Wrote this ficlet a couple of weeks ago and it turned out longer than anticipated, so thanks to those who've seen it being written and encouraging me to continue! Decided to put it all together and post it here. I hope you enjoy it and maybe leave a review? x
He lets out a sigh as he closes his laptop. His eyes fixated on the clock on his wall, it's almost five in the afternoon. If he hurries himself he might still be on time. Might.
He quickly opens his desk drawer and reaches for the small pack of thumbtacks. The box feeling a bit heavy and foreign in his fingers but he places it in the pocket of his suit jacket non the less. His feet carry him to the partners kitchen. His hands frantically searching for a can-opener in one of the kitchen drawers. He lets out a breath as he finally finds the metal object he's been looking for, he knows it's not the can-opener. Not their can-opener. He also knows where she probably keeps it, but he doesn't want to enter her cubicle without her being there and most importantly he doesn't want to be confronted with the possibility that she doesn't have it anymore.
The elevator takes him five floors down to the library, and he patiently waits for the doors to open again. His fingers tapping against the objects that are now feeling heavy in his suit pocket. He isn't even sure why he grabbed them. She's not his secretary anymore, they don't do that anymore.
It takes some time before his eyes adjust to the darkness of the room he has just entered, and he can see some silhouettes turn around and look at him. They're probably wondering why he is even there, and he isn't even sure he could answer that question. Because she's not his secretary anymore and technically he doesn't have to be there. It's not like Gretchen is performing tonight.
He quickly closes the door behind him as his eyes start scanning the room ahead. There's only one person he's looking for. It's her. Because if he has to be honest, he came to see her. Just like all those other years. The 'my secretary is performing' has always been an excuse, but never the complete truth, because all he wanted was to watch her. Watch her perform, be the actress she dreamed of being. Be the woman she gave up on being, for him.
And even though she's not his secretary anymore and they don't do the ritual anymore, in fact they're barely back to being friends, but this is just another thing he's not willing to give up. He has to have this event with her, even if she doesn't even know he came to see her.
He narrows his eyes, scanning the room once more. But the one he came to see, is the only one he doesn't see. It's not because it's crowded or dark, he's always been able to spot the redhead within seconds. Like her hair was some sort of magnet for his eyes, but tonight nothing is pulling them in and he lets out a sigh, realizing she isn't there.
He wonders if he got it all wrong, if with her leaving him his abilities to understand what she was saying had also left, because he was sure he had heard her talk about it. There weren't many topics left they still discussed, but this has been one of them. Was he mistaken? Had he been so distracted by her beauty, it's all he's been able to focus on lately, that he completely missed her saying she wasn't going to perform? That she wasn't going to defend their title? Her title, he corrects himself.
He's not really paying attention to the speech Jessica is giving at the moment. The question whether Donna was or wasn't going to preform still on his mind, and he only snaps out of those thoughts as he hears the name of the woman in question being mentioned by the managing partner.
"And last but not least, Donna Paulsen will take the stage to defend her title as reigning champion for five years on a row."
He doesn't even notice how his lips curl up at the pure mentioning of her name, but something inside him feels relieved. Relieved that he wasn't mistaken, that he was still going to see her. It might not have been upfront as he had hoped, but he also knows he has no right to hope anymore. He's just lucky he's able to see her at all.
"Harvey," Jessica greets him whisperingly as she walks up to the name partner that was still standing in the back of the room. Not having moved an inch since he entered. "Nice of you to join," she whispers a small smile on her lips as she recalled all the previews talent shows. The expressions on his face as he'd watched Donna perform.
He looks to his right, his fingers still holding onto the can-opener in his pocket as he nods at his boss. "Why don't you join us at our table?" Jessica continues, as she reaches for his arm to guide him towards the particular direction.
He wants to protest, say something about the fact he just wants to watch from afar. Or that he doesn't want to sit next to Louis, but he doesn't get the chance. "Everyone's there," the managing partner continues, and he notices how she's emphasizing the word everyone but leaves it ambiguous as to who she means with that word, because he doesn't feel the need to see everyone. He only wants to see her. His one and only, the one he never really got to call his.
But his mind goes blank and the lump in his throat disappears as he sees that 'everyone' does not include Donna.
The empty chair with her purse on it next to Louis being the only indication that she had been there, but not anymore. She was already gone, and he can't help but feel that that's exactly all she's done lately. Leaving.
Jessica lets him sit on her chair as she moves one to the right. With a heavy sigh he settles himself down. "Hey," he greets his fellow name partner, but there's no real response. Only a "ssssh, I'm trying to listen." He looks at the improvised stage in the library and sees some girl from the 44th floor sing. Something he hadn't even noticed.
He moves around in his chair, his eyes fixated on the empty chair during the last two performances, but she still hasn't returned. His hopes that she might had went to the restroom, gone up in flames.
"Louis," he bugs the man next to him again and he decides to for once just asks what he really wants to know, "where's Donna?"
"I don't know," he hears the bald lawyer reply and he wants to say something along the lines of that she's his secretary now, that he should know, but he doesn't. "Louis?" he just asks again.
"She's probably back stage," Louis now answers annoyed. "You don't know anything about theatre do you," he adds and Harvey can't help but notice how it's another stab in the back, but Louis couldn't be more wrong and instead Harvey just rolls his eyes. They're not at the theatre and there's no backstage. Not here, but Louis stupid answer might have given him an idea as to where the redhead could be.
He looks to his right now and excuses himself to Jessica as he pushes back his chair and quietly takes the stairs down to the other floor of the library.
"Donna?" he whispers as he opens the door to the ladies restroom, "are you here?" But there's no answer.
She wasn't there and he continues his search on every floor until his feet had dragged him back to the fiftieth floor. He checks the restroom again, her cubicle, Louis' office and even Jessica's. But nada, she's nowhere to be seen.
He lets out another sigh as he then notices the soft sounds of a song that he hasn't heard in a very long time. His gaze directs towards the direction of the sound, only to realize then that it's coming from his own office.
His pace increases and his heart skips a beat as he sees her standing in his office as if she belonged there, just like old times. And he swallows before he takes another step, entering his own office. She sees him walk towards her in the reflection of the window, but she doesn't face him. She isn't ready, not yet.
"Hey," he whispers as he steps closer, his eyes fixated on her, waiting for her to face him. Something she does when his hand nearly touches her arm. He takes in her glassy eyes and swallows. "Donna," he whispers, "is everything okay?"
She shakes her head indicating a no and the gesture makes him sigh, something that triggers her to cry again. He doesn't know why he does it, he has, in twelve years, not once done it, but this time he brings his thumb to her cheek and wipes away a tear. His other arm wrapping around her.
He pulls her closer and lets her cry in the in the crook of his neck. The tears feeling cold against his skin, he moves his arm up and down hers, as he's trying to comfort her. He whispers, "everything's going to be okay," before he places a kiss on top of her head, feeling her body first freeze but soon relax in his embrace.
"What's wrong?" he whispers minutes later as he's making her look at him again, a barely audible 'everything' leaving her lips and he knows she's not just talking about whatever was going on tonight. He just nods, not knowing how to fix everything if he doesn't even know what she means with the word. Because one thing he learned the hard way was that his everything wasn't the same as her definition of everything.
Instead he focuses on the moment right now, this evening. He removes the can opener from his pocket and places it in her hand, "I thought..," he pauses for a second, "I .. Maybe you wanted to?"
She looks at the object in her hand, and back to him, before her left fingers reach for the same object on his desk. Theirs, and she lets out a nervous laugh as she shows him the can opener. His lips curl up at the thought that for the first time in forever they seemed to be in sync again. His fingers reach for the box of thumbtacks from his pocket, but she stops him.
"There's no point," she whispers bringing her hand to her throat and it's only then that he notices how hoarse her voice sounds. "I can't sing," she adds mumbling, "not like this."
"Ooh," he mumbles. "We could still watch," he suggests his hand lingering in the air but not really reaching for hers. She raises her shoulders, "what's the point," she mumbles again, "it's just another confirmation of how things are different now."
He frowns and questions her face. "I can't win like this," she whispers and she doesn't even care that her competitive side is showing now. She's always been the best and the year she needed a win the most, she wasn't able to compete. She needed to show she was still the amazing woman she used to be, that leaving Harvey hadn't damaged her, but it had and it had now also taken over this. "It's just another thing I'll lose," she adds.
"Lose?" he repeats mumbling, because he always thought that he was the one who had lost everything.
She nods, "I already lost you," she whispers, her eyes avoiding his.
He hooks his finger under her chin, making her look at him again. "You didn't lose me," he whispers, "I'm still here." She shows him a soft smile. "It's not the same," she whispers, thinking about how she lost her hopes for whatever they had to become more. "I lost you in the way I never had you," she whispers so softly he barely hears it.
But for once her words and intentions are loud and clear to him. He caresses her cheek and pulls her towards him, his lips finding hers. It's a soft and sweet kiss, it's all he knows to respond. A symbol for all the things he wants to say but can't find the words for.
She kisses him back, but pulls away short after. "Why?" she whispers. "Making sure you do win something today," he mumbles, "me. Us..." the rest of the words still not finding its way out. She gives him a small smile, pressing her lips on his again, acknowledging what he means. "But I really wanted to win that trophy," she teases him.
He lets out a laugh pulling her hand, as he drags her back to the library. "What are you doing?" she mumbles as he brings her towards the table. "You know I can't perform tonight." He places her down in the chair he sat in earlier, his lips near her ear. "Don't worry," he whispers, "I'm getting you that trophy."
She wants to tell him that it was a joke, that she already got what she really wants. That she just wants him, but he already makes his way to the improvised stage and she brings her hands to her mouth as she watches him reach for the microphone.
"Hello everyone," he starts letting out a cough, "most of you have been waiting for the no doubt mind blowing performance of the one and only Donna Paulsen." He pauses pointing at her, and for once she blushes as everyone looks around to look at her. "Unfortunately Donna is unable to perform tonight, but Jessica and I did think she deserved the change to defend her title," he adds looking at Jessica, who silently nods. She's not going to contradict him now.
He taps the microphone, as he walks to his right and asks Rachel to play something on the piano. The background music starts playing and Donna can feel the goose bumps starting to form on her arms as she listen to his voice filling the room.
Alright, everything is alright.
Since you came along
And before you,
I had nowhere to run to.
Nothing to hold on to.
I came so close to giving it up.
And I wonder if you know how it feels to let you go?
You say goodbye in the pouring rain,
and I break down as you walk away.
So change your mind and say your mine.
Don't leave tonight.
Stay, stay with me.
She didn't win the prize that night, but she didn't care, because she won so much more. She won his heart and he won hers. Not that their hearts hadn't always been each other's, but as of that night completely. She'd won him, she'd won them and no trophy could replace that.
- The end