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Both Ways

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Kurt hasn't said a thing, hasn't given her a sign or a single sideways glance since Diane and Will arrived to look over the new evidence. She cannot read him, this stoic cowboy who has wandered into her life, and as usual it both unnerves and attracts her. While he walks through his conclusions with cool, methodical precision, she finds her attention wandering maddeningly. One moment she is his captive audience, impressed by his intelligence and skill – there is an art to this as well as a science, and she has the sense of watching a master at work. But the next moment she is utterly distracted, some minute gesture or change in his tone taking her back to his hotel room, his hands roaming over her body every bit as reverently as the guns on his wall.

But he is not touching her now; he is not even looking at her as if he would like to. He is absorbed in his demonstration, glancing up infrequently only to verify she is listening, understanding, no difference she can detect between the way he looks at her and the way he looks at Will.

She doesn't know what she expected – certainly not to be pulled into a corner and kissed, not to be winked at while Will's back was turned. But something. Something more than this.

To be fair, she is equally collected, betraying no hint of uncertainty or a growing desire to shove him into the back gun room, shut the door, and have her way with him. She isn't giving herself away, she is sure, because Will doesn't seem to suspect, and he is always the first to pick up on that tension in the air. She knows he wouldn't hesitate to raise his eyebrows at her knowingly, smirking as he turns away.

It's promising, she tries to convince herself. They're two adults with completely opposite world views and jobs that will require them to draw very clear ethical boundaries and here they are, doing just that – remaining professional, putting it aside. She credits herself that she has come a long way already from the decision to walk out on him two nights ago. Wine and nerves were more responsible for that display than principles, she knows it, and if she hadn't exactly apologized for it she more than made it up to him later. But this could work. They could maintain these separate sides of their relationship: how they are with each other here need have no bearing on how they are with each other there.

But what if it does? Perhaps he is so cool and methodical because it is an easy default, covering any reservations he has developed since that night, sober and in the light of day. He has changed his mind, or he is angry about how she left him or, oh – any number of things that make it easier to discuss how easily a trigger reacts to the slightest pressure without any hint of a double meaning.

Jesus, Diane, he's talking about a fatal gunshot and your mind is on his fingers curling inside you...

“And you'll testify to this?” Will asks.

“Of course. Usual fee,” Kurt replies with the slightest hint of a smile, which Will returns, appreciating the way he does business.

Finally he is joking – in his own deadpan way – but Diane is sidelined from it; he doesn't turn his suddenly warm eyes her way. The matter settled, Kurt sets about cleaning up the evidence, and Will moves toward the door, inclining his head at Diane when she hesitates.

“We can find our way out,” Will says.

Kurt shrugs, not even looking up.

There is nothing left to do but follow her partner out, though she would have liked to find some brusque parting words to leave Kurt feeling as alienated as she does now, but nothing comes to mind. Even a curt and slightly haughty “Mr McVeigh” feels poorly timed and insufficient by the time it occurs to her, and she settles for striding out of the room with her head high, even though she knows he is probably not watching her go.

Not like he did the first time – she felt his eyes on her then. It was so satisfying to leave him, knowing that. And so impossible to stay away.

As soon as they step back out into the light, Will tries his cell phone again. “I want to make sure everyone is in the conference room by the time we get back.”

His pace slows as he dials and an idea finally occurs to Diane – it is belated, and immature, but she isn't above it. Leaving like this, it turns out, makes it even harder to stay away.

She stops in her tracks, putting on a show of rifling through her purse, reaching out to grab Will's elbow to get his attention. “I think I left my phone back there – I'll be right back.”

Will nods, turning away as his call connects. “Hey, Kalinda...”

Diane turns back toward the house, silently admonishing herself as she feels her pace quicken, a giddy little smile coming over her face that she tries and fails to suppress. Just the way she did when she met him in the courthouse. Just the way she did when she thought twice about leaving and stopped him in the lobby. He makes her act so foolishly, she can't deny it – but she hasn't regretted it yet. Not really.

She lets herself back into the lab, managing – she thinks – to mask her emotions again by the time she steps into the room. He looks up and sees her, really sees her this time. It is not like the businesslike glances he afforded her while Will was there, but this longer stare is no easier to interpret. Her breath catches for a moment. God, he really is so attractive...

“Did you forget something?” he asks, slowly moving around the table that stands between them.

“I told Will I did,” she says quietly, venturing something approaching honesty.

What feels like an eternity passes as he waits for her to clarify and she waits for him to somehow make this easier, neither one inclined to do so, then both giving in at the same time.

“Then why are you here?”
“About the other night...”

Diane laughs and wishes he would too – just a smile, any small encouragement would be helpful now. But he looks confused more than anything, and she decides that whatever is going on between them, it's better just to say it and have it done with. If his reaction isn't what she wants to hear then he'll testify, collect his fee, and that will be the end of it. There is no real harm in giving an inch here.

“Kurt – I had a really nice time the other night.”

He looks down and lets out a long breath – she can't tell whether one of relief, or exasperation. “I wasn't sure.”

And she is glad he isn't looking now because she is sure her face betrays exactly how stricken she feels. It is painfully clear to her finally: he has been protecting himself. Just as she has.

“I did,” she affirms, as easily as she can, closing the remaining distance between them.

“You left, so I didn't know...” He trails off, preferring not to complete the sentence. She can see him mentally chastising himself now, just as she has.

“I told you,” she says softly, letting her voice drop to what she is fully aware to be a seductively low register, “I can never sleep in strange beds.”

“Yeah,” he says simply, not elaborating on the confusion or hurt that caused, but she can guess. Yeah, but I thought it might be different with me.

Her smile doesn't falter but the unsettling thought crosses her mind: it is different with you. I have no idea what I'm doing this time.

But he returns her smile, and she knows he means it; his face has taken on that flirtatious, almost smug aspect that goes all the way to his eyes and she breathes easily for the first time. They have both decided, for the time being, to set it aside. Or perhaps they are too lost in each other to torture themselves with their thoughts – and that's all right, too.

She closes her eyes softly and inclines her face nearer to his, not quite touching him, but close enough that he can feel her breath on his skin. “So...” she whispers, “do you think we might do it again sometime?”

“I think we might,” he says, and she can hear or sense that he is smiling broadly now – she trusts that he is, even if that security doesn't outlast this moment, as his open palms brush against her sides and come to rest lightly at her hips, even if she finds twenty ways to reconsider it after she has left.

“When?” she whispers in his ear, her lips coming to rest against his cheek finally.

She can feel him tense slightly at the contact and it thrills her, stirring flashes of memory at just how responsive he is to her touch.

“I'm still staying at the Westin,” he murmurs against her skin, lowering his head to press slow lingering kisses against her neck.

She pulls him closer, wrapping her arms around his back, buying herself some time as she briefly wonders if that isn't too soon, too sudden, then shoves the thought away. If they're having a fling then it should be sudden, irrational – she isn't thinking of planning a future here. Her eyes flit toward the wall of guns in the back and she laughs to herself at the thought again. If Will weren't waiting outside, she'd back him right against that wall, right now... Sometime, she tells herself. She will have to explore that fantasy sometime.

“Tonight?” she prompts, pushing ahead, amazed that only ten minutes ago she was wondering if he ever wanted to see her again. Now she is lifting her head to expose more of her neck to him, certain he will meet her with increasingly greedy kisses.

“Tonight,” he confirms, and she shivers at he continues to lavish her with kisses, his touch expected but not yet familiar, grazes of tongue and teeth between soothing lips. Just before he reaches her mouth he pulls back to face her, his voice teasing but low and coarse with desire. “Maybe the bed won't seem so strange, the second time around.”

She freezes suddenly, jolted out of the moment, but she tries to rationalize this new proposition. If she slips out after he has fallen asleep again he will simply need to accept it. And if she finds she wants to stay...

She sees his smile begin to melt into confusion again and rather than address any of this directly the more immediate solution seems to be to lean in quickly and kiss him, her hands moving to either side of his face to hold him there, there where she assuredly wants him. He responds, deepening the kiss, his arms coiling more tightly around her. Oh, forget all the what-ifs; there is the certainty that they both want this, now, and that's enough to work with.

For a few heady, forgetful moments, she could even believe that's everything.

But with some difficulty she allows the moment to end and forces herself to pull away. If she doesn't now, she won't want to in another minute, and Will is going to start wondering what's keeping her. They are adults, they are professionals, and they can handle being more than one thing to each other. Besides, it will be exciting to have something to look forward to.

She smiles up at him regretfully, running her hands idly over him, or at least over this ridiculous vest he's wearing. Part of her curses the thing because she wants to feel him; part of her is all the more endeared by it. Had she ever met another man likely to wear such a thing? And could she ever have imagined finding such a man so irresistible?

“I have to go,” she says softly.

“Yeah,” he says with equal regret and frustration – and anticipation. “I have to prepare my testimony.”

She nods and steps away, slowly heading toward the door. “I'll call you when I'm wrapping up for the night.”

“Okay.” He turns back to his evidence, so easily returning to his cool and collected self – or at least he makes it look so easy. Then he calls after her, just before she reaches the door, “You coming to watch me in court?”

She turns around, fighting back that giddy smile again – she has to admit, she does love watching him on the stand. “I'll try,” she says, but raises her eyebrows at him in an expression that makes her intentions very clear.

Diane rejoins Will, finding him leaning against the car, looking annoyed as he scans through his emails on his phone. “What took you so long?”

“McVeigh had another demonstration for me,” she shrugs as she ducks into the car, laughing silently, feeling carefree and invulnerable.

“Was it something new about the case?” Will presses as he gets in beside her, starting the car.

“No, something else he's had on his mind,” she says in an offhand way, and Will is too preoccupied with getting back to Chicago to be sidetracked. Diane pulls down the passenger-side mirror and fixes her mussed hair and reapplies her lipstick, abuzz with the recollection of how she got into this slight disarray. Will doesn't question any of this, doggedly reviewing the evidence and their plan of attack again as he speeds down the highway.

She smiles to herself. Perhaps she could slip a few things past him after all.

Diane keeps up with the conversation, but can't stop her mind from wandering every time he brings up Kurt's testimony. She pictures him there on the stand – as handsome as he is when he is calm and resolute, systematically walking through his evidence, she can anticipate what Matan will ask in cross-examination, and how impassioned he will become when challenged. And there she will be in the gallery, silently urging him on, thinking about how she might respond to his performance later.

There is a line past which this all becomes ethically murky, she is honest enough with herself to admit. They might come right up to that line, but never cross it. Just close enough to be exciting, just close enough to be dangerous. Just close enough to want to tear into him as soon as she has him alone.

They can have it both ways, she assures herself again, wanting to hold on to the simple certainty she felt back there in his arms. They can be professionals and they can be lovers, yes – but if the lines aren't exactly absolute, perhaps they can manage that, too.