worrying and just rest for another few hours, protected by the safety provided by his embrace.

And she knew that it was selfish of her to hope for that. Just as selfish as it was to leave without a real explanation.

She saw him shiver beneath her but he remained asleep.

She did not know why. She did not know whether it was the threats or the feeling of being watched or leaving him like that, but when she stepped out of the hotel room, closing the door behind her as quietly as possible, she felt like she had brought this all on her by herself.

And yet, it still hurt.


...

When he woke up, Kurt did not open his eyes just yet. Instead, he stretched out his arm in an attempt to pull Diane closer to him, when he felt nothing beside him but an empty bedside.

He frowned and opened his eyes. Diane was nowhere to be seen but his gaze fell on a piece of paper next to him. He got seated against the headboard and reached for the note.

Kurt,
I'm sorry. I had to rush.
Thank you for last night, it was amazing. I hope you feel likewise.
Please, call me.
- D.

Kurt sighed and ran a hand over his face. That woman was going to be the death of him.

Chapter Text

She had not heard from him since she had left the hotel room. He had not called and she could not even hold that against him. If it had been the other way around, she probably would not have called him either.

Days had passed without a word and she tried to tell herself that it was probably for the best; reducing the collateral damage. It was a bitter thought but she felt as if it was nothing but the truth. And nevertheless, a small voice from deep inside of her kept begging her to reach out to him.

It was a Saturday, exactly a week after the night they had spent together. She had already come home from work since after they had been taking care of the most important managing duties, Will and her had both decided that they had earned to take the rest of the weekend off.

The early spring sun was shining down forcefully on Chicago when she grabbed her purse and a pair of sunglasses and- against all better judgement- stepped out of her house and into her black Cadillac.

This is stupid, she thought to herself all the way out of town but it did not stop her from driving further out and nearer towards him. When she parked her car in front of his house and turned off the engine, she remained seated for a few minutes.

She did not even know whether or not he was home. She knew she should just drive back into the city and forget about the whole thing- more importantly, let him forget about the whole thing-, but she was not able to resist the urge to see him again.

To explain.

She stepped out of the car. The countryside was silent and her heels clicking on the ground was the only sound she could hear when she approached the front door to his house. After one last moment of doubt and second thoughts, she broke her staring-contest with the doorbell and pressed it.

She waited. And waited. Pressed the doorbell one more time and felt utterly stupid. She knew she should have just taken it as some kind of a sign from the universe or god knows whom to leave it as it was, but for some reason, the small, red shoe soles of her Louboutin heels felt as if they were glued to his front steps.

A deep sigh escaped her and she was just about to turn around and leave when-

The door opened and there he was, looking right at her. His widened eyes were full of surprise.

She slowly took off her sunglasses and they both stared at each other for a minute of uncomfortable silence.

Maybe he did not even want to see you again, she thought, and that's why he didn't call. Maybe you've read too much into it and this has just been a one-time thing for him. Maybe...

His facial features softened and he pulled the door open more widely, taking a step back and silently inviting her in.

She smiled at him and accepted the invitation wordlessly, tucking a loose, blonde curl behind her ear as she passed him so closely that she could smell his scent.

Diane turned around to face him when she heard the door fall shut behind her. "Listen,", she began. "I-"

He shut her off by pressing his lips onto hers, wrapping his arms around her waist to pull her closer to him. She smiled against their joined lips and placed her free hand on his cheek, her thumb slowly running up and down on his rough jaw-line.

Their lips parted and they were both breathing heavily from the lack of air. As expected, Diane was the first one to break the silence.

"Hi."

His face, merely inches away from hers, lightened up in an amused smirk. "Hi."

She raised her brows and ran her hand from his jaw, up to his hair until it came to rest on the curve between his neck and shoulder. "You didn't call." It was an observation, not an allegation.

"Neither did you.", he said, arching an eyebrow.

Diane nibbled on her bottom lip, still studying his face inch by inch as if to make sure that it was just as she had remembered it to be. "I know. I..." She paused. "I'm sorry."

He nodded slowly. "Why did you leave?"

Her gaze shifted downwards from his green eyes to her shoes. She wanted to tell him the truth. But the truth recently seemed to be soaked in so many complications. It made it so much more difficult.

"I had to rush to work."

"Diane,", he sighed, gently pushing her chin up with his knuckle to be able to look at her. "I woke up at six am on a Saturday and you were already gone. You don't owe me anything, so you don't need to lie."

Her teeth bit down on the inside of her cheek and she knew that she had a guilty look in her eyes.

His hands left her as he stepped back. She felt so stupid. Her eyes shifted to the side, just so that she did not have to look at his face anymore. The look of frustration on his features made her feel even worse.

"Hungry?"

Her gaze shot back to him in surprise. "I-uh... Not really.", she stuttered, slightly taken aback by the sudden and unexpected change of the subject.

His eyes narrowed and he looked up and down her slim figure. "You should stay for dinner." It was a statement instead of a question.

...

"You can't be serious."

"Why, it's a fact."

"It's not a fact, it's an outrage!", she said, slightly raising her voice and frowning at him. She leaned forward to grab her glass of red wine from the coffee table.

"Diane, people would not be as irresponsible with firearms if there were fewer restrictions. They make them more appealing."

"Yeah, we know how good that one worked with the legalization of drugs... and what are you suggesting? That everyone should be able to run around with a loaded gun, ready to shoot anyone at any given time?"

"No, but they should teach the responsible use of guns instead of writing yet some other unhelpful legislation. And yes, I think that people should be able to defend themselves."

"You can't fight violence with even more violence, Kurt. That's not how it works."

"You can't know that."

Diane rolled her eyes before she downed the rest of her wine, partly to overcome her lack of courage and partly for the dramatic effect it provided. She placed the empty glass on the coffee table. Kurt stretched out his arm, reaching for the bottle in order to give her a refill but she stopped him by taking his hand in hers.

He looked at her, confusion making its way over his face. She entwined their fingers and shifted a little towards him on the couch. Her heels had long ago been carelessly left beneath the coffee table, her stocking-clad feet tucked underneath her behind. Her expression softened.

"I think I still owe you an explanation.", she said in a soft voice.

"Diane, you don't have to-"

"No.", she interrupted him. "I really do."

Kurt's mouth fell shut. He nodded and stroked the soft skin on the back of her hand with his thumb.

"The other night, when I..." She paused, shaking her head. "I didn't want to leave. And I came here because I don't want you to think that this was only a one-time thing for me. Because... I think it isn't. I mean-" Her eyes widened. "Oh god, that came out wrong. I don't want to rush this. And I didn't mean to pressure you with that. I mean, I-uh, I don't even know what this is and it's probably way too early to even think about having this talk and... okay, I'm rambling. I'm sorry. I don't normally do that. Ever." She sighed.

Kurt placed his free hand on her waist and slowly drew small circles on the fabric of her red dress. His gaze wandered from his hand to her eyes and he gently squeezed her hand. "Go on."

Diane exhaled slowly and gave him a small smile. "I want to be honest with you. And it's hard for me because what I am about to tell you isn't pretty and it surely isn't easy and not at all second-date-material and you might think that I am insane because I'm telling you this after we've known each other for only a few weeks and I really don't want you to think that I am insane." She said all that really fast.

What is the matter with me?, she thought.

In the middle of her ramble, Kurt had started to smirk. "I like you, Diane. Just say what you want to say."

Diane nodded slowly and leaned forward to place a soft kiss of gratitude on his cheek before she went on. She eyed their entwined hands, the motion of his fingers that were still brushing gently over her skin, not able to look him into the eyes. She swallowed. Her throat felt dry.

"The client I told you about... you know, the one from ten years ago?"

She saw him nodding from the corner of her eyes.

"He's been-uhm, sending me text messages and similar things. I don't know how he got my address and cell phone number, but-"

"Your address?" His fingers suddenly stopped moving on her hand and waist.

"Uh-yes. And I think he's been following me. I..." She breathed in deeply and Kurt could see her body visually tense. "That morning, when I got up and checked my phone, I saw that he's been texting me again and... I think he knew where I was and I think he knew what I, uhm, no, what we've been doing and-" She cleared her burning throat. "I just- I panicked. And I needed to get out of there. And I'm sorry about that, I really am and-"

"Diane.", he interrupted her. His voice was low and steady but there was something inside it that made her face him. His jaw was tense and his eyes were narrowed but he did not look angry. He looked concerned. "You need to go to the police."

Diane bit her lower lip. "Kurt. I know how law enforcement works. They can't do anything about it, until-"

"Until something happens to you?", he interrupted her, slightly raising his voice. That was a new side of him for her to see. "Jesus, Diane..." His hands left her and he ran them through his hair.

"And they wouldn't have let him out if they hadn't had reasons to believe that it was safe to do so. It would be hard to argue-"

"Diane, this is not one of your cases and you are not in court.", he interrupted her again. "This is about your life."

"I know... I know that. But I don't want to let him get to me anymore."

And before he could come up with an argument against that, she pulled him in for a passionate kiss.

Chapter Text

There had been an envelope on her front steps when she had opened the front door of her townhouse to take off to work that morning. It contained a golden necklace and a message.

Silence is golden.
I see you. Don't forget about that.
I like that blouse on you.
That's all for now.
- JS

Diane closed her laptop, straightened the bow on the collar of the white satin blouse she was wearing that day and got out of her chair to help herself to a glass of scotch. She moved to the window front of her office and looked at the dark streets of Chicago, at the lights from the skyscrapers that filled the night with light, as she sipped on her drink.

"All ready for the equity meeting tomorrow?"

She spun around to see Will standing behind her, his red mug in his hand and a small smirk on his face.

"Yeah. Assuming they won't kill us because we're calling them all in on a Saturday.", she added dryly and less sarcastically than the both of them would have expected.

Will's brows furrowed. "Rough day?"

She sighed. "No. Just a lot on my mind."

He nodded slowly. "Care for some company?"

"Only if it's yours." She returned his smile.

"Well, then I guess it's your lucky day."

She chuckled as she sat down on her couch, leaning back and stretching out her legs on its arm so that her feet were dangling above the ground. He sank down on the armchair facing her. He took a long sip from his mug and looked down on it as he swallowed.

"You okay?", she asked.

He looked up. "I think so."

She raised her brows. "That does sound awfully convincing."

He forced a smile. "You know..." He paused as if he was trying to figure out how to say what he wanted to say. "Sometimes when you suddenly feel sure about some-... someone and... you think that life is finally about to take a change. And you are ready to work for that change. But then, things get in the way and... you take a moment and think that maybe that change just... wasn't meant for you to have?"

Diane tilted her head to the side. "Will. Is this about Alicia?", she asked in a soft voice.

Will's gaze shifted from hers towards the glass walls behind her. He remained silent but she already knew the answer to her question.

Diane took a sip from her scotch and cleared her throat before she continued. "Do you love her?"

Will exhaled slowly before he looked at her again. "The other night, you know, the night of Peter's press conference... I made her an offer. And... I told her that she could just ignore it if she didn't want to take it and things wouldn't be awkward at work." He paused.

Diane nodded understandingly. "And she did."

"Yes." He took another sip from his mug. "And I mean, it's probably the right thing of her to do. Me being her boss and... her being married, with kids. But... I can't help myself but wonder..." His voice drifted away.

"I know. I'm sorry, Will." She put her feet back down on the floor and slightly leaned forward to place her free hand on his arm. "I know it's hard."

She knew that there was nothing she could say to make it better. Alicia was married and her husband was about to become the new State's Attorney and she would stand beside him throughout the process. Will was her boss. It was not right but there was no point in telling him something he already knew. That was not what he needed.

"Yeah, well... I'll probably just have to wait until it gets easier." He shifted in his seat and looked uncomfortable. Diane's hand left his arm.

"It will eventually. You need to give yourself some time."

He nodded, quickly looking away until after a few moments of silence he turned back to her. "What about you? What's on your mind that led you to drink scotch in your office on a Friday night?"

"Hm", she responded and took another sip of the burning liquid before she continued. "It's just a lot at the moment. The whole Spellman-thing and everything."

"What about him? Has something happened?" Will frowned.

"No, not exactly." That technically was not a lie, was it? 

Will already had enough on his plate at the moment, she did not need to add worrying about his partner's safety on top of that.

"But it's sort of keeping me from focusing on things that make me happy. You know, the constant worry in the back of my mind. He could be anywhere right now and I wouldn't know."

Will nodded. "Do you think they made a mistake? Letting him out? I mean, do you think he still wants to..." He paused, not sure how to phrase what was on both of their minds.

"I think I do." Diane's voice was throaty and low. "I wouldn't have spoken against him if I didn't. I..." She swallowed a sob that made its way up her throat. "I'm scared, Will."

Will placed his mug on the coffee table in front of them and reached out to capture her free hand with both of his. "You don't have to be, Diane. We're all here for you. I'll always have your back. And you can always come to me with anything, okay?"

Diane nodded and tried to give him a small smile.

"And speaking of focusing on things that make you happy.", he said in a less serious tone. "You can tell McVeigh that next time he picks you up for lunch, the poor guy doesn't have to wait around the corner in his car."

Diane's eyes widened and her jaw dropped. "How do you-"

"I saw you get out of his truck the other day. I know his license plate. Mind you, I introduced you to him." He laughed at her startled expression.

She blushed a little. "I didn't know if it was going to be a problem for the firm."

"It won't. Don't worry... You could have told me though."

Diane grinned. "I'm sorry. I wasn't sure if it was going to be a temporary thing."

"And now you are?" Will raised one brow.

"I don't know. I mean, I hope-uhm.. think so. It's probably still too early to say that. Even though it's been almost four months already and... I like him." She smiled.

Will grinned at her. "Wow. We've been working together for what, five years?"

"Six.", she corrected him, rolling her eyes playfully. "Your point?" She quirked an eyebrow at him.

"Right. Six years. And..." Will shook his head, still grinning. "I don't think I've ever seen you in love with someone before." His green eyes locked with her widened blue ones. 

Diane's crimson lips parted and she pulled her hand away from his. "I-...", she began. "I'm-not-in-love-with-him", she spat out as if it were one single word before drinking another huge sip of scotch.

A loud chuckle escaped Will when he saw her blushing. "Oh, you so are! Dear god." He let out an exaggerated sigh. "My partner... my dear friend Diane fell for the ballistics expert from the countryside! Wait, are the two of you sleeping together?!" His free hand landed on his comically widely opened mouth. "Diane Lockhart, I'm so disappointed in you."

"Will. Stop it.", she warned, her tone serious and her eyes narrowing dangerously.

"Look! You're not even trying to deny it anymore! And here I was, thinking this was just about sex." Will smiled happily as he saw her lips stretch on her face in a smirk.

"Well, it's not. But I don't know about the whole feelings-matter."

"But you did say you like him."

"And I do. I really do. He... He makes me happy. And yes, Will, maybe 'like' isn't even the right word for it anymore. Can we stop talking about this now?"

Will gave her a genuine smile. He could not remember to ever having seen her be this serious about a man. "I'm happy for you." He reached out and took a sip from his mug.

"Thank you.", she said softly.

"But I want to make one thing clear right from the beginning; when you two decide to tie the knot, we won't change the name to McVeigh/Gardner, right? 'Cause that would call for some really bad publicity."

Diane chuckled while rolling her eyes. "Can we go back to the part where you told me how happy you are for me?"

"I am! Though I never pictured you with a gun-loving country-guy in flannel and boots."

Diane laughed. "Neither did I. He's also a Republican."

Will joined her laughter. "You're kidding, right?"

"I wish I was. A Palin-supporter. Try and picture that. But at least we never run out of things to discuss."

"Oh, someone's into make-up-sex.", he joked.

Diane remained silent and instead took another sip of scotch, trying to hide her smirk. Will started to laugh again.

"Hey, I won't let someone insult my private life who takes women in their early twenties to gala events with them!", she laughed.

"Oh Diane, come on! That only happened..." He paused, thinking until his eyes widened and he added in a small voice, "A couple of times."

Her throaty laughter slowly faded away and when she spoke again her tone held a certain kind of seriousness to it. "I guess we both kind of missed the point where people are expected to settle down and get married, haven't we?"

"Hm, I don't know about you but I always found it weird when people in college got married." Will paused. "Do you regret it sometimes?"

She tilted her head in partly feigned confusion. "Why? I never got married in college."

Will chuckled. "I meant prioritising your career. Putting it in front of your personal life, having kids and getting married?"

Diane raised an eyebrow. "Not really. I mean, it wasn't really like that for me. I never met someone with whom I could picture myself for the rest of my life and to have children with when it was still an option, so that's why I focused on my work."

The corner of Will's mouth twitched a little. "And now?"

"Now it's obviously too late... And I don't think I should since it won't change anything, but... sometimes... Maybe a little, yes."

Chapter Text

Will and the two glasses of scotch had actually managed to cheer her up a little until she stepped out of the elevator and heard her phone beep to inform her that she had gotten a text message.

She thought it would be from Kurt but she was proven wrong.

Unknown number.

'Drunk women shouldn't be on the streets alone at night.
You should be more careful.
There are dangerous people out there.
- JS'

Diane swallowed, threw her phone back into her purse and hurried out of the building and into her car. She locked the doors from the inside which had manifested as a part of her driving routine in the last few months.

She was not drunk, if anything she was tipsy. And the message had managed to completely sober her up within a second.

Diane had been planning to drive home, walk Justice and get a good night of sleep before the equity meeting in the next morning, but she did not want to be alone that night. In fact, there was one person she really wanted to be with, above anything else.

Taking out her phone again she dialled Jane's number.

"Hello?", the girl answered the phone over the soft tunes of classic rock that Diane could hear playing in the background.

"Jane, it's me, Diane."

Jane either had not noticed the distress in Diane's voice, or she had gracefully chose not to mention it. "Oh, hey Ms. Lockhart, everything alright?"

"Yes, uh, I'm sorry, I know it's late but I have to go somewhere and I would really appreciate it if you could take Justice for a short walk. You don't need to go right now, but sometime in the next few hours-"

"I'm on it, don't worry. Have a good night and call me if you need me in the morning."

"Thank you, Jane. And a good night to you, too." Diane hung up and started the engine.

In the middle of the road, she could not take the silence anymore, so she turned on the radio but only a few minutes after, the talking of the radio speakers began to annoy her so she turned it off again and tried to simply focus on driving. The forty-mile-drive appeared to take even longer that night than it normally did and Diane already felt a little more at ease when she finally turned on the driveway that led to the barn.

She parked her Cadillac in front of the house, right behind his truck. From the inside of the car, she could see dimmed, warm light shining out of the living room window, which usually meant that the kitchen lights were on. She let out a sigh of relief when she realised that she probably should have called to check if he was even home that night, before driving all the way out to the countryside.

She grabbed her purse from the passenger's seat, unlocked the doors and stepped out of the car, quickly looking around to see if anyone was behind her. Shaking her head over her paranoia she shut the door, locked it again and went to the front door. She pressed the doorbell.

Her face immediately lightened up when the door opened and she was looking at him. He was holding a plaid kitchen towel in his hands so he must have been in the middle of cooking dinner when she arrived.

"Hey" He smiled in surprise when he saw her face soften at the sight of him. "You're-"

She interrupted him by pulling him close to her to press a longing kiss on his lips, placing her hands on his neck in an attempt to hold him even closer, dropping her purse as she did so. The kitchen towel soon joined her purse on the wooden floor when he wrapped his arms around her waist, eagerly returning her kiss.

When they parted she grinned at him, her face merely inches away from his, biting her lip and still holding onto him.

"Hi. I forgot to say that."

"Hi. Your lips taste of scotch."

"Yeah, I had some with Will."

He frowned. "And you drove here by yourself?"

"Yeah, I... it wasn't that much."

He nodded slowly. "We should go inside. I'm making dinner."

"Okay." Their hands left each other's bodies and he shut the door when Diane noticed something standing excitedly on the floor next to her purse.

"Justice?"

Kurt bent down to pick up the towel and her purse which he handed to her. "Yeah, I told you I would come and get her so you wouldn't have to drive home before you head over here after work."

Her eyes widened. "Oh... Right."

They had agreed to spend the weekend at the barn together since she had thought that she would not have any appointments until Monday. She must have forgotten because of all of her thoughts about Spellman that day.

She took off her coat and he hung it on the coat rack next to his standard brown suede jacket. They walked into the kitchen together and he continued cooking while she got seated on a barstool behind the kitchen aisle across from him. He eyed the small purse that she had put on the counter.

"You packed light.", he observed.

"Yeah, I..." She ran a hand through her hair. "I kind of forgot about our weekend plans. And I need to go back to the city in the morning because Will and I had to schedule an emergency equity meeting. I'm sorry, I forgot about that one, too." She sighed, feeling bad about ruining their plans for the weekend.

"Coming by was more of a spontaneous decision... Guess I'll have to drop by my apartment after the meeting before I come back or I won't have any clothes for the weekend. Assuming you're not angry and will still have me."

Kurt raised his eyebrows and chose to ignore the last part of her ramble. "Diane, there are three drawers in my closet that are full of your clothes."

She smirked at him guiltily. "Oops."

His eyes narrowed when he looked at her. "Everything okay?"

She exhaled slowly. "Later, okay?"

"Okay." Kurt shrugged.

"I need to call Jane and tell her that she doesn't have to walk Justice toni-"

She was interrupted by the ring tone of her cell phone.

Looking at the display she let out a small laugh. "She must have sensed that I'm talking about her."

Kurt tried to force a smile but he could not shake off his worry about her. It was not like her to forget about their plans. In fact, it was not like her to forget about anything. Cancelling because of work, yes, but forgetting was not something she had ever done before in the cause of the last months. And he truly was not mad because this could have happened to anyone, just genuinely concerned because this did not usually happen to her.

"Jane, hi, I was just about to call you and tell you that you don't-"

"Ms. Lockhart?" The terrified voice of the young girl on the other line cut her off.

"I think someone broke into your house."

Chapter Text

"I think someone broke into your house."

"Wha... What do you mean?" Diane frowned. Kurt's eyes shot to her and he raised an eyebrow at her. She shrugged, answering him silently.

"The kitchen window is open and I can't find Justice. She's gone, I've looked everywh-"

"Jane!", Diane interrupted her. "I've just arrived at my boyfriend's house and Justice is here. He picked her up earlier, I simply forgot about it. I was about to call and tell you. Everything is fine."

"Oh. Okay. Thank god!", Jane sighed.

"Go home and have a nice evening. Thank you for calling, I really appreciate your concern."

"Of course, Ms. Lockhart. Enjoy your night."

Diane slowly exhaled when she hung up and put her phone back into her purse.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing." She shook her head. "False alarm. That was Jane, she panicked when she could not find Justice and the kitchen window was open so she thought that someone must've broken in... I guess I forgot to shut the window earlier."

...

"Dinner was delicious. Thank you." She smiled at him and reached for his hand over the dining table.

"My pleasure. Otherwise, I would have to let you cook and it's in all our best interest not to let that happen."

Her jaw dropped in feigned hurt and she failed to hide an amused smile. "Excuse me?"

He laughed and she joined him.

Kurt tilted his head. "I love your laugh."

Diane snorted sarcastically.

"I mean it." His thumb gently ran over the back of her hand. "You didn't laugh a lot tonight."

Diane raised her brows. "I take that it's time to talk?"

He shrugged. "That's not my call. Whenever you're ready." Kurt's eyes lightened up when he saw the loving smile she offered him.

Will had been right. She was in love with him.

There had not been many men in her life who she had fallen in love with and none of them had ever made her feel the way Kurt did. He was so different, what they had so incredibly special. He was the exact opposite of her and in spite of all their heated political and ethical arguments, she felt like he completed her. He was neither superior to her nor inferior. They were equals, nothing less, and able to respect one another above anything. Being with someone who was so utterly different from her brought out her best possible self. He made her even more confident in acting like herself. Around him, she could be both, the strong, smart and confident woman and the silly girl she so often could not be due to her profession. He seemed to just equally appreciate both sides of her. With him, she could let go.

Being with him was easy. It felt right to be with him. He would listen to her, whatever she said. He would try and understand her, however she felt. He made an effort to make it work between them, even though it could be hard to maintain a relationship between two people who had their own separate lives, as they did.

He made her feel like she wanted to believe in love. She had not told him yet, but she knew it for sure.

She loved him.

"He sent me a golden necklace. Because silence is golden, you know? It's beautiful and I hate that I find it beautiful."

He placed his free hand on her leg, just above her knee. The touch of his warm hand on her skin through the barely there nylon fabric of her stockings made her feel safe.

"I get it. But that's not your fault. You shouldn't give him the satisfaction of letting him get to you. It's probably exactly what he wants."

Diane nodded. "I guess so... He wrote that he likes my blouse." Her gaze fell on the creme satin fabric that shimmered in the soft light of the candle on the table in front of them. "It's been bothering me the whole day. And when I got out of the office I got a text, saying that drunk women shouldn't be out alone at night, because there are dangerous people on the street."

She cleared her throat and her gaze fell to a framed painting of a lake on the wall behind him. It was a peaceful sight. Him and the painting.

"It's just been a bad day. It will be better tomorrow."

Kurt blinked at her slowly, watching her attempt to force the subject into a metaphorical box to be able to shove it aside and deal with it later on her own, preferably in the safety of her loneliness. He had seen her do it many times before by now and he knew that this was her preferred method of dealing with things that got to her emotionally. But she did not have to do that with him. He wanted to be there for her, wanted her to let him be there for her. It was the least he could do to try and still his worry about her.

"Diane," His soft voice was full of concern. "I want to ask you something. Could you please look at me?"

Her gaze slowly made its way back to his eyes. And when their gazes locked they could see the fear that was reflected in the other's eyes.

"I...", he began, watching her intently, almost helplessly. He entwined their fingers before he continued. "I know that we've talked about this before, but this time I really need you to consider it."

"Consider what?" She raised her brows.

"I just... I would feel a lot better if I knew that you're capable of defending yourself."

Diane suddenly tensed and breathed in deeply, understanding exactly where he was going with this conversation. "Kurt. I had a rough day, so please, let's not-"

"No, just hear me out.", Kurt broke her off, a somewhat desperate tone in his voice, as he squeezed her hand.

"No!" She pulled her hand away from his grasp. She raised her voice when she spoke again. "We have talked about this and I am not going to change my mind."

"Diane, I would feel a lot more comfortable-"

"Yes, but I wouldn't.", she now yelled. "This is about me, not you and I don't want to do it!"

Kurt pulled his hand away from her thigh and narrowed his eyes at her. "This isn't about politics, Diane. This is about your safety!"

"No Kurt, it isn't. Because you are making this about you and your absurd concept of firearms saving the world and I will NOT talk about this again." She folded her arms firmly.

"For god's sake, can't you see that I'm only trying to protect you?", he yelled, running one hand over his face exasperatedly.

She let out an annoyed laugh. "Well, I'm sorry to break it to you, but I don't need you to protect me. So please stop bothering."

He sighed deeply. "Why the hell is it so hard for you to let me in?" He stared at her, his eyes flashing with anger. Anger that was just so much easier to show than his true feelings of deep fear. "Have I ever done anything to deserve to be treated like that from you?"

"I have let you in, Kurt, and you know it, so don't you use that against me right now! But I won't let you try and dictate my life like that."

"Why do you always have to be so damn stubborn?", he cried out.

"Why are you always treating me like I'm a child that's not able to look out for herself?"

"I don't do that!"

"Oh no? Then what are you doing? Because right now that's exactly what it feels like!"

Kurt groaned angrily. "I'm just worried about you! Damn it, Diane, there's a murderer out there threatening you!"

"Huh. Wow. Thank you for the reminder. I really needed that.", she snapped. "How very adult of you. And still, it's my problem and not your concern."

"It is my concern because I love you!", he shouted at her.

He did not plan on it to happen but the words were out of his mouth, settling between them in thick air, before he had even realised what he was saying. That was definitely not how he had wanted to tell her that. Of course he loved her but that was not the right time to say it and make it sound like a genuine revelation of his feelings towards her. In fact, there hardly could have been a worse moment for that.

Diane's jaw tensed and she remained silent for a painfully long moment, her heavy breathing the only sound in the room apart from Justice's upset yelps over the raised voices, which neither of them even registered. All the colour had drained from her face and her blue eyes were widened, the tears that were forming in them making them look even bigger. Her voice was barely more than a slow whisper, thick with pain and hurt when she spoke again.

"How dare you say that to make a point."

She stood up and walked over to the other side of the table, needing to enlarge the space between them. Her fingers wrapped around the back of one of the wooden chairs. She felt like she could not trust her trembling legs to keep her standing right now.

Kurt stood up, too, facing her from the other side of the table. "I'm not trying to make a point. I love you, Diane. I can't let anything happen to you."

"Do you trust me, Kurt?" Her voice was unsteady, trembling from the great effort she put into not letting the tears in her eyes escape them and run wild on her cheeks.

"I do."

"Then trust me when I say that I don't need you or anyone else for that matter to tell me what I should and shouldn't do!" She glared at him through watery blue eyes.

He exhaled deeply. What was it that she did not understand?

"I'm not trying to tell you what to do." His low voice was filled with anger and frustration. "I'm just trying to protect you! How often do I have to tell you to make you understand?", he shouted.

"Oh, I get it, Kurt.", she laughed coolly. "I do, but I don't need your fucking protection!"

"Oh, yes you do!", he shouted as his anger took over and his gaze went up towards the ceiling. "Why else would you have come here tonight?"

When he looked back at Diane he could see a single tear escaping her eye. Her cheeks and nose had flushed pink and her entire body was shaking almost violently behind the chair she was holding onto.

Suddenly, her trembling lips contorted into an angry smile and she looked away, letting out a scoff. Moments later, her eyes locked with his again.

"So, that's what you think?" Her voice was unusually high and it took all of her strength to keep the sob that had formed in her throat from getting out. "That I'm only using you to make me feel better about myself?"

His eyes left hers as his gaze dropped down on the burning candle in the middle of the table. "As if it suddenly mattered to you what I think.", he mumbled.

It felt as if he had punched her in the face. And he might as well have because it surely could not have hurt her more than his words.

Another tear escaped Diane's eye, running down her cheek and landing on the collar of her blouse, making her feel as if it were setting her skin on fire on its way. A small, pained whimper escaped her before she could stop it.

Her trembling hands slowly left the wooden material of the back of the chair and she turned and began to walk away, not daring to turn her head and look at him. She was too scared of what that would do to her.

Unsteady steps, her heels clicking against the wooden floor was the only sound inside the silent house, took her to the entrance. She grabbed her coat, slipped into it, opened the door and stepped out, Justice sneaking out after her into the cold and dark night.

 

Chapter Text

As soon as the door fell shut behind her, the deep sob she had been holding onto escaped her.

One should think that after forcing yourself to hold it in it would feel liberating to finally let it out, but it did not. It only made her feel weak.

She pressed her hand against her mouth to muffle the sound, her other arm wrapped around her abdomen tightly, as if she were attempting to keep herself from falling apart. The tears were now flooding out of her eyes freely, blinding her sight as they kept forming in them.

She stood still like that for a short moment before she took a deep, shaky breath and continued to walk towards the woods, Justice following her unsteady steps.

It was silent on the pathway in the woods and it smelled of leaves, wet dirt and old rain. The air of the particularly cold and windy summer night dried the tears that continued to fall down on her face in a painful way as she kept walking without a destination in her mind.

Could that really be what he thought of her? That she was nothing but a cold, conniving bitch that did not care about anyone but herself?

There were so many people who thought of her in that way but she had never expected him to do so.

Did he really think that she did not care for him, that she only used him for her own ego? To make her feel better about herself? Did he truly believe that he was nothing but an easy distraction for her? When had she ever done anything that could lead him to think of her in that way?

She had opened her heart for him, had told him about her deepest concerns and feelings. It was hard for her to open up to people. She had put too much work into pulling off the strong facade she had been forced to built to gain other people's respect. But with him, she had really tried to make an effort. She had let her guards down for him, let him see her fears and weaknesses, had let herself trust him.

Had let herself fall in love with him.

She had never done that for any other man, not in that extent anyway. But apparently, it still had not been enough for him. She had not been enough for him.

He had said that he loved her. But could she believe him? He had said a lot of things that night that were not true, that were in fact far from the truth.

Had he been genuine? Did he really love her or had he just been trying to emotionally blackmail her to make his point? To talk her into something by pulling the feelings-card?

Diane suddenly stopped as a dark realisation crept into her mind.

She had not said it back. She had not told him that she loved him, too. So what if he did love her and now assumed that he had been right when he thought that he did not matter to her? That she did not just stand outside in the middle of the night, freezing and not able to feel her fingers, crying over their fight like she would never allow for anyone to see?

She had to tell him. She had to get back right now before he could decide that she was not worth all the troubles.

"Come on, Justice.", she whispered raspily and the little terrier ran back towards her, away from the tree she had been sniffing at.

Suddenly, the terrier began to bark with all the force of her tiny body.

Diane frowned. What was the matter with her?

She turned around and gasped when she found herself looking right into a pair of familiar brown eyes.

"Shut that thing up or I will introduce it to my knife."


...


"Justice! Off!", she gasped out through gritted teeth. She could not turn away from him to look at the little dog but the barking immediately shut down.

In the dark, his teeth stood out as he did what she would take for grinning.

"Tut, tut, tut, Ms. Lockhart. What are we doing out here in the woods alone at night? It's as if you're asking for running into me. You're making it way too easy."

He looked remarkably different from the last time she had seen him. The bags beneath his eyes were almost a dark purple, his hair and facial hair no longer looked neat and well-groomed and his cheekbones stood out more visibly. He had aged a great deal, but his eyes were still the same. The same colour, shape and expression of hatred inside them, just like ten years ago.

"Jeffrey", Diane whispered, her voice low and raspy. Her heart was pounding wildly in her chest and she was convinced that he could hear it. It surely would satisfy him to get proof for how afraid she was of him. "Please."

"Did you enjoy my presents, Ms. Lockhart? I see you're not wearing either of them. Not your taste, huh? Not expensive, not good enough for you?" His voice was as cold as the air.

Diane's lips parted and she tried to say something but the words got stuck in her throat.

"You really made it way too easy. Maybe I should spice things up a little. You know, just for the sake of excitement. The stakes tend to be pretty high after a whole decade's passed."

As he came even closer to her she could see the knife in his left hand, its sharp blade reflecting the moonlight. She tried to step back but she found herself unable to move. There was nothing she could do. Nothing...

His cold thumb roughly stroked the skin on her face. Over her cheek, to her lips and down her chin. He pushed his fingers down her throat and to the collar of her black coat.

"You haven't changed much in... what was it again? Ten years that I spent in prison?" His tone shifted from mocking to angry.

"Jeffrey", Diane gasped out. "I'm sorry."

"You're sorry? Well, I'm sorry, Ms. Lockhart, but 'sorry' isn't good enough for me. 'Sorry'," He tugged on her coat roughly. "doesn't make up for ten years in prison!"

He roughly pulled her coat off of her frame and threw it aside. He eyed her. His voice was low and maniacally calm when he spoke again.

"I can only repeat that I really like that blouse on you. Very fitting. Very... revealing." He let out a cold laugh as he brushed his fingers over the shuddering skin on her cleavage. "Does your boyfriend like it on you, too? What was his name again? Kurt McVeigh? Pretty classy last name."

Diane pressed her eyes shut at the mention of Kurt's name, inhaling deep and shakily.

"Oh! Right. You two got into a little fight, didn't you? Did he make you cry? Don't worry, Ms. Lockhart. It won't hurt anymore when I'm done with you. But until then..." His rough, cold hand grabbed her right wrist forcefully and she could feel the handle of the knife pressing against her joint between it and his palm. His face was merely inches away from hers and his hot breath spilled against her skin, sending shivers of fear through her body.

Suddenly, she felt the fingers of his other hand on the hem of her black pencil skirt and she panicked, attempting to push him away from her with her free hand.

But he was strong. Much stronger than her, so the motion of her hand barely made him move. His eyes narrowed dangerously at her and his fingers left her skirt so he could grab her left hand. He twisted her arm in a motion so quick and hard that it made her audibly whimper in pain, as she pressed her lips together tightly.

"Don't you fucking move!", he spat out. "And if you scream, I will pay your friend McVeigh a short visit, do you understand?"

Diane looked to the side and nodded. She did not want him to see the single tear that rolled out of the corner of her eye.

"Say it, you stupid bitch!"

Diane gulped. "I understand.", she whispered.

"Very good." She could hear the smirk in his voice and swallowed again, her lips tightly closed, shutting her eyes when she felt him grab both of her hands with the one hand that held onto the knife, increasing the pressure on her wrists. His other hand moved back to the hem of her skirt.

"Wearing thigh highs, aren't you?" His fingers traced their way up from the lacy rim of her stockings over the bare skin of her upper thigh. "How... sophisticated."

She wanted to struggle against him. Free her hands and run back to the barn, to scream out for help, to just keep him from doing what she knew he was about to do to her. 

But she could not do it. She knew he would kill him if she would do it. She knew it for sure, there was no doubt.

And that was what stood in her way. Spellman wanted her and not him. As soon as he would be done with her he would not give another damn about anyone in her life anymore. Right now, he was just using them to hurt her even more. This was just about her and his revenge.

"You shouldn't give him the satisfaction of letting him get to you.", Kurt's words from earlier echoed through her head.

But how, Kurt? How?

How could she not let him get to her when he seemed to know exactly how he could do just that? 

By using him...

She would do anything in her power to keep him safe, because nothing Spellman could do to her, not even this, would be as insufferable as the thought of something happening to Kurt instead because of her.

Was that what he had meant when he had told her that he needed to protect her? Was that how he had been feeling?

Another sob threatened to escape her as his fingers curled into the hem of her underwear. But she fought it. She could not give him the satisfaction of hearing her cry.

She breathed in deeply. "Jeffrey." She tried to keep her voice calm and steady. "Don't do this. They will put you behind bars again and-"

"SHUT UP!", he shouted. She felt his saliva sprinkling against her face and she sensed the urge to vomit. "You really don't get it, do you?", he laughed. "I don't care if I have to go to jail again. My life ended ten years ago. Because of you. YOU ended my life." His fingers pulled hard on her underwear and she felt the flimsy fabric ripping underneath his force.

He tossed the torn fabric away and Diane pressed her legs together tightly. He held their hands between them, the knife, its sharp, silver blade pointing directly at her stomach, only an inch of cold air parting them. One wrong movement and everything could be over.

"I have nothing left to lose anymore. You've already taken everything away from me." His fingers dug into her inner thighs in an attempt to spread them apart. "And tonight, you will pay." He pulled her hands towards him to push his elbow hard into her chest.

And then she fell.

The back of her head hit the hard ground, making her whole body feel numb all of the sudden as the world started spinning around her. She tried to normalise her breathing but the force of his elbow on her chest left her panting and gasping for air. Closing her eyes, she attempted to concentrate on keeping herself from throwing up.

Her hands were held above her head, her back and the back of her hands were pressed into the sharp, tiny bricks that covered the pathway.

He hiked up her skirt and his gaze ran up and down her body.

"NO!", she managed to scream and she took all her strength together to kick his knee with the heel of her pump.

She did not even know if she had hit him but she heard him grunt deeply.

And then there was pain.

Such strong pain that it made her feel like she had never been in pain before in all her life because nothing could compare to this.

It felt like someone had set the side of her abdomen on fire. The feeling immediately made her tear up. She whimpered hysterically from the sudden agony and tried to free her hands from out of his grip to press them against her side, to sooth it, to damp down the flames. But the attempt was a waste of energy, the hope to succeed just another betrayal of realism.

She heard a clicking noise she could not classify. He pressed his palm against her mouth, muffling the high sounds of pain and horror that kept running out of her.

Her head fell to the side, taking some of the pressure from the pounding back of it, which gave her a reason not to look at him. She could do nothing but look at the foot of the tree beside her as another tear escaped her eye.

When she felt him enter her she pressed her eyes shut and tried to gather all of the little strength that was left in her body to kick him off of her, to just get rid of him in any way possible.

But it was not possible. She was too injured and he was too strong.

He laughed coolly at her unsuccessful attempts and Diane stopped to struggle against him. His weight pressing down on her, his grunts and painful movements inside of her, they all left her feeling numb. With every thrust, he seemed to take a little more of her life away, violate her with even more force, break her even further.

Her abdomen felt hot and cold all at once but the only thing that kept flying through her mind was:

You will never get to tell him that you love him.

Chapter Text

"Why else would you have come here tonight?"

When he looked back at Diane he could see a single tear escaping her eye. Her cheeks and nose had flushed pink and her entire body was shaking almost violently behind the chair she was holding onto.

Suddenly, her trembling lips contorted into an angry smile and she looked away, letting out a scoff. Moments later, her eyes locked with his again.

"So, that's what you think?" Her voice was unusually high and it took all of her strength to keep the sob that had formed in her throat from getting out. "That I'm only using you to make me feel better about myself?"

His eyes left hers as his gaze dropped down on the burning candle in the middle of the table. "As if it suddenly mattered to you what I think."

As soon as the words had come out of his mouth, he knew he had made a big mistake. But he was frustrated and angry with her for not taking his concerns seriously, shoving them aside repeatedly and treating him as if he did not mean well. As if he did not want the best for her.

Frustrated and angry at her for not being cautious enough about her own safety when she was threatened by a murderer who was holding a grudge against her.

He did not take his gaze away from the burning candle on the table when he heard a small whimper from her direction, the pained sound that escaped her leading to a knot forming in his throat. It was followed by the sound of her heels clicking against the floor, fading into the distance as she walked further away from him.

Then the sound of the front door falling shut loudly banged through his ears and he was alone.

It was as if the sound of the door had woken him up and his gaze finally left the burning candle.

What the hell am I doing, standing here and letting the woman I love walk away from me?

He waited for the sound of the closing of her car door but it never came. Kurt straightened up and looked over to the kitchen counter. Her purse was still there. He knew that she could not leave without it and the thought that she would come back again eventually comforted him in an odd way.

He walked over to the living room to look out of the window. She was standing in the driveway, wearing her coat and Justice was kneeling beside her. One arm slung around her abdomen and she brought her other hand up towards her face. Her body was trembling and he knew that she was crying like he had never thought possible for her to do.

Seeing her like that broke his heart. Knowing that he was the reason for her current state only made it worse. But he knew that she would not want him to see her like that or else she would not have stepped out. She would not straighten up, take a breath and continue to walk towards the woods with Justice right behind her if she had wanted him to go after her.

She was proud and stubborn and as much as that frustrated him, he chose to respect her boundaries. Something he had failed to do before, which had, in the end, been one of the main causes of their fight.

Kurt shook his head, turned around and dropped down onto the armchair next to him. He buried his face in his hands.

He had told her that he loved her. She had not said it back.

Only a few minutes ago he would have taken it as a sign. He would have thought that his doubts had been reasonable and she was not in this with him. Right from the very beginning of their relationship, he had known that he was not good enough for her. That she deserved someone who played more in her league.

But now, he knew that was not true. He knew that she did not give a damn about all of that superficial crap. He knew it or else she would not have reacted in the way she had.

He had never seen her cry before. Sad, afraid, close to tears, yes, but crying? It was so unlike her, almost out of character. She was always so strong, so in control and so very well and cautiously pulled together. But after all, she was only human. And now he had made her cry.

He owed her an apology. He should not have tried to push her into something she did not feel comfortable with in the first place. She was right. This was about her and they had to do it in her way, in a way she felt comfortable with, assuming that she still wanted to do this with him after all the things he had reproached her with that night.

Together they would figure something out. They had to.

He could not lose her over something like this.

...

Kurt did not know how long he had been sitting in the armchair, thinking. It could have been ten minutes, it could have been an hour. He could not say. He was too deep in his thoughts about her and about how to make things up to her.

He had hurt her. And he had never, not in the slightest, intended to do that. And he had to make that clear.

Little sounds broke him out of his thoughts.

High screeches and bellows, cries and the sound of something softly thumping against the front door.

Kurt frowned and got up to look for the source of the noise.

He opened the front door and looked down to see Justice furiously jumping up and down, bellowing at him as loud as she could as she did so. Diane was nowhere to be seen.

It only took him a half a second to understand what this had to be about.

Fuck.

...

Every breath she took only seemed to increase the pain.

Her arms and legs were sore. His hard grip on her wrists hindered her blood from flowing into her hands. The small bricks on the pathway scraped against the back of her body as he repeatedly thrust himself into her, seemingly deeper and deeper with every movement.

The sweat that had formed underneath his palm on her mouth mixed up with the tears she could not keep from running down her face anymore, leaving a terrible salty taste on her lips that made her stomach twist.

She did not know whether or not her head was bleeding. She did not know why her abdomen continued to burn so badly.

She was cold. She was in pain. And she was done. Done with hoping that someone would find her before it was too late.

Because right now, it felt as if it already were too late.

His body contracted, his hips were jerking uncontrollably against hers and she felt him spill inside of her, making her feel sick all over again. He stopped moving inside her and let out one last grunt before he started to laugh, his breathing still uneven and heavy.

"See, Ms. Lockhart?", he panted in his mocking tone. "Nobody is here to save you. Not even him."

He slipped out of her in a quick motion. As if it were nothing. As if it did not require any effort or strength.

His hand left her mouth. Her jaw was aching and he had left a painful burning between her thighs that only increased when the remainders of his climax slowly ran out of her. With his free hand, he zipped up his pants and reached out to grab the blood smeared knife from the ground, inches away from their head.

Where did the blood come from?, she asked herself silently.

"Yeah, that's right. Keep quiet. There is no point in screaming." He bent over her again until he almost touched her cheek with his nose. His hot and heavy breathing spilled against her skin.

Diane turned her head to face him. The pressure against the back of her head was blindingly painful but she had to do it. She would not let him win.

He had taken away her feeling of safety. He had made her feel so damn scared, hurt her and had taken away her control over her own body.

But she would not let him win.

"Are you scared, Ms. Lockhart? Are you scared of death?", he asked in a scoffing tone.

Diane remained silent. And then she spat him in the face.

He closed his eyes for a dangerous second of silence. Then he slowly opened them again and screamed at her.

"YOU FUCKING WHORE!"

Her head fell to the side from the force of his slap. And then out of the sudden, the pain in her abdomen rapidly increased, leaving her feeling as if someone was tearing her body apart with their bare hands, ripping her skin, her flesh apart inch by inch. It blurred her vision and a high ragged noise thundered through her head.

It was a horrifying sound and it took her a moment to realise that it was the sound of her own screams.

Her eyes fell closed. At least that's what she thought had happened when she could not see anymore. Her head was throbbing even harder than before. Everything was twisting and turning. And then she heard a voice.

His voice.

He was yelling. She could not tell what. It was too loud. It was all way too loud.

A boisterous shot banged through her ears. There was a soft warmth on her cold cheek. The pain in her head slowly began to disappear. And then his voice reappeared. It was the only thing she could sense anymore even though it sounded like he was still miles away from her. Too far away to be on time.

So far away.

"Diane", the voice said and she knew it was him but it also did not sound like him at all at the same time.

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

And then there was nothing. And at this point, nothing was only relief.

Chapter Text

"Just send help! Right now!"

"Sir, if you can't tell me-"

"She went off into the woods and something has happened, I've already told you that. Now send someone. NOW!"

He tossed the phone aside, not caring to even hang up. There was no time.

Kurt sprinted to the barn in his backyard. It was freezingly cold outside but grabbing a jacket had been the last thing on his mind when he had left his house. He hurried to unlock the doors, grabbed the first weapon he could find and loaded it.

A Beretta. The irony was unbeatable.

Justice had followed him, crying and whimpering on their way as if she was urging him to follow. They turned and the little dog ran off towards the woods, her light fur shining in the moonlight. She turned her head from time to time as if to make sure he was still behind her and keeping up with the pace she had set.

Kurt had to run as fast as he could on the small pathway to keep up with her. All the while he was screaming on the inside.

How could he have been so fucking stupid and let her go?

Alone. At night. And in her condition. The condition that he himself had caused.

He would never be able to forgive himself if anything had happened to her. Not when he so clearly could have prevented it. When he so easily could have made her stay.

Justice suddenly stopped. Kurt almost tripped over her as they came to a halt. And then he heard it.

The sound of a cold male voice, muffled from the distance between them. Kurt stalked closer to the voice, all the while being as silent as he could to try and listen to what he was saying.

"... quiet. There is no point in screaming."

As Kurt came nearer, he could make out the figure of a tall, muscular man, kneeling over something on the ground. His back was turned towards him, so he could not see Kurt approaching him.

"Are you scared, Ms. Lockhart?" Kurt winced silently. Verbalized by the cold voice, her name sounded like an insult, like a curse word.

His face felt numb.

He was talking to her but he could not see her anywhere. Unless...

"Are you scared of death?" Kurt's grip on the cold metal of the Beretta in his hand tightened and then he froze.

There she was. He could see her now. Her pale legs that almost looked white like porcelain in the dark, widened and motionless underneath him, looking strangely contorted and missing one of her high-heeled black pumps.

God, no...

There was a moment of silence and Kurt continued to step forward, raising the gun with both of his shaking hands as he tried to keep his heavy breathing as silent as possible, the fear of what he might be on the verge of discovering in front of him taking over his whole body. His whole world.

Something must have happened. He did not hear her say anything and he did not see her move, could not make out the slightest sign of life that he so desperately hoped for but never came. But suddenly, the guy began to shout furiously.

"YOU FUCKING WHORE!"

He moved his arm and Kurt could hear what sounded like someone being slapped, the noise of skin hitting skin echoing over the pathway and through the woods.

And suddenly there was screaming.

A high-pitched, blood freezing and uncontrolled cry of pain and panic that drained all colour out of Kurt's face. It managed to turn all of his fears into nothing but pure rage, a kind of rage he had never thought to be possible before.

"Get the hell away from her!", Kurt yelled.

The guy froze, stood up straight and turned around slowly. He was holding a knife in his hand. It was smeared with blood and there were big, dark red, almost black looking stains smeared all over the lower left part of his grey hoodie.

"Oh!" His face contorted in a smug grin. "How sweet. The boyfriend's coming for the rescue."

Kurt glared at him. His heart was pounding loudly against his chest and the pistol he pointed at the man was shaking slightly in his trembling hands.

"Come on! Shoot me! I'm done. You're too late, man. No matter what, she's already dead." His cold laugh was echoing through the woods.

And Kurt pulled the trigger.


...


The bullet went right into his heart. He fell forward, down on the path and his body just lay there motionlessly.

But Kurt did not even notice him anymore. As soon as the shot had gone off, he dropped the pistol and hurried over to Diane's seemingly inanimate body.

Her eyes were closed. Her head was tilted to the side. The thick fabric of her elegant, tight, black pencil skirt had been hiked up messily above her hips and her underwear was missing. Kurt could see angry, dark red fingerprints on the insides of her thighs that were still slightly spread apart. Her hands lay above her head, her limb arms framing her face and he saw the bruises on her wrists in the moonlight. She looked so damaged, so small, so... fragile.

And he saw the blood. Blood on the pathway underneath her tousled, golden tresses. Blood, soaking the once creme-white blouse that had been bothering her for the whole day.

The blood that kept getting more and more as the seconds went by unrelentingly.

Kurt dropped down on his knees. He felt the warm moisture being soaked up by the fabric of his washed out jeans. He instinctively pressed his hand on the right side of her abdomen, where the blood appeared to be flooding out of her body, trying to keep it inside of her, like a barrier. Trying to make it keep her alive.

It was warm. She felt warm.

She was still warm.

Kurt curved his other hand against her pale cheek. Her crimson-red lipstick was smudged on the skin that surrounded her soft lips, like a pink shadow.

"Diane", he choked out. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." Her face blurred in front of him, the tears in his eyes threatening to blind him.

"Somebody help!", he screamed into the dark night. "HELP!"

His tears felt hot as they ran down his face. Hot and sticky like the blood on his hand and knees.

"Please.", he sobbed out, his voice barely above a whisper. "I can't lose you."


...


He did not know for how long he had been sitting there. The only thing he had been concentrating on was keeping the pressure on her abdomen stable and making sure her chest kept lifting up and moving back down. The movements were barely recognisable but their presence was the most important thing in the world. It made everything seem as if nothing had been of any importance before.

Before...

Someone touched his shoulder and pulled him out of his tunnel vision.

"Sir?" The voice was unfamiliar but soft and clear in between the loud, hasty noises that flooded the pathway and threatened to make his head explode.

It belonged to a dark-skinned, middle-aged man in a police uniform whose warm eyes looked even softer than his voice sounded. "I need you to step back so the paramedics can take care of her."

Kurt blinked at him, slowly taking in what the man was trying to tell him. It was as if he were speaking in a language he had yet to learn to understand.

Slowly and even more hesitantly, his shaking hands left her cheek and abdomen and he got up to stand on unsteady legs.

His jeans were sticking against his kneecaps, creating a peculiar feeling on his skin when the cold wind that rushed over to him from the trees hit his legs. There was blood on his hands. There was blood everywhere. Her blood.

Kurt stumbled backwards and three paramedics immediately rushed past him. They came to hover over Diane's body, blocking his view on her.

A few metres to the right he saw two women in black jackets and hair pulled up in ponytails zipping a black body bag shut. Someone in similar attire was piercing around them, taking photographs with an absurdly big camera. Photographs just like the ones he got to analyze on a daily basis.

And the paramedics were still blocking his view on the only thing that mattered.

"Sir?", the younger man repeated. Kurt looked up to his right and noticed him standing next to him. He was holding out a white towel and Kurt took it from him, nodding once, not finding the strength within him to voice his gratitude.

"I'm Detective Callahan. I would like to ask you a few questions."

Kurt's gaze shot back towards Diane. He surely could and would not just leave her there.

The paramedics were performing fast and seemingly well-practised work on her, speaking quickly to one another, giving each other instructions in hushed voices.

But he could not see her.

They needed to stop the bleeding. They had to make it stop. Was she still breathing? They needed to keep her breathing. They-

"This won't take long.", the man assured him as he eyed the disturbed older man in front of him. "We will be done before they take off to get her to the hospital. I promise."

Kurt nodded and turned to face the detective again.

He motioned Kurt to follow him behind one of the three ambulances. Kurt just began to notice the shifting neon-blue light originating from them that dyed the pathway in the colours of a crime scene.

Crime scene. He surely had seen a lot of those over the cause of his life due to his profession. It left him wondering if he should have been more prepared for seeing a sight like this.

He tried and shake off the thought as soon as hundreds of crime scene photos of murder victims came flashing through his mind, all swirling around the most horrifying picture he had seen in his whole life from that night.

No. Not even years on a job like his could have prepared him from what he had just seen. Nothing could ever have prepared him for that.

Detective Callahan offered him to sit on the loading area and Kurt accepted it, still holding onto the now bloody towel as if his life depended on it.

He smelled of her blood. The whole scenery seemed to have absorbed the painfully sweet, irony smell.

"You're not hurt, are you?" The detective eyed his bloodstained clothes.

Kurt merely shook his head.

"I take that you know her?", Detective Callahan asked. He had taken out a small notebook and a pen.

Kurt swallowed deeply. When he spoke, his voice was low and throaty. And he heard himself speak but it did not feel as if it was really him. It felt like his body had left her side and forgotten to take its senses with it.

"She-she's my girlfriend. Diane Lockhart. I'm Kurt McVeigh. I own the barn about seven minutes west from here."

"Were you the one who dialled the emergency call?"

"Yes."

"Okay. The Beretta belonged to you or the suspect?"

"It's mine... I have a license.", he added though he was not sure why.

Callahan nodded. "Didn't doubt that. So the two of you weren't together when Ms. Lockhart was attacked?"

Kurt exhaled slowly.

Attacked. It sounded as if he were speaking about a hunter and a deer.

After a moment of silence, he answered. "No. Diane and I-" He paused, trying to normalise his breathing. "We got into a fight. Back at my place. She stepped out and-" He broke himself off. "Detective, did you see a dog when you arrived here? A terrier, very small, white fur-"

"Yes, it's with us. Stormed towards us when it heard us arrive. My colleague almost ran it over with the car."

Kurt's eyes widened.

"Oh, don't worry, nothing happened. Is it yours?"

"She's... hers." He took a deep breath. "Sorry for drifting off."

"It's fine, don't worry, Sir."

Kurt nodded even though everything was far from fine. "She stepped out, her dog followed her. She left her purse, so I knew she wasn't really leaving and I supposed she probably just needed a minute to clear her head, go for a short walk... I don't know how much time had passed, about half an hour tops, I guess, but I don't remember. Her dog came back, she didn't. That was when I knew that something must have happened."

Callahan nodded, scribbling something inside his notebook. "Was it a serious fight?"

Diane's face appeared in front of his inner eye. Standing at the opposite side of the dinner table, needing to hold onto the chair in front of her for support, tears threatening to escape her big, reddened blue eyes. Her shaking frame, her trembling lips and tensed jaw.

"How dare you say that to make a point.", her whisper, dripping with hurt, echoed through his head.

Kurt looked down on his hands. Red streaks were lining them, tinting his skin in a shimmer of deep, rusty orange. "It was."

"What was it about?"

"I-"

"So that's what you think? That I'm only using you to make me feel better about myself?"

Kurt closed his eyes, trying to make it stop. Stop hearing her trembling, high-pitched voice, suppressing a sob. Stop seeing the tears slowly spilling down on her soft cheeks. Stop seeing her laying in front of him as the life steadily escaped her body. Stop hearing her scream out in pain.

"I made a mistake. I wanted her to carry a gun but she doesn't feel comfortable with firearms. We... we've never fought like that before."

"Why did you want her to carry a gun?"

"She was being threatened by... her attacker. She's a lawyer. He's an old client of hers. I was worried about her."

A moment of silence.

"I see... Sir?" Kurt looked up at him again. "I'm sorry, I can only imagine how hard this must be for you, but I need to ask. What happened when you got here?"

Kurt inhaled deeply, his gaze wandering to a nearby tree on the side of the pathway. "I followed her dog until I heard... him talk. It led me here. I couldn't hear everything, I was too far away. He said something about there being no point in screaming. I got closer and he was hovering over her. So... she was already on the ground when I got here. But I couldn't see her at first. Kept looking for her. Had I known, I wouldn't have taken so much time-"

"Sir, it's okay. There's nothing you could have done."

Yeah, it was easy for him to say that.

Kurt shook his head. "He asked her if she's scared of death. He called her by her name and that's when I realised that she was there, on the ground. She did not struggle against him so I guess she... she was already injured..."

Kurt shook his head again before he faced the detective. "I raised my gun. I was ready to shoot if he gave me a reason to. I didn't see a weapon but I only saw him from behind and it was dark and..." He cleared his throat. "Something must have happened. I didn't hear her say anything but he suddenly started to shout and he called her a... 'fucking whore'." He paused.

"And then she screamed." Kurt swallowed. The heart-wrenching sound was still echoing through his head. His Diane had been hurt so badly that it had caused her to produce such an unearthly sound. It was unbelievable. He did not want to believe it. He just wanted to make it stop.

Kurt closed his eyes. "I'm sorry."

 "It's okay, Sir."

"That's when I told him to get away from her. I saw the knife in his hand. He looked at me. And then I shot him.

"When I approached her, I saw that..." He paused again before a sob could escape his throat. "That her skirt was hiked up. And her underwear was gone. She was unconscious and there was so much blood everywhere and..." He stopped.

The detective nodded. "You defended her. I might have to talk to you again, but now's not the time."

Kurt nodded. "Can I go?"

"Yes. Thank you, Mr. McVeigh. I will get back to you... And, Sir? You did the right thing."

Chapter Text

When Kurt got back to the crime scene, the paramedics already transported Diane to the nearest ambulance. The body bag had vanished. Her motionless body had been placed on a red gurney. They spoke in fast and concentrated manners and Kurt pulled someone from their team aside as they passed him.

"Sorry, I'm Kurt McVeigh. Her boyfriend. I-... Could I come to the hospital with her?"

The young female eyed him. "Uh, I'm sorry, Sir, but... I think there won't be enough room in the back. And we really need to take off right now."

Kurt frowned but nodded. "Okay. Uhm... she... she's going to be okay, right?" At any other time, he would have been ashamed of the anxious tone in his voice. But not now.

The woman sighed. "Sir, I'm sorry, but we really need to go right now. Come to the ER and they can tell you more."

And with that, she stepped into the front of the ambulance and they drove away.

"Mr. McVeigh? You said this was her dog, right?"

Kurt turned around to face Detective Callahan holding a shivering ball of light blonde fur in his arms.


...


He felt as if he were on auto-pilot.

The police dropped him off at the barn. He brought Justice inside the house. The used dinner plates were still standing in the sink. The candle on the dining table was still burning. Everything was how they had left it behind. As if nothing had happened.

As if the world had not turned upside-down in the cause of the last hour.

Heavy steps took him to the bathroom. In the warm light that was reflected by the rustic wooden panels on the walls, his hands no longer looked orange, but a brownish dark red. He took a deep, shaky breath and swallowed hard before he turned on the water and began to wash them clean in the sink.

The sight of the dark copper swirls mixing with water and soap on the white porcelain, the smell of the artificial scent of the vanilla soap she had chosen for him a few weeks ago when they had been shopping for groceries together, mixing with the sharp smell of blood, threatened to make him sick but he put all of the little energy he had left in him together to try and keep it buried inside. To try not to lose it.

About ten minutes later, he grabbed his phone and car keys and got her purse from the kitchen counter. He figured she would want to have it when she woke up, which she would. He got into his truck and took off, driving into the city through the silent night.

They had brought her to a hospital in the city because their ER was supposed to be bigger and work faster. And they did not have the time to wait. She did not have the time.

He never knew how he managed not to cause a car accident that night.

The sound of her screams still bashing through his head and the pictures that kept flashing in front of his inner eye, letting him relive the last hours, this horrifying night, over and over again. And the questions that kept running through his mind, no matter how hard he tried to suppress it.

What if she doesn't make it?

What if I lose her?


...


At the hospital, he went straight into the ER, one hand clutching her black Chanel-purse, the other one running over his face repeatedly.

It was loud. Different kinds of beeping noises came blasting out of every possible direction, the nursing staff was talking loud and hurriedly to one another. But he hardly even registered any of it.

When he finally made it to the reception he could hear the blood pumping through his head in his ears.

"I'm here for Diane Lockhart. I was told that I would find her here."

Please, let her be okay.

The brunette nurse behind the reception held up her hand and clicked through the computer in front of her. Kurt sighed quietly and he absent-mindedly lifted his free hand to scratch a spot behind his ear, until he felt a small, crusty lump loosen from his skin. He dropped his hand and looked at his finger to find a small piece of dried blood underneath the fingernail of his pointer finger.

He stared at the dark red crumbles. He had no idea how it had gotten there. He-

"Yes...", the voice of the nurse that was facing him now pulled him out of his trance. "Mr. Lockhart?"

Kurt gulped. "McVeigh. I'm her boyfriend."

"Right. Mr. McVeigh. She's still in surgery. You can take a seat in the waiting room over there and someone will approach you as soon as we know more, okay?"

Kurt nodded, letting out a deep breath. "Thanks."

He turned, went over to the waiting room and got seated. The white plastic chair was rather uncomfortable. The whole ward was chilly from the air-conditioning and it smelled of germicides. There was no one in the room with him except for two younger men who were laying in each other's arms, sobbing noisily.

Kurt shifted awkwardly in his seat, his right knee bouncing up and down. A bad habit he had had ever since he had been a little boy. Lately, he had been trying to break himself of it, because it drove her crazy.

"Kurt?"

His head turned to her and away from the car window on the passenger's side of her Cadillac. His hands felt cold and sweaty. His head was aching as if his brain were attempting to crawl out of it.

This was the worst idea he had had in a long time.

"I'm so damn nervous.", he mumbled.

From the side, as her eyes were still sticking on the road in front of them, he could see her crimson-red painted lips stretch in a sweet smile.

"I know. This is a little out of your comfort zone."

"Only a little?" He snorted with little amusement.

Holding a speech on technical improvement in forensic ballistics in front of an audience of more than five-hundred people was about the most absurd stretch from out of his comfort zone he ever could have imagined.

"Okay. It's very far. But you're well-prepared, the speech is wonderful and you will do just fine.", she told him. Her light blue eyes momentarily left the road to shoot him a reassuring look, before they wandered back to the streets in front of them.

He nodded slowly, not convinced but comforted by her words. "Will you still like me even if I fuck it up?"

A small chuckle escaped her. "Yes, I will."

One of her hands left the steering wheel and came to rest on his bouncing kneecap. "But I won't if you keep moving your knee like that. Literally, the whole car is shaking. So, keep it together, cowboy."

The movement in his leg stopped at the memory of what had taken place almost two months ago. He tried to push it out of his mind. It was too painful to go there, to think about her right now, the happy memories almost as maddeningly haunting as the bad ones were.

To hear her melodic voice but not really have it speak to him. To see her beautiful smile but knowing it was not truly there.

He shook his head and looked around the room.

The walls were painted in the usual, sterile, cliché hospital-white. Someone must have tried to upgrade the decor into something less cold and unwelcoming because there was exactly one stone vase of purple orchids on one of the shabby side tables in the corner. But they only made him feel more miserable.

Diane had a beautiful arrangement of white orchids standing on a cupboard in the bedroom of her townhouse.

It was a quirk of her he had discovered early on in their relationship.

She had a thing for floral arrangements and the way she saw it, nothing served as a better and more personalised type of decoration than the flowers that amazed one, next to art of course, but that was entirely different. And they also made the house smell quite exquisite. Her words exactly.

Kurt had noticed that she especially seemed to hold a certain fascination for white flowers. He had been pretty proud of himself when he had come to realize that the white calla lilies he had bought her for their first date had actually been a great choice.

She had told him once, that she even preferred lilies over orchids now and he had only smirked when a few days later he had had her playfully frowning when he gave her a bouquet of peach roses and light pink carnations.

"Did you pick out pink flowers for me because I'm a girl, Mr. McVeigh?", she asked with a lopsided smirk and a raised eyebrow.

"Nope.", he answered in his usual gruff tone. "Though they do match your lipstick today. I think."

She threw her head back in ecstatic laughter and he thought it was the most beautiful sound he had ever heard before. It was not controlled. It was not a facade.

It was honest and so full of joy and happiness and what a lucky bastard he was that he got to be shown that side of her. Because it was beautiful to watch and beautiful to be with.

"I didn't realize you were such an expert when it came to colour coordination. I took that the expertise was limited on bullets and Republican outrage."

He chuckled lightly at that. "I wouldn't say that. Though I am quite good with women."

"Oh, are you really?" She tilted her head at him, a grin on her face and light in her eyes.

"Yep."

"Well, then wouldn't you have remembered what my favourite type of flowers is?"

"I would've." He nodded approvingly. "And I did. But I thought they deserved to be saved for special occasions."

The white walls around him were plastered with poster-ads about healthcare and specific check-up reminders. The bright colours were boring into his tired eyes.

Kurt tried to relax his jaw and to avoid looking at the two crying young men on the other side of the room or the flowers that only served as another reminder of his own stupidity.

He should have given her white calla lilies more often. She had deserved to get them because every freaking second he had gotten to spend with her had been a special occasion to him.

They had given her joy. It was a small gesture but she had enjoyed it. And it was such a small gift compared to the gift that was having her in his life, but if they made her happy, he could at least have had the decency to repay her with the slightest amount of happiness from the unmeasurable amount that he got alone from her plain presence.

He had never taken her for granted but it was time of which he naively had thought they would never run out of. It was time that had been special and he had taken for granted that it would be lasting forever.

He should have gotten her white calla lilies more often because he knew how much she loved them. Because he loved her.

He loved her so much.

His gaze fell on the black purse he was clutching in his lap before he slowly moved his hands to open it.

Inside, he found two sets of keys- her car keys and the ones for her townhouse; an opened pack of tissues; her wallet; her black reading glasses; an unopened pack of peppermint gum; her red, leather-bound planner; a sleek and expensive looking pen; the crimson-red lipstick he had admired on her for the whole evening; her cell phone.

Kurt opened the pack of tissues, drew it closer to his face and inhaled deeply.

The white cotton sheets smelled of her. Not her perfume, not her shampoo, but of her, her very own personal scent. They smelled of long walks in the spring. Of driving along the highway in his truck with the windows down while singing effortlessly good to the tunes of old Broadway classics that originated from the stereo. They smelled of long nights of red wine, scotch and talking for hours in front of a fireplace, that always ended up leading to something more. Of heated discussions and sharp and differing intellect. Of holding each other in a way that overshadowed everything else that happened in the world.

They smelled of his happiness.

Kurt closed his eyes and let the tissues fall back into her purse and his watery gaze fell to the dried, brown blood patches on his jeans. He felt the knot in his throat tighten again. He should have had changed but he had wanted to get there as soon as he could.

It was all too much.

He took out her phone, not really sure of what he was looking for until he found himself looking at her contact list and a little icon that simply stated: Emergency contacts.

Kurt tipped on the icon and only two names popped up on the display.

Will Gardner
Kurt McVeigh

The first thing that made its way through his mind was that he never would have thought that she would have put him on that list. She really did trust him.

Then his eyes opened widely. He had forgotten about something and now it hit him. There was something he had to do. Something, he was dreading to do.

He needed to call Will.


...


It was half-past two in the morning. Or night, as he preferred to call it. The times in which it was still cool and fun to be up at night were over at last. Or they had been over for a long time already, but that was another subject. The bottom line was that now, it was nothing but exhausting anymore.

He grunted sleepily at the sound of his phone ringing next to him on the nightstand. The brunette (Tammy? Was that her name? Or was it Sammy? Or Annie?) shifted in his arms, sighing deeply in annoyance.

Will rolled away from her to reach for his phone and see who the hell was calling him in the middle of the night.

Diane.

He frowned.

"Ignore it.", Tammy (that was it) moaned next to him.

Will sighed. She would not call him at this hour if it was not urgent. And after all, he had told her that she could always call whenever she needed to. And it was not as if he did not want to be a good friend to her.

"Diane?", he asked groggily, his eyes still trying to accustom to the darkness in his bedroom. Tammy let out a deep groan.

"Mr. Gardner?" A low male voice reached his ear from the other line.

Will rubbed his eyes in confusion until he raised his brows as he slowly began to draw the conclusion. "Yes. Mr. McVeigh?"

"Yeah." The voice on the other line sounded just as tired as Will felt but there was something else in it that caused Will to untangle from the bedsheet and get up to slowly step in front of his wide bedroom window.

Before he could say anything, the man on the other line spoke again. "Listen, I wouldn't call you at this hour if it wasn't urgent."

"I-..." Will's eyebrows shot together. "What's going on?"

"I'm currently in the ER. Forgot the name of the hospital, but it's only about five minutes away from your offices, I think. I-"

Will, suddenly wide awake, interrupted him, not needing to hear anything further. "I'm on my way. Thanks for calling." He hung up.

"What in the world could be that important at two in the morning?", Tammy's grumpy voice echoed through the room.

Will had already pulled on the first pair of jeans he could find. "I don't know yet but I have to go. Make yourself at home."

And with that, he already turned to rush toward the exit of his apartment.

She had been acting strangely that afternoon. Something had been off about her.

McVeigh had sounded terrible on the phone. And Will figured he really would not have called if it was not urgent.

He was in the ER. Of course it was urgent!

Will almost crashed his car into the stop sign in front of him as he tried to sort it out in his head, concentrating on one thought that kept coming back.

Please. Let her be okay.

Chapter Text

Kurt had been sitting in the waiting room for half an hour. The two men had left and he was alone.

Every time he heard footsteps coming towards the doorway of the waiting room his head turned in its direction nervously, but no one had yet talked to him.

How long had she been in surgery by now? Forty-five minutes? An hour? He did not even know because no one would talk to him. He had approached two bypassing nurses already to ask them for news but both of them had politely asked him to wait until the surgeon would talk to him. When that would be, none of them could say.

When he heard fierce footsteps approach him, Kurt did not even bother to raise his head from his hands anymore. Until he felt a big hand on his shoulder.

Looking up, he met the eyes of Will Gardner. Just like Kurt, he did not wear a jacket either, in spite of the cold air of the night.

Kurt nodded at him, gesturing to the plastic chair next to him, silently advising him to take a seat.

Will accepted the offer, leaning back into his chair and sighing deeply. Kurt was still sitting on the edge of his seat, unable to look anywhere else but at the purse in his lap.

"Thanks for coming.", Kurt tried to break the tense silence. She would want you to be here, was the part of his statement he could not voice.

"Thanks for calling." He must have looked really terrible or Will surely would have asked him about what the hell had happened already. But instead, the silence returned. Until Kurt raised his voice again.

"He attacked her." His voice was low and quiet. From the corner of his eyes, he could see Will leaning forward. He ran his hands over his face.

"Spellman.", Will stated. He bit down on the inside of his cheek.

Kurt nodded slowly. "She's still in surgery. Been waiting for... " He paused. "I don't know. A while."

Will pressed his eyes closed as Kurt tried to continue.

"She..." He paused, trying to keep his quiet voice as steady as possible. "She lost a lot of blood."

Will pressed his hands together and lay his lips against his joined fingertips, his elbows resting on his knees. Kurt cleared his throat and looked up, his gaze landing on a poster advertising hepatitis-b-immunization, unsure of how to continue. He had never exactly been what they call talkative, but this was an entirely different thing.

"I failed her.", Will suddenly heard him choke out. He turned his head to look at the older man. He was gripping Diane's Chanel purse with one hand, the other one buried in his hair on the front of his scalp, looking like he was trying to keep his head from exploding.

Will's mind raced back to the last conversation he had had with her.

"It's just a lot at the moment. The whole Spellman-thing and everything."

"What about him? Has something happened?"

"No, not exactly. But it's sort of keeping me from focusing on things that make me happy. You know, the constant worry in the back of my mind. He could be anywhere right now and I wouldn't know."

Will closed his eyes again, inhaling deeply.

"I...I'm scared, Will."

A shiver made its way through his body.

"You don't have to be, Diane. We're all here for you. I'll always have your back. And you can always come to me with anything, okay?"

She had voiced her fear. Had spoken about it even though he knew how hard that was for her. And he had not helped her.

Will opened his eyes again, trying to calm his breathing. His jaw tensed and he dropped his hands in his lap before he raised one to place it back on Kurt's trembling shoulder.

"I guess we both failed her."


...


Kurt rubbed his palm over his eyes, quickly flicking away the tears.

He raised his head to look at the younger man next to him, his hand still resting on his shoulder. There was a look in his light green eyes he could not immediately interpret until he suddenly realised what it was.

Understanding.

Kurt took an unsteady breath. He did not know what made him tell Will, considering they did not know each other that well at all, but at that moment he just needed to tell someone and Will's eyes told him that he could.

"We had a fight. Tonight."

The deep sadness and exhaustion in Will's tired eyes only seemed to increase.

"I don't know if she told you, but... he's been threatening her ever since he got out. Sending text messages and packages to her house."

Will's gaze dropped towards the linoleum floor. His hand left Kurt's shoulder. He shook his head slowly. "No. She hasn't." His voice was unusually quiet.

Kurt nodded slowly. It was hard to care for someone who would not let you do it all that easily. He understood that better than anyone else.

"I... was worried about her. We've never fought like that before. I mean, we've yelled at each other, yes. But she was crying. That's never happened before." Kurt swallowed.

Will leaned back in his chair and listened quietly.

"She stepped out. Alone. And-" Kurt exhaled slowly. "And I knew she was upset and in no condition to be on her own right now. But I didn't go after her. Told myself she didn't want me to."

It took a second before Will shook his head slowly as he came to realize what the older man was implying. "It's not your fault."

Kurt exhaled deeply. "I found them in the woods." Will's eyes widened. "I..." Another tear escaped his eye. "I saw her. On the pathway. He had stabbed her. And-" He almost choked. "And at first I thought she was already dead."

Will clenched his fists. Desperation and sorrow slowly but steadily turning into anger and frustration.

"And..." Kurt paused, not knowing if he could go through voicing one of his deepest fears right now. "I think he..."

Will frowned. "He what?"

Kurt rubbed his hands over his face again. "I think he raped her."

He dropped his hands, looking at Will. His knuckles had turned white and his chest rose and fell in a fast manner. But his face did not reflect some form of anger. He only looked helpless.

"Where is he now?", he asked in a low, hollow voice.

"Dead. I shot him."

Will's hands seemingly relaxed but the look on his face and the racing of his pulse remained the same. "Good."

Kurt shook his head. "It's not... enough."

Will nodded, understanding what he meant. "There is no 'enough' for that."

"I can't..." He cleared his throat one more time and his voice was barely more than a whisper when he continued. "I can't lose her, you know?"

"I know.", Will replied. "Neither can I." He breathed in deeply, eyeing the vase of purple orchids in the corner of the shabby waiting room. They reminded him of the time he and Diane had argued over the expenses of the firm and of the hatred she had met him with when she had to give up on having real flowers in the offices.

It all seemed so pointless now.

"We've been partners for six years. We really hated each other in the beginning." Will almost managed to smile at the memories of when he had first started to work with her and Jonas Stern. "I thought she was cold and bitter and physically unable to laugh. She thought I was a dumb newbie with too big of an ego. One of us was right and it certainly wasn't me." One corner of his mouth twitched a little.

"I don't think she knows, but... she's my best friend." Will shifted his gaze towards the man next to him.

Kurt swallowed and returned his gaze. "She knows.", said under his breath.

Will attempted to smile but failed. "I love her." His voice was barely above a whisper.

Kurt nodded, tears building in his eyes again and they left Will's. "I know." His voice was unsteady, threatening to break.

Will placed his hand on his upper back, silently asking Kurt to look up to face him again.

Kurt slowly raised his head and Will whispered:

"She loves you."

Chapter Text

It was silent in the waiting room. Well, as silent as it could be at an ER, but anyway, neither of them spoke. There was nothing to say anymore and even if there was, it was too painful to talk about.

Both men were incredibly tired but even when the clock stroke four am, neither of them could even think about dozing off for a moment to get some sleep, too scared they could miss news on her state. Too consumed by their voiced and unvoiced thoughts and fears on the possibilities for the eventual outcome.

"I'll go look for coffee.", Will broke the silence between them after a long time.

"Okay.", Kurt mumbled.

He heard Will moving beside him and his steps that faded away as he walked out of the room.

Kurt closed his eyes in an attempt to stop his head from spinning but as soon as his eyelids shut, the images from the last hours came flashing through his mind again.

The lipstick smudged on her face; the small puddle of blood underneath her head; the exposure of her intimate area; her pale skin; the barely visible movement of her chest; the once white silk blouse; the purple bruises like stains on her soft and fragile looking skin; her tears and the betrayal on her beautiful features when he told her he loved her.

He opened his eyes again and could still hear her scream, could still feel the warmth of her blood on his hands. The small, crumbled crust of dried blood was still underneath the fingernail of his left pointer finger, looking like a rusty brown half-moon. He did not have it in him to scratch it off and flick it away, because what if it was all that was left?

He swallowed when he heard steady footsteps approaching him and assumed they were Will's.

But they were not.

"Mr. McVeigh?", a friendly female voice asked.

Kurt instantly rose from his seat. He would have dropped Diane's purse from the sudden movement had he not clutched it as if he were holding on to it for dear life.

He faced a small and petite woman in her early thirties who wore light blue scrubs. A surgical mask was dangling around her neck from her ears.

"Yes?", Kurt asked in a scratchy voice. His heart was pounding furiously and his legs were wobbling beneath his weight, the fear of what was about to be said after two hours of surgery taking over.

But then he saw her smile at him. "Ms. Lockhart's surgery went well. She did lose a lot of blood but we were able to fix all the organic fractures and we doubt that she will suffer any long-term-damages."

Kurt's eyes widened and his breathing only seemed to increase. It almost felt surreal. "I-... Thank you.", he stuttered.

The woman's smile widened. "Of course, Sir. She's still unconscious but she should wake up within the next twenty minutes. I need to ask you not to expect too much from her. The pain medication is bound to make her feel dizzy and her body... let's just say it went through quite a lot tonight."

Kurt nodded hurriedly. "Yes, yes of course. Can I see her?"

"Yes, Sir. I will show you to her room in a sec-"

"What did I miss? Is she okay?" Will suddenly appeared next to the two of them, carrying two cups of coffee, one in each hand.

"Yes, she did very well.", the surgeon replied grinning.

Will sighed deeply. "Oh, thank god."

"We assume that she has a concussion from the force on the back of her head but we are relatively positive that it should not have an effect on her memory, though at this point, we can't say that for sure, and a contusion on her sternum. There are numerous bruises, especially on the backside of her body. The original cut on her abdomen wasn't deep, just wide, while the later one was but she should be fine in presumably eight to ten weeks. Her clothes have been confiscated by the police and she will be approached by them in the following days for questioning. They wanted to do it today, but we told them that she needs to rest. We would also like to ask her to let us perform a SAK on her but, of course, we can only do that in case she gives her consent. Nothing you need to worry about at the moment. I can show you to her room now."

SAK. A sexual assault kit.

The two men silently nodded and the surgeon turned on her heels to lead them out of the room.

Kurt was still carrying her purse. The surgeon had said something about memory loss and he felt horrible when he wondered whether or not it might be better for her not to remember every last detail of the night. It was awful of him to think like that but he could not help himself.

Diane surely was one of the strongest people he had ever met, but how much could a person take without breaking? He wondered if there was an actual answer to that question and hoped that tonight had not been enough, even though he knew that it had been quite more than enough. Nobody could go through something like this and remain mentally uninjured.

"Here we are." The surgeon suddenly came to a halt in front of one of the many white doors in the hallway. "If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to approach a nurse."

"Thanks for everything.", Will said.

The surgeon nodded and spun around to walk away.

Kurt and Will stood in front of the door. Will stretched out one of his arms to hand Kurt a cup of coffee, smiling encouragingly at him.

"You okay?"

Kurt's gaze left the door to look at him. He took the coffee with his free hand and nodded.

"Thank you."

"We probably shouldn't be both in there when she wakes up since we don't know how much she can handle just yet... You should go in first. I'll wait right here."

Kurt managed to give him a small smile. "Thank you.", he said again.

Will gave him a last small squeeze on the shoulder with his free hand before he opened the door for Kurt.

The light in the room was awfully bright in comparison to the dimmed hallway and it strongly smelled of germicides.

But he did not have time to even look around the room or let his eyes get accustomed to the light, because they were instantly landing on the figure in the hospital bed.

Diane was still greyishly pale. All the colour seemed to have drained from her skin. Kurt could see the grey undertone, now that he saw her in the bright lighting. Her mascara was smeared beneath her eyes and the remainings of her lipstick were still smudged around her lips.

Why the hell had no one cleaned it up?

Of course. They needed it to stay just like this for the SAK.

She was wearing a blue and white patterned hospital gown he knew she would find to be visually insufferable and most of her body was hidden beneath the bedsheets. Her arms were resting above them and in between the purple patches on the skin of her right wrist they had cannulated an IV, through which a clear fluid slowly but steadily dripped into her veins.

Kurt placed her purse and his cup of coffee on the nightstand next to her bed. Pulling one of the white plastic chairs in the corner of the room nearer to her, he sat down beside her.

Kurt raised his hand to gently and with barely any touch brush a loose blonde curl out of her face before he lowered his head to place a soft kiss on her forehead. Her smooth skin felt warm beneath his lips and a wave of gratitude shuddered through his body, leaving him overcome with emotion.

Pure appreciation for the life left in her body which her warmth automatically confirmed. For her strength. For his chance to be able to work this out with her in the right way. For being given the possibility of making up for everything he had done, or rather had not done. But also deep sadness for what she had had to go through and for all the ways he could have prevented this all happening to her and yet had not. For hurting her in the first place.

Her, the woman he loved.

Kurt's hand gently and carefully closed around the fingers of her left hand as another tear escaped his eye. The sob he had been holding onto for hours of pain, fear and uncertainty finally escaped his throat.

Kurt could not say for certain what exactly had made him cry. His good luck or his bad luck, until he decided that it was her. Her and his love for her.

He had never been so scared of anything before in all his life. And things had gone wrong and his fears had in fact been proven right but at least she was safe now.

And that was all that mattered to him.

Chapter Text

It was still cold. But at least it was quiet now.

Her head was still pounding but it was a different kind of feeling than the earlier pain she had felt. Her body felt numb and her mouth was dry, feeling like someone had stuffed a whole package of cotton balls inside it.

The smell of leaves, wet dirt and old rain had been traded for the strong smell of germicides and a rather nice smell of... what was it? Drip coffee?

And there was another smell. A soothing one.

Wood. Gun powder. Aftershave. And something else that made his own personal scent so personal.

She tried to open her eyes, whimpering when the way too bright light seemed to be threatening to blind her. A small moan escaped her.

After taking a moment to recover, she tried it again and was met by a pair of warm but sad and puffy green eyes.

Her eyes opened completely and the action seemed to bring the memories back to her.

Their fight. Him saying that he loved her. Yelling. Leaving. Cold. Woods. Cruel, brown eyes...

Pain. A gunshot. And Kurt's distant voice.

She felt his warm fingers beside hers and she gathered all of her little strength to touch them with the back of hers. His warmth against her skin, something she thought she would never feel again, causing tears to shoot into her eyes.

Their small touch had the same effect on both of them.

Her voice was barely a husky whisper when she broke the silence.

"You found me."

A small sob escaped her and she pressed her lips together. Her heavy breathing led to a strange aching in her chest.

Kurt knew he had to be strong for her. He would have to be her rock if she would let him and he needed to show her that she could do just that. That he could be that for her.

He slowly entwined their fingers.

"Actually,", he said, trying to keep his low voice steady. "it was Justice."

A small frown formed on Diane's forehead. "What?", she breathed out.

"She came to get me. Led me to you."

Diane sniffed. "She's a smart girl."

"You taught her well."

Her bright blue eyes left his and her gaze shifted to their entwined fingers, taking in the dark purple marks on her wrist. She swallowed another sob that threatened to escape her and let out a small whimper.

Kurt brushed his thumb over the back of her hand and when she did not back away from him, he pulled it up slightly to place the softest and most innocent of kisses on her knuckles.

He saw a tear slowly running down her cheek and had his answer.

The surgeon had been right. She remembered it all.

"Do you..." He paused not knowing how to ask her in the right way. "Do you want to talk?"

"No.", she replied in a soft and fragile voice, still not looking at him. "Where...?" Her voice drifted off but he understood.

"He's dead."

At that, her gaze shot back to him, her tired blue eyes glistening with pain, panic and fear.

"Kurt."

The sound of her saying his name, a sound he had feared he would never hear again, almost made him tear up again but he held it together. He had to do it for her.

"You didn't..."

"He didn't back off when I told him to, so I shot him."

Her eyelids looked heavy when she slowly let them close her eyes. "What about the police?", she whispered.

She could not go through this. If he got convicted for killing her attacker, she would never be able to forgive herself.

"The detective who questioned me told me I did the right thing. Didn't seem like anyone's about to press charges." His voice was calm. The last thing she should do right now was worrying about him.

"You..." She opened her eyes again and blinked a few times to try and readjust to the light. "You need to... consult a lawyer."

He could tell the level of exhaustion in her body. She spoke slowly and focused before every word as if she had to gather all of her strength to voice what she wanted to say.

"Bummer. I don't know any of those." He smirked at her but her expression did not even twitch.

"Kurt, this... this is serious."

"I'll talk to Will, okay? Now, please don't worry about this anymore."

She nodded slowly. "Okay."

"Oh,", he let out, making her frown again. "Speaking of Will, he's here. If you feel up to-"

"How... how much does he..." Her lips remained parted.

"He..." Kurt shifted a little in his uncomfortable seat. "He knows. I'm sorry, I didn't want to overstep a line-"

"No. It's okay. But... I'd like to talk to him."

"Okay, I'll get him."

"Thank you. And..." Diane's eyes left his again as if she were afraid or embarrassed about asking her next question. When she spoke again her voice was even lower than before. "Kurt... could you stay? With us...? When we talk?"

Kurt gave her a loving smile. "Of course."

She gave him the slightest of squeezes on his hand but it was the greatest thing he could have imagined at that moment.

"He... He's here right now?"

"Yeah, he's waiting in the hallway."

"He can come in... if he wants to. But I'm still..."

"High on anaesthesia?", he finished and his heart flipped when the corner of her lips twitched momentarily.

"Somethin' like that."

"You should rest, Diane. But I'll go and get Will."

Kurt brushed his thumb over her knuckles one more time.


...


"How is she?", Will asked as soon as Kurt had soundlessly closed the door behind himself.

"A little out of it. And exhausted. And... hurting." Kurt swallowed. "Also quiet. I told her to rest but she wants to see you."

A hint of a smile made its way over Will's face and he followed Kurt into the room.

Kurt grabbed the second plastic chair and placed it next to the one that was now occupied by Will and sat down beside him.

Diane looked up at Will. "Hey." Her voice was still low and raspy.

Will exhaled slowly. "Hey." He gave her a small smile. "How are you?"

Diane's gaze drifted away from him. "Not so good.", she whispered.

Kurt swallowed. The younger man lifted his hand for a moment but dropped it into his lap again, as if he had wanted to touch her but thought better of it. An uncomfortable silence made its way through the room and none of the three of them seemed to be up to face each other.

Diane was the one who eventually broke the silence. "Wh-what time is it?"

Kurt glanced at his wristwatch. "A little after half past 4."

"It's..." Diane pursed her lips, looking helpless and a little annoyed about her lack of orientation. "It is Saturday, right?"

"Yeah." Kurt gave her an encouraging nod.

Diane frowned and her gaze wandered from Kurt to Will. "Isn't the... the equity meeting at eight?"

Will's eyes thinned and he nodded.

"Will, you need to... go home and get some sleep. They'll be in a bad mood as it is, 'cause they have to be in on the weekend... How long have you been here?"

Kurt tried to hide a smirk. She had just been stabbed and yet, she was already back at being bossy Miss Lockhart. He liked it. It showed her strength.

"Diane, I want to be here. I can manage, don't worry."

Her eyes thinned but then she nodded lightly and dropped the subject. Kurt bit on the inside of his cheek. That was not like her.

"Will."

"Yes?"

"What are you going to tell them?"

Will furrowed one eyebrow, clearly thinking on how to answer that in the right way. "That a client of yours has attacked you and that you won't be in for the next few weeks. But also that everything will go back to normal as soon as you've recovered." He paused before he added, "If that sounds good to you.".

Diane scraped her teeth over her bottom lip and helplessly looked at Kurt. "You won't... you won't tell them that..." She paused but both men knew what she was talking about. "Right?" Her voice was trembling.

She could not have the other partners know, the embarrassment she felt was bad enough as it was. They would look at her through different eyes, as if she were no longer a person of authority. She knew that. And on top of everything that had happened, she could not also lose her life's work over this.

"Diane.", Will said softly. "That's really none of their business."

Her facial features softened again. "Thank you."

Chapter Text

"I don't want to leave."

"Neither do I but eventually we'll have to. And I'm still here right now, but I will be gone in a few hours. It's better for you to go now when she won't be alone. And you at least have to change."

Kurt tapped his foot nervously on the floor and eyed the dried blood on his washed out jeans. He sighed deeply before he looked up at the younger man in front of him in the hallway. Diane had just fallen asleep and Will thought that it would be best if Kurt would head home for an hour or two and return before he himself had to leave for the office. Kurt knew he was right and still, leaving her here felt incredibly wrong.

But Will, the determined lawyer that he was, was unrelenting. "Fine. I'll go. But you need to call me if anything happens."

"Promise.", Will said genuinely.

"Oh, and Mr. Gardner-"

"Will.", he interrupted.

"Right. Will. There's something I have to discuss with you."

He frowned. "Okay?"

Kurt quickly shot a look at the door next to them, making sure it was really closed before he spoke in a hushed voice. "Diane said something about me needing to consult a lawyer because of... what happened tonight."

Will nodded slowly and his eyes thinned. "Yeah, she's right. They will definitely call you in for formal questioning, I'm actually surprised they haven't taken you directly with them. But that's a good sign. It means they trusted that you wouldn't try to get away with it. Did you call 911 at some point?"

Kurt nodded. "Yeah, before I went after her."

"Good. I doubt that I can represent you, because of my partnership with her, but I'll find someone who's good and... whom I can trust to keep this private."

Kurt nodded. "Okay. Thanks."

"Of course."


...


When Kurt arrived at home, the sun was just rising up and the sky held a yellowish tone to it, letting them finally escape what had most definitely been the most horrible night of his life. Justice greeted him excitedly at the front door when he unlocked and opened the door and he could not help but smile and pet her copiously.

"You've been a good girl. A very good girl."

He went to the kitchen to open a can of dog food for her and he gave her a reasonable amount of dog treats he kept buying for her ever since he and Diane had been together.

The small dog's attention shifted from Kurt to the food and he went upstairs to brush his teeth, take a cold shower and get redressed.

Diane had been far better than he had expected her to be. But he knew that that could also be the impact her body's exhaustion and the strong pain medication had on her. Kurt had never been confronted with that kind of trauma before and he did not really know what to expect of it, nor how to handle it in the best way.

Was she supposed to cry and let it out? Should he advise her to go to therapy?

He knew she would never do that voluntarily but what if she needed it? Although, had last night not been proof enough for that he needed to let her find her own ways of handling things like that?

He sighed, ran a hand through his cold, damp hair, went back downstairs to slip into his brown jacket and took Justice for a walk.

Outside when the cold air hit him, freezing his scalp beneath his wet hair, he did not really know where to go. The few times she had been at the barn with Justice, they had always walked her the exact same route through the woods, but that one was out of the race.

So he walked the other way without a real destination in mind, only with one to avoid.

Justice was unusually calm that morning. Normally, she would pace around, play with stray leaves on the ground and retrieve stocks that had fallen from the trees above them. But today she did not.

Kurt felt like she knew that something was wrong, that she too remembered what had happened to her mistress last night and she definitely noticed that she was not here with them. Justice simply walked next to him, only ever leaving his side to pee at a nearby bush once, until he decided they could go back.

At the barn, Kurt took a chaste, black valise out of his wardrobe, one that he would normally take to pack if he had to leave town for a case. He carelessly tossed the next best clothes in it, which would last him for a while and grabbed the keys to her townhouse from his nightstand. They were not officially his own set of keys but her spare keys that she had given him some time in the middle of the week so he could pick up Justice the day before.

They had envisioned this weekend to be so much, but none of them had dared to even think it could go like it eventually had.

"Justice!", he called out as he arrived downstairs. "Come on, we're going home."


...


"I don't think that would be wise."

Diane lifted her eyebrows and shot the young woman in berry coloured scrubs a questioning gaze. "Excuse me?"

Will inhaled slowly and leaned back in his uncomfortable visitor's chair. He glanced apologetically at the young nurse and hoped Diane would not notice.

Her two and a half hour nap certainly seemed to have brought back some energy into her.

The nurse cleared her throat, looking quite intimidated. And really, who could blame her...

"Ma'am, don't get me wrong, but I would advise you to consider letting the examiner do the SAK on you first. Then I can ask the doctor whether or not you can already take a shower."

Diane's jaw visibly tensed. "You mean, whether or not you would advise me to take a shower. I'm not bound to that advice, am I?" Her voice was calm but Will could tell she was upset. Still, he could not help but sigh lowly at the stubbornness of his partner, who had once again pulled the lawyer-card, as she so often did.

It was a big mistake on his side since she had heard him. Her head slowly turned to the side so she could face him, her movement decelerated by her concussion and the aftermath of the strong pain medication.

She quirked an eyebrow at him. "And what are you sighing about?", she asked harshly.

Will straightened up in his seat. "Diane... you asked her, she gave you an honest answer."

"I didn't even want to ask in the first place, you're the one who made me do it!"

Will's look softened and he carefully reached for her hand, stopping right before he was touching her, leaving the choice of taking it or leaving it to her. "Diane.", he said gently.

She pursed her lips and almost tried to cross her arms, but thought better of it, considering the sharp pain in her abdomen she felt with every movement she made. She brushed his hand away but it seemed to have had the effect he had wanted it to.

Diane sighed and looked back at the nurse. "Okay. I'm sorry.", she said in a low voice, making the nurse smile. "I'll do the SAK but could you please get back to me as soon as you've heard from the doctor?"

"Of course, Ms. Lockhart. And Ma'am, you should try to eat a little." She pointed towards the tray her breakfast was placed on the nightstand next to the bed.

Diane had to forcefully bite her bottom lip to keep herself from throwing another snarky comment at the girl.

She was glad that Will noticed it. "She will. Thank you.", he said, giving her his charming boyish smile.

The nurse looked pleased with herself and left the room.

Diane's head shifted again as she looked in the direction of the window to her right, feeling Will's eyes on her but trying to avoid having to look at him. Her lip was still captured between her teeth.

"You know, I think she has a point.", Will gently broke the silence. "You should eat."

Diane lightly shook her head. "I'm not hungry."

She just wanted to take a shower. To get this terrible, haunting smell off of her, brush her teeth, put on her own clothes and sleep in her own bed. Her stomach was grumbling lowly but the smell that did not seem to leave her nose because it was all over her made her feel too nauseous to even think about eating right now.

Will furrowed his brow. "Diane. Your body needs you to eat. When's the last time you ate anyway? Can't imagine you cooked for yourself after you got home last night."

Diane nibbled on the inside of her cheek, still looking away from him.

"Kurt-", she attempted to say in a low and raspy voice. She cleared her throat and continued, her voice still low, barely above a whisper. "Kurt made dinner last night."

She felt Will's fingers brush against hers again and this time she took his hand. Lightly and hesitantly, but she did it.

Her gaze drew back to him. She attempted to smile and her eyes were filled with tears.

"We had a fight."

Will gently brushed his thumb over the bruised back of her hand, just looking at her with a soft expression, letting her talk as much as she wanted. Or rather as much as she could.

"He... he was worried. And I was being a bitch, Will." She swallowed, her whisper heavy from the sob building in her throat. "He wanted me to have a gun for protection since I gave mine back to Kalinda. But I... I don't know why, but I didn't want to. And I got pissed and then he got pissed and-"

The sob escaped her and she brushed the tears off of her cheek with the palm of her free hand. She cleared her throat again and took a deep breath that caused her chest and abdomen to hurt instantly.

"He told me that he loves me. And I-I thought he was just saying that to make a point, you know?" Her voice was trembling.

Will nodded. He got it. He knew that it was not easy for her to commit to someone due to how much she valued her independence, so he could guess what that must have done to her.

"So I said some things, and he said some things and..." Her gaze shifted away from his. "It was bad. Really bad. It made me question... everything. And I left and then I realised... that I hadn't said it back." Her voice broke and she pressed her lips together, the tears escaping her eyes freely.

"Diane.", Will whispered. "People fight. People who love each other fight. It happens and it's okay. And I bet he'll be happy to hear you say it as soon as you're ready to tell him."

A small whimper escaped her through closed lips. She bowed her head lightly but the pressure from the back of it made her feel dizzy, so she leaned back again, looking towards the ceiling in her seating position.

Her voice was barely audible when she spoke again.

"I feel so bad for him."

"You need to take your time, Diane. I'm sure he understa-"

"No. I... He didn't sign up for this."

Will furrowed his brows, squeezing her hand as lightly as he could. "What do you mean?"

Her eyes fell closed. "This is exactly what he was afraid of. This... situation is what he wanted to avoid. Having to go through this. And I don't..." She paused. Her breathing was calm again as if she were feeling exhausted from all the exhaustion she was feeling. "He's a good man. He would never leave me like this. But I don't want him to go through this or stay with me because he feels like he has to."

Will's lips formed a sad smile. "What if he wants to?"

Her eyes remained closed as she answered after a moment of thinking. "I just want him to be happy." A single tear rolled down her cheek.

"I think you make him happy."

Diane's eyes shot open and she turned to look at him again. Deep sadness, hurt and fear lay in those blue eyes.

"But what if I can't keep making him happy?", she breathed out.

"If he wants to make this work, he will be happy with what you're ready to offer him. And I don't know about you, but..."

He paused and gave her an encouraging smile.

"I think he wants nothing more than to make this work."

Chapter Text

"Hey.", he greeted them carefully as he entered the room, not knowing what to expect inside. A smile formed on his face when he saw her features soften at the sight of him.

"Hey.", she answered. Her voice was still low but the answer came much quicker than when they had talked before.

It was almost half past seven and they all knew that Will should have already left.

He squeezed her hand that was still in his. "I'll come back later. Just phone me or the office if you need anything."

She nodded at him. "Thank you, Will. Thanks for... being here."

He gave her a smile. His hand left hers and he got up to approach the door. Kurt held out a cup of coffee for him and he took it, shooting him a grateful look.

"Thanks, man. Can I-uh...", he glanced nervously in Diane's direction. "Can I have a word?"

Kurt looked at Diane who shrugged.

"Yeah, of course.", he said, placing the Louis Vuitton travel bag he had carried on his arm on one of the visitor's chairs and left the room with Will.

Diane let out a sigh. It could not mean anything good if Will felt like he could not discuss it in front of her.

"What's wrong?" Kurt frowned.

"I-uh..." Will exhaled. "She didn't touch her breakfast. And she's concerned because of your fight. She feels really bad, though I don't know if she's ready to talk about it with you. But... I mean, you could try. And she really wants to take a shower. Started a fight with the poor nurse and intimidated her." He shot him a small grin.

It was so typical of her, Kurt could not help but grin back.

"And she let her talk her into doing the SAK today."

Kurt nodded. "That's good."

"Yes."

"Any word on how long she has to stay?"

"No, not yet. Call me if that changes."

"I will."

"Well..." Will looked down on his cup of coffee. "I should take off."

"Yeah. Thanks for staying with her."

"Of course." Will nodded and turned to leave.

Kurt sighed and went back into the room, taking a seat on the free visitor's chair.

"Done talking about me?", she asked in a monotone voice without looking at him and Kurt could not tell whether she was pissed or joking, though he could not imagine the latter.

Instead of answering, he took her hand in his and stood up. Now she turned her head to look at him. She looked neither pissed nor amused. Just incredibly vulnerable. 

Kurt raised his other hand and slowly brushed her tousled hair back. She did not flinch or back away from him. She did not look scared. So he leaned forward and pressed a soft kiss on her forehead.

Diane closed her eyes. Her breathing deepened and she hated herself for the shiver of panic that ran down her spine.

His lips were soft on her skin and his touch was warm and gentle. Worlds between it and the rough, forceful way in which he had touched her. And yet it was an effort she had to make to not flinch under his touch.

She opened her eyes again when his lips left her forehead and he sat back down next to her, still holding onto her hand.

She looked at him apologetically. "I'm sorry." Her voice was low. "I didn't mean to snap at you."

The look on his face was soft and he gave her a half smile beneath his moustache. "You don't need to apologise."

She exhaled deeply, dropping the subject. "What's in the bag?", she asked, nodding at the second visitor's chair.

"Clothes. For when you want to get out of that fashionable gown of yours." He grinned.

Diane looked down on herself. "I...", she began and looked back at him. "I really want to take a shower."

He nodded. "I know. Think you can manage?"

"Yes.", she answered a little too fast.

He quirked an eyebrow at her. "Let's wait for the SAK and hear what the doctor has to say about it, okay?"

Diane sighed. "Yeah, okay."


...


Will attempted to swallow the knot inside his throat as the elevator made a ping sound. The doors opened and the first thing he saw was the sleek, black sign on the wall which informed him that he had reached the floors of "Lockhart, Gardner & associates".

He had never thought it possible that something like this could happen. Not at their firm. Not to them.

Not to her.

He slowly stepped out of the elevator. It was unusually quiet at the office and it felt as if the world was standing still.

Walking down the hallway as though he were on auto-pilot, he passed the glass walls of the conference room, which was already filled with the equity partners and Will looked down on the floor to avoid seeing their annoyed facial expressions at his more than fashionably late arrival.

He walked into his office, placed his briefcase on his desk, slipped out of his coat and sank down into his office chair to just sit for a minute. It was the first moment in the last hours he had had to just try and process all of this. To think about what had happened.

Would she ever be the same again?

Will had never seen her so vulnerable before. He had heard about victims of sexual abuse who never fully recovered from what had happened to them. And in her case, it had been bad. Not that it ever could not be bad but this was a lot. It was really bad.

Hell, that guy had stabbed, beaten and raped her.

It had been close. She really could have died that night. He truly could have lost her for good.

Diane. His partner. His friend.

He did not want to do this without her. He did not want to do this with anyone else but her. The thought alone was utterly unimaginable.

Will raised his head, attempting to get up and ready to face the partners in the conference room when his gaze fell through the glass walls and landed on the visible part of the inside of her office.

He eyed the empty, red, leather chair behind her desk.

A shiver ran through his body as he pressed his lips together to try and keep the tears from forming in his eyes.

She had been so concerned when they had talked about the equity meeting in the hospital. Scared of the partners losing their respect for her. Of losing her status as an equal, if not even her higher position as a name partner. Scared of being viewed as a victim.

But Will would not let that happen. He would make time for her to recover, assure her of her place at the firm by his side where she belonged, make sure that nothing would change for her when she got back.

He breathed in deeply, stood up and left his office to go to the conference room, careful not to look over to the empty office across from his again.

"Will, where the hell have you been?", David Lee's snarky voice hit him as soon as he stepped into the conference room. "We've been waiting here for almost forty minutes on a Saturday for you. Where's Diane?"

Will swallowed at the mention of her name.

"I'm sorry.", he began in a low voice that seemed to tell the partners that something was not right because suddenly all he could hear was silence. All mumbles and exclaims of frustration had disappeared. Even David Lee had stopped rambling. "We've had a situation."

"What situation?", Julius Cane asked, his brows furrowed. "What's going on?"

He swallowed. "Diane has been attacked last night."

The room suddenly filled with gasps and mumbles.

"Attacked?", David Lee let out, his voice far from the sassy snark it usually held to it. "What-... By whom?"

"A former client of hers. The older partners back from Stern's side may remember him. Jeffrey Spellman."

A handful of people's eyes widened.

"But,", someone said. "He was convicted."

"Yes, over ten years ago and he got out a few months back."

Silence flooded the room as everyone tried to process the information.

"Is it bad?", someone asked.

"She..." Will sighed and his gaze fell to the ground, not sure how to answer that and not knowing if she would want them to know. "She lost a lot of blood. She was in surgery for a couple of hours and she's conscious now, but yes. It is bad."

From the corner of his eyes, Will could see David Lee storming out of the room.

Will swallowed and looked up at them again before he continued with the strongest voice he could find within him.

"I hope that there is no need to say that this won't change anything. We will be splitting Diane's cases during the next few weeks until she's able to return and when she does, it will be as if nothing has happened. I don't want anyone coming up to me about name partnerships, complaints or anything like that regarding her. Did I make myself clear?"

Mumbles of agreement flooded through the room.

"Good. We will talk at another time. I'll get on the division of cases and I'll approach you personally as soon as you need to take on something."

And with that, he left the room.

Chapter Text

"You did good, Ms. Lockhart", the examiner said in an overly friendly tone and Diane made an effort not to roll her eyes.

Her whole body was sore. Her abdomen felt like it was actually pulsating at this point, her chest was aching with every breath she took and every word she was forced to speak. Her head felt like it was about to explode. 

She was glad Kurt had made her sleep for a few more hours before she had been called to the examination. She did not know how she physically could have gone through with it if he had not done it.

They had made her relive the whole thing over and over again, taken samples as if she herself were some sort of a crime scene and she was just so done with everything about it. Sure, they had told her that she could stop the exam at any given time but what would be the point in that? She already felt weak enough as it was.

"Of course.", she tried to say as friendly as possible.

"You're very strong, you know. Most victims can't go through the whole examination."

Diane internally flinched.

Well, that was a lot of indelicacy for a single sentence, she thought bitterly to herself. How on earth was that supposed to make her feel better? This was not some deranged sort of a competition and the use of the word 'victim' surely did not help...

She forced an exaggerated smile towards the woman. "Thanks."

The present nurse in white scrubs got up, ready to escort her back to her room in her wheelchair. They had forbidden her to walk- not that she could have done it- and she could already sense that they would forbid her to take the shower she so desperately wanted to take, too.

Dr. Tactless shook her hand and wished her the best and they left the examination room.


...


Kurt's head shot up as soon as the door to Diane's room opened. "Thank you.", he said to the nurse.

"Of course. Ms. Lockhart, do you want to stay in the wheelchair or do you want me to help you get back into bed?", she asked nicely.

"Actually,", Diane began carefully. "I would really like to take a shower. Like... now. If that's okay."

"Ma'am, I wouldn't advise you to but I don't think I can keep you from doing it either."

Kurt smirked. She had Diane figured out pretty well.

"So at least let me help you, okay?"

Diane bit down on her bottom lip and looked at Kurt. She had a questioning look on her face and he knew that she wanted to ask something but seemed to be too embarrassed to actually voice it. One of her eyebrows furrowed.

"I can help her.", he said without breaking his eye-contact with her. Diane's face relaxed a bit.

"Sir, I don't know-"

"No.", Diane interrupted her in a small but determined voice. "Please let him. Please?" Her eyes left his to look pleadingly at the nurse.

"Ma'am, are you sure-"

"I am. I trust him."

Warmth spread through Kurt's chest and it swelled slightly with pride as he heard her words.

The nurse nodded. "Okay, whatever you feel comfortable with." She turned to look at Kurt. "She should move as little as possible. She cannot bend over. She can't lift anything. She should not stand for longer than fifteen minutes and she needs to hold on to something when she does. And don't leave her side because she could easily fall. The wound on her abdomen can't get in contact with soap and the water should not be too hot. If anything happens, there's an emergency button right beside the bathroom door. Just press it and someone will come and help you immediately, okay?"

Kurt nodded. "Okay."

"Good. Towels are already in the bathroom. Call me when you're done so I can rebandage the wound on the abdomen. See you later." She left the room.

"Thank you.", Diane whispered.

"Thank you for trusting me."

Something close to a smile crept upon her features.

Kurt got up and opened the travel bag. "What do you want to wear?"

"Something comfortable. And-" She eyed her blotted wrists. "long-sleeved."

Kurt decided on a black, long-sleeved shirt and a pair of yoga pants. Holding them up to her he saw her nodding.

"Perfect."

The clothes on his arm and a small bag full of her toiletries in one hand, he drove her into the small bathroom. He placed the clothes and the bag on a small counter and came to stand in front of her, bending his knees to assist her in getting up.

Diane grabbed his shoulders and leaned her forehead against the curve between his neck and shoulder. Kurt hesitated, not sure how he was supposed to hold her without hurting her or overstepping a boundary. She must have noticed his hesitation because she leaned forward and whispered, "Just wrap your arms around me and stand up straight." into his ear.

He did as he was told and together, they almost easily lifted her petite figure off of the chair.

A small whimper escaped her and Kurt tried to decrease the pressure his embrace was putting on her. She stood seemingly steady, her hands still placed on his shoulders, her eyes locking with his.

"You alright?", he asked, concern in his voice because of the pained sound she had made.

"I think so."

Her hands slid down towards his chest and he took them in his to slowly lead her to the sink. She grabbed its edges and he walked around her to untie the hospital gown on her back.

Diane looked up into the mirror above the sink. She looked like hell. The pinkish traces of her lipstick were all over the place, the remainders of her smudged eye make-up only increased the effect of her dark under eye bags, which stood out even more on her pale, white skin and her hair had definitely had better days.

She felt Kurt fumble with the small ties on the back of the gown. Starting on her neck and making his way down the back of her body, the skin on her back soon only covered by bandages on its middle part. She drew in a deep breath.

Kurt saw dried blood in the blonde strands of hair on the back of her head. There were dark red abrasions on the back of her legs he had been unable to see before. He untied the last knot that held the gown together and gently pulled it down her shoulders.

He went to stand on her side and looked at her as her eyes were fixated on her reflection in the mirror.

"Diane?"

Nothing.

"Di?"

She blinked a few times and turned her head to look at him.

"Can you lift one arm at a time so I can take off your gown?"

She nodded and did as he had suggested.

Kurt had to bite his tongue to keep himself from inhaling sharply as he uncovered her skin. There was a dark purple bruise in the middle of her chest, not unlike the ones on her wrist but a lot bigger and more centred. Her whole abdomen was wrapped in the bandages he had seen around her back.

He let the gown fall on the ground in the corner of the room and reached out carefully to untie her from the bandages.

Diane watched his every movement intently, both attempting to make eye contact with him to try and interpret his expression and fearing what she would see in his honest eyes. But he was too focused on being careful not to cause her any more pain.

He tossed the bandages in the garbage beneath the sink and looked at the long, stitched wound that ran down like a slightly crooked line at the right side of her abdomen. Her body uncomfortably tensed under his long gaze and he quickly drew his eyes up to lock with hers, when he realized that he was staring.

She looked vulnerable, afraid and ashamed.

Kurt took her hands in his. "You okay?", he whispered.

Diane shrugged and bit on her bottom lip.

"You're beautiful, you know that?"

She looked away and pressed her lips together, tears forming in her eyes.

Kurt felt the urge to kiss her, wanting to assure her that his attraction for her had not changed one bit because of what had happened, but he did not want to force himself on her.

But then she slowly placed one hand after another out of his and on his back and she pulled herself as close to him as she could without pressing her abdomen against his body and rested her head in the curve of his neck.

Kurt placed one hand between her shoulder blades, the other one resting on the small of her back. Her naked body was trembling in his arms as the tears took over and a small whimper escaped her. Kurt tilted his head to the side and placed a kiss on her hair.

After a moment, her breathing began to normalise and she pulled slightly away from him, her hands resting flatly on the fabric of the grey flannel that covered his chest, keeping her standing. She looked up at him, her eyes puffy and her cheeks and nose red.

Kurt tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and nodded towards the shower.

Diane nodded in silent agreement and reached for the washbag on the counter, when he stopped her by holding up one hand and grabbed the bag himself, taking out her shampoo, conditioner and shower gel.

One arm around her back, he slowly guided her into the shower and Diane left his arms to steady herself against the cool tiles on the shower wall.

Kurt picked up the shower head and turned on the water, holding it down to adjust the temperature, careful to not make it too hot, just as the nurse had told him to. Once satisfied with it, he pulled up the sleeves of his shirt and drew closer to her to cover her body with the lukewarm water.

Diane sighed and slightly drew her pounding head back to make it easier for him to wet her hair before he secured the showerhead on the holding above her and began to wash her hair.

She gasped when his soapy fingers made contact with the injured back off her head.

He froze.

"Did I hurt you?" His voice was both panicked and so incredibly calming at the same time. She wondered if he even knew of the soothing effect it had always had on her.

"No.", she lied. "It's alright.", she tried to assure him.

He was not convinced but he continued to gently work the shampoo into her hair, loosening the scabs of blood and washing them out. He then coated her hair in a generous amount of conditioner and moved on to wash her skin.

He touched her shoulder, silently asking her to turn to look at him.

"Is this okay?", he asked, the shower gel already in his hands.

Diane nodded. "Yes.", she mouthed, her low voice not audible over the sound of the water hitting the floor.

Kurt started off with her shoulders, his warm, soapy hands gently running over her smooth, wet skin. They ran down her arms, then her back, all the while careful to remain flat against her skin and not to grasp her.

Diane's body was motionless. Normally, she would at least lean into his touch, but she did not, could not, do it.

Kurt's hands momentarily touched her butt cheeks and as soon as he felt her tense underneath his hands, he backed away and knelt down to wash her legs and feet, all the while looking for any reaction she showed to know when and where to stop.

Diane flinched and stumbled away from him when his fingers accidentally made contact with her inner thigh. Kurt dropped his hands and he froze when he saw the dark purple, fingerprint-shaped bruises on the soft skin on the intimate spot.

He stood up and gently placed one hand on her shoulder. "I'm sorry."

Diane slowly turned around, her blue eyes shimmering with fear as they met his. Her breathing had increased and it almost left her panting.

She shook her head. "It's okay.", she mumbled, her words contradicting her body language.

Kurt leaned forward, the water from the shower head slightly soaking his shirt, and pressed a small kiss on her cheek.

She wanted to be strong, wanted things to be normal, even though she knew they could not be at the time. And he could not do anything about it but to try and be there for her, doing as much as she could let him do.

She exhaled slowly when his soft lips touched her wet cheek, the innocent touch oddly comforting and encouraging.

His eyes found hers again when he leaned away from her, looking for any kind of reaction.

Her expression had softened, even calmed and her breathing was normalised again, so he poured another bit of shower gel in his hands and softly ran them over the crook between her neck and shoulder. Stopping his movements, he looked up at her.

"Can I...?", he asked.

"Yes.", she responded and this time he knew she was telling the truth, so he ran his fingers over her breasts, the big purple bruise on her chest and towards her abdomen, careful not too apply too much pressure and not to come too near to the stitched wound on her right side.

His hands left her skin and he held them under the water to wash the remainders of the shower gel off of them and to hold the small bottle towards her. One of Diane's hands left the wall behind her as she stretched it out for him to let him pour the gel on her palm.

She rubbed it over her pelvis and proceeded to reach further between her thighs, roughly scrubbing against the sensitive and still irritated skin for several minutes until Kurt gently touched her arm.

"Diane." His voice was low.

Her movements froze and her gaze shot up until eventually, she was the one who broke their staring contest to fully step under the shower head.

Kurt ran his hands through her hair, washing out the remaining conditioner until she turned to him and he turned off the water.

Kurt momentarily left her side to grab two white hospital towels from the shelf beside the bathroom door before he stepped behind her to rub down her hair and put it up into a turban to get the wet strands out of the way.

He held out his hands for her to help her step out of the shower.

He then took the second towel and carefully dabbed it against her skin until she was dry. From the counter, he took her clothes and helped her get dressed before he released her damp hair and hung the white towels on the hooks on the tiled wall next to the sink.

Turning around, he handed her her toothbrush and toothpaste and led her to the sink to let her brush her teeth, watching her intently.

When she was done he handed her a small glass of water so she could flush out her mouth. Diane put the glass on the sink and placed the toothbrush into it before she tilted her head and faced him.

"Feeling better?", he asked.

"You have no idea." Something similar to a smile formed on her face and he could not help but smile widely at her. Then her expression changed and she looked at her hands that were placed on the edge of the sink, blushing slightly. "Kurt", she said in a low voice. "Can I...?"

He raised his eyebrows. "What? Are you okay?"

Diane nodded and looked up to his concerned expression. She then gave him a real smile, unsteadily stepped towards him until she could place her hands on the damp cotton fabric on his chest.

And then she leaned into him to place her lips softly against his.

Kurt was a little taken aback but smiled against her warm, motionless lips and gently ran one hand up and down her shoulder blade.

Her lips left his after only a short moment and when he opened his eyes, he could see how her face was flooded with relief.

Chapter Text

"Tell him that won't be necessary. Diane will be back in a few weeks." David Lee's voice was awfully soft and patient and he did not like it one bit.

"Mr. Porter would rather hear that from one of the managing partners, or else he'll have to look for someone else to represent him in the future.", the stern voice of an assistant said from the other line.

Mr. Porter should better stop being a bitch, David thought bitterly to himself.

"I'll ask Will to call him but I'm asking you to understand that he's got both of his hands full at the moment."

"There's no need for him to call, Mr. Porter said he wants to come by later today."

David sighed deeply before he pursed his lips. "I'll talk to Will and you will hear from us."

He hung up, popped a blue M&M into his mouth in frustration and got out of his armchair to walk over to Will's office, forcing himself to avoid looking at Diane's empty office to his left.

He would never say it to her face, but she had really grown on him over the years. There had been a unique kind of mutual respect between him and her right from the very beginning, irrespective of what the situation of the firm had been. And he could not say what would happen if there would ever come a time when she would have to be replaced due to a... situation, as Will had called it, like their current one.

Will was sitting on the sofa beneath the window of his office, a relatively huge pile of files stapled on the coffee table in front of him, seemingly staring off into the distance. David knocked on the doorframe and the younger man's head shot up to him.

"Will, can I have a word?"

Will furrowed his eyebrows at the soft tone of David's voice. "Okay.", he said and it almost sounded like a question. He motioned him to take a seat in one of the armchairs across from him. David quietly closed the glass door behind him and sat down.

"What's the matter?", Will mumbled lowly while he leaned back against his couch.

"I-uh... Richard Porter, one of Diane's top clients... his assistant called and told me he needs something, so I informed him about the... our situation, but he insisted on talking to you. Personally." He paused for a second. "I'm sorry, Will, I really didn't want to bother you with this, but he won't talk to anyone else."

Will merely nodded, looking like his mind was far away from their conversation. "Okay. I'll arrange a meeting for Monday."

"He actually insisted on coming by today."

"David.", he sighed. "Monday." Will's voice held an odd kind of foreworn determination to it. "Just... not today."

David's lips parted for a moment of silence. He did not want to push this, but after all, he had to do his job, now more than ever before. And Porter was an important client. A complete ass, but still an important client. "He said today or he'll look for somebody else and-"

"David!", Will suddenly snapped out of his trance. "My best friend almost died last night!"

David flinched, his eyes widening. "Will, I... I'm sorry."

Will stared at him in uncharacteristic helplessness and he somehow looked both younger and older than he ever had before. "No...", he mumbled. "No, I am. Why..." He swallowed visibly. "Okay. Tell him to come by today."

David shot him an apologetic look. "I will tell him to come by on Monday."

"No. If he wants today, he'll get today." The exhaustion in Will's voice was almost painful to listen to.

"Are you sure?", David asked carefully.

"Yes." His gaze left David's eyes again before he breathed in deeply. "It's what Diane would do."

David gulped. "Will... you don't have to answer but... what happened?"

Will blinked a few times. "Spellman. He... apparently he's been threatening her again. And last night he... he beat her up and stabbed her."

David's eyes widened and his lips parted. "Wha-"

"Her boyfriend found her in the woods. Shot the son of a bitch." Will leaned back, trying to control his frantic breathing. "He called me from the ER when she was in surgery. She..." He ran the back of his hand over his trembling lips. "She could have died, David."

"Will, I..." David stopped, unable to voice what he was trying to say. But he did not need to to have Will understand.

"I know. I don't know what I would do without her."

"I... if I can help you with anything, just say it."

Will nodded. "David, please don't tell anyone, okay? She doesn't want the partners to know the details."

The signs of a small smirk crept over his face. "Of course not. That's who she is."

Will shot him a slight grin. "Yeah, that's what I thought, too. Pulling the strings, even when she's handicapped from anaesthesia and several hours of surgery."

David shrugged. "What would we do without her?"

"Head straight into bankruptcy."

David let out a snort before his face turned serious again. "You think she'll be alright?"

Truth be told, Will was not sure at all. David did not know the whole story. He would not even be asking that question if he did. But he had to respect Diane's wishes. He owed her that and he knew she would do the same for him.

"Yes. She will. She... She's always been strong." He wondered for a moment if he was only directing that at David or if he was also trying to assure himself of it.

David nodded. He got up and turned to leave Will's office. "I'll go and call Porter's assistant."

"Actually, David?"

He spun back around.

"Tell her Porter can go screw himself. He either comes by on Monday or he can go to hell for all I care."

David raised his brows for a few seconds of hesitation. "Will, not that I don't want to, but do you think that's wise? I doubt that Diane would want us to handle it in that way."

Will's eyes suddenly lightened up and a small, knowing smile formed on his face.

"David, she's been my partner for six years now, and... if it were me? I know that it's exactly what Diane would do."


...


"And you're saying she's good?" Kurt broke off the engine of his truck.

"Yeah. One of our associates referred me to her. She's represented her husband a few months ago." Will's voice sounded strange over the phone but it could easily have been blamed on the bad audio quality since he had him on speaker.

"Okay. Good. And she will keep this private?"

"Yeah, I was told that she's very trustworthy. And Diane is generally well-liked, so I hope this will pay out for us."

Kurt nodded for a short second of silence. "If this gets out..." He swallowed deeply. "It's going to destroy her."

"I know... But it won't."

There was another moment of uncomfortable silence. They could say that as much as they wanted to, but in the end, it was out of their control and they both knew it.

"Hey", Will broke the silence. "I was told that she shouldn't be judged from the start. I've never met her in person but I talked to her over the phone, so I have an idea of what... uhm, the associate meant by that, but I'm convinced that she's good. She seems very... capable... but she's different. Just listen to what she says and you'll be fine, okay?"

Kurt swallowed. Listen... He could do that.

"Okay."


...


The quiet interrogation room was small and shady and it made him feel deeply claustrophobic.

He caught himself bouncing his knee up and down and tried to concentrate on keeping himself from doing so.

The two untalkative police officers that had brought him in there had left a while ago and he had no idea how this was supposed to play out.

Under no possible circumstances could he get convicted. It was just impossible. He had already failed her once and leaving her alone now in this state, this state that he himself also held a great deal of responsibility for, he could not even think about doing it again. Not after he had sworn to himself that he would never do that again.

She was strong. But no one was strong to that extent. And he believed in her and in her strength, would never even dare to doubt it, but he needed to be there, had to be realistic about this. He had to at least be able to offer her his assistance in this process of healing.

And leaving, not being able to help... it would destroy him probably almost as much as her.

It was a selfish thought, a selfish, ignorant and insensitive feeling, but he could not help it.

The uncertainty was just about to strangle him when the heavy door opened and a small, red-haired woman in a grey pantsuit appeared in the room.

She was pale, which was an almost harsh contrast to her assumably dyed hair and there was a light in her greenish blue eyes that Kurt found to be slightly off-putting. She smiled widely at him for a long moment of silence that had Kurt shifting uncomfortably in his seat before she spoke up to introduce herself.

"Hi...!", she said with a tilt of her head, stretching the word in an odd manner while her smile never left her face. She stepped closer towards him. "I'm Elsbeth Tascioni. Will Gardner sent me."

Kurt rose from his seat to shake her hand. "Kurt McVeigh."

Her bright eyes widened. "Ohh, yes. Yes, I know who you are." She nodded ecstatically. "You're Diane Lockhart's boyfriend."

She placed her purse on the table, took the seat across from him and folded her hands over the table, staring at him intently, as if she were either attempting to hypnotize him, or expecting him to say something.

Kurt swallowed. His awkwardness increased steadily, but she did not seem to take any notice of it.

"You're not exactly what I pictured you to be.", she said, tilting her head again, a look of intensifying curiosity on her face.

Kurt shrugged. "Yeah, we get that a lot."

She let out a short sound of amusement. "I love Diane. I have only seen her a few times, but..." Her eyes narrowed in deep thought. "She's so elegant, right?"

He had to suppress a smirk. "Uh-yes... She is that."

Elsbeth Tascioni giggled lightly and it was a strong mixture of girly with a pinch of mania.

When the laughter that held on for a little too long, faded away and she did not seem to plan on continuing the conversation, Kurt raised an eyebrow.

"So... I understand that you're here to represent me?"

"Oh!", she exclaimed. "Yes, of course! But no worries, Mr. McVeigh, this will go just fine."

Kurt surely had his doubts about that but she shut his thoughts off when she continued.

"You dialled the emergency phone call, which is the best thing you could have done. And you wouldn't have done that if you hadn't shot him out of self-defence, right? Because that would be..." Her eyes widened for a second. "Insane! 

"There is enough evidence to confirm that she has been threatened by him for months and I mean, she has done the SAK and the results will line up with your story. And the attacker was someone who already had a criminal record that included second-degree murder in two cases. It is fairly obvious that what you're saying is the truth, so don't be worried. The DA won't even think about pressing charges after this day. Just trust me." Her lips widened in a smile.

Kurt stared at her for a moment of surprise.

"Hm..." Elsbeth suddenly narrowed her eyes. "Does it smell like chocolate chip waffles in here, or is that just me?"


...


Will tossed the file away and closed his eyes for a moment, pressing two fingers against the bridge of his nose. 

This had so not been the ideal Sunday so far.

The sound of the chirping of his cell phone caused him to open his eyes again.

He frowned exasperatedly. What now?

A small smile soon replaced his gruff expression when he read the message.

Kurt McVeigh.

'You were right. She was great.
They'll inform me about the DA's decision as soon as possible, but she says I don't have to worry.
Thanks for everything.
- Kurt'

Chapter Text

"Ms. Lockhart?"

Both Kurt's and Diane's heads shot up to the nurse who was standing in the doorway. It must have looked almost comical.

"Sorry to bother you, but there are two police officers here who say that they want to ask you some questions."

Diane let out a sigh. She had been waiting for that moment to arrive for the last two days. It was nice that they at least had had the decency to leave her in peace over the weekend. 

The police, your friend and helper.

"Okay. Thanks for letting me know."

The nurse nodded politely and left the room.

"You feeling up to this?", Kurt asked and reached out for her hand.

She looked back at him, hesitating for a moment and trying to figure out whether or not she should give him an honest answer.

"No."

The corner of his mouth twitched sadly and he brushed his thumb over hers. "Want me to stay?"

"Yes."

About a second later someone knocked on the door and two cops entered the room, a brunette woman and a tall, dark-skinned man, both not older than their late thirties.

"Good morning, Ms. Lockhart. Mr. McVeigh.", the man greeted them as the woman closed the door behind them. "I'm Detective Callahan." Nodding to Kurt he added, "Nice to see you again, Sir.".

Kurt nodded back. 

The detectives stepped closer to the hospital bed on the opposite side of Kurt's seat next to her bed.

"And I'm Detective Coulson.", the female detective said. She had a soothing voice but a piercing and somewhat calculating gaze in her eyes. "We would like to ask you some questions, Ms. Lockhart, assuming you feel up to it today?"

Not really, thank you very much. Not today or ever, but it was nice to meet you!, would have at least been an honest answer, but this was not an honest question. It did not make a difference to the detectives if she were to say no. It was a rhetorical question and it was strange because when Kurt had asked her the same thing, she had known that he had wanted a real answer, while they did not.

He was genuinely interested in her well-being. They were just doing their jobs.

Diane swallowed a snarky remark. "Yes, of course."

She felt Kurt's hand giving hers a gentle squeeze. She wondered if he was just on the platform leading to the same train of thought she had been on half a second earlier.

"Good, thank you. We're sorry for having to ambush you with this" Interesting choice of words, Diane thought sarcastically. "but in our experience, it's best to do the questioning as soon as possible, so that the memory is still fresh."

"I understand.", Diane answered.

"Sir, are you going to be present for this?", Officer Callahan asked Kurt, whose eyes immediately jumped back to Diane. He quirked an eyebrow at her.

"I need-...", Diane began before she shut herself off to rephrase. "I'd like him to stay. If that's possible."

Please. I can't do this alone.

The look on her face must have given her away. "I-uhm... Okay.", he said hesitantly. "But he has to remain quiet."

"Got it.", Kurt said. If there was something he could do, it was being quiet.

"Okay.", the female Officer began. "Ms. Lockhart, it is our understanding that you have been threatened by Mr. Spellman, who has been a former client of yours?"

"Yes. I was his attorney ten years ago when he got convicted for second-degree murder in two cases. That's when he first threatened to kill me." Diane tried to keep her low voice calm. "Then about five months ago he was released from prison after I spoke against him on his parole hearing and he started to send me threats through packages, notes and text messages."

"But you didn't inform the police?", Coulson asked, arching an eyebrow at her. It sounded more like an accusation than a question.

"I-uh... no, I didn't." Diane frowned and she could sense the look of silent outrage that had made its way over Kurt's face.

"Why is that?"

Diane breathed in deeply and dug the nail of her thumb into the fabric of the sleeve of her beige cashmere sweater. "Officer, I work in law enforcement myself. I know that there was nothing the police department could have done, as long as nothing had happened to me and I know that nobody thought of him as a threat anyway because otherwise they surely would not have let him out of prison." The suppressed anger in her voice was almost visible.

"Okay.", Officer Coulson proceeded, either not taking note of Diane's anger or actively choosing to ignore it. "On Friday night, after you'd finished your work, what did you do?"

"I drove out to the countryside to see my boyfriend."

"It was awfully late for a forty-mile drive, wasn't it?"

"I guess so.", Diane answered dryly and shrugged.

"And would you say that was a spontaneous decision?"

"Yes, but we had actually had plans of spending the weekend at his place. I just forgot about them."

"That's why your dog was with him?"

"That is right." She was answering honestly. There was no reason not to. But something seemed off about this line of questioning. She had been a lawyer for a long enough time to decide that she probably would not like where this was going.

"So... what, you just forgot about it?"

She frowned. "Yes. I had a lot on my mind that day."

"And was that why you had been drinking?"

Diane's jaw dropped and one of her eyebrows quirked up. "Excuse me?"

"Sorry, Ma'am", Officer Callahan intervened. "We just have to ask because the blood test certified that there was a small percentage of alcohol in your blood."

"I had two glasses of scotch with my firm partner, Will Gardner. But I hadn't been, quote-unquote, drinking."

"Okay, that's all we needed to know about that.", Callahan proceeded. "Mr. McVeigh has already stated previously that the two of you got into a fight at his house?"

Diane swallowed. "Yes. After dinner. We don't..." She inhaled deeply. "We don't normally argue like that and I had to get out of there."

Kurt bit his bottom lip and began to slowly caress the back of her hand with his thumb. She was facing the other way and all he wanted was to be able to give her an encouraging smile. 

Or the apology he still owed her so badly.

"How long have you two been together?"

Diane's eyes thinned, her head pounding painfully and the exhaustion already beginning to take over. "It is Monday, right?"

"Yes."

"It has been four months."

Kurt's eyes widened. She was right. They had hit four months on Saturday, the day after the attack. There was no way in which he would have remembered that.

"What was your fight about?"

Diane cleared her throat. "Kurt was... worried. About me.", she began in a soft voice. "He tried to convince me to get a gun. It was actually not the first time we've discussed it. But I... our views differ on that matter and I didn't want to do it and... then we sort of... drifted off and it escalated and I said some things I didn't mean. I guess he would say the same thing about himself." She paused and exhaled deeply. "I was hurt."

Kurt's jaw tensed at that and his eyes left the back of her head, guilt washing over his face because he knew that had not been correctly phrased.

She had not been hurt. He had hurt her.

"So I stepped outside. I felt like I needed to clear my head for a moment."

Detective Callahan looked at her with his kind eyes and nodded, while the unfriendly female detective to his side scribbled something into her notebook. "What happened next?"

"My dog had followed me outside and I went for a walk with her." She stopped.

"Into the woods?", Callahan asked for clarification.

Diane's gaze left his eyes. "Yes.", she whispered.

"Ma'am, I'm sorry, but we really need you to tell us what happened next."

Diane nodded slowly and continued, but her gaze remained somewhere next to him. "I had been walking for a while when I realised that I had messed up."

Kurt gulped.

That was so untrue. If anyone had messed up that night, it had been him.

"And I wanted to go back to make things up to him."

"Him being Mr. McVeigh?"

"Yes, of course. Sorry." She paused and scraped her teeth over her bottom lip. Kurt's thumb was still drawing small patterns on her hand. She tried to concentrate on the feeling instead of the two strangers she had to talk to. "I turned around on the pathway. And there he was."

"Him being...?", Callahan repeated.

"Jeffrey Spellman." Her small whisper was barely audible. "Right in front of me. I... I have no idea how I hadn't heard him approach me but... I don't know. I just hadn't. He told me to shut off my dog. He had a knife. He was so angry and he said that I've made it too easy for him to get me. He kept talking about the ten years he'd spent in prison because of my doing and I told him that I was sorry. And then he got really mad...

"He pulled off my coat and touched my cleavage." She shivered. It was as if his rough, cold fingers were on her all over again. "He said that he liked my blouse on me because he found it to be revealing. Earlier that day I had gotten a package with a note in which he'd written something similar. And then he asked me if Kurt liked it, too."

The movements of Kurt's thumb on her hand momentarily stopped before he attempted to compose himself again and concentrate on soothing her. But this was all new to him. She had not talked to him about what had happened in between their fight and the moment he had found her, yet.

And it did not make it any easier to listen to.

"He knew his name. I don't know how, but he did and he said it. He knew that we had been fighting and he knew that I had been crying. And he told me that it would not hurt anymore when he would be done with me." Diane swallowed, looked up towards the ceiling and rapidly blinked her tears away. "He grabbed my right wrist and I felt the handle of his knife pressing against it. And then his fingers were on the hem of my skirt."

She closed her eyes for a moment, took a few deep breaths and opened them again, eyeing the deep purple bruises on her right wrist. "That was when I panicked.", she continued in the same soft whisper. "So I tried to push him away with my free hand, but he was... so much stronger than me and he grabbed my hand and twisted my arm so hard, that I feared it would break. He shouted at me, told me to be still and quiet or he would..."

She exhaled and her fingers curled around his hand tightly. "Or he would go after Kurt. I knew he would have done it and... I was just scared. I-I don't know... He held my wrists with one hand and pointed the knife at me to keep me from moving. His other hand was underneath my skirt again and he ripped off my underwear.

"I tried to reason with him. I said that they would send him to prison again but it didn't even matter to him. He told me to shut up, said that his life had already ended ten years ago because of me and that he wanted me to pay for it. He pushed his elbow into my chest. I fell backwards and hit my head on the ground. I couldn't breathe and I thought I was going to throw up. He held my hands above my head and hiked up my skirt. I tried to kick him, but I don't know if I even hit him at all."

"I think you did.", Callahan told her. Diane's eyes locked with his, a frown on her pale face. "There was a small but pretty deep wound on his thigh. Didn't hit any major arteries but it was there. The tissue on the heel of your shoe probably matches the DNA of your attacker."

"Oh. Okay. So I did kick him.", was all Diane could say to that. Her gaze fell away from the detective again. "He slid his knife over the side of my abdomen. I heard a clicking noise. I suppose he was taking off his belt before he pressed his hand on my mouth to try and mute the sounds of my screams."

She heard Kurt shifting in his seat and felt him gently place his free hand on her left shoulder. Diane did not back away. His touch did not make her uncomfortable, it actually did the opposite. It made her feel a little safer.

Somehow, it was exactly what she needed.

"I tilted my head to the side. I wanted to be strong and face him but the back of my head just hurt so much and I didn't want him to see me cry as he..." She paused and a single tear escaped her eye and rolled down her cheek. "forced himself into me."

An icy shiver ran through her body but she willed herself to keep it together. Just until the cops would be gone.

"I tried to struggle against him, just tried to get him off of me, but I couldn't and he laughed about it. He was so heavy and I was in so much pain and I just...

"I guess I gave up. And... simply kept hoping that I would pass out soon from the pain or something like that. But I didn't." She paused, closed her eyes for a short second and cleared her burning throat lowly before she opened her eyes again and continued in the same whispery tone.

"So I lay there and... I don't know. It didn't even matter anymore when he finished. It just made me feel sick all over again."

Kurt's watery gaze fell on her shoulder and he felt the tears escape his eyes when he tried to suppress a choke. He never would have thought that the numbness and hopelessness would be worse than the sadness. It was not what he had expected and it was just even more painful.

"Did he use a condom?", Callahan asked carefully.

"No." She snuffled softly. Luckily, the tactless SAK examiner had asked her the same question before, so she was not just as taken aback by it as Kurt, who tensed next to her, seemed to be.

"He told me how no one was there to save me. His hand left my mouth and he zipped up his pants. He reached for the knife and I remember wondering where the blood on it came from, but, I mean... twelve stitches, now I get it.", she attempted to joke but failed remarkably and tense silence flooded the room as another tear escaped her eye.

"He was leaning over me, still holding onto my wrists as if somehow I could have run away at that point and he said that I should keep quiet because there was no point in screaming."

Kurt froze. That was when he had arrived near them on the pathway.

If only he had been there a little earlier...

Diane cleared her throat and her voice was suddenly stronger when she spoke again. Not loud, but steadier and strong. "And that was when I decided that, no matter what he would do to me, I would not let him win. I didn't want to give him the satisfaction of seeing me in defeat. I mean, at that moment he obviously had already won, but... I knew that his conviction back then hadn't been my fault. He was guilty and it was fairly obvious. I had done all I could but in the end, he was rightfully convicted and so I decided not to give in. I faced him. He asked if I was scared of death."

Kurt straightened up. He knew she had not said anything but there must have been something that had caused his sudden outbreak.

"And so I spat him in the face."

Kurt's dry lips parted. That was unexpected.

"He took a moment before he screamed at me that I was a 'fucking whore'. He slapped me and..." She swallowed. "I don't really know what happened then. I suppose that's when he caused the deep stab wound in the middle of the lighter one, but I'm not sure. I just know that I've never been in so much pain before. It hurt so much that I couldn't see anymore and I heard myself screaming and I just couldn't stop."

A small whimper escaped her and she looked further away from them as if she were embarrassed about it.

Kurt shivered. He could still hear the raw, horrifying sounds of her screaming bashing through his ears.

She sniffed. "It was all... too much, I think. My head was throbbing, I lost my vision and my body... everything hurt so much. And then..." Her voice was thin again, she had returned to the low whisper from before.

"Then I heard something and it sounded like Kurt's voice. I couldn't tell what he was saying, it was too loud. But I heard a gunshot. And suddenly my cheek felt warm." Diane's throat felt dry and her voice softened with every word that she spoke.

"He was speaking but his voice was distant. I heard him say that he was sorry... And that's all I can recall."

Diane breathed in deeply, ignoring the pain in her chest, and finally lifted her head to face the two detectives.

Callahan was still looking at her with kind eyes, but the unfriendly Coulson now looked at her too, with a set of big, light brown eyes that were glistening with tears.

"Thank you, Ms. Lockhart.", Callahan said and stepped forward to shake her hand. "You did very well. We are going to report our findings to the district's attorney as soon as we have the necessary test results from the crime lab. Sir", he turned to face Kurt. "You will hear from us within the next couple of weeks. But between us... let's just say that so far, all the evidence seems to be in your favour. It's not our decision to make and we don't know for sure but... you know."

Kurt nodded.

"Thank you, Detectives.", Diane said.

Callahan nodded and was about to see himself out when he turned back at the small voice of his colleague.

"Ma'am... I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to be rude, earlier."

"It's okay, Detective."

Coulson nodded and followed her colleague out of the room. The door fell shut behind them.

Diane let out a loud sigh, wanting to let her head fall back against the pillow but thought better of it. Instead, she shifted her head to look at Kurt. 

He sat there, his hands still placed on her hand and shoulder, looking pale and deeply unsettled. His eyes were puffy and irritated.

Diane raised her eyebrows. "Hey.", she breathed out softly. "You okay?"

Kurt slowly leaned forward and pressed a kiss on the soft cashmere fabric of her beige sweater over her shoulder, next to where his hand was resting. Leaning up again, he looked at her, a frown on his face. "I should be the one to ask you that question."

She let out an almost amused snort. "I'm tired, but I'm okay. Now, what about you?"

"I am. As long as you are."

Chapter Text

It was a rainy Wednesday.

The dark noon sky was covered by thick, grey clouds and the concrete streets were darkened from the wet raindrops that forcefully sprinkled down on them. People were walking around on it with brightly coloured umbrellas they were holding gracefully over their heads, others were running from one destination to another with only a wet newspaper or the back of their jackets held up over them to save themselves from the cloudy tears.

But she could only imagine all of that. The only device that served for her to even know of the rain was the small window she could barely look out of from her spot in the hospital bed. The rain kept drumming against it. The sound of it was depressing.

It was a rainy Wednesday. The day before she could go home.

Diane tossed the peas, served in some kind of creamy, white sauce, around on her plate with her fork, her eyes fixated on the food.

Kurt watched her in silence. She had been doing that for the entirety of the last five minutes since the nurse had placed the lunch tray on the extendable nightstand that hovered over her lap on the bed and after she had swallowed her mid-day medication.

"Diane?", he asked softly.

"Hmm?" She did not look up.

"You should try to eat."

Diane dropped the fork on the tray with a relatively loud clash and raised her head to look at him with sad, blue eyes.

"I am trying.", she said in a thin but determined voice.

Kurt leaned forward in his visitor's chair and cupped her left hand beneath the tray. "Do you want something else? I can go and get take-out from that Chinese place down the street you like so much."

Diane sighed and it was not because she was annoyed with him, but with herself.

"No."

He quirked an eyebrow at her. "You have barely eaten anything since Friday."

"I'm aware.", she replied monotonously.

"You need to eat something.", he emphasized.

Diane sighed again, this time a little more harshly and her eyes left his. Her cold hand shot away from underneath his warm one and she grabbed the fork to shove two peas into her mouth, chewing on them for a few minutes.

She swallowed and turned to look at him again. "I'm sorry."

"No, don't be." Kurt rubbed his nose. "I'm just concerned about you."

"I know.", she said in a low voice. "And I'm sorry about that, too."

He frowned. "What do you mean?"

Diane bit down on the inside of her cheek and pushed the tray to the side. Reaching out for him, she gently brushed her slim fingers against his cheek. Her voice was throaty when she spoke again.

"You..." She paused, breathing in deeply and blinking a few times in an attempt to get rid of the tears that were already forming in her eyes. "This is not what you signed up for. And... I'm just sorry." A frown formed on her face and she pursed her lips, trying not to sob.

Kurt captured her hand that was still resting on his cheek with his and he led her palm to his lips, before he placed their entwined fingers on the bed, next to her hip. "There's nothing you have to apologize for."

"Yes, there is.", she choked out, the tears in her eyes now running down her cheeks. "When we were fighting... You were right. And I know that you only meant well while I was being a bitch. I should have listened to you. And I'm sorry for pulling you into this. You..."

She shook her head. "You deserve better."

Kurt swallowed as he felt tears of his own beginning to form in his eyes.

How could she even think that? If there was one of them who deserved better, it certainly was not him.

"No.", he said in a small voice. "I shouldn't have pressured you. I should have..." He paused. "I should have gone after you."

Diane shook her head again, inhaling deeply and her lips were trembling as she did so.

"Kurt, I..." A small whimper escaped her before she could even have attempted to hold it back. "I don't want you to think that you have to stay."

His jaw dropped slightly as he stared at her, his eyes opened widely. "I know. And I don't. But I want to stay. I want to be here."

"It won't be easy." She smiled sadly if it could even have been considered a smile.

Kurt shrugged. "I don't want easy. I want you."

"And if it's not enough? If... if I am not enough?" Her voice broke.

Diane brushed her free hand over her wet cheek. "Kurt...", she continued raspily. "I just want you to be happy."

One of his brows furrowed. It hurt like hell to see her cry. And it almost hurt even more to hear the way she was thinking.

"You make me happy. I... I meant what I said the other night. I love you, Diane." He paused and brushed his thumb over her knuckles. "And you don't have to say it back. I just want you to know, okay?"

Her watery blue eyes were fixated on him. Her breathing was heavy and she felt her chest and abdomen aching from it.

She nodded. "I'm sorry that I can't-"

"Diane, don't.", he stopped her. "I want you to take your time."

She closed her eyes for a second. "It's not that I don't..." Her voice faded away. It was hard for her to voice it, even though she felt like she had to.

"I know. And it's fine, really."

Diane let out a quiet snort and opened her eyes. "No, it's not. But it's nice of you to say that."

Kurt shook his head. "Don't worry about it anymore, okay?"

Diane nodded. "I just feel like... I don't know. Like this isn't what you wanted."

He quirked an eyebrow at her in confusion. "Well, this isn't what anyone wanted."

She sighed. "Yeah sure, but... this was never your problem. I made you the collateral damage and-"

"Diane.", he interrupted her softly. "You didn't pull me into this. And you didn't ask for this either."

She nibbled on the inside of her cheek. "It was stupid of me to go."

"No. I hurt you and you needed to get away. That's not your mistake and..." He gulped. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

She nodded and another wave of tears formed in her eyes.

"You didn't..." She paused to clear her throat and look away from his eyes to their joined hands. Her voice was only a whisper when she spoke again. "You didn't really mean what you said about me, right?"

He felt so bad for making her worry about that. For ever making her think that could be untrue. For ever making her doubt how highly he had always thought of her, how much he respected her...

How much he loved her.

"I was angry. I know that's not a good excuse. But I knew it wasn't true and I shouldn't have said it."

Diane sniffed and looked at him again. "It does matter to me."

Kurt furrowed his eyebrows. "What does?"

"What you think. It matters to me. I normally don't care about what other people think of me, but I do with you. A lot, actually."

He gave her a half-smile and gently tucked a strand of blonde hair behind her ear. Diane closed her eyes and leaned into his touch.

"I think you're amazing."

She chuckled lowly and opened her watery eyes. Brushing her free hand over her tear stained cheeks again, she groaned. "God, I'm such a crybaby."

"No." His hand left her hair and he lifted her chin with his finger to make her look at him. "You're being very strong. Maybe even stronger than you should be."

She swallowed hard and narrowed her eyes at him. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"It means that you're going through a lot at the moment and that you should allow yourself some grieving without being so hard on yourself."

She sighed again. "I just... I hate feeling so weak."

Kurt nodded. "I think I get it. But you really aren't."

"I just keep thinking..." She stopped and bit her lower lip. "Kurt? Do you think I could've prevented this? If I had listened to you?" Diane's hand was trembling in his.

Kurt parted his lips and took a moment to think about how to answer that correctly.

"Diane, first of all, you can't blame yourself for what has happened. It wasn't your fault, okay?"

Another tear slowly ran down on her cheek.

"And honestly? I don't know. Maybe, but you wouldn't have felt comfortable and... I mean, what if you had shot him? That wouldn't make you feel better either. Anyway, it's his fault. Everything that happened or could have happened is his fault and not yours. And it doesn't do to think about what could have been done. That will only make it harder for you."

Diane nodded slowly and remained silent for a moment. "Is it..." She cleared her throat when she heard her own raspy voice. "Is it hard...? Shooting someone?"

"I don't regret shooting him if that's what you mean."

She furrowed one brow. "I'm not sure... He... he didn't suffer though, did he?"

Kurt's jaw tensed. He hated that she worried about that after what he had done to her.

"He didn't. But... that's the last thing that should concern you."

"Oh, I know, but I mean..." She thoughtfully ran her fingers through her hair. "He was still a person. He had parents. A family. And... birthday parties."

Kurt could not help but grin at her. "Birthday parties?", he asked, quirking an eyebrow at her.

"Uh-yeah? I don't know, I-"

"You really shouldn't feel bad about this.", Kurt interrupted her and his face had turned serious again.

Diane's eyes left his and she shrugged. "I know... You're right."

"He hurt you. I had to do it."

"I know."

"You should eat."

She looked up to him again and snorted lowly.

"I know. I'll try."

Chapter Text

"Here's the ointment for the abrasions. Those are the antibiotics for the wound on your abdomen. These two are the painkillers and this will help you sleep, okay? The recommended amounts are stated on the containers."

"Okay. Thank you.", Diane said, eyeing the four orange medication containers. Kurt took them and the tube of ointment from the nurse and put them into the packed Louis Vuitton travel bag before he zipped it close.

"We can also refer you to specific counsellors if you're interested in that."

Diane raised her eyebrows and bit her tongue. Kurt noticed and jumped into the conversation. "We'll think about it. Thank you."

The nurse nodded. "Great. Remember: try to avoid standing and walking for at least another week. No bending over, no heavy lifting for at least three more weeks. You should stay away from work for the next seven to nine weeks and we will contact you about your test results during the next week."

"Okay.", Diane mumbled.

The nurse helped her into the passenger's seat of her Cadillac- they had decided that it would be easier for her to get into and out of it than it would be with Kurt's truck-, voiced her best wishes and walked back to the hospital entrance, taking the wheelchair with her.

Kurt tossed her bag into the back of the car, secured her seat-belt and got into the driver's seat. Before he started the engine, he turned to her and gently touched her upper arm. Diane's gaze left the car window to her right and her eyes locked with his.

"You okay?"

"Yeah. Just tired." One corner of her mouth twitched.

Kurt nodded, his hand gave her arm a last gentle squeeze before he started the engine.

The drive to her townhouse was short and quiet. Diane did not look at him and just silently continued to watch the familiar buildings as they passed them, trying not to whimper in pain every time the speed shifted and led to the seat-belt pressing down on her chest.

Kurt knew how exhausted she was and he had never been great with conversation starters anyway, so he just remained silent too, quietly shooting concerned looks at her whenever she hissed lowly under her breath when he speeded up or came to a halt and thought that he did not notice. But he did. Of course, he did.

After he had parked the car in her driveway and turned off the engine, he stepped out, grabbed her travel bag and came around to the passenger's side, frowning when he saw that the door had already been opened.

"Diane, no!", he yelled and dropped the bag to rush towards her.

She had leaned forward to open the heavy car door and now attempted to pull herself out of the seat, already panting from the excessive strain she had put on her injured body. She fell sideways back into her seat and glared at Kurt.

"What?!", she snapped between two heavy breaths.

"Let me help you, okay?"

She rolled her eyes even though she knew he was right. Without answering his question, she let him pull her upper body into his arms and together they managed to get her standing outside of the car.

Kurt shut the door and looked at her. She was holding onto the top of the car to keep herself standing, still panting violently as she did so.

"What was that?", he asked softly.

Diane shrugged. The look on her face had turned from annoyance to shame. Her blue eyes were fixated on Kurt's boots and her voice was small when she spoke to answer him.

"I wanted to do it on my own."

Kurt sighed. He stepped forward and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "I know. Just not yet, okay? It's too dangerous."

He picked up the travel bag from the ground and pulled Diane closer to him to help her walk to the front door.

Climbing up the stairs took a while and by the time they arrived at the door, her breathing had become painfully heavy again, but they did it.

Kurt got the spare key out of his jacket and unlocked the door. They were immediately greeted by an excitedly yelping Justice who jumped up and down around Diane's feet.

"Hey, my good little girl!", she cooed and a small smile formed on her face.

Kurt smirked to himself, shut the door behind them and helped Diane out of her jacket. He hung both hers and his up before he turned back to her. She was still bracing herself against the wall.

"Couch?", he asked.

Diane bit her lip and eyed the stairs that led up to her bedroom. Turning back to him, she thought better of it. "Yeah."

Kurt nodded. "Hungry?", he asked, even though he was convinced that he knew what her answer was going to be.

"I could eat." She raised her brows almost playfully.

Kurt's eyes widened in delighted surprise and he gave her a big smile. "Good, what do you want?"

"Uhm... Eggs and some toast would be nice."

"I'm on it." He nodded encouragingly.

"Can I come to the kitchen with you?"

"Sure."

He slung his arm back around her and together they walked into the kitchen, followed by Justice who was still pacing around in excitement. Kurt led Diane to the kitchen isle and left her momentarily to grab a chair from next to the dining table and place it behind her. Diane slowly sank down on it and looked up at him.

"Thank you."

"Of course.", he said and leaned in to place a quick kiss on her hair.

She watched him intently while he was cooking. She had always liked to watch him cook. There was something about it that fascinated her in a certain way she could not describe.

He shot her a few loving gazes every now and then and smirked to himself when he saw her quickly looking away when he did as if he had caught her doing something naughty.

He filled two of her porcelain plates with scrambled eggs and buttered toast when he broke the comfortable silence. "What do you want to drink?"

"A glass of chardonnay? And I think there's still some beer for you in the fridge."

Kurt placed their plates and drinks on the dining table and rushed back to her, holding out a hand for her to assist her in getting up. She took it and managed to rise from her seat almost on her own and they walked hand in hand over to the dining table and got seated.

"You're the best.", she told him in a low voice.

"I know."


...


Diane finished the rest of her wine in another long sip before she eyed the still half full plate in front of her.

"I'm sorry.", she mumbled and placed the glass back on the table. "It's delicious. But I can't."

"It's fine, Diane.", Kurt said softly and placed his hand on hers on the table. The bruises on her hand had not yet fully vanished but they had decreased remarkably. "I'm glad you ate."

Her gaze wandered from her plate to their hands and up to his eyes, casting him a small half-smile.

"Want to take your medication and call it a night?"

She nodded and he got up, put their plates into the sink and got her meds from the travel bag that was still laying on the floor behind the front door. He poured her a glass of water and placed everything in front of her on the dining table before he got seated next to her again.

"Thanks.", Diane said and began taking her evening pills, swallowing them with the water.

Mid-way through she suddenly stopped and let out a small gasp. "Oh no, I forgot; we can't go to bed, we need to walk Justice."

"It's fine, I'll take her."

"No.", she shook her head. "I want to come with you."

A small frown formed on his face. "Diane, they said you shouldn't walk too much yet."

"Just five minutes. We'll make it a short round. Please?"

She was practically begging him at this point. It was almost pathetic. Normally she would just do it.

"I don't know..." He gave her an apologetic look.

"Kurt, please.", she whispered. "I... I don't want to be alone."

Kurt swallowed hard at that. Of course, this was not about wanting to challenge herself, how could he not have thought about that?

"Please?", she breathed out again.

Kurt nodded slowly. "Okay. But we'll make it a very short one."


...


"Wait.", she said before he could ask her to lift her arms so he could help her into the pyjama top.

He stepped away and she moved over to the full-length mirror in the corner of her walk-in closet.

She was wearing nothing but her black panties when she eyed herself in the mirror, taking in the now dark red and yellow bruises on her wrists, chest and inner thighs. The right side of her abdomen still looked horrifying, the dark stitches running along the light brown scar tissue, looking so deeply out of place on her light and soft skin.

Damaged...

She drew her finger along the scar, barely touching it but the simple look at it shot tears in her eyes.

Diane did not even notice Kurt when he came closer behind her, her eyes so fixated on the imperfection on her body, the visualisation of what had been taken from her. She flinched when she suddenly felt his warm hands on her shoulders and dropped her hand, trying to suppress the need to step away from him.

"I love you.", she heard him whisper into her hair. A small whimper escaped her and she quickly wiped away the tears in her eyes.

Inhaling deeply, she turned to face him and lifted her arms to let him put on her silk pyjama top.

Together, they finished getting her dressed before Kurt moved to one of the drawers to get changed himself. Diane stepped out of the closet and got into bed, laying back and tucking herself into the soft sheets.

She watched him closely as he joined her on his side of the bed and lay down on his back, switching off the light on the nightstand.

Diane slowly scooted closer to him and carefully reached behind her to tuck on his arm, silently asking him to lay it around her. Kurt shifted and carefully pulled her into his embrace, the front of his body gently curving against her back.

He pressed a kiss on the silk fabric that covered her right shoulder. Diane closed her eyes and placed her hand on his beneath her chest.

For the first time in almost a week, she found herself feeling safe and comfortable again.

And loved.

"Good night, Diane.", he mumbled sleepily.

"Good night, Kurt.", she answered, exhausted but still wide awake, as she felt him drift to sleep behind her.

"Loveyou", he slurred as if it were a single word. A single, beautiful word.

Only a few minutes later she already heard him snoring lowly behind her against her neck.

She smiled and a single tear rolled out of the corner of her eye and down over her temple before it got soaked up by the fabric of her pillow. She let herself lean into his embrace, his comfort, his warmth and whispered into the silent night.

"I love you, too."

Chapter Text

Her abdomen felt as if it were on fire when he continuously pushed his torso against it, burying himself deeper and deeper in her.

Her crying had long stopped, simply because she failed to see the point in crying any more. It had not helped. It had not made it any easier. It had not made it stop.

Breathing was hard. It got harder as the seconds, minutes, maybe hours- who knew... it felt like an eternity- went by and she was just waiting to pass out at some point.  She could not take it anymore and she kept hoping that she could rely on that defence mechanism of her body. It was all that she could hope for anymore.

After all, Spellman had been right. No one was here to save her.

But then she heard his voice. 

"Diane?"

Her eyes widened and she tried to scream out for him but Spellman's hand on her mouth prevented her from doing so.

"Diane, what the hell are you doing?"

Where was he? And why was he not helping her?

"Do something against it!", he yelled.

Could he not see how hard she had been trying? That she had done everything she could? That she had only stopped struggling to protect him?

His voice was a whisper when he spoke again, barely audible over the animalistic grunts that originated from Spellman. 

"I can't even look at you anymore."

Diane whimpered against the sweaty hand on her lips.

"How could I ever touch you again after what you've let him do? How am I supposed to love you anymore?"

She closed her eyes and felt the tears in them rolling down her skin at the sheer disgust in Kurt's voice.

She loved him. She loved him so very much. And now it threatened to tear her apart just as much as the man that had forced himself on her did.

Suddenly, she felt Spellman's hands on her torso.

Diane's eyes shot open, her panic taking over and she gasped loudly at the weight beneath her chest.

She pushed the arm off of her and quickly crept away from the body heat behind her, coming to sit against the headboard near the edge of the bed, panting uncontrollably.

Her eyes adjusted to the dark and she recognised his face. She could make out his bewildered frown as he blinked rapidly.

It was Kurt.

"Diane", he said in a throaty voice, still full of sleep. "What-"

Diane slung her arms around her legs, pulling her knees closer towards her face so she could bury her eyes in the silk fabric of her pyjama pants, sobbing into the material. She did not care about the pain that instantly shot through her abdomen, she just needed to hide. The embarrassment she felt hurt even more than the physical wound on her body.

It took him less than a second to understand what had just happened that had led to him being so roughly pulled out of his sleep. The sudden sounds of her strong, muffled sobs caused his heart to ache.

He pulled himself up and knelt in beside her, uncertain of what to do.

Could he hold her? Should he talk to her? Was there even a way to somehow make it better?

"Hey.", he whispered softly. "Diane. It's okay."

Her deep sobs did not decrease in the slightest.

Kurt carefully brought his hand to her hair and began to stroke it. She did not flinch or back away at his touch, so he leaned down and wrapped his other arm around her curled up frame.

It took her a second but then she stretched her legs out and let him fully embrace her. She buried her face in his chest, soaking the fabric of his t-shirt with her tears as she cried against him. Her body was shaking furiously in his arms. Kurt turned his head and pressed his lips on the crown of her head.

"It's okay, honey.", he whispered against her hair. "It was just a dream."

He felt her arms moving. One of them slung around his torso, her other hand came to rest on his chest, right beneath her face. With every deep sob that escaped her, she seemed to cling to him more tightly, as if she were afraid that he would leave if only she loosened her grip on him for a small second.

"I'm here, Di. I'm right here.", he assured her and felt her fingers curling against his chest, clutching the material of his shirt firmly.

"I'm sorry.", she choked out between sobs, her voice unusually high-pitched, the sound of it breaking his heart all over again. "I'm so sorry."

"Shh, it's alright." Gently, he ran his hand up and down her upper back, his hand moving smoothly over the flowing silk of her shirt. "Everything's alright."

They sat like that for at least ten minutes until slowly, excruciatingly slowly, her sobs began to fade away. Her breathing was still heavy, but she was not panting anymore when she began to pull away from his embrace and got seated against the headboard again.

Kurt sat back beside her, listening to her heavy breath in the semi-darkness of the city night. He shifted his head to look at her.

"Do you want to talk?", he asked carefully.

She did not answer immediately.

"I don't know." Her voice was low but steady again.

"You don't have to but..." Kurt slowly brushed his fingers over hers. "I'm here if it helps."

Diane's hand moved and her fingers entwined with his. Her head slowly sank to the side and came to rest on his shoulder.

"I'm having these nightmares ever since..." She swallowed. "They make me relive it and... and I dream about..." Her voice had turned into a throaty whisper. "you."

Kurt encouragingly squeezed her hand.

"I'm sorry. It's stupid." She shook her head and the tips of her soft hair tickled his bare arm.

"No, it's not.", he said.

She exhaled slowly. "I don't know. I'm just... I mean, I'm trying not to..." She closed her eyes momentarily. "I'm trying not to blame myself because I know that it wasn't my fault. But... I'm so scared of things changing around me because of it and the thought that there's nothing I could have done about it..." She swallowed hard but the dry knot in her throat only seemed to tighten from it. "I think it's just as dreadful as blaming myself for it."

Kurt tilted his head and thought about that for a second. "Well... maybe things won't change at all and your worries are to no purpose."

Diane lifted her head and locked eyes with him. "But... haven't they already?"

"For you? Probably. But for me? Not really, no."

She scoffed. "So you're trying to tell me that you don't view me any differently? Not even in the slightest?" The sorrow in her eyes mixed with disbelief.

Kurt shrugged and looked at her seriously. "Yep."

She quirked an eyebrow at him, the doubt reflected in her features apparent, even in the darkness. "Really?", she asked incredulously.

"Yes. I mean, of course, something really bad happened to you and there's nothing I wish more for than for you not having to go through this anymore because I know how much you're suffering from it. And the thought that there's nothing I could've done about it isn't all that good either." The corner of his lips twitched sadly. "But it doesn't change my feelings towards you. Not in the slightest. You're still the person I fell in love with and when I look at you I see this incredible, beautiful, smart and strong woman and I think, Wow, what a lucky bastard I am."

Tears had formed in Diane's eyes again and a small chuckle escaped her at that last part. Kurt brushed his thumb over the back of her hand when her facial expression tensed again.

"Promise?", she whispered.

Kurt smiled. "Promise."

Diane placed her free hand on his rough, stubbly cheek and slowly pulled him closer to press her soft lips against his.

Kurt gently ran his hand up and down her back and she slightly parted his lips with hers, slowly and cautiously deepening the kiss as she did so. Kurt responded to her but never tried to initiate going any further, letting her alone decide how far they could go and what she felt comfortable with.

Diane softly captured his lower lip between hers before she broke their kiss, her hand remaining on his warm cheek, her face only a few inches away from his.

Her eyes locked with his as she opened them again. "I...", she whispered and closed her eyes for a short moment of frustration. They met his again when she opened them again. "I really do."

Kurt smiled at her. He knew. Her eyes and the way she had kissed him had already told him everything she had wanted him to know.

"I know.", he whispered back. "Me too."

Chapter Text

"So you told David Lee that he should tell Richard Porter to go screw himself? Are you out of your mind?"

Diane furrowed her brows and could not decide whether Will deserved a high-five or a punch in the face. Either way, the distance their phone call provided, saved both of them from her otherwise inevitable choice.

"Uhm... sorry?"

Diane snorted. "You're unbelievable."

"I was pissed! Honestly, Diane, he was being an ass."

"But he's an ass who pays the bills. He's one of our top clients, Will."

There was a short moment of silence. "Was."

"Oh my god.", she exclaimed.

"I'm sorry. I am, really. But to be honest, I would do it again. He was disrespectful towards you and he deserved it."

"He'll just go and get another firm to represent him."

"Won't be a good one, though. I called half of Chicago to tell them what he did and they all won't take him. They didn't like how he has been... handling this."

Diane's jaw dropped. "Will, I-"

"You're well-liked, Diane. He's not. Not anymore."

"Dear lord. That's... kind of sweet."

"So... five weeks left, huh?", Will asked from the other line.

"Yes. Hopefully less." Diane bit her tongue and shifted on the couch to make sure that Kurt had not finished showering yet and could not catch her in her lie.

She had been in a relatively good mood that day. It was Friday and earlier, she had finally gotten the expected call from the hospital on her test results of the SAK and luckily, they were all negative and she had not caught an STD from what Spellman had done to her. That would truly have been the cherry on top of this huge mess of a situation.

"Really? That's odd. Because I heard that the doctor's said that it would be at least six weeks and up to eight. Mysterious." She could almost hear him smirk on the other line.

Diane rolled her eyes. "I'm going to kill him."

"No, don't give him a hard time about this. He meant well and he's probably just concerned about you jumping into things too fast again."

She pursed her lips. "Mhm."

"Damn." He paused. "I miss you."

A small smile crept over her lips. "I miss you, too."

"How are you doing?"

She shrugged, even though he certainly could not see that. "Okay. I guess."

"Good. Call me whenever you need anything, okay? Oh and drinks? Sometime in the next week?"

"Sounds good."

"Okay. Have to head to court now. Call me, will you?"

"I will. Good luck in court."

"Thanks." And they hung up.

Diane tossed her cell phone next to her on the couch and tucked deeper into the woollen blanket around her frame.

She missed the firm. She knew she was a good lawyer and the simple act of crushing oppositions in court or even just in the conference room in their office never failed to give her a boost of confidence. Not that she had ever been an insecure person, until...

Diane sighed deeply and absent-mindedly stroked Justice's fur.

"You okay?"

Her head shot up and she saw Kurt leaning in the doorway to the living room, hair still damp, newly dressed and freshly shaved.

"Yeah..." She blinked at him for a moment. "Did you tell Will how long I'm supposed to stay home?" Her voice was soft and she really made an effort not to make it sound like an accusation.

"Yes, he'd asked me to tell him as soon as I know." He frowned. "You're not mad, are you?"

She shook her head.

"Okay, good. You want another cup?" He pointed at the empty coffee mug on the coffee table in front of her.

"That would be nice. Thank you."

Kurt placed a gentle kiss on her temple when he leaned in to grab the mug before he went to the kitchen.

Diane lightly scratched Justice's ear when she heard his cell phone ringing and him answering it.

"McVeigh?", his deep, gruff voice echoed from the kitchen to the living room and she could not help but smile. She had liked his voice ever since she had met him. She did not really know why, but it always reminded her of the crackling noises of a lit fire.

"Yes, I looked into it... Yeah, looks like your client is telling the truth. At least the science points that way... Uhm, I don't know, where and when exactly?" His voice was suddenly lower, as though he were trying not to let Diane hear what he was saying.

Slowly and carefully, she heaved herself out of her seating position in the corner of the couch and with quiet steps she walked towards the kitchen, peeking her head in with caution.

He was standing in front of the kitchen window, his back turned towards her and she moved forward to lean against the doorframe, watching him silently.

"Uh-huh... Listen, I don't think I can right now. Something personal came up and I'm not sure I should leave town at the time." By now, his voice had turned into a low mumble and she most definitely would not have heard him had she stayed on the couch.

Diane frowned.

Was this a case? Was he needed somewhere?

He did not need to decline just because of her and she had thought that he was aware of that.

"Yeah okay, do that but don't count on me on this one... Sure. You too. Bye."

He hung up, put his phone into the pocket on his flannel shirt and ran a hand through his damp hair before he turned around and flinched when he saw Diane standing in the doorway.

For a moment, neither of them said anything and they just kept standing there, looking at each other, until Diane eventually broke the silence.

"A case?"

Kurt nervously scratched a spot behind his ear. "Yeah, the one I was looking into this week. But I won't take it."

Her eyebrows shot up. "Where is it?"

"Florida. Three days at the least. Would have to leave on Monday to testify."

Diane nodded slowly and cleared her throat before she went on. "Why aren't you taking it?"

"I... never liked Florida." It sounded more like a guess or a suggestion than a statement.

She narrowed her eyes and crossed her arms. "Don't lie to me, Kurt.", she said in a soft voice.

He sighed and stepped a little closer to her, rubbing his neck with one hand. His voice was bland when he spoke again. "It's only been a few weeks."

Diane smirked humorlessly and rolled her eyes. "Yeah, I know that. Two to be exact."

"I..." He swallowed visibly. "I wouldn't feel comfortable leaving you here. Alone." He was standing right in front of her now.

Her jaw tensed. "You don't need to watch over me."

"No, I know." His arm dropped to his side again. "But I want to be here. And if it's just to help you physically."

He gently placed his hands on her upper arms.

She had snapped at him yet again and his voice was still so soft, his look so damn understanding. It pissed her off that he was even bothering to be there with her anymore.
Diane did not know what it was, but she suddenly felt an immense urge to make him leave for his own good.

She deserved the pain, but he did not. He deserved better.

She dropped her arms to her sides and her eyes left his. "You should take the case.", she mumbled.

A deep frown formed on his face. "What-"

"This is your life.", she interrupted him. "Your profession. You'll have to go eventually, so why not do it now?" Her eyes met his again.
Her breathing had increased and, unconsciously, he slightly intensified the grasp he had on her arms, as if deep inside he was hoping it would help to make her understand him.

"Diane... There are more important things right now."

"So?" Her tone was suddenly cold and harsh, her blue eyes looked almost icy. "I would go if it were the opposite around." She pursed her lips and Kurt's jaw dropped slightly open in indignation.

"No, you wouldn't! You just want to make me angry right now!" His eyes narrowed slightly, his piercing gaze boring into hers.

He was right. Diane knew he was right. And yet...

"Oh, really?" Her voice faded into a mean whisper. "Come on, Kurt, you know I would." She tilted her head provocatively, almost urging him to say something he would regret afterwards.

"No, you don't know what it's like-" He stopped himself but it was already too late.
As soon as the words had left his mouth he knew he had fucked it up. There was no way in which he could reason with her after this.

A humourless, throaty laugh escaped her and out of a sudden, he saw tears glistening in her eyes.

"Seriously, Kurt?" Hurt and anger left her with a raspy, high-pitched voice. "You didn't really just say that, did you?"

Kurt's lips parted. "Diane, I-"

"I think that I-of all the people- do know what it's like." She swallowed, her voice still high-pitched when she continued. "I let a guy fucking rape me because I feared he would hurt you." A heavy tear rolled out of her eye. "So don't even try to lecture me on this. Now, let me go.", she whispered.

Kurt's stomach twisted at her words. His lips parted again but he could not produce a sound. All he could do was stare at her as the impact of her words hit him like a punch in the groin.

"I said, let me go." Her voice was desperate and thin.

He slowly removed his hands from her upper arms and she lightly shoved him away from her, both hands pressing into his chest, before she turned around, ready to escape him and this confrontation that she had started all on her own.

But he needed to explain. He needed to tell her that that was not what he had meant.
"Diane.", he pleaded.

She did not turn back, just continued her steps towards the living room.

He reached out for her and grasped her right wrist.

Diane gasped and eyes widened.

His rough, cold hand grabbed her right wrist forcefully and she could feel the handle of the knife pressing against her joint between it and his palm. His face was merely inches away from hers and his hot breath spilled against her skin, sending shivers of fear through her body.

Suddenly, she felt the fingers of his other hand on the hem of her black pencil skirt and she panicked, attempting to push him away from her with her free hand.

But he was strong. Much stronger than her, so the motion of her hand barely made him move. His eyes narrowed dangerously at her and his fingers left her skirt so he could grab her left hand. He twisted her arm in a motion so quick and hard that it made her audibly whimper in pain, as she pressed her lips together tightly.

"Don't you fucking move!", he spat out. "And if you scream, I will pay your friend McVeigh a short visit, do you understand?"

Diane looked to the side and nodded. She did not want him to see the single tear that rolled out of the corner of her eye.

"Say it, you stupid bitch!"

Diane gulped. "I understand.", she whispered.

"Very good." She could hear the smirk in his voice and swallowed again, her lips tightly closed, shutting her eyes when she felt him grab both of her hands with the one hand that held onto the knife, increasing the pressure on her wrists. His other hand moved back to the hem of her skirt.

"Wearing thigh highs, aren't you?" His fingers traced their way up from the lacey rim of her stockings over the bare skin of her upper thigh. "How... sophisticated."

She wanted to struggle against him. Free her hands and run back to the barn, to scream out for help, to just keep him from doing what she knew he was about to do to her.

But she could not do it. She knew he would kill him if she would do it. She knew it for sure, there was no doubt.

And that was what stood in her way. Spellman wanted her and not him. As soon as he would be done with her he would not give another damn about anyone in her life anymore. Right now, he was just using them to hurt her even more. This was just about her and his revenge.

"You shouldn't give him the satisfaction of letting him get to you.", Kurt's words from earlier echoed through her head.

But how, Kurt? How?

How could she not let him get to her when he seemed to know exactly how he could do just that?  By using him...

She would do anything in her power to keep him safe, because nothing Spellman could do to her, not even this, would be as insufferable as the thought of something happening to Kurt instead because of her.

Was that what he had meant when he had told her that he needed to protect her? Was that how he had been feeling?

Another sob threatened to escape her as his fingers curled into the hem of her underwear. But she fought it. She could not give him the satisfaction of hearing her cry.

She breathed in deeply. "Jeffrey." She tried to keep her voice calm and steady. "Don't do this. They will put you behind bars again and-"

"SHUT UP!", he shouted. She felt his saliva sprinkling against her face and she sensed the urge to vomit. "You really don't get it, do you?", he laughed. "I don't care if I have to go to jail again. My life ended ten years ago. Because of you. YOU ended my life." His fingers pulled hard on her underwear and she felt the flimsy fabric ripping underneath his force.

Her left hand was suddenly free and in a quick movement she spun around and slapped him hard, the sound of it echoing through the house.

His eyes fell shut and the green orbs met her again after a moment of recovery.

Green eyes, full of confusion, love and hurt. And all because of her.

It was not him. It was Kurt.

Kurt.

Just Kurt.

He had let go of her wrist and brought one hand up to his pink cheek.

Diane drew in a deep breath and covered her mouth with both hands, slowly stumbling away from him as the realisation threatened to drown her.

"I... Oh my...", she whispered between wheezes for air, her heart pounding loudly, almost threatening to jump out of her chest. "I'm so sorry."

She rushed away from him, practically running up the stairs, all the while blinded by the hot tears that were burning in her eyes.

Chapter Text

Kurt barely had time to blink and process what had just happened when she was already running up the stairs. He heard the bedroom door fall shut with a bang before the muffled sound of loud cries and sobs echoed down to him, making his heart clench painfully.

He swallowed hard and moved to follow. The sounds of her sobs got louder as he came closer to her.

He knocked softly and heard her breathing hitch when he tried to get to her but she had locked up from the inside.

"Diane. Please open the door."

"No.", he heard her choke out.

"Honey, please."

"No. Go away."

Diane drew her knees closer and buried her eyes in the fabric of her leggings, sobbing uncontrollably on the floor while she pressed her back against the door.

She needed him to do himself the favour of leaving. For good. He had already gone through enough because of her.

Kurt sighed out of desperation and turned, sinking down to the floor against the door. His cheek was still stinging from the force of her sudden outburst.

"Diane... please let me in.", he asked in a soft voice. "Please?"

Another wave of sobs reached him from the other side of the door. It was not that she did not want to, but maybe this was where she had to draw the final line for him since he apparently did not choose to do it himself.

Of course, it hurt. Shutting him out hurt so badly, but could it be worse than the insufferable pain she felt over hurting him?

He let the back of his head fall against the varnished wooden material behind him, the physical barrier that she had drawn up between them.

"Please, open up. Diane, please."

Her sobs softly faded away.

"You should leave." Her attempt to keep her voice steady failed as she did not only mean her townhouse.

Kurt closed his eyes and exhaled slowly. "Do you want me to leave?"

She did not. But that was hardly the point.

"Doesn't matter.", she snivelled.

"It's all that matters to me." His loving tone fully underlined the honesty behind his words.

Exhaling slowly in defeat- more related to her inner conflict than to her argument with him-, Diane reached up and unlocked the door, before she crawled away from behind it so he could step in.

He did not immediately see her when he entered the room until he looked around and saw her behind the door, cowering on the floor next to the nightstand on his side of the bed, leaning against the wall. Her left knee was pulled towards her chest, the right one stretched out on the floor as the pressure on her abdomen had become too painful to keep up.

He closed the door shut behind him and sank down against it, reaching the floor a few inches apart from her.

Her tear-stained face was turned towards the other side of the room, as she seemingly faced the distance. She was breathing soundly through her mouth.

Kurt eyed her. "I'm sorry.", he said.

Diane scoffed but it came out as another small sob. "For what?", she whispered.

"Grabbing you. Not letting you go when you told me to." He sighed. "Invading your personal space. Going too far-"

"Stop it.", she cut him off in a low voice. "We both know you weren't at fault."

Kurt's mouth fell shut. She was right. He had tried to reason with her, to explain his choice to her and she had practically provoked a fight. But there was no point in telling her that.

Her head fell back against the wall and she immediately regretted it when a sharp wave of pain rushed through her head. She groaned.

He immediately tensed. "Is it alright?"

Diane nodded, pressing her eyes shut in pain and exhaling deeply.

"I'm really sorry, Kurt.", she throatily breathed out.

"It's okay."

She snorted lightly. "No, it's not." She opened her eyes and looked at him. "How can you just say that?"

She had laid her hand on him, had physically hurt him. Regardless of the circumstances, that was not something he should be so easily forgiving about. He-

"Because I love you." He said it so easily. As if it were the most obvious answer to a simple question. He looked at her intensely, his eyes so full of love and honesty that it shot a wave of new tears in her own.

She pressed her lips together and brought a hand to her face to brush them away.

"I... I don't know how, but..." She swallowed and shook her head. Her voice was only a whisper when she continued. "I thought you were him."

Kurt gulped. He had suspected that but it was hard to hear it coming directly out of her mouth. It was hard to think that she could ever associate him with that bastard. Nevertheless, he knew it had nothing to do with them, neither with him nor with her feelings towards him.

"That's not your fault though.", he remarked.

Her eyes left his and she scraped her front teeth over her bottom lip. "I shouldn't have snapped at you in the kitchen. I shouldn't have said all those things... I didn't mean them and I didn't mean to hurt you."

He slowly and carefully drew his hand to her, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear and softly brushing his fingers against her reddened, tear-stained cheek. "Don't worry about it."

Diane sighed at the comfort that his touch brought over her. "I'm sorry for being such a bitch lately."

"You're not.", he stated.

"I am... and you don't deserve to be treated like that. You..." She shrugged sadly. "You don't deserve this." She paused for a moment, just slightly leaning into his touch and thinking.

"What am I doing?", she whispered lowly.

Kurt frowned. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, what am I doing?" Her helpless gaze met his again.

"You're hurting. And you're healing."

She sighed again. Then her hand moved and she lightly tugged on his arm with her fingers. She did not need to say anything. He understood.

His hand left her cheek and he pulled her in so she could sit on his lap sideways, letting him wrap his arms around her back and pulling her as close to him as she would let him.

Diane slung her arms around his neck and buried her face in his shoulder, breathing in his calming scent.

"I just wish I could go back to the way things were.", she mumbled against him.

"I know, honey." He pressed a kiss in her hair. "They will be like that again eventually."

"I..." She swallowed. "I don't feel like myself anymore."

"You need to give yourself some time. To heal."

She pulled slightly away and looked at him. "Kurt...", she whispered, tears forming in her eyes again. "I... I don't want to be a victim."

Kurt's jaw tensed and his brows furrowed.

"The examiner at the hospital...", she began to explain in the same faint whisper. "She called me a victim. I don't want to be a victim."

Her watery blue eyes were so big and beautiful. Big and beautiful. Helpless and insecure. Desperate and full of more hurt than he had ever thought to be imaginable.

He loved her so much.

One of his hands left her back and he brushed his fingers over her cheek, slowly leaning in to place his forehead against hers.

"You're not a victim, Diane.", he whispered. "You are a survivor."

Chapter Text

Their slow steps to her front door felt heavy as neither of them really wanted them to come to an end.

He carelessly dropped his newly packed travel bag on the floor as they came to a halt, slipped into his jacket and turned towards her.

"So...", he began, not knowing what exactly it was that he wanted to say to her. He absent-mindedly rubbed a spot behind his ear.

"So...", she repeated in a low voice, trying to sound more confident than she actually was. She tilted up her head to lock her eyes with his. "Three days at least, huh?"

"Yep.", he nodded, using one of his signature answers to try and put some normalcy into this situation even though it was a hopeless case.

"Okay." Pulling her bottom lip in her mouth with her teeth, she drew in a deep breath. "Call me when you're at the hotel?"

"Sure... Call me whenever you need to?"

She offered him a half-smile. "Sure."

Her gaze dropped down to her white socks. "This feels awkward.", she mumbled and heard him chuckle, both out of nervousness and amusement.

"It does."

Diane looked at him again. "It shouldn't."

"True."

Deep inside of her, she felt the urge to make a playful remark about his far from eloquent answers, as she normally would, but she could not do it. Even though their teasing of each other had become a nice quirk between them right from the beginning, she did not feel in the mood to be joking around.

Three days without him would be hard on her. She was going to miss him like crazy and she also knew that it would not exactly line up with her current psychological state. But it had been her who had talked him into taking the case after all; because it was the right thing to do, the smart thing to do.

Nevertheless, it did not change how she actually felt about letting him go. She had become so accustomed to him being there with her, that it both surprised and scared her to no ends. She had always been extremely independent and she had never before found herself relying on someone as she did on Kurt lately. It was not about trust issues and more about values and the way she wanted to be depicted by other people and maybe even more importantly by herself. She was- after all- a strongly emancipated woman and she liked it that way. She had always liked it that way.

Kurt's voice suddenly pulled her out of her silent thoughts.

"I'm really gonna miss you."

Her blue eyes shot up and met his green ones, that were so full of love towards her. She swallowed the knot that immediately had formed in her throat at his words, trying to keep the tears from building up. He should not see her cry right now. He did not deserve to feel bad about this choice she had practically forced him to make.

"I'm really going to miss you, too."

She stepped forward, closing the small space between them and slung her arms around his shoulders to pull him into a desperate hug. His hand landed on the small of her back while the fingers of his other hand softly ran through her hair.

As she buried her face in his neck, somehow she suddenly became more aware of him. Later, she would blame it on knowing that he would not hold her again for at least half a week. His warmth, his scent and his strong arms around her slim frame, passion meeting tenderness whenever he touched her... She had never felt more safe, more secure, than when he was holding her.

The tears she could not stop anymore finally found their way into her eyes, the knot in her dry throat tightening in a painful manner. She pressed her lips together and the sound of her small whimper was barely audible.

He had tried to pull away from her, wanting to see her again but she needed the moment to last only a little longer and her arms tightened around him, her fingertips digging into the rough suede material of his worn-out jacket.

He stroked her hair again when he heard the barely audible sound she produced as it made him realize what she was doing. His hand gently began to move up and down her back when he felt the slight tremble of her body in his arms.

He knew she was trying to appear strong for him so he could leave without too many worries about her. She did not want to face him while she was crying and so he let her and tried to help her compose herself again in his arms.

"Honey.", he whispered into her ear. "Please, don't cry."

He felt her nod silently against him.

A few more seconds passed as they stood embraced in the hallway right behind the oak front door. Then one of her hands left its place on his shoulder blade so that she could quickly brush the tears off of her face before they tardily and hesitantly pulled away from each other again.

Diane folded her arms over her torso and her gaze dropped down towards the corner of the room, not yet ready to look him directly into the eyes. The eyes she had to say goodbye to for now.

Kurt exhaled deeply as he eyed the woman that he loved looking so uncharacteristically frail.

He cleared his throat quietly before he raised his voice, breaking the tense silence between them. "I could stay, you know."

The offer sounded way too tempting. The fusion of a small laugh and a deep sob loudly escaped her at it. Shaking her head, she sniffed and gave him a sad smile when she looked him in the eyes.

"Please don't say that. It wouldn't be smart." Her voice was stronger and less raspy than both of them had expected it to be. She had always been well gifted in pulling herself together when she felt like she needed to.

He shot her a tight-lipped smile. "You'll be alright?"

The corners of her lips twitched and she nodded.

Kurt furrowed one brow. He realized that it had indeed been a stupid question because he knew that no matter what the real answer was, she would have said yes anyway. "Promise me to call as soon as that's not the case?"

She nodded again. "Promise.", she whispered throatily.

They went back to silence for a few moments. Unvoiced, unshared thoughts and things they wanted to say but did not hung loosely in the air between them and made the silence unusually uncomfortable, until Diane seemingly out of nowhere uncrossed her arms and placed her hands on his cheeks.

She pulled him towards her and shut her eyes before she softly closed the gap between their lips.

Everything she needed him to know, everything she wanted to tell him so badly but was unable to say out loud, she put into this kiss. It was slow and soft and gentle and first and foremost full of love. Love she could not yet show him by voicing it but love she needed to assure him of before he left.

Love, the insanity that in the last weeks had ironically kept her from going insane.

The back of his fingers lightly kept brushing against her upper arm as his lips and tongue moved with hers until she chose to part from him slowly.

Their eyes met and she could not help but smirk at him when she saw him blink a few times, slightly taken aback from the affection in her kiss in a similar way she had been after he had kissed her for the very first time in the restaurant on their first date.
He felt it. He understood.

It took a second, but he eventually returned her smirk and gently tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear.

"I love you, too.", he said and she chuckled lowly, blushing as she did.

"So?", she asked, repeating his words from earlier.

"Diane, please call, okay? Whenever you feel like it, please call me."

"I already promised." She playfully quirked an eyebrow at him, finally feeling strong enough to participate in their usual game of mocking one another.

Kurt on the other hand suddenly did not seem to be in it with her anymore. "Don't overstrain yourself."

"Alright.", she answered indifferently with a shrug.

"No, I mean it.", he insisted. "If there's something you're not up to yet, it can wait until I'm back. Go easy on yourself, okay?"

"Okay."

He nodded. "And please try to eat."

"Goodbye, Kurt." She winked at him and patted his chest with her hand.

"Diane-"

"I'm just messing with you!" She gave him a short but genuine laugh and Kurt could not help but smile at the sound of it.

"I know, but I'm serious, though it's really good to hear you laugh, even at my extent."

She snorted before she gave him a serious look. "I'll try my best, okay?"

"Good.", he stated.

"Good.", she repeated, nodding once in feigned severity.

"God, I love you."

Diane grinned and pressed a last, soft kiss on his rough cheek.

Kurt bent over to grab his bag and Diane reluctantly opened the front door for him.

"Have a good flight.", she told him when he walked past her and turned around one last time.

She had wanted to escort him to the airport but he had made a good point when he had said that he probably would not even make it to the gate if she would.

He leaned forward and placed a quick peck on her lips. "I'll call you later.", he promised.

"You better do."

He grinned before he turned and walked down the front steps and over to his car.

Diane stepped forward, keeping up her smile as she leaned in her doorway and watched him as he entered his pickup truck, started the engine and drove out of her driveway. She tilted her head when he drove further away from her on the city street until he was completely out of sight.

Her smile disappeared from one second to another, her gaze left the street and dropped down towards her feet again.

"Bye, Kurt.", she breathed out lowly as the tears quickly began to blind her.

Chapter Text

The sun had not yet gone down completely when Diane took Justice for the last walk of the day. Light grey clouds were dancing on the sky in front of the pinky orange colours of the sunset.

Diane wrapped her arms around her chest, tugging the front parts of her knitted black cardigan together, even though it was relatively warm that evening. The summer finally seemed to have reached Chicago in the last days of July.

Luckily, the setting was all different from the last time she had walked her dog alone. She was in a somewhat lighter mood, what was left of the warmth was comforting and Kurt and her had been in a good place when they had parted earlier that day.

And yet, she found herself slowly being captured in her memories of that one night when she and her furry companion had taken off into the woods alone. They captivated her more and more with every step that took her further away from the safety of her townhouse.

A shiver crept through her body and she flinched when she heard a small yelp from Justice.

It was not a bark but it was enough to make it all too real again.

Justice had come to a halt a few feet behind Diane, who seemingly had failed noticed until just now.

She swallowed hard. "You wanna go back, sweetie?", she cooed in a raspy voice and began to walk back towards her street, Justice following right by her side.

The little dog was oddly quiet that evening. She had always had a playful nature and you normally could not take her out without having her speed around your feet, sniffing at anything and everything she could see and playing with random leaves and branches she would find on her way. It had taken Diane a lot of patience and time to get it under control when Justice had been a puppy. She could not keep being that wild when they continued to live in the city, it was too dangerous. Eventually, they had gotten it under control but Justice had always remained a dog with a playful and animated nature.

Tonight it was different. Justice stayed right by her side for the entirety of their walk, only speeding off to the side for a few seconds when she found a bush to pee in, but she still constantly kept looking for Diane as if to make sure she was still there with her and all right.

She was a smart dog. It could not have passed her that they had gone out without Kurt for the first time in a while and she had to remember how long it had taken until she had seen Diane again after the last time they had gone out alone. It was quite off-putting that even her dog realised how tense this situation was.

Back at the townhouse, she stepped into the kitchen to feed Justice, whimpering quietly to herself when she bent over to place the filled porringer on the floor. She rose up slowly and steadied herself against the kitchen isle with one arm, while she pressed her other hand flatly on her right side, drawing small, soothing circles over the fabric of her cotton shirt beneath her cardigan to try and take away a little bit of the stinging pain.

Diane closed her eyes and took a deep breath before she opened them again and stepped away from the kitchen aisle, dropping her arms to her sides.

Sighing, she moved over to the refrigerator and opened it to take a look inside. She was not hungry at all but she had asserted to Kurt that she would try and she intended to keep that promise, even if it was only for his sake.

There were leftovers from last night's pot roast with vegetables and potatoes he had made for them, a couple of eggs, some cheese and a few different vegetables and fruits in it.

She did not feel like cooking and she was not in the mood for pot roast as she was trying to avoid to be forced to think of him even more than she already did. So she settled on an unopened bottle of red wine, got a matching glass and moved over to the living room, getting seated in the corner of her couch and pouring herself a generous glass.

Kurt had not called yet. Her silent cell phone that was laying on the glass coffee table in front of her was a mocking reminder of that.

Maybe she could try and read something... No, that would not work. She was too distracted to be able to read and would probably only end up being frustrated after having to re-read the same page for the umpteenth time because she could not concentrate enough.

She could call Will, but he was most definitely still at the office and she could also miss Kurt's call in case she did actually reach him.

After having practically downed her first glass of wine, she settled on watching a movie. Something simple, a classical rom-com or something else that Kurt would basically feel physically tortured by, which she found to be more chauvinistic the longer she thought about it.

So she decided on Breakfast at Tiffany's, turned on the TV and leaned back, her newly refilled glass of wine in her hand.

Diane did not really pay attention to the movie, even though she tried very hard to distract herself from the thoughts and feelings that kept swirling around inside of her. She turned up the volume and increased the pace of her drinking, so that she eventually found herself humming along to the tunes as Audrey Hepburn sang Moon River while she sat on the fire escape of her apartment building, looking nothing less than effortlessly beautiful.

What an icon, Diane thought to herself.

The bottle of wine was almost empty and Diane was shedding a few silent tears over the final scene in the cab when her cell phone rang.

She clumsily brushed her tears away and paused the movie before she took the call, unable to read the tiny little letters on the display to see who was calling.

She cleared her throat before she answered.

"Hello?", she asked in an overly cautious tone that must have sounded a little comedic.

"Hey, it's me."

Her face instantly lightened up and she lay back on her couch, her head only slightly spinning from all the wine she had been drinking on an empty stomach as she lay back against the armrest.

"Hey, you... howas the flight?", she slurred without noticing it.

"Delayed by an hour, but overall fine. And traffic was okay."

The corners of her lips curled up in a small smile at hearing the sound of his voice from the other line.

"That's good."

"Yeah. What are you doing?"

Diane raised her brows and pressed one eye shut in an attempt to focus on the big antique lamp that hung from the ceiling above her head and kept floating around in her view in an impolite looking way.

"Diane?", his gruff voice suddenly asked.

Her closed eye shot open again in confusion. "Huh?"

"I asked what you're doing."

"Oh." She giggled. "Oops. Jus' watching a movie."

Kurt frowned slightly at the slur of her speech. "Honey, have you been drinking?", he asked carefully.

"A lil' bit of wine.", she told him. "Don't worry, I'm home. All safe 'n sound." There was a small pause before she continued. "You in court tomorrow?"

"Yep."

"Hmm...", she hummed lowly. "I miss being in court." Her tone had shifted to a considerably more low-spirited one.

Kurt smirked a little. "I know."

Pursing her lips, she furrowed her brow in deep thought. "I'm a damn good lawyer, you know?"

He snorted. "You are." And pretty humble about it, he added in his head.

Diane nodded for a moment and the ceiling twirled around in her view, following the abrupt motions of her head.

She had definitely had been drinking too much in too little time. She should not have done that, not when she knew that he was going to call to check on her. She really should not have done that, acting as if she had no control whatsoever over herself and/or her life anymore. No wonder that he was concerned.

"Kurt...?", she asked lowly. "I'm sorry." Her eyes fell closed.

"Why-... For what?"

She exhaled audibly. "Making you worry. About me. 'S not fair and I'm sorry."

He pressed his eyes shut and shook his head lightly. "Don't apologize, Diane. It's okay.", he said softly.

Her lips curled into a little pout. "You always say that."

"Because it is. Did you eat?"

She furrowed her brows and thought about that for a moment, her lips parted and her mind seemingly blank. Had she?

"Uh... no. Sorry about that too."

Kurt sighed deeply. "You should eat. There's some pot roast from yesterday left in the fridge."

Her front teeth scraped over her bottom lip that was tinted from the wine. "Yeah, I saw that. 'M not hungry.", she mumbled.

"You hardly even ate breakfast.", he reminded her. "And you like my pot roast."

She swallowed. "I know. Didn't want to eat it alone."

Kurt plopped down on the bed in his hotel room and rubbed his temple with his thumb. "Please, Di. Eat something. I'll have something too, so it'll be as if we're eating together."

"You know..." Diane's head fell to the side, her cheek pressing against the leather fabric that covered the armrest of the couch and she glanced at the freeze frame on the paused TV. Audrey Hepburn was just having a meltdown, right before she would toss the nameless cat out of the cab. Her hair still looked fabulous though.

"I kinda get Holly.", she thought out loud.

Kurt's lips parted and his eyes narrowed in confusion. "Sorry?"

"Holly Golightly. From Breakfast at Tiffany's." She said the title in a really slow manner as if to make sure not to swallow one of the syllables. "She's just trying to figure herself out. An' you can see that she's way more emotional than she lets on on the outside... George Peppard is being a lil' pushy, don't you think?"

"Hon, I have no idea what you're talking about."

Diane frowned, her eyes thinning in discomposure. "Have you never seen the movie?", she asked in a way in which she also could have asked him whether or not he had ever seen an elementary school from the inside.

"Don't think I have.", he said with a shrug.

"Oh." She actually sounded a little bummed out by that. "We should watch it when you're back. 'S a good movie. I think the cat that plays the cat got an Oscar for it or something."

His eyebrow quirked up and he remained silent for another second of deep bafflement before he managed to find his voice again. "Okay."

"Okay." She giggled again.

It was absurd. He would not like that movie at all. How funny that he would just blindly agree to watching it without even thinking about asking her what it was about. But now that he had, in fact, agreed to it, that had become his problem and she would happily drag him through two hours of the depiction of the high society of the New Yorker sixties.

He would hate it so much. Oh, what great fun was laying ahead of them. Or rather ahead of her...

"So, what about the dinner offer?", his voice pulled her out of her thoughts.

"I...", she began until she realised that she did not have the slightest idea of what he was talking about. "About what?"

Kurt had to hold back a chuckle. "We can eat together over the phone. I just ordered room service."

Diane sighed and closed her eyes again. "You won't lemme get away with this, will you?"

"Don't intend to."

"Hm..."

He smirked, almost able to hear her pout on the other line.

"Fine."


...


"Finished your pot roast?"

Diane pursed her lips and eyed the barely touched plate in her lap.

"... Yes.", she lied after a quick moment of consideration.

The silence on the other line said more than he ever could have said with words. Diane sighed again. "No... Sorry."

"At least you tried. But have breakfast tomorrow, okay?"

"'kay.", she reluctantly agreed.

"And three cups of coffee don't count."

Diane smirked. "I promise."

"Good."

"Yeah..." Her smile left her lips and she exhaled slowly. "I walked Justice alone tonight." It was a pretty obvious fact and she did not really know why she felt such a need to point it out. But it just did not seem to let her go.

"Oh.", he exclaimed. "Right. You okay?"

She shrugged. "I'm not sure."

"Wanna talk about it?"

A small sigh escaped her. "No. Just wanna hear your voice."

He smiled.

"I miss you, Kurt."

"I miss you too, Diane."

She flicked her tongue over her lips and dropped her gaze again. Down to the plate in her lap that displayed the untouched food he had cooked for them the evening prior, while she had watched him. She had always liked to watch him cook. There was something about the way he moved that held a certain fascination to it.

Maybe it was not really about watching him cook and she just liked watching him, no matter what he was doing. She could imagine how he was sitting there in his hotel room that was over a thousand miles away from her townhouse, sitting on the bed he had never slept in before, wearing his washed out jeans and flannel shirt, holding his cell phone to his ear to hear her voice, just as she was holding hers to hear his.

But she could only imagine what that looked like. Because she was not there with him, just as he was not here with her.

Diane closed her eyes. "Kurt... I think I'm a bad person.", she whispered.

"Wha-no!", he intervened immediately, furrowing his brows. "Why would you say that?"

"'Cause I'm hoping the client turns out to be guilty.", she explained in the same soft whisper, before she opened her eyes, only to see the surroundings of her living room again.

Kurt's face softened at that and he leaned back against the headboard. "Three days, Di.", he told her in a low voice.

She giggled a short but adorable girly laugh. "I kinda like it when you call me that."

"And I like to call you that."

Her smile vanished. "Three days... at the least.", she thought out loud.

"Honey, you'll be fine.", he said in a soothingly gentle tone.

One corner of her lips twitched in a tight-lipped half-smile as she remained silent and looked back down on her still almost full dinner plate.

"Seriously. You will.", the sound of his voice echoed out of the speaker of her phone and into her ear.

With an unsteady hand, she placed the plate on the glass coffee table and leaned back against the couch, pulling the woollen blanket from the side around her frame. Her head was still spinning a little from all the alcohol she had been drinking that night.

And all of a sudden, hot and unwanted tears began to form in her eyes as she realised that the blanket could not replace his warmth. It could not still the craving of feeling his arms around her, of inhaling his scent and feeling his breath against her skin. It overtook her entire presence and it caused a cold shiver to run over her skin.

"Diane? Are you still there?"

His voice, his loving and gentle tone.

She missed him. She missed him so badly.

Diane would never know if it was her missing him or the distance their phone call provided or the alcohol in her system. But whatever it was, in that moment it made her next statement easy to say.

Maybe because it was the plain truth. Maybe because it was the one thing she had really wanted to say for a long time now.

And so she did.

"Kurt." Her voice was low and throaty.

"I love you."

Chapter Text

"Kurt... I love you."

His eyes widened and his lips parted silently. He surely had not expected that.

He blinked a few times and it took him a moment to process that he had actually just heard her say those words.

"I love you, too.", he said and the smile that had been building up so deep inside of him finally made its way to his lips.

"Damn.", Diane suddenly exclaimed. "I shouldn't have said that over the phone."

He chuckled lowly out of amusement, out of relief and out of love. "No, this is perfect."

"No.", she groaned. "I'm drunk... but I really mean it."

An unfamiliar warmth rushed through his chest and he could not remember the last time he had felt so truly and purely happy.

Until he heard a soft sniff on the other line.

"Are you okay?", he asked, the concern written on his face and in the tone of his voice.

She did not regret saying it, right? Had he reacted in the wrong way?

He heard her take a deep, shaky breath before she could speak again.

"I miss you so much.", she whispered raspily.

He smiled sadly. "You have no idea how much I miss you right now."

She scoffed lightly on the other line before she swallowed. "Kurt... this scares me."

"Being alone?"

"No. I mean, yes... but no. I mean depending on you." Her voice was so thin by now, he might actually have had trouble hearing her, had he not been alone in his quiet hotel room.

"And", she continued unsteadily. "I don't know how this will... play out. But..." She swallowed again, trying to get rid of the thick knot that had formed in her throat, but the action only seemed to let it tighten. "But I know that I really want to try. For you. And for... for us."

"I like that.", Kurt whispered.

"I", she suddenly choked out. "I don't want to lose you."

His eyes widened. "Hey, you won't, okay? Don't worry about that."

"I read that..." She paused to clear her throat. "... that relationships often disintegrate within a year when something happens to one of the two involved. Something like... like what happened to me."

Kurt's fingers tightened around the phone and he exhaled deeply. "We won't be like that."

Diane shook her head, a sad smile making its way to her trembling lips. "You make it sound too easy."

"You make it sound too hard."

"It is hard.", she said matter-of-factly.

"We'll make it easy.", he insisted.

A sad chuckle escaped her. "I'm sorry it took me so long. To tell you, I mean."

"I'm glad you did."

"Yeah. Me too, I guess. I... I haven't said that often before."

He smirked. "I figured. Me neither."

"It's scary, isn't it? Commitment."

Kurt fumbled with the seam of his shirt. "I guess so... might depend on the person you're committing to."

"Hmm..." She thought about his words for a long minute, the topic as heavy as the impact of the alcohol on her. "Well, then I guess it's not as scary as I thought.", she whispered.

He chuckled at that. "It's quite easy for me. With you."

He could practically hear how she smiled and looked down, blushing, as she always did when he said something like that to her. It never failed to amaze him how uncharacteristically shy she could be when it came to feelings and their relationship, in contrast to her confident and self-assured lawyer-self.

It had always been a contradiction of which he had enjoyed either side. He liked it. Loved it, actually. Loved both of them equally.

"I'm trying to make it easy for you.", she said after a while, her tone a bit more light than she truly felt about it and still, he knew that this was a difficult topic for her.

"I know. And you're doing a good job."

"Really?" She raised an eyebrow in disbelief. "Or are you just saying that to make me feel better?"

He smirked. "I don't lie, Ms. Lockhart."

She giggled softly on the other line. "I'm pleased to hear that, Mr. McVeigh."


...


They talked on the phone for almost three hours, until Diane made him hang up so he could get enough sleep before he had to head to court the next morning. Florida was one hour ahead in time and it was really late, even in Chicago.

So, reluctantly, he hung up after he had made her promise one more time to call whenever she felt like it and from one moment to another, it was silent again.

Diane remained seated on the couch for a few more minutes. She eventually unpaused the movie and half-heartedly watched the last ten minutes of it before the credits rolled down and she turned off the TV and got up. She was still a little unsteady on her wobbly legs but at least the world had stopped spinning around her.

The almost untouched pot-roast-leftovers went back into the fridge, the empty bottle of red wine into a basket underneath the kitchen counter that she saved for glass waste and the used glass into the sink.

Taking her phone with her to put it on her nightstand, she then went upstairs, brushed her teeth, washed the light make-up off of her face, combed her hair and slipped out of her cardigan, socks and jeans. Not bothering to take off her bra and red top and change into pyjamas instead, she directly fell into the cold, empty bed and turned off the lights. As per usual, she lay on her left side beneath the sheets. But without his strong arm around her, without his warm breath on her neck and without his body moulding against her back, it just was far from the same. The usual feeling of comfort and safety just was not there without him.

She opened her eyes after a few minutes of unsuccessfully trying to fall asleep and reached behind her to grab Kurt's pillow. She brought it to her front and wrapped her arms around it, burying her face in it.

It smelled like him and his shampoo and aftershave.

It was not the same as having him there with her but it eventually helped her doze off to sleep.


...


"Kurt.", she moaned, eyes closed and lips parted at the sensation of his fingers inside her and his lips sucking passionately on her neck.

His lips left her flushed skin as he pushed himself up on one elbow to look at her facial features cringing with lust and pleasure for him.

"Open your eyes. I need to see you when you come.", he commanded in a low voice as he increased the pace of the come-hither motion of his digits inside her.

She was panting heavily and uncontrollably and her sparkling blue eyes met his green ones that were darkened with need. Need for her pleasure. Need for her.

A deep moan escaped her as she locked eyes with him.

"Kurt, I-ah...!" He shut her off by pressing his thumb hard on her clit and began to circle it in the fast rhythm he had set.

Diane's fingers left their strong grip on the bedsheet and they dug into his hair as she pulled him closer to kiss him tongue first, muffling her groans and whimpers with his lips as she did so. She closed her eyes again and slowly but steadily felt herself getting lost in the sensation, as if nothing mattered in the world, except for them.

He felt her walls tighten in small contractions around his fingers and his lips left hers by an inch.

"Let go, Diane.", he whispered lowly, his lips so close, she could feel his words vibrating against hers.

She shook her head and opened her eyes. "I need you. Now.", she breathed out, swallowing the moan in her throat.

Kurt shot her a smug smirk and his fingers immediately left her, leaving her whimpering at the loss of his touch. He licked his long digits clean, groaning at her salty-sweet taste. Diane playfully flicked her tongue over her bottom lip and he steadied himself on top of her.

His tip teased her hot, wet entrance and Diane closed her eyes again, breathing heavily. She was still so close from the work he had done on her with his fingers.

"Kurt.", she whimpered. "Please..."

She did not need to ask twice. In a quick motion with his hips, he buried the entirety of his length inside of her, the sensation of being united making them groan synchronously.

He began his fast and hard movements, switching between almost pulling completely out of her and filling her as deeply as possible. The satisfying sounds of flesh hitting flesh, mixing with the sounds of mere pleasure that escaped her, they alone were almost too much to take. Her hips met his in his fast pace and she ran her nails over his back.

He groaned deeply and his lips landed on her collar bone, alternating between sucking, licking and biting the sensitive piece of skin in the most sinful way.

Their breathing increased and he knew it would not take much more to bring her over the edge.

One of his hands reached between them and his thumb found her clit again. He began to rub it in a fast motion, matching the movements of their hips.

A long, throaty moan, close to a small shriek, escaped her and she pressed her eyes shut.

"Fuck.", he groaned as she tightened around him. "You're so beautiful."

Her parted lips stretched in a smile.

"I love you.", she sighed breathlessly.

It was so easy to tell him, just as loving him in this deepest way beyond all comprehension, a feeling that was almost unimaginable, too intense for any attempt of picturing it, was easy.

Because he made it easy. Because they made it easy.

And suddenly, she felt his cold, sweaty hand pressing against her mouth.

Diane's eyes opened wide in shock and her breathing was no longer heavy from the pleasure Kurt brought to her, but from the panic that suddenly took over.

Looking up, she was not met by Kurt's passionate and loving green eyes, but by a pair of cold, light brown ones, dangerously thin with anger, hatred and a hint of pleasure he took from her exposed pain.

"You're so fucking weak.", he spat out, moving more forcefully inside of her, his pelvis smashing excruciatingly against hers, the length of his penis rapidly rubbing against her dry flesh in a way that had her expecting to start to bleed probably sooner than later.

She screamed against his hand and the sound came out muffled.

Her hands were pinned against the headboard of her bed and her whole body was aching from his violating destruction.

He came inside of her, the moisture that escaped him sent stinging waves of burning pain between her thighs as if it were setting her irritated skin on fire.

He fell forward and his weight, his sweaty, naked body, threatened to crush her. He moved her face towards him, forced her to look at him through her watery eyes and pressed the back of her head painfully into the pillow.

"Wouldn't he be here if he loved you back?"

And everything went dark as it all seemed to fade away in the sound of his cold laughter.


...


The sound of her own screams pulled her out of sleep. Her eyes opened widely and she shot up, sending an angry wave of sharp pain through her right side.

Her hands were still digging into Kurt's pillow in her arms as she looked around, taking in her surroundings and making sure it had just been another one of her nightmares.

One should think that she would eventually get used to them, but being violated by him over and over again was nothing but plain and simple torture and it certainly was not something you could just get used to, as if it were a pair of uncomfortable high heels or obnoxiously loud neighbours.

Diane's panting was interrupted by a deep and loud sob. She did not bother to muffle it with her hand, could not even think of it while she still felt the force of his hand pressing against her mouth to keep her quiet.

There was no one there with her anyway, so there was no need to pull herself together. There was no reason to keep quiet.

There is no point in screaming, his cold voice echoed through her head.

And all of a sudden, she felt a furious twist in her stomach and she barely had enough time to jump up and rush to the bathroom before she sank down on her knees and began to throw up into the toilet.

Her chokes were loud and painful. They forced blinding tears into her eyes and caused her abdomen to ache from the exhausting shudders that accompanied every single heave.

There was hardly anything in her stomach since she had not eaten all day, but that only seemed to make it worse and it certainly did not stop the chokes from escaping her repeatedly.

The dry heaving went on for about seven minutes but to her, it felt like an eternity. It was as if she had been holding on to those chokes for over two weeks, ever since that horrible night and now she had reached a point where she could not hold them back anymore.

When it finally stopped, she pushed her limp body off of the toilet and leaned her head against the edge of her bathtub, trying to gain control of her breathing. Her hair was dampened from the sweat on her face and a few golden locks were sticking messily on her pale cheeks and forehead. The white tiles of the bathroom floor were cold against her naked legs.

Her head was spinning, her side was aching. Her heart was racing wildly and the urge to cry took over again.

She was such a basket case. She could not even eat and sleep properly anymore. From time to time, there were moments in which she stopped and looked at herself, thinking, hoping Maybe, I'm finally getting better, only to be disappointed by herself yet again later.

If only Kurt were there with her. He never failed to get her out of that spiral of thought.

In fact, he was the only thing that could get her out of it.

And she knew that she could have called him. Had even promised to call him in a situation like this one.

But she did not.

Chapter Text

'Sorry, just left court and couldn't take your call.
Drinks at 8:30? It's on me if the jury finds against your client ;)
- Will'

Diane smirked and typed a quick answer.

'Deal :)'

She tossed her phone beside her on the couch and picked up the novel she had been trying to read ever since she had woken up from her nap. It was hard to concentrate on it though because she was still so tired from her lack of sleep from the night before.

Kurt had only left yesterday and she already felt like he had been gone for weeks. She missed him to no ends but she did not want to bother him by calling or sending a text. The thought of her being that needy kind of girlfriend nauseated her too much. She was not like that. And she never wanted to be.

He had texted her before he had taken off to court, telling her that he would call around lunch-time.

She had pretended to be okay. It was easy to do so over a text message. But she really was not.

Diane reread page twenty-three of the classic novel that lay open in her lap for about the tenth time when her phone finally rang. She closed the book shut loudly, making Justice jump up next to her feet on the couch.

"Sorry, sweetie.", she mumbled in her direction before she grabbed her phone and answered.

"Hey.", she sighed.

"Hey." The sound of his voice, as stressed out as it was, immediately brought comfort over her and she felt herself letting out a breath she seemed to have been holding in for god knows how long.

"How did it go?", she asked.

"It was... interesting."

"Interesting? Is that good?" She raised her brows.

"Don't know yet. I'll have to look over the files again before I can decide."

"Oh." He sounded a little pissed. That did not happen quite often. "Okay...?"

"Yeah. I don't know. It was... odd."

"Hm... you alright?" She furrowed one brow. It was strange to hear him sound so... annoyed? Frustrated? Were those the right words for it?

"I guess. The SA really kinda caught me off guard and now I'm not sure about what is what anymore." She heard him sigh.

"Okay... sounds bad. I'm sorry."

"We'll see. And don't be..." He paused for a moment and the background noises from his line quickly decreased. He must have gone out or reached an empty corner at the courthouse.

His voice sounded a lot more at ease when he spoke again. "What about you? How are you?"

Diane looked down on the closed book in her lap and her slim fingers began to fumble with the outstanding edges of the bookmark in it.

"Fine.", she eventually answered in a low tone and she could practically hear his eyebrows shooting up.

"Doesn't sound too convincing.", he observed.

Diane let out a sigh. "I don't know... I didn't sleep too well. And... I'm sorry about last night. I was... lonely, I guess."

"I didn't sleep well either."

A small smile made its way to her lips. "Really?"

"Yeah. Missed holding that little heater in my arms."

She chuckled lightly at that. "Oh, is that what I am to you?"

"Among other things.", he replied in the same playful tone as hers before his tone became serious again. "I miss you."

The smile disappeared from her lips. "I miss you, too.", she whispered.

"It's weird."

"I know what you mean." And she did.

They were silent for a short while until Kurt raised his voice again. "Have you eaten?"

"Yes. Toast with cheese and an apple. And I had the additional three cups of coffee that apparently don't count.", she added grinning.

He chuckled on the other line. "That's good."

"You made me promise.", she reminded him matter-of-factly.

"I did.", he mumbled as though he were thinking out loud, reminding himself of it. A moment of comfortable silence passed before he spoke again. "So, you didn't sleep well?"

She bit down on the inside of her cheek and snorted amusedly. "Do I ever sleep well these days?"

He chose to ignore her attempt to turn this into a lighter conversation. "How bad was it?"

Diane scoffed lowly. It was sweet of him to ask but she knew it would not be smart to tell him. He would only worry even more about her and probably feel even more guilty for not being there and that would not do any good to either of them.

"You don't wanna know.", she mumbled.

"'Course I do.", he said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. There was a small pause again as Diane chose to remain silent. "So that bad, huh?", he asked.

She closed her eyes in defeat. "Yeah.", she breathed out, not sure if he had even heard her. But he had. Of course he had.

Kurt looked to the ground. He did not even bother to ask why she had not called. He knew she did not want to be a burden for him and though she would never be that, he could understand where she came from. She wanted to be strong or at least pretend that she was when she actually was not.

"I'm sorry I wasn't there."

Diane opened her eyes again. "Why? I basically forced you to go."

"I know. Still, I'm sorry. Do you want to talk about it?"

Did she? Normally it did help her to talk to him about her nightmares but this was different.

This one had been more about her insecurities towards Kurt that had resulted from the... incident, than any of her earlier dreams had been. Maybe he was not the ideal person to talk to about this.

She did not want him to feel like she regretted telling him about her feelings last night, or as if she did not trust him or felt pressured by him because none of those things was true. It was not like that.

It was just all so complicated and she hated everything about it.

"No. I'm okay now. Don't worry about it."

"Are you sure? I don't want to push you, but you can tell me if you'd like to."

A sad smile spread on her face as he easily managed to change her mind, blowing all her doubts away at once with his genuine words of understanding. She could tell him and he would either get it or he would at least try his best to understand and not hold it against her. He would listen without judgement and that alone would help her remarkably.

He would make it easy.

Diane knew how much he valued honesty. And if she wanted to make this work, if she also wanted to make it easy for him, as she had told him the night before, she would have to work on that, too. And she wanted to try and do that. For him. For them.

"Okay...", she gave in. "I don't know, it was just so much worse-"

"Kurt? Let's get out of here.", a high, almost overly-female voice that Diane could not identify interrupted her on his line. "You almost done? We really should go now if we still wanna grab lunch in time."

Diane frowned and a million thoughts suddenly seemed to flood her mind. Thoughts she did not want to have but could not help but think.

"Gimme one second, okay?", she heard him ask and she knew he was not talking to her, but to that other woman, whoever she was.
"Sorry, what were you saying?"

She firmly bit down on her lower lip, still frowning. "Do you have to go?" It came out more like an accusation than she had intended it to, but she could not help it and she certainly was not going to be sorry about it.

Kurt pursed his lips and he could almost hear the walls around her shooting back up. "No, no, it's fine."

"Your... friend... didn't make it sound like it was."

"Diane, I..." He exhaled slowly. "It's okay. There are more important things." He internally cursed himself for not having headed out of the courthouse before he had called her.

She remained silent. And the silence was even worse than anything she could accuse him of, because it meant that she had already put her possible assumptions into a conclusion, without giving him the chance to explain.

"Diane, I want to be there for you."

"Oh!", she let out in exaggerated surprise. "You know what? No." She shook her head. "It's fine. I wouldn't want to be a burden." She sounded calm, her voice was not twitching in the slightest and it startled him. She sounded too calm.

"I...", he muttered. "You really aren't."

"Go grab your... lunch." She stretched that last word in an unpleasant manner. "I don't want to bother you. I'm good.", she added coolly.

"Di... it's not what you think."

"Kurt." Now she slightly raised her voice. "Don't. Just don't, okay?"

He could hear the hurt in her voice and it made his heart clench.

"No, please let me explain-", he attempted before an unamused scoff escaped her and interrupted him.

"There's nothing you need to explain." She narrowed her eyes and paused for a small second. "Right?"

"Diane, it's not like that." He said slowly but in a louder voice.

Diane smirked humorlessly to herself and looked down. "Good. Great." She took a deep breath. "You should go now. Have... fun."

And before he could try to further explain himself, she hung up on him.

Chapter Text

The sweet and cheerful tunes of the slow jazz music in the bar almost felt comedic as Will's jaw dropped.

Diane merely raised an eyebrow at him and one corner of her dark pink painted lips twitched cheerlessly before she took a long sip from her glass of scotch which she had slowly and absent-mindedly been twisting around with her thumb and middle finger for the last few minutes.

She looked good that night and she really enjoyed looking good again. She had done her hair and make-up properly and her sophisticated, dark blue dress presented her slim, tall frame in the best of ways. It was not as blue as the dress she had worn on Kurt's and her first date, it was more of an almost-black-midnight-blue and created a nice contrast between its darkness and the lightness of her pale skin and golden hair. The colour of her lips matched her nails and normally she would have preferred red to go with blue, but only almost three weeks after, it was still a little too early for her to return to what once had been her signature crimson-red lip.

Will's eyes had literally widened when he had spotted her at the bar and it had given her a great deal of confidence, managed to momentarily out shadow the unpleasantries from earlier that day.

"You don't think he cheated on you... right?!" He sounded almost as outraged as he looked.

Diane shrugged and shot him a meaningful gaze. "I really don't know."

"You guys need to talk about it.", Will said before he finished his scotch and tilted his head at her in question, pointing at her almost finished glass. She simply nodded in return and Will waved at the bartender, wordlessly asking for two more.

Diane finished hers too, before she went on, eyeing the empty glass as she did so as if she were to discover any meaning behind all of the questions that were swirling around her head on the bottom of the crystal tumbler.

"I know.", she said in a low voice.

"I'm sure there must be another explanation."

Diane shrugged again and breathed in deeply before she looked up at Will again. "I hope so."

"Diane, he wouldn't cheat on you. I mean, he would never... why would anyone ever...?" He ran his eyes up and down on her to underline his point and it actually caused her to chuckle.

"Well, I must say that I'm flattered, but believe me, it has happened before."

The bartender exchanged their glasses and Diane nodded politely in his direction.

"Men are... pigs.", Will sighed and Diane laughed lowly.

"I'll drink to that.", she said and they clinked her glasses together and simultaneously took a sip.

"You know what?", Will asked after a minute of comfortable silence.

"What?" She gave him a half-smile and tilted her head.

"I would bet my money that he didn't, but if he actually did... I'm gonna kill him.", he said deadly serious.

Diane broke out in laughter again. "Please don't. I don't want to be forced to look for a new partner. Took me long enough to get used to you."

Will gracefully ignored that last part. "Well, in that case, we could always send Sweeny or Bishop to go after him." He took another sip.

"Sounds like a plan." She grinned.

"Do you...", Will began before he paused for a second, overthinking how to ask what he wanted to ask. "He's been good to you, right?"

She shot him a sad smile. "Yeah. He's been..." She swallowed. "He's been amazing. Nothing but amazing, really. He doesn't at all pressure me or anything and he's so... caring. And understanding. I don't know what I would do without him."

Will nodded slowly. "I'm glad. I really am."

"Me too. It's just... the thought that after all..." Diane sighed. "After all, I might not have tried hard enough for him... when I'm honestly doing everything I can... It's just depressing." She shrugged.

"I think I understand."

Diane took a long sip before she spoke again, needing to brace herself before she could say what she was about to say. "Last night on the phone... I told him that I love him."

Will looked surprised but he shot her a genuine smile. "That's great, Diane."

She snorted lowly. "It was at the time. But now? Not so much anymore.", she said grimly.

Will placed his hand on her upper arm. "Don't worry too much about it. Just talk when he's back and hear him out."

She shrugged again and remained silent.

"Now" His hand left her arm again and he shifted in his seat. "Wanna hear which partner I saw crying when they heard about your absence?" He bounced his brows playfully at her.

"Uhm..." She bit her lip, thinking. "Tanya Wilson from family law?" Tanya was whiny and sensitive. It was a good guess.

"Nope. Though, yeah, she probably was... Family law's a good guess though. Think equity partner."

Now it was Diane's turn to let her jaw drop. "You cannot mean..."

"Yes, I do.", he said with a big cocky smirk. "David Lee cried actual tears of worry about you."

Diane placed one hand above her heart and grinned. "I've hardly ever felt so honoured in my life."


...


"Promise to call if you need anything?", Will said as he stumbled lightly over his own feet at the bottom of the front steps to her brownstone as he pointed one finger at Diane. Or rather in her direction.

"Yeah, promise." She pulled him in for the last of many drunken hugs they had shared over the evening, exponentially following the increase of their scotch consumption.

"Great.", he mumbled against her hair before he let her go. "I really miss you at the firm. I'm counting the days till you're back."

"An' I miss you and the firm. Thanks for tonight, I really needed it."

"Yeah, me too. Love ya.", he said and blew her a playful kiss before he turned around to hail a cab.

"Love you, too.", she called after him. "Don't set the offices on fire while I'm gone!"

She heard him laugh at that and they waved at each other before he stepped- or rather fell- into the back seat of the cab.

Diane chuckled lightly and turned, unsteadily stepped up her front steps in her high heels on wobbly legs, before she went in for a long search of her keys in her purse.

She stumbled sideways and her shoulder dropped against the door, but that did not matter since she finally got her keys.

She struggled momentarily with managing to shove the key in the lock, but eventually, she opened the door and was just about to step in when she heard a familiar voice echoing to her from the street behind her.

"Diane?"

She spun around a little too fast for her drunken state and grabbed the edge of the wall beside her in the last moment before she would have fallen.

His truck was parked in the driveway next to her Cadillac and she had no idea how she had not noticed it being there before.

Her unfocused eyes narrowed and she inhaled deeply.

"What do you want?", she yelled a little too loudly for the late hour.

Kurt reached the top of the steps and frowned at her. "I called about ten times, you didn't answer. And when I got here and you weren't there, I was worried sick about you."

Her jaw tensed and she let go of the wall. He was standing so close to her and his mere presence seemed to physically hurt. "I didn't want to talk to you. And 's you can see, I'm more than fine. So..." She closed one eye to try and stop his face from spinning from one side to the other in front of her. "G'night."

Diane turned on her heels and almost fell into the entrance hall, if he had not caught her in time, his arms slinging around her waist from behind in a quick motion.

"Diane, you're drunk. Let me help you.", he said in a soft, yet more than concerned tone.

"No." She swatted her hand against his that met at the centre of her abdomen but it did not cause him to let go.

She could feel the front of his warm body pressing against the back of hers through their layers of clothing and she desperately tried to fight the feeling of affection and comfort, to fight the thought of how perfectly they just seemed to fit, the touch brought over her.

"Let go of me. I don' need your help.", she snapped at him.

She bent at her waist, struggling against him in a clumsy and unsuccessful attempt of freeing herself out of his firm grip, of breaking free from the physical cage that so painfully represented the way in which she felt trapped by the emotions this man so easily caused her to feel. The movement and the pressure of his strong arms around her sent stinging flashes of pain through the side of her abdomen. She inhaled sharply.

"Diane, let me-"

"Kurt!" The high, pained yelp of panic startled him and he froze. "You're hurting me."

His arms immediately shot back to his sides and his eyes widened in shock. "I-I'm sorry."

Diane straightened as much as she could and slowly rubbed her palm over the fabric of her dress above where the pain originated from, while she continued to step into her house without looking back or acknowledging his apology.

Kurt walked in after her and shut the door behind him, switching on the lights as he did so.

Diane dropped her purse on the cupboard beside her and turned to face him again, pressing her eyes shut and holding one hand flatly in front of them. "Turn it off... 's too bright.", she mumbled and he chose to ignore her request.

She groaned in annoyance, dropped her arm and blinked a few times as she opened her unfocused eyes to adjust them to the light.

When she spoke again, her voice was far from the earlier snap it had been before. It was quiet and he could hear the hurt in it that she had no capability of hiding in her current state."What are you even doing here? It's..." She paused and thought for a second. "Tuesday."

"Technically, it's already Wednesday.", he remarked, for which he got an eye roll and a muttered exclaim of a word he could not quite understand but was sure of that it could not be very flattering.

"The client was guilty.", he answered. "I realised it today in court."

Diane stumbled slightly backwards and dropped her head in a dangerously low laugh. Her blue eyes were cold as ice when she faced him again. "Was that before or after... lunch?" She stretched the word in the same manner in which she had done it on the phone earlier that day.

"Di, let me take off your coat and we'll sit down and talk about this, okay?"

Diane rolled her eyes again, wiggled out of her coat on her own and let it fall down on the floor before she kicked off her heels and walked fast and unsteadily towards the living room.

Kurt sighed, picked up the expensive leopard-print coat, hung it up neatly and did the same thing with his jacket before he went after her. He found her seated on the couch, facing the wall across from her, legs and arms crossed.

She looked incredibly beautiful that night, he thought. She always looked beautiful but something about the way she was holding herself was different. It was like it had been before everything had gone down the drain.

The dress she wore reminded him of the one she had been wearing on their first date, even though he knew she would argue that it looked entirely different.

He plopped down beside her and leaned forward to look at her. Her jaw was tensed and he could see her chest rising and falling rapidly above were her arms were crossed in the dim light that shone in from the hallway.
Eyeing her, he decided it would probably be smarter not to directly jump into this particularly precarious topic right from the start, so he tried something lighter.

"Did you have fun with Will tonight?"

"Yes.", she answered in a harsh tone without shifting her gaze. "Really needed it."

He swallowed. This was already off to a really bad start.

"Look, Diane..." He paused and she turned her head in a dangerously slow movement until her light blue eyes met his green. Her perfectly shaped eyebrows shot up expectantly.

"Yes?", she asked with an angry tilt of her head that could have been mistaken for her lack of balance, but he knew better.

"It's...", he muttered. "It's not what you think."

She smirked angrily at that and slowly shook her head, her eyes never leaving his. Her voice was loud and full of suppressed anger when she spoke again. "Hah. Well, Kurt, what exactly am I thinking? What the hell am I supposed to think?" The smirk left her face.

"Diane... I promise you, there's nothing going on between Olivia and me-"

"Oh, so she has a name now?", she interrupted him. "I'm so glad for her."

Kurt exhaled deeply as he slowly but very steadily felt his concern about her shift into anger towards her. "Would you at least let me explain?", he raised his voice.

"Hm, let's see... That depends. Is the explanation any good?"

Kurt slowly shook his head at her and his fingertips dug into the dark denim fabric that covered his knees. "I can't believe you.", he mumbled.

Diane let out a sudden and loud scoff at that, her eyebrows shot up in what seemed to be both shock and offence. His words had sobered her up from one second to another.
"Excuse me?", she asked in a loud, high-pitched voice.

"I said 'I can't believe you.'. Because I can't, Diane. Do you really trust me that little?"

"Well, who is she then? Tell me, Kurt, come on! Explain.", she snapped.

He took a deep breath. "She was a student of mine. We hadn't seen each other in two years and we ran into each other at the courthouse yesterday. She was there on a different case and we decided to grab lunch together. And that. Is. It. You hear me?"

Diane exhaled audibly through her nose and pursed her lips, looking back at the wall, not ready to face him when she was about to ask what she wanted to ask. Or rather needed to. There actually was not a single bone in her body that really wanted to. Because she was too afraid of his answer.

Her voice was small and scratchy when she spoke again, the weight the open question had on her practically mirroring in it. "Did you sleep with her?"

Kurt groaned deeply. "Aren't you listening? I just told you-"

"I don't mean yesterday, you complete idiot!", she yelled, her head shooting back to him. "I meant two years ago. Or ever."

Kurt swallowed visibly. "I... yes, but why the hell does that-"

"Oh my god.", she exclaimed under her breath. Her arms dropped to her sides before she ran a shaky hand through her hair. She attempted to steady her breathing but the sound of her racing heart pounding through her ears made it impossible for her. The rush of adrenaline she experienced right now pairing up with the alcohol she had been drinking turned out to be a dangerous combination. A sickening one.

"Are you kidding?", she asked in a small voice and dropped her hand in her lap. Her eyes slowly found their way back to lock with his and Kurt was taken aback at the sight of them glistening with pain.

"No, I..." He stopped and looked at her, a confused expression on his face.

"But you wouldn't have told me if I hadn't asked?"

"Diane, I... No, I want to be honest because there's no reason not to be. Yes, we slept together but it was a long time ago and it didn't-"

"Stop!", she broke out. "Don't! Don't you dare tell me it didn't mean anything." Diane felt her stomach twist.

"It didn't!", he shouted.

"It does to me!", she yelled back, her dark pink painted bottom lip trembling with every spoken syllable.

They glared at each other for a long second of silence, before Kurt spoke again. "Well, it shouldn't."

"Wow, that's all you have to say?" She rubbed her temple with two fingers. Her head felt as if it were about to explode.

"Yes, it is. Because it doesn't matter. She's not important. We just-"

"Kurt, stop it.", she said, lowering her voice dangerously. "I will not be like that. I don't want to hear a story about how you ran into each other, of that it was just a coincidence or that you didn't tell me because you thought it wasn't important!"

"It. Wasn't!", he yelled.

She shook her head again and looked at her lap.

"You should leave." Her voice was a whisper, strained from the pain, the exhaustion and the great effort she put in to keep herself from falling apart in front of his eyes. But nevertheless, the determination and finality in her tone could not have been missed. "Right now. Get out."

Kurt's jaw tensed and his hands clenched angrily, forming tight fists that had his knuckles take on a shade of white, as he stared at her. And before he could even think another thought, the words flooded out of him and he had no ability to put a stop on them.

"Come on, Diane. As if there's no one you've run into you've had sex with before since we're together without telling me."

Her eyebrows shot up but she still eyed the fabric on her dress instead of him. "No, in fact, I can't say I have. And even if I did, I certainly would not be caught having lunch with them." She paused for a moment of thinking. "And why the hell is this suddenly about me?!"

"Oh, don't play innocent." He narrowed his thunderous eyes at her. "There must've been at least someone at the firm."

Diane's jaw dropped and her eyes widened. "Wha-... What are you implying?", she asked in a low voice, daring him to say anything further.

"That your overreaction is hypocritical. I work with lawyers every damn day, Diane. I don't judge you but I know what women like you do to get to the top."

Diane raised her head and glared at him before she felt another sickening twist of her stomach. She shot up and unsteadily ran out, up the stairs and into the bathroom as fast as she could, slamming the door shut behind her loudly before she dropped to her knees in front of the toilet and choked out what had been building up inside her ever since their phone call earlier that day.

Chapter Text

Kurt's eyes widened and he knew he had made a mistake. He had gone too far.

He barely had time to say her name when she was already upstairs and he heard the bathroom door slam shut. He rose and quickly followed her up the stairs, coming to a halt in front of the closed door between the bathroom and her bedroom. The sound of her heavy chokes echoed out towards him.
He knocked softly against the closed door and when he did not hear anything further than her deep heaves, he entered quietly.

Diane was kneeling in front of the toilet, holding onto the seat with one hand, the other one buried in her hair in an attempt of keeping the front parts from falling into her face. Her entire frame was shuddering with every new wave of dry heaves.

Kurt knelt down next to her and slowly brushed his hand over hers on her head, silently telling her that he would hold her hair so she could get a better grip on the toilet seat. His other hand found its place on her back, slowly running up and down on it to help her calm her body again.

They sat like that for a few minutes, until her chokes slowly ebbed away. He worried for a moment that she would be too weak to hold herself up, that she would fall when his hands would leave her, but she did not.

Kurt got up and took a glass from beside the sink, filling it with cold water and grabbed a few sheets of toilet paper for her mouth.
She pushed herself off of the toilet and leaned back against the edge of her bathtub. Tiny beads of sweat were dancing on her forehead, her hair was dampened, her eyelids heavy over her halfway closed, watery eyes and her expression exhausted and worn out.

He placed both things in her hands before he flushed the toilet and got seated beside her on the floor. She took them but did not even bother to look at him. Their shoulders touched and a feeling of relief washed through his body when she did not back away from him, though it could easily have been blamed on her lack of remaining strength.

Diane downed the water in one big gulp and wiped her mouth clean with the toilet paper, rubbing off the remainders of her dark pink lipstick as she did so. He took it and the empty glass, tossing the former in the small trash can beneath the sink and placing the latter on the cold bathroom tiles, next to him.

They remained silent for a few more minutes in which her heavy breathing almost went back to normal again until Kurt spoke up lowly. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that."

"Yeah, damn right.", she answered in a throaty voice.

He swallowed. "I know it's not true. I... I wasn't thinking."

"So I've noticed.", she said monotonously.

He exhaled slowly. "I'm really sorry."

He felt Diane slowly shaking her head next to his. "I needed you yesterday, Kurt.", she said in a small, raspy whisper. "I really needed you."

"I know. I'm sorry. It won't happen again." He took her cold hand in his warm one and entwined their fingers.

Hesitantly, she lowered her head to let it come to rest on his shoulder. Her voice was about an octave higher than usual when she spoke again. "You told me you would listen."

"I know. I know, I should have been there for you."

She sniffed. "I was hurt. I mean... I told you that I love you and you..." The rest of her words did not make it out of her mouth but they both knew what she was implying.

"I promise I would have told you about her if it had meant anything at all. And I would never cheat on you, Diane."

She nodded slowly against his shoulder.

"It scared me.", she whispered. "I just... I'm trying. I really am trying, even if it might not seem like it to you. And I feel like I'm getting there, but... I can't. I cannot do it. At least not yet."

A single tear rolled out of her watery eyes. It slowly rolled down over her temple until it softly hit the fabric of Kurt's sports coat.

He pressed his eyes shut and breathed in deeply, hating himself for making her worry about that. Worry about having to be intimate with him again before she was ready for it and thinking she would lose him to somebody else in case she could not do it.

"And I don't want you to if you're not ready yet."

She took a deep, audible breath and her hand left his just as her head left his shoulder. Her voice was stronger when she spoke again but he knew that her hurt and pain had not vanished, she was only concealing them. "You don't have to stay, you know."

He turned his head to look at her, but she was not facing him. "I can go if you want me to." It would break his heart but he would do it if that was what she wished for.

"I don't know what I want. I'm drunk and tired." She sighed. "And I'm still mad at you."

"Okay. Let's talk tomorrow. I... I can sleep on the couch if you want me to."

"Hm...", she hummed and thought about his proposal for a moment. "No. But... I think I'd prefer for you to take the guest room tonight."

It hurt. Of course, it hurt but he could not blame her for that decision. He could only blame himself.

"Okay. I understand."


...


Kurt had been laying in the queen-sized bed for about an hour. Wide awake, facing the ceiling of the otherwise empty guest room. It felt cold, even though it was never cold in her house because she was prone to freeze rather easily.

He had never been in that room before. No matter how badly they had fought, in the end, they had always ended up in bed together. Except for one particular other time when they had not.

He tried to push the thought away as soon as it had made its way into his mind. He could not go there right now. Not when she was so close and yet so far out of his reach. Not when he could not assure himself that she really was still there with him.

Maybe that was actually one of the very few advantages of their current situation. That they could not just compensate their problems with the good sex they would have instead of really working things out. That now they were actually forced to talk things through in order to settle an argument.

He wondered how long that would even have worked out for them as soon as their fights would not only have been about political differences anymore but about more important things. Or rather more personal issues that really affected their relationship further than something they could dive in and use as some kind of intellectual foreplay.

He had never thought that their relationship had been dysfunctional up to this point, but right now in a way he kind of appreciated how that had shifted. Not that he did not still want to sleep with her. Not that he suddenly had become fond of using words rather than actions.

But this was not some meaningless affair. This was a relationship, a bond that went further than plain physical intimacy. This was not only about sex.

He was in love with the woman. And he wanted to make it work between them in the long run. And if it was talking honestly to each other that it took to do that, he would gladly try to step out of his comfort zone. For her and for what they had. For them.

And still, he was laying there on his usual side of this unfamiliar bed as he had left her usual side empty for her. And he was torn between feeling proud to see the determination behind her decision as she was not just giving in, and hoping for her to silently open the door, sneak inside and wordlessly curl up next to him. Next to him. Right where he needed her to be.

A scream, high and pained and seemingly coming out of nowhere, suddenly pulled him out of his thoughts.

It was the sound that had become all too familiar to him because he still heard it in his nightmares from time to time. It was the sound he had never wanted to hear again, had promised to never let himself hear again.

He shot up, stormed out of the cold, lonely room and ran through the hallway on his bare feet. The volume of the sound increased the closer he got to the main bedroom. From downstairs he could hear Justice yelping furiously.

And it was all too real again.

Almost crashing through the closed door he stormed towards her. Curled up like an injured kitten she lay there on her side of the bed. Her scream faded away into a desperate whimper, her body was shaking furiously and her sleeping frame twitched awkwardly in her sleep.

"NO!", she suddenly cried out.

Kurt knelt down in front of her nightstand, turned on the lamp on it, flooding the room in soft, dimmed light and slowly ran his hand over her arm.

"Diane." His voice was raspy and the panic and desperation inside of it startled him for a second.

"Please.", she cried and he could see a single tear rolling out of her closed eyes and down her cheek.

"Diane. Wake up. Please, wake up." At this point, it was not only for her sake anymore. He could not do this, could no longer listen to her being violated by him. Too often had his troubled mind gone there, to try and figure out what she had sounded like back then. And it tormented him with it during sleepless nights ever since.

"Sorry...", she mumbled hysterically. "I said that I'm sorry."

He squeezed her arm lightly.

"Stop...", she choked out. "Please, stop. Please."

She winced again before another blood-freezing scream escaped her.

Kurt tensed for a second, then his hand moved again to shake her shoulder.

The scream turned into a deep gasp as her eyes suddenly blinked wide open, a gaze of pure horror inside of them.

"Diane. It's me, Kurt.", he said low and raspily. He slowly brushed his thumb over the satin fabric of her pyjama top that covered her shoulder in a soothing, circular motion.
Her chest was rising and falling in rapid movements. Her breathing was loud and heavy.

Her eyes reflected how she slowly regained her grip on reality and when after a second of paining silence her lips began to tremble before she pressed them together, he expected her to release a sob.

What he did not expect was for her to shove his arm away, shoot up and sprint over to the bathroom.

He heard the clunk of the toilet lid hitting the tiled wall before the loud sound of her chokes echoed over to him.

He got up and went after her.

She had left the bathroom door open this time and it was almost natural, almost practised, that he dropped to the floor beside her, holding her hair and stroking her back.

But it was not the same as it had been earlier. And as soon as her dry heaves began to ebb away, deep and forceful sobs started to escape her instead. And they left her shaking even worse than the chokes had.

His hand left her hair as he reached out for some toilet paper to hand her. She took it and clumsily rubbed her lips with it and tossed it carelessly into the toilet, sobbing all the while.

In a quick motion, Kurt flushed the toilet and turned back to her, not wanting to leave her side for a second longer than needed.

She brought her hand up to her mouth, seemingly in an attempt to muffle the hysterical sounds that originated from it, but her hand was not actually touching her skin, as if she were afraid to get her fingers burned by her own flesh if it did.

Kurt stretched his arms out to leave it to her to decide whether or not he could comfort her. She crept a little closer to him and his arms closed around her shoulders, one of them coming to rest between her shoulder blades, the other one running through her hair, as she buried her face in the curve of his neck.

She grabbed his upper arm with one, the fingers of her other hand digging into the fabric of his shirt. Its collar was soon soaking from her tears.

Her strong sobs echoed through the bathroom and they seemed to hold on forever without any sight of decrease.

"Diane.", Kurt whispered against her hair. "Everything's okay."

The only answer he got was an increase of her cries. Kurt pressed his eyes shut tightly, clenching his teeth together and he had to concentrate on not letting the tears of his own find their way into his eyes.

He took a few deep breaths before his hand slowly left her hair in an attempt to pick her up, carrying her to bed. Of just doing something that would somehow make it better.

"No!", she cried out between heavy sobs, the grip she had on his arm and shirt intensifying almost painfully. "Don't let go. Please."

He ran his hand from her back up to her upper arm. "Di, I'm going to pick you up. I won't go, I promise." His voice broke but either she was in no condition that allowed her to take notice of it or he had done a remarkable job on not letting it show. He could not imagine the latter.

Slowly and hesitantly, her grip on him loosened and Kurt let his arms shift from its place around her shoulder underneath her arm around her back while the other arm slipped beneath the back of her knees.

He scooped her up in a swift motion. She was light but he had to be careful not to hurt her because in between her sobs she would have been unable to let him know if he did.
One of her hands was still buried in his shirt, the other one had left his arm and found its way around his neck as if she were attempting to hold him even closer than she already did.

Kurt sat down against the headboard in the middle of the bed. His arm left the underside of her legs and he wrapped both arms around her back, holding her trembling frame as close to him as humanly possible.

He pressed a kiss into her hair as a single tear rolled down on his cheek.

She was here. In his arms.

She was here. Still here with him.

"Diane.", he whispered because it was the only volume his unsteady voice could produce without breaking completely. "It's okay. It was a dream."

He doubted for a second that she would even hear his soft whisper over the sound of her loud, heart-wrenching sobs, but she did.

She would always hear his voice.

She was a mess. Her sobs were uncontrollable and she knew she most likely smelled of vomit. It was disgusting. But it did not seem to bother him, only caused him to strengthen his hold on her.

"Di-..." His voice broke and it almost came out as a choke. His hand gently ran over her upper back. "What can I do?"

He sounded so helpless. His voice did not sound like his but she knew the tone because she had heard him talk in it once before. When he had apologized to her in the woods.

She gasped for air in between sobs. "Just... don't let go of me, okay?", she stuttered.

He nodded against her hair, pressing his lips together tightly to stop the sob in his throat from escaping him.

He swallowed it. "Okay.", he whispered.

He would not let go. He would hold her forever if that was what she needed.


...


"Thank you.", she said, her voice mirroring her exhaustion as she took the glass of water from him.

"'Course.", he mumbled and sat back down next to her while she was downing the water.

She placed the glass onto the nightstand next to her and looked down on her lap, not facing him when she spoke again.

"I'm a mess.", she said, half whispering, half laughing.

He reached for her hand and entwined their fingers. Her gaze shifted up to him.

"A beautiful mess."

The corner of his lips shot up in a half-smile when she chuckled throatily at that. "Did I wake you up?", she asked, biting her bottom lip.

Kurt shook his head. "No. I couldn't sleep."

She smirked but all the pain and sorrow were still evident in her eyes. "We should probably try again, right?"

He nodded and exhaled deeply. "Yeah. I'll go."

He attempted to drop her hand but she did not let go, only tightened her grip on him. "No. Please stay."

The look on his face softened and Diane leaned away to turn off the light on her bedside table before they lay down beneath the soft, thick sheets next to one another.

"Can you...", she began coyly.

"Hm?"

"Nothing.", she muttered and instead shifted beneath the sheets until she could entwine their legs, place her cheek on his chest and her hand next to it. She could hear his heart beating underneath her. She had always loved sleeping like this and by now, the healing wound on her abdomen allowed her to do it again.

His arms gently slung around her back and he held her close to him.

"I missed you. Forgot to tell you that.", she mumbled sleepily.

"I missed you too. Are you still mad?"

"Yes." She paused. "But I also still love you."

"I love you, too."

Chapter Text

"Please try."

"I already have."

"Just half an omelette. Please?"

"I'm not hungry." She crossed her arms and leaned back in her chair, further away from the dining table, feeling silly and incredibly childish.

"You threw up twice last night. You need to eat, you've already lost too much weight."

Her eyes met his and even though he had expected to find anger or annoyance in them, they looked genuinely apologetic.

"I can't.", she said softly.

Kurt dropped his fork. "Fine. But you should drink your tea. It'll be good for your stomach."

Diane reached for her red mug and took a long sip of the warm liquid while Kurt kept watching her with worry in his green irises.

"You're staring at me.", she observed as she put down her mug.

Kurt merely nodded.

"It's impolite to stare at people."

He bit down on the inside of his cheek to suppress a smirk. "So, you don't think it was because of the scotch?"

"Kurt, I haven't puked because of alcohol ever since college."

He tried to shoot her a smile and failed.

"And it's also happened the night before.", she added apathetically.

He reached out and placed his hand over hers on the table, slowly brushing his warm fingers over the back of her cold hand.

"I'm sorry. You wanna talk about it?"

"Later. Maybe... are you done?", she asked, nodding towards his almost finished plate.

"I think so. Why?"

"So we can talk." Her expression was a swirl of fatigue and earnestness and it startled him how she could still look so beautiful.

He nodded slowly. "Look, Diane, I'm sorry."

"Just to be clear,", she began in a calm and steady voice as her eyes thinned at him. "I've never- never- slept with anyone at my firm. In fact, I also haven't had sex with anyone at Stern's old firm and not with him and I most definitely have not slept my way up, do you understand me?"

His hand froze on top of hers. Her words and that look on her face clarified how much his words had hurt her last night.

"I-I understand.", he said in a low voice full of shame.

"Good. Because I know exactly how hard I've worked to stand where I do today and I will not have anyone- especially not you- think of me like that or rather degrade me like that. I am not that woman. And I won't let you or anybody else accuse me of having slept my way to the top. Did I make myself clear?"

He gulped. "Yes. I'm sorry."

"Good." She nodded once. "And you should be. Because that has been a real dick-move."

"I know..." He paused momentarily, his lips still parted. "I didn't really think-"

"Oh, I know that.", she cut him off, a small, humourless smile on her lips. "But you said it anyways and I need you to know that that alone was way beyond the line. We fight, Kurt. We have fought before and we will definitely do it again because, let's be honest, that's the way we are. And people can insult or offend each other when they fight, it's completely normal and sometimes even necessary. It's what arguments are for.

"But we need to set boundaries for it. And that yesterday? That was not okay. This argument was about you and you just went ahead and said the next best thing you knew would get to me, and I mean, I get it, but my work? My achievements? That's crossing a line and you knew it. It doesn't matter if you never thought that it was true because it still hurt badly enough when you said it anyways."

Kurt's heart was racing and he knew that he was blushing. She was right. It had not been okay and there was nothing one could say to excuse it. He was lucky that she had chosen to look past this.

"We've let each other in and neither of us do that all too easily because it means giving someone else the power to hurt us. This- we- won't work out if we use those things against the other."

"I understand.", he told her in a low voice. "And you're right. It won't happen again."

Diane nodded again. "Okay. Good. I needed to get this out first. Now..." She pulled her hand away from underneath his and she crossed her arms as she leaned back in her chair, eyeing him with a neutral expression. "Explain."

Kurt inhaled deeply and sat upright, straightening his spine and looking at his hands that he had folded on the table.

"Her name is Olivia Barnes.", he began slowly while his gaze shifted upwards again to lock with hers.

Her expression was unemotional, almost blank like a mask of which he knew that she took it on out of self-protection. And he could tell that hearing this was probably harder for her than for him to say it.

"She was in her last year of majoring in criminology when I first began to hold lectures on ballistic analysis at local colleges, almost five years ago. She was witty and focused and had some sort of cunning intellect when it came to the fields that truly interested her.

"Then about two years ago, I met her again at a mass rally on the aggravation of restrictions on gun laws."

Diane pursed her lips and raised an eyebrow at that but she did not interrupt him.

"We had drinks later and well... you know."

Her lips parted in a deep sigh. "Actually, I don't. But I can imagine.", she said coolly.

Kurt cleared his throat and nervously scratched a spot behind his ear. "We'd been drinking a lot that night. And it wouldn't have happened if she had still been my student at that time."

She nodded slowly, her poker face preventing him from trying and reading her, which was probably exactly what she wanted it to.

"Was it a one-time thing?", she asked in a low but steady voice.

He swallowed deeply. "No."

Her eyes fell down to her lap for a painfully long moment until she looked at him again and quickly flicked her tongue over her parted lips. "So... what, you dated?"

"Uh, no. It was... casual."

It bothered him how she had managed to make him feel so guilty about his past. His fling with Olivia had been way before their time together, so it was not like he had owed her anything back then. They had not even known each other at the time. And still, he was not really in the position to criticize her for that, especially when he could tell how much she was trying to listen calmly to him.

"I see.", she remarked.

He exhaled a heavy breath. She looked tense, her arms and legs crossed and it reminded him of the way she had been sitting next to him on the couch the night before. But she was looking at him now, and even though he did not really know whether that was a good or a bad sign, it certainly gave him some comfort.

"It didn't last and neither of us intended it to. I know you don't want me to say that, but it honestly didn't mean anything."

"You can only say that about yourself.", she said in a quiet voice. "You can't speak for her on that matter, Kurt."

His lips parted. "I... no, I know. But... I promise it was meaningless. To both of us. And when it ended it just... did. And neither of us did anything to keep it from ending. It meant nothing."

When she broke their eye contact, he knew that it was a bad sign. Her jaw moved lightly as she bit down on the inside of her cheek before she pressed her lips together tightly, while she eyed the arrangement of white geraniums in a light blue porcelain vase on the middle of the table.

"And she was a former student of yours?", she asked in a quiet and raw voice.

Kurt frowned. "Yes."

"How old is she?" Her voice was almost a whisper.

His eyes widened. He ran his fingers through his hair and his final realization hit him at last. This had never been about trust issues towards him on her side. She did not really distrust him. She was just incredibly insecure.

And he knew his answer would hurt her. But he had promised her his honesty.

"Young. Early thirties, I think."

Her eyes fell shut and she shook her head momentarily. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"I... I didn't think about it."

"That's a poor answer."

He swallowed. "I know." And he did. "I should have told you."

One of her brows twitched. "You should have."

"I didn't have lunch with her."

Her eyes opened again and something in them looked like relief. "You didn't?"

"No. I drove straight to the hotel after our call to pack my things, booked an early flight and got home."

Diane nodded slowly for a moment of silence.

"Okay." Her tone was determined.

"Okay?", he asked, the disbelieve mirroring in his voice. His heart almost swelled up when he saw her closed lips stretch in a small smile.

"Yeah.", she said.

Kurt exhaled deeply and fell back into the chair, as a smile of his own made its way across his face. "Okay."

"Kurt?"

He raised his brows in question.

"I'm sorry. I might have overreacted." She pulled her bottom lip into her mouth with her front teeth and he could not help but think how adorable it looked.

"It's fine, Diane."

"No, I... Kurt, I trust you."

He nodded assuringly. "I know."

"I really do and you never gave me any reason not to. I should have let you explain yourself over the phone."

"It's okay."

"I'm just... I feel so..." She shook her head, her tousled hair swinging lightly from side to side. "Unsure. About everything. But I do trust you and I respect you and I was being disrespectful about this."

"You weren't."

Her lips pursed. "I feel like I was."

"But you weren't."

She nodded again, in defeat or in easement, he could not really tell. "So, we're good?"

"We're good."

"Okay. I'm glad. Now, stop it, please."

He frowned. "Stop... what?"

"Your knee. Stop bouncing it. It feels like a minor earthquake and it's been driving me crazy for the whole morning."

Chapter Text

She smirked when she heard the sound of the doorbell ringing.

He was late. She was not mad about it, had actually forgotten the time herself as she had been getting lost in the book she had been reading. But she decided it could be fun if he thought she was.

She closed the book, placed it on the coffee table and got up, straightening out her red dress and went to the front door. She decided to leave her reading glasses on for the dramatic effect.

"Hello, stranger.", she said in feigned resentment as she swung the door open. "You have quite the definition of five pm." Playfully, she tilted her head until her eyes suddenly widened at the rare sight of him in a suit.

He quirked an eyebrow at her, his lips parted beneath his moustache in confusion. "I-uh... what?", he asked in his usual, gruff tone.

Her look of disbelieve turned into an amused but still slightly taken aback smirk.

"I... I was just... teasing you about your late arrival. Uhm..." She blinked a few times. "Why are you wearing a suit? I thought you were home, doing your science and all of that." She gesticulated oddly with her hand.

He pursed his lips. "What, don't you like it?"

"No, no, I do! But..." She shook her head in bewilderment. "Wha-"

"Thought I'd take you out tonight.", he interrupted her calmly.

She raised her brows. "Out? What, like to a restaurant?"

He narrowed his eyes at her, gallivanting. "Yeah, I heard that's what people do from time to time."

"Okay...? When?"

"Now.", he said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

"Kurt, look at me-"

"I am. Looking at you." His green eyes twinkled flirtatiously.

She rolled her eyes. "I can't go out like this.", she insisted.

His brows shot together and he eyed her one more time. The crimson red of her elegant dress, painted lips and manicured nails looked amazing on her, paired with the golden jewellery that underlined the colour of her hair.

"Are you kidding?"

"Yes." She laughed.

Kurt shook his head but he could not hide his grin.

"But I need to get shoes and a purse from upstairs. So... wanna come in for a few minutes or are you planning to remain standing in the doorway until I'm back?"

He ignored her teasing remark and stepped through the small gap between her and the doorframe, passing her so closely that he could smell her scent.

Before she could head upstairs, he brought his hand from behind his back between them, holding out the floral arrangement he had bought for her.

Her smile widened and her blue eyes shone like perfectly shaped sapphires as she took them from him.

"Calla lilies?", she asked delightedly. "What's the special occasion?"

He shrugged and scratched a spot behind his ear. "Just... being with you?"

She blushed and bit down on her red bottom lip.

"Thank you." She leaned forward and pressed a short kiss on his lips.

"You're welcome. Though there is something we have to celebrate."

She arched an eyebrow at him. "And that would be what?"

"I got mail today. From the DA's office."

Her eyes narrowed, then widened and she stared at him for a long moment of silence.

"No.", she eventually said lowly.

He smirked. "Yes."

"No filing of charges?", she breathed out.

"Nope."

"Not even a civil suit?"

He shook his head. "Nothing."

She simply stared at him with parted lips for another quiet instant of processing. Until suddenly, the flowers were dropped on the floor and she was kissing him tongue-first.

Her arms slung around his neck, her breathing was deep and heavy, her chest lifting up and down against his and the fusion of a moan of passion and a whimper of relief escaped her against his lips.

He brought his arms around her back and held her tight, finally able to give in to the feeling of an easement that the letter had brought with it, now that he was with her, holding her against him in his arms. Now that he could finally feel his happiness washing over him in a way that nothing but her presence had ever allowed it to.

When he opened his eyes after they merely parted by inches, he saw the tears glistening in Diane's eyes behind the rim of her reading glasses. One of its lenses had a damp, oily patch on it from being pressed against his cheek. Her skin was flushed, her hair only slightly disarranged and her red lipstick smudged in the most beautiful way.

She was so truly and utterly stunning and at this moment, he felt as if he were falling in love with her all over again.

He smiled lovingly at her and a small chuckle escaped her. "Oh my god.", she exhaled, fumbling with his hairline on his neck.

"Yeah. I know." He stroked her lower back with his hand.

"I can't believe this.", she snickered, her rich voice thick with emotion.

He tilted his head lightly. "I can."

A small laugh broke out of her.

"God...", she sighed. "I love you."

He smiled. "I love you, too."

"Maybe..." Her eyes momentarily shifted to his lips, then back up to his eyes. They were so close, she could feel his warm breath spilling against her lips.

And she could not remember to ever having felt so good.

"Maybe things will finally be good again.", she whispered, the tears of happiness still lighting up her eyes but never actually leaving them. "Maybe... maybe there are good times ahead of us again at last."

One of his hands left her back and he brushed her hair behind her ear before he captured her cheek with it.

"I think they might already be here."

Chapter Text

Diane tucked the loose front bits of her hair that had gotten stuck in her lipstick behind her ear. The silky, blonde strands had previously been messed up by the wind and now the air conditioner was coolly blowing right into her face. She licked her dry lips and looked back out of the window.

The sun was shining blindingly bright that day and the sky was lighting up in a beautiful and cloudless sapphire blue. A few birds flew off through the various trees beside the bumpy road and somehow she could understand what made the landside so appealing to him. It truly was a beautiful sight, could easily have been turned into a peaceful painting that he and many other people would enjoy greatly.

And still, she could not wait to get out of those terribly unfashionable hiking boots.

She felt his warm hand curl around hers in her lap and turned her head to look at him.

"You okay?", he asked with a side glance at her, his face still turned towards the road.

She smiled. "Yes, I'm good."

He nodded and brushed his thumb over the back of her hand before he placed it back on the leather-covered steering wheel.

"Just never make me go hiking again.", she dared him playfully.

He snorted. "Don't tell me you didn't enjoy this."

"Maybe I did. Just a little." She shrugged in feigned abeyance. "You may never know."

"I think I already do.", he replied calmly without being able to hide his amusement.

She grinned and one of her eyebrows shot up. "So I'm that transpicuous?"

"No, actually not at all." He shook his head. "Just to me."

She bit her tongue in a facetious manner. "Someone knows his way with reading women?"

"Not usually. But I'm trying. Think I'm better at it with you."

She smirked and looked out of the window again, unconsciously humming along to the soft tunes of a Sinatra-piece that originated from the stereo of his truck.

Kurt liked Sinatra. It's something she had discovered very early on in their relationship. She liked how it had surprised her when she had found out because now, considering everything she had gotten to know about him, it seemed to be about the most obvious thing he would listen to. And she was not opposed to a good classic herself.

"I love you.", his low voice interrupted both her soft sing-along and her thoughts.

Her head shot back to him to find that he was looking at her too now. She blushed a little, realizing just now that he must have listened to her singing.

"I love you, too.", she said, smiling at him.

His lips curled up beneath his moustache and she had to resist the urge to lean forward and press a kiss on them while he was driving.

"You haven't been singing for a long time now."

Diane scraped her front teeth over her bottom lip. "I know."

"I've always liked your voice."

She snorted sarcastically. "Yeah, okay."

"You're a good singer.", he insisted.

"And you're laying it on pretty thickly, cowboy." She raised an eyebrow.

"Yep.", he said in the way he always did.

A deep laugh escaped her, rich and so full of life. It filled the small space of the inside of the car with lightness and happiness. And him, too. More than anything else ever could and would do.

"You're in a good mood today.", he observed when her laughter slowly started to ebb away.

"I blame it on the country air.", she said dryly.

He chuckled amusedly. "That's good."

"I'm sorry?"

"That's good.", he repeated. "Because I've been meaning to convince you to come fishing with me next weekend."

Her brows shot up.

"Fishing?", she asked as if it were a word she had just heard for the first time in her life and she began to laugh again. "Kurt, I think you must have mistaken me for someone else."

"Nope."

"Kurt, my body is already shaking in agony from wearing those so-called shoes all day."

He snorted. "Dramatic much?"

"No, just stating the obvious since you seem to have lost your last grip on reality."

He shrugged lightly. "Maybe I can convince you over dinner."

"Oh, sure... That must be one hell of a dinner."

He smiled to himself. "You'll see."


...


Diane took another bite of the rosemary chicken.

"Okay. This is one hell of a dinner.", she told him in defeat.

"I know.", he said, shooting her a smirk.

"And he's oh-so-humble.", she snickered.

"Always been one of my great strengths.", he said and his green orbs were shining from the grin on his face. She had never thought that the mere view of someone could bring her so much joy. Until she had met him.

"Oh, I bet.", she laughed before she finished her dinner.

Kurt smiled at the sight of her empty plate and even though he knew she tried to make him think that she herself had not even noticed her seemingly small success, he could tell from the look on her face how proud she was of herself. And so was he.

Kurt shoved the last bit of rice on his plate into his mouth and washed it down with a sip of his beer when he felt her hand cupping his over the table.

He placed the bottle back on the dining table in front of him and eyed her hand as he entwined their fingers.

All remaining marks and unpleasant visual reminders that had been left on her hands, wrists and arms had vanished over the last couple of days and he figured that that held a huge deal of responsibility for the steady increase of her emotional state.

She was not yet back to being her old self. She would probably never fully be her old self again. But she had found a way back to her strength and he could do nothing but admire her and be grateful for it. So damn grateful.

His eyes found hers when he heard the low and gentle sound of her voice.

"I'm nervous.", she sighed, but her voice was steady without even a shadow of hesitation of opening up to him in it.

"I understand.", he told her and it was the truth. It was completely understandable.

"Do you think that they suspect something?" One of her brows was furrowed almost anxiously but there was no sign of sadness or sorrow on her delicate features. Just a little uncertainty and the questioning look that came naturally from someone who expected an answer.

"I don't know why they should."

She nodded. "I'm nervous.", she repeated. "But I'm also happy."

"You really missed the firm, didn't you?"

"Yes. I've always liked doing what I do."

"Because you know your good at it.", he concluded.

"That.", she tilted her head to the side with a small smirk on her face. "And I just... I like the law." She shrugged. "I like to think that no matter what, at the end of the day, when I get to go home and think about my day, I can always say that I at least tried to contribute to justice. I mean... everyone deserves legal aid and guidance, don't they? No matter which side you're on, it's always a... a necessary side, right?"

Kurt brushed his thumb over hers, trying to fight the feeling of getting lost in her eyes to be able to follow her train of thought. "I guess."

"I know you look at it differently. But that's how I see it."

"I know. And I like that about you. About us."

Her lips formed a half-smile and she arched an eyebrow at him. "Do you really?"

"Yes."

She blinked at him softly. "I love you."

"I love you, too." Kurt leaned in and planted a small kiss on the corner of her lips. "You will be fine, Diane."

She nodded again. Her lips parted but before she could say another word, she was interrupted by the sound of her doorbell, followed by soft yelps from Justice.

Kurt raised an eyebrow. "Expecting more company?", he asked, amused at the sight of the puzzled look on her face.

"No."

Her fingers untangled from his and she got up to answer the door while Kurt remained seated.

Swinging the front door open, Diane found herself staring at someone who had probably been the last person she had expected to see standing there in front of her.

A small second passed until she found her voice again.

"Jonas? What are you doing here?", she exclaimed, blushing as she suddenly found herself very aware of the shortness of her white silk dressing gown. Biting her lip, she folded her arms, thanking God or whatever greater force there might have been for that the flimsy fabric she had carelessly thrown over her skimpy nightie after she had taken a shower earlier, was at least not see-through.

"Well, that's one way to greet one's former partner and mentor.", the older man remarked dryly.

Diane raised an eyebrow and just now she noticed the small bouquet of red and yellow flowers he was holding in one of his hands.

"You...", she began. "You wanna come in?"

"If I'm not interrupting anything.", Jonas said suggestively while he was eyeing her attire.

Diane could not help but smirk at that. "Since when do you care about that? And no, we just had dinner. Come in."

She stepped aside and let Jonas Stern walk into her hallway.

He looked uncertain, careful and almost awkward, which was a more than unusual state to see him in. And she was suddenly very sure that she knew exactly why he had chosen to pay her a visit at this early Friday evening.

She shut the door quietly behind him and gently accepted the odd-looking flowers from him.

"Thank you.", she said and it sounded more like a question.

"They're Monkey Face orchids. They grow in the cloud forests of Peru and southeastern Ecuador."

Diane quirked an eyebrow at him. He had said all of that in a tone that indicated how painfully obvious it was.

"Well, thank you. They sure are... special. Let me put them in a vase. Would you like something to drink?"

"Scotch on the rocks."

She smirked. Of course.

He followed her quietly into the lit kitchen.

Kurt was standing behind his formerly taken chair. He had put the dishes into the sink and was now curiously eyeing the man that followed Diane into the room. He recognised him from one of the framed photos she had displayed in her living room, though both of them had been a lot younger at the time in which it had been taken.

"Hello.", he said.

"Hello.", the older man greeted in return.

Diane placed the newly filled vase on the kitchen aisle and handed the man a glass of scotch.

"Jonas, this is Kurt McVeigh, my boyfriend. Kurt, this is Jonas Stern.", she said, gesturing from one man to the other.

She then moved to get seated at the head of the dining table again as the men shook hands before they joined her, sitting down on either side of her.

"Heard a lot about you.", Kurt said before he took a sip of his beer.

"She's exaggerating. Always been somewhat of a drama queen whenever things wouldn't go in her way.", Stern told him with a nod towards Diane at which she rolled her eyes. Kurt grinned knowingly at the remark.

"So, Jonas.", Diane said before he had the chance to add anything to that. "Not that I'm not pleased to see you, but what brings you here today?", she asked before she took a sip of her red wine.

"Well... I ditched a client today because of you and I was curious to see if it was worth it."

"You..." She paused. "I'm sorry, what?"

"Richard Porter. I believe he was a former client of yours."

Diane's eyes widened. "Oh. Yes."

"He hired me to sue your firm for calumny and as I wasn't opposed against the idea of that or the money he could have brought to my new firm, I took the case and met with Will today. Imagine my surprise when I heard the reason he had had for dumping him from the firm in the first place."

Diane swallowed another deep sip of wine before she slowly placed the glass back on the table in front of her. "You spoke to Will?"

"I did. Before I fired Porter as a client. And now I'm asking you why exactly I did it since Saint Will wouldn't tell me." He paused for a second, looking deeply into her eyes. "And... also maybe to check if you're alright."

Diane held the eye-contact with him. "You could have just called."

"Diane. You've known me long enough to know that I am not one to just call."

She sighed. There was some truth in that, he had to give him that. If anything, Jonas Stern had always been down for a big entrance.

"How much did Will tell you?"

"Only that you've had a, quote-unquote, 'situation' and that Porter was being a dick about it."

"And that's why you've fired him?", she asked sceptically.

"Yes."

Apparently, that was all he had to say about that.

"So, what was the situation? I've noticed that you weren't at the office today."

"Yeah, no." She shook her head lightly. "I'll be back on Monday."

Stern narrowed his eyes at her in disbelief. "Porter was fired eight weeks ago.", he reminded her.

"I'm aware." She nodded.

"You were out for eight weeks?" He stretched out those last words in order to underline the plain absurdity of the idea.

"That sounds about right."

"But..." He seemed to stumble over his own words for a moment. "Why?!"

"Doctor's order."

Stern's jaw dropped slightly. "Are you sick?"

"No."

"What then?", he raised his voice in annoyance over her snippy answers. "Tell me!"

"I was attacked." Her voice was calm. It almost startled Kurt how incredibly calm she was.

"Attacked?" Stern's eyes suddenly looked as if they were about to pop out of his head. "I-... what-"

"Jeffrey Spellman, Jonas."

His lips parted but the sounds did not make it out of his mouth.

"He got out on parole. The threats began again. And then, eight weeks ago, he attacked me."

He cleared his throat lowly. His voice was suddenly terribly soft when he spoke again. "Diane-"

"We've had this conversation before, Jonas, and we don't need to go through it again.", she cut him off. "You asked me something and I gave you an answer. But I don't want yet another apology."

Jonas Stern eyed his glass of scotch before he emptied it in one gulp. He swallowed deeply before he spoke again. "How... How are you?"

"Better.", she said in a way that sounded more genuine than she herself had expected it to.

Stern's eyes swiped around the room for a few seconds, seemingly lost in search of something to focus on until they settled on her face again. "I shouldn't have assigned you-"

"Yes, you should have and you know it.", she interrupted him in a determined tone. "You knew it back then and you know it now. I was the best lawyer you had at that firm and you needed to give it a try. If it hadn't been me it would have been someone else and that wouldn't have done any good either."

Stern's gaze dropped to the table before he spoke again in a quiet, low voice. "I should go."


...


"So, that was Jonas Stern?"

Diane spun around, turning away from the front door to face him. "Yep."

"Hmm...", Kurt hummed. "Not what I expected him to be."

"I can imagine.", she said, smirking. "He's a good lawyer though. And he was a good mentor. Choleric and disloyal, but a good mentor."

Kurt nodded once and they went back into the kitchen, walking side by side until they sat back down at the dining table.

She met his gaze when he spoke up again. "What did you mean when you told him you didn't want to hear another apology?"

"Well... Spellman wasn't originally my client."

"He was Stern's?"

"Yes." She nodded. "I was already an equity partner back then, but he was the managing partner. Jonas wasn't someone to just hand off his cases to any of his co-workers but he was going through a difficult time with his daughter back then and I knew her and liked that he respected me and so I took it. Besides, I've always enjoyed criminal law the most.

"But then..." She sighed, reaching out to twirl her refilled wine glass around between her thumb and pointer finger, her eyes never leaving his. "Things began to get a little... uncomfortable, as you can imagine. And I thought about giving up the case. I didn't, of course. But at the end of the trial, when the jury announced their verdict, Spellman sort of... freaked out, I guess. And eventually, everyone at the firm ended up knowing about it."

"And Stern blamed himself for it?"

"Yes. But I didn't want his pity. And I don't want it now." Her voice was both, soft and settled.

Kurt nodded slowly. "I think he's just sorry."

"He doesn't have to be. He did his job, I did mine. Neither of us did anything wrong."

He thought about that for a moment before he spoke again. "How do you feel?"

"Honestly?" She cast him a smile. "Pretty good."

Chapter Text

Kurt was propped up against the headboard when she came out of the bathroom. He was wearing his reading glasses and his eyes flew over the words inside of the book in his lap. One of his eyebrows was furrowed and tiny wrinkles around his eyes and forehead were visible.

"What are you reading?", she asked curiously, eyeing his almost disturbed looking facial expression.

His head shot up and he looked at her over the rim of his glasses. "Something of yours."

"Ah.", she let out when he did not say anything further, turning slightly away from him as she untied her silk robe and neatly hung it over one of the armchairs in the corner of the room.

She felt his eyes on her and she bit her lip to try and hide her smirk from him when she turned back around.

He was still looking at her. The book he had previously seemed to be so invested in now lay closed on his nightstand, his reading glasses neatly placed on top of it, while green eyes locked with blue.

The looks he shot her had always been special. He was a man of few words and he somehow seemed to compensate that with gestures and facial expressions.

She could not remember to ever have been so taken in by just watching someone looking at her, but he was different. And the loving and soft, yet desiring and passionate look he had in his eyes as he watched her probably said more than anyone ever could say with words.

Her teeth released her bottom lip and she absent-mindedly ran her tongue over it, before her eyes left his and the gentle sounds of laughter escaped her.

"No!", she exclaimed in between giggles.

Kurt followed her gaze to the nightstand and a small grin formed beneath his moustache.

He shrugged. "Saw it in your bookshelf and I thought I'd give it a shot. You know, like a secret agent..."

Her laughter only increased at that and she joined him in the bed, her bare legs next to his underneath the sheets, her shoulder coming to rest against his at the headboard.

"I've never thought I'd see you even touch the Hillary biography.", she said softly, bringing her hand up to run her fingers through his hair. "You really must love me."

"Well, I do.", he told her in a low voice. His arm spun around her middle and he held her close to him, gently fumbling with the thin material of her short nightdress on her waist. "And I owe you. I did make you read the Palin bio before I even asked you out for dinner."

She chuckled lightly. "Yeah, well... what can I say? Even back then you were already special."

Diane tilted her head, leaned in and her eyes fell closed when her lips met his. His hand started to move up and down her spine as he deepened the kiss.

She smiled against him when she felt his tongue against her lips, silently begging for entrance, which she granted him oh so willingly.

Over the last couple of days, she had noticed how he had become less passive again when it came to the intimacy he knew she felt ready for between them. He would never overstep a line in order to fulfil his own needs, but he no longer just waited for her to kiss him, to set the pace of their lips moving against each other all on her own, no longer asked her for permission to hold her.

Because he knew that if there was a problem, she would just say so and there would not be any hard feelings.

And it felt good to let him take some control again. It felt... right. And normal.

She shifted slightly next to him, swinging her legs over his and coming to sit sideways on his lap. It gave her a better angle and allowed her to sling her arm around his neck, while her other hand left his hair to gently cup his cheek, never breaking their deep, passionate kiss as she did so.

Kurt's free hand landed on the outside of her left thigh. Diane gently tugged on his lower lip with her teeth and softly whimpered into him when he brushed his fingers up and down her thigh, shivers running over her skin underneath his touch.

She felt him harden against her and to her own surprise, it did not scare her.

She knew what she wanted. And she wanted this. Wanted him.

They were both almost panting when Diane slowly broke their kiss, resting her head on his shoulder and placing light, wet pecks against his throat and felt him swallowing a groan. Her hand left his cheek and ran down so she could press it flat on his chest, to feel his increased heartbeat against her.

"Kurt.", she whispered into his ear.

"Mhm?"

She pushed herself up her eyes finding his darkened with need and she knew how hard he was trying to hold himself back. And she loved him for it.

Her fingers teased the soft hair above his neck and she cast him a beautiful half-smile.

"I want to sleep with you.", she said in a soft but steady voice.

He blinked at her for a moment, uncertainty written on his face. His hand left her thigh as he brought it up to tuck a loose strand of silky blonde hair behind her ear. His fingers came to rest against her cheek.

"Are you sure?", he asked lowly.

Diane exhaled slowly and leaned into his touch, a smile forming on her face. "Yes."

"I want you to tell me to stop if you need me to, okay?"

She nodded. "Okay."

He smiled. Her hands met on his chest and slowly crept down over his torso and to the hem of his shirt. He leaned forward, his hands leaving her to help her take off the fabric. Carelessly, she dropped it on the floor before she placed her legs on either side of his and leaned back in, kissing him tongue-first and running her hands over his naked chest.

He groaned, breaking their kiss and grabbed the silver lace hem of her silky, pearly-white nightie. His eyes met hers in search for any sign of doubt on her part, but her dark eyes revealed just how certain she was feeling about this.

In a slow movement of his arms, he pulled the garment off of her over her head, tossing it aside in the same direction where she had dropped his shirt, too distracted by the smooth, pale, porcelain skin he had just revealed.

Diane wrapped her arms around his torso and spun them over in a quick motion, smiling up at him when his eyes found hers.
He held himself above her with one forearm while the fingertips of his other hand drew small patterns over the mostly faded away shade in the middle of her naked chest. Yellow edges, barely visible in the warm light of the bedroom, the only spot that stood out anymore being the greenish tinted centre.

He pressed a small kiss on it, between her breasts, before he felt one of her hands leaving his naked back to tug playfully on the waistband of his grey pyjama pants.

Looking up at her, he saw her nibbling on her bottom lip before she met his gaze and pulled down his pants and boxers. He shoved them off of his legs quickly and kicked them to the ground before he leaned down to kiss her again.

Their tongues tangled with each other and she wrapped her arms around his neck simultaneously with her long legs that wrapped around his hips. She pulled him close, incredibly close as if she were attempting to melt their bodies into each other to form a whole.

Her breasts pressed into his chest and she felt him rock hard against her lower abdomen. The simple proof of the effect she had on him caused her to moan into the wet embrace of their mouths.

She broke their kiss when she felt his fingers softly stroking the side of her breast. Her head fell back into the pillow and a soft gasp escaped her.

Her arms loosened the grasp on his neck and one of her hands found their way to his hair, slim digits fumbling with it as his head dipped lower, his warm tongue and soft lips following an invisible path from her neck, over her throat, down her chest and towards her abdomen.

He raised his head momentarily when he reached the edge of the long, light brown and uneven line on the side of her abdomen.

Her breathing was heavy but her eyes expressed a kind of uncertainty he had not seen in them for a while now. An uncertainty he had wished to never see in them again as he knew of the unvoiced questions that formed in her head whenever she looked at him like that.

Kurt's finger lightly traced over the line. The line she viewed as a mark, an imperfection. The line he viewed as a proof of her strength, a proof of the fact that he had not lost her over this. Of that she was in fact still there with him.

"You have no idea how beautiful you are.", he whispered and just as the choked sound of his voice met his ears he realised that his vision was blurred from the tears in his eyes.

A heavy sound between a snort and a scoff escaped her and her already flushed skin blushed. Her eyes left his, as they always did whenever he told her that she was beautiful. And she smiled as his flattery always caused her to.

His fingers slowly trailed further down to the line of her panties and he stilled, waiting for her to give him either a sign to stop or her approval.

She found his eyes again. Her lips were parted in anticipation and they formed a small smile that reassured him that he could continue.

Kurt slowly pulled her lacy black panties down her legs and her breathing increased rapidly. The air in the bedroom felt cold against her wet core and it made a strange kind of shiver run through her which she could not exactly place.

The panties were thrown to the side and Kurt's warm skin met hers again. She found his gentle, loving green eyes and pulled him close for another deep kiss.

She brushed her tongue against his, pressing her eyes shut tightly when she felt his warm fingers carefully roaming down towards her centre.

Gently, he brushed two fingers from her entrance up to her clit and drew slow but effective circles over it.

"Ah!", she moaned deeply against his mouth, her manicured fingernails digging into his shoulders as she arched her chest into his.

This was good.

She could do this.

She really wanted to do this.

She-

He slowly slid one of his fingers into her and her eyes shot wide open.

His tongue was inside her mouth. His weight was pressing against her abdomen. His movements inside of her were slow and more gentle than they had ever been before.

She was being silly. Her panic was silly. The panic-fueled increase of her breathing, her inability to close her eyes again, to just let herself feel... it was all so stupid.

She pressed her eyes shut tightly and attempted to respond to his kiss again as she had so easily done before. He slowly slid a second finger inside of her.

Her eyes fluttered open and she could not close them again.

She really wanted to do this.

But she needed him to stop.

Diane pressed her hands into his chest firmly.

Kurt's fingers immediately left her, he broke their kiss and leaned on his elbows, holding himself above her.

"What-"

His eyes found hers. The embarrassed look of frustration on her face made his heart clench.

Her hands left his chest when she was sure of that he would hold himself up on his own and she ran her fingers through her hair, her eyes never leaving his.

"I'm sorry.", she told him.

Kurt frowned out of concern. "Did I do something wrong? I didn't hurt you, did I?"

"No!", she said instantly and assuringly, wanting for him to stop that train of thought immediately. "No, you... You're amazing. And I really do want to do this, but... but I guess I can't."

One corner of her lips twitched momentarily and he could tell how frustrated she was with herself about this.

Kurt's expression softened and he planted a short kiss on her forehead. Shifting to his side, he looked at her, gently brushing his thumb against the soft skin that covered her cheekbone.

"Okay.", he said.

Diane sighed, rolling on her side too, to be able to look him in the eyes. She rested her head on her folded hands. Kurt noticed the goosebumps that covered her arms and reached down to wrap the soft, thick bedsheet around them.

"Thank you.", she mumbled. She stared silently into his eyes for a short while. "I hate this."

"Yeah, I know." He caressed her upper arm over the sheet. "You okay?"

"Yes. I think so. It just frustrates me so much. I've been feeling so much better, but I still can't do this."

"Di, you've made a huge amount of progress in the last few weeks. Don't kick yourself about this. You shouldn't push yourself."

"But I want to push myself. I really want to do this with you."

"Me too. And we will. But we've got time. There's no need to rush this. This one thing doesn't reduce how far you've already come in such a short time."

She quirked an eyebrow at him before she tilted her head, resting her forehead against his and closing her eyes.

"Wow. You really are good at giving pep talks."

Kurt snorted. "Yeah, that's another one of my great strengths."

She chuckled lightly before suddenly turning serious again.

"You know... I couldn't have done it without you."

"Yes, you could've."

She smiled sadly, tilting her head back again to look at him. "No. Not like this.." She swallowed and blinked a few times before she continued in a low whisper.

"If it weren't for you, I probably would have bled out to death out there."

He gulped and pressed his eyes shut.

He could not go there. To the place where his frequent nightmares had gotten used to taking him.

From time to time he still heard her scream in his sleep. He had never told her about it but deep inside he knew that she knew about it. She was an intelligent woman and had a light sleep.

She had heard him cry sometimes against her shoulder, had felt him hold her only a little more tightly to him than usual, after waking up from one of his nightmares to reassure himself that she was really there with him. That he had not lost her.

It was strange how she could feel both so much sorrow and gratefulness about that at the same time. Sorrow because of what he had to go through because of her. Gratefulness because it was oddly comforting to know that she could be there for him as well as he was there for her. To know that she was not the only one whose strength had been affected by what had happened. And to be able to go through this, to overcome this together.

He shook his head, his green eyes still closed. "Diane, please don't talk like that."

"No, I need to.", she insisted. "I would have gone insane if you hadn't been here with me. And I feel like I haven't thanked you enough for that."

He opened his eyes again and watched her intently. "You wouldn't have. And that's nothing you need to thank me for."

She smiled at him. "I would have. And I know that I don't need to, but it's something I want to do. So... thank you, Kurt." She pressed her lips together tightly for a moment, needing to gather herself to be able to go on.

"Thank you so much. For being so patient and understanding and for being here, holding me and..." Her voice cracked slightly as she continued. "And for loving me when I didn't think it was possible."

Kurt's gaze dropped and he blinked away the tears that had formed in his eyes.

He slung his arm around her thin frame and pulled her closer to him. Skin against skin, their embrace was the peak of intimacy in the purest and most innocent way. She buried her face in his chest, reaching around him, clinging on him. Him, the man that had been her rock in the raging ocean that had been her life over the past few months.

Kurt pressed his lips on the crown of her head, salty tears sneaking their way out of his eyes.

"I don't..." He cleared his throat when he heard the throaty breath that was his voice. "Thank you, Diane. For letting me."

She sniffed and raised her head, searching for his eyes.

"When I was laying there", she whispered. "in the woods as he forced himself into me..."

Kurt felt his jaw clench painfully at those words.

"When I gave up hope... I was sure I wouldn't live through it. And what hurt me the most was that I thought I would never get to tell you that I love you."

She exhaled a shaky breath. "I love you, Kurt. I love you and I don't say it often enough. I love you and it took me too long to say it out loud. But I love you so much."

He breathed in deeply. "I love you too, Diane. You have no idea how much I love you."

Her trembling lips stretched in a smile.

A moment later, Kurt's wristwatch beeped lowly on the nightstand.

"It's midnight.", he told her.

"It's Saturday.", she stated.

"Happy six-month-anniversary, Diane."

"Happy six-month-anniversary, Kurt."

Chapter Text

"How do I look?"

"Amazing. As always."

"You didn't even look."

"Oh, I looked." His gaze shot back to hers and he raised his eyebrows suggestively.

"Yes, but that wasn't a 'great-let-me-check-out-how-she-looks'-look. That was an 'I-wanna-take-her-right-now-on-the-kitchen-table'-look."

He quirked an eyebrow at her. "And that one doesn't speak for itself?"

"No...?" She tilted her head and narrowed her eyes, looking at him as if she had never heard such a stupid question before in her life.

Kurt sighed and shot her a soft smile. "Come here." He nodded toward the chair across from his.

"Kurt, I don't have time for this. I can't be late on my first day back and I'd like for you to either say that I need to change right now or not, because I-"

The rest of the sentence would be forever lost somewhere in the back of her head because Kurt had gotten up, left his newspaper and the cup of coffee, closed the space between them and pulled her in for a kiss before she could finish it.

He felt her release a small whimper of protest against his lips but within the next second her hand was on his cheek and she pulled him closer to deepen the kiss.

He brushed his hands up and down her upper arms, trying to calm her, to place some more confidence into her from the motion as if he could lend her some of the belief he had in her by doing so.

He continued the movement when she reluctantly broke their kiss, opened her eyes and looked up at him in an interrogative way.

"Don't change.", he told her. "You look great. I like that colour on you." His fingers softly traced over the sleeve of the thick, shimmering fabric of her patterned and tightly fitted blazer. Emerald green and midnight blue that brought out the colour of her beautiful, light blue eyes.

She nodded for a long moment. "Okay. Thank you.", she said lowly.

"'Course. How much time do you have left?"

She glanced at her wristwatch. "Twenty minutes. Why?"

"Just enough time for breakfast.", he tried with little hope and was positively surprised when the corners of her crimson red lips moved upwards in a smile.

"Breakfast sounds perfect."


...


"When do you have to take off?", Diane asked before she took another sip of the steaming hot coffee.

"Around nine. I'll check my phone from time to time. Just text me if you want to talk and I'll call you as soon as I see it."

She nodded. "Okay. You really need to work on that reception issue.", she added. "It's a pain in the ass."

Kurt almost choked on his toast when he heard her use of profanity. It made her chuckle delightfully.

"So...", she said in a slightly heavier tone. "We'll see each other on Friday?"

He knew she did not want him to notice the tint of sadness in her voice. An outsider probably would not even have noticed it, but he had. He always would.

"Yeah... I'll pick you up from work. I can finish around noon and come here to get Justice and we'll get you and drive back to my place together."

Diane bit down on her lower lip. "I don't know. I don't want my car standing in the office garage all weekend. And you would have to drive me back into the city on Monday morning."

Kurt nodded slowly. "Okay... so it will be late when you arrive at mine?"

"Yeah, I guess so. It's probably going to be a stressful week. Getting everything back in place, calling overly concerned clients to let them know I'm back... Could most likely be a long Friday."

Kurt finished his toast and leaned back into his chair, sighing deeply in what had to be annoyance.

Diane raised an eyebrow at him, her tone slightly harsh when she spoke. "You're not mad, are you?"

"No.", he said with such honesty that she almost felt bad for implicating it at all. "Of course not. It's just... I dunno. This kinda sucks."

Diane's lips stretched in a grin and she giggled lowly at his choice of words. "I know. It really does..." She tilted her head in thought, her eyebrows shooting together. "Isn't it odd? I mean, we've done it like that for four months and suddenly it's a problem."

Kurt shook his head. "No. It's not odd.", he replied simply and his green eyes locked with hers in a piercing way.

She stared back at him silently for a few moments and could not help thinking how she had gotten so used to seeing his face as the first thing when she woke up in the morning and as the last thing before she fell asleep at night and how she had come to like that a great deal and how until the weekend she would not.

And she tried not to acknowledge that the mere thought of that hurt in a way that felt so off-puttingly foreign to her.

She closed her eyes for a second, took a deep breath and looked at him again. Deep fatigue lay in her beautiful, blue orbs and he knew that it was not caused by a lack of sleep.

"I hate this.", she whispered exasperatedly.

Kurt nodded. "Me too.", he replied calmly.

"It's going to be a long week."

"That's true."

The inner tips of her eyebrows shot together in a frown. "This really annoys me. Feeling this way, I mean."

"I know."

She shook her head. At him, at herself, at this situation; she did not even know it anymore.
"I can't even describe it. I feel as if I'm going to be missing out on something. I mean, I want to go back to work. I love working. Being a lawyer is important to me. And I like what I do, it makes me happy and it fulfils me, but it doesn't... Oh, I don't know."

She sighed and finished her coffee in a long swing.

She glanced at her wristwatch and noticed that she would have to leave in seven minutes if she wanted to be overly punctual, which she did.

"Complete you?"

Her gaze shot up to him again. "Huh?"

"It doesn't complete you?"

"Yeah. Yes, that's it. I mean, it is a part of me but it doesn't-"

"... complete you.", he finished.

She nodded slowly. "How do you-"

"Because it's the way I feel. I love my work but it doesn't complete me."

He leaned forward and gently entwined their fingers on the table. His face was merely inches away from hers and his gaze was so intensely passionate and loving that she thought she was going to break underneath it.

"What completes me is you."

Diane exhaled heavily. She tilted her head and rested her forehead against his, giving his hand a gentle squeeze before she closed her eyes. The tip of her nose touched his cheek and his touched hers. The feeling of his warm skin on hers, inhaling his familiar scent, breathing the same air as him...

From the very first moment on, he had always been a lot, sometimes even almost too much. But as it had turned out, a lot apparently was exactly what she had always needed.

"That was one hell of a line, Mr. McVeigh.", she whispered and he could feel the words vibrate against his lips as she breathed them out.

He snickered lightly before the lightness between them vanished again within seconds of silence. Seconds of mere being. Seconds of pure completion.

"I'm gonna miss you.", he said lowly.

"I'll miss you, too." She planted a small kiss on his lips and they parted.

She looked at her wrist-watch again. Three minutes.

"Do you have to leave?", he asked.

"I'm afraid I do. I'll get my purse."

She got up and quietly walked out of the kitchen, all the while practically feeling Kurt's eyes on her behind.

She grinned mischievously. "Stop looking at my ass, Mr. McVeigh.", she teased him without turning around to look at him. She did not need to do that to know that she was right.

"Language, Ms. Lockhart.", he mumbled.


...


"All ready?", he asked when she reappeared in the doorframe to the kitchen, carrying a red leather purse that matched her lipstick.

"Yeah, I guess. Hey, maybe I will call you in the middle of the day because I've forgotten something and then you'll drive forty miles in, just to save me." She shrugged, smirking at him.

He got up and stepped towards her. "And maybe then I would just take you with me and we would drive off to the airport together."

She raised her brows, smiling and he placed his hands on her upper arms, stroking them lightly with his thumbs.

"Oh! And where would we go?"

"Costa Rica.", he answered without even needing a second to decide on a destination.

Her lips parted in a small chuckle. "Costa Rica?"

"Yeah. Ever been there?"

She shook her head. "No. You?"

"Yes."

"And..." She absent-mindedly ran her tongue over her bottom lip and suppressed a smirk when she saw how his eyes were momentarily captured by the small, unintended movement.

"What would we do?", she asked, tilting her head.

His eyes met hers again and he shrugged. "Crossing rivers in rubber boats. Hiking. Sunbathing. Skinny dipping at the waterfall at night."

He quirked an eyebrow at her suggestively and she broke out in laughter.

"You seem to have given that a lot of thought."

He nodded determinedly. "I have. Me having you just to myself at a beach in a bathing suit or less for a few weeks? How could I not give that a lot of thought?"

She giggled. "Yeah, you would enjoy that."

"You wouldn't?" His tone somehow had suddenly become oddly serious and she could not really tell if they were still joking, only daydreaming at this point or not.

"I...", she began softly. "No, of course I would." She furrowed her brows.

He forced a smile and there was a strange kind of longing sadness in his green orbs.

"We should do it sometime."

She brought her free hand up to his rough cheek and gently brushed her thumb over the corner of his lips.

"That would be wonderful.", she whispered.

Kurt nodded and ran his hand from her upper arm towards her hand until he could capture it in his. He brought it to his lips and closed his eyes before he pressed a soft kiss on her knuckles.

"I'm gonna miss you.", he breathed out against her skin.

She smiled. "So you've said."

His expression did not shift and he dropped her hand before he pulled her in for one last kiss.

A kiss full of love and aspiration. A kiss of goodbye.

"I love you.", she whispered against his lips.

"I love you, too."

They parted and his hands left her.

She shot him a half-smile. "See you on Friday.", she said in a low voice.

"Yeah..." He scratched a spot behind his ear. "Have a good first day back."

She nodded. "I will."

"Blow them away.", he said, pointing at her in a way only her Marlboro Man could.

She chuckled. "Always."

"I'll call you tonight."

"You better."

"Did I tell you that I love you?"

She smirked. "You did. And I love you, too."

Chapter Text

The elevator door pinged and Diane raised her head. The doors drifted open and her gaze met the sleek, black sign that said "Lockhart, Gardner & associates".

She smiled. It felt good to be back.

Graceful steps, her heels clicking against the floor, she walked through the still almost empty offices. It was early, an early Monday morning, and she had known from the start that she would be one of the first ones to arrive here.

No one would have been mad if she had not arrived at such an early hour, everybody would have understood, but she wanted it that way. She liked it like that and she would not have it any other way.

Turning at the corner to Will's and her offices, she stepped into hers. Neither of their assistants was there already so that she was able to arrive in peace and without immediately being drowned in information about missed phone calls and newly scheduled meetings, which would probably fill infinite lists by now after the passing of eight weeks.

Arriving in her office, she found that nothing had changed. She was sure there would be a few files missing from her desk since Will and the others had been working on her cases over the time she had been absent, but from the first glance, everything was just as she had left it.

It was a calming sight. Calming and relieving.

She placed her purse on her desk and slipped out of her coat to hang it on the coat rack near her small bathroom. Then she walked behind her desk, pulled out the red leather chair and took her seat.

And it felt like coming home.

She opened her laptop and started it.

As if it were a regular Monday morning.


...


About half an hour later she was replying to one of many, many e-mails when a knock on her doorframe caused her to look up over the rim of her glasses.

She smiled.

"Hey, early bird.", Will said grinning. He was still wearing his coat and carrying his briefcase.

"Well, one of us has to be, right?" She playfully quirked an eyebrow at her partner.

Will stepped in and walked towards her. She rose from her seat and he threw his briefcase onto one of the chairs in front of her desk and they met in the middle, embracing each other in a tight hug.

The fabric of Will's coat was still cold from the windy air of the city streets he had just come from. He smelled of the wind and his aftershave and of long nights of drinking scotch and laughing a little too loudly together; he smelled of her very best friend.

"It's good to see you.", he mumbled into her ear.

"You too.", she whispered, gently brushing her hand over his shoulder.

"I missed having you here.", he said and pressed a small kiss on her hair.

"I missed being here."

They parted slowly and Will's eyes roamed over her. "You look great."

Diane tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear. "Thank you. I feel great.", she said honestly.

He nodded happily. "I'm glad."

She smiled. "So, this is going to be a stressful week, isn't it?", she asked.

"Yeah, probably." Will shrugged. "But it can't be worse than the last eight."

Diane's eyebrows shot together in a frown. "Was it that bad?", she asked with concern in her voice before she bit down on her bottom lip.

"No, no." Will brushed his fingers over her upper arm. "We managed, don't worry about it. But I really am glad you're back. It's been..." He paused, not certain he could find the right word for what he wanted to say without insulting anyone before the day had even really begun.

"Chaotic?", she finished.

He tilted his head. "You could call it that. Jonas was here on Friday.", he added in a softer tone.

She nodded. "Yeah, I heard about that."

His brow furrowed. "Wha-... How?"

"He dropped by at my townhouse. Wanted to see what all the fuss was about."

Will shook his head. "I told him not to."

She shrugged indifferently. "Well, it's Jonas. He's always been somewhat of a... rebel."

"That's putting it nicely."

She nodded, a knowing smirk on her lips. "Don't worry about it. He behaved. Hey, let's talk later, okay? There are about a thousand unanswered e-mails waiting for me."

He chuckled. "Yeah, just wait till it comes to the phone calls!"


...


"Diane, I'm sorry, but you need to understand..."

She rolled her eyes and swallowed the snarky remark on her tongue that she would just gladly bark through the line right now.

"From one day to another you were gone and we were completely left to our own."

She cleared her throat, desperately trying to keep her voice down. "It was my understanding that Will and the equity partners took great care of you and my other clients." She arched an eyebrow even though Mr. Phillis certainly could not see that on his end of the line. Which really was a pity.

"Yes, but we're not clients of your firm because of Will or the equity partners. We're with you because of you, Diane, and we can't risk to suddenly lose our legal counsel again."

"Excuse me, but you and your wife haven't been in need of legal counsel for the last five years, if I remember correctly."

Diane threw her glasses on the desk in front of her and brushed the tip of her index finger over the bridge of her nose.

"Now listen to me. I won't suddenly disappear again. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I hadn't exactly planned on it to happen, either. Now, if you want someone else to represent you in the future, then fine. But don't try to use this as an excuse for it. Do we understand each other?"

"Uhm... sure."

"Good. So, am I going to hear from you again, Mr. Phillis, or should I send your files to your home address?"

"Uh-no. It's fine. You'll hear from us, Diane."

"Good. Always a pleasure to talk to you, Shawn."

She practically smashed the phone on its stand.

A deep sigh escaped her and she checked her wristwatch. 1:46 pm. Still a little early to tuck into a generous glass of scotch. What a shame...

She sighed again and suppressed the urge to bang her head onto her desk.

A soft knock on the door to her office kept her from considering to resist that urge.

"Diane, do you have a minute?"

She nodded slowly. "Sure, Kalinda. Come in."

Kalinda, dressed in a short-sleeved, dark red silk blouse, black mini skirt and her signature boots, closed the glass door behind her with one hand, the other one clutching her small, orange notebook.

She moved over toward Diane's desk and sat down across from her. She looked uncomfortable and it was more than a little odd to see her like that.

Her lips stretched in a small smile.

"I...", she began with uncharacteristic hesitation. "I looked into Elsbeth Tascioni, the lawyer who represented McVeigh in his official statement at the police department."

Diane raised an eyebrow, breathed in deeply through parted lips and leaned back into her chair as she exhaled.

"Did Will ask you to do that?", she asked in honest interest.

Kalinda's tongue ran over her dark nude painted bottom lip.

"No."

Diane swallowed.

She knew. Kalinda knew.

But somehow it was what she had been expecting. After all, she was their PI for a good reason. And somehow it was okay that she knew. It did not hurt. It did not scare her or make her feel ashamed of something she could not even be held responsible for.

It was just okay.

Diane nodded. "And?"

"She seems to be some kind of an underdog.", Kalinda explained without looking into the opened notebook in her lap. Her eyes remained locked with Diane's.

"Not many people know her even though she's pretty good at what she does. I have no doubt that she's going to keep this private. Especially not after Will has particularly asked her to. I think he played her with his charm."

She smirked at the younger woman. "Okay. That's good."

"Yeah... I heard that the DA's not filing charges?", Kalinda asked innocently.

That woman. Her abilities were unbelievable.

"Yes, luckily. And it hasn't affected his business so far. I hope it stays that way."

"Good."

They were both silent for an uncomfortably long moment until, in an untypically tentative manner, Kalinda spoke again.

"How are you, Diane?"

Diane shot her a small, appreciative smile.

"I'm good again."

The corner of Kalinda's lips twitched momentarily, her soft yet piercing gaze taking in Diane's expression as only the ones of an investigator could, looking for even the slightest sign of doubt.

"I really am.", Diane insisted gently. "Please don't worry about me, Kalinda."

She nodded shortly as though Diane had caught her doing something illegal. "No, of course not."

She swallowed and closed her orange notebook before she rose from her seat again. She turned on her heels, ready to leave and escape this somewhat awkward encounter before she turned around again and found Diane's eyes.

"Diane... please tell me if you need anything and I'll see what I can do for you."

Diane smiled at her. "Of course. Thank you, Kalinda."

She nodded again, a small smile of her own gracing her features.

"It's good to have you back, boss."

And with that, she left.


...


"Now, look who's back, sitting in her throne."

Diane looked up from the file on her desk in front of her.

"Hello, David. I've missed you, too."

David Lee, dressed in a grey suit, entered her office, carrying a huge pile of files that he practically smashed on her desk as soon as he reached it.

"You're clients. The ones I was assigned to take care of." He said that in a tone that could have suggested that Will had forced him to clean the office toilets.

Diane raised her brows, looking up to him. "Okay... thanks."

"You're very welcome. A bunch of whiny kids, that's what they are."

"Well, you should know about that.", she said dryly.

He smirked. "Ha ha."

David reached into the pocket of his suit jacket and tossed a small, colourful plastic package onto the stack of files.

"Peanut butter cups.", he told her at her questioning expression. "Thought you might like those." David shrugged in feigned indifference.

Diane shot him a grin. "I do. Thank you, but you didn't have to."

"I know." He shrugged again, buried his hands in the pockets of his pants and looked incredibly and oddly uncomfortable for a moment.

"It's-" He cleared his throat before he continued in a warm and almost apologetic voice. "It's good to see you, Diane."

Her eyes widened a little and her painted lips parted, but before she had the chance to answer in whatever way she would have chosen, David had already left her office with fast steps.

Diane shook her head, smiling to herself before she reached for the pack of peanut butter cups, opened it and took one out. She eyed it for a second and a small chuckle at the absurdity of this day escaped her.

Then she took a bite of the sweet and highly caloric piece and munched on it for a while until somehow everything did not feel quite as absurd anymore.

Chapter Text

The first few hours had made it feel as if this day would never come to an end, but before she knew it, the sun had gone down, her assistant had left and so had the great majority of her co-workers.

Diane pushed herself up from her seat and walked over to her wooden cupboard to grab a closed bottle of fine, eighteen-year-old scotch that Will had gotten her for her last birthday. Then she went over to his office across from hers.

The bottle in her hand, she knocked softly against his doorframe and her eyebrows shot up in question when his gaze left some paper on his desk in front of him. He smiled back at her and got up, grabbed two crystal tumblers from the top of the wooden cupboard behind him and they sat down on either side of his couch.

She opened the bottle with a small crack and poured each of them a generous glass.
They had earned it.

She handed him one and he smirked at her before he clinked his glass against hers, his eyes never leaving hers.

"To you.", he said in a low but cheerful voice.

She chuckled lightly. "To us.", she corrected him before they both took a sip.

Will gulped. "The literal partners in crime."

She laughed in agreement before swallowed another sip and met his gaze again. "God, I missed this."

He smirked. "What? Me, the firm or my good taste in scotch?"

"All of you.", she said honestly.

Will laughed lowly. "We missed you, too. How did everything go today?"

She shrugged and took another sip before she answered. "Okay, I guess. Could have been worse but it wasn't what I would call normal."

He snorted. "Nothing is normal around here. They're all crazy."

They chuckled simultaneously before Will continued.

"But I have to give them that no one said a word when I had to assign them to your cases. So, as you said, it could have been worse."

Diane exhaled deeply. "Hey, Will?"

He raised his brows in surprise at her serious tone. "Yeah?"

Her free hand found his and gave it a small squeeze.

"Thank you. For handling this. And... for everything."

He smiled and squeezed her hand back. "Of course. I know that you would do the same for me."

"I would. But still..." She tilted her head.

He shrugged lightly. The look in his eyes was soft and genuine.

"Diane, you're my best friend."

Her gaze dropped down for a moment before it met his again.

"And you're mine.", she said lowly.

His lips stretched in a smile. Not the charmingly boyish smile he would use so regularly to get his way with people, but a real, bright smile of happiness and appreciation that was far more uncommonly seen on him.

Her hand left his and Diane moved slightly to slip out of her heels and tuck her feet beneath her on the couch.

"Hey, you never told me how it went with Jonas.", Will said.

"Fine, really.", she answered calmly. "He behaved.", she added with a wink and a small smirk.

Will scoffed, shaking his head. "What did you tell him?"

"I told him. Not everything, but I told him. He didn't take it too well." She shrugged indifferently and took another sip.

Will nodded. "I can imagine. He's always been... different when it came to you."

A small laugh escaped her. "No, that's not true. He didn't like me any more than he liked you."

"He did.", Will insisted.

Diane shook her head. "For Jonas, he himself always stood in the first place. He had a bad conscience but he didn't have to. Not back then and not now."

The corner of his lips twitched. "He cares about you. He always has. It's natural for him to feel bad about this."

He paused took a big sip before he continued lowly. "I know I did."

One of her brows furrowed and her lips parted. "Will, you-", she began softly.

"No, I know.", he interrupted her. "I know. But it's the way it is. You can't help but wonder what you could've done to prevent it when something like this happens."

She nodded slowly, knowing the feeling neither of them was really supposed to have.

"Yeah, but you can't ever actually change what's happened. The only thing you can do is... to continue. To live through it in the best way you can and to learn from it."

He took another big sip of the expensive scotch before he spoke again. His eyes were boring into hers in a helpless way that was unfamiliar to find in them, in search for an answer, of a solution, like those of a little boy who realised that his parents were vulnerable too and that he could not protect them in the way they protected him.

"But what is there to learn? You didn't do anything wrong, and yet..."

He paused, unable to voice the end of that sentence the both of them knew too well.

She shot him a small smile. "It taught me to appreciate life. To appreciate the people in my life and the time I've got left. And, believe it or not, even to appreciate myself."

Will nodded lightly, more or less understanding but certainly in awe of the strength that lay behind her words.

"There's a lot to appreciate about you."

The room filled with long missed warmth when she chuckled.

"That was not a joke.", Will said in a small voice. "I... I was so scared to lose you, Diane."

She bit her lip and ran her thumb over the back of his hand. "But I'm still here. And just so you know, I plan to keep on staying for another long time."

"You better.", he breathed out. "We need you, Diane. The firm and me and Kurt. We need you."

She exhaled audibly. "Will.", she began in a calm and steady voice. "All of you are what has kept me alive."

He swallowed hard before he finished his drink.

"Refill?", he asked uncomfortably, a small, awkward grin on his lips.

"Sure.", she said and finished her glass, too before he poured more of the sharp, pricy liquid into it.

"How are things with him anyway?", Will asked in a lighter way that fitted the change to a much lighter subject.

Diane smiled. "Good. Great, actually. But we won't see each other until the weekend, which will be... odd, I guess."

He smirked. "Not used to long distance anymore?"

"Not at all.", she laughed. "But we knew from the beginning that there was a time limit to it. Living together, I mean. It will always be that way, considering our schedules. And work is the first priority for both of us."

Will furrowed his brow. "Maybe it shouldn't be.", he said softly.

Her eyebrows shot up playfully. "Trying to get rid of me?", she mocked him.

"Never.", he grinned before his gaze turned serious again. "I just... I don't know. I just want you to be happy." He shrugged and took another sip.

"I am happy.", she told him. "I'm actually more than happy."

"But it still sucks, right?"

"That it does. But..." She shrugged and took a big sip out of her glass. "Life isn't perfect."

"Maybe it's on us to make it perfect. I..." He stopped to drink before he found the courage to continue.

"There was a woman once. Someone I really liked. Loved even. And I've always waited for our perfect moment to arrive, but it never came. I told myself that the timing was just always bad but... The timing actually is always bad, right? And maybe sometimes we ourselves have to make a move to have the perfect moment that eventually leads to the perfect life."

Diane's eyes narrowed in thought and she took another sip as if it would make the subject any easier to figure out.

She loved Kurt. She loved him more than she had ever loved anyone else. They made each other happy. And what they had was without a doubt worth to fight for, as they had proven over the last couple of months.

They were not perfect. Neither of them nor their relationship was perfect. But who was she to assume that they could not find their own way of perfection together? Who was she to think that there was nothing she could do to let them have that flawed piece of perfection?

Diane swallowed and tilted her head to the side.

"Maybe you're right."


...


Kurt brushed the back of his hand over his forehead and carelessly threw the kitchen towel on the counter after he had finished cleaning the dishes when his phone beeped to inform him of an incoming text message.

He smiled warmly. It was probably Diane and the time of this late hour indicated that she must have stayed a while longer to enjoy a glass of scotch with her partner.

It was good for her to have a friend like him. A true friend.

He fished the cell phone out of his jeans pocket and the small device informed him otherwise.

Will Gardner.

'Thanks, man.
I've never seen her so happy before.
Thank you for helping her. And thank you for making her happy. You deserve her.'

Chapter Text

Kurt narrowed his eyes behind the safety glasses, concentrating on that one particular spot on the throat of the target. The tip of his tongue slid over his bottom lip. The cold metal of the gun in his hands steadily warmed beneath his fingers.

He exhaled and slowly lowered his index finger over the trigger before he heard the low sound of the muffled bang and felt the pressure of force dragging from his hands into his shoulders.

He lowered the gun and looked at the target, smirking lopsidedly in satisfaction when he saw that the drop direction of his experiment matched the photos of the crime scene the Chicago police department had sent him.

Kurt placed the gun on the table beside him in his barn and shrugged off the blue earmuffs and clear safety glasses, carelessly tossing them next to it.

He stretched out his arms before he turned to examine the target, when suddenly-

"God, I like watching you."

He spun around, wide-eyed and lips parted.
Diane was leaning against the doorframe of the opened sliding gate that led to the barn, her bare arms crossed beneath her chest and a somewhat smug smile on her painted lips. She was clearly pleased over his bafflement.

"Diane.", he said featherbrained after a moment of silence, still frozen in his movement.

"Surprise!", she warbled, lifting her arms to her sides.

Kurt blinked quietly at her a few times.

Her arms dropped to her sides again and her lips curled in a playful pout.

"Hm, okay. Well, that's not quite the reaction I was going for, but-"

The rest of her feigned protest was lost as Kurt had overcome his initial physical torpidity, rushed over to her with fast steps and pulled her in for a deep kiss, shutting her off mid-sentence.

His arms slung around her waist and he felt her grinning against his lips when his tongue sneaked its way into her mouth, moving to softly but equally passionately tangle with hers in a slow dance that had become all too familiar to the both of them by now.

One of her hands landed on his cheek and her other arm found its way around his neck. It was as if their touch, their kiss and their hold on each other freed her from the tension inside of her that she had not really taken notice of until just now. It was as if being back in his arms was what it took for her to really feel how much she had missed him.

Slowly, hesitantly and not really wanting it to ever come to an inevitable end, they broke their kiss and as they opened their eyes, they instantly found the others.

Kurt's hands wandered from her lower back to her sides and he ran them up and down over the black fabric of her elegant dress that covered his path on her waist and hips, as though he needed to touch her to realize that she was really there.

"Now, that's the reaction I was going for.", she said, smiling widely at him.

From the corner of his eyes that could not leave hers, he saw that the sun had not nearly gone down yet.

"What time is it? I thought you were going to arrive around dinner time at the earliest.", he said stunned.

She chuckled lightly. "It's three pm. I left the office around one." Shrugging, as if it were nothing worth mentioning, she continued. "Thought I'd finish early today."

Kurt stared at her for a long moment of silence, lips parted and still too surprised to figure out what to say. But as always, she spoke when he could not do it.

"Hey.", she said, lovingly brushing her thumb over his stubbly cheek. "You in for a late lunch? I picked something up on my way here. We'll need to reheat it, obviously, but there's lots of carbs and cholesterol in it, just how you like it."

"I thought we were having dinner together."

Her brows furrowed slightly at his odd answer. "Er... Well, to refresh your memory, I planned on staying until Monday morning, so we're probably going to have dinner together, too."

"I...", he began until he stopped himself to answer differently. He could not let on that something was up or she would suspect something. "No, you're right. Sorry."

Diane tilted her head in question, one of her brows still furrowed and she brought her arm down to place her hand on his chest, the other one remaining on his cheek as she shot him a concerned look.

"Kurt, what's wrong?", she asked softly.

He shook his head and shot her a smile of which he hoped that she would buy it.

"Nothing. Now that you're here."


...


"I don't think I've ever seen you eat french fries before.", Kurt said, smirking at her before he took another bite of his burger.

"Yeah, I bet you haven't.", she laughed. "It's a rare sight, believe me. Not exactly what I would call well-balanced nutrition."

She examined a french fry as she held it up between her thumb and pointer-finger before she shrugged and put it in her mouth.

Kurt snorted. "Doesn't matter. You could use it."

Diane raised her brows and swallowed. "Pardon?"

"You're so damn skinny, it wouldn't take a lot more than a wind gust to lift you off of your high-heeled feet. And that's a bad outlook for someone who lives in Chicago."

Her gaze dropped to the table and she pressed her lips together in an attempt to keep herself from laughing.

"Shut up.", she mumbled, both amused and a little flattered when she had almost regained her composure.

"And you call me stoically silent, huh?", he mocked her and she broke out in laughter.
He smiled at the sound of it and leaned forward to brush his fingers over her hand.

"I've missed you, Di."

Her laughter faded away and she raised her head to look at him.

"I've missed you, too. The house somehow feels bigger without you. And, believe it or not, quiet."

Kurt chuckled. "Just imagine what living without you feels like to me."

She snorted. "You're saying that as though I'm never shutting up.", she said, pouting at him in feigned hurt.

He shrugged. "Yeah, but who said that I want you to shut up?"

"Touché, Mr.McVeigh." She grinned at him before she leaned forward and placed a small kiss on his lips.

"God.", she exclaimed when they parted. "Your lips are greasy."

He laughed. "No, I think that's yours."

"Nope. Definitely burger-grease." She pursed her lips. "Ew. Let's go for long a walk later when you've finished your work. I feel like I've just increased my risk for a heart attack by at least twenty percent."

"What, by eating french fries or by kissing me?"

"Both. Ten percent for each of those."


...


He never actually got to finish his work.

After lunch, they did the dishes together. She did the actual cleaning while he dried up with a damp kitchen towel, because, according to her, he had not done the cleaning 'properly' and she preferred to drown her arms elbow-deep in the dirty soap-water over having to eat off of unclean plates at his place in the future.

He had wanted to object, but in the end, decided to just let her do her perfectionist control thing. But only because he loved her.

As they did the dishes, he could see her struggling to suppress a few yawns and suggested to take a nap, but she preferred a good cup of strong coffee. So they sat down on the couch in the living room, each holding a cup and she slipped out of her heels and tucked her feet beneath her. His arm slung around her back and she rested her head on his shoulder, breathing in his scent that she had missed so much over the week and sipping her coffee until she had emptied her cup and fallen asleep against him.

The warmth of her slim body, the feeling of her chest curving against his side and away from it with each even breath she took... She was everything he needed. And more than he had ever wanted. So much more than he had ever hoped for.

Just pure and infinite happiness. That was what she was to him.

A couple of hours later, her soft, groggy voice pulled him out of his sleep.

"Kurt? What time is it?"

He opened his eyes reluctantly and blinked a few times in confusion until he realized that he was not unable to see because his eyes were still closed, but because it was dark in the room.

He groaned sleepily. "Dunno. Wait a second."

His arm had gone numb from being pressed between her back and the back of the couch. He slipped it out from behind her to slowly rise up and leave her side and move to find the switch of the lamp in the darkness. He shook his arm to get some of his feelings back inside it and suddenly his shin audibly and painfully hit something.

"Ugh, fuck.", he groaned.

"What? You alright?", her voice, still sleepy but yet so concerned, echoed over to him from behind him.

"Yeah, it's fine. I think the coffee table got in my way." He straightened up again and moved the other way, more careful this time.

"How dare it.", she giggled.

Kurt found the light switch and turned it on, causing them to groan simultaneously at the sudden change.

Diane, still sitting on the couch, blinked a few times and lifted her wrist to look at her watch.

"Kurt, it's almost nine already."

He shot her a lopsided smirk. "And you said you didn't want to take a nap?"

She rolled her eyes at him. "I didn't actually want to take a nap, no. And what about you? You said nothing at all."

He shrugged. "You didn't ask.", he chuckled.

She looked at him, almost apologetically. "Guess I was too tired.", she said and caused him to laugh even louder.

"Hey, enough with the laughter, cowboy.", she cried out in feigned annoyance and rose up to walk over to him before she could place her hands on his shoulders. "Let's go now before it gets even later."

He frowned at her. "Go? Where?"

She smiled and shook her head. "For a walk? We need to take out Justice and those calories we've had for lunch."


...


It had not been the day he had originally planned it to be.

He had planned to actually be able to finish his ballistic report for the police department. To do his laundry. To drive to the nearest grocery store to get the ingredients he needed for dinner and two bottles of pricy champagne of which he knew that she would enjoy it. To cook a wonderful dinner for the two of them. To shower and shave and maybe even throw himself into a suit in order to look presentable for her. To arrange the dining table before she would arrive, to light a few candles and to place a vase of calla lilies on it.

To just let them have the most perfect evening for the special occasion he had envisioned.

But life never went as Kurt planned it to and he probably would not even be here with her right now if it did. And he would not want to change that for the world, so if it was this unpredictability of life that was the price he had to pay for how everything had played out for him, so be it. He would not have it any other way then.

He had not finished his work, there was no champagne waiting in the fridge for their celebration. And there was no real celebration at all.

Because the ring he had planned on giving her tonight was still boxed and untouched in the drawer of his desk, the question he had planned to ask her still an unvoiced matter and only in his mind.

He did not know yet that there was still a special occasion, a perfect evening, ahead of them that day, even though the box would remain untouched in that drawer.

Because life never went as he had planned.

Chapter Text

"So, Palin? Twenty-twelve, I heard?"

"That's the hope."

She shook her head, stunned by the honesty he put in those absurd words. "God, I can't believe I fell in love with a Palin-supporter."

"And yet..."

"And yet.", she agreed.

A small branch cracked beneath her heels- or his... what difference did it make- as they walked further along the pathway near the woods.

The night was cold and little goosebumps had made their way along her legs beneath the thin nylon fabric of her stockings. Kurt had been right when he had suggested that she should change, but she did not plan on giving him the satisfaction of saying that out loud. She could already picture the smug smile that would form on his lips.

At least she had put on the blazer that she had worn in court that morning.

She crossed her arms to try and keep the little of the warmth that was left in her right where it was.

"Cold?", he asked mockingly and there it was, that smug smirk beneath his moustache.

"Not at all.", she lied.

He merely raised an eyebrow and decided not to injure her pride. Secretly, he cursed himself inside of his head for not having brought a jacket with him that he could have given her now.

"My father would be so disappointed.", she suddenly chuckled.

"What, because of me?"

"Because you're a Republican, yes."

He grinned amusedly at her attitude. "My father wouldn't have liked you either, Ms. Lockhart."

"Oh.", she exclaimed, her eyebrows shooting up in surprise and only a hint of disappointment. "I didn't say that he wouldn't have liked you. I think he would have liked you a lot, actually, once he would've gotten to know you, but he still would have tried to talk some sense into me."

Her gaze dropped down to the ground. "The poor man. On our first date, I swear I heard him and the rest of a lot of generations of democratic ancestors screaming at me in protest."

Kurt snorted and touched her upper arm. She understood and dropped her arms to her sides, entwining her fingers with his.

"You did drink a lot of wine that night.", he remarked and caused her to chuckle lightly.

"That is true. So, your father wouldn't have liked me?", she asked in feigned hurt.

"No.", he shook his head before he looked up to see her beautiful face in the moonlight. "He would have loved you. I only said that to tease you."

Diane swatted his upper arm lightly with her free hand.

"Bastard.", she mumbled, half laughing.

"That's me. But seriously, Diane. He would have adored you. Dad always liked a woman with brains who could enjoy an intellectual discussion over a glass of fine scotch. Was his weakness, actually."

Diane smiled. "That's oddly specific."

Kurt shrugged. "He was a pretty unique man."

She nodded and came to a halt. Kurt turned to her and looked at her in question.

"Just like you.", she said.

Kurt smiled and looked down on their shoes. She could not really tell in the darkness of the moonlight, but she thought that it looked as if he were blushing.

The index finger of her free hand curved beneath his chin and she softly forced him to look at her.

"I love you, Kurt.", she whispered into the silent night.

"I love you, too, Diane.", he said lowly before she leaned forward and closed the gap between their lips.

It started off as innocent and slow. Soft lips dancing against each other in featherlight movements, making it feel as if the world was standing still around them, as if time were just a concept, a cover-up for the true infinity, as if life would always be waiting for them to take their time.

Her arm slowly crept around his neck and she pressed him closer to her as she intensified the kiss, softly capturing his bottom lip between hers before she ran her tongue over it, silently asking for an entrance he would never deny her.

She relished in the feeling of his moustache teasing her skin, of his tongue moving against hers in its own way, so completely different from hers but yet fitting her movements like the most delicious metaphor for the dynamic of their relationship. So different and yet so perfect together.

Perfect...

She loved how his hand found its way to her right side to gently grace her with more of his touch, loved how his thumb momentarily ran over the side of her breast over the fabric of her clothes and how it felt as if his fingers were setting the layers on fire, just as it always had and just as it probably always would. How his hand moved down to her waist, hip, then up to her waist again before it sneaked around her back as he pulled her middle closer to his.

And most of all she loved that his movements, that so clearly could have been mistaken for actions of seduction, were of an innocent nature. That he would never pressure her, never start anything that could risk making her feel uncomfortable.

Diane whimpered in pleasure at the feeling of a long forgotten, tingling warmth that rushed through her lower abdomen. The small sound mingled with his deep and audible exhale, both building up the embrace of their lips when suddenly-

Justice barked and they shot away from each other, except for the embrace of their fingers that had lived through all of the sudden display of affection.

Diane looked up at Kurt, the moonlight gracing his features in the most handsome way. She blinked at him beneath her lashes and bit down on her bottom lip. Innocently, almost shy, but he knew better.

He smirked at her. "I think someone wants to go back.", he said, tilting his head in Justice's direction.

Diane chuckled lightly, out of nervousness, or to lighten the mood, he would never know. But it did not really matter, as long as she was happy.

"Yeah, me too."

He raised his brows. "Cold?", he asked in the same mocking tone as he had before.

But Diane shook her head. "No. Really the opposite, actually."


...


"Let's go to bed.", she said after they had fed Justice.

"Tired again already?", he asked with a raised eyebrow.

She shook her head and shot him a confident smile. Before he could object to her implication, she captured his cheeks with her hands and pulled him in for a deep kiss.
They stumbled backwards, too lost in the feeling of each other, until his lower back hit the edge of the kitchen counter.

One of her hands found his hair, his arms slung around her middle and he groaned lowly when she ran her tongue over the roof of his mouth. She knew his weaknesses just as he knew hers and it was oddly intriguing to have that kind of power over one another.

She pulled away momentarily, her lips still touching his as she breathed out, "I need you, Kurt.". She tugged on his bottom lip with her front teeth.

Kurt tilted his head backwards and his eyes opened to lock with hers. The sparkling blue that looked as if the colour had been invented only to be found in her eyes.

"Upstairs?", he asked a little breathlessly and caused her to smile widely.

"Yes."

Their arms left each other and she took his hand in hers, casting him another smile of certainty before she spun around and pulled him with her towards the wooden staircase.

She stepped up in front of him, her hand never leaving his. She had taken off her blazer when they had come back from their walk and her toned arms were bare again. Her hair looked perfect, probably not as neat as it had after she had gotten ready for work in the morning, but still perfect in a whole other way. Her little black dress hugged her slim curves perfectly and the way she walked with her stocking clad feet looked so careless, so at ease, so much like home.

He knew that she had felt his eyes on her when she momentarily looked back at him, a mixture of flattery and need glistening in her eyes. It caused him to swallow deeply.

They had barely stepped into the bedroom when her hand had already left his and she had spun around to him to hastily unbutton his flannel shirt.

He shrugged it off with a small movement of his arms and could already feel her fingers fumbling with his belt.

Softly, he captured her hands in his and her gaze met his.

"Easy, Ms. Lockhart.", he mocked her lovingly. "We've got all night."

Her lips stretched in a small smile, the bottom one getting caught by her front teeth and she nodded. Kurt smirked affectionately at her and brought her hands up to his lips to press a small kiss on each back. Then he gently let go of them and stepped around her, brushed her hair to one side over her shoulder and unzipped her black dress in an excruciatingly slow movement while he pressed soft little pecks on her neck.

Diane tilted her head to the side to grant him better access and her eyes rolled back into her head as she let herself get lost in his touch. In the way his fingertips gently traced over the skin he uncovered as he unzipped her dress. In the way his lips softly tugged on the skin on the side of her neck, just below her jaw, and in the way he still knew how he had to touch her to help her let go.

The torturous movement of the unzipping of her dress came to an end and Kurt hooked a thumb in each short sleeve of it to brush the fabric off of her shoulders until it came pooling around her feet on the floor. Diane turned around and a sweet smile appeared on her face when she saw the way he looked at her, dressed in only her lacy black bra, underwear and thigh highs, illuminated only by the ceiling light that shone in from the corridor and the light of the stars and moon that emerged to the room from the bedroom window. He looked completely mesmerized and so full of desire, so full of love.

"My eyes are up here, Mr. McVeigh.", she teased him in an amused whisper and caused him to chuckle before his eyes roamed over her body one more time until they locked with hers.

"Can't help myself.", he told her smiling. "You're too beautiful."

Her tongue flicked over her bottom lip and from the sheepish look she gave him he could tell that it was a movement she did not even realize she was doing. It was absurd, there were so many things she just did unconsciously, that were seemingly simply accompanying her mere presence, that drove him crazy and she did not even realize she was doing them, let alone, realize what effect they had on him.

Kurt had never met anyone who was so very realistic about everything but yet so far away from a grip on reality when it came to their effect on other people before he had met Diane. And in a really strange way he could not describe or explain, even if he had wanted to, it made the effect she had on him even greater.

In the same bashful way he had expected to come, Diane's eyes left his and he saw her smile widening at his words.

Kurt tucked a loose strand of blonde hair behind her ear and caused her to look up at him again before he closed the gap between their lips.

They were kissing soundly and passionately. There was no need for a slow build-up anymore, they knew where this was going and they knew that they were on the same page about this. It was a warm embrace of soft lips and wet tongues and it was careless and fearless and full of more love than either of them had ever thought possible before.

Kurt was holding her close to him, one arm around her waist, his other hand buried deep in her sleek hair. Diane's arms were slung around his neck and she was standing on her tiptoes while his head was bowed down so he was able to reach her.

The warmth of his body was radiating to hers in a way that could only be a companion of his hold of safety on her. Her chest and bare abdomen were pressing against his and his soft hair tickled the skin on her flat stomach. Through the lace fabric of her bra, her nipples pressed against his chest, creating a sensation on the sensitive spots that caused her to moan into him as they hardened.

Kurt groaned against her in protest when he felt her hands slowly leaving their spot on his neck and he forced himself to resist the urge of pulling her even closer to him, in case she needed this to end, torn between not wanting to disrespect the limits she would set for their intimacy and equally not wanting this moment to ever come to an end, but he calmed again when her hands gently ran down at his sides on a steady path to his belt and zipper.

Her lips suddenly left his by an inch, just as her chest and abdomen broke the contact with his skin so that she could unbuckle his belt and unzip his jeans.

Diane's eyes locked with his as soon as they had opened and the warmth of her heavy exhalation, the air that escaped her lungs between her lips, hit his beneath his moustache. They were both almost panting and so deliciously close to each other and it was as if they were breathing in the warm air that had just escaped the other and what a wonderfully intriguing thought it was, that they could keep each other alive, keep each other breathing, with their mere presence, by simply being close to one another, releasing a breath so the other one could breathe in and then the other way around and then start again and have it be the endless circle of staying alive, of giving and taking alternately, of being the cause of the other's endless presence and being present endlessly because of the other one in return.

Diane's eyes never left his while her fingertips unbuckled his belt and unzipped his pants. It was still a practised movement, even after the months that had passed since she had lastly practised it and it was comforting and almost thrilling to know that this was something one could at least not forget how to do. That sex, a display of instinct and emotion and intimacy was something one could always do as long as timing and comfort were right, as long as it felt right.

Her thumbs each slipped into one of the loops on the waistband of his jeans over his hips and they dragged them down slowly before they slipped out of them again to let the piece of clothing hit the ground.

Kurt's hands left her and he moved to the side to step out of his pants and slip out of his socks, the bulge in his boxers momentarily brushing against her waist as he did so, which almost caused her to blush again. Blush at knowing what she did to him. At knowing that she made him feel exactly what he was making her feel.

Kurt stepped back to her and closed his arms around her to unhook her bra. His fingers found each of its straps on her clavicles and he gently pulled the fabric down her arms before he could drop it carelessly to the ground.

He leaned down to her and began to place a soft, wet trail of kisses along her jaw, his fingers mirroring the movements of his lips on her cheek on the opposite side. Diane's eyes fell closed and a soft sigh escaped her at which his lips left her skin and he rose up again to face her. His thumb brushed over her flushed cheek and he smiled at her.

"Bed?", he asked lowly and he almost caused her to gasp at the arousal in his tone.

She swallowed and nodded at him and before she could even have thought about taking a step towards the bed behind her, his hands had already closed around the back of her thighs, around the patch of skin between her damp panties and the lacy top of her hold-ups, and he scooped her up in a swift motion.

Diane shrieked and if she had not instinctively wrapped her arms around his neck and her legs around his hips as soon as humanly possible, they would have fallen together.

"You're fucking crazy!", she chuckled breathlessly into his ear before she tilted her head to place wet, lingering kisses behind it.

Kurt exhaled audibly, whether it was a scoff about her remark or his reaction to her actions, she did not know but she also did not really care at the same time.

"Crazy about you.", he groaned into her hair and this time she knew it was exaggerated to tease her because he, out of everyone in the world, would be the last person to say something that cheesy and chliché and mean it.

"Oh yeah?", she whispered seductively before she slipped out the tip of her tongue between her lips to run it up to his ear, slowly tracing the shell of his ear with it and eventually nibble on it and down to his earlobe until a genuine, rough grunt escaped him. She smirked in satisfaction.

At the edge of the bed, Kurt gently placed one hand on her back before he leaned over and lay her on the soft sheets. Then he knelt down and slowly began to slip off one of her stockings and then the other before he tossed them aside.

Diane sat up and when Kurt rose up again, she looked up to shoot him a lopsided smile before she pulled down his boxers, freeing his erection. He grinned back at her and stepped out of them while she arranged herself in the middle of the bed and he joined her, straddling her in a way that provided closeness but would not trap her beneath his weight.

He kissed her softly and brushed his thumb over her nipple as her fingers got lost in his grey hair that almost looked silvery in the dimmed light. His hand moved from her right breast down to the tangible scar on the side of her abdomen. Soft, warm fingertips ran over it and he propped himself up, breaking their kiss and opening his eyes to lock them with hers.

"I love you.", he whispered, brushing his thumb over the scar and she smiled in return.

"I love you, too.", she whispered back.

His fingers reached the waistband of her panties on her hipbone and he was just about to curl them inside it when her soft voice stopped him.

"Wait.", she said, her voice low but without a hint of uncertainty in it. "Let me."

Kurt nodded and left his position on top of her to sit up against the headboard, waiting for her patiently. Diane sat up and took off her panties in a quick movement before she tossed them aside. She turned back to him and bit her bottom lip.

"Can you, maybe...", she began coyly.

He raised his brows, ready to do whatever it took to make her comfortable, to make this just as enjoyable for her as she deserved it to be.

"What?", he asked gently.

She bit down on her bottom-lip in hesitation before she spoke.

"Could I be on top?", she asked in a small whisper.

Kurt cast her an encouraging smile. "Sure."

Diane gave him a smile in return and she crawled over to him, getting settled on his lap and cupping his cheeks with her hands.

"I love you.", she said again, looking him in the eyes as if he were the only other person on the whole world, apart from herself.

"I love you, too, Di.", he answered before she bowed her head to kiss him again. Kurt's arms sneaked around her waist and his hands landed on her back, roaming over it in the heated rhythm she had set with their kiss.

Slowly, she rocked her hips against his and the feeling of the hot, wet trail she left on his length caused a deep groan to escape him into her mouth. She broke the kiss and he could see a smug smile displayed on her delicate features.

Then one of her hands left his cheek and it roamed over his chest and abdomen until her fingers found his erection. She leaned up, breaking the contact of their hips and slowly ran her thumb over its tip, closed her slim fingers around its length and ran them up and down on it, making him exhale a ragged breath.

Her other hand left his cheek and she closed it around his shoulder to keep herself steady and she cast him one last smile of assurance that this was what she wanted, not only for him but for herself, too, before she closed her eyes in concentration and began to lower herself on him.

He had to swallow hard to suppress a deep groan when he felt himself slowly being buried in her slick, warm heat. He had almost forgotten how good this felt, especially how good this had always felt with her. But he did not want to startle her, so he pulled himself together.

Her facial features cringed a little when she slowly began to sink down on him. She pressed her lips together and one of her brows furrowed, just as the fingertips of her hand increased its grip on his shoulder, her manicured nails digging into his skin.

Her other hand had left his length and found its place on his chest and she had almost taken him in completely when he heard her let out a small whimper through her closed lips.

"Diane", Kurt whispered, his voice low with concern. "We don't have to-"

"I know.", she whispered, opening her eyes and casting him a close-lipped smile. "That's what makes it so much easier."

Her hips collided with his and Kurt released the held back groan simultaneously with the soft moan that escaped Diane.

Slowly, she began to move her hips against his in a sensual rhythm, leaning into him to seek out the contact of their skin and to lock her lips with his. His hands, his arms, closing around her a little more tightly to hold her upper body closer to his, they were like security blankets around her, as if nothing could ever hurt her, as though she would be safe as long as she was in his arms.

A small moan escaped her into his mouth when her clit brushed against his pelvis and she leaned up, breaking their kiss, to increase her pace.

Her eyes found his, green, darkened with need and she could see the way he clenched his jaw, the way his Adam's apple moved as he swallowed a rough groan, in an attempt of holding back for her sake. And even though he did not need to, she loved him even more for his concern, loved him even more because he cared so very much.

She shot him a smile and leaned forward again, pressing her lips on the skin beneath his jaw before she whispered in his ear, "You don't have to hold back.", as she pushed into him more firmly, so that the deep groan he had been holding onto for too long finally escaped his throat.

She leaned back up again and smirked at him when she felt his hips beginning to move beneath hers, responding to her movements, matching her increasing pace perfectly.

His hands began to wander from her back to her waist to help her guide her motions and she gasped happily when she felt him hit a certain spot inside of her that never failed to give pleasure.

"Yes!", she moaned and her eyes momentarily fluttered close.

Kurt exhaled deeply and he studied her face. The front parts of her hair were hanging loosely on her cheeks and temple, beginning to stick to her skin on a few spots as sweat began to form on it. He could already smell the scent of their sweat mingling with each other from the embrace of their upper bodies, as though they steadily began to become one.

Diane's lips were parted and they were both panting with pleasure, pleasure and love. Her lipstick had long begun to fade away and what was left of it were only traces of what it had been when she had arrived in the afternoon. He was sure that she could see some of it on his own lips and there was a beauty about that, which he could not really grasp.

In the soft light, he could see that her face was flushed and how lucky was he to see her like that, letting go, coming apart as one great display of affection and satisfaction and need and love.

He loved her so much.

Her left eyebrow twitched as it always did when she was close, he had come to observe that over the past months of their relationship. Her fingers curled into his chest, then her brows shot up and another deep moan escaped her and with the sight of her, he would not even have needed the physical pleasure to groan simultaneously.

One of his hands left her waist to slowly dance up on her side until he could cup her cheek with it and cause her beautiful, blue eyes to flutter open again. Another moan escaped her when she saw the way he looked at her. Almost stunned and so full of desire, passion and love, as if she were the most beautiful thing he had ever laid his eyes on. As if she were the water that would keep him from dying of thirst, as if she were the oxygen that would save him from suffocation, as though looking at her was the only thing he had ever really wanted, ever really needed, to do.

"Ah!", she moaned without breaking the eye-contact with him.

His thumb brushed over her cheek and over her cheekbone, coming to rest on the small birthmark on it that was one of his favourite parts on her body.

"You're so fucking beautiful.", he breathed out heavily.

Her parted lips stretched in a smile and she tilted her head forward to plant a small, wet kiss on his lips, as though she believed him. And the knowledge of that she trusted him enough to believe it caused him to groan into the embrace of their lips.

She broke their kiss to look at him again.

"Kurt, I'm close.", she gasped.

"I know.", he whispered back and brushed his thumb over her birthmark one more time before his fingers snuck between their bodies until he found her clit just above where they were connected. He drew the back of his index finger over it before he began to draw small circles on it with his thumb.

"Yes!", she shrieked and her beautiful eyes fluttered closed again. "More?"

The corner of his lips twitched and he pressed down on her more firmly. He felt her walls clench around him and they covered him in a new coat of wetness as she increased the pace of her hips rocking down on his.

"Don't stop.", she moaned and he did as he was told.

Her features cringed in pleasure and he felt her contracting around him.

"Kurt!", she cried out loudly and her forehead fell down on his shoulder, slick with sweat, her fingernails on his other shoulder digging into his skin.

Her body quivered in his arms and he bit down hard on his bottom lip to keep himself from letting go, to keep the movements of his hips and thumb steady to let her ride out her orgasm.

Diane bit down on his shoulder before she released another deep, loud moan and came apart, panting in his arms. His fingers left her centre and he brought his hands to her back again, holding her close to him, relaxing in the way her chest and abdomen were pressing into him with every deep breath she took.

Kurt felt the warm air of her exhalation against his skin and he relished in the feeling, in happiness and pride in her, until he felt something small and wet leaking down on his shoulder.

"Diane?", he asked, his great concern momentarily out-shadowing how close he still was.

She pushed herself up and he saw the tears glistening in her eyes, some of which had already sneaked their way out of the blue orbs, down on her flushed cheeks.

"What is it?"

She shook her head and something between a chuckle and a soft sob escaped her. Her hand left his shoulder, her other one was still placed on his chest, and she brushed the tears off of her face.

"I'm just so happy.", she breathed out and chuckled again, a certain joy sparkling in her eyes that he had never seen in them before.

Kurt exhaled a deep breath he had not realized he was holding in and pulled her closer to place a small kiss on her damp temple.

Her breathing was still unsteady when she pushed herself up again and began to continue to move on him at a quick pace.

He groaned and she smiled at him before she placed a small kiss beneath his ear and whispered huskily, "Let go, Kurt.".

And that was all it took for him to do so.

His hips twitched against hers and his rhythm began to get uneven, but she kept it in place so he would not need to concentrate on it. Diane swallowed his groans with a deep kiss and when she felt him spill inside of her it only increased the feeling of being one joined union.

She continued to kiss him lazily, leisurely, until she felt him going limb inside her and she pulled away by an inch and looked at him, her lips softly brushing against his when she whispered, "I love you, Kurt.".

And her heartbeat increased again when he told her, "I love you, too, Di.".

Chapter Text

"Di?"

His voice was low so that the sound of it would not be loud enough to wake her in case she had fallen asleep. It was such a small and sweet and gentle display of thoughtfulness and care... it made her love for him grow even bigger than it had already been before.

"Yes?", she asked softly in return.

She could feel the warm tips of his digits sneak their way into her damp, messy hair. The back of the fingers of his other hand softly traced over the bare skin between her waist and spine and she pressed her cheek a little more firmly on the skin on his chest, right above his heart so that she could listen to the even sound of his heartbeat mingling with the sounds of his breathing and eventually with the sound of his low voice.

"I would have loved for you to meet my parents."

Diane let her eyes fall closed and she tilted her head to press a small kiss on his chest.

"Me too."

"We remind me of them, sometimes."

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah.", Kurt said. "Dad was very traditional. Took me hunting for the first time when I was eight while my sister had to stay behind with Ma. And Ma would always argue with him afterwards, saying that Liz should be allowed to come with us if she wanted to, because her sex doesn't define what she should and shouldn't do. Her mindset was a little ahead of her time."

Diane snickered. "That does sound like us."

"Right? Man, you and Ma would have gotten along great. The two of you would have given us men quite a hard time."

She huffed out a small breath of amusement.

"Were they happy with each other?", she asked in a more serious tone. "Your parents?"

"Oh yes. They loved each other very deeply. I mean, they fought from time to time but I don't think those fights ever really took them even near the point of doubting their marriage. They were what's kept it exciting for them, I guess."

He paused for a moment to pull her a little closer to him. "Maybe growing up and seeing what they had, that great love that never seemed to be getting dull, in which neither of them ever got tired of the other... Maybe that's why I never really settled down, before..." He stopped.

"Before?" She raised an eyebrow in tune with her mocking question to which she already knew the answer.

"Before I found someone who made me understand what it was like."

Diane smiled to herself and pushed her upper body up to press a small kiss on the corner of his lips. She rested her head in the curve between his neck and shoulder and her fingers began to move, drawing soft, nonsensical patterns on his chest.

"My mother would have loved you, too.", she said softly and Kurt could feel her words vibrating against his throat as she said them. "Probably even more than she loved me."

Kurt scoffed and grinned to himself. He questioned if anyone could ever love him more than her, except maybe for her herself and how he had grown to deserve to be that lucky was still an unanswered question to him. He knew that he was an okay-guy, but Diane? She was amazing. She was stunning. The most beautiful human being he had ever met, he ever could have imagined.

"I doubt that."

"Don't doubt that.", she insisted. "We never got along too well. She wanted me to become a nurse, get married and have children. I never really lived up to those expectations, as you might have guessed."

Kurt smirked until the smirk faded away from his lips over the cause of his thoughts.

"Did you ever want kids?", he asked lowly.

Diane bit down on the inside of her cheek. "I don't know. I think so.", she whispered.

"You think so?", he asked, frowning and she nodded lightly in response, her hair tickling his neck in her movement.

"Yeah. I liked the idea of being a mother, once I got over the fact that it was what my mother wanted me to be."

She smirked lightly at the foolishness of youth. Over that the fact that her mother had envisioned her to have kids had once been enough to make her despise the thought.

"But I never really found the right guy for the other half of the job, so... Yes. I think so."

Kurt nodded slowly until she spoke again.

"Did you ever want kids?", she asked in a whisper, not knowing why she was suddenly feeling so insecure about hearing his answer. Maybe it was because it was something she could not give him anymore. Maybe because it was a scary thought that he would be missing out on something he wanted, something he technically could still have, just because she could not do it with him anymore. That he would put his wishes aside just to be with her.

"Yes.", he answered decisively. "I would have loved to have a son. But... I never really found the right woman for the other half of the job, either."

Diane nodded softly and the picture of him with a little boy with dark blonde hair and Kurt's green eyes, holding onto his hand while walking with him through the woods on a summer day on their way to a fishing trip or something similar, made its way into her mind. It made her smile.

She could not say why she imagined the boy with blonde hair. She had seen photos of Kurt as a child and he had had brown hair before he had gone grey all those years after when they had met each other. So she wondered why it was, until she realized that she had not only envisioned his son, but theirs.

What a weird thought. What a wonderfully and perfectly weird thought.

"I can picture you with a son.", she said lowly.

"I can picture you with a daughter.", he remarked.

She huffed out a breath of amusement. "Really?"

"Yes. You with a little blonde girl who's got your eyes, holding your hand, both of you well dressed in way too expensive clothing while walking through a museum of modern art and you explaining the difference of impressionism and expressionism to her? Yeah, I can picture that."

She chuckled.

"Or yours.", she added softly.

"Mine?", he asked in confusion and she smiled.

"Your eyes."

Kurt grinned and shook his head before he tilted it to the side to place a soft kiss on her forehead and look at her. At her beautiful, beautiful light blue eyes, reflecting the soft moonlight that shone in through the bedroom window.

"Nah. Yours are far more beautiful than mine."

She narrowed her eyes at him. "They're not."

"They are.", he said matter-of-factly.

"Whatever...", she mumbled and snuggled into him more comfortably, thinking about what could have been, even if it did not make any difference to the presence and even if things were okay, more than good actually, as they were. But there was nothing wrong with doing a little daydreaming in the middle of the night, was there?

"We could have called her Lily.", she said softly and caused him to chuckle lightly as he ran his fingers soothingly up and down her side beneath the soft bedsheets.

"That's cheesy.", he said and she shrugged.

"I know."

"I love it."

Diane smirked and pressed a kiss on his throat.

"Of course you do."

He brushed her hair out of her face and stroked it lovingly, looking her in the eyes for a small moment of silence.

"And for a boy?", he eventually asked.

"I don't know. I like Liam. Or William."

"As in Will?", he asked, grinning knowingly at her.

She grinned back. "Maybe. What do you think?"

"I like Charlie.", he suggested, without having to think about it for a single second. "For Charles. Or Matthew, maybe."

"I like those, too."

They let the comfortable silence take over between them for a few more moments, until Kurt spoke up again.

"You would've made a great mom.", he said.

She smiled and moved her hand up to cup his cheek, softly brushing her fingers over his stubbly skin.

"You would've made a great dad."

Kurt leaned into her touch, his eyes falling close for a second, before they fluttered open to lock with hers again.

"And there has never been anyone you could've imagined to have kids with?"

Diane shook her head. "No, not when it was still an option. We've met too late, honey."

She had expected him to laugh, but he did not. His expression did not twitch, his watchful eyes kept on studying her with the same serious and attentive look.

"Do you regret it sometimes?", he asked gently.

"Not having children?", she asked and he nodded shortly. "Yes, sometimes. But not too often."

"When?", he asked curiously.

"Right now, for instance.", she said honestly, her thumb moving on his skin and lightly tracing over the corner of his lips, playing with the edge of his mustache. "What about you?"

"A bit.", he said and leaned into her touch. "But I mostly regret meeting you so late."

Diane propped herself up on her elbow and looked him deeply into his green eyes.

"I regret that, too. Guess we need to make the most of the time we've got left now, don't we?"

Her words meant so much more than what she had actually said, the implications behind them were so much more than what they would have let on to be to an outsider.

Because they had indeed almost ran out of time two months back. Because they had not made the most out of their time together up until the incident that had seemingly changed so little in their lives and yet everything beneath it, everything between them, and oddly enough, mostly for the better.

Both of them had taken their time for granted, taken each other for granted for far too long. They were both healthy and there had been no reason to doubt that they could easily continue to live on as they had for at least another twenty years. But they had been foolish. Foolish to assume that life was predictable in that way. Foolish to assume that they had forever.

It was sad that it had taken something like this to happen to make them realize their mistakes, to make them change the way in which they appreciated each other. But there was no way of changing the past, neither the way they had acted, nor what had happened. There was only change to be made in their mindsets and in their relationship and from where they were standing now, the changes they had already gone through so far had only changed them for the better.

Kurt's mind wandered back to the ring in the drawer of his desk. To the untouched velvet box he did not get to show her tonight, because the timing had been all wrong again and for a moment, he cursed himself for that he had once more found an excuse to not go through with this. For that he had once again put something he had really wanted to do that day aside, as if he were in the position of postponing their future in that way, when he knew exactly how incredibly unpredictable life always was. For that he was already taking her for granted again, when he had, just two months ago, almost lost her for good.

He nodded. "I guess that's true."


...


Diane had another nightmare that night. She had not had one in almost two weeks.

Kurt woke up sometime in the middle of the night because he felt her body twitch in his arms. He had developed a light sleep over the passing of the last two months, due to her bad condition in the first weeks after the assault. They were not nearly as frequent as they had been before anymore and they had found a way to deal with them together, but it would never be easy to go through. It had already become easier, but not easy in the true meaning of the word and maybe some things only could be that. Managable and 'okay' but not easy.

His eyes fluttered open when he felt the way she twitched in her sleep, burying her head deeper in the crook between his neck and shoulder, her fingernails digging deeper into the skin on his chest, as though she were subconsciously trying to hide in the safety of his embrace or attempting to wake him up so he could do the same for her.

"Diane.", he said, but his sleepy voice was not enough to pull her out of sleep.

She twitched again in his arms and whimpered softly into his ear.

The physical reaction in her sleep had gotten better. The shaking had been reduced to twitching and light winces, the screams to whimpers and soft cries. But he knew that it did not mean that the dreams themselves had gotten any less terrifying and that was what made it hard for him. Knowing how much they were still able to put her off, to throw her back and to make her suffer.

Kurt shifted and brought one of his hands up to her upper arm. He wanted to touch her cheek but he knew that she could not take being touched in the face immediately when she woke up from a nightmare, because it was too close to the way he had pressed his hand on her mouth to keep her quiet on that pathway and afterwards in her sleep. It had taken a while for her to tell him that.

His fingers closed around her arm and he stroked her smooth skin when she released a small, suppressed cry. In the moonlight that shone into the room through the window across the bed, he could see the way her facial features cringed in a pained way and seeing her like that made his heart clench, as it always did and as it always would.

"Di, wake up.", he said gently but a little louder than before and this time it was enough to wake her.

Her eyes fluttered open and she immediately pushed herself up on one elbow, looking him in the eyes as she blinked and tried to gain her grasp on reality back.

She remained quiet. Her expression did not change, so he knew it must have been particularly bad this time.

"Light?", he asked and the only answer he got from her was a small nod.

Kurt shifted beneath her and reached out for the small lamp on his nightstand, flooding the room in soft, warm light as he flicked it on. When he turned back, Diane was sitting were she had been laying before, her knees brought up to her chest, rubbing the bridge of her nose with the tip of her pointer finger. Her front was covered by the bedsheet and her bare back was on display. Her eyes were opened and he knew that she did not dare to close them again.

Kurt sat up next to her and placed a warm hand on her back. Her fingers moved away from her face and she turned her head to look at him, the same expression of numbness and exhaustion still engraved on her face.

"Bad one?", he asked softly and brushed his fingers over her spine in what he hoped to be a soothing manner.

Wordlessly, she nodded again.

There was nothing she needed to say. Both of them had expected this to happen, at least after the first time they slept with each other again. It was still bad, that was out of the question, but it had been expected, so it was a little more easy to deal with.

Kurt moved, placed his legs sideways around her curled up frame and placed his arms around her shoulders, so she would not have to slip out from underneath the blanket to seek out his comfort. Diane let herself fall against his chest, her head coming to rest right beneath his clavicle. One of her hands curled around his upper arm and they sat there in silence for a moment, her listening to the calming sound of his heartbeat, him listening to the reassuring sound of her breathing.

"Thanks for waking me.", she said, softly breaking the silence.

"Of course."

She always said that, it only took a little more time when it had been a particularly bad dream. There was no need for her to thank him, he had assured her of that several times, but she still did it. He had eventually come to realize that it originated from plain appreciation and that she did not do it because she felt as if she owed him thankfulness, and so he had learned to take it.

His fingertips lightly grazed the skin on her upper back.

"It wasn't about us.", she told him lowly.

Kurt nodded slowly. That was good. It did not make it any better, but it was still good. He felt her shake her head.

"We knew this would happen.", she said and she was right, but that did not make it any better either.

"We did, but that does not mean you're not allowed to feel pain.", he told her gently.

"I know.", she said lowly. "But it's not as bad as it has been before."

"But still bad?"

"A little. It was the usual thing but it felt a little more real than it usually does."

He nodded again and tried his best to not feel guilty about this. He knew it was not his fault but it was hard to accept that. It was hard to keep placing the guilt on someone else, even if that someone was the only guilty party. And still, he knew that it was not right and so he tried to suppress the feeling.

"Kurt, don't feel bad about this, okay?", she suddenly whispered as though she had been reading his mind in between his silent thoughts.

"I'm trying.", he said honestly.

He did not intend to lie to her and he knew that she was not stupid enough to believe a lie anyway. She knew what this did to him. And they were better than denial.

Diane's fingers brushed over his upper arm before she leaned to the side to be able to look at him.

"I don't regret sleeping with you.", she said with determination in her voice. "I'm happy that we did."

Kurt nodded. "I know."

"Good.", she said softly and placed a small kiss on his cheek.

He moved his hand and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear.

"I love you.", he whispered and caused her to cast him an honest smile.

"I love you, too.", she whispered back and brushed her fingers over his cheek.

Kurt pressed a kiss on her temple. "Wanna go back to sleep?"

"No, I think I need a cup of tea.", she said before she smirked at him. "Care to join me, Mr. McVeigh?"

He grinned back at her. "Always, Ms. Lockhart."

It would never get easy to experience the aftermath of her assault. But eventually, before they had known it, it had become managable. There were still good days and bad days but as the time continued to pass, the good days had already begun to outnumber the bad ones. They had found their way to deal with it and even though it would never get easy, it had already gotten a lot easier.

Chapter Text

"It's so windy... was it supposed to be that windy?", Diane asked loudly over the sounds of the wind that was whipping around them, while she unsuccessfully attempted to tuck her hair behind her ears again.

"Dunno.", Kurt answered equally loudly. "Not what I had expected either."

"Hah.", she exclaimed. "Well, if you took me here to get me killed you probably could have found an easier way."

"I don't plan on reenacting the Titanic. We will leave before the wind can throw the boat over, okay?"

"Joke's on you, Mister. The Titanic sank because of an iceberg. You would know that if you had actually paid attention to the movie."

"You were distracting me.", he accused her, smirking and she grinned back.

"You were distracting yourself by using me, cowboy. You're not the innocent party here."

"Always the lawyer.", he mumbled under the wind, but she heard him and her grin widened.

"You know me, honey. Anyway, if we go down, it's your fault and I surely will not share the door that saves my life with you."

Kurt scoffed. "What, because Leo is hotter than I am?"

"No, because he couldn't have prevented the tragedy by looking up the weather forecast.", she said and rolled her eyes before she reminded him, "And Kate actually didn't share the door with him, either.".

He shook his head. "Can't believe you made me watch that stupid movie."

"And I can't believe you never saw that movie until I made you do it." She shrugged.

"Oh!", she suddenly exclaimed excitedly and he already knew that that was bound to be a bad sign for him. "That reminds me, we still haven't watched Breakfast at Tiffany's together."

"Look, if you want to get me killed you can probably find a more humane way."

"Oh, quit whining, it's not as if I'm forcing you to watch Legally Blonde with me."

"That's only because you think it's sexist and inaccurate when it comes to the legal part."

"Not sexist per se, only promoting gender roles, which is bad enough, and that is so not the point."

She pouted and a few strands of hair got stuck in her lipstick. She brushed them quickly out of her face. "Come on, Kurt. You've already agreed to it. Don't be a killjoy."

Kurt sighed deeply. "Fine."

"Great! I actually brought it with me so we can watch it this weekend." She shot him a big grin and he rolled his eyes.

"You're unbelievable.", he mumbled and she snickered, shrugging amusedly.

"I didn't hear what you said, dear. You'll need to speak up a little.", she mocked him. "Hey, maybe I'll drag you through Pretty Woman, too. Your girlfriend is unpredictable in that way."

Girlfriend. That reminded him...

He did not like the sound of that word. It sounded as though they were teenagers, as though they were in high-school, naively believing that they had met their great love in their first relationship, that would actually break apart as soon as they would go to college. It sounded so temporary, as though there was a foreseeable time-limit to them.

It was not the word he wanted to refer to her with, when he would talk about her or when he would introduce her to his friends and family.

He had had enough girlfriends before to be able to say for sure that Diane did not feel like one of them to him. She was more, so much more. She was the woman of his life. The only person he wanted to come home to.
She was his great love. She was his person. And there was nothing naive, nothing temporary about that. Only endless sureness and more love to her than he ever could have imagined to be capable of feeling.

"Kurt? I think you've got one.", her voice pulled him out of his thoughts and back to the seat across from hers in the boat.

His gaze shot to the almost forgotten fishing-rod. And she was right, he had indeed gotten one.

He pulled it out of the water and managed to place the twitching fish into the metal bucket on the floor of the small rowing boat that was swaying slightly from the force of another strong wind gust.

"Not bad, that's at least a five-pound-catch.", he observed. "Definitely enough to save our dinner."

"Great, so can you take it and your freezing one-hundred-and-thirty-pound-catch home now?", Diane asked impatiently and winked at him, her arms tightly folded beneath her chest because of the cold wind.

He grinned at her. "Sure. Row ahead."


...


The credits began to roll down and she felt Kurt shifting behind her as he propped himself up on one elbow, his other arm still slung around her abdomen. She ran her thumb over the back of his hand.

"So, I don't get it. She's married?", he asked, looking at her profile while her eyes were still fixated on the countless names that were running down the screen.

Diane cleared her throat to keep her voice from letting on that she had been shedding a few silent tears during the final scene.

"Yes, but she has left her husband years ago.", she answered.

"Yeah, I know, but she is still married."

"Technically, yes.", she said and slowly began to wonder why that small detail of less than minor relevance for the actual plot seemed to be of such importance to him.

"And George Peppard has been sleeping with that woman because she paid him for it?", he asked, a little taken aback.

"Yes, Kurt. Prostitution is not limited to women.", she said dryly.

He seemed to actually think about that for a small moment of silence.

"And Audrey Hepburn was a call girl?"

"Yes."

"Hm. Okay."

Diane smirked and turned around in his arms, away from the down-rolling credits on the TV-screen, to face him.

"You liked it.", she said knowingly, almost accusingly in an amused way, and Kurt shrugged.

"Wasn't as bad as Titanic. And even though I'm not into that whole New-Yorker-high-society-theme, it was okay, I guess."

She nodded. "It's a good movie."

"Yeah. I mean, I wasn't crying during that last scene, like you were, but it was all right."

Her lips parted in protest. "Hey, I wasn't crying!", she lied and Kurt simply raised his brows. "I had something in my eye.", she said and as soon as the words had left her mouth, she realized what a poor, poor lie that was.

Kurt chuckled. "What? Tears?"

Diane tried to suppress a grin and failed. Instead of continuing to argue, she leaned back down on the couch and snuggled up against him, one of her hands landing on the flannel fabric over his chest, her fingers softly fumbling with the material.

"This is the perfect Sunday.", she mumbled and breathed in his scent, knowing that tomorrow morning, she would have to leave again. Knowing that they would not see each other again for the following five days and knowing how much she would miss him, miss being able to just turn around and smell him, to touch him and to just be with him in the truest and most innocent meaning of the word. Just being. Living, breathing and existing side by side.

"It is.", he said and pressed a kiss on the crown of her head over her soft hair that smelled of lavender and sweet honey and the most wonderful dreams and of Diane.

"I wish it could always be like this.", she sighed and buried her face in the fabric of his shirt.

Kurt smiled and brushed his fingers over her arm. He felt the same way. Laying there on the couch with her in his arms, just being with each other and enjoying the day, the time in each other's presence... There was nothing more that he would ever need and he would do anything to keep feeling this way.
The way she made him feel. It felt like home.

Home...

"Diane...", he began in a thoughtful and serious tone. "I've been thinking."

Diane shifted in his arms, leaning away from him to be able to look at him, her face displaying a frown and parted lips.

"What... What's wrong?", she asked unconfidently.

"Hey, don't worry, I haven't even started yet and you're already assuming the worst.", he said and brought his fingers up to her cheek.

"I...", she began. "Okay, what is it then?"

Kurt exhaled deeply. He had not actually thought about how to approach this subject, his mind had been twirling around another matter for the entirety of the last days. But suddenly he was more certain about this than about anything he had ever done before, here, looking into those beautiful, blue eyes of hers.

"I don't want to continue living like this.", he told her and could practically see on her face how her mind went blank for a moment.

"Kurt, I...", she breathed out, her lips remained parted and her eyes wandered around for a moment, as though they could find something in their surroundings that could help her figure out what to say. When they settled on his again, they looked so incredibly helpless that he suddenly felt very sorry for how he had approached this.

"Are you not happy?", she asked, her voice higher than it usually was.

"Diane, listen to me.", he said calmly and her expression did not change. "I don't want to continue to only see you on weekends. I don't want to do it like this for the next years, that's not how I want to live. I'm planning to sell my business so we can move in together."

A moment of silence passed. For what felt like hours, Diane did not even blink, only continued to stare at him.

And then she swatted her hand against his arm. Hard.

"Ow!", Kurt exclaimed, not truly hurt and more taken aback by her sudden outburst.

"You bastard!", she shrieked loudly.

"I, wha-", he began and was interrupted by another hit on his chest.

"You had me so worried, I thought you wanted to break up with me!", she cried out, her lips finally stretching in a smile.

"I don't.", Kurt said, holding up his hand to counter another hit.

"Did you tell your face?!" She pushed herself up into a sitting position and he followed her, meeting her gaze as she beamed at him brightly.

"You can't use the same expression for everything!", she laughed.

"So...", Kurt began, a lopsided grin beneath his moustache. "Do you not want to move in together?"

A loud sound, something between a laugh, groan and a cry all at once, escaped her and before he knew it, her lips crashed against his and her hands landed on his cheeks as she practically pulled his tongue into her mouth.

Kurt chuckled against her and his hands found her sides, roaming down the fabric of her navy blue cashmere sweater to just beneath her breasts and up next to them again as he responded happily to her kiss.

Diane suddenly pulled away, a frown implanted on her forehead, her hands still cupping his cheeks.

"But, Kurt...", she began. "I don't want you to give up on your business because of me."

He snorted and grinned at her. "Di, I've given this a lot of thought and it's really either you or me. And I could still teach at colleges and look into cases, it's practically only the lab I would be giving up on. And believe it or not, I'm not only doing this for you but for myself, too."

Her lips parted and closed a few times until she found her words again.

"But you don't like Chicago. That was like the first personal thing you told me about yourself!"

Kurt smirked. He had told her that, back then in her office, when they had first met over half a year ago. It felt as though an eternity had passed since then. An eternity he never intended to let come to an end. And looking into her eyes was like reassuring himself of the fact that they would actually never come to an end, if only they would let it continue forever.

"Didn't really have a reason to like Chicago, back then, did I?"

Diane smiled. "I guess that's true.", she breathed out and brushed her thumb over his stubbly cheek.

He placed a soft peck on her lips.

"So is that a yes?", he asked and Diane let out another laugh, her sparkling, blue eyes locking with his.

"Of course, you blithering idiot!", she chuckled happily and unconsciously flicked her tongue over her bottom lip. "Let's move in together."

Chapter Text

-A few months later-

Diane smiled and looked at the photo again.

Kurt's sister Liz had sent it to them, or to be more accurate, to her. It had been taken a few weeks back at Christmas Eve when Kurt and Diane had been driving out to visit her, his nephews and nieces and their children together over the holidays.

Diane had been nervous about meeting them at first, which made it all the better that things had gone so great.

"What if they don't like me?", she said in a small voice, avoiding his gaze and biting down on her bottom lip before she adjusted one of the paintings on the living room wall for the last time.

"They will.", he insisted, as if it actually were that simple, and opened another heavy moving box with books in them before they began to place them into their new bookshelf, made of polished dark wood, together.

"Well, what if they don't?"

Kurt put her copy of Tolstoi's Anna Karenina into the shelf before he sighed deeply and faced her. She was looking at him, one of her brows furrowed anxiously while her jaw moved as she nibbled on the inside of her cheek.

He placed his hand on her upper arm and drew her closer to plant a soft kiss on her lips before he looked at her again with determination in his green eyes.

"They will, honey. Don't worry about it."

She snorted sarcastically. "They're you're family, Kurt. Of course I'm worried about it."

"Don't. They'll love you." He brushed his fingers over her arm.

"How can you be so sure of that?"

"Because you're amazing. And that's why they will love you."

The picture showed the two of them standing in Liz's kitchen where it had been taken without their knowledge. Kurt had been eating a bowl of potato salad and he had let her try it before she had leaned forward to place a kiss on his cheek. The photo captured the moment perfectly and the longer she looked at it, the more decided she became over the fact that it was her new favourite photo of the two of them together.

All of her worries had been completely unnecessary. His family had been warm and welcoming and especially Liz and the kids had clearly been amazed by her.

"So, you're the one he's been talking about non-stop, whenever I called him within the last eight months?", Liz asked her during their first night at her house, while they were getting to know each other over a glass of wine.

"Liz-", Kurt tried to interfere in a somewhat embarrassed tone, but his sister carelessly interrupted him.

"Hey, shush, big brother! The ladies are talking.", she said to him before she smirked at Diane, who grinned back and shrugged.

"I hope so or else there would be some explaining left for him to do."

Liz chuckled. "She's funny!" She turned back to her brother. "Good looking, smart AND funny? Kurt, you don't deserve her at all! What did you do to trick her into getting engaged with you?"

Diane's eyes widened and she looked at Kurt who was still looking at his sister with an odd sort of terror in his eyes.

"Liz, we're not engaged.", he said harshly in a low voice.

"Oh!", she exclaimed and looked at him apologetically as her amused smile disappeared from her face. "Oh my god, I... I thought you'd said-"

"I didn't.", Kurt insisted in his previous sharp tone.

Liz nodded slowly before she smiled again.

"Well, anyway, she's too good for ya."

"I-", Diane attempted to object, but Kurt interrupted her, taking her hand in his underneath the table.

"I know." He smiled. "She really is."

Diane smiled to herself and placed the newly-framed photo on the fireplace, shooting it one last look before she got seated on the couch in front of the burning fire and took another sip of red wine.

She liked what they had done with their new brownstone. It was a warm, inviting house and it was certainly more than big enough for the three of them. Justice, Kurt and her. Their little family.

The warm colours of beige and brown he liked so much, and lots of art and flowers, just as she liked it. The smell, a mixture of both of their scents, one was met with when they entered the house and all of the memories they would fill the new space with... it was a whole new definition of home.
It was perfect.

Diane took another sip of red wine when she heard the sounds of keys unlocking the front door, the sound of the wind from outside sneaking its way in and the sounds of his footsteps entering before he closed the door.

Justice jumped up from where she was laying on the couch next to where Diane was seated and ran towards the entrance to greet him excitedly. Diane smiled when she heard the sound of his voice mingling with her small yelps.

"Hey, pal. Is mommy home yet?"

"She is.", Diane said loudly, smirking to herself. "You need a hand?"

"No, it's fine, hon. I can manage."

She shook her head, got up and followed his steps into the kitchen. Kurt stood with his back turned towards her as he placed two big brown paper bags from the grocery store on the counter.

She stepped a little closer towards him and placed her glass next to the bags when he turned around to face her.

"Are you expecting more company or what's with all the food?" She quirked an eyebrow at him.

"Nope, just thought I would cook us a nice dinner." He shrugged.

"Ah. Okay.", she said ironically before she leaned in to place a kiss on his lips.

His hand landed on her shoulder. His skin was cold and the remainders of the snow that was falling down on the streets of Chicago were melting on his hair and jacket.

She leaned back a little.

"Hello.", she whispered against his lips and he chuckled.

"Hey." He brushed his fingers over her shoulder and placed another peck on her lips before he began to unpack one of the paper bags.

Diane moved around him to start with the second one.

"How was your day?", she asked, placing a few different vegetables he had bought on the counter.

"Nothing exciting. Looked into a case for the SA's office today. Maybe you've heard about it? The one with the kid that shot his teacher." Kurt put the chicken fillet next to where she had put the vegetables.

"Seth Thompson? Yeah, that's Will's case. He shot him out of self-defence."

Diane frowned and eyed the two bottles of pricy champagne that she had just taken out of the bag.

"Champagne?", she asked and quirked an eyebrow at him. Kurt was many things, but he certainly was not into champagne.

"The science doesn't exactly point into Will's favour then, sorry to tell you that." He tilted his head towards her, mockingly. "And yeah, thought you would like it." Kurt shrugged in what he hoped would look like insignificancy.

Diane pursed her lips and put the two bottles in the fridge. "Okay, sure." She closed the door. "And Kurt, I've met the boy and I thought he seemed genuine."

"Good.", he closed the matter of the champagne. "And that's really out of my judgement, Di. I was asked to look into the science and that's what I did. Have you been in the dining room?"

"Uhm, no, not yet, why? And yes, of course, but the science doesn't exactly tell you about the emotional circumstances, does it?"

"No reason.", he answered her former question, glad that she had not been there but hiding his easement well. "And let's say that it tells me enough."

Diane playfully rolled her eyes, folded the empty paper bag and smirked at him.

"Let's not fight, dear.", she lilted.

He shrugged again and returned her smirk. "I like it when I can prove you wrong."

Diane tossed the bag in the trash and leaned over the counter to place another kiss on his lips.

"Get off of your high horse, cowboy.", she mumbled and caused him to chuckle.

"Yeah, yeah."

He brushed a stray blonde lock behind her ear. "What do you say, you start chopping up the vegetables and I'll go upstairs to change and then do the actual cooking?"

She grinned. "Would you have it any other way?"

"Nope." He smirked. "I don't like food poisoning."


...


"Hand me the plates?"

"Yes... so why are you wearing a suit again?", she asked, taking two plates from out of the cupboard above her head and placing them in front of him on the counter before he began to fill them with food.

"Don't like it?"

"No, I do. I'm just feeling painfully underdressed."

Kurt scoffed and put down the pan before he let his eyes roam over her appearance.

"Oh, stop it." He locked his eyes with her and handed her one of the plates. "You look perfect."

Diane smiled and placed a small kiss on his cheek before she handed him his beer, took her newly filled glass of wine and followed him over to the dining room.

Entering after him, she came to a sudden halt and almost dropped her glass and plate.

"Kurt, I-... what-", she stumbled as her eyes took in the sight.

There were lit candles on the table, centring around a huge and beautiful arrangement of white calla lilies in a pretty glass vase.

Her head spun to him and she stared at his smirking face.

"I... I haven't forgotten about anything, have I?", she asked anxiously. Their one year anniversary was still a little over two months away and what else could be there?

Kurt suddenly began to chuckle and he put his plate and beer on the table at his seat on the side before he took hers and her glass to put it on her usual seat at the head of the table. He pulled her chair out for her, nodding his head towards it and gently said, "Sit, Diane.".

And so she did. Kurt pushed her chair closer to the table and sat down next to her.

"Bon appetit.", he said, winked at her and began to eat while Diane still stared at him with parted lips and wide eyes.

"Kurt, what am I missing here?", she asked in bewilderment.

Kurt chewed on a piece of carrot, swallowed and smiled at her. He put down his fork and took her her hand in his, slowly brushing his thumb over the back of her fingers.

"Nothing.", he assured her. "Now, could you just eat and enjoy yourself, please?"

Her lips stretched in a small, lopsided smile that she saved just for him and she squeezed his hand.

"Okay."


...


"Hey, you're sister has sent us a picture of the two of us. Addressed to me, actually.", she told him, smirking, when they got seated at the table again after they had put the dishes away.

Kurt grinned and poured each of them a glass of champagne.

"That sounds like her." He put the bottle on the table and handed her one of the champagne flutes. "I think she already likes you better than me."

Diane laughed heartily, throwing her head back a little, and he smiled at the sound of it.

"Don't be ridiculous.", she chuckled.

"I'm not. She's told me so. And, really, I can't blame her."

She shook her head amusedly before she raised her glass.

"To us?", she asked, one of her eyebrows arched up.

"To you.", he corrected and made her chuckle again in flattery. He clinked his glass against hers and they simultaneously took a sip.

"It's a good photo, too, by the way. I've put it on the fireplace.", she told him after she had swallowed a sip of the pricy, sparkling liquid and placed the glass back on the table in front of her.

Her chin was resting on her hand, her elbow on the table. Her light blue eyes were glistening in the flickering light of the candles and her skin was lightly flushed because of the wine she had been drinking and because of the compliments he had been giving her over the cause of the evening.

The dress she was wearing that day was as white as the lilies on the table and it could not have been any more perfect.

She could not have been any more perfect.

"I'm sure it is. Auntie Diane is so pretty, remember?", he quoted his grandniece Millie and caused Diane to blush and take another sip of champagne, while she avoided his gaze, smiling widely to herself.

He studied her expression intently. She was so beautiful, the way she moved so fascinating and mesmerizing. Every time he looked at her was like the first time he had ever seen her all over again and he knew he would never tire of looking at her. Not ever.

"Hey.", he said softly, leaned forward and brushed his fingers over her warm cheek. "Why don't you show me that photo?"

Diane's eyes met his again and she smiled, momentarily closing her eyes as she leaned into his touch before she pushed her chair back.

"Sure.", she said, placed a kiss on his lips and got up to leave the room.

She walked over to the living room and took the framed photo off of the mantelpiece over the fire that had burned down to its embers while they had cooked and eaten dinner. She turned around and walked back to the dining room, smiling at the photo again.

Kurt had held his free arm around her waist and there was a small smile on his face while she had placed her lips on his cheek. It was a beautiful picture. A small, intimate moment in the company of his family, but it had been as though they had been all alone. As if together, they had forgotten that there were actually still others around them for a moment.

It was a beautiful picture. And she had to admit that they did make quite the couple.

"It's not staged or something, I think neither of us even realized that we were being photographed, so I think you'll really like-"

Her voice broke off when she arrived back at the dining room and heard the soft piano tunes of Debussy's Clair de Lune welcome her back.

She came to a halt, lowered the photo and her gaze left it. It was one of her favourite classical pieces, but she had never actually told him that.

Kurt was standing right in front of her, his hands held out between them, and a small, nervous smile beneath his moustache.

And suddenly, she realized what this was about.

His suit and the dinner and the champagne and the candles and the lilies. It all made sense now and she wondered for a second how she could not have seen this coming.

She lay the forgotten photo on the dining table next to her and slowly placed her hands in his.

"Kurt, I-", she began.

"Di.", he interrupted her gently. "Please listen."

She closed her parted, crimson-red lips and gave him a small nod, already beginning to feel a knot forming in her throat.

"I...", he began before he shook his head and chuckled nervously, until his eyes found hers again, as though looking at them gave him the courage to continue.

"I've been thinking a lot lately. About you and about us. We've known each other now for exactly ten months today and we've been together for almost as long."

Diane smiled at him. She would not have remembered this exact date and she loved him even more for doing so.

"We didn't exactly have an easy start because of the..." He paused and swallowed.

"Because of the circumstances that were thrown at us on our way. But they were what has made me realize very early on that I was in love with you. And that was odd to me at first, because I've never been one to... to just fall in love that easily or to settle down. But maybe it's true that there really is that one person out there for everyone, who can just change everything for them within a matter of seconds and... I don't know if that's true but you make me believe it, Di. Because I feel like you are that person to me."

He shot her a small smile and Diane swallowed hard, trying unsuccessfully to get rid of the dry knot in her throat.

"I love you, Di. I love you more than anything in the world and... I've promised myself not to waste our time again. Because I know now what it feels like to almost lose you and there's nothing that has ever scared me even nearly as much as that."

In the soft light of the candles, Diane saw tears glistening in his warm, green eyes and they were enough to shoot ones of her own into hers, slightly blurring her vision, as he continued in a raspy voice.

"I have taken our time together for granted for much too long because I hadn't realized yet how... how fragile life is and how unpredictable it tends to be. And I've been meaning to ask you this for a long time now, but life always got in the way and I had to understand first that life always gets in the way and that we just need to... I don't know, that maybe we are the ones who need to overcome that by ourselves and who have to just go through with things and act to make the perfect moment happen, instead of waiting for it to arrive when it never actually does on its own."

Diane smirked and felt a tear rolling out of her eye. This was exactly what Will had said to her almost four months ago.

"I don't know a lot about perfection.", he continued. "I truly am far from perfect and I don't think that our relationship is what they would call perfect. But I know that you are. You are perfect to me and, really, ever since we've been together, I've been waiting for you to finally figure out just how perfect you are and then leave my pathetic and sorry ass because you're honestly so much better than I am."

Another tear rolled down on her cheeks and Diane chuckled throatily, closing her eyes for a moment and feeling a few more tears wandering down on her skin before she looked at him again.

"I'm not.", she disagreed in a husky voice.

"No, you are and you don't even realize it.", he insisted. "But I guess, or rather hope, that it's the same for you with me. That you see something in me, whatever the hell that might be, that makes me as special to you as you are to me. Because I think that this is the way it works."

She nodded. "It is.", she assured him in a choked whisper.

Kurt took a deep breath and a single tear left his eye when he continued.

"Di, I know that it hasn't been easy. I know how incredibly hard it has been and I will forever be so sorry that I couldn't protect you from what's happened to you... and I am so infinitely glad that you..."

He bit back a sob and swallowed. "I'm so glad that you were strong enough to... to live through this. Because I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't."

The sob that he seemingly had managed to hold back escaped her with a new wave of fresh tears.

"I never could have done it without you.", she breathed out raspily and he smiled at her as though she were the most precious and admirable thing he had ever seen.

"Diane, you never needed anyone to save you. Not me and not anyone else. But... but I'm glad you let me help you. That you let me help you save yourself. Because I love you. I love you so much and I always will and I won't ever stop to be grateful that you're letting me love you. And I hope that you will let me be there for you for the rest of our lives because there really is nowhere I'd rather be."

Kurt placed a small kiss on the back of one of her trembling hands before he let them go, reached into the inside pocket of his suit jacket and knelt down in front of her.

He looked up at her with so much love in his eyes, that his gaze caused the knot in her throat to tighten almost painfully. He opened the small, black velvet box without breaking their eye-contact and another small tear ran out of his eye.

"Diane Lockhart. Will you marry me?"

Chapter Text

-Seven months later-

In the end, everything had gone so fast that she sometimes had to lean back and take a moment to herself, to realize that all of this was really happening. That this was not just the most angst-inducing and terrifying, but also at the same time the happiest and most joyous and affectionate and amazing dream there ever could have been.

In the bedroom of the hotel suite, Diane was eyeing herself in the mirror while she waited for Kurt's sister to come and help her with the dress.

Really, a small wedding with just a handful of people would have been more than fine to her, as long as it would be the two of them. She never needed that big display of love and attention and she naturally would have assumed that he, the impersonation of taciturnity and the most introverted person she had ever met, would have preferred to do this in a small and more private environment.

But Kurt never failed to surprise her. Even though nothing would ever be as surprising to her as his proposal all those months back.

"Diane Lockhart. Will you marry me?", he asked, holding out the opened velvet box with the yellow gold, vintage-inspired ring that showcased multiple round-shaped diamonds in a display of both bezel and pavé settings on its band, centring around the round, one-carat diamond in the middle.

It was beautiful, truly perfect for her and later she would compliment him for the choice because of just how incredibly perfect it was. But right now she could not even look at it. Her watery eyes were too fixated on his.

He was looking at her with such admiration and love and nervousness, but only a hint of it, just enough to be charming, in his green eyes that were still glistening with tears.
The soft tunes of Clair de Lune in the background had long come to an end and it was as though everything, from him, over the music and to the lilies, was waiting for her to say something, including herself.

Her lips parted and when she tried to answer, a deep sob escaped her. She closed her eyes and brushed her tears away, breathed in deeply and looked at him again, a small smile forming on her lips.

And she nodded.

"Yes.", Diane finally snivelled. "Yes, of course, I will."

Kurt released a breath of relief he had been holding in and a wide smile formed beneath his moustache. Then he got up, took her left hand in his and put the ring on her trembling ring finger. It fitted perfectly.

Then he pulled her close and placed a soft kiss on her mouth which she deepened instantly, slinging her arms around him to pull him as close to her as humanly possible.

"I love you.", she whispered heavily against his lips.

"I love you, too, Diane.", he whispered back. "So much."

Diane looked at the ring on her finger and smiled until her thoughts were interrupted by a soft knock on the door.

"Come in, it's open.", she said and in stepped Liz, wearing a navy blue, knee-length wrap dress, her brown hair pinned up in an elegant bun.

"Hello, bride.", she asked cautiously and closed the door behind her. "How are we doing up here?"

Diane shot her a smile. "Unexpectedly good actually. I don't know, I'm still waiting for the great, unbearable nervousness to kick in.", she said, only half-joking, and stepped closer to her soon-to-be sister-in-law to embrace her in a tight hug.

Liz leaned back after a few moments and rubbed her hand over Diane's upper arm, over the silk material of her dressing gown.

"You look amazing.", she said, eyeing her hair and make-up.

Diane smiled. "Thank you. And so do you. Is he here already?"

"Yes, I drove him. He's already outside in the garden."

She nodded. "How is he holding up?", she asked before she scraped her front teeth over her lower lip.

"Oh, he's a nervous wreck. But he's also never been happier before, so..." She shrugged. "Pretty good, I guess."

Liz brushed her fingers over Diane's arms again. "Honestly, Diane. I've known him since I was born and I've never seen him so happy. And I know that this is your doing. So thank you."

Diane smirked and shook her head. "I could never give back what he gives to me every day."

Liz raised her eyebrows at her. "Is that a part of your vows?", she chuckled.

"Not yet. We'll see how it goes.", Diane snickered.

Liz's hands left her arms. "So, you need help with the dress?"

"Yes, that would be great."

Liz nodded and Diane led her to the bed where she had laid out the garment bag earlier that day. Diane leaned forward but Liz stopped her.

"Uh-uh." She held up her hand. "This is your day, so let me."

Diane playfully rolled her eyes but stepped back anyway and watched as Liz began to unzip the ivory, sheath/column sweep train, v-neck satin gown and the corresponding see-through lace bridal-cape that ended just below the breasts.

Liz gasped and her gaze slowly roamed from the dress up to Diane.

"Oh, Diane. It's beautiful.", she breathed out and Diane shot her a lopsided smile.

"I hope he'll think so, too."

"Are you kidding? His eyeballs are gonna pop right out of his head. Though I know he would marry you even if you came wearing a paper bag."

Diane chuckled and while Liz, carefully and with a lot of caution, took the wedding dress out of the garment bag, she slipped out of her dressing gown.

Liz unzipped the dress and held it out for her to step in, her movements freezing momentarily when her eyes fell on the long and thin, light brown scar on the side of Diane's abdomen.

"Oh, hon. What happened there?", she asked, a small frown on her forehead.

"That's a long story.", Diane said, smiling. "I will tell you at another time."


...


"So, all set?"

Diane nodded slowly, almost hesitantly. "I think so... and you promise me that I don't look ridiculous?"

Liz narrowed her eyes. "You don't. Now quit it, will ya? It's almost as maddening as Kurt's concerns over his vows.", she said dryly and caused Diane to chuckle.

"Okay, so you've got your garter on, you have your new dress... do you have something old?"

Diane blinked a few times before she understood was this was about. "My earrings and necklace belonged to my mother."

"Okay, that's great! And they have sapphires on them, so you've also got something blue. The only thing missing now is something borrowed...", she mumbled in thought.

"Liz, it's fine, really. Those things aren't important to me."

"Oh, no no no. We're gonna do this right.", Liz insisted and suddenly smirked. "I have an idea."

And she took off her bracelet and held it out for Diane to see.

"Here, look. And it's yellow gold so it matches the rest of your jewellery. Our father gave it to our mother for their first wedding anniversary and then she gave it to me when I got married myself." She beamed at her, a small, almost not noticeable glimpse of sadness washing over her green eyes that were so very similar to Kurt's.

Diane swallowed. He had told her that Liz's husband Jackson had died only a few years back in a car crash. She could not take this. It was way too much. And much too generous.

"Liz, I-", Diane began stuttering. "That's so nice of you, but I can't."

"Why not? You're only borrowing and I know that she would have loved for you to wear it." She tilted her head. "Take it, Diane. Please, take it."

Diane bit on the inside of her cheek, still hesitating, until she gave in to those warm, green eyes of hers. Her lips slowly stretched in a smile and she held out her arm to let Liz put the delicate bracelet around her wrist.

"Wonderful.", Liz said after she had stepped back and given her one last, careful look. "Now, let me hug you again, so I can hurry back downstairs and fulfil my duties of being the best woman to that nervous wreck of a fiancé of yours.", she said and caused Diane to chuckle again before she pulled her in for another hug.

"Break a leg, Lockhart.", she whispered into her ear.

"Thank you, Liz."

They had just pulled away from each other when the sound of a knock echoed into the room.

"Yes?", Diane asked before the door opened and Will, dressed in an elegant, black suit with a navy blue tie and pochette, carrying a backpack over his shoulder and holding the wedding bouquet of white calla lilies in one hand, appeared in the hotel suite.

His jaw dropped and his movements froze when he saw Diane.

"Wow.", he said lowly, genuinely impressed, and Diane blushed lightly.

"Thank you.", she said, smiling and Will grinned.

"Told you it was a good choice."

"Yeah, yeah, I know. You're always right." Diane playfully rolled her eyes but could not hide a grin of her own. After all, he had been right all those weeks back when he had, against all of her expectations, excitedly agreed to go through bridal-wear shop after shop with her and help her find the perfect wedding dress until he had helped her settle on the one she was wearing right now.

"Great timing, by the way.", Diane continued. "I've just finished getting dressed."

Will smirked. "Damn, so I've just missed my last chance of seeing you naked in this life?", he asked and winked at her.

"O-kay, okay.", Liz said loudly. "Now that the best man is here, I'm gonna go back downstairs to find the groom, okay?", she said and failed to hide a chuckle.

"See you, Liz.", Diane said after her. "And thank you, again. And please tell him not to worry."

Liz turned back around to face her, shrugged and said, "But, Diane... what would be the fun in that?", before she winked at her, too, and left.

Diane smirked to herself and her gaze met Will's again. He stepped closer to her and pulled her in for a short hug, placing a small kiss on her cheek before he pulled away again.

"You look fantastic.", he said.

"Thank you.", she said again. "Have you seen him?"

"Yeah, he's pretty nervous."

Diane nodded slowly. "I'm beginning to feel it, too."

"Yeah, I figured and I've brought you something to remediate that.", Will said grinning and swung the backpack off of his shoulder. He opened it and took a bottle of highly expensive looking scotch out of it, quirking an eyebrow at her in question.

Diane laughed. "Yeah, sure. Why not."

They got seated on a nearby couch with a floral pattern on its cushions and Will gently placed the bouquet on a small table beside them, before he poured the scotch generously in two crystal tumblers he took out of the backpack, too, before he handed her one of them.

"Cheers.", she said to him, holding out her glass.

"Cheers. To love.", he answered and clinked his glass against hers before they began to drink simultaneously.

"Mm.", she hummed after she had swallowed a big sip. "This helps."

Will snickered. "I can imagine."

She shook her head and a small wave of laughter escaped her.

"I can't believe I'm getting married today."

Will smirked at her and took another sip before he spoke. "Honestly? I kinda can."

"What?", she exclaimed, still laughing. "Really? Do you get even a glimpse of a domestic vibe from me? And if so, please do tell me what it is immediately and I will stop doing it as we speak."

Will began to laugh, too, for a small, light moment, until their laughter ebbed away and he spoke again in a serious tone.

"No. I've just seen the two of you together and it just... I don't know. It just doesn't really surprise me as much as it probably would have if it weren't him with you. The two of you just... I don't know. It just fits, right?"

The corner of her lips twitched and Diane swallowed another sip of scotch.

"Yes. It really does. But... I don't know, I guess somewhere along the way I had just stopped thinking that marriage was something I would do at some point, you know?"

"Yeah, I know. That's where I am right now.", he said chuckling. "But don't be worried, you'll be just fine."

Diane nodded. "I'm not worried. It's more of an... excited nervousness. You know, in a good way.", she said and took another sip. "Because... I know that this is right."

Will smiled at her. "Yeah, I think so, too. I've certainly never seen you as happy before as you've been in the last few months."

Diane smiled and audibly exhaled a breath in amusement. "Yes, me neither, to be honest."

"Maybe one day you can teach me how to do it."

Diane tilted her head. "I think you'll have to go to Kurt for that kind of advice."

Will chuckled and looked at his wristwatch.

"It's time.", he told her and they drank the remainders of scotch in each of their glasses. He took hers and placed them on the small side table next to him before he looked at her again.

"Ready?", he asked, holding out his hand for her to take.

Diane nodded. "Yes. Don't let me trip over something.", she said, took his hand and they got up.

Will smiled and handed her the lilies, which she took before her other hand left his and her fingers closed around the upper arm he stretched out for her.

"Never.", he said. "I've got you, Lockhart."


...


"How is she?", he asked as soon as he saw his sister approach him as she made her way through the crowd of guests that were in the middle of getting seated, between them.

"Keep it together, Kurt.", she scoffed playfully and patted his shoulder. "She's doing a lot better than you."

He sighed deeply. "I'm nervous, Liz."

"Oh, can't I tell?", she asked sarcastically and straightened the white calla lily corsage in the suit pocket on his chest. "But you don't have to be. As soon as you see her, you won't be nervous anymore. Everything will be fine.", she said in a gentle tone.

"No one has told me my hands were going to be so sweaty.", he said in a raw voice and caused his sister to laugh.

"That's what you get for getting married in the middle of summer.", she mocked him.

"Were you this nervous when you got married?"

Liz's lips stretched in a small smile. "No. Though you've told me that Jackson was, so I'm beginning to see a pattern here."

Kurt shot her a smirk.

"I love her, Liz.", he told her lowly and she smiled.

"I know. And she loves you. And that's why you don't need to be nervous."

Kurt nodded again, trying to convince himself of that, and he took a deep breath, his fingers coming up to rub a spot behind his ear, before he parted his lips to say something, but before he knew it, Liz had already moved to his side, the guests had stood up quietly and the string quartet had begun to play in soft tunes.

And then he saw her. And the mere sight of her was enough to instantly force tears into his eyes.


...


It was a warm day in late July.

The sun was meeting them with all of its force, when Will and Diane stepped out of the massive door of the luxurious hotel, that led them out into the botanical garden, a few steps behind Kurt's grandnieces Sophia and Millie who had excitedly agreed to serve as the flower girls for the day. Both of them were wearing fluffy, navy blue tulle dresses and they looked endlessly adorable in them.

The hotel had been one of the best compromises the two of them had ever made over the cause of their relationship. It was luxurious and chic and the architecture was ancient and magnificently beautiful. And it was right in the middle of nowhere. When they had seen the pictures, Diane had instantly been enchanted by it and when they had made it a day trip to look at it in person, Kurt had had to agree with her.

There was just something about this place that fitted them so perfectly.

Diane looked around and breathed in deeply in an attempt of releasing the tension inside of her.

"Okay. Now I'm nervous.", she mumbled to Will as they walked along the even pathway that would lead them to the rest of the wedding party, which they could already see from where they were.

Will chuckled lightly.

"Don't be.", he told her gently.

"Is my lipstick okay?", she asked anxiously and Will looked at her.

For a small moment he considered to ask her if she were planning on going back upstairs to the hotel room to touch it up again in case it was not, but when he saw the concerned look in her light blue eyes, he decided to take her question seriously.

"Yes. You've never looked better, Diane.", he assured her and felt how she exhaled a deep breath.

"Would you even tell me if I didn't?"

He snickered.

"You know I would. That's what friends are for, right?"

Diane smiled.

"Hey, thanks for doing this, by the way.", she said softly and Will frowned.

"For doing what?"

"Walking me down the aisle. It..." She swallowed deeply. "It means a lot to me."

Will smiled widely to himself. "Thanks for asking. It means a lot to me, too."

Diane squeezed his arm lightly and they came to a halt behind the girls, just around the corner that would bring them to the way between the guests. To the way that would lead her to her fiancé.

The girls, well-behaved and patiently waited for their sign and when the string-quartet softly began to play and the guests had gotten quiet and up, they began to walk again, littering the white and yellow flower petals on the navy blue carpet that was displayed over the aisle.

"Ready?", Will whispered again.

"Ready.", Diane whispered back, a smile on her face while she tightened the grip on her bridal bouquet.

Will nodded and they stepped around the corner.


...


It was a sight for sore eyes and so much more beautiful than she had imagined it to be.

The navy blue of the carpet and the tulle bows around the white painted guest's chairs matched the outfits of Will, Liz, the flower girls and the long, flowing robes of the bridesmaids, Kurt's youngest niece Amanda, Diane's goddaughter Maia and Jane, perfectly.

The white was a nice, elegant contrast to the dark colour. White calla lilies and yellow roses were plaited into the wedding gate behind the bridesmaids, the officiant, Liz... and Kurt.

He looked so handsome, it was unbelievable. The ivory white of his tuxedo jacket matched the colour of her dress perfectly and she was sure that this was Will's doing, since he had been the only person, apart from herself obviously, who had seen her dress before this day. He looked good in white. It suited him perfectly.

Her eyes instantly found him when Will and her turned around the corner and suddenly, she did not feel the tension in her body anymore. Just looking at him seemed to wash her in endless calm and release.

She saw how he nervously looked from his grandnieces up to the crowd of guests and he brought up his hand to rub a small spot behind his ear. A tic he had had ever since she had known him and probably even for much, much longer. It was charming. Charming and sweet and she loved it.

When he saw her, his movements seemed to freeze for a long second, until his arm dropped back to his side. His eyes, green and warm and inviting to get lost in them for an eternal amount of time, locked with hers and his lips parted.

Diane's lips stretched in a wide smile and her gaze momentarily dropped down to the carpeted floor that was covered in the flower petals, thanks to the girls. She instinctively drew her bottom lip into her mouth before she remembered that she did not want to bite of her crimson red lipstick and released it again before she looked up at him again.

It was as though suddenly, the garden had been cleared of anyone but the two of them. As if they were the only people in the whole, wide area because as soon as they had locked their eyes, there was nothing they noticed anymore, except for the other.

The closer she came to him, the more she could see that there were tears in his eyes and had she been able to draw her eyes away from him again, she would have done it, but something inside of her made it impossible for her to do so. Not that she would ever want to stop looking at him; she actually felt as though he was everything she would ever need to see and she would never tire of it, if only she could. But his gaze, so intense and loving and admiring as it always had been, even in her ugliest moments, could be more than she could take sometimes because it was so easily able to break her.

And the last thing she wanted to be was weak. And it was not until this moment that she realized that sometimes, it was okay to be weak if it meant that in that way, she could let herself truly feel. Truly feel the love for her that he confided to her with his gaze, even though his love for her was not a secret. It was just the overwhelming amount of it that was more difficult to notice when he was usually able to hide it so well beneath his silent facade.

On their first date, she had asked him if this stoic silent thing he did so well was only a facade. Now she knew that it was necessary for him to hold it up so that he would not practically explode from all the emotions he was feeling. And if she literally would have only looked a little closer, if only she had known him a little better back then, she would have been able to see just how eloquent he was in the way he talked to her without the use of any words. Because he told her so much more than she could ever tell him in the way he allowed her to read his expression.

And all those realizations, all those great things about this wonderful man who was standing there, waiting for her, waiting to agree to spend the rest of his life with her and the huge declaration of love he had just wordlessly told her with the way he was looking at her and the fact that she was finally able to hold that gaze, they shot hot tears into her eyes. Tears of more love and more happiness than she had ever thought herself to be able to feel.

And suddenly the people around them were back again. The string-quartet, that had actually never stopped playing, continued to play again. The guests around them, that had actually never stopped to look at her, were looking at her again. Liz, the bridesmaids and the officiant, that had actually never stopped waiting, were waiting at the altar with him again. And Will, who had actually never left her side, suddenly came to a halt.

Diane looked to her left to face him, her eyes reluctantly breaking the eye-contact with Kurt's, and she was met with Will's smiling face. He placed his free hand on her cheek and placed a small kiss on the other one, while her hand was still wrapped around his upper arm.

"Good luck, partner.", he whispered into her ear. "I'm right behind you."

He pulled away from her and her smile, her watery eyes met his.

Then he stepped forward and embraced Kurt in a one-armed hug and she could hear how Will whispered, "Take good care of her, okay?", into his ear.

When they parted, she could see how Kurt nodded at him.

Will's hand found her lower back and he gently guided her forward to Kurt. Their fingers found the other's and their eyes locked again. From here, standing so close to him, she could clearly see that his eyes were also filled with tears, if not even more than her own. He stepped closer to her for a small moment and pressed a kiss on her temple.

She could smell his scent. He smelled of wood and aftershave and long nights of arguing over glasses of wine and of arms in which she felt safe and of love and of Kurt.

And there was something else she smelled that could not really have been there because she knew that he had spent the last night in a hotel, just as she had. But she smelled it anyways and she would probably always smell it when she would inhale his scent.

Gunpowder. In his hair and on his clothes and on his skin. The smell of gunpowder that was mingling with the smell of the lilies behind them and around them and in her hand.

Lilies and gunpowder. So different and yet so unexpectedly perfect together.

Kurt shifted and his lips barely brushed against her ear when he whispered, "You look incredibly beautiful.", into it and the soft touch still managed to cause a shiver to run over her spine.

He stepped back again and Maia approached her, taking the wedding bouquet so she could place her other hand in Kurt's, too.

"I love you.", she whispered to him and a wide smile formed on his lips.

"I love you, too.", he whispered back before the music stopped and the guests sat down again so that the ceremony could begin.


...


"I understand that both of you have prepared your own speeches and vows?", the officiant asked and Kurt and Diane nodded simultaneously.

"Okay, Kurt should we start with yours?"

Kurt nodded, the discomfort clearly written on his face and Diane bit back a chuckle. A few guests in the front rows had seen it, too, and they laughed for a small moment.

And then he locked his eyes with hers again, squeezed her hands lightly and began to speak.

"Diane... Di.", he corrected and a wide smile formed on her lips. He had been the first person who had ever given her a real nickname in all her life.

"When I was a kid, my mother always used to tell me, One day, Kurt, you will find a girl and you will look at her and just know. And when I asked her, what it is that I would know then, she only said, You'll see."

He shot her a small smile.

"I never thought that it was important to get married. I've obviously had relationships before and some of them have lasted long enough to actually consider it, but I never really felt the need to do it. I was always fine with the way things were and I thought that marriage wouldn't really change anything about them because it's only a paper to sign and not another layer of an... emotional bond or something like that."

Kurt paused and she gave him an encouraging smile, silently inviting him to go on. He nodded and breathed in deeply.

"And then I met you. And from the moment I've met you in that office of yours, where you were wearing your insanely expensive clothes and showed me your bossy attitude and confronted me with your terrible taste in politicians,..."

Diane playfully rolled her eyes and many of the guests laughed.

"... there has been something about you that made me want to tease you."

Diane's lips parted and she snickered for a small moment before she smiled at him silently again to let him carry on.

"And when I continued to reach out to you and tried to keep teasing you, I realized that this was actually about something different. That this was actually something really special. And I didn't really know at first, why this was so different to me. We didn't know each other very well back then and I couldn't tell why something inside of me urged me to spend more time with you and to get to know you better.

"But you were so different from me and I figured that I was simply fascinated by that. By the conversations we would have and by the things I would discover about you, like the way you hold your fingers over your mouth when you're upset, or the way you take off your reading glasses for a dramatic effect, or the way you brush the front parts of your hair out of your face, even when your hair looks flawless, or the way you roll your eyes at me while you try to hide a smirk when I'm mocking you, or how you flick your tongue over your lower lip without even noticing that you're doing it, just like you did now."

Diane furrowed her eyebrows at him and her lips parted.

"You did.", he insisted grinning and the guests laughed again before he continued, a warm look in his green eyes.

"And after a while, I began to appreciate all those things so very much. I began to like you and all of your little quirks because they only made you even better, and before I knew it, I was so deeply in love with you that I couldn't even grasp it. And then..."

He paused and his eyes left hers and she knew exactly what it was that would remain unvoiced by him. She squeezed his hands gently and his gaze wandered back to her. He swallowed and went on with a slightly lower voice than before and she did not think that anybody noticed it, except for Will and the two of them.

"And then everything changed. For you and for me and for our relationship. And I needed us to move forward. I suddenly didn't want to be without you for longer than absolutely necessary anymore. I wanted to share my life with you, to come home to you and I wanted you to come home to me. Because no place and no house has ever been more of a home to me than being with you is."

The corner of her lips twitched and Diane tried to keep the tears she could already sense from making their way into her eyes.

"I didn't know then why I suddenly wanted to settle down and then eventually get married to you when I never felt the need to do that before."

He paused and brushed his thumbs over her fingers.

"So I waited. Pushed the thoughts aside and waited, until I found myself regretting it. Until I realized that my mother had been right because then I looked at you and I knew. Because you were the reason and I didn't even need another explanation for going through with it anymore."

Kurt cleared his throat and shot her a look she knew all too well but would never fail to feel overpowered by.

"Diane, I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I promise to be your home. I promise that I will let you be silly and serious all at once. I promise that I will do everything to protect you and keep you safe. I promise to listen to you when you're rambling and I promise to hold you whenever you need me to.

"I will hold you when you're feeling small and I will listen when you feel as though no one can understand you and I will kiss you when you're feeling worthless until you know again that you are loved. And I promise to love you. I will love you forever because there's nothing that has ever been more fulfilling to me than loving you."

He swallowed and shot her a lopsided smile.

"I love you, Diane. I love you so much and when I'm looking at you now, I know exactly why I love you. I'm looking at you and I know that I want to marry you. I'm looking at you and I just know."

It was silent in the botanical garden. It was as if sometime in the last couple of minutes, everyone had begun to hold on to their breath.

Diane was still looking him in the eyes and then suddenly, one of her hands left his and she turned aside to brush the tears that had finally begun to glisten in her eyes away with the back of it. She inhaled deeply and exhaled slowly once to calm her breathing and then she turned back around to him and shot him a smile before she placed her hand in his again and began to speak in an unexpectedly strong and steady voice.

"Kurt.", she began and he smiled back at her.

"You are the most honest man I have ever met. Your honesty was one of the first things that fascinated me about you and it will probably never stop doing so. It has taught me that I could trust you and that I could rely on you and it taught me to let you love me, even when sometimes, it was hard for me to let you."

The corner of Kurt's lips shot up and he shot her a lopsided smile and squeezed her hands.

"You often tell me that you think that I am perfect, even though I'm really not. And saying this is not request for you to say that more often or a show-off of a low self-esteem or something similar to that. Nobody is perfect. We are all just human and that is the objective truth."

She paused when she saw the disagreeing look on his face and she smirked at him.

"But whenever you tell me that, it makes me realize that you actually really feel the same way about me as I feel about you. Kurt, you are smart in ways that I'm not. You are calm in a way that I will never be. You are selfless and brave in ways that I could never imagine to become.

"You are so different from me that I feel like you are actually perfect. You are all the things that I've never been and won't ever be, just as I am all of those things to you. And this completion, this feeling of fulfilment that I get whenever I'm with you is what makes you so perfect to me."

Diane brushed her thumb over his fingers when she saw him swallowing hard at her words, to try and help him remove the tension from his body, just as looking at him had helped her when she had walked down the aisle before she continued to speak.

"I can be moody and exhausting and whenever I am, you somehow manage to calm me down again. Sometimes I yell at you when I come home from work after I've seen a speech by Sarah Palin in the news that day and then I throw some colourful curse words at your head and you just yell back, until we decide to drop the subject and make up, just like that."

Kurt grinned at her and the guests laughed.

"I make you watch rom-coms with me that you don't want to watch at all, but you just lay down on the couch with me and let me drag you through them anyways. And for a long time I've wondered why. I wondered, why it was that two people with completely different interests could ever be happy together, until I realized that you actually love it more than anything, just like I do."

She cast him another smile.

"I love it when you take me out to go hiking or fishing at places, where no one has ever even heard of cell phone coverage, and I love to then complain about it to you, just as you love to watch some, quote-unquote, stupid movie with me and to not listen to the way it plays out and to scoff about it whenever I bring it up.

"We love it when we get to disagree about politics and we love to fight about it until there's nothing left for us to yell about, because in the end, we always know that we still love each other, no matter what we say in those moments and it only shows us, that there really is nothing that we could do to reduce that love."

Kurt nodded lightly and one of his brows furrowed, telling her that he was trying not to cry.

"And still, whenever you tell me that I am perfect, somewhere deep inside of me it causes me to consider that maybe I am. Because when someone like you, someone as honest as you are, someone who is not afraid of disagreeing with me, someone who is so incredibly and utterly perfect to me, thinks that I am, too, it makes me believe in myself. And being with you, especially because we are so different from each other and still somehow manage to make it work between us, is what makes me believe in love. It makes me believe in perfection and in romance and in all of those things I have never believed in before I met you, and it makes me believe in love, in true love."

His green eyes suddenly filled with tears and she had to pause for a moment to resist the urge to pull him close and to kiss them away in front of the whole wedding party. So she took a deep breath, beamed at him and spoke again.

"Kurt, I promise you that I will never be insulted when you're mocking me about my non-existent culinary skills again because I know that you like it when you do it, just as much as I do. I promise to always let you laugh about my girlishness because I know that it amuses you so much.

"I promise to let you be silent when you want to be and that I will always fill the silence for both of us when you can't help me with it. I promise to let you hold me tight when you're scared at night, and that I won't let on that I am awake, because I know that you don't want me to know that even you can't always keep it together. And I promise that you will always be perfect to me and that I will always be there to complete you and to be your equal."

A single tear rolled down on his cheek and Diane had to forcefully bite down on her bottom lip to keep herself from crying over the sight of it. She swallowed and squeezed his warm hands again before she continued in a somewhat shaky voice.

"Kurt, I am flawed and damaged. And I love you. I love you and it doesn't scare me anymore. I love you and I promise that I will keep loving you for the rest of my life. I promise to love you when you feel hopeless and when you cry and when you feel like the world collapses around you and I promise to show you the path when you think that there is no way out anymore. I promise to give you light when you think that there's only darkness. And I promise to love you, even or especially if you do not feel like anyone could ever love you, if you feel like..."

She swallowed again and the unwanted tears made it into her eyes after all.

"If you feel like you're not worthy of being loved. Because all of those things are what you did for me and I promise that I would do them for you, too. I will take care of you and I will keep you safe and I will make you happy every day of your life. Because I am so utterly in love with you that I sometimes think that nobody could ever feel this way, too. But, as you said, then I look at you and... and know better."

Diane's trembling lips stretched in a small smile and another tear rolled down his cheek.

His gaze was so full of love and admiration and she held it, resisting the urge to look away from it.

She held it and hoped that hers made him feel the exact same thing as his made her feel. Because it was beautiful.

Because it was perfect.

Chapter Text

She opened her eyes, hesitantly because of the blindingly bright light of the sun she was instantly met with, and she hummed lowly, raspily, almost groggily, to herself.

She stretched her arms above her head until the back of her fingers met the wooden headboard. And she dropped them lazily back on the pillow, not caring to look at the clock on the bedside table and just relishing in the soothing feeling of the warm sunlight that shone in, hardly blocked from the room by the soft, sheer curtains in front of the window, the warm streaks of light that spread on her, by now, lightly tanned, naked skin that was only partially covered by the thin, white bedsheet.

Her husband was not there with her. She did not need to turn around to his side of the bed to know, because she could just tell. There was no warm torso touching her naked back. There were no arms wrapped around her abdomen, a true lack of fingers gently brushing over her skin and no soft breathing spilling against her neck.

She could smell his scent in the soft cotton fabric around her, but it was only a slight trace of him, partially hidden beneath her own scent and the sweet smell of laundry detergent.

He had already gotten up and she knew without having to check.

There was no better way to wake up than to wake up in the comfort of his arms, of his body heat and his presence. Of course, both of them had gotten used to the fact that it could not always be that way. She had her packed schedule, just as he had his and when they had moved in together almost two years ago, they had become accustomed to getting up when the alarm clock would go off, gotten used to leaving the bed before the other needed to and to later take off with a quick but soft kiss on the forehead of the dormant person that was still laying in bed and to whisper "I love you." softly to them in a cautiously hushed voice that would not wake them, so that they could not even really register that it was being said at all, but to say it anyway because they just felt the urge to do it.

But here? She had thought that they would be able to grant themselves the luxury of waking up together. Here, where they had come to abandon all of their responsibilities for another two weeks. Here, where they could just be... Be together. Just as they had planned.

Just as they needed.


...


"Diane?", his voice echoed over to her through the hallway from out of the direction of their kitchen.

"Yeah, who else lives here?", she called back harshly in a bitterly sarcastic tone, rolling her eyes as she practically slammed the door shut behind her. It had been not on purpose though and the loud and sudden bang caused her to flinch, like a deer in a forest that got scared by the sound of a branch cracking beneath its own hooves. It was not on purpose.

She had not meant to do something wrong yet again. And again.

And again.

Closing her eyes for a moment, she shook her head and sighed deeply, before she opened them again reluctantly and kicked her expensive high heels carelessly off of her nylon-covered feet. As though in surrender, final surrender to this day and ultimate defeat to the insanity that had apparently taken over the world, she dropped her purse and coat on the floor and she took a deep breath, the new wave of oxygen that entered her system feeling as though it was burning holes into her lungs and throat, before her palm, cold and equally uncomfortably sweaty, found the polished wooden material of the front door.

Her hand was on the same level as her eyes and she stared wearily at her nails. The shiny, red colour that aggressively bored into her worn-out eyes, causing them to sting painfully as some bright neon light would.

Rich crimson red. Like a fresh wave of blood.

She scraped her front teeth over her bottom lip and felt the thin layer of lipstick she had pulled off of it with the movement accruing on the back of her teeth, tasted it on the tip of her tongue. It tasted the way artificial flower scents smelled. Sweet and faked, a nauseating imitation, dizzying and reminding one instantly of what it was supposed to resemble, without ever actually getting close to the reality.

Reality. Truth.

Her eyelids slowly withdrew her vision again, like curtains that were being pulled shut tightly in front of a window at the end of the day, when even seeing was too much to do anymore. When seeing the world was something one could no longer take because it was just too draining when they were already feeling like they had been drained to a stage of complete emptiness.

Her forehead collapsed with the back of her hand and she attempted to keep her breathing steady. Tried to keep her knees from buckling beneath the weight of this day, beneath the madness in the world that forcefully kept crashing down on her.

She was too lost in her thoughts on trying to force herself to stop thinking once and for all, which seemed to accomplish nothing but an increase of the pace in which the thoughts buzzed around in her mind so very loudly, as if they were screaming at her, when there was nothing she wanted more than silence, so that she only noticed him standing behind her in the entrance hall when he wrapped his arms around her waist.

His strong arms around her to make her feel confident when she was feeling insecure. His torso curving against her back to keep her safe when she was feeling so utterly vulnerable. The way one of his hands moved to gently stroke her right side and to make her feel alive when she was feeling like she was suffocating beneath the burden of it all. And the way he placed a soft kiss on her hair to let her know that he was here when she was feeling so helpless, so incredibly and downright helpless and alone. The way he made her feel so loved when she felt so truly hopeless like she had not done in a long time now, but nevertheless like she did right now.

The way he kept her sane when all she could see was insanity.

The knot that had been sitting in her throat for the entirety of the last couple of weeks of trial tightened painfully and her back, arms and shoulders suddenly tensed in a tremor. She pressed her lips together to muffle the deep sob that escaped her at last. A sob she had been holding back ever since Judge Abernathy had reentered the courtroom earlier. She had known him for long enough to be able to know his verdict based on the look she would see on his face before the announcement, so the feeling had already begun before he even had actually voiced it.

Diane's free hand closed around one of his forearms that was resting on the side of her abdomen. Her shaky fingers digged into his skin, her fingertips pressing into the rough, washed-out cotton fabric of the sleeve of his flannel button-up, as though holding on to him like that could keep her from drowning in her own distress.

Because it could. She knew it actually could, knew that he was capable of doing that. And she knew that because he had done it before.

And now she could not hold it back anymore. Hot tears wandered downwards over her flushed cheeks, creeping sneakily out of her eyes that she was still holding closed. Strong sobs which she was not capable of muffling for any longer, began to ebb out of her like shock waves that could only keep coming and coming more and more forcefully, filling the otherwise silent house with echoes of pain and more sorrow than she could take.

Kurt's hold on her tightened as if he were trying to physically keep her from breaking into the tiny little pieces she felt herself shattering into, mere fragments of the strong persona she was not able to keep together as a whole right now. His chin landed on her shoulder and in between the sounds of her own desperate sobbing, she heard the soft whisper of his voice next to her ear.

"I love you.", he told her. Just like that. As though it was the easiest thing he had ever said, as though there was nothing he could ever hold more confidence in than into the so seemingly simple and natural existence of his love for her.

It was calming and relieving to know that even if everything else had already lost its meaning, he and his love and the fact of that she could truly rely on the both of them, never would. It was not always that easy to believe in it, but it was always easy to at least try to do so and to hope that she could, because he never failed to actually make it easy for her, and that alone made her small world that was so very unproportionally packed with flaw, to a much better place.

But it could not just make up for everything. She would have preferred it to work that way, but it did not. Not today anyway. Not right now.

Diane nodded lightly, her forehead brushing against her fingers, and she took a deep, shaky breath before she swallowed hard in an attempt to put a stop to her crying.

"We lost.", she half whispered, half choked out and her throat was beginning to burn from the exhaustion of being forced to produce words.

Kurt exhaled deeply. The warm air he released softly spilled against her neck.

"I'm sorry, Di.", he whispered.

And she knew that he was because he could feel the pain, too. The same or at least a similar pain to the one she was feeling. There was a strange sort of comfort in the knowledge of that there was someone who could understand her, even when she herself did not. To know that if she would drown, he would voluntarily sink down with her because he would be just as taken by her reaction as she was taken by what had made her react in the first place.

But he did not have to be. He was not the one who was at fault.

"Kurt.", she breathed out and her voice broke. "I failed her."

Another sob escaped her and she did not even notice the tint of wetness on the collar of her dress when the fabric soaked up the tears he had neither meant nor wanted to shed. But there was nothing he could have done to hold them back.

Because her words brought him back to that night. That night in which he had said those exact same words to Will Gardner in the waiting room of the hospital.

He shook his head decisively.

"No. You didn't.", he said softly. "You've done everything you could and even more."

She snuffled before she could produce another breathy whisper again.

"But I still failed."

His heart clenched painfully at the sound of her frail voice that was followed by another twitch of her body, letting him know that a new wave of silent tears was about to escape her.

"No. You're a hero.", he told her and he was dreading so strongly that she would not believe him.

Because she really was that. A hero, a warrior, a beacon of light and nothing less. Only more for which he could not find any words that would express righteously what she was to him.

"I'm not.", she whispered heavily.

"You are.", he insisted. "You're my hero."


...


"I'm sorry I snapped at you...", she began and moved her head while her blue eyes were searching for his green when she heard his soft steps approaching her, the sound muffled by the fabric of his socks, taking him back to the living room.

A small, puzzled frown had crept over his brows at her words.

"When I got here. I didn't mean to do that.", she explained softly when he took his seat next to her on the couch, handing her a glass of red wine before he placed his hand on her knee. Two of his fingers slowly and gently began to brush over her skin in random patterns.

Her chin was steadied on her wrist, her elbow resting on the edge of the back of the couch and the tip of her index finger brushed lightly over her bottom lip.

"It's fine.", he said and shot her a lopsided smile, hoping that it could cheer her up the tiniest bit, even though he knew that it would not. At least not right now.

The corner of her lips twitched. It neither looked happy nor cheered up, only pained, as though the motion was a way for her to compensate the hurt whimper she did not want to let out instead. Her one brow was still furrowed and she looked so incredibly unsettled and helpless that it broke his heart.

He brushed his thumb over her skin that was covered by a thin layer of dark but sheer nylon.

"You did great, Diane.", he said and caused her to scoff lightly.

Objectively, she knew he was right. She could not remember to ever have worked so incredibly hard on a case before, not even back in the days when she had just begun to practice the law, back when she had still had to prove herself and her abilities to the people around her. Clients and co-workers and judges and state's attorneys. She had not needed to do that anymore for a long time now, let alone for a pro-bono. People knew that she was good at what she did, but that was not what this had been about at all.

It had not been about money or prestige or career-wise ambition.

This had struck her on a personal level. And that was what had caused her to work fifteen hours each day of the last weeks, what had caused her strong need to win this trial. That was what made it so hard to lose.

"I can't believe Abernathy, of all the people, let him get away with this.", she mumbled pensively before her finger left her lips and she took her first sip of wine.

Kurt shook his head.

"You know how he is.", he said. "Always wants to prove that he's not biased because of his own values and political views."

Diane swallowed the wine and looked at him again. Her jaw was tensed, her light blue eyes narrowed as they locked with his and her head was moving slightly, almost invisibly, as if she had no energy left in her to keep it still, and he could instantly tell how upset his words made her. And not because he had said them per se, but because she knew that they were the truth she refused to believe in.

"This isn't about politics.", she answered, her voice low but her tone equally harsh. "Being biased against rape isn't political. And ruling against it is not about being a liberal, it's about having good manners."

She took another long sip and he watched her with concern.

"I know, hon.", he said softly. "But he didn't rule based on his manners. He did what he thought was right and it's unfortunate that he was mistaken. But you couldn't have prevented that."

She breathed in deeply and the look of annoyance that was painted on her beautiful face quickly shifted to sadness. Her annoyance and even her anger had always been easier for him to take than her sorrow.

He had never had a problem with being the one she could yell or snap at when she did not know the best way for her to cope and it was not hard for him to tell when her anger was actually directed at him or if it was just the only way in which she could let loose and get it all out of her system. He had always been one to enjoy a good argument and he liked that they were on the same intellectual level so that they could argue with each other as equals.

And anger, he knew how to react to. Anger, he knew how to deal with.

Her sadness, however, it was a completely different subject. It was a lot harder to take because it affected him so much more than her fury, made his heart clench boisterously, as though he was losing control over his body.

"I consider him a friend, you know?", she said throatily. "And now, I just..."

She paused, shook her head and looked at him as though she were hoping that he could tell her what it was that she wanted to say.

"I don't know. He is such a hypocrite. And I feel so... betrayed by him, I guess. And..."

She swallowed hard before she continued in a low, high-pitched voice. "That hurts. It really hurts me."

Kurt nodded slowly, his head aching, almost pounding from the broken sound of her small voice and the matter of her honest words, leaving him feeling as though it was about to explode.

"I know, Diane. And I get it. I'm sure he would've ruled differently, if-"

He stopped himself, not wanting to upset her even further, but she already knew what it was that he had intended to say.

"If he knew about what's happened to me?", she completed the sentence dryly and she smirked bitterly at the thought.

It was so wrong, the mere assumption, the mere thought of that someone would view her connection to the matter as a reason to rule fairly when they would not do it for the sake of the respective survivor, as they were supposed to. It was so wrong. And what was even more sickening was the fact that she knew that it was the truth.

"I'm sure you're right.", she said softly. "But that's not the point. This isn't about me, it's about Kaya. I mean, how is she supposed to move on from this when she doesn't even get a glimpse of justice? How-"

She swallowed again when her blue eyes began to fill with a new wave of fresh, hot tears that blurred her vision and made her really glad about the fact that he was sitting so close to her. On a longer distance, she might not have been able to see him properly anymore.

When she found it in her to continue, her voice was even lower, almost only a weak whisper anymore, her voice strained with exasperation.

"How is she supposed to ever feel safe again when he's still able to walk around the streets as a free man? When she could just run into him randomly at any given time? I mean... god, it's already hard enough when they're gone."

A single tear rolled down on her right cheek and she quickly brushed it away in embarrassment that was not directed at him but rather at herself, snuffled and took another sip of wine in the hope of that the alcohol would just make her go numb or let her fall asleep or just cause this pain that she had hoped to never have to feel again to leave her alone for a few hours, moments, even seconds would have been enough at this point.

She had not eaten all day. The turn of events had been too sickening to even think about eating and so she could already feel the way the dry liquid made her feel a little light-headed after only a not even finished single glass of red. But it did not really help so far. What helped was the naive hope that it could make it better eventually.

And he was helping, of course. He was helping so much. The fact alone that he was listening, really listening to her, was helping so much more than she could have hoped.

"But... Di, you fought for her."

One of his brows was furrowed and there was a desperate look laying in his warm, green eyes. She wondered if he saw the same look in her own blue ones. Desperation of a different kind, but desperation nevertheless.

"You fought for her when no one else did, you believed her when everyone thought that she was lying and you worked harder than anyone would have. You represented her when no one else wanted to and you did one hell of a job doing so."

The fingers of his free hand found a loose strand of blonde hair and he brushed it out of her eyes, gently tucking it behind her ear, looking at her affectionately.

"You empowered her and that is why she's going to be able to move on from this."

She closed her eyes for a moment, the tears in them were forced out on her skin by her eyelids, and she leaned into the touch of his fingers on her flushed cheek. She took a deep breath through her parted lips before she opened her eyes again slowly and her blue orbs found his.

"It's so unfair, Kurt.", she breathed out raspily and bit down hard on her bottom lip, momentarily putting a halt to its trembling, to suppress a sob.

He nodded, his tender-hearted frown painting small wrinkles around his brows and his eyes.

"I know. It really is."

Shifting slightly, he leaned forward and pressed his lips softly against her forehead.

"I'm so sorry I couldn't be in court.", he whispered against her skin, his moustache and the stubbly skin around his lips blandly teasing it. His hand was brushing through her silky blonde hair, the fingertips of the other one still roaming over her skin and the thin layer of the fabric from her pantyhose, on the outside of her knee, drawing small, circling patterns onto her.

Gently and cautiously in his movements, as if she were a painting, a piece of art and he was the artist. As if she were a piano and he was the pianist, a composer working on a new piece of classical music, as if her skin had been created to allow her to sense his touch. Because he knew just how to touch her to make her feel so deeply cared for and loved.

When his lips left her again, when his fingers brushed through her hair for one last time before they moved to softly brush the tears off of her cheeks and then slowly wander down to run over the soft fabric of her dress on her upper arm and when he leaned back, he remained closer to her than he had been in his previous sitting position. As though he could sense that this was what she needed him to do right now. To be close to her, like a barrier that would shield her from the lunacy in the world, as long as he remained close, as long as they were together.

She was so lucky to have him. She had no idea what she had done to deserve him as her husband, to have earned him and his love for her, but whatever it was, it meant everything, everything, to her.

"I really wanted to be there for you.", he told her lowly, his green eyes glistening, casting her an apologetic look. "You shouldn't have had to go through this alone."

Diane's lips stretched in a small, tired smile that melted his heart. She shook her head before she tilted it and pressed a short kiss on his lips.

"I know I'm not alone.", she whispered assuringly when she pulled away. Her blue eyes were still watery when they met his again.

"Her mother didn't even show up today. Can you believe that?", she asked him, leaving him unsure if she was really expecting an answer.

Because what was there to say? It was horrible and he did not know what he could tell her that would make that look of hopelessness and helplessness disappear from her delicate facial features. He just wanted to make it better but he had no idea how.

"She didn't have anybody with her and she's so young...", she continued, unaware of how relieved he was that she had continued to speak when he had not known what to say.

Relieved to see that what she really needed was for him to listen, which was something he knew he was good at, a natural reaction to hearing her speak. Relieved to see that he was able to help by following his own instincts and that they really complemented each other in that way.

"I mean, twenty-two, that's..." She swallowed hard. "That's Maia's age... I can't even imagine what she is going through."

The corner of his lips twitched a little beneath his moustache.

"You were with her.", he reminded her.

Diane shook her head. "That's not the same and you know it. I..."

She paused and pressed her lips together, whimpering quietly before she could continue in a high-pitched voice that resembled a cry.

"I can't forget the look she had on her face when the verdict was announced. She's said to me before that she has been trying not to get her hopes up too high, but I know that she did anyway. Because... hell, what else is left to do in a situation like hers?"

Her eyes had widened and she was staring at him as though he knew an answer to a question that could not really be answered properly. Her bottom lip was trembling and Kurt's fingers left her thigh. He took the nearly empty wine glass out of her hand and placed it safely on the coffee table before he took her in his arms and pulled her close so that she could bury her face in the curve between his neck and shoulder and cry silently in the warmth and comfort of his arms. To try and at least offer her some form of physical comfort when he could not do it verbally.

"This is so unfair.", she snivelled softly and Kurt swallowed hard.

"I know, honey.", he whispered throatily and instantly thought what a stupid thing it was to say because that surely would not help her.

But what he did not know was that it actually did. That hearing his voice alone was an endless comfort to her on itself.

"I know."

"Did you know that it is the most under-reported crime in the States?", she asked him in a high-pitched voice. "Sixty-three percent of sexual assaults are not reported to the police."

Kurt shook his head and slowly began to stroke her back with his hand.

"No. I didn't know that."

"And they wonder why." A sound, something between a scoff and a sob, escaped her.  "People like Abernathy wonder why. This girl stands her ground and faces her rapist every damn day of this trial and he's granted his freedom by him. And he seriously wonders why most people take the easy way out and keep quiet?"

She breathed in deeply, shakily. If it had not been so devastating, the irony could almost have been comic in a highly morbid and dry kind of way.

"It's insane.", she said monotonously.

Diane shifted in his arms, brushing the tears off of her flushed cheeks before she straightened, lifted her head to be able to look at him again, his arms remaining around her waist, right where they were meant to be.

"I'm so tired, Kurt.", she whispered and he nodded slowly.

He had witnessed his wife as she had been working herself stupid with this case over the last few weeks. And he understood it. After all, it had been her first case on rape, ever since...

She had let it get to her in a way she knew to be wrong and unhealthy, had bonded with the victim more than she should have because she had felt the need to grant her a form of protection that she, as an attorney, was in no position to offer. But after all, even Diane was only human.

He had considered talking to her about it, to ask her to overthink her methods or to give up the case for her own protection, but that would not have done any good. She had needed to do this, needed to fight this and probably also needed to prove herself that she could do this without falling back into old patterns. And so he had decided to support her instead, to offer his aid to her in whatever way it would be useful to her and not to try and tell her what to do.

It was only natural that she was worn out now. And tired. And in desperate need of giving herself a break.

"I wish...", she began lowly and brushed a few stray strands of her hair behind her ear. "I wish it would just stop. Only for a few days. I just want to... to be, you know?"

"I do.", he said.

And he did. She needed time to herself to regain the energy that she had to have to stay strong. She needed to grant herself a recess to intensify her grip on the strength she had worked so incredibly hard for. Or else she would steadily be consumed by it again and both of them intended to do everything in their power to not let that happen.

The tip of her tongue slowly slid over her lip and she eyed him in silence for a small moment. And then the look in her eyes suddenly shifted to an expression he had never seen in them before, in all the time he had known her for by now.

"So...", she began in a low, but stronger voice that held something to it that he could not place yet at this moment. "You're in?"

His brows shot together and he narrowed his warm eyes at her in question.

"Am I... what?"

"I mean, I would have to talk to Will first, but I'm sure we would find a way to make it happen.", she thought out-loud, her eyes drifting away from his as if she were actually talking to herself instead of him. "I actually think that he would even encourage the idea."

Kurt blinked a few times, clueless and unknowingly.

"Di, I'm not following.", he said and her gaze shot back to meet his.

"Oh.", she exclaimed before she continued lowly, almost coyly, as if she were afraid of the non-existent possibility of his rejection. "I, I was just thinking that maybe we could go away together. Only if you'd want to, of course. You know, for a few days, maybe even a couple of weeks, but we'll have to see how-"

He shut his wife off with a kiss. And when she snickered into the embrace of their lips, he was flooded with so much happiness that it almost managed to make him feel dizzy.

"Wait, you're not kidding, are you?", he asked a little breathlessly when they parted.

"What?", she giggled. "No! Why would I be?"

Amusedly, she shook her head and smirked at him.

"Uh, I dunno, maybe because we always say that we'll do that, but it's been two-and-a-half years now and we've still never actually done it?" He quirked an eyebrow at her and she mirrored the movement with her own.

"That's an oddly specific guess, Mr. McVeigh.", she remarked mockingly and it warmed his heart to see that her mind had been taken somewhere else for this instance.

He snorted and brought his hand up so he could brush his fingers over her cheek as he looked at her, his green eyes so full of sheer love. 

"I just want to check, Diane. You know that I would leave tomorrow morning if that's what you would ask me."

Diane chuckled. "Yeah, I know. You're the spontaneous one in this marriage. But, like it or not, I would prefer to actually plan this out before we jump right on the next plane."

He shook his head and smirked at her. "Yeah, because you're a killjoy."

She scoffed in amusement and bit back a laugh. "Excuse me? Kurt, we're not twenty anymore, we can't just book a flight, pack a backpack full of outdoor-clothing and see where wind and fate are going to take us."

He shrugged. "All the better reason to do it anyways.", he said and brushed his thumb over her cheekbone as his gaze turned serious again.

"'Cause time with you is too precious to waste."

She cast him a bright smile.

"So... you're in?", she repeated her question.

"'Course I'm in." He shook his head in feigned annoyance. "And... where would we go?"

Diane smiled knowingly, remembering a conversation they had had almost two years ago in which she had asked him the exact same question. It was funny how things had changed.

She drew her bottom lip into her mouth and nibbled on it for a moment, her eyes never shying away from his intense gaze. Then she released her lip and purred her answer.

"Costa Rica."


...


Diane's eyes flew open and her fuzzy mind slowly pieced together that she must have drifted off to sleep for another few minutes.

It was funny how she had not even realized how tired she had become since her last vacation that did not only feel as though it had been ages ago, but actually really had been just that, and that it took her having nothing to do to finally feel how tired and worn out she truly was. But it was probably better this way. She could not imagine how she would ever get anything done if it were any other way.

He had been the one to suggest taking this trip a long time ago. It actually felt as though it had taken place a whole lifetime prior that the two of them had been standing in the kitchen of her old house when he had proposed the idea to her. They had been together for six months back then. Now their first wedding anniversary was awaiting them in even less than a single month. It was crazy to realize how time had its way of flying by nonsensically fast when one took a moment to look back at the past.

She smiled lightly at the memory, at the fact that back then she had thought at first that they were only joking, daydreaming about this, without considering that this vacation might be something he had truly planned on doing with her. She should have known better, even back then.

Kurt was not one to waste time on proposing ideas he would not actually want to go through with. He was not one to waste time. At least not anymore.

'Cause time with you is too precious to waste., he had told her when she had brought up this idea again a few months ago. And he was right. Time, their time, so fragile and precious, was to be worshipped and not to be wasted.

And so they had made it happen. Sooner than she had thought to be possible and later than he had hoped. They had become quite good at compromising after all.

Diane took another deep breath and slowly pushed herself up into a seating position. The upper end of the bedsheet pooled around her waist and she brushed her hand through her blonde hair that was a little messy from her sleep and their pre-bedtime-activities during the night before.

She folded the blanket aside and swung her legs over the edge of the bed before she got up, slightly taken aback for a moment by the soreness she felt between her legs. She smirked to herself before she took her short, silky dressing gown from the back of a nearby wooden chair and slipped into it, loosely tying it together while she walked out of the little summer cottage's bedroom on her bare feet and over to the kitchen, from which she could smell the scent of freshly made pancakes and hear little sizzling sounds of hot oil mingling with a low, but painfully off-key hum-along to some Sinatra piece that emerged from the little stereo he had brought here with him.

Diane came to a halt in the doorframe and watched him silently. He was wearing washed-out jeans that ended just above the knees and an old shirt of which she knew that he did not even have the slightest clue of what clothing brand it was made by, while she could easily tell from the distance and without being able to see its front from where she was standing, his back turned towards her.

His grey hair looked darker than it usually did because it was damp and he was walking around on his bare feet, too. There was something so incredibly intimate and domestic about this picture. Of course, it had become more than familiar to her over the past years, but she would never tire of looking at it and neither would she ever stop to love it as endlessly as she did.

He was alternately whistling and humming along to the melody of the song and every now and then he sang a few single words of the lyrics, preferably the last ones of certain lines that would always stick to him for another couple of days after hearing them, but even when it came to music, he still remained he of few words.

All the while, he moved between the cutting board that was placed on the kitchen counter, on which he was chopping a small variety of exotic fruits, and the two frying pans on the stove that he was balancing in a way that she could never imitate if she tried.

Neither his whistling nor his humming and especially not his occasional singing, were even the slightest bit on-key because the man was an absolutely and utterly hopeless case when it came to vocals of any kind. But she only thought that this made it even sweeter.

And still... she would never, never dare to even think about passing on a chance to tease him. And this was just too good of an opportunity.

"You must have Sinatra rolling in his grave."

Kurt winced before he froze in his movements and she bit down on her bottom lip in amusement and satisfaction over that she had managed to startle him.

"Well, not all of us can have a voice that's Tony-Award-worthy, Mrs. McVeigh.", he said in his usual gruff voice and continued to chop the mango on the wooden cutting board in front of him without turning around to look at her.

Diane blushed lightly. No one ever referred to her by using his last name, even he himself rarely ever did it and if so, only with the pure intention of teasing her. But she would be lying if she said that she did not enjoy it every time. It gave her a sense of belonging to him, a feeling she had never believed she would grow to enjoy, love even, until she had met him.

Her eyes flew around the room that was lightened up by the morning sun. The cottage was small but clean and cosy and she could easily see the beach from the view out of the kitchen window.

Diane would have been more than fine with booking a hotel room somewhere near the coast to limit the amount of work they would have to do here to the smallest amount possible, but Kurt had insisted on renting a small summer cottage, somewhere far away from where most of the tourists usually stayed, and she did not mind that either ("I mean, as long as there are no ants and cockroaches wandering around that I need to worry about, it really is your loss. I'm not the one with the responsibility of keeping us fed." "You wanna get us killed, woman?").

It had been the right choice. The whole area was peaceful and quiet and the only people they eventually saw were those who lived nearby in the village, where the two of them could go to buy groceries.

It really was perfect.

"Hey...", she suddenly said slowly, narrowing her eyes in confusion before they shot back to the back of his head. "What time is it?"

"Little after eleven-thirty."

"What?", she shrieked and caused him to chuckle. "And you didn't think about waking me up?"

"Why should I have woken you up? I just figured you needed it."

Diane's lips closed and a small smile crept over them. He could be really sweet if he wanted to, sweet and caring beneath that gruff facade and deliberately accentuated masculinity of his.

His voice interrupted her thoughts as he continued. "I mean, I really wore you out last night, after all."

And gone was the illusion.

She rolled her eyes as he turned his head to smirk cockily at her. Then the look on his face changed and his eyes kept lingering on her appearance for only a little too long before he hesitantly turned back towards the stove and continued his task of making breakfast; or rather brunch.

Diane bit down on her bottom lip and grinned. It amazed her how he could always make up for that mocking and cocky attitude with little things like these. And who was she kidding? She loved both of those sides equally to no end.


...


"You see? We're not too late."

"So? Maybe I still wanted to get here a little earlier."

"Di, you said you wanted to watch the sunset. We're more than in time for that."

"Well, I just didn't want to miss it, okay?" She shrugged and came to a halt. "What about this spot?", she asked, tilting her head and raising her eyebrows at him in question.

"Fine by me.", he said and carefully placed the cooler bag that contained food, plates, flatware, two glasses and a bottle of wine on the ground before he helped her with spreading the blanket on the sand. Each of them held two of its edges and he was just about to place his end on the ground, when-

"A little further to your left, please?", she ordered sweetly, digging her front teeth into her bottom lip and batting her eyelids at him behind her long lashes, causing him to roll his eyes in playful annoyance.

"Honey, your nerve-racking perfectionism is showing again.", he remarked and caused her to smirk.

"And it wouldn't do that if only you were doing it right.", she fired back and he failed to suppress a chuckle.

So he pulled the blanket a little further to the left and eventually, they managed to place it as she pleased.

"Perfect.", she approved and placed a small kiss on his cheek, before she sat down cross-legged on the blanket, quirking an eyebrow at him and patting the space beside her she had meant for him to take. Kurt sat down beside her and shot her a lopsided smile.

"You were right.", he said and softly brushed his thumb over her cheek, capturing it in his palm. "This really is beautiful."

She smirked. "Not as cheesy as you expected it to be, huh?", she teased him about his earlier disaffirmation on the idea and he snickered, shaking his head before he looked at her again. Intensely. Affectionately. His eyes full of love.

"No, it's still cheesy. But..."

He leaned forward, dipped his head and placed his lips softly against hers. His hand found her waist and gently pulled her towards him. Their lips, their tongues, skin on skin lingering gently together, moving cautiously and as if in slow-motion against one another. Their bottom lips softly bumped into each other again, before he slowly pulled away, his hands remaining on her cheek and waist.

"But not in a bad way."

The warmly tinted light of the sunset was grazing his features as if it were taking place only to serve the purpose of emblazing him in this way. He was so incredibly handsome that it almost hurt.

He was perfect. He truly was perfect to her. Nothing less, only ever more and even more still.

"Hey, Di. Pass me the glasses and the bottle of wine?"

Her lips parted and she blinked a few times, suddenly wondering in the tiniest trace of embarrassment for how long she had been staring at him in silence. Not that he would mind in the slightest, but, god, this man brought out the most unlikely sides of her.

She shook her head before she mumbled, "Uh, sure. Sorry.", still too distracted to register the both joyous and agitated smile on his lips as his hands left her so she could move. She turned away from him to unzip the dark blue cooler bag that he had packed a little earlier before they had taken off. But the first glimpse into it was not what she had been expecting to see.

"Kurt", she gasped and turned back to look at him. "How-"

"They grow them here.", he told her calmly, as if it were nothing. As if this were not one of the sweetest things anyone had ever done for her. "Did you know that?"

Diane's lips were still parted when she slowly began to shake her head. "No, I didn't."

"Well, I did. 'Let's plan this out before we leave', isn't that you said?", he said smirkingly teasing and also a little proudly.

"But... when?" She furrowed her brow and shook her head slowly. "You were with me for the whole day."

Kurt released a small, amused laugh. "Di, you slept until noon. That actually gave me a little time to run with, believe it or not."

Speechless, genuinely silenced by the surprise, Diane turned again to carefully take the flowers that were laying on top of the food and wine supplies, out of the bag. They were bound together with a thin, navy blue satin ribbon. Gently, she lay them on her lap, eyeing the gorgeously beautiful white blossoms while her fingertips fumbled absent-mindedly with the edge of the satin ribbon.

Calla lilies.

White calla lilies.

The flowers he had given her on their first date. The flowers he had wanted to save for 'special occasions' because he had been so proud of himself back then to have discovered something she truly enjoyed so very much. The flowers he had given her on the day he had told her that he would not be facing a trial. The night they slept together again for the first time in months when she had said that if they ever had had a daughter, they could have called her Lily. The flowers he had brought her when he came home the first night they had spent in their house, after having moved in together.

An arrangement of lilies on their dining table in the night of his proposal.

And white calla lilies as a wedding bouquet and a single one as a corsage in the pocket of his tux, just above his heart.

White calla lilies, like a symbol of the evolvement of their relationship, like a guiding theme, a leitmotif of their life together. A symbol of how both, everything and nothing can sometimes change at the very same time.

"I...", she began and her eyes left the lilies, her head moving to look at him again. "Thank you, Kurt."

"You're welcome.", he said smiling and placed a small kiss on her temple.

She eyed him for another moment of silence before she began to chuckle lightly to herself.

"God. I'm so completely in love with you."

He remained silent. In the warm fuchsia shade that the sky wrapped them and the scenery into, she could not see how his cheeks took on a shade of affected red. But she knew it anyway, could tell it simply from the coy look on his face.

"What on earth did I do deserve you?", she asked, her head slowly coming to rest on his shoulder as her gaze left the lilies in her lap and found the sight of the beautiful sunset instead. The colours of the sky were glistening in little reflections on the surface of the ocean and the light was in the perfect stage between colourful and dimmed.
It was the second-most beautiful thing she had ever seen in her life.

Kurt's arm sneaked around her back and his hand came to rest on her hip, his thumb starting to draw small circles on her hip bone over the fabric of her uncongested summer dress.

"I think that people deserve to be happy.", he told her lowly. "And since we both seem to do a pretty good job at making each other happy, I would say that by now, it doesn't even matter anymore how far out of my league you actually are."

Diane snickered. "Oh, stop fishing for compliments.", she said and placed her hand on his knee, her fingertips lightly toying with the hem of the rough fabric of his washed-out jeans. "Being that overmodest is such a turn-off."

"I'm not. And that's funny, 'cause I never think of it as a turn-off when you do it.", he remarked and a new bubble of laughter escaped her again.

He smiled. It was his favourite sound in the world.

"Also, I've already tricked you into marrying me anyways, so there really is no way out for you anymore, even if you finally come to your senses."

"Oh, just shut up and kiss me, you idiot."


...


He had been wondering for the entirety of the day if he was supposed to address it.

He did not want to keep it from her in case she had forgotten, but he did not want to spoil her good spirit either. That was not what they were here for.

So he dropped it, banned the subject from his mind and decided not to think about it any more.

What he did not know was that she knew. She was very well aware of what had happened on this exact day two years back.

She knew, but it was not on her mind. It truly did not matter and she simply did not really think about it at all. She appreciated what her husband was doing for her, assuming she needed to be cheered up by him, enjoyed the flowers, the beautiful day and this beautiful night with him. But she decided to take the cheer without the downfall that it would follow.

Because now, she could do it this way. And he had always been the one reason for that.

She had not had a nightmare in three months now. It was an achievement because this was the longest time she had gone without them, but she knew that eventually, they would return again. And still, just like the scar on her abdomen, they had faded. Both of those little reminders of what had once been were still present and if one would only look closely enough, they would most likely still notice and it would probably always be that way.

But maybe, maybe that was okay.

There were good times and bad times, good days and bad days, good things and bad things happening in the world every day and that simply was the way things were, had always been and would most certainly always be.

There were things that would impact her more when she had a bad day, times in which the past would hold more power over the way in which she would act and react to certain things and people than she would in other times.

But it still was okay this way.

And she believed that, no matter what, there would always be good things in life that could somehow manage to out shadow the bad ones. He and his love made her believe in that. Because they were the two things that out-shadowed it all.

This perfect, perfect man that she would love with all her heart and all of her soul until the end of eternity. And probably even beyond.

Neither of them knew where life would take them next, but it did not really matter. Because as long as they would be together, she knew that it was going to be beautiful and full of more love than she had ever thought possible.

And here, right now and right here, as they sat side by side, their thighs touching and shoulders linked, his arm around her and his hand resting comfortably on her waist, as their frames and the warm sand that was surrounding them and the water of the ocean they were facing were tinted by the stunning shades of rich pink and orange that emerged from the sky, they felt as if time were endless. As though this moment would never come to an end.

And by the time it eventually would, they would still have all the time in the world to discover where life was about to take them next. Together.

They granted themselves this freedom now, the freedom to enjoy this moment without having to worry about tomorrow. The freedom to just be and to live this moment to the fullest, just as they would try to do with every single moment that would follow. Because they knew that no matter what was about to come next, it would be as beautiful as it could be, as long they would be at each other's sides. Right where they belonged.

And when Kurt drew his eyes away from the breathtaking view in front of them to look at her in that one certain way that indicated how, in his eyes, there was no view and nothing else, not even this deeply perfect scenery, that could possibly be any more beautiful to him than her, he knew.

Diane looked back at him and at the moment in which her eyes met his, she knew that she felt the same way about him. She looked at him and felt the way she lost herself in his eyes, his beautiful, warm eyes, the shade of green that was so full of love, so full of life, of wit and humor and joy and laughter and soft hugs and passionate kisses and so full of everything she loved about him.

She looked at him and she knew that she would love him forever, unconditionally and a little more with each remaining day that would pass. She looked at him and knew that he felt the same thing for her.

She looked at him and believed in their love. She looked at him and knew that his love was her eternity. There was nothing she had ever been more certain about.

"I love you so much.", she said and her heartbeat increased at the small flash of increased intensity in his eyes.

After all this time, after everything that had happened, everything they had gone through together, they had still always felt either as though they had been together for the entirety of their lives already, or as if they were back in her office, her in her red blazer and bossy attitude and him in his brown suede jacket and Marlboro Man manner, when they had met for the very first time.

She was still captivated by him, his appearance, his wit and his challenging mannerism, captivated by the way he looked at her, still surprised by the things he would say or do. He still lost himself in the spark of her light blue eyes, the most beautiful shade of blue anyone could ever have made up, still never tired of looking at the way she moved, lived and breathed, and he would never get used to the fact of how very lucky he was to be able to be here, with her.

There was no in-between and that was what made it feel so right, so exhilarant... so perfect. The excitement about being together only kept on growing to get bigger and better with the time in that their love, their unbreakable bond, deepened even further.

They had met in a very strange time in her life, but they and their love for each other had survived it, only grown stronger as time had passed. And now they knew that together, they would be able to overcome everything, no matter what was about to come, no matter how hard it would seem. Because they had each other, and this unbreakable constant of support and love and understanding was something that would never fail them, ever.

"I love you, too, Di."

And they looked at each other and just knew.

And they knew that they would know forever.