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His lips captured her bottom lip in a fierce, aggravated and almost violent way as his hand lost its tight grip on one of her wrists so that he could bury his fingers in the soft blonde strands of her silky hair, silently begging her to grant his tongue an entrance in its search for hers. Their lips, in all their wild hastiness, felt smooth and soft against each other, like rich and expensive velvet fabric felt when it clung against skin.

Her freed hand shot up, pressing between their bodies, and her fingers curled into the worn out cotton of his flannel button-up, so that the tips of her red manicured nails could dig through it into the skin on his chest. Her other hand was still held captured between his tight grip and the wall she was pressed against by his strong body, the familiarity of his warmth that she adored so much whenever it emerged to her own sending an odd feeling of melancholy through her chest, where it came to mingle with the local anger and sadness inside of her.

She parted her lips, but not to let his tongue find its desired way in to tangle with hers in the wild tango they both knew by heart, like a performance they had come up with together a long time ago and that they had never failed to perform in the entirety of its perfection. Instead, she did the movement to let the smooth edges of her teeth sink into the warm flesh of his upper lip, careful enough to ensure that it would not bleed from the action and just hard enough to make sure that it would cause him the pain she wanted him to feel. His wordless answer was a dark groan that escaped his throat and she could not even tell anymore whether it was the intriguing arousal in him or his insufferable fury that was causing him to make the sound.

It always faded into one another in situations like this one. Anger and arousal, pain and love, like an undistinguishable contradiction that resembled the two of them in all of their faultiness.

They would begin to argue over some pointless topic of unimportance and then they would fight until one of them would eventually go too far with their words and cause the other to break, which, in the end, always led to those abrasive excuses of intimacy. Biting kisses, angry words trapped in their throats, silenced by their heartfelt desperation for the other, violent groping as if their hands were in search for the reason they were still together at this point. It was painful affection and they were acting like drug addicts that could not stay away from the substances that would still the pain that the drug itself had caused them in the first place, like a never-ending circle of need and misery.

That was what their make up sex was like. A practised routine whose almost strategic planned-outness did not make its existence any more appropriate.

Those were their pathetic attempts, their method to remind themselves of why they were doing this, of trying to figure out why they were still putting up with each other, of looking for the reason for that their love was more important than their differences that had eventually gained enough power to be able to grow and become real problems without either of them noticing.

His fingers closed to a fist and the movement forced her head backwards when she had to give in to the pain his grip on her hair was causing on her scalp. She knew he would not want to actually physically hurt her, he of all the people would never even think about going that far, so the move made her understand how strong his need to look at her was. And so she gave in easily, which was almost a grotesque fact on its own, considering how much the outlook of having to look at him right now was already hurting her.

Her front teeth scraped over his upper lip as they parted before it escaped her bite and the knowledge of that he had felt them on his sensitive flesh, digging painfully into his skin, and the feeling of his hard length twitching against her hip through layers and layers of clothing in response, the knowledge of the great power she was holding over him and the fact that he was doing nothing to reduce that power because he was still simply trusting her enough to let it be, it normally would have caused her to smirk smugly at him in cheeky and provocative satisfaction.

But there was no smiling. They were both still angry at each other and she was too hurt, the pain she was feeling too deep of an emotive hole into which he had pushed her only moments prior, to be able to do him the favour of being granted a smile.

The rules were easy. No smiling, no talking, no confirmations of love and no apologies until they were done.

That was the way this worked and those were the unspoken rules they had set over the cause of their relationship. It was the way it worked, they had to follow the three easy steps that would keep them together and would make times like this bearable.

Fighting. Fucking. Forgiving.

It was like the messed up contortion of a game they were playing over and over again in their attempt to make it work.

They would fight because it was inevitable for them to do so. The reason for their argument could be anything, really. Politics, a sexist comment, a misinterpreted remark, a moral difference or whatever else, it did not really matter. The two of them could have fought about anything and everything if they would have tried.

It usually started slow. They would stay on topic for a while until it became heated and they would drift off and before they would even notice they found themselves trapped in a fight of which they both knew that it was not about the actual topic anymore, a fight that could sometimes even lead them to forget about its actual cause. At this point, it would get personal and those were the bad and poor compensations of conversations or discussions that were relevant for the functionality of their relationship but which also neither of them really wanted to have to go through. Vulnerability was not one of their greatest strengths.

They would fight and sooner or later each silently realize that they did not actually know how to work this out from here on anymore and so the following natural defence mechanism for their secret insecurities would be apoplectic behaviour and words of which they knew that they would hit beyond doubt. They would say things they did not really mean, hurt their counterpart who they had never truly meant to hurt and stumble around the actual problem until they would fall right into a whole other one. The problem of having hurt the one they loved.

At some point, one of them would be so deeply heartstricken that they would finally break, unable to retort yet another hurtful remark, and the first step of their routine was finished. He would suddenly stop shouting at her, she would press her painted lips together to remain silent instead of continuing to snap at him. He would run his hand over his face and turn away unsteadily to keep his pain deep inside and hidden from her, or she would look down so that he would not see the tears that would form in her irritated eyes, press her palm firmly against her lips to keep the sob in her throat from escaping her.

Neither of them would leave. Whenever they did, it was not a fight that was bad to that extent. It was always worse when they would still feel the need to stay and give the other one the opportunity to hurt them even more badly. It was like an auto-aggressive test of trust in which they would see if the other would go even further or if they still loved each other enough to put a stop to it, which they always did once they had come to this point.

It was nice to look at their fights from this perspective. To view them as an expression of how nothing they would ever say or do could even begin to reduce the way they felt about each other.

The winner of the first step would approach them, more or less aggressively but under no circumstances ever with the smallest trace of regret, and eventually initiate sex. They would kiss them until they would give in and kiss them back, touch them until their bodies would naturally seek out their touch, bruise them until they would not hurt anymore, caress them like the treasury they were. They would fuck them, fast and hard until they would feel loved again and until all anger was spent in wild paces of panting exhales and violent contractions of their limbs shaking against each other's, until they would come together, loud and ecstatically, with the angelic syllables of their names gliding off of their tongues in high, throaty moans or shrieks directed towards the ceiling and raw, dark groans pressed out against the sweaty skin on the curve between her neck and shoulder, as they mended their broken bond again and finished the second step.

And at last, they would sit, stand or lay there, each of their rapid breathing spilling against the other's skin that was covered in a thin layer of the mixture of both of their sweat and they would hold each other as close as they could to ensure themselves of that they were still there with them and of that whatever the hell they had been fighting about would never actually impact the way they loved each other.

And then they would forgive.

The rules were easy and the game was a practised performance between the two of them, a choreography they had perfected over the years. The fighting could not be prevented. The sex was a way to express the anger, the hurt and the pain, and a way to make it up to each other in a way they would not be able to do by talking. And the forgiveness was their way to leave it behind and get over it.

It worked well that way. It always did for the both of them.

Diane opened her eyes and his green orbs locked with watery blue. His eyes were narrowed at her as she found them, the infuriated expression that was laying within the most beautiful shade of fir green that she ever could have made up in her dreams, in line with the way his jaw was tensed and the anger on his face was mirrored in the harsh edges of his features that normally held a softer, somehow warmer form to them when they were usually looking as though they were welcoming her home, unlike the way in which now his skin was flushed with both aggression and arousal.

Aggression, not regret. Arousal, not desire.

He looked as though he was trying to will himself to hate her and the realization caught her off-guard and caused her to momentarily fall out of line and loosen her strong grip on his shirt that was rising and falling rapidly in the pace of his fast and audible breathing.

Inhaling deeply through her nose, she bit down on her tongue and tried to concentrate on the way the pain shot through her flesh in an attempt to overshadow the way his look and the replay of his words from earlier that was echoing through her head were hurting her like a knife that was pushed into her heart and then twisted forcefully on repeat, over and over again as though someone were attempting to cut it out of her chest.

She wanted to look away, to break the lock of their eyes to free herself from an ounce of the great power he had over her. But that was not how they played.

And after everything that had happened tonight, she had not expected the look in his eyes, that suddenly turned to reflect warmth and familiarity again, to soften, his clenched jaw to visibly relax. Had not anticipated that his fingers would leave her hair and come to rest softly and securing on her pale cheek, his thumb slowly and affectionately brushing over the soft skin underneath her eye, the small movement wordlessly assuring her of that he would catch her tears in case she could not keep them from rolling down anymore. She had not seen it coming that his other hand would free her wrist and move to entwine his warm fingers with hers.

She had not expected that he would be the one to break the rules by exhaling one last breath of faded anger to ban its last traces from his system and to lean forward and press the softest and most affectionate of kisses on her forehead and to then look at her with such pain, such regret and so much love in his green eyes when he leaned away by mere inches, only to be able to see her when he would whisper:

"I'm sorry."


...


It was late, past ten-thirty pm, when she rang the doorbell to his barn on this Friday night.

A few moments passed and her staring contest with the heavy wood of the closed front door soon became too much for her to take. A knot began to form in her throat and the last traces of the taste of scotch on her tongue suddenly tasted bitter and nauseating and she thought that if she would have tried to swallow the dry feeling away, she surely would have begun to throw up.

She ran a shaky hand through her hair and pressed her lips together, the feeling of the layers of the deep red of her lipstick on them, that she had touched up again only minutes before in the safety of the front seat of her Cadillac, oddly making her feel a little more at ease. It always assured her when she knew that she was looking acceptable. Not that it made something like this any easier.

Her gaze dropped down and she stared at the tips of her black high heels for a small moment and considered leaving again. He was mad at her and she knew that she was not really up to the challenge of facing his anger right now. It was a waste of time, pointlessly spent energy that she did not have left in her at the moment and she did not know whether or not it would be smarter, safer and maybe better for the sake of her sanity to turn around, get back to the car and drive off before he would get the chance to see that it had been her who had been ringing the doorbell and standing on his front steps in the semi-darkness of the night.

She knew he was mad at her and she did not know how much she would be able to take anymore tonight before she would break. And she knew for sure that he was mad.

It would not take him that long to answer the door if he was not mad.

But whatever second thoughts she might have had in that moment and whatever her eventual decision would have been, the choice was taken from her when the sound of the key being twisted in the lock from the other side suddenly caused her head to snap back up.

And then the door opened and he was standing there, looking at her in calm that she knew to be faked. His expression was neutral, his lips were closed beneath his moustache and she could only guess what great effort it cost him to make his jaw look that relaxed.

They knew each other very well, and sometimes she felt like that was the actual doom of their relationship. They did not want to let the other in but they could not prevent themselves from doing so either because they had actually already sneaked inside a long time ago, had already begun to find a way into each other's heads at the moment they had first met.

With Kurt, it had always been his eyes that easily told her everything she needed to know, at times like this probably even more than she actually wanted to know, when it was more than she could bear, when it was more than enough to hurt her in a way only he ever could. And right now, she could not remember to have ever seen those green orbs so full of betrayal, of built up anger and so full of something she had never seen in them before and what she knew to be nothing less than hatred. Hatred towards her.

They looked at each other for a few minutes, but to her, it felt like hours. Each silent second that passed made her discomfort grow bigger and bigger and it gathered to build a wall up to a similar height of the one he had pulled up between them to protect himself from her and that had left him looking calm in the deranged way in which he did right now. And after a while, she did not even remember anymore why she had even come here in the first place.

Her lips parted and closed again as the impatient rising of his brows discouraged her from speaking again. When she eventually managed to break the silence, her voice was a mere mumble, only audible to him at all because it was so quiet around them.

"Maybe I shouldn't have come here. I'll go home..."

"No.", he answered fast, as though he had been using the entirety of the past few minutes of silence to prepare for saying that. His voice was strong and for a small second she could not help but wonder how she could have let herself be so affected by this when it did not seem to concern him half as much. But then she saw the look in his eyes and knew that this was not right.
"We'll talk."

He stepped aside and made room for her to come in. Her legs were unsteady as she stepped inside, the smell of his familiar scent that she inhaled as she walked past him almost enough for them to give in under her weight.

She heard him close the door behind her as she continued to slowly step down the dimly lit hallway, as though she had forgotten how to stop moving. The scent that she kept on inhaling with every breath she was taking left her feeling dizzy. The house smelled of him. Of wood and fire and of gunpowder and aftershave and of that strong, masculine smell that she could not really manage to describe because there was nothing she could think of that could possibly resemble it, resemble him. It never failed to take her breath away and this time, unlike many other times, it was not in a good way.

She came to a halt at the end of the short corridor and the doorway that would lead her to the living room was to her right. Slowly and carefully, as to postpone having to face him again, she turned back around to him in search for permission to step forward or for restriction and the instruction for her to wait for him to go in first, just looking for guidance as to what to do and how to act.

He had walked back in after her without her knowledge and was standing a lot closer now than she had expected. His eyes were still laying on her, meeting hers the moment she turned to him and the same expression of fury and disappointment from prior had remained in them. Diane breathed in audibly, it sounded like a muffled gasp, and her eyes left his, her head dipping in a feeling of shame that she did not want to feel.

It was not right for him to fully hold her responsible for his anger and she was more than aware of that. But he still managed to make her feel as though it was her fault and her fault only.

A loose strand of blonde hair fell to her face from the movement of her head and she resisted the urge to tuck it behind her ear because then it would no longer be hiding his face from the corner of her sight.

Kurt groaned lowly in what she figured to be annoyance at her behaviour and he began to move towards his living room, walking through the doorway in front of her before she looked up again and followed slowly, the sound of her heels clicking against the wooden floor mixing with the low cracking that emerged from the lit fireplace in the corner of the room. On the coffee table in front of it stood a small glass tumbler with sparse remainders of scotch in it that reminded her of a similar empty crystal tumbler that was standing on the coffee table in her office right now, which she had left behind before she had finally left the office to drive here.

Normally, whenever she found those little parallels in their behaviour, it made her smile. The two of them were very different and the thought of that they still had small things like this in common was pleasant in the most innocent and positively amusing kind of way.

But this... this was just sad. And maybe even a little pathetic, considering that her mind was focusing on a small, pointless detail like this when they were in the middle of a problem that was so much bigger than that. It was a desperate attempt of finding lightness in the darkness of this situation.

She had never been much of an optimist.

He came to a halt in the middle of the room and turned back to her. He had not said anything about the fact that she was still wearing her coat and it was probably because he did not feel like he owned her politeness of any form anymore, but this and the fact of that he was not even offering her a seat right now left her feeling like he just wanted to get this over with as fast as possible, as though he wanted to get rid of her again as soon as he could.

Diane sighed quietly and her lips parted. The couple of feet of air between them felt like a lot less distance than she would have wanted to have for this.

"Kurt-", she said and stopped herself to swallow hard in the hope of that it would make her voice sound a little less raspy. "I... I know that you're mad."

Kurt's closed lips stretched to form an angry smirk and he shook his head, laughing coolly, before he stopped the movement and looked at her again. "Yeah, damn right I am, Diane.", he growled at her and she felt her left brow twitch at the harsh tone of his voice.

"Yes, and I'm sorry. I really am.", she said softly. "But... there was nothing I could have done differently. I was doing my job-"

"No.", he cut her off and leaned against the edge of the leather armchair behind him in a matter that would have seemed casual to anyone but her. "If that's the way you wanna defend what you did, I'd rather you go right now."

Her jaw dropped and she narrowed her eyes at him, slowly feeling the way her own anger began to overshadow her fear. "Kurt, it is my job and I get that you are angry with me, but it was still the right thing for me to do on a professional matter."

"Is that what you're telling yourself?", he laughed at her.

"Yes!", she insisted and crossed her arms firmly beneath her chest. "Because it's the truth."

Kurt shook his head again, the amused expression vanishing from his features again. "No. Because you made it personal. And that's far from professional."

She furrowed her brows and her grip on the leather straps of her purse tightened. "Kurt, this was never about us. It's business and what I did had nothing to do with our relationship-"

"You undermined my testimony." His voice was low and calm, as though he was speaking to himself rather than to her. As though he could not fully believe what she had done and had to remind himself of it to be able to stay angry with her.

The distance of a few feet between them suddenly felt like there were worlds between them that kept them apart and she was not sure if she liked it. It made it easier to argue but she had never wanted to fight with him over this in the first place.

"Yes, to rightfully represent my clients!", she protested, raising her voice and glaring at him, her bright blue eyes glistening with rage in the dim light that came from the fireplace. The look on his face had not changed. He still looked numb with hate and disappointment. "Kurt, he killed their child and now he's making money from it, what the hell was I supposed to do-"

"He didn't do it.", he said slowly and determined, as though she were too stupid to understand him if he would have spoken at a normal pace.

She exhaled deeply through her nose, resisting the urge to yell at him. "Yes, he did. Kurt, your replication wasn't identical with the crime scene, the measurements were off and you know it."

"And I calculated the discrepancies with into my results."

"I know. But..." Diane flicked her tongue over her bottom lip, not realizing that she was doing it until she saw his eyes involuntarily being captivated by the movement. "Kurt, he was guilty.", she said softly, her voice almost only a whisper anymore.

She needed him to understand. She could see his point but she knew that she was not in the wrong, had only done what anyone in her situation would have done; her job. And he could not hold that against her. It was just unfair of him to do so.

Kurt scoffed and shook his head. His hands landed on his hips and when he looked at her again she could see the hurt in his eyes.

She had hurt him. Hurt him badly.

Diane swallowed. Her chest was aching and she did not know why.

"Why are you here, Diane?", he asked lowly, as if in defeat.

"I... I needed to talk to you about this. We promised that we would draw the line between work and our marriage and I don't want to let this affect us."

One of his brows twitched at her words. "You already have. It's just funny to me that you don't even realize it."

Diane raised her chin and closed her eyes for a short moment. What was it that he did not understand? He could not possibly hold her responsible for his anger, she had done nothing wrong and there was no way in which he honestly could not know that in the back of his mind. He was not stupid. She had hit his ego but that was his problem and something he needed to deal with on his own. Like an adult.

She opened her eyes. "Kurt, I don't know what your problem is.", she retorted, her voice well over its low volume from earlier. "You've testified against us- against me- before and suddenly it's a problem when I do what I would do with any other expert witness from the other side that I need to cross-examine? You took on this case for the opposition when you already knew that I was representing the prosecution, it was your choice to do so, so why the hell are you acting like I am the bad guy in this scenario?"

"Because you went after me!", he suddenly roared at her, as though he had finally snapped out of some kind of a trance.

Somewhere deep inside of her, she was glad. It was easier to try and be pissed at him when he did not seem to be as hurt by her anymore. Even though she knew that it was just a cover-up, a mask to hide his pain behind, just like her own anger was.

"You could easily have hired another ballistic expert instead to get your own evidence and to have someone support your case, but you didn't do that, did you? No, you went ahead and implied that I didn't do my research right. Do you know what that means to my business, what effect that could have on it?"

"So? Your testimony had the same effect on our firm! We lost, Kurt, we lost the case for the parents of that dead boy, what effect do you think this has on my business?"

"That's different. I did it because it was a case while you did it because you were pissed at me because I testified for the other side!"

"No!"

They were silent for a moment, simply glaring at each other as though one of them could possibly give in because of it. But they never would. The damage they had done was not yet enough at this point for this to end. They had not hurt each other enough to already move on to the second step. This was not how they played.

Her voice was dangerously low when she continued to speak again, as though she was daring him to contradict what she was about to say. "I respected our agreement. I'm still respecting our agreement. I never made this personal and whatever I did in court, I did as a lawyer, not as your wife. You are the one who's mad at me for professional reasons, so stop being a hypocrite about this."

Kurt's jaw tensed, but the look on his face hardly changed. His calm and devastated expression was like the ticking of a time bomb, ready to explode at any given time and to pull her into her own misery once it would decide to do so.

"Oh, sure Diane.", he mumbled monotonously. "You are the injured party here."

Her teeth sank down on the inside of her cheek and she swallowed hard in an attempt to get rid of her anger towards him. "No, I'm not. And neither are you. The only injured party here is the family of that little boy-"

"Stop it!", he barked at her. In the dim light, she could see his face flushing in a shade of angry red, an artery on his temple stood out more prominently beneath his skin, as it always did when she had pushed him to this state of fury. "Stop making this about the case!"

"This is about the case!", she insisted.

"No, this stopped being about the case the second you went after me just to win. When you used me to get money out of this."

Her chest was rising and falling rapidly in the pace of her frantic breathing. Her purse felt heavy in the grip of her shaky right hand, the cold sweat from her palm mingling with the leather material to create the most uncomfortable feeling in her hand.

She wanted to draw her eyes away from his. Looking at him was almost too painful to keep on doing at this point. She wanted to turn around and walk out of the door, to step into her car and drive home. To take off her phone to keep herself from checking if he had texted her an apology every time she would get a business related e-mail. To leave before he would take this even further, which she knew he was just about to do if she would stay.

But this was not how they played. She had to take the confrontation, the hurt and the pain if she really wanted this. Had to take it to keep him from leaving her.

It was pathetic. But those were the rules.

"I didn't do it for the money.", she demanded in a low voice. Her lips were trembling with every spoken syllable. "How dare you even say that?"

"Because I know you.", he replied simply. Four words, so easily said for him, hitting her like a bullet.

"That man is selling paintings about the way he has shot this seven-year-old kid, you can't seriously think that I would take on a case like that for the money."

"Oh, of course. You just did it because you're such a saint, Diane. You know what, maybe you can fool yourself by pretending that you are, but you can't fool me."

He was wrong. He was so wrong about this and it pained her so much that he would even imply that she was like this when she thought so highly of him.

"Then why are you even still with me if you think that I'm such a bad person?" Her voice was unsteady and she was stuttering in the rhythm in which her body was shaking. And she hated herself for giving him the power of being able to get to her in that way, for loving him so much that he had the power to hurt her like that.

She hated herself for the tears that were slowly forming in her eyes and for not being able to look away from him to prevent him from seeing the way his words were hitting her right in her heart. Hated herself for looking at him with this expression on her face that she knew to be so pathetic in all of its helplessness with which she was urging him to tell her that she was not a bad person. To tell her that he loved her and that their love was more important than this stupid argument.

Hated herself for hoping that he would beg her to stay with him and to tell her how much he loved her. For hoping so greatly for him to say something, anything, that would keep her from doubting his love for her.

For wanting to screw their damn rules just this one time because she needed him to tell her that he loved her like it was the oxygen that she needed to keep breathing.

Please, tell me that I'm not. Please tell me that you love me, that our love is more important than this fight, please beg me to stay and say how much you love me. Please don't make me doubt this, please.

Please. Let us screw the rules just this one time.

Please, just tell me that you love me.

"Honestly?"

She did not even need to hear what he had to say after this to know that he was not giving in to her silent pleas. He was stronger than she was right now. He had not lost his perspective on how this was supposed to play out. He was not as affected by this as she was. He was not as weak for her as she was for him.

"I don't know it anymore."

She forced herself to bite back the wave of tears she felt coming up with his words. She knew that he did not really mean this and that he was just following the unvoiced instructions of their game. She knew that he did not really mean to hurt her like he was doing right now and that he was only trying to finish the first step in order to get over this because that was his way of expressing that he could not put up with his pain about this anymore either.

But she could not do it with him this time. His words had stepped on a territory that was too painful for her to play on. He had moved beyond the line, beyond the border for her tolerance of being able to play. He was genuinely making her doubt this now and she could not possibly follow the rules at this state anymore.

"Are you serious?", she whispered because she did not dare to raise her voice to any other volume anymore, too scared of what it would sound like at this point.

Please, say no. Please show me that I am more important to you than this game.

Please.

"I am."

Their eyes were still locked. Dark green and watery blue, held by each other as though it were the only thing that kept them from giving in.

"Diane, I can't put up with this. I can't be the only one that's putting some importance into this marriage."

Diane's lips parted and she inhaled sharply. She had to give in. She could not possibly lose him.

"Kurt, I love you.", she whispered, breaking the rules and pleading him to do the same for her.

His eyes did not leave hers. His hands left his hips as he dropped them to his sides in what looked like defeat but was in fact far from that. "I'm not sure I still believe you."

Her lips parted and closed again for a small moment that it took for her to realize what he had just said. "Excuse me?"

"You only seem to love me when it's convenient for you, so I'm not sure about it anymore."

Her blue eyes finally left his when she could not keep the tears from flooding them anymore, blurring her vision as her throat tightened and hindered her breathing.

His words had been the final hit, the last punch, the definite attempt to finish step one. She did not need to look up, did not need to hear his steps on the wooden floor to know that he was coming towards her, ready to take on the second step, ready to move on as they always did.

But tonight was not as it normally was. Tonight, she was not ready to just get over this. Because tonight, he had genuinely managed to hurt her, had planted serious doubts into her mind that would not let her go after some heated and wild sex.

This was different. This was more.

This was too much.

Her head snapped back up when he was just about to grab her upper arm and she backed away from his touch.

"No.", she said, her voice steady but small from the strain of keeping the tears in her eyes from rolling down her cheeks, here, where he would see it. "Don't touch me."

One of his brows furrowed, his expression of anger momentarily changing to something else that she could not care to identify right now. "Diane-"

"No.", she repeated and tightened her, by now, awkward grip on her purse. "I can't do this right now. I'm done."

She forced her eyes to leave his and turned around. Her unsteady legs carried her towards the hallway as the first tear rolled down on one of her cheeks and she had to press her lips together to keep a pathetic sound that had made its way up to her throat inside.

She had almost reached the doorway to the corridor when she was stopped. His strong hand grasped her wrist and the force of his grip held her back.

"I won't let you walk away like that.", he growled behind her and another stupid tear escaped her because she wanted to stay so badly. She was so weak for him, it almost managed to disgust her.

"Kurt, let me go.", she whimpered before he pulled on her arm to spin her around, grabbing her other wrist with his free hand and causing her to drop her purse on the ground.

"No."

He was glaring at her and she could not help but hold his gaze. For the better part of a second, something in the dark green of his eyes changed at the sight of her tears, but it vanished again, so fast that she thought that she had been making it up in her mind. That it had been a trick of her sight that was meant to just make it even more painful. The naive hope that the sight of her pain was something that would affect him right now, only there to cause her even more pain when she would realize that it was not true.

"Kurt, I swear to god-", she began and unsuccessfully tried to move out of his grip. His answer to that was to easily shove her against the nearest wall until her back hit it and he could pin her wrists into it, trapping her body between him and the polished wooden panels.

He was so close. His body heat was radiating to her skin as he was pressing his hips and abdomen into hers. She could feel his breathing spilling against her skin and she felt a familiar and more than unwanted tingling warmth rushing towards her centre from being so close to him, to feeling him pressing against her, from inhaling his masculine scent.

His eyes lightened up in a smug smirk when she did not finish her sentence. He knew what he was doing to her and he was desperate enough to use it.

"What, Diane?", he asked, amusement mirroring in his mean snarl. He studied her face for a moment, his eyes taking in every inch of her features until they locked with hers again. "I know you want me.", he finished in a low, raw whisper that was almost enough to make her shiver.

Diane's eyes fell shut momentarily, her eyelids forcing a new wave of salty tears out of them before she opened them again to glare at him. She knew that he was doing his best to provoke her right now because it was the only way he knew that would make her stay. He was desperately attempting to aggravate her because he so badly needed to wash away the pain he had caused her.

He had been able to deal with her anger ever since the beginning of their relationship. But seeing her in pain had always been all the more hard to him. Especially when he was the reason for it.

She knew what he was trying to do. And she hated that it was working, hated to give him the satisfaction of that when she wanted him to feel just how badly he had hurt her if it would cause him even the slightest trace of pain.

"Fuck you.", she hissed and attempted to escape his grip one more time without success and without breaking the eye contact with him.

Her eyes momentarily left his to fly down to his lips, before her gaze went up again. And the small movement was enough to allow him to lean down and kiss her.


...


He had been trying very hard to make this normal. At some point during their argument, she had begun to act strangely and they had fought often enough by now for him to be able to tell when she was not doing it like she always did.

He did not really know where they had gone wrong. She had made a mistake, he had been mad at her for it. She had dropped by, they had begun to fight, and there had been no doubt about where this would take them. It was always the same routine.

He wondered if she had really wanted to leave. They played like that from time to time if the situation of their fight called for more drastic actions to wrap up the first step and initiate the second, it always depended on how aggravated they were and on how bad the fight had been. It created a more desperate and sometimes more belligerent approach to their foreplay on both sides, so her attempt to leave was not that far beyond the scope.

But the things she had said and the way in which she had backed away from his touch, the way her long, unsteady legs had carried her semi-hastily towards the other side of the room, those things were what left him unsure.

He would never make her stay if she really wanted to go, would never even think about forcing her to do something she did not want to do. He would not have tried that hard to infuriate her if he had not had the feeling that deep inside, she actually wanted to do this. It was desperate and pathetic of him to play with her like that, to act like an ass to make her feel angry again instead of hurt. It was not fair to her and he knew that, but he had been scared, the thought of that she might leave like this without giving him the chance to make things up to her and the possible consequences of that had scared him to no ends.

He was angry with her. But he had been the one to hit the final shot and so it was his responsibility to make it up to her. This was the way it worked. This was the way they played.

One of his hands left her wrist so that he could bury his fingers in her soft hair, while he attempted to part her lips with his. An inaudible sigh of relief escaped him against her when he felt her fingers curling into the cotton fabric of his flannel button-up. She could have easily pushed him away, he had freed her wrist in the knowledge of that she could do that if she wanted to, but she did not. It was her silent confirmation of that she would not go, of that she would give him the chance of making it up to her.

When her teeth sank into the flesh of his upper lip, a deep, throaty groan escaped him, the sound an expression of the arousal he could never hide from her, even if he had wanted to, and his ever-growing frustration with her. She was making this harder for him than it had to be and this caused a new wave of anger to shudder through his body, his hips jerking into hers as it did.

She had made a mistake. Her actions had been the reason for their fight. The fact that she did not feel responsible for his anger did not make her responsibility for it any less real. And it bothered him in the worst way that she was still able to act like she was in the position of playing the injured party in this, as though anything he had said or done tonight was not a rational consequence of what she had started when she had used him, ambushed him as she had done in court. For a case. For business.

From time to time, he could not shake off the feeling that he would always come second in situations like this. Yes, her work was her legacy, being a lawyer her profession. She had worked for her success all her life and she had earned it more than anyone. But the thought of that she would never prioritise him or their marriage over it, that he, they, would always come second for her while he was ready to give up everything he had ever worked for for the sake of making it work between them, it hurt him in a way he would never dare to admit.

She did not love him like he loved her. And even if she did, that did not make up for the fact that she was not ready to offer him as much as he was offering her. It was too one-sided, and it had been like this for too long already. She always worked late, hardly ever took the weekends off, forgot about lunch plans, arrived late to dinner plans they had made weeks prior. And even when they were together, she was constantly checking her e-mails or talking strategy over the phone. Even when she was there with him, she was not really there and he did not want to always have to share her divided attention.

He took the time for her, took the consequences work-wise of having less time in order to be a good husband. But he would not be able to do that for her if she would never try to do the same for him.

One could not hold up this marriage on their own. It took the effort of both of them to make this work.

He was trying to remind himself of that while she was digging the sharp edges of her teeth into his lip, pressing her manicured fingernails into his chest. He brushed his bottom-lip against hers, the feeling of their soft lips against each other's flooding him in a feeling of affection that only she had ever been able to cause him. Pressing his eyes shut more firmly, he leaned in more closely with more determination in his mannerism, trying to concentrate on his anger, on the way she had made him feel for the whole day, trying to get rid of the feelings of unconditional love for her and regret for the things he had thrown at her only minutes before.

She made it so hard for him to try and be angry, every touch she granted him, every motion of her chest against his in the rhythm of her breathing that was matching his own, every little sound that escaped her under her breath, reminding him of the way he had wrongfully hurt her, showing him how much worse he had made everything within the matter of probably less than half an hour.

Her touch almost became too much for him to take, the familiarity in the way she was breathing, in the way she was responding to his touch, in the way her enchanting scent was intoxicating him further and further, every time he inhaled it together with the oxygen that would keep him alive... he needed a break.

Her hair, soft strands of blonde, like silky fountains of perfection in the way it felt on his skin. He closed his fingers to a tight fist. He did not intend to hurt her but he needed her to know that she had to break their kiss since he was not going to be able to do it. She was more rational than him in moments like this.

She understood what he wanted her to do. He had never doubted that she would, they knew each other better than anyone else. Her teeth scraped over his upper lip as she leaned away, as to postpone letting the equally sweet and painful torture she was putting him through, come to an end. He felt his hard length twitching against her hip in response and internally cursed himself for being so weak for her, for allowing her to feel what she was doing to him when he was trying so hard to hold his fury towards her upright.

He opened his eyes before she did and so he could witness the way her eyelids uncovered those light blue eyes of hers that had been the second thing about her that he had fallen in love with all those years ago, right after the angelic sound of her laughter. It was as though he could see eternal skies of blue, icy shades of infinite oceans in those eyes. They were sparkling in the warm and dim light from the fireplace, glistening from a new wave of unshed tears that had supposedly begun to form behind her lids while he had been kissing her.

She looked so hurt, so sad, so afraid in a way. He narrowed his eyes at her, trying to remind himself of why he was mad. Trying to will himself to stay angry, to not give in. She had hurt him first. She had started this. She had made him feel like this before he had done it to her.

Mere inches of warm air were parting their faces. The closeness allowed him to see the way in which her red lipstick had been smudged by their liplock. Her skin was both flushed and pale at the same time and her left brow was furrowed.

She was so beautiful. She was the most beautiful human being he ever could have imagined.

His jaw was beginning to ache from the strain he was putting on it from trying to make it stay clenched, his teeth pressing together painfully as he tried not to let himself get lost in the way she looked. So much beauty, utterly unaffected by her sadness.

She hurt you.

She started this.

Don't let her wrap you around her finger again. She can't keep on doing this. It's disrespectful.

You never intended this to escalate.

Suddenly, something on her face changed. Her brows twitched and something in the blue of her eyes tinted it in a shade of misery. Her grip on his shirt loosened and he could not wrap his head around what she was doing for a small moment.

She was breaking the rules. She was about to lose it, about to give in to her pain instead of letting him take care of it.

Tonight, they had reached the limitation of their game. This had gone too far, he had gone too far. He could see it on her face.

He had hurt her, and not in the way she had hurt him. He had hit something inside her that was beyond the line and he knew now that she had genuinely intended to leave earlier. To leave this room, this house... and him.

Kurt exhaled slowly, allowing his jaw to relax again. He opened his fist and freed her golden hair from his tight grip, let it brush through them carefully once and then let his palm come to rest on her warm cheek. Her skin felt soft and smooth against his and he softly ran his thumb over the sensitive skin beneath her eye, wordlessly telling her that the game was over, that she no longer had to try and hold it in if she could not do it anymore.

His other hand freed her wrist and he moved his digits slowly in an attempt of entwining them with hers, hoping so desperately for her to take his hand, the look he was shooting her a silent plea to do so. And his heartbeat increased when her slim fingers slowly began to move with his until they had found their rightful spots between his, her hand fitting his more perfectly than her tight, black dress was fitting her frame beneath the grey woollen coat she was still wearing.

Gently, Kurt dipped his head and let his lips brush over her forehead in what he hoped would be a loving and affectionate manner. A silent confirmation of that he knew that he had done wrong, of that he knew how much pain he had caused her and his endless regret for ever having dared to hurt her. Her, the most important, the most precious part of his life, the one person he would never want to miss, could never bear to lose.

He loved her so much that it hurt sometimes. But she was worth all the pain in the world.

And when his lips left her skin, when he parted his face from her by inches because he needed to look at her for this, needed her to see his eyes in order to make her believe what he had to say, and when he saw the look in her eyes, so full of pain, so full of love, he knew that he never should have doubted her. Because the look in her eyes told her exactly how much she loved him.

"I'm sorry.", he whispered into the silent room, his soft, low voice mingling with the cracking of the fireplace.

Diane bit down on her bottom lip and nodded, a single tear escaping her before he caught it with the tip of his thumb. She snivelled before she parted her lips to take a deep, ragged breath.

"Me too.", she whispered softly in reply and his lips twitched a little at her words.

"I love you, Di.", he said, looking at her intently as though he was fearing that now, she would be the one who would not believe him. But whatever doubts she might have had up until only seconds before, were washed away as soon as she heard his words.

"Thank you.", she whispered and raised an eyebrow at him when his lips formed a small smirk beneath his moustache.

"Thank you?", he asked, an almost amused twist in his low voice.

Diane nodded. "Yes. For telling me now."

His smirk vanished from his face again and he understood. She had really needed to hear this and they normally did not say that before they finished step two. He had gone beyond the line to assure her of his love for her, had screwed the rules to give her the confirmation she had needed more than anything else right now.

He exhaled deeply. "You're more important."

More important than this game. More important than my hurt ego.

More important than this argument.

She nodded again and another tear was caught by his thumb.

"Kurt, I love you.", she whispered raspily, repeating her words from earlier and hoping that he would take it this time.

She could not lose him over this, could not lose what they had.

"I know, honey.", he said in a way that told her that it was true.

They loved each other. And they would keep on loving each other, no matter what would happen. Because their love would always be more important.

"I never doubted that.", he finished in a whisper before he closed his eyes and dipped his head to press a soft kiss on her lips, disobeying the rules and neither of them could have cared less.

Because their love went beyond the rules.