February 2019

Donna sat on the couch now, rolling her phone pensively between her hands, while she listened to Harvey on his own phone in the other room.

"Robert?" he said. "Yes, it's Specter, I'm so sorry to be calling so late. No, nothing case related. I'm calling because, um…" Harvey took in a deep breath and held it, glancing over at Donna and catching her eye. He turned away from her, finding himself unable to look at her right now. He was trying to hold it together himself, and the sight of Donna, soggy-faced and motionless, was too pitiful to bear.

"I'm very sorry to have to tell you this, especially over the phone, but…Rachel and Mike were involved in a serious car accident tonight, they didn't make it" Harvey said quietly. Donna watched from the couch as Harvey nodded and ran a hand through his hair. "Yes…I'm very sorry…no, no, the kids weren't with them. Donna was babysitting…they're here with us...no, we haven't told anyone else yet. We wanted to call you first."

Donna leaned back into the couch, trying to bury herself in the cushions. She set her phone down on the coffee table, knowing what she needed to do but unable to get herself to work the speed dial. Telling another soul what had happened seemed impossible. How could she even put it into words? Mike and Rachel are dead. Rachel and Mike were killed. Mike and Rachel are deceased. Rachel and Mike passed away. Then there was the reason they were summonsing everyone anyway. Did everyone need to come in the middle of the night? What if they woke the children? The last thing a two-year-old needed when she missed her father was a bunch of practical strangers in her house. But Donna knew that if she were in anyone of her friends' shoes, she would have wanted to know as soon as it had happened. She and Harvey had already sat around avoiding the task for two hours.

"I'm very sorry…Donna and I will be here. We'll start looking after things until you get back, unless you have any objections…No, absolutely not, we don't mind at all," Harvey embellished. "We're willing to help however we can…Yes, you can call me back at this number or the house line…You'll be on the first flight out tomorrow? All right…goodnight."

To Donna, Harvey had never looked more pale or weary when he set his phone on the counter and leaned over it. Not a single one of his cases had drained him more than that phone call. He was a lawyer, he talked for a living and most of the time, minus a few that involved her and his feelings, he can spin words like silk. She wondered why this was so hard for him. But she didn't wonder for a second why it was so hard for her.

"I thought you were calling Jessica or Louis," Harvey said stonily to the granite countertop.

Donna stood sharply, picked up her phone and stalked into the small office near the back of the house.

"Donna, Donna please, I didn't mean it like that," Harvey called after her. He really hadn't meant to nag. As far as he was concerned, his offer to make all the calls, do all the work, do anything she felt like she couldn't do, still stood. "Donna…" He walked through the kitchen, across the living room, and into the office. Donna already had the phone against her ear and was seated in the rolling desk chair. "I can do it," Harvey said, holding out his hand for the phone. Donna just shook her head and gazed at the carpeting.

"I'm fine," she said just above a whisper.

"I didn't mean to nag," Harvey said. "I think it came across that way but I wasn't trying to."

"Harvey, it's fine—hi, Jessica… I know it's really late. I'm sorry…um…" The floodgates opened wide and Donna's lips disappeared into her mouth as she tried to slow the tears. She jumped suddenly, not expecting a hand to wrap around hers. She looked to see Harvey crouched down next to the chair. His expression was heartrendingly apologetic. She hadn't meant to be short with him. She hoped he hadn't taken it personally.

He had come at a moment's notice and she was taking him for granted. She had stalked out of the room like a bratty child, and here he was, holding her hand through this anyway. "We need you to come to Mike and Rachel's house." That was all Donna could get out before she was rendered incapable of speech yet again. She couldn't even manage a "Please come as soon as you can." She looked at Harvey imploringly through her fountain of tears and gave up the phone willingly when he reached for it.

"Jessica, sorry, Donna's not doing so well…Can you come? I think we'd better talk about it here, not over the phone. Do you think you can call Louis? Okay, we'll see you soon."

"I'll call Louis myself," Donna said through tiny gasps, holding out her free hand to get her phone back.

Harvey shook his head and squeezed Donna's other hand, caressing the back of it with his thumb. "It's okay. Give yourself a break."

Donna shook her head furiously, taking a moment to breathe deeply. "All I've done," Donna fumed through a stuffy nose, "is sit around while you take care of everything."

"So what?" Harvey retorted. "Do what you can. It isn't this, and that's fine. You called and asked for my help, did you not?"

Donna looked wounded, but she slowly nodded, running her wrist under her nose.

"Then let me help," Harvey said more gently. Harvey tugged Donna up from the chair and pulled her into a hug that just made her fall apart all over again.

"I can't believe they're gone," Donna sighed before the sobs racked her body again. Harvey's wide hands traveled the length of her back a few while she cried into his shoulder. As if on cue, the baby cried from the living room.

"I need to finish making some calls," Harvey said after giving Donna a moment to gather herself. "Can you handle the baby?"

Donna nodded. "Yeah." She sniffed loudly and swiped at her face. "He's probably hungry."

They left the office together. Picking up the baby was a small comfort to Donna, and both their tears abated. Harvey slouched over on the couch to call Harold and Jimmy, he had found their numbers posted on the fridge, while Donna prepped a bottle in the kitchen. She took a seat next to Harvey on the couch to feed the baby but tuned him out completely. It wasn't until he reached a hand to squeeze the baby's fingers that Donna remembered Harvey was beside her.

"Assuming Jessica could get a hold of Louis, they should be on their way," Harvey said.

Donna nodded.

"I'm going to get a hold of the police regarding the kids before people start rolling in, okay?"

The kids. Donna stared down at Aidan, who ate like it was his last meal on Earth. "What do you think they're gonna do?" Donna asked.

"Take them, I imagine," Harvey said, trying not to sound cold about it. "Until they figure out guardianship. Unless Mike and Rachel made some other request, then I'm assuming they'll go to Rachel's parents, assuming they're willing to take them."

"How could you not take in your own family?" Donna wondered aloud.

"I don't know, sure they have money but do they really have time or energy to raise two young kids?" Harvey questioned out loud as he scratched at his five o'clock shadow as he looked up the number to the local police department.
"Daddy?" Charlotte moaned from the top of the stairs, hanging onto the banister.

"Oh God," Donna muttered under her breath, just loud enough for Harvey to hear. "What do I tell her?"

"Nothing yet," Harvey said decisively. "Hopefully I'll be in touch with some people who know a lot more about this than we do."

"Come on downstairs, honey," Donna called, not wanting to go upstairs with the baby only to travel back downstairs with a toddler underfoot.

Charlotte fussed the whole way down the stairs, which she took at a backwards crawl. Donna wished she could help her. "I want Daddy," he repeated, toddling over to Donna. "Where's Daddy?"

"They're...not home yet," Donna improvised, casting Harvey a sidelong glance. He nodded and pressed his phone to his ear. "Want to come sit up here with us?" She patted the narrow space between her and Harvey, who scooted over to make room for her to climb up. The girl nestled into Donna's side, leaning far away from Harvey, whom she obviously didn't recognize yet. "You don't remember your uncle Harvey?" Donna asked sweetly. Charlotte shook her head. "He was—he's your mommy and daddy's friend. Like me." This only made Charlotte cling tighter to Donna. "It's okay, sweetie. He's a very nice guy. Hey Harvey," Donna mumbled. "You might want to, uh, make this call elsewhere."

Harvey jumped from the couch, feeling completely stupid for his oversight. He moved into the office and shut the door behind him.

"Once I burp your brother, I'll tuck you back in, okay?" Donna said. Charlotte didn't respond. A few minutes later she made her way carefully back upstairs, making sure Charlotte was in front of her the whole way. As she entered Rachel and Mike's bedroom, which sent chills up and down her spine, she sensed another set of adult footsteps behind her. She glanced back at Harvey with trepidation; almost glad they couldn't discuss the outcome of his phone call right now. Charlotte lingered at the door, gazing up at Harvey.

"Baby's all right?" Harvey asked.

"Yeah, he's out again," Donna said, placing Aidan gingerly back into his bassinet. "Let's get you back to bed, Char," Donna sighed, crouching down and holding her arms out. Charlotte shook her head and latched unexpectedly onto Harvey's leg. "Little Miss indecisive," Donna huffed.

"Can I pick you up, Charlotte?" Harvey asked as he knelt down. The little girl didn't answer, but didn't put up any sort of fight when Harvey carried her from the room. Donna straightened Charlotte's tangled covers over her once Harvey laid her down.

"I want Daddy," Charlotte said yet again.

Donna couldn't find it in her heart to lie outright to her, even if she was only two. "Go to sleep, sweetie. You're tired."

Charlotte didn't have any fight left in her and was sleeping before Donna even got a mind to glance up at Harvey. "That was easier than I expected," Donna said as she shut the door behind them.

"You're good with them," Harvey said on the way downstairs.

"It's the middle of the night. She's too tired to fight. And the baby's easy. He just needs feeding and changing."

"Not all babies are that easy," Harvey argued, becoming gradually aware of how relaxing it was to have a back-and-forth conversation with Donna with no tears being shed between them. "I was convinced Marcus hated me for the entire first year of his life."

Donna filled the teakettle on the stove and lit the burner. Chamomile tea sounded like just what the doctor ordered, so she rifled through the cabinets for some. She took out a bag for each of them once she found it.

"I'm not joking," Harvey said, leaning against the fridge with his arms crossed. "Give yourself some credit. You want to have kids someday anyway, right?"

Donna leaned into a corner where two lengths of countertop met and shook her head at Harvey. "It doesn't feel right talking about my plans for the future right now," Donna figured it was time to address the elephant in the room. "What did the police say?"

"They weren't supposed to leave you with the kids. They called CPS on their way back but they were supposed to wait here until CPS arrived. I guess they thought they were cutting you a break somehow." Harvey shrugged.

"Right, by leaving the emotionally unstable woman with a screaming baby and a two-year-old upstairs. So is CPS coming?"

"Yes. They didn't give me an ETA, but I imagine soon."

Donna nodded aloofly, staring at the floor. "I'm sorry about earlier," she said, pointing off in the direction of the office. "I shouldn't have been short with you."

"I shouldn't have nagged," Harvey said dismissively.

"No, you should have, because you've been sitting here doing all the work. You basically made all the calls while I sat there like a deer in headlights," Donna said, meeting Harvey's stare.

"Listen. They are my friends as much as they are yours. You have a right to be distraught. Frankly, I'd be worried if you'd been able to function well enough to be calling everyone. I'm impressed that you tried."

"I just wish I could've done more," Donna went on.

"You tried. And you took care of the kids under all that pressure. I sure as hell couldn't have done that."

While Donna ignored Harvey's attempt to compliment her, her short-lived conversation with Rachel came to the forefront of her mind again. "You know, Rachel tried to say something to me a while ago."

Harvey was surprised Donna could even utter Rachel's name without getting worked up again. "What about?"

"About the kids," Donna said with a sigh, looking meaningfully at Harvey. "She said, 'If anything ever happens to me and Mike' and I cut her off, called her silly. And I never really thought about it again until tonight, because it sounded so silly for her to be talking about that kind of thing. But I wonder if she was…" Donna didn't want to complete the thought. If it was true, that meant her life was about to change even more. If it weren't true, she was afraid she'd feel robbed of the children if they did go to family.

"Planning on leaving the kids with one or both of us?" Harvey finished. Donna nodded. "It's possible, but it's also possible she was going to ask you to make sure the kids played soccer or went to church. There's no way to know what she wanted regarding the children until we talk to her lawyer. Find out what they said about the kids in their will."

"Yeah, I suppose." Donna turned at the sound of the teakettle whistling. She dropped the topic. Harvey was right. There was no sense in wondering. They would know soon enough. For now, as Donna fixed her and Harvey each a big mug of tea, Donna felt the urge to go upstairs and hold onto the children until they were wrangled away from her. The responsibility of taking care of them ever since the cops had left had been a million times more daunting than babysitting a brood of twenty children. But suddenly the idea of them being taken away by strangers was bringing out a possessive side of her. She handed Harvey his tea.

"Thanks. Do you…want me to do the talking?"

Donna bit her thumbnail. "I feel okay now, but I also feel like that could change any second."

"We'll work as a team, then. Like we always did," Harvey said matter-of-factly. "Come here." He held his arms open and Donna walked without question into them. "I know I didn't really make an effort when you left me...and for that I apologize, but I'm going to be with you every step of the way now. No matter where the kids end up, no matter what."

Donna shocked herself by letting out a sputtering laugh into Harvey's shoulder. "You know, I'm trying to hold it together here. You're gonna make me lose it." And she almost did. She had no idea where the nurturing attitude was coming from. It was like him to provide space to grieving friends, like he had for Louis when he found out Norma had died, or to physically protect them, but he wasn't the nurturing type. She wondered if he felt guilty over something.

"Well, I guess I'll cut it out," Harvey said, rubbing Donna's back once before letting her go. "I think I just heard someone pull up."

Donna sighed, and then took a sip of her tea. Thankfully, Harvey knew better than to ask if she was ready.