817. - Lucien
"Just make sure to keep it to yourself, I want to wait as long as possible to tell Na- I've got to go."
"Yeah. I'll come around soon, okay? We can discuss the details then."
The well-meant message gets cut off by me hanging up in a hurry. I stub out my cigarette, waving at Emma through the glass of the balcony-doors. I'm about to join her inside, but she's quicker and joins me outside instead. Without a word she grabs my pack to take a cigarette, then offers me another one. I take it.
"How was it?" I ask when she's halfway through the stick.
"It was… good." She says slowly, gazing out into the distance. "She couldn't do much for me, because it's all 'situation induced anxiety', and it's not going to go away until the situation has passed. So we set up the next appointment for after the hearing, so we can either work on handling trauma, or getting through the life-changing event of losing my job and possibly my licence and everything I've worked so hard for." As the sentence goes on, her voice becomes quicker and louder as frustration pours into the words. I wait to make sure she's finished before opening my mouth.
She snorts. "Have I sold you on therapy yet?"
"Oh, absolutely. Would love to make it a daily occurrence." I quib, and it gets me a small smile. When her cigarette is finished, she lays down on the bench with her head in my lap. I brush my fingers through her hair as we both enjoy the softer weather that comes with it being almost summer.
Life has become a cruel game of crossing off the days.
Three days until I'm forced to work with Callum again.
Six days until the hearing.
Twelve days until the end of my internship.
Twenty days until more exams and deadlines.
Twenty-five days until summer break.
Thirty-two days until Emma's thirtieth birthday.
Six days until all those other things might not matter at all if we get a bad outcome in the hearing.
We'll find our footing again, if we do. It'll be hard, and we'll fight and we'll scream, but we've always made it out. It'll just be another hiccup. Then, with a twisting stomach, I remember how each hurdle we've gone through together, came a little closer to destroying us.
"Hey," Emma's fingers brush over the stubble on my jaw, and I glance down at her. The smile she gives me is a sad one, but it overflows with love. "Think happy thoughts."
I let out a soft chuckle. "You caught that?"
"It's been a couple of years. I've gained some insight into your emotions."
"I can handle it." Her hand splays out over my cheeks and she cranes her neck for me to kiss her. I do. With the sun on my skin it's easy to forget time exists, but an annoying beep of my watch signals the end of the moment. Emma groans, already shifting away from me.
"Isn't Wednesday supposed to be your day off?"
"Yeah… But this way, I could avoid Callum this week. I'll have tomorrow afternoon off instead."
"Mhm… You'll have the house to yourself. I'm seeing Kenna."
"A rare occurrence." I reply. "I might finally watch a show you hate. And I'll eat all the snacks you think you've hidden so well while doing it - oof!"
"That's what you get for threatening my stash." Emma warns, while lovingly massaging the spot on my thigh she just punched. "Hey, I have an idea. Tonight's the first no-rain night in two weeks or something,… Why don't I come pick you up at the office, and we'll go to a nice restaurant somewhere? Somewhere new, in Glasgow or somewhere else."
"That sounds lovely." I smile. "Would you care to come up? Noah's been dying to meet you."
"I…" She chews her lip, but then nods. "Sure. After all he's done for you, I'd like to meet him as well."
"Wonderful. I'll see you at five." My watch beeps again, signalling that I'm running late, so Emma gets a quick kiss and then I have to leave the gentle weather for a stuffy car ride, so I can spend some hours in an even stuffier office.
Noah ever asked for any more explanation on the whole issue between me and Callum. I'm pretty sure he hasn't asked Callum either, or I would've relentlessly been made fun of by now. Instead, Noah has gone out of his way to make sure I don't run into Callum if he can help it. Give me hours off, move my shifts around, ensure I'm needed elsewhere if the dickhead is ever in the building. After weeks of tension, it has made the internship fun again. This afternoon, even, we have a presentation on a case he and I have been working on. Initially, Noah was supposed to give it - as the one in charge, and me just being the lowly intern, but last week Noah told me he'd been approached by the partners that they wanted me to give it. To show what I'm made of. I find myself being strangely excited. It's a complicated case, with an unusual approach to give our client the best possible outcome, and it might take some convincing for the partners to actually let us do this. I'm going over the paperwork once more as I head towards the conference room, when someone grabs my arm. It's Noah, looking panicked.
"I think I should do the presentation."
"Okay… No. I can handle myself."
"I know, but we have an unexpected -" He cuts himself short as we get passed by, and my heart plummets.
"He wasn't supposed to be here."
"I know, but apparently they called him in for another consult and he got word of this presentation, and then the boss invited him in and… It's a mess. I'm sorry."
My eye meets Callum's when I look his way in horror, and he grins.
"Well come on then, Mr Big-Shot-Intern! It's already a quarter past four, and I'd like to be out by five."
I reach for my phone, and with a pang of terror I realise I left it in the office on purpose. I look at Noah, knowing I have to get into that conference room five minutes ago.
"I need you to grab my phone. Tell Emma not to come inside. My password -"
"Come on now, boys!" Mr Blinders, one of the partners, slings an arm over each of our shoulders. "Pritchard is right, it's already late. Better get started."
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