The office bursts into a whirlwind of activity as the alarm sounds and the chaos ensues. Everyone is debating the next move as they gather in the common areas of the firm's space. It is difficult to know if they should choose the stairs or risk it and try the elevator. The alarms are deafening and the flashing lights make the space into some sort of twisted business formal Studio 54.
With the office almost empty, Harvey and Donna head to the stairs with Mike and Louis in tow closely behind. It is at that moment that déjà vu hits Harvey like a sucker punch to the gut. He looks up to see the firefighters coming up the stairwell as they make their decent towards the street. As they move to the side to allow the fire fighters to pass, the flashback comes in another wave and hits Harvey with even more quick glance back, Donna notices the visible change in Harvey's expression even in the dimly light stairwell. His expression is no mystery to her, she knows exactly where Harvey's mind as gone.
Flashes of so long ago and that horrible day fill his mind. The day was filled with moments that were burned into his mind along with the unmistakable scent of jet fuel, forever. Harvey flashes back to a strikingly similar stairwell as the panicked mob raced to get out of the towers.
Harvey remembers the fire fighters passing by as they marched upward and onward. He now acknowledges in hindsight that so many of those faces were never to be seen again. The walk up the stairs, for many of them, was a procession into oblivion.
Harvey knows how very lucky he was that day. He was late for a meeting at Windows on the World. A drunken night and horrible morning of every thing that could and did go wrong, saved his mortal soul and changed his very destiny. The march of time had suppressed that memory until now with it roaring to the forefront of his mind.
As they make eye contact with the fire fighters, Harvey is struck by a bolt of sudden total recognition. He knows her face as she passes him. Recognition hits him like waves crashing on the beach. He has seen that face before and it is currently in the waves of memories that are hitting him from all sides. The face stuns him for a moment before Donna pulls Harvey's attention to the present at hand. With the push of others behind him, Harvey takes a split second to look at the helmet. He makes a mental note of the numbers on it as they move onward to safety.
The group walks down what seems to be a million steps out into the lobby and into the blazing sunlight of late summer. They gather with the rest of the firm and wait. They joke and talk until they are cleared to return to their offices. The street is filled with trucks, ladders and engines of every size. Donna notices Harvey's preoccupation and gives his arm a gentle tug as she turns towards him.
"You okay?" Donna's voice has a tang of genuine concern that pulls Harvey out of his memory banks and back to the present moment.
He looks up at Donna with an attempt to fake nonchalance that he knows won't fool his Donna. "Yeah, just a little déjà vu is all."
Donna already knew the answer to that particular question but it needed to be confirmed. Harvey was spooked by the procession through the stairwell. She remembers how freaked out he was about that day though he kept so much of it on the inside. Donna has always acknowledged that there is a side to that day that is only known to those who were there and she was not there. Seeing it on TV and seeing it are not the same thing.
Harvey saw it. He survived it. That infamous day is part of his history. She gently nudges his shoulder and picks up a conversation with Norma. From a nearby position of observation, Mike has also picked up on the change in Harvey but keeps his tongue. There is enough chaos ensuing and this can wait.
After a long while and several coffee cart refills, they are cleared to return to their offices. Fortunately, they are cleared to ride the elevators much to Donna's delight since Jimmy Choos are a bitch in a fire drill. The various divisions settle back into their day as the visitors arrive on the partner's floor.
The alarm was in the firm's offices on an upper floor and to the surprise of all, it was an actual fire. Several firefighters arrive to talk to Jessica about the details. Everyone's attention is understandably drawn to the fire fighters. In a sea of suits, bunker gear has a presence. The soft scent of fire trails them as they walk towards Jessica. The smell is not the acrid scent that filled his lungs that day, the scent is soft... almost like a camp fire.
As they pass, Harvey sees the face again just as he remembered it that day. He never thought he would see her again. His head is again otherwise engaged as the memories are unleashed from his mental lock down that held all thoughts from that day.
The memory of her plays like movie in his mind. In the time before he was "Harvey Specter", he was simply, Harvey Specter, assistant DA. It was not a time of drivers and expensive cars. It was a time of catching the train to get wherever he needed to be. He saw her on the train so many times prior to that September day. Something about her made him notice her in the most mundane of circumstances before etching her into his memory on a day that he could never possibly forget.
The curve of her jaw with the dimple in the center. The way her hair fell in her face as she brushed it away with her nose buried in a book. She always read chick lit. Harvey knew her schedule. It was as crazy as his own schedule at the DA's office. He never knew what she did or where she was coming from or going to until… She was in the stairwell that day. She helped him and walked off into oblivion. Her face… he swore he would never forget that face and here it is again five feet away. Harvey never knew what had happened to that fire fighter, his vow to remember her face if she did not make out.
Her face is dirty from the smoke. Her helmet sits slightly cockeyed on her head with the mask dangling just as it did that day. The only difference to today is the location. She is talking to Jessica about what happened upstairs. After about 10 minutes, she walks passed Harvey with a soft smile of acknowledgement and heads to the elevator with a couple of her counterparts. Harvey's eyes follow their route to the elevators as he continues to observe her from a respectful distance.
After the firefighters leave, Harvey returns to his office. He turns his chair and stares out the window towards downtown. The memories are playing on a loop in his mind. Harvey holds the paper he had jotted the badge number upon gazing down at it like a missing puzzle piece that had been hidden under a sofa cushion. Harvey returns his gaze out the window to the beautiful day. It is a warm September day. He had always loved the sunset of summer. The love was renewed after that fateful day. Harvey focus is shattered as Mike walks in pulling his attention away from the window.
"The funny thing about firemen is... Night and day they are always firemen." Mike places a file on Harvey's desk. Harvey turns around and picks up the file. He opens it and glances down at the brief, Harvey is aware Mike may have picked up on some details in the stairwell that he really does not want to share. Harvey recognized the line from "Backdraft" and responds in kind.
"You see that glow in the corner of your eye. It's your career dissipation light and it's going into overtime." Harvey looks down at the paper he was holding with the badge number scrawled across it. Harvey's distraction provides Mike the hint to get he heck out of there as he turns towards the door. As Mike is about to take a step forward to leave, Harvey speaks again pulling Mike back into Harvey's office.
Harvey holds up the paper in Mike's view. "I want the name that goes with this." Harvey's expression is hard to read but there is a seriousness to his face that Mike mentally notes. Mike reaches down, taking the paper from Harvey's hand. Mike looks at the number scrawled in the center of the paper. "What is this?" Mike knows exactly what this is and who it belonged to but he is going to feign ignorance. It is the badge number of the female fire fighter from the stairwell. The same one that came to talk to Jessica. Now, he is curious as to what connection there is between this fire fighter and Harvey. There is quite obviously a story that goes with this slip of paper.
Harvey doesn't look up as he answers. "It is a badge number... An FDNY badge number. I want to know who it belongs to." Mike knows from Harvey's tone that this not something to comment or question but maybe the answer he wants will answer the questions that Mike wants to ask. "As you wish."