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Sentenced to Guilt

Chapter Text

Every time she walked through the main entrance, she felt a headache slowly pressing against her skull. Rolling her eyes at the unfortunate feeling, she rounded the corner and approached the front desk.

“Diane Lockhart. I have an appointment at two.” Her nails tapped against the counter as she glanced to her left and right. Patients with varying degrees of ailments surrounded her. Children with broken arms, adults just having finished a knee replacement surgery; she loathed sitting in the waiting room. This meant making small talk with the woman who lost a few fingers or the man with a broken collarbone that was a terrible flirt. However, today she was hopeful. Hopeful that her doctor would release her to drive and work once again.

As she sat, tuning out the conversations on either side, she finally heard her name called.

A nurse led Diane through a maze of hallways until they came to an exam room with lights bright enough to make the bleach colored walls glow unendingly, especially with a brewing headache.

“The doctor will be right with you.” The nurse grunted and shut the door, leaving Diane alone. She listened to the buzzing of the lights and the muffled beeping from down the hall. Checking her phone, she noticed a missed call from Kurt, undoubtably wondering how she was feeling. Diane had decided against informing him about this appointment because she didn’t want any of the fuss that would accompany that conversation. He would want to drive her and take her home and ask questions and blah blah blah. Everything he had done at the past two appointments, all very sweet and appreciated, but Diane felt suffocated.

She thought to herself about this mess that she had stumbled upon. How it was her fault that they were put in danger and the fact that she couldn’t seem to forgive herself for endangering his life. He should be furious with her, but instead all he wanted to do was make sure she was never in pain, not taking too many calls, and eating like the doctor had told her to. Her invasive thoughts were interrupted by the opening of the door.

Oh well , she thought, more time to think about that when I can’t sleep at two AM.

“Good afternoon, Diane,” the woman spoke, all business as usual. Diane appreciated this trait. Dr. Jill Marsee was thorough, but not too probing, kind, but firm, and attentive, but far from hovering.

“Your color is looking good.” She began unwrapping a long needle, meant for taking her labs.

“I’ve been getting a good bit of vitamin D since I haven’t been allowed to go to work.” Diane unsubtly dropped the hint at her desired outcome at the end of this appointment. Picking up on the attempt, Dr. Marsee huffed a laugh.

“Let’s have a look.” Diane slipped off her sweater revealing a large bandage on her right shoulder. The bandages were pulled away to reveal 14 stitches and budding scar tissue. Diane didn’t like to look at it, not in pictures, not in the mirror, not at all. Kurt didn’t really seem phased. He’d dealt with countless bodies in crime scene photos who had any number of bullets in their body. But it would take more courage than he had to tell her that every time he cleaned and dressed her shoulder, his eyes stung with tears.

“You’ve done a good job maintaining the wound.” Jill remarked as she began sanitizing the area.

“You’ll have to thank my husband for that.  I can’t exactly do it with one hand.” Diane continued looking to her left.

“Is he waiting in the lobby?”

“No. He’s at work.” Diane clenched her teeth as a fresh bandage was smoothed over her stitches.

Jill looked over her glasses, “Please tell me you didn’t drive here.”

“I took a cab.” Diane shrugged.

“Good, I think I’m going to keep you on the antibiotic for another couple of weeks to be safe, but the dosage will reduce.”

“Meaning...” Diane pressed.

“Meaning you will be cleared to drive and work,” Diane did somersaults inside, “But do not over do it. Do you understand?”

Diane felt like a chastised teenage girl, but was too eager to get back to the office to care.

“Don’t go back today, please. I just took a fair amount of blood from your system for testing and you’ll be tired. You can change the world tomorrow. Just get some rest today.”

 

She hadn’t intended to fall asleep, but Jill was right. She was beat. The high pitched ringing of the phone woke her from her nap. Her labs had come back clean and her white blood cell count was strong. Not twenty minutes later, Diane heard the the front door open and the sound of keys being dropped on the hall table.

Diane slipped on her glasses and stood to greet her husband.

“I brought dinner.” He smiled and held up two bags.

“I am actually starving.” She rose on her tiptoes and kissed his cheek, channeling her current good mood.

She began digging through the bags as his phone rang. He glanced at the name and greeted the caller.

“David. What can I do for you?” A colleague, Diane assumed. The phone was just loud enough for Diane to pick up on their conversation.

“Seattle...3 days...memorial opening on...understand your situation...call me tomorrow.”

Kurt hung up the phone and before he could turn around Diane spoke, “Whatever it is, you are going.”

“It’s just a memorial ceremony, that’s all. They don’t really need me.” He brushed off the idea.

“They wouldn’t have called if the didn’t need you. When is it?” Diane desperately wanted normalcy. And if that meant assuring her husband that she’d be just fine alone for a few days, that’s what she’d do.

Kurt sighed, knowing this was not going to end anytime soon. “This weekend in Seattle.”

“That sounds great. I think you should go.” She grabbed him by the shoulders and gave him a light shake.

He hesitated, “Maybe you—“

“No if’s, and’s, or but’s. My doctor cleared me today to drive and work, so things will go right back to normal. I’ll be just fine.” Her voice almost bounced at the thought of returning to the mundane.

“Wait. You had a doctor’s appointment today?” Kurt’s interest immediately shifted from Seattle.

“Oh, I must have forgotten to tell you. I had to reschedule my last one and today ended up being a good day for it. Don’t worry, I took a cab.” She already sensed his anxiety bubbling toward the surface, so she continued to fiddle with dinner.

“Why didn’t you say anything, I could have driven you?”

“You had work.” Shrugging off the question and, hopefully, this conversation.

“Now can we please eat. I’m hungry.”

Kurt was stoic and passive the rest of the evening. Diane knew she had hurt his feelings, but held on to the yearning that soon this would all be behind him. That gave her temporary peace of mind and made her guilt momentarily subside.

Chapter Text

The flashbacks came as dreams, each one replaying the events but slightly distorted from the truth, often waking her at two or three in the morning to send her swirling back into chaos. Usually she woke before they got too out of hand, managing to stay quiet enough for her husband not to stir beside her. Tonight’s dream, however, was too vivid. Everything was exactly how it happened. Six men with guns, the door smashing open, her favorite vase breaking, Kurt’s yelling...all so lucid. And then the shot, the ringing in her ears, the scream escaping her own lips, Kurt piling the sheet in bundles on her shoulder to stop the bleeding. It was so loud. Everyone was shouting, the men ordering Kurt to place his hands above his head.

This repetitive part of the dream had become bearable. The noise, the images, the smell of blood. Then the feeling set in. Excruciating pain like she had never felt before. The pressure of Kurt’s arms holding the sheet to the hole just above her collarbone. The chill of the air from the open door. The swat team must have figured out that neither of them were a danger to society and began crowding around the bed. She felt hot power, later she learned this was something to temporarily clot the wound, and soft gauze as Kurt pulled the strap of her nightgown away from the bloodied spot. The following sensation of the men attempting to lift her sent massive chills through her spine causing her to gasp and open her eyes.

She sat up in a sweat, her breath unsteady and her thoughts foggy. A familiar hand on her back that usually brought all the comfort in the world, only caused her stomach to churn. It had never been this bad before. She had never let the dreams go that far. It’s like she was reliving it all. Tearing off the sheets, she practically jumped out of bed as Kurt tried to get a grasp on what was happening. Diane scrambled into the bathroom, the door closing firmly behind her with a loud thud. She pressed her back against it, feeling the cold wood through her silk pajamas. Shutting her eyes, she saw stars and pressed a hand to her chest that was covered in beads of sweat. Her stomach was in knots and sent her to her knees, heaving up her dinner.

Kurt opened the door only to find her coughing on the floor. He knelt beside her, pulling back her hair and smoothing her sweat-soaked bangs from her forehead.

“You’re burning up. Here, sit back against the wall.” Kurt attempted to settle her on the tile.

Everything in her body was screaming for her to get air. Getting out of this tiny space was her fight or flight instinct and she pushed herself off the ground as Kurt turned to get a wet washcloth.

“Diane.” He caught her wrist. It was too much. His concern, his forgiveness, his love. He should be furious with her for bringing this hell into their lives, into their home. Half dazed and half dreaming, her brain told her that in order to keep him safe, she needed to leave as soon as possible. Yanking her wrist from his grasp, she nearly fell to the floor in agony.

Immediately, she knew what she’d done. Coupled with a scream, she felt stitches pop and a warm sensation dripping down her arm and soaking through her shirt. Kurt’s eyes widened and he lunged for her, ready to protect her from herself.

“No!”

“Diane, you’re bleeding—“ Fear.

“I can see that.” Anger.

“What can I do?” He inched closer.

“Don’t you dare touch me.” She brought this upon herself and she knew it. She was shouting now.

“Please let me—“ Worry.

“Just stop!” Exasperation.

“Stop. Stop everything. Stop staring at me. Because I know exactly what you’ll do. You’ll look at me with those big brown eyes and say ‘Everything’s gonna be fine, Annie’ and then you’ll wrap your arms around me like I didn’t almost get you killed and ignore the fact that I’m a shit person.” She was practically sobbing at this point, “I’ve gone off and put the one person in this world I cannot live without in danger. And I don’t think I’ll ever forgive myself.”

Kurt couldn’t move. He knew better than to try to appease her. But this scene broke his heart. The woman he loved had split her stitches, was bleeding down her arm, and was refusing his help.

She picked up her keys and purse. He followed her to the front door, but before he could protest she shouted, “Don’t follow me, McVeigh,” partnered with the slamming of the door.

He understood that she felt smothered, but in no way wanted her to believe that she was at fault for all of this.

“Like hell,” he mumbled taking his coat off the rack and opened the door, just in time to see her Cadillac speed off. Was she really driving herself to the hospital with a bloody shoulder?

He had let her storm out too many times, each one resulting in a rift in their relationship. He let his pride keep him from chasing her down and begging for forgiveness. They always just found their way back to one another because the reality that they couldn’t live without each other kicked in. But the emotional bruises inevitably took a while to heal.

It didn’t matter if she didn’t want him there. He didn’t care if she threw a fit. He was going after her because he loved her more than he thought he could love anyone. And that’s what scared him the most.

The emergency room was fairly quiet on a Thursday night. Dr. Marsee was called immediately when Diane came in with blood stains all over her shirt. She had tried to stop the bleeding on the way, only proceeding to make it look like she had just lived through the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies.

“What happened,” Jill didn’t seem too alarmed after she realized only a few stitches had been busted.

Diane knew she looked like a wreck, the crying spell having left dark circles around her splotchy eyes.

“I thought I told you to take it easy today.” Her comment was accompanied by a light chuckle as she began to stitch up the wound once again. Glancing at Diane’s tear stained face, she slowed her hands.

“Diane. What happened.” She wasn’t asking about the broken stitches anymore. Jill offered her a tissue and fell into a patient silence.

“I was so cruel to him.” She whispered, dropping her head. “If I hadn’t been bleeding I would have turned around as soon as I slammed the door.” Sniffing, she continued.

“I cried the whole way here. I’ve never felt so guilty in my whole life and I want it to stop. I just can’t go on knowing that I could have prevented this whole situation and he never would have been in harms way.” Jill took in Diane’s confession.

“And now he probably hates me.” Defeat.

“I’m not going to pretend that I know the whole situation, but I’ve seen the way he looks at you. And a lot of couples come through here, so I think I’d be able to tell when one is special. He just wants you to get better. It doesn’t matter whose fault it is. Love doesn’t care about that.”

Diane was startled by her sympathy.

“Now. Let’s get you sewn up because I’d be willing to bet almost anything he’s sitting in the waiting room right this minute.” Diane’s eyes shot up to Jill’s and her heart pounded. He wouldn’t have come after me. Would he?

Twenty minutes later, Diane was walking out of the exam room in her blood stained shirt letting exhaustion take over her muscles. She hadn’t slept through the night in two weeks.

And there he was. Standing up against the wall gazing up at whatever news outlet was occupying the nearest television. Diane merely blinked and let tears pour freely down her cheek. He was just waiting for her. Like he had every time she cried, every time she changed her outfit for an event, every time she stayed up late for work. Suddenly every emotion he ever made her feel came surging through. Pride, lust, hate, resentment, fear, passion, joy; they were all there, swarming her psyche. But overwhelmingly, love blew all the others out of the water.

Looking to the floor first, Kurt finally lifted his head to see his shaking wife standing twenty feet in front of him. They stared at each other until the subtle gesture of reaching out his arms brought Diane collapsing into his chest. Whether her shivers came from the cold air or sheer fatigue, it didn’t matter. Kurt wrapped his coat around her shoulders, careful not to disturb her new set of bandages.

Diane took a few steps back, his wool coat almost swallowing her as it hung across her shoulders. He remembered that her emotions were battered and she probably still didn’t want to be touched.

“You came after me.” She was barely able to utter that much without falling apart all over again.

“Of course I did,” he stated plainly, like this was an everyday conversation, but then added, “I always will.”

Diane took in his confession. All the things she wanted to say were blocked by the lump in her throat.

“I think we should talk.” Kurt kept his distance, waiting for her to give the go ahead to touch her once again.

“I agree,” she spoke without budging. She couldn’t decide whether she wanted him to scoop her up or sit on the other side of the room. It was as if she didn’t feel worthy of his embrace. They were past due for talking. It was time she shared her guilt.

Chapter Text

They walked to the car, side by side, but with three feet between their bodies and miles separating their thoughts. It took everything he had not to envelop her in his embrace and whisk her away from all of this pain. Inside the car, they stared straight ahead. Diane was the first to break the silence, partly because she felt he deserved an explanation.

“It was only four stitches.” She looked at her hands that were firmly clasped in her lap. Another few minutes passed, neither speaking.

“Diane...” Kurt began, unsure how to proceed. He wanted to avoid causing her any more stress, but needed to voice his concern. “I love you,”

“But?” Diane braced her already unstable emotions by shutting her eyes.

Kurt shook his head and turned in his seat to face her fully, “No ‘but’s.’ That’s not what this is.” How could she even think that? “ That’s not what we are. It’s never been ‘I love you, but .’ It’s ‘I love you and .”

Diane looked at him with confusion.

“It’s always and. And  I want to help. And  I want you not to be in pain. And I  want you to stop beating yourself up about all of this.” Kurt saw her press her lips together, her usual attempt at fighting the tears. He’d pushed a bit too far, realizing that his voice had become tense. He softened both his expression and his tone.

“Look at me.” He threaded his fingers in her’s. She met his gaze and found, not disappointment, not worry, but adoration.

Immediately looking away and untangling her hands from his, she rubbed her palms across her pajamas.

“Diane, if you won’t tell me what’s wrong, I can’t help.” Diane considered this. She wanted to pull him close and squeeze him so tight that he would always be safe. Wrapping him up in her shame would be a mistake that she feared their relationship couldn’t overcome.

“Maybe it’s for the best,” she lied. Her headache had returned with a vengeance and all she wanted to do was sleep. Kurt stared at her, blankly, before sighing and turning on the ignition.

The fifteen minute ride home felt like an eternity. Diane, dozed off, ignorant of the knife she had just stabbed into Kurt’s heart. He didn’t know how to reach her at this point. A glass curtain had fallen between them; he could bare witness to her misery, but was forbidden to save her from herself.

Pulling up to the front door, Kurt shut off the car and let the silence seep in. Her slow breathing was a minute assurance that, at least, she was peaceful for a moment. But he knew she would give him hell for letting her sleep all night in a car, so he gently rubbed his palm across her shoulder, careful not to jar her injury.

“Honey...” he spoke, almost inaudibly, “We’re back.”

She turned to look through the fog that had fallen over Chicago at their front door, illuminated with light from the inside. She stared for a moment, then Kurt watched her features twist into utter despair. The tears couldn’t be stopped as they glistened under the lights of the street lamps and passing cars.

Her crying spell was noiseless. Just tear after tear.

Patiently, Kurt finally spoke, “You don’t have to tell me what’s wrong, but you might feel better if you laid down. It’s been a long night.”

Diane immediately shook her head, swatting at her cheeks.

“I can’t go inside. Not with you.” She spoke with a ragged breath.

“Why not?”

“You just don’t get it, do you,” a hint of exasperation accompanied her tone. She opened the door of the car, stepping out onto the pavement. Out of this confined space.

“Apparently not,” Kurt countered as he closed the door after exiting the driver’s side, “What is it I don’t get?”

“That you should be furious with me!” She shouted, a roll of thunder punctuating her mood.

“For what!”

“For fucking up our lives! God, I feel nauseous just being in the same room with you because I can’t even begin to pardon myself for bringing this whole mess into our home.” Drops of rain commenced saturating the sidewalk. Diane, still standing in the street next to the car, didn’t seem to notice.

“Just come inside, your gonna get soaked.” Kurt started up the steps, until he realized she had not budged.

“See. There you go, pretending everything is fine.” She was almost laughing, in an exhausted, delirious sort of way.

 

“I’m not saying it’s fine, I’m trying to get you out of the rain.” He unlocked the door, as the sky opened up, soaking everything in sight. Including Diane.

“I don’t understand how you are so easily forgetting the fact that I could have gotten you killed.” Water dripped from her hair into her eyes. Oddly enough, it felt cleansing.

“For God’s sake, Diane!” He shouted and marched down the stairs, into the downpour, and pulled her into his chest. Disregarding any protest she might throw out, he let the torrent rinse them of their trepidations. Merely clutching her shivering body to his.

“It’s not that I’ve forgotten what happened,” he whispered into her ear and pulled back, smoothing her frizzy waves behind her ears, “It’s that I love you too much to care. Whatever happens to you, Annie, happens to me. Do you realize what I would give to have our roles swapped?”

Diane shook her head away from his hands. His last comment virtually unbearable to comprehend in her mind.

Realizing he struck a nerve, he continued, “Listen to me.” His hands held her in place, but it was the intensity of his eyes that made her feet feel like cement blocks.

“Stop torturing yourself. After all of this, after everything. Look around. We still came out together. Isn’t that the only thing that matters?”

Diane searched his eyes for doubt or uncertainty, but only found compassion. It soon came to her that there wasn’t an ounce of hesitation in his words. She was so prepared for him to shun her and distance himself after the incident, but it only made him want to protect her more. Why had she categorized him with all the other men of the world? He didn’t have a conventional bone in his body. Their relationship had been everything but archetypal. Why had she feared this situation would be different?

Nodding in reply to his question, her nausea practically evaporated. Taking a deep breath, she gave herself the tiniest allowance of grace, with his unspoken approval. It wasn’t much, but it was a start.

“Good. Now can we please get  out of the rain?”

Chapter Text

Both had come to the conclusion that they wouldn’t be getting much sleep that night. The fireplace roared as the thunder followed suit. Diane sat on the couch, clad in Kurt’s Brown University t-shirt and a pair of yoga pants. Her ringlets had become damp, wavy strands as she nursed a cup of hot tea.

“Yes, I’ll pick up the antibiotic in the morning...alright...thank you.” Kurt hung up the phone and stood from his desk. His hair was still wet from the rain that continued to pour outside their front door.

Diane craned her neck to look over the back of the couch at her husband. His eyes were dark and he hadn’t shaved for the past two weeks. Beneath his exhaustion, Diane could make out a sliver of his smile. He was simply relieved to have her back home where she was safe. Although home hadn’t proved to be much of a haven from recent events.

He stood in the middle of the room, not really knowing whether to sit with her or give her space. Not having to ponder for very long, Diane spoke up, “Come sit with me.”

He sat gingerly on the other end of the couch as if she were a sleeping puppy that he couldn’t bare to disturb. Her feet were stretched across the cushions, but he scooped them up and placed them on his lap once he was settled. A chill of normalcy ran down Diane’s spine. How could she feel so comfortable when their lives were in a state of disarray?

“That was your doctor. She’s starting you on another antibiotic, low dose, just to be safe.” He ran his hand up and down her calf. She nodded, sipping her tea.

The cracking of the firewood encompassed the room and they sat like this for some time. Figuring that if they didn’t talk now, they never would, Diane let a weight off her chest.

“Do you think we are special?”

Kurt took a deep breath, “What do you mean?”

Diane chuckled at her own musings. She knew they never had a fairytale romance. But it’s not like she would trade this life to have one. The law had taught her that no case is special; underneath, each case comes down to one of a few fundamental factors. It felt naive to think her marriage was above that. Dr. Marsee may have seen a lot of couples, but so had Diane. Things like this tear relationships to shreds.

“Never mind, it’s silly.” She returned to the steaming liquid between her palms.

“No, what do you mean?” He pressed her. He truly wanted to hear what she had to say. Hopping it might lead to her emotional recovery, or at the very least, a good night’s sleep.

“Jill just said something,” she felt ridiculous already, “While she was putting in new stitches.”

He waited for her to find her strength. He always would.

“I didn’t think you’d follow me.” She looked up into his eyes.

Holding her gaze he spoke, “Why?”

She shrugged, not sure of the answer. “This is a lot to deal with. I’m a  lot to deal with.” She gestured to her bandaged shoulder.

“You keep saying that, but have I once said that I can’t handle it? That I don’t want to help you heal? That I don’t want to see you laugh again?” Fresh tears hit her cheeks. She was use to them by now and barely noticed their presence.

She bit her lip, “No.”

His hand resumed it’s pattern on her leg.

“I’m right here, Diane.”

“I know that and it’s your patience that floors me.” She paused, “I was so horrid to you.”

“None of that matters.” Kurt spoke softly, sincerely.

Love doesn’t care about that . Diane heard Jill’s words ringing in her ears and suddenly she couldn’t cry anymore. She looked at this man in front of her. A man she never knew she needed. A soulmate. Their life may not be anywhere close to perfect, but they had each other. Wasn’t that the whole point?

“She was right.” Diane reached for Kurt’s hand, “We are special.”

He was her love that didn’t care. Her love that would never judge, never scrutinize.

Kurt sighed and smiled, “So where do we go from here?”

“I think we go to bed.” They laughed lightly and the room fell into the hands of the hissing fire once more. But this time all was calm. The emotion in the air had thinned.

“We can figure things out tomorrow,” Diane continued her prior thought, “Let’s just try to sleep.”

Kurt took her now cold tea to the kitchen as Diane moved to brush her teeth. When she returned from the bathroom, she stood in the doorway, looking at her surroundings. Wounds were still fresh and they would take a great deal of time to completely heal. But they wouldn’t heal at all if she didn’t move forward. Wallowing in grief for the life they had, would hinder building a new one. A better one.

Lying down had never felt so good. Diane made herself comfortable under the silk sheets, turning on her left shoulder facing Kurt’s side of the bed. A couple of minutes later, Kurt took his place at her side, kissing her hairline. Diane raised her head and gave him a proper kiss before he rolled to turn off the lamp.

“One thing that would help us move forward with normalcy,” she began, not sure how’d he react, “Would be you going to Seattle for that thing you mentioned.”

“I already told them I couldn’t go.”

“Then I’m sure they’ll be happy to know you’ve changed your mind.” Diane sensed his hesitation.

“Please, Kurt. For me. I don’t want to keep you from your job that you obviously enjoy. I’ll be just fine here.” She linked her fingers with his.

He pulled her hand up and placed a kiss on her fingers.

“If you’re sure.” He spoke, knowing she was slipping into sleep. “I’ll call them in the morning.”

Diane nodded, content for the moment that they had made a step toward recovery.

Chapter Text

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?”