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Sentenced to Guilt

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The VA was delighted to hear that Kurt would be attending the memorial dedication in Seattle. What Diane didn’t know was that the dedication wasn’t the only event that was happening that weekend. Kurt was being recognized for his excellence over the past three months with Veterans Affairs. He spearheaded the effort to raise $1.3 million for a new VA hospital in Chicago and exceeded that amount within 90 days. The organization was honoring him for this achievement and Kurt, being Kurt, was dreading the photos and most of all the speech. He’d rather fly under the radar and get the job done rather than cause a scene with a large banquet.

With Diane still ignorant to this detail, Kurt finished packing his suitcase and stopped to put on his cuff links. His flight left in four hours, but he needed to swing by the office beforehand. Ten days had passed since Diane’s latest hospital visit and she seemed to be in much better spirits. Though she couldn’t help her desire to hold his hand a bit tighter, linger for a few extra minutes in the morning, or laugh more freely whenever they were together. Nights were still hard. When he would be sleeping peacefully beside her, she’d get a pang of guilt and retreat to the bathroom to release her tears without waking him.

If Diane was being honest with herself, she wasn’t sure how she’d cope without him for two nights. It seemed ridiculous to think that she had become so accustomed to his presence and that his absence could throw her off her equilibrium. Nonetheless, she was dreading it.

As he secured the second cuff link, Diane entered from the kitchen with a cup of coffee, still clad in her pajamas. It was 7:15 and the sun had only just rose to illuminate their bedroom with natural light.

“Sure, I can make that. But wouldn’t Lucca know more than I would? She’s met with them before...why would she ask for me...well then I’ll see you at 10:00.” Diane set her phone on the desk and sighed.

Kurt, who was waiting patiently to kiss her goodbye, chuckled at her sigh and pulled her into him. She didn’t hesitate to fold her arms around him as a familiar chill ran up her spine.

“You should come with me.” He whispered into her hair for the third time that week knowing full well she had cases to attend to.

“It’s only for three days.” She replied, more or less reassuring herself.

He pulled back to kiss her. She placed her hands on his chest.

“Be good,” she teased and he turned to grab his luggage.

Diane followed him out the front door; with each step she felt the emptiness in her stomach return, as it had each time he would depart for weeks at a time when they were first married. Kurt loaded his bags into the back of the car and approached Diane again, this time taking her face in his hands and pressing his lips to hers. Dazed, all Diane could do was melt into him.

“I love you and I’ll be back in three days.” He finally said before pecking her on the cheek one last time and opening the car door.

“I love you too.” She managed. And with that, he drove off.

Entering the house, she closed the door and let the silence set in. Judging by the clock on the wall, she knew it was time to get the day started.

The elevator door slid open to reveal Reddick, Boseman, and Lockhart buzzing with chatter. Diane caught Liz’s eye from across the room and gestured for her to follow into the hallway.

“So, why does Bracey want me on her divorce settlement? I haven’t even met her.”

“Adrian has Lucca on the Provot divorce and Angela asked specifically for you.” Diane eyed her colleague.

“Plus, it will give you time to rest and ease back into things.” Liz added, gingerly.

“Oh God, you sound just like Kurt. I’m really fine.” Diane rolled her eyes.

“I know, look, take it up with Adrian. And apparently Angela Bracey. Maybe she’s worried about you too.” The two women laughed as Diane headed for her office.

“Good morning, Diane. You have a call waiting from the State’s Attorney’s office about the Bryson murder. And I have some evidence you should see.” Marissa held out Diane’s mail.

“Ok, I’ll take the call but the evidence will have to wait. Angela Bracey has requested my presence for her divorce settlement.”

“Why?” Marissa handed Diane a mug of coffee.

“I’ve been asking the same question. Thank you, Marissa.” Diane walked through her door and set her bag and coat on the chair.

“Oh,” Marissa followed her, “And congratulations to Kurt.”

“For?”

“The award.”

Diane turned around, “What award?”

“He’s going to Seattle, right? For the ceremony?”

“Yes, but–what are you talking about.” Diane stepped closer, now fully confused.

“Didn’t he tell you? The VA is honoring him at a banquet on Saturday for all that money he raised for the new hospital. It’s kind of a big deal.”

Diane sat down in one of the chairs, frazzled. “I thought he was going for a memorial dedication. How–how did you find all this out?”

“I have Google alerts for pretty much everyone I know. Plus it’s all over the local news.”

“That’s why he wanted me to go.” Diane was mostly talking to herself as she put the pieces together in her mind.

“He has to make a speech and everything.” Marissa laughed.

“Oh dear God.” Diane joined her.

As the laugher subsided, the idea started spinning.

“Marissa, can you get me on that flight?” Diane urgently jumped from her chair and checked her watch.

“I mean I can try. But it is a Thursday flight to Seattle. I can’t promise anything.”

“Damn.” She looked at her watch again, “Do your best. Email me the ticket or any ticket you can get.” She grabbed her bag and coat.

“Oh and sit in on the Bracey divorce and take notes,” sticking her head back in the office she added, “And tell Liz I’ll be back Monday.”

“Wait!” Marissa called, “What about the State’s Attorney?”

“It’ll have to wait.” Diane called through the glass as she hurried toward the elevator. She had 45 minutes to fight rush hour traffic and catch that plane.

It just so happened that Kurt was late, as well. Paperwork at the office had taken longer than he expected. Being a government employee, going through security was far from grueling, but it didn’t help the fact that his gate was about to close. Finally, after practically throwing his boarding pass at the flight attendant, he stepped onto the plane and began looking for his seat in first class.

Kurt patiently waited in the aisle while the other late boarders heaved their carry-ons into the space above. He could see his seat from where he was standing, about 6 rows away.

Perfect. Some woman is sitting in my seat and I’m gonna have to tell her to move.

The line inched closer and Kurt could make out a blond woman wearing sunglasses and looking out the window. He wasn’t one to be easily annoyed, but after the traffic, his lateness, and now this woman, he was beginning to become irritated. Placing his own bag in the overhead compartment, he prepared himself for an argument.

“Ma’am, I think you’re in my–“

Diane turned away from the window and took off her sunglasses. She looked up at her husband and smiled. Kurt started blankly. The morning ran through his mind: he had left her at home in her pajamas, preparing for work and drinking coffee. And now she sits in front of him in a form fitting green dress and a sweater draped over her shoulders.

He only snapped out of his shock when the man behind him couldn’t get by.

“Here you can have mine,” Diane gestured to the open seat next to hers and Kurt sat down, shaking his head. A smirk had crept onto his face and he was looking at her in disbelief.

“How did you–get...here?” He stuttered still confused but so happy to see her.

“Well, I had to find out through Marissa and Google that you are getting an award on Saturday.” She crossed her arms and waited for his response.

“How did Marissa know?” He countered, trying to divert the conversation.

“The question is how didn’t I know,” Kurt shifted his gaze downward, “Why didn’t you tell me, Kurt, this is a big deal.”

“I wasn’t even planning to go, remember? Everything was crazy and it didn’t seem like a good time for celebrating.” His tone was apologetic.

“This is the best time for celebrating!” She laughed, obviously letting go of her exasperation. She placed her hands on his shoulders.

“I’m so proud of you.” She paused, “But I am worried about your speech.”

Kurt released his held breath and cracked up along with Diane.

Their giggling subsided and Diane leaned in to kiss him. Their affection was cut short by the flight attendant announcing they’d be taking off in a few minutes.

“How did you even get this seat?” Kurt asked as they buckled their seatbelts.

“I have no idea. I told Marissa to just get me on the plane. I don’t have a clue how she got the seat next to yours.” Kurt smiled and sighed.

“Now tell me about this banquet. I’m assuming it’s black tie?”