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When the Bubble Bursts

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Kurt felt cold while he drew back the curtains, allowing the morning sun to flood the room. His eyes followed the rays of light, watching them dance over wooden floor, silky sheets, unmoved pillows. The sight of the untouched side of their bed, her side, made him flinch, reminded him of the pain in his heart that had settled there two days ago, and he wasn’t sure it would ever leave again.

Shivering slightly, he made his way into the bathroom, scrupulously avoiding to take in any of her belongings. But as soon as he raised his head to look into the mirror, he failed. Of course he did, because she was still everywhere. In the reflection he could see her shower gel and shampoo standing on the rack in the shower. Her mascara and one of her lipsticks were carelessly tossed on the right side of the washstand, accompanied by a set of golden earrings and a matching necklace, awaiting their owner to return and finally put them on display.

 

***

 

The alarm went off, way too loud in the silent room. Her hand groped for the phone to mute the nerve-racking noise, and a relieved sigh escaped her when she succeeded, an idea of the calm of the night surrounding her. She felt Kurt shifting next to her, and a moment later he placed his arm around her waist, casting a smile on her features and her eyes fluttered open.

“Good morning”, she murmured, her voice still hoarse from sleep. She received a low rumble as an answer, but it was enough to arise a warm feeling in her heart. Diane turned around to face him, placed a sweet little kiss on his nose and continued staring at him until he opened his eyes.

“Hi”, she whispered, and a lopsided smirk appeared on his sleepy face.

“Hi”, Kurt finally answered, eyeing her for a moment before he shuffled even closer and kissed her lazily. She hummed in approval, her left hand caressing his stubbly cheek before running it through his hair when their kiss intensified and she shut her eyes.

 

Diane would never admit it aloud, but waking up next to him never failed to make her day before it even started. They had only married some weeks ago, and she already couldn’t – and wasn’t willing to – imagine how she used to lay in bed alone, not hearing his breath next to her, to miss his soothing touch on her skin, slowly lulling her to sleep at night. Before she met him, she had always smiled at couples that were rhapsodising over the other partner, finding their sweet talk ridiculous. She still didn’t give details about their marriage away in public, let alone going into raptures about their relationship, but now she could sympathise. She loved being his wife with every fibre of her heart, despite their more often than not opposing views on politics and lifestyle.

 

When he pulled away they were both panting, and she buried her face in the nape of his neck, breathing in his scent, not willing to open her eyes yet while his fingers were lightly rubbing over her arm.

“I have to get up”, she mentioned in passing, not making a move, unwilling to leave the warmth of his embrace.

“Mm-hm”, he agreed, and although he’d prefer her staying in bed some more minutes, he lifted his arm so she could get up.

Diane smiled, cupped his face and gave him a quick peck on his lips before she threw back the blanket and left the bed and her husband behind to step into the bathroom and get ready for work.

 

Kurt followed her soon after, knowing that she would have completed most of her morning routine by then and he wouldn’t disturb her. When he entered the bath, Diane stood in front of the washstand, about to complete her hairdo. She had chosen to wear an ivory coloured blouse, her cleavage covered by a big, loosely tied bow which was attached to the collar, and a mahogany red pant suit. Even though she had not yet applied any make-up, she already looked beautiful.

He stepped behind her, encircled her waist and watched her through the mirror while she tried to colour her lips in their trademark red.

“You look stunning”, Kurt murmured into her ear, brushing her hair aside. She turned around to kiss him sweetly, leaving crimson traces behind.

“Thank you”, she replied gratefully and attempted to finish getting ready.

“I love you”, he told her, nuzzling her neck, kissing the sensitive skin there. Diane pulled away a little, their gaze meeting through the mirror, and while he looked at her deadly serious, she shot him a grin.

“I love you, too!”

 

***

 

He reached for her abandoned jewellery, but he withdrew his hand before he could touch it like he feared to be burned.

She had placed it there for the gala in the evening she had planned to attend. Accompanied by her spouse, of course. He had been unthoughtful enough to refuse to go, despite the fact he had promised her. To be fair, he hadn’t been in a state to weigh the pros and cons back then, her hands in his hair, her naked skin on his, their tongues disentangled from bruising kisses only for the moment of her asking him to escort her. Diane had been unimpressed by his argument, had reproached him for being unable to consider the up and downs before. He had dashed her hopes to spend an entertaining evening with her husband, outweighing the monotonous business conversations she inevitably would have had to hold here and there throughout the night. When he had kissed her goodbye, he had still been able to notice the disappointment in her light blue eyes.

He wanted to scream, curse, cry while shattering the glass in front of him, sweeping away her cosmetics, erasing the sight of everything she owned. Instead, he kept staring at his reflection, looking right through his anguished expression, not minding his uncombed hair and the stubbles on his face, feeling only emptiness beside the tremendous pain in his heart.

 

***

 

“Admit it, you just want to show off your new car”, Diane teased him when they entered the car park and passed by her own vehicle. They had decided to take his recently bought Mercedes, and that he would drop her at the firm after their meeting with Neil Gross.

“Never”, he claimed, acting offended.

They got into Will’s car and hit the road, but soon they got stuck in the heavy traffic of the early afternoon.

“Why again did I agree to ride through the whole city at this time of the day?”, he asked his partner mockingly, glancing at her sideways.

“You know how much I care about this man’s case”, she replied earnestly, but she flashed him a smile, knowing he only wanted to needle her because of her strong opinion towards gun related violence.

 

Diane’s client, Harry Dargis, had lost his daughter a few months ago. She had been killed by a stray bullet, shot by one of their neighbours, and during the following investigations it turned out that the offender had purchased the weapon illegally at a gun store in the area. With regard to the incident, Mr. Dargis had set up a billboard, blaming the involved gun store for the murder of his daughter. As a result the owner of the store accused the man of defamation, trying to persuade him to remove the placard. Unwilling to do so, he turned to Lockhart/Gardner for help, and Diane was keen to provide him with legal aid.

 

“So, are you going to inform me how much money our firm needs to spend on this poor man’s case?”, he asked her, eager to test out how far he could take his badgering.

“Will”, she sighed, “Can we let this rest for the moment, please?”

“Okay, okay”, he capitulated, removing one of his hands from the steering-wheel to raise it in a symbol of resignation.

“I’m sorry”, she assured him and reached over to pat his shoulder twice.

“You are… what? Are you okay?”, he wanted to know, his voice in a tone between faked and real concern. His gaze left the road again to look at her, his worry increasing when he noticed the wrinkles on her forehead that only appeared when she was overthinking a complex issue.

“Diane, you know I’m always available if you want to talk”, he told her, averse to press for an answer if she didn’t feel like sharing her thoughts with him.

“Yes, thank you”, she replied, and although he could read in her face that her issues were not solved, a smile lit up her features. She hesitated a second, but then she added: “I had an argument with Kurt in the morning, and it kind of ruined my mood for the day. But it was nothing serious, just one of our usual dissensions, to be honest.”

“Uh, who would have guessed that we would discuss marital problems one day?”, he said, and both of them started laughing at his remark.

“God, I never thought I will be that kind of woman one day”, Diane chuckled.

“Neither did I. And I still think you were right when you called marriage ‘a mysterious institution’.”

“And I still believe it is.”

“Why did you marry him anyway?”, he wanted to know, and suddenly he was very focused on the road, as if not looking at her would save him from her possible outrage. The silence that followed his questions gave him enough time to nearly regret to having asked her such a personal question.

It did take Diane some time to find the right words, and when she noticed Will’s slight discomfort, she chose not to hasten to do so.

“I love him”, she started with the obvious, and she laughed lightly when she saw him rolling his eyes in a manner that was normally reserved to herself. “Yeah, I know”, she reacted, imitating him, causing him to smirk.

“Anyway, the act of marrying was really spontaneous, that’s why I couldn’t invite or even mention it to you. I didn’t know we were going to tie the knot until minutes before it actually happened.”

“I still feel offended that I didn’t get the chance to be your best man”, Will interjected, and even though she knew it was just another playful comment, a part of her wished she had had the opportunity to have him by her side that day. They exchanged glances for a brief second, cool blue meeting warm brown, and Diane was sure he was aware of how she felt, despite the lack of words.

“You know it was a tough time, for both of us of course, but I felt like my life was spinning out of control. People I admired and respected betrayed my trust, the supreme court judgeship had suddenly become an unattainable dream, and I was short-sighted enough to neglect my tasks at our firm. I was tired that everything in my life was seeming so uncertain, tired of running away. He built up my self-confidence again, convinced me that everything is going to be alright. At that moment I knew that I didn’t want to let him go again. I was smart enough to not repeat the mistake I made during our issues with Bond.” Diane shrugged and took a deep breath, her gaze wandering outside of the window.

She had not noticed that they had already left the busy streets of the inner city and were now surrounded by detached houses with more or less well-tended front gardens, and a few streets further on she could spot some apartment buildings. Only when she felt Will’s hand brushing her shoulder, she turned her head, facing her best friend.

“You know I am happy for you, right?”, he requested, his smile warm and honest. Diane nodded, her fingers grazed his hand for some seconds and she returned his smile.

“I know”, she confirmed. “Now focus on the road. I don’t want to be involved in a car accident shortly before reaching our destination, just because you are unable to drive”, she mocked, and their chuckling filled the interior of the car once more.