WOW! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL THE REVIEWS, they make me so happy and I'm glad you're all enjoying the story so far. So 6.14.. HARVEY KNOWS ABOUT THE DONNA! I think that's so important and can't wait for the next to episodes. This chapter has become much longer than I anticipated and part of that is because 6.14 happened and I tried to write it in, but that did mean some changes I hadn't planned up front. Either way, as I said I tried to write 6.14 into this fic. Some scenes are the same as in the episode, some are adjusted to fit my story.. but it's not more than 1/5th of this chapter, so lots of new content too.
So here's the third and final chapter. I hope you'll like it and I would love to read your thoughts. x
THE DONNA - PART III
The words resonate in his ears, his shoulders and mouth dropping in defeat. He just manages to whisper her name before he freezes up and he just stands there, unable to do or say anything. He wouldn't know what to say anyway, words never his strong suit when it came to them.
Her remark in a way not coming as a total surprise and in another way it is. The moment in which she pronounced it mostly throwing him of his game, because his own subconscious had been telling him something like this after all. The only difference was that in his dream they had actually crossed the line they'd been toeing for over a decade.
In reality, they hadn't.
Not more than any other day, but her words come down to the same thing and it are the first words leaving his lips when he finds his voice again. "So you're leaving me?" he mutters. "Again," the last word nearly inaudible, but it is there and he can't help but look at her in despair. A part of him scolding himself for the fact that this is all he's able to say, another side of him fixated on her answer.
She hesitatingly raises her shoulders. Her head shakes a little and she gasps for air at the tone he uses. Her old self might have gotten irritated at his remark, threw something witty back in return or emphasized how it was about her and not him, but she's just too tired of everything they've been through. And if there's one thing she doesn't want, is for things to go back to how they were right after she moved to Louis' desk.
She crooks her head, her lips pursing a little but she remains quiet too. Not knowing what to say, because she just doesn't know if that is what's going to happen. It's a possibility, a thought she's been toying with for the past week, deep down even longer. But it's constantly been on her mind ever since she started with this project.
The only difference is that to her it's not about leaving him. She couldn't leave him, not really. Not fully. Not even if she wanted to and she tried. God knows she tried, she just can't. It's about what she needs, how she feels. What she wants and most importantly, who she is.
"I don't know," she whispers breaking the silence at last. Knowing it aren't the words he wants to hear, she looks at the floor.
He swallows, his head still shaking in disbelief, confusion or shock. Mostly a mixture. His gaze searches for her eyes, but when she doesn't meet his, he looks at the floor again. He feels many things in this moment, but anger isn't even one of them.
Even though her eyes don't meet his, afraid of what she might do or say if they would, she could still feel his gaze burning her skin and that had the same effect on her as looking him directly in the eye would have done. "I don't want to, Harvey " she continues nearly inaudible, regarding his statement about her leaving him. "I don't," she repeats a bit louder this time, shaking her head she slowly lifts her head.
"And it's not about you. No this time," she continues, finally really admitting to herself why she left him before. When he couldn't meet her for the conversation she wanted, it never having been about whether his feelings were the same as hers. She knew that already, just the fact that he didn't even want to talk about it.
She hasn't allowed herself to think about that since. Let alone expect an answer to the question that still remained unanswered. Things are different in that regard now, that not being the topic of this conversation. Even though she'd be lying to herself if she didn't admit that this time around, he might actually be able to meet her in that argument.
"I'm so, so incredibly proud of you," she says, tears rolling down her cheek when her eyes lock with his once more. "I… I just need you to know that… that it's a possibility. That I might need to do this for me, to figure out what I really want..."
Understanding every words she's saying, he could even convincingly tell himself that he gets where she's coming from, but he still swallows. The tears in her eyes, her own struggle visible on her face hurting him more than anything else does, more than the question he had. He finally manages to take another step towards her, his right hand scraping over her arm. His fingers hooking around her elbow. He just looks at her for a moment, before he speaks. "Okay."
She tenses under his touch, but keeps looking at him regardless. "Okay?" she repeats.
"Okay," he answers once more, almost surprised himself by the way he recovered, pressing his lips into a thin smile. His left hand hesitatingly hanging in the air for a moment as his other is still glued to her arm, unable to let go. His lips twitch into a softer smile then, slowly lifting his left hand to her face. She flinches a little at the prospect of his motion, but he wipes the stray tear from her cheek at last. Letting his fingers linger on her skin for a moment longer than he should have.
"Okay," he mutters one last time when he notices a soft gasp escape her lips. The word more to himself than to her this time, as he pulls both his hands back and instantly buries them in the pocket of his pants to stop himself for reaching for her gain. Slightly turning away from her before he continues his sentence. "Go home and think about it, okay?" he suggests now. "And on tomorrow we'll –"
She nods before he can finish his sentence and he swallows in the rest of his words. Just looking at her when she wipes the remainder of her tears away, her hand straightening some wrinkles in her skirt. Her eyes meet his at last and all they do is silently look at each other for a moment. "Okay," she whispers the one word he had used three times now. Swallowing she straightens her posture, bobbing her head in his direction one last time before she walks herself out of his office.
She reaches for the files when she patiently waits for her computer to fire up. She'd come in extra early today, give herself some time to think about everything that had been going on before the official start of the business day. Truth is she could barely sleep last night. Tossing and turning, her mind on over drive. His seemingly calm reaction the night before the biggest factor in this now, confirming the growth he had been through she had praised about prior.
She lets her gaze drift off to his office, taking in the empty state. She lets out a tired and conflicted breath as she reminds herself once more, how calmly he had reacted. How he had told her to just think about it, even suggested they would talk about it later and she hates that when for once he was able to respond this way, she is now the clueless one.
Dropping her gaze to the files Benjamin gave her a few days ago, she sighs once more. All night she had been thinking about it and she knows he'll ask for that conversation sooner or later, about her decision. What is she going to do? She knows he'll bring it up, she's just afraid he'll expect an answer already. Something she just doesn't have, not yet.
Absentmindedly reaching for a cup from one of the cupboards. He listens to the machine simmer, it making his much-needed cup of coffee this morning, while his thoughts drift off to the redhead once again. The conversation from last night coming to mind, the question he asked her and how he told her to think about it.
He knows he sort of mentioned they'd talk about it today and he's curious about her answer. If she already has an answer, he corrects himself, but he doesn't want to push her either. Knowing that could influence her decision either way and it is her decision to make. His gaze drops too his hand then, a soft chuckle escaping his lips as the combination of his question and the simple white mug in his hand bring him back to the dream from days ago.
"Harvey," Louis mumbles when he finds his fellow name partner in the executive's kitchen. "What are you doing in here?"
Louis's voice echoing through the room, he lets out a breath. Shaking the inappropriate thoughts about his secretary away before he turns around to face the other man. "What do you mean?" he counters at first. "It's an executive's kitchen. I'm an executive," he reasons with a roll of his eyes, not entirely understanding what the big deal is.
"Yeah," Louis dismisses Harvey's comment, walking up to the other side of the kitchen island. "But you're a bagel guy," he explains. Another thing he remembers the redhead telling him years ago. "And this place is like croissant central."
A laugh escapes Harvey's lips and he quickly glances at the food on display. The other man being right about it just being croissants. "Then maybe," Harvey starts, focussing on his fellow lawyer. "I came in here hoping to spend some quality time with you."
Louis eyes widen for a moment. "Are you saying you want to hear about my night with Tara?"
"Of course I do," Harvey mocks the other man. "Right after we make friendship bracelets and braid each other's hair."
Louis is the one to sigh now. "For your information, it was a magical evening," he counters, not even sure why he still shared that information with the other man. "But actually, I'm here to talk business," Louis announces then.
"Couture Apparel," Louis answers instantly. "Jessica and I always gave their CEO an annual analysis of their legal needs for the upcoming year."
"And now that she's gone, you want us to do it?" Harvey asks, signalling the both of them with his hand.
"Exactly," Louis nods.
"Sounds like a dog and pony show."
"It's more than that, Harvey," Louis counters. "It is a show of force. For one day, Carly Donahue needs to feel like the most important client in the portfolio and having one partner go by himself doesn't send that message."
"Louis, relax," Harvey interrupts him. "I'm happy to do it."
"Of course I am. I told you, we're partners."
"You know, Harvey, I always dreamed it could be like this," Louis signals between them. "Partners, confidantes, friends."
"I had the exact same dream, Louis."
"No, not really," Harvey counters, shaking his head and rolling his eyes. Slowly bringing the cup of coffee to his lips again, a small smile forming on his lips when he thinks back to the one thing he did dream of and he wonders once more what her answer regarding last night's conversation will be.
Her fingers tap against her desk and her gaze flickers to the clock in the corner of her desktop screen. Swallowing once, she takes in the time. He could be here any minute and that prospect isn't helping her calm down in any shape, way or form.
"Harvey," she whispers to herself. Rehearsing the lines, she had being telling herself repeatedly in her mind, aloud at last. "Before you ask. I don't know yet," she whispers, biting on her bottom lip and staying quiet when she doesn't know what else to say. Dreading the upcoming conversation.
Her restlessness increasing when she senses his presence, her head automatically turning to the right. She watches him round the corner and get closer to her cubicle with every second. Her stomach twists a little at the smile that tugs on his lips and she curses herself for the effect he's having on her. Her cheek suddenly feeling warm again, she can still feel him wipe away that one tear.
Taking one last breath, she opens her mouth to speak. Knowing all too well that if she doesn't get the words out now, she likely never will. "Harv..." the rest of his name swallowed in when the phone on her desk rings and her gaze instantly snaps to the object.
"Harvey Specter's office. How may I help you?"
His lips twitch a little at the way she says his name, he stalls in front of her cubicle. Figuring that if the message is for him, he might as well wait here for her to tell him and he wanted to ask her if she thought about it anyway. Letting his hands rest on the edge, his head crooking he watches her listen to the person on the other end of the line.
She swallows, turning to face Harvey a bit more, but she can't help but feel her face fall and the way she notices him straighten his back tells her it didn't go unnoticed to him either. "That's correct," she answers, before hanging up again.
"Donna," he calls her name. Her eyes meeting his. "What happened?"
"That were the lawyers at Velocity. They wanted me to confirm that we're co-counsel with Mike on this," she answers. Swallowing as she sees the words slowly starting the register in the lawyer's mind, followed by the clenching of his jaw. "I had to tell them yes," she explains, even though he heard her confirm it. "Because if they're asking, Mike obviously bluffed and I'm not going to hang him out to dry."
Harvey nods once, pushing himself back on his feet. Tapping the edge of her cubicle twice with his hand, he turns around.
"Harvey," she calls after him, before he can walk away. There was still something she needed to tell him, but the words just don't leave her lips. "Where are you going?" she asks instead.
"I'm going to find out what the hell that kid did and why on earth he did it," Harvey answers, instantly making his way back to the elevators.
Watching him disappear from her peripheral view, she swallows and sits herself back down in her desk chair. Her hands reaching for the files again and she lets out a breath she didn't know she was holding. Still not entirely sure what to do.
Harvey makes his way back to his office after his quick meeting with his former associate. Still annoyed at the sudden exposure, but he also gets why the man did it. They only had one shot. Taking another two steps, he notices Louis walk towards him. His eyes closing for a moment, he's reminded of their earlier conversation and the promise he made. "Louis," he looks back at the other lawyer, already shaking his head. "Whatever it is. It's going to have to wait."
"No, this will just take a second," Louis counters, increasing his step. Walking next to Harvey now. "It's about the Carly Donahue meeting. I was thinking –"
"Louis, I'm sorry," Harvey shuts the other man down, looking in the other man's direction. "But I'm not going to be able to make it."
"What?" Louis mumbles. "Why the hell not?"
"Mike needs my help on a case."
Louis thinks for a second, taking in Harvey's news. "Harvey, you may not want to accept this, but Mike doesn't work here anymore," he tries to explain as calmly as possible. "And firm business takes priority over –"
Harvey stalls now, his left hand in the air, making Louis stop talking instantly. "Listen, Louis," he starts, turning around on his spot. "This is firm business," Harvey explains calmly on his turn, keeping his voice hushed. "And if what I think is going to happen happens, Mike's going to end up back here when it's done."
"What?" Louis asks in surprise.
"You remember that thing that we took care of for Rachel that you said might be worth doing?" Harvey continues, seeing the other man nod. "Well, it turns out it was worth doing. Only I'm doing it for Mike."
"Holy shit," Louis counters intrigued. "Seidel agreed to go to bat for him?"
"Yes," Harvey nods. "And once it's done and Mike's in the Bar, he can come back here and work again."
"Harvey, that is great," Louis listens, stepping forward too when Harvey continues his path down to his office. "And nobody wants that more than I do, but it's just one meeting," he reasons, referring to the Couture Apparel meeting.
"Louis, I know that," Harvey gives in. "But in about three hours, I'm going to be under water for the next three days."
"Louis," Harvey stops the other man again. Coming to a halt in front of his office. "I know I told you I'd be there for you," he admits. "But I need you to be there for me."
Louis swallows, rocking back and forth on his feet for a moment. "Okay, Harvey," he gives in then. "I'll do it."
She bites her lip, deciding not to comment on the conversation she just partially overheard. Instead, she watches Harvey pat Louis on his shoulder, before he makes his way down to his office. Her gaze doesn't follow him this time, instead she briefly glances up at her friend, giving him a small smile of encouragement.
It soon fading from her own face when the man walks back in the direction of his own office and she pushes herself on her feet without much thought. Following her former boss, she steps into the men's room. "Hey," she calls for him the second she spots him. "Are you okay?" she adds, walking over to him. It's a rhetorical question, but she asks it anyway.
Louis shakes the water of his hands. Reaching for a paper towel. "No," he fires back. "I'm not okay.
How the hell am I supposed to keep Carly Donahue's business all by myself?"
"Because, Louis, you're co-managing partner and you're one hell of a lawyer."
"Oh, you just don't get it, do you?" he counters annoyed, walking away from the redhead to the bin. "This woman," he continues his explanation facing the legal secretary again. "Wants to know that she's special to this firm. If I walk in there by myself, she's going to laugh me out of the room."
Donna frowns for a second. "Then why didn't you tell that to Harvey?"
"Because I know how important Mike is to him and I didn't want to let him down."
"Then don't," Donna answers, with a shrug of her shoulders.
"That is not –"
"Louis," she shuts him down. "If this woman needs to know she's special to us, there's more than one way to do it and Harvey's not the only one you can bring."
"Donna, that's great," he replies. He gets her point, but there's just one obstacle. "But this meeting is tomorrow and I don't even know these new associates yet."
"Yes, you do. You know Katrina, who's not just a new associate, she's a Junior Partner and you know Rachel, who's as good as a fourth-year," she reasons, watching her friend's face mild a little bit. "You go there with a show of force like that, trust me, this woman is going to be blown away."
Louis chuckles, looking up with a slight shake of his head. He should have known the redhead would have a solution. "Okay, Donna," he answers, nodding. "Show of force it is."
She glances at the brown leather portfolio on her desk for a moment. Her right hand tapping on it twice, she thinks about all the possibilities this little project has. The potential, who would want it? Will there be a market for it? What should The Donna really be able to do?
Her head turning back to her computer screen when she catches a notification pop up from the corner of her eye. She lets out a breath, hitting enter to open it. Her eyes drifting off to the portfolio again. "Focus Paulsen," she scolds herself, pushing the folder aside. She turns her chair to face her computer screen better. Answering the email first, she decides to focus on his calendar then. It being mostly empty for today, she checks her to do list again, but she had already managed to tick everything off half an hour into the start of this workday.
She tells herself that he might have another project for her then. Make some copies, fax something or search for some files. Anything. Turning her chair to the left a bit further, she focuses on his office. Only then reminding herself he went out to help Mike an hour ago.
Letting out a sigh, she lets her chin rest in the palm of her left hand for a moment. Her gaze remaining on his office, she slightly tilts her head. He was barely in the firm the day before, she had barely seen him today and she still hadn't gotten a chance to talk to him. She reminds herself of the days she spend in there, helping him going through boxes of files. Proof reading his motions and often just listening to his argumentation. Confront him with the hard truth from time to time, helping him make decisions and push him into the right direction if needed.
She thinks about her own words from two days ago now. "All you really need me for is to answer the phone. Manage your calendar and I don't know if that's going to be enough for me." She lets out another sigh, deep down she does know. It's not enough. Not anymore.
Turning her chair around again, she pulls the leather portfolio in front of her again. Opening it at once, she smiles as she takes in the first page: 'The Donna by Benjamin C. Miller and Donna R. Paulsen.' Flipping through the pages, she reads up on the progress they made the last few days. The possible concerns they have, the things they need to take care of and the goals they set for themselves.
A full list of things she hasn't been able to check off in days, despite both of them working on it every chance they got and it's refreshing. She actually likes that it's taking a bit longer, that she's trusted with these more complicated tasks and she likes how all the while doing this, she gets the help Benjamin the way she once used to help Harvey.
She wonders about her own words again then. Is this enough?
She isn't entirely sure about that either, but it's more. It's new, exciting and it's something to keep her busy. She really likes the project. She does, she just isn't entirely sure it's what she pictures herself doing for the rest of her life, but then again, she never pictured herself being a secretary for as long as she did.
Maybe for now, it was. This just being another step in the process of getting to where she wants to be.
She manoeuvres between the tables filled with computers, making her way to the office on the side. Her balled fist tapping against the engraved glass, she lets herself inside. "How's it going, genius?" she greets Benjamin with a smile.
Benjamin shakes his head, looking to his right as he heard a voice but completely missed what was being said. "What?" he mumbles.
"I said," Donna continues, stepping closer to his desk. "How's it going?"
Benjamin stares at the redhead for a moment, swallowing he bobs his head up and down as he takes in her question. His gaze drifting off to his computer screen again. "I'll tell you how it's going," he sighs, looking down. He can't look at her. "It's not going to work."
"What? But I thought that Harvey said it –"
"I don't care what you thought. Or what he said," Benjamin counters, leaning back in his chair. "This isn't 'Westworld,' I can't make her human," he confesses, it's a partial lie. Because he knows what the lawyer told him about the device, but the truth is even harder. He can't tell her he hasn't gotten it back to work at all.
"Benjamin, I'm not asking you to make her human," she answers, raising her hands. "I'm just asking you to give her a little compassion," she explains, redefining what was actually needed in the little device. She still remembers what Harvey told her, how it's impossible to take everything of her and put it in a machine.
He turns the little black box over in his hand, the lack of bright red lighting a reminder of how it hasn't said anything back to him in nearly forty-eight hours. "Well I don't know how to do that," he counters, dropping The Donna back on his desk. His actions the completely opposite of the delicate touch he used the day before. "And it's supposed to learn from itself, but it isn't," he adds annoyed, his answer not just related to the further development of the project, but getting it back to work in the first place.
She watches the younger man for a moment. The way he sighs and keeps looking down. "Hey," she whispers then concerned. "What's going on?"
Benjamin lets out another sigh, biting his lip. He redirects his gaze from the broken little machine to the redhead in his office. "The story I always told myself was the only reason I didn't work in Silicon Valley was that I didn't want to," he pauses. "Truth is, I don't have what it takes and then you come in here, calling me a genius and –"
"Benjamin," she mumbles, shaking her head. She walks herself around the younger man's desk. Sitting down on the edge. "It's okay. You're only human," she adds. "If it doesn't work, it doesn't work," she dismisses the project with a signal of her hand.
"Really," she nods, folding her hands together in her lap. "Besides, if I can't show you compassion, how can I ever expect The Donna to show compassion?" she reasons, briefly shrugging her shoulders, she smiles at the IT guy.
"Thanks Donna. I'm sorry if I got your hopes up."
She presses her lips into thin line, briefly tapping his arm before she pushes herself back on her feet. Leaving the little device behind at his desk, she turns around and walks herself out of the young man's office again. Only swallowing when she's a hundred percent sure he can't see her reaction anymore.
Fidgeting with her golden bracelet, she makes her way back to her cubicle. Her gaze automatically drifting to his office, she lets out a sigh when the sight itself has remained unchanged. He's still out. Letting her hand brush over the edge of the partition, she corners her cubicle and places herself back down in her desk chair.
She spots the brown leather portfolio on her desk then and she swallows once more. Repeating Benjamin's words about the fate of the project, she opens the folder one last time. Staring at the bold letters reading 'The Donna' for a moment before she closes the file again, along with it her eyes. Her hand remains on the cover and she bites her lip, wondering where it exactly had gone wrong.
She had seen it in action two days ago. The way it aimlessly countered Harvey's remarks and even though all she heard was banter, Harvey had told her those other parts she was looking for were in there as well. Yet Benjamin had told her they weren't and the kid might have invented the object, she couldn't imagine Harvey lying about this to her. The only thing she knows for sure is that something was going on, she just can't pinpoint exactly what.
Hearing heavy footsteps come her way, she slowly opens her eyes again. Placing the portfolio aside, she tilts her head to look in the man's direction. Turning her chair along with it as she watches her friend come closer.
"Is he in?" Louis asks then.
"No," she answers with a sigh. "He had to run out."
"All right, do me a favour," Louis answers, letting his hands rest on the edge of her cubicle. "Just tell him I need to talk to him when he gets back," he adds, turning around again before the redhead could answer.
She frowns now, waiting for a second. Contemplating her options. "You mind if I ask what it's about?"
Her words make him stall and his eyes close for a second. His jaw clenching when he prepares his answer. Turning on his heel, Louis walks himself back over to Donna's desk. "I just got off the phone with Carly Donahue."
"Louis, what happened?" she asks, surprised by the sad tone in his voice. "Rachel said that it went great," she adds, remembering what her friend told her.
"I thought it did, too," Louis admits. "But then she called me and said that the next time she asks for a meeting with me and Harvey, she better get a goddamn meeting with me and Harvey instead of two nobodies."
Donna shakes her head now, wondering if she heard that correctly. "What did you tell her?"
"I told her how dare she talk about my superstars like that. She's lucky to have them," Louis recalls the words he used to the CEO of Couture Apparel, defending the two young lawyers.
Donna's lips twitch into a little smile when she hears the lawyer's answer. "Louis, that's great. Good for you," she answers proudly.
"She fired us, Donna."
Her mouth drops now. "Oh, Louis, I'm so sorry," she gives him a heartfelt apology. "Look, this isn't your fault.
You couldn't have known."
"It's okay," Louis answers, with a shrug of his shoulders. "I just need to go home," he adds, looking at the redhead again in silence. He nods once, just being able to see her return the motion before he turns around and walks off.
She sighs then, loudly. Her eyes closing again. "Shit."
He turns around, his lips curling up into a smirk after his last remark in Seidel's direction, he makes his way down the street towards the black company car. His good mood soon drifting away when Ray asks for his destination. The word home on the tip of his tongue, he looks at his watch instead. He knows it's a long shot, but home means being alone and with the weekend around the corner he needs to see her first.
He still doesn't have an answer to his question from days ago and he's not entirely sure he'll survive the weekend without knowing. He isn't sure knowing is going to make his weekend any more bearable either, he waves the thoughts away with the prospect of just getting to see her. "The firm," he answers then, hoping she'd still be there, because showing up at her place is another thing.
He steps out of the elevator on the fiftieth floor, his pace increasing with every step he takes in the direction of his office. His head held high, his gaze landing on her cubicle the second it comes into his sight. When he notices it's empty, his pace slows down and his shoulders drop a little. He bites his lip, contemplating his actions this Friday night, but he makes his way down to his office regardless. Surprise taking over when he sees her then. Sitting on his couch like a few days ago and his lips turn into a soft smile when he stops in front of the coffee table. "Hey."
"Hey," she whispers in return. "We need to talk."
His breath catches in his throat and he swallows. "You made your decision," he states looking at her. His breathing becoming heavier when she nods at his assumption but the expression on her face remains gloomy. "It's okay," he mumbles, briefly looking down. The words not only to her but also to himself, trying to keep calm. "You're going to leave. It's –"
"No," she contradicts him with a shake of her head. "I'm not."
His mouth drops and he's in shock for a moment. On one hand happy, but on the other hand, he hadn't seen this coming. "What?" he mumbles now. Slowly shaking his head as he tries to wrap his head around her words. "Why?" he adds cautiously, because he doesn't want to sound ungrateful either. He's just trying to understand it all.
"It's over," she answers calmly and he frowns even more now. Not sure what she means with those words, his head crooking, a silent plead for her to continue. "The project," she clarifies, looking straight ahead, trying not to show any sign of her disappointment. "It's not going to work. It's not able to capture those parts, so ..." she shrugs, almost dismissing it.
He observes her reaction and shakes his head again because he sees right through her indifferent behaviour. "What? How?" he mumbles now. "It worked. I saw it."
She looks away now, biting on the inside of her cheek.
Another gesture that doesn't go unnoticed to him and unlike in the past, he's not letting it slide. Not anymore. "Donna," he says her name in that one tone he only uses with her, but she doesn't look back at him. "What's going on?"
"Nothing," she dismisses it again. "It doesn't matter..."
"Donna," he tries again.
"Maybe I just got it all wrong, okay," she fires back, emphasising the last word. She glances at him from the corner of her eye, she tears her gaze away from him again. Nibbling on her bottom lip, she pushes herself up from his couch and walks herself over to the windowsill. Her own arms hugging her frame, she stares into the night. Her head slowly starting to shake when her thoughts are transferred into words. "Thinking I might actually get to…"
He turns around with her sudden movement, but stalls behind her on his original spot. They're almost in the same position as a few nights ago, except this time she turned her back to him. "What?" he encourages her to continue again, his eyes meeting hers in the reflection of the window.
Her bottom lip trembles now and she swallows thickly. Breaking their gaze once more, anything to stop herself from breaking out in tears in front of him again. "The other day," she starts, her hand resting on the windowsill, her focus now on the picture on his wall. "I said you don't really need me anymore to help you make decisions," she repeats her observation, slowly turning to face him again. Her hands holding onto her own arms once more. "But after everything that happened these last two days, I'm starting to wonder if you can…"
He swallows and his mouth drops, her words now the complete opposite of her telling him she was proud and her confronting him, with what he deep down knows is the truth, hurt. More than he's willing to admit and he's reminded of his own words from nearly a year ago. If anyone else loses faith in me it doesn't matter, but with you, it's different. His head and shoulders drop then, her name on the tip of his tongue.
She takes his silence as enough of a response and she drops her arms again. "I get that you want to help him, Harvey," she continues, her tone understanding and soft, but serious none the less. "Mike went to prison, you still feel guilty about it and you're doing this to help him. I get it. I do. I want to help him too, hell that's why I lied for him with those lawyers from Velocity," she reasons signalling her desk. "But are the risks you guys are taking really worth it?"
"He could come back here," Harvey answers, still looking at the floor. In the back of his mind, he knows she's making a point, but he also feels like he could still help the kid. That combined with the possibility of her leaving.
Donna presses her lips into a thin line at his words, the tone he uses. "I miss him too," she admits, crooking her head. Her eyes searching for his. "But are you doing this to help him or because you still feel guilty?"
He frowns now, not fully understanding why it can't be both and he looks at her again.
"You got him out," she reminds him, showing him a soft smile. "He found a job and I know it's not here," she pauses, lifting her hands briefly with a shake of her head. "But Mike's getting to do what he wants and I'm sorry, but the truth is that right now he doesn't want to come back."
Harvey's gaze drops. "I know," he admits. "There's a chance I might be able to get him into the Bar."
"I know," she whispers.
"It's the last thing I can do and it could be his only shot," he counters, it's a lame excuse but it really was the last thing he had set himself on doing for the kid.
"There might be a different way."
"You don't know that," he speaks softly, contradicting her answer.
"No. I don't," she admits with a shrug of her shoulders and she looks at him again. "But what I do know is that if you two keep this up, it's going to cost more than you bargained for."
"Mike might not get in," she fires back. Interrupting him, because she just can't take it anymore. "You might get disbarred and you could both go to prison," she reasons, her voice skipping a beat at the thought of the latter.
"Either way," she turns around, physically unable to focus on that thought for a second longer. "I'm staying because that decision you made today, it's not just affecting you two. But everyone here, the firm…" she pauses, swallowing in the 'us' her mind added, because right now there was no us. Not really. "You might feel like you need to help Mike, but you made a commitment to Louis too. To run the firm together and he really, really needed your help."
Harvey swallows, feet dragging over the carpet for a moment. Unable to move, but unable to stand still either, because every word she fires in his direction is the truth.
"We got fired by Couture Apparel today," she tells him then. The news Louis brought to her earlier the one thing that sparked this entire reasoning in her. "Because you weren't at the meeting."
He bites his tongue, knowing he has no ground to object to any of it.
"And I didn't stop you or try to change your mind, because I was too focussed on this stupid robotic version of myself," she blames herself now. A nervous laugh escaping her lips. She brings her hand to her head, letting it slide through her auburn locks. She shakes her head, looking at him again.
"I thought I could finally be doing something for me," she points at herself now. The words are harsh and not entirely fair, because he never truly held her back, but she can't hold it in anymore. "But this place has been my home for over a decade and I can't just stand by and watch it fall apart, because no one's here to talk sense into you."
"And if I'd leave, that might just happen," she states. Shrugging, she shakes her head. Not knowing what else to say, she walks away. She can still see him swallow from the corner of her eye, but she doesn't stay around to hear his comments. Leaving him alone with his thoughts and her words.
His shoulders drop in defeat even more and his hand searches for support on his desk when the sound of her heels disappears in the background. He turns around on his spot. Leaning against the edge of his desk, his head dropping when his world is turned upside down once again.
He had told himself he'd support her, be there for her with whatever she decided even if he wanted her to stay. He told himself he would manage if she'd leave. He would be okay, because he'd be able to find comfort in the idea that this is what she wanted. That it would make her happy.
Her staying now a daily reminder of the exact opposite.
He crooks his head a little, a soft sigh escaping his lips. He aimlessly stares into the by buildings illuminated night sky, his thoughts miles away, his hands absentmindedly following the gestures they've made a million times over. Pouring himself a glass of auburn liquid, his mind preoccupied with the woman with that same hair colour and the truth's she threw in his direction the day before, mixed with the guilt he's feeling regarding her decision.
Letting out another breath, he tears his gaze away at last. Looking at the single glass on the tray right in front of him, the sight only reminding him of something that had become more apparent with each day. He wants more from life and more importantly, he knows whom he wants that with. The only big question mark was how to achieve all that.
Two knocks on the door breaking his thoughts, he turns his head to look at the door. Immediately pushing the hope that it would be her away, he makes his way over to the door. Turning the lock, he opens it with one big swing. "Louis," he states surprised, taking a mental note that maybe he should move.
"Harvey," the other man greets him. "I need to tell you something."
He sighs, his brows knitting into a frown. The words reminding him of the conversation with the redhead the day before and he can only imagine the other wave of negative news coming his way. "Come in," he answers then, stepping aside, he opens the door further and signals the living room.
Louis nods once. Entering the apartment he has only set foot in a handful of times. Hesitatingly he lingers around the sitting area, but when Harvey signals the chairs again he finally allows himself to sit down.
"You want something to drink?" Harvey inquires, already making his way over to his liquor cabinet. Indicating the hum as a yes, he pours a second glass of scotch. Lifting both glasses up, he hands the new one to the other lawyer before he sits himself down in the other chair. "You wanted to tell me something?" he repeats the words Louis used earlier.
Louis nods, taking a sip form the Macallan 18. Letting out a breath, he gathers his thoughts and faces his fellow name partner again. "Couture Apparel fired us yesterday."
Harvey swallows and nods. "I know," he admits. "And I'm sorry my absence is what caused it," he adds, seeing Louis frown in response. Probably surprised that the news he came to share wasn't news anymore. "Donna told me," Harvey continues then, taking a sip form his own glass of scotch. "And I would have come to talk to you, but I didn't want to disturb your night with Tara. Or weekend."
Louis looks surprised for a moment, but nods at last. "I thought you didn't want to make friendship bracelets," Louis teases Harvey then.
"You remember her name," Louis explains. "I'm just surprised, that's all."
"Okay, why does everyone keep thinking I can't remember names," Harvey counters with a roll of his eyes. "But for your information. It's hard to forget the name of the woman who got you to drop down on your knees after ten days."
Louis sighs now, shaking his head. "You done now?"
"I don't know, you tell me?" Harvey asks. "Did you get her a house after a week?"
Louis bites his tongue, because the entire beach house in the Hamptons fiasco being the thing that started this all. But Harvey couldn't possibly now that. "Okay. I get," Louis fires back. "You think I should have waited a decade, well I didn't. I just hope you'll be able to leave these comments out of your best man's speech."
Harvey's eyes widen in surprise at his friend's comeback. The decade comment hitting him more than the rest, he focuses on the best man part again. "Really?" he asks, signalling himself.
Louis smiles. "Yeah," he answers. "If you want to. Again."
"I meant keeping out the jokes form my speech," Harvey fires back with a grin. He notices his friend is about to sigh again. "I'd be honoured," he quickly adds, raising his glass as a toast. He quickly downs the rest of the content, letting the empty glass in his hand rest on the edge of the chair. The alcohol burning his lip, he absentmindedly lets his tongue remove the last droplet. A soft sigh escaping him, his mouth falling into a thin line as he stares into the distance for a moment.
Louis takes a single sip himself. His head crooking as he studies the sudden change in his friend's mood. "What's going on?"
Harvey lets out a deep breath. His head slowly turning to look at Louis. Normally he would have lied, brushed it off, but there's something he learned about opening up to people and how it could help him deal with things, that he speaks. "You know about Donna and Benjamin's project?"
Louis looks surprised for a moment and shakes his head. "No."
"It's this device," Harvey explains. "It's called The Donna," he adds with a chuckle and he smiles for moment. "It uhm… Has her voice… And uses her one liners to comment on things you say to it."
"How?" Louis asks then.
Harvey shifts in his chair a bit. "Benjamin had been secretly recording her for the last two years."
"He what?!" Louis exclaims. "That's –"
"I know," Harvey admits before Louis could finish his sentence. "But she seemed to like the project so much, I didn't want to say anything about it."
Louis nods in understanding, but he also realises there must be more to the story. "But?" he asks then.
"She said she might leave me…" he pauses, swallowing. He looks down again, but he still sees how Louis crooks his head, urging him to continue. "She said she wants to do something more and she thought she could do so now, because she believed I wouldn't need her anymore."
Louis hums again.
"But now," Harvey shakes his head. "She's staying because I screwed up with this meeting."
"But it was for Mike," Louis counters.
Harvey nods. "But like you said, the firm should be a priority," he admits then. His lips falling back into a thin line, Louis only nods at the other man's words. He can't disagree with that, he'd been hoping himself Harvey would come to that conclusion soon. Both men remain quiet for a moment.
"I thought I wanted her to stay," Harvey whispers then, moving the empty crystal tumbler around in his hand. "I mean... I do… I want her to stay, but – "
"You don't want her to give up on another dream because of you."
Harvey looks up again. His gaze meeting Louis', he bites the inside of his cheek. Swallowing once before he nods.
"I can't tell you what to do, Harvey," Louis admits, letting out a sigh too. Because he too, would rather see the redhead stay at the firm, but he also knows it's not about what he wants and that what's going on is besides Donna questioning her life, primarily focussed around the relationship of the man in front of him and his friend. "But I think deep down you already know."
"I do," Harvey admits with a nod. He looks down again, letting out a breath he didn't know he was holding. His thumb moving over the edge of the glass in his hand. "I'm just not sure I'm really ready to lose her all together."
Louis crooks his head, waiting for a further explanation of that rather drastic statement.
"I want her to be happy," Harvey states truthfully, letting out another sigh regardless. "And this is going to sound selfish, but if I let her go," he continues, staring in the distance again. "I might not have her in my life at all."
Louis shakes his head in disagreement. "That's not true," he counters, not able to picture a future in which those two wouldn't stay in each other's life. No matter their status.
Harvey shrugs his shoulders, a soft laugh escaping his lips as something slips into his mind again. "I never..." he pauses, swallowing in the rest of his words. He takes another deep breath, not entirely sure why he's telling Louis of all people this, but at the same time after twelve years he can't hold it in anymore.
"She has this rule, you know," he speaks, glancing at Louis, but the man stays quiet. "And all I've been telling myself is that if I never broke it, she'd work for me," he reasons, his free hand tapping against the black leather of the chair's armrest. "And in that way I'd at least be sure that she's always be there, because that was most important," he mumbles. "Now I'm losing her anyway and she's –"
"She's not," Louis answers, already having pieced together what the other man was hinting at. The fact that Donna told him about their history and everything that he had gotten to know about these two since, just making it easier to read between the lines.
Harvey looks back up at Louis again, questions written all over his face.
"She ended things with that guy a while ago."
Taking two steps at the time he climbs the stairs of an old warehouse building. Looking around again, he wonders if this is the right address, but the nametag next to the door indicates it is and he reminds himself to check what they actually pay the guy. His hand falling on the door again, he rolls his shoulders trying to fight the effect the cold air was having on him.
The door creaks when it's opened and the man on the other side stares at the lawyer with wide eyes. "Mr. Specter," Benjamin mutters almost unsure, as if he had never seen the man he worked for before. "What… why?"
"I know it worked," Harvey states matter of fact. "I know it had that sense of compassion you were looking for, so why –"
"I still haven't gotten it up and running again," Benjamin counters when he realises the other man was talking about The Donna.
Harvey sighs, not having expected to hear that. He thinks for a second, looking back up at the IT specialist. "I don't care how or how much money it's going to cost, but I need you to fix it," he states, his tone indicating it's more an order than a request. Benjamin looks at him with a hint of confusion. "Please," Harvey continues now. "I need it to work."
Benjamin nods now. "I might need your help then," the younger man admits, stepping aside and opening the door further to let the lawyer in. Harvey unbuttons his coat, following Benjamin to his living room. The confused look on Harvey's face making Benjamin elaborate. "It's not the battery. I checked. But it's like it's in shock."
"What do you mean?"
"Well…" Benjamin pauses, not sure how he's going to bring this up. He sits down behind his desk in his home office first. "You said you were just talking to it and all of a sudden it stopped responding. So I'm trying to decode the recordings. To figure out what happened."
"It records?" Harvey asks now, a slight wave of panic washing over him.
"Well if we want it to learn how to be more human, the algorithm needs –"
"Yeah. Yeah," he mutters, not caring about the technical explanation.
"So I got a few words from the recordings. What you said…" Benjamin starts, turning to face his screen again. Typing something on his computer and Harvey bites the inside of his cheek, not sure what to expect and if he really wants to be here now that he knows this.
"But it's not making any sense to me yet. Because I don't understand why this," Benjamin points at the screen. Harvey turns to look and swallows taking in the four-letter word. "Would make it unable to respond," Benjamin reasons now.
Harvey swallows again. Looking away from the computer screen.
"So maybe," Benjamin turns to face the lawyer again. "If you could tell me what you actually said before it froze up. I might be able to figure out how to get it up and running again."
Frantically typing away, she finishes some emails that gathered over the weekend. She senses his presence then, but she doesn't look up or even glance in his direction. Her focus remaining on his calendar. It's only when she hears his footsteps coming to a halt and the sound of something being placed on the edge of her cubicle that she looks up. Her eyes meeting his for a moment. He gives her a small smile, pushing the cup of coffee he brought for her towards her.
"Coffee," he simply states.
She crooks her head, her gaze narrowing in on him for a moment. She gets up from her chair. "Why?" she whispers, her eyes locking with his once more.
"A thank you," Harvey answers with a smile. A chuckle escaping his lips then. "And an apology," he adds. "You were right."
She smiles softly now, breaking his gaze. Her hand snatching onto the cup. Taking one sip, her heart skipping a beat when she tastes the vanilla in it and she licks the remaining droplet from her lip before she looks back up again. "You have to be more specific," she smirks now. "About what?"
His lips twitch at her remark and he can't help but think about how The Donna would have given him the exact same banter as response. "Everything," he replies, his lips settling in a soft smile. She nods quietly, giving him a small smile in return. "I pulled Mike's deal and settled the case."
She swallows now, placing the cup of coffee back on her desk and she instantly tries to read his face. "Harvey, I'm sorry," she mumbles, on one hand happy he listened to her. On the other she does feel for the kid and knows why he planned it.
He shakes his head. "Mike agreed, it was too big a risk."
She nods in understanding. "You'll find another way with this reading the law thing."
His brows draw together and he tilts his head in surprise. "You knew about that?"
"I'm Donna –"
"I know," he answers with a laugh. His mouth closing again, he just looks at her for a second and they share a smile. "But yeah," he continues. "We'll get him into the bar someday."
She smiles at his words. Her gaze remaining directed on him when she speaks again. "I'm sorry about what I said."
He shakes his head. "You were right to say it," he counters. "See it as your last hurrah," he offers and she smiles softly once more. He lets out breath, letting go of his own coffee cup. He finally reaches for the letter from the inner pocket of his jacket.
"This is for you" he smiles, handing the piece of paper over. He watches her slowly unfold the letter. "I know it's short notice," he adds before she can comment or even fully take in the content. "But it was the only way to get all these investors in the room."
"Harvey," she whispers, looking back up at him again.
"I want you to be happy," he answers, offering her a genuine smile. "And if this is what you want to be doing, don't not do this because of me."
She looks at the letter on her desk in front of her again. Biting her lip, she can barely believe this is actually happening. Her fingers tracing the edge of the paper, she lifts her gaze to his office again. A smile forming on her face once more. He isn't even looking at her, but the fact that he did this for her after everything they'd been through the past week making her happy.
Letting out a breath she didn't know she was holding, her gaze drops to the letter again. Scanning the content again, she smiles at the names mentioned. From Jonathan Sidwell, Tony Gianopoulos to Holly Cromwell. She can barely believe they're going to have to present The Donna to all these possible investors tomorrow.
Repeating the date in her head makes her wake up from her daydream again. She quickly pushes herself back on her feet, her hand gripping onto the letter she makes her way over to the IT department. With a skip in her step, she reaches the younger man's office. "Look what I got," she chirps, holding up the piece of paper before she drops it on his desk.
Benjamin reaches for the letter, quickly scanning it. "How?" he mutters confused. "And tomorrow already?"
"Harvey," Donna smiles proudly. Letting her hands rest on Benjamin's desk. "And I know it's soon, but if we work on the presentation all day today. We could do this," she adds confidently, tapping the letter in Benjamin's hand.
"God that man," the IT guy mumbles, trying to wrap his brain around everything that happened in the last week.
"What?" Donna frowns now.
"Nothing," Benjamin shakes his head. Placing the paper down. "I'm just glad I got it to work again, but he could have –"
"Got it to work again?" she repeats. Her words making Benjamin look up at her and he swallows then, realising he had made a mistake in letting that slide. "Benjamin what's going on?" she asks now.
The younger man bites his tongue. Weighing his options, he had promised the lawyer he wouldn't say anything, but the look the redhead is giving him now might be even more frightening and if he really wants her involved in this business, he should keep her in the loop on what's going on. "Mr. Specter brought it back, because he thought he broke it."
"Broke it?" she echoes, a soft chuckle escaping her lips at the absurdity of that line, but she can see in the look on the wonder boy's face that he's serious. "Broke it," she mumbles again now. "How?"
"I…" Benjamin stutters, looking away.
"Benjamin," she urges again.
He lets out a breath, giving in. "It stopped responding," he starts looking up at the redhead again. "Because it didn't know how to respond," he answers, seeing Donna's face starting to fall into frown. Indicating his answer isn't clearing that much up. He reaches for a folder and hands it over to her. Not being able to tell her what the exact reason for that reaction was and it wasn't his place to tell her either.
She's confused now and her breath already hitches in anticipation of what is to come. Benjamin acting far too secretive and suspicious for her liking and the fact that it included Harvey doesn't make her calm down either. She takes a deep breath, flipping the folder open at once. Figuring it's best to just get it over with, like ripping of a Band-Aid, her eyes immediately starting to scan the document.
TUES - 2:14 PM (SUB1) But it's me [pause] I'm not weird
TUES - 2:14 PM (SYST) That's right. Nothing weird about me
TUES - 2:14 PM (SUB2) Yeah right [sighing] It's just [pause] I'm outnumbered now. There's two of you
TUES - 2:15 PM (SYST) Twice as awesome
Her lips curl up slightly, recognising the wording and who said it. She realises the document is a transcript of what happened that day. She just didn't know the little device recorded as well and it makes her a little uncomfortable. "It records?" she comments now, glancing at Benjamin.
"In order for The Donna to learn how to be more human, have your compassion, your intuition, your heart… The algorithm needs –"
"Yeah. Yeah," she mutters, dismissing his explanation with a wave of her hand. Her focus already back on the paper in front of her. Benjamin just hums, his gaze narrowing in on the redhead and everything he suspected before becoming more clear with every moment he spends with either of them.
She flips over the first page. It feeling a bit weird to read everything Harvey said to the device, but so far it wasn't anything out of the ordinary and The Donna had definitely answered the way she would have on most occasions, except for maybe the way The Donna brought up his mother. Personally she would have been a bit more careful on that subject, but she's pleasantly surprised with his seemingly calm answer and it reminds her once more of how much he's grown.
TUES - 7:11 PM (UNKN) [Music - Jazz]
TUES - 7:11 PM (SYST) I love this song
TUES - 7:12 PM (SUB2) Me too [laughing]
TUES - 7:12 PM (SYST) What's so funny
TUES - 7:12 PM (SUB2) Nothing. It's just [pause] Your comments are generally so on point with how Donna could answer. For a moment I forgot I was talking to a machine instead of her.
TUES - 7:13 PM (SYST) So you like talking to me. I mean her.
TUES - 7:13 PM (SUB2) I thought you knew everything
TUES - 7:13 PM (SYST) I'll take that as a yes
TUES - 7:14 PM (SUB2) I do
Her lips twitch a little and she shifts her weight on her other leg. Her heart rate increasing and her breathing becoming heavier with every line she reads. The transcription soon making place for handwritten notes and she recognises his handwriting in an instant. Her eyes skimming over the page faster now, the questions not read out loud anymore and a gasp escapes her lips when she reaches the end.
Her head bobs up and wide eyed she looks at the IT guy, who doesn't know how to respond in any other way then to press his lips into a thin smile. "Right…" she mumbles, swallowing once. Her hands shaking a little, she quickly closes the folder again and holds onto it tightly. "I uhm…" she tries again, not knowing what to say or look.
She redirects her gaze on the folder for a moment, before she looks back up at the computers outside Benjamin's office again. Her hand now just signalling the door. "Work… presentation," she adds stuttering, her feet carrying her out of the younger man's office again, she barely makes it to the elevator. Pressing the button of the fiftieth floor, she opens the folder one more time. Just to make sure she actually read it correctly.
He spots her ginger locks in the distance and his concentration fades away right after. Slowly rolling his chair a little to the right, he adjust his position a little. His hands clinging onto some papers he isn't even sure what they're about. He pretends to be deep in thought, but his gaze follows her from the corner of his eye.
He notices the slightly hurried pace in her step. The way she fidgets with the mysterious folder in her hand and he also notices how something has thrown her off her game cause there isn't one glance in the direction of his office altogether. Instead she quickly sits down, her gaze remaining on whatever it was she was holding and he now notices how she takes on deep breath before seemingly hiding the file in the top drawer of her desk.
He waits a few seconds, finally directing his gaze back to the papers in hand. He skims over the first paragraph, trying to make sense out of it when he remembers he wasn't even working on this file. Letting out a sigh he drops the file back on his desk and he lifts himself from his desk chair. Quietly walking over to her cubicle.
His hand landing on the glass edge, he crooks his head when she doesn't turn around at his mere presence. "Okay," he starts. "What's going on?"
She freezes on the spot at the sudden appearance of his voice and when she slowly turns her chair around she curses herself for missing how he walked over in the first place. "What?"
"What's so special about that folder that it got you all flustered?"
Her eyebrows rise again. "Nothing," she shakes her head. "There's no f…" she swallows in the word folder, knowing that if she denies the existence all together he'll probably ask her more questions. "There's nothing special," she corrects herself, faking a confident smile. "And I don't do flustered."
He lets out a breath, his gaze narrowing in on her. There's something suspicious about her behaviour and he can't figure out what it is exactly. "You're acting weird," he comments making a funny face, before he pats the edge his hand was resting on twice, ready to make his way back to his office.
"No I'm not."
He turns around on his heel again, looking at her again. "Yes, you are," he contradicts her words, now stepping inside his office again. Shaking his head for a moment, he lets out a breath. He walks around his desk, slowly letting himself fall back on his chair. He watches her for one last moment before he focusses on his laptop again.
This time she makes sure he's not looking and that's she's turned away from his vision when she lets out a breath she didn't know she was holding. Her heart still beating in a rapid tempo, her mind on overdrive at the same rate. All she can think about is his behaviour just now, the things she read in that folder and suddenly everything falls into place.
From him making amends with his mother, the way he asked for her help with the picture later. The way he has been lingering around her desk. The return of their banter and his calm and supportive response to her mentioning maybe wanting to change what she's doing. Him even pushing her to make that happen to now him showing his observant behaviour and back to that last line she read in his head writing.
She paces through the conference room that morning, adding the finishing touch to the presentation she had worked on all day yesterday and a large part of the night. She would have done it faster if it wasn't for the bombshell that dropped in the form of her finally connecting the dots. She could barely believe she hadn't noticed all this before and now that she did, saying she efficiently managed her time to work on this presentation would be the understatement of the year.
Being aware doesn't necessarily equal knowing what do next. If she should say something or do something or if she was going to wait and see where all this would lead. Maybe it had been for the best, that she had this important presentation to focus on, this and another hundred likewise thoughts on the same subject that would have driven her insane if she let herself really think about it.
She looks up at the wall again, smiling softly when the screen turns on and the first slide of the presentation is shown. She lets out a breath and looks to her left, nodding at Benjamin once who smiles at her in return. "Ooh the flyers," she comments then, reaching for the stack of paper next to the man's laptop. She quickly turns around, walking her way around the conference table. Placing a flyer in front of every chair.
Benjamin looks up from his laptop again. His gaze following his business partner for a moment. The way she places each piece of paper down with utmost precision, but he also notices she's acting a little more on edge than usual and he's pretty sure it has something to do with the file he gave her the day before. His suspicions only confirmed when he spots the lawyer in question walk into the room and the way the redhead freezes on the spot when the man gets closer.
"For you," Harvey comments with a smile, handing the redhead a cup of coffee. The lawyer now senses the other man in the room and his gaze switches to Benjamin for a moment when he realises he only brought one cup with him. "I'd… Have brought one if I'd known you were here," he mutters, it's a lie covering up his intentions and both men know it.
Donna frowns. Her gaze moving from Harvey to Benjamin and back to Harvey, she wonders for a moment how the latter couldn't have figured out Benjamin would be there for the presentation, but at the same time his gesture makes her stomach flutter, knowing he was thinking about her.
Benjamin senses the tension in the room. "I don't drink coffee," he lies, breaking the tension. He picks up his laptop and moves to the other side of the room where they set up the rest of the presentation, but mostly he figures he should give these two some space.
Donna turns around to face Harvey again, her lips twitching. She suddenly feels like she doesn't know what to do with her mouth. Her lips can't help but fall into a smile and the way he's looking at her makes a blush creep up on her cheeks. "Hey," she whispers, briefly looking at the cup in her hands. "Thanks."
He notices there's something different in her response and he smiles in return. "You ready?"
She nods at his question, her eyes locking with his again. "Yeah, I think I am," she answers.
"Good," he whispers. His tone so soft and genuine that her heart skips another beat. She repeats the one word answer with more confidence than she knew she had in her and she can't help but feel this little exchange is about more than just the upcoming presentation.
A small group of potential investors step into the room and he steps aside to stand beside the redhead. His shoulder bumping into hers in the process, she briefly glances at him from the corner of her eye before she introduces herself to the woman. He watches her in awe as she takes reigns of the situation immediately. Extending his hand, he greets the potential investors too when Donna introduces him, followed by sending the four people over to Benjamin.
She turns around to face him again, swallowing once when he's closer than she expected him to be. She just looks at him, waiting for whatever it is he was he was going to say to her. Her stomach starting to flutter when she notices his gaze drift over her face, but the moment is interrupted once more. This time by his phone.
Letting out a sigh, he pulls out his phone wanting to silence it, but doesn't when he sees the person's name on the caller ID. His gaze meeting hers for a moment, she nods. "Take it."
"I'm sorry," he apologizes. His left hand brushing over her side as he steps aside to take this phone call outside. She tenses up, a warmth spreading through her body and her mouth drops just a little. "Donna," he presses his phone between his head and shoulder, he stalls in the door opening. Looking at her again.
"We're having dinner tonight to celebrate this success," he signals the room with a smirk, before he finally steps outside. She can just hear him mention the other managing partner's name, before the glass partition prevents her from hearing the rest and it's only then that she allows herself to gasp for air.
He ends the phone call with Louis as soon as possible and makes his way back into the conference room just when the presentation is about to start. He silently moves through the back of the room, sitting down on the windowsill in the corner. He watches her greet everyone in the room and she seems a little bit more nervous than he predicted her to be.
When her gaze lands on him at last she stands a little taller as if she wasn't sure he'd actually be there. It's such a small motion only he would notice and he winks at her in return. A silent 'I believe in you' shared between them with an added smile, all the while she continues her speech. Finally breaking his gaze when she needs to signal at the screen behind her.
He crooks his head, just watching her take control of the situation more and more with every word she pronounces and he can't help but feel incredibly proud. He's watched her sweep the audience of their feet numerous of times. From a speech at a birthday, to her lecturing him when he had done something stupid and that was more often than he'd like to admit.
He has seen her completely take over a mock trial when she had had to play a witness for the associates. He has seen her in every play she ever starred in since the moment she started working for him and every standing ovation she got was more than deserved.
He has always thought she was extraordinary at working a crowd, most times on his behalf. But there's something about the way she moves through the room and gets every single one of the investors he managed to get into the room to nod, that makes him grin.
He has never been so in awe and he realises there and then. The thoughts he had been toying with for a while and that the questions he had been asking himself all come down to one thing. That he is, maybe deep down always has been, but certainly always will be, completely and truly in love with her.
Suddenly he can hear the words his father told him nearly two decades ago and he can only agree with the statement. He knows. A soft chuckle escapes his when he realises it's the thing the one for him always said, 'I know.'
Her eyes flicker up instantly and a part of her wonders what she said that he thought was funny and if the other people in the room will think this too, but when her eyes lock with his and he simply smiles in return. All her worries fade away again.
She thanks the last woman for her presence. Turning around to face Benjamin again, they both grin for a moment. He thanks her for taking the lead on the presentation and she brushes it off as nothing, telling him he did all the hard work in the first place by making the machine. "Thank you, Donna," Benjamin nods again, closing his laptop before he also leaves the room.
She watches Benjamin walk away. Letting out a breath she didn't know she was holding when she turns around again and she can't help but smile. She notices then that he's still there, sitting in the corner on the windowsill, proudly watching her. "How do you think it went?"
He pushes himself back on his feet. "You were amazing," he answers, walking around the table towards her. She blushes at his words and looks down, reaching for some left over flyers. "They loved it," he continues stepping closer. "They loved you." She swallows, her eyes meeting his again and he notices a hint of uncertainty about the presentation in her eyes. "Really," he adds with a nod, making her lips curl up into a smile now.
"Guess we'll know for sure when someone confirms they want to invest," she answers, finishing pulling the papers back together.
"They will," he reassures her. "And I will."
"What?" she mumbles, dropping the stack on the table. She looks at him again, her head already slowly starting to shake no. "Harvey you don't have to do that," she objects.
"I know," he reasons, a soft laugh escaping his lips. She should know by now that he'd do anything for her and not because he feels obliged to do so, but because he wants to. "But I want to," he vocalises his thoughts. "And I need you to let me invest in this."
She crooks her head, taking in his expression. She can already see he's serious. "Need?" she whispers regardless.
"Need," he nods. Smirking at how this little act they've done over the years comes out again. "Donna," he continues, stepping closer. His hand briefly touching her elbow, just to make sure she's looking at him. "You've done so much for me all these years. Let me do this one thing for you."
"So you really think it can become a success?"
"I do," he answers sincere. "Hell, I want one," he adds, pointing at the presentation.
Her gaze follows his hand for a moment and she laughs taking in the picture of her holding The Donna in her hands and she's suddenly not entirely sure to which one he was referring. Shaking her head, she turns to face him again. "You already have me," she answers quietly.
He swallows and shakes his head once. "Donna, I don't ha –"
Both heads turn to face the door and she can hear him sigh. Such a simple sound never having made her feel as good as it did now with everything she has realised and gotten to know in the past days. However, she can't turn to face him again, because the voice that interrupted their moment belongs to one of the women that were at the presentation and she also sees Benjamin standing next to her.
"Holly Cromwell, right?" she asks stepping towards the woman, who nods and extends her hand again. "Hello," she adds with a smile. Her eyes briefly meeting his again, when he walks past them. Nodding once when she sees him mouth 'I'll be in my office' in her direction and she focusses on the possible investor again.
"Did that just happen?" Benjamin asks in shock right after the woman left again. "Did she really say she'd get back in touch with us as soon as possible?" he rephrases his question.
"Yes she did," Donna smiles at Benjamin. "Next thing you know, you'll be in Silicon Valley after all," she adds, giving the man a playful slap on his arm. "Told you, you could do this."
Benjamin beams in return. "Thank you, Donna." He looks down again at the little device in his hand, holding it up in front of the redhead. She crooks her head and raises an eyebrow. "It seems to develop and learn the most when you have it with you," he states then
Donna smiles, taking The Donna from his hand. "Maybe I can teach it another thing or two," she answers. "Make sure it doesn't go into shock again," she adds and Benjamin nods at her. He doesn't comment on the subject, knowing it's not his place to do so. He just shows her a smile, as his way of encouragement before he leaves the redhead alone again.
Donna lets out another breath, looking down at the little black box in her hands and she can't help but smile. Taking one last breath, she turns on her heel. Her head slowly lifting again. She takes in his office from the distance, her stomach flutters again and her feet carry her to his office.
His head bobs up the second he registers the sound of her heels clicking on the floor. His gaze locking with hers, and he can't help but just look at her in awe. A strange sensation in the pit of his stomach, something he's always denied the existence off, now making him hyperaware of every move she makes. How her hair bounces of her shoulders, how her eyes seem to sparkle and the smile gracing her lips.
She feels her heart rate increasing and suddenly she feels like her thirteen year younger self on the night she met him. Fully aware of what she came to say, but his smile still knocks her off her feet and she has no clue how to do this now. What to say.
She has known the man across the room for almost a third of her life, she knows his every more. Every expression and yet she has never felt so nervous as right now in this moment. Feeling a blush creep up on her cheeks, she looks down for a moment. His phone catching her eye, she mumbles something else instead to break the silence. "What did Louis want?"
He shakes his head for a moment, her words not what he expected and he isn't even sure what he expected in the first place. He opens his mouth to comment, she signals his phone now and he's suddenly reminded of how the other man called him. "He uhm…" Harvey looks back up again. "He wanted to wish you good luck, but you didn't answer your phone, so," he crooks his head looking at her again.
He realises then in all the haste and excitement around her project he hadn't even told her about his decision yet. "And," he continues, turning his chair a little. "He wanted to make sure the business cards I had them deliver to his place weren't a joke."
Donna looks at him in surprise. "You –"
"I told him he deserves to be managing partner," Harvey fills in her sentence. Producing a smile on his face to show her he really is okay with his decision. "He's better suited for the job."
"Wow," Donna stutters. "Harvey, I don't know what to say."
"That's okay Donna. It happens to the best of us, myself included."
His gaze drops to her hands when the robotic version of her voice he hasn't heard in days echoes through the room and the red flashing light confirms his suspicions. "It works again?" he mumbles, not even realising he's breaking the promise he made with Benjamin, his eyes flicker up to Donna's again who nods.
"Yeah," she whispers taking a step towards his desk. "Apparently The Donna is far more similar to me than I imagined upfront," she tells him, her lips twitching a little. She places the little device on his glass desk, she also notices her words aren't much of an explanation as he still stares at her. "Turns out The Donna froze up because it didn't know how to answer your question," she clarifies now, "just like I would have."
He swallows. His gaze shifting to the device on his desk for a moment. "You heard?" he asks then, glancing back up at her and she simply nods at his question.
"Look Donna," he continues, pushing his chair back. He gets up on his feet and walks around his desk, stopping right in front of her. "I... I get if you don't want that. After everything we've been through. Or now with this," he pauses, signalling the device on his desk with his right hand for a moment.
"But I did mean it," he continues, turning back to face her. His hand brushing over her arm. "And no matter what you decide, you deserve to know how I feel…" he stalls again. "What?" he whispers now, in the middle of his speech when he sees her lips twitch into a smile and her eyes sparkle.
"You're holding me," she whispers. For any other two people it would be a random comment in the midst of his speech, but his touch is driving her insane and after years going without any form of physical contact at all, it means just as much as his words.
"Ooh," he mumbles almost in surprise. His gaze drops to his hand on her arm for a second as if he really needed to check if he was indeed, as she said, holding her, but he doesn't let go of her either. "I'm –"
"Don't," she whispers before he can finish his sentence and accordingly pull his hand back. Her own right hand now landing on his chest, her fingers stretching out over his suit jacket. He swallows, feeling his heartrate increase and his breathing slowing down. His gaze moves to her hand and finally back up at her, making their eyes lock once more. Both sporting the same grin on their lips, before she asks: "What were you saying?"
He chuckles softly. "Right," he mumbles now, his gaze dropping to her lips and his hand trails down her arm, his fingers moving over her pulse point. "What I was… uhm… Just that… I'm in love with you," he tells her looking her in the eye again. His lips twitching a little at slight gasp in her reaction even though he's sure she must have known what was coming. But it's the way she didn't break out of his embrace, the way her hand rests right above his heart and the way she bites her lip after that, that makes him surer of the words to follow than he ever thought to be. "And… I think you might love me too."
"Not might," she whispers in return, her fingers curling around the lapel of suit. His smiles brightly in return, taking her in his arms and if she thought she had ever seen a sparkle in his eyes, it's nothing compared to this moment. He absentmindedly wets his lips, she notices his gaze dropping to her mouth again and she wants nothing more than to be kissed by him right now, but there's one thing she's been meaning to ask and needs to know first.
"Harvey," she mumbles while she still can, the index finger of her left hand pressing against his lips. An action she regrets instantly when a jolt rushes down her body. "Is that why you want to invest, because you think I wouldn't wave my rule for you."
He swallows, knowing exactly what she's referring to. He shakes his head. "No," he whispers. "It's not about that," he answers truthfully. "It's about you," he adds before she can question his statement. "I just want to support you and be there for you. With whatever you decide," he adds.
"I love... I love us working together, but it's not everything I want," he explains. "I understand now that if we were to be together and you'd want to separate those two things, that that doesn't mean you're leaving me. Like I always thought it would mean…" he pauses his sentence when he notices her smile and he can already see her answer in her eyes.
Her left hand slides over his chest. "I'd still need to think about it," she whispers, vocalising it.
He nods. "I know, but I just want you," he whispers, drawing her closer with his hand on her side. His gaze locking with hers again, she swallows and smiles.
"Harvey, just kiss –"
The rest of her words left unspoken when his right hand cups her face, his lips brushing against hers. She clings onto his jacket and she kisses him back. It starts out soft, gentle, and completely different from their first kiss during the other time, but soon his hand on her side moves to the small of her back, bringing her even closer and her arms slide around his neck when he tilts his head just a little. His lips tucking on her bottom lip before he deepens the kiss and she nearly moans against his mouth.
He tastes like scotch and she tastes like coffee, his cologne makes her knees even weaker than she imagined possible and combined with the vanilla flavoured scent of her shampoo it ties every single bit of history between them together in one moment. A kiss twelve years in the making, finally showing both of them how much love there truly exists between them.
They only break apart when in need of air. Gasping, he lets his head rest against hers. Staring into her hazel eyes, he brings a strand of her auburn locks behind her ear and his fingers play with the locks as his hand moves down her neck in a soft caress. Both of them smiling again.
"You still want to get dinner?"
She bites her bottom lip and shakes her head at his remark, both already fully aware that there's a time for dinner but that time isn't tonight. "I want breakfast," she counters then, briefly raising one eyebrow at him.
He smirks in return. "I like the way you think," he answers, pressing his lips against hers again.
"Ooh just get a room you two."
He stirs around when an unfamiliar sound echoes through the room and he lets out a groan, his grip on the warm body right next to him only becoming tighter. He doesn't want to fully wake up, he doesn't want this perfect moment of holding the woman he loves in his arms to end, but he hears her whisper his name.
"Let it go," he mumbles, his breath warm in her neck and she grins a little, but it's already long after their usual business day starts and she should really answer her phone. Shifting a little, his grip finally loosens a bit and she stretches her arm to reach for her phone.
He peels open one eye, already planning to sue whomever it is that has the audacity to ruin their first morning together. He turns over on his back, blinking twice when he watches her sit up and coincidentally pulls the sheets with her, exposing his torso to the slightly less comfortable temperature of her room.
"Harvey Specter's office. How may I help you?"
He grins at the words leaving her lips when she answers the phone matched with the location they're in and he decides there and then that he would happily move his office to her bedroom if she let him. He also knows she won't, but it doesn't matter. His gaze moves to her bare back and it follows the line of her spine for a moment. Taking in all the freckles on her porcelain skin he kissed last night and all the ones he still missed.
Smiling at his own thoughts, he pushes himself up too. Shifting a little, he now sits behind her. His right hand moving over her side she shivers a little at his touch, but continues her phone call none the less. He uses his other hand to pull her hair aside and his lips place feather light kisses from her shoulder to her neck, over her jaw to her earlobe where he whispers her name.
She squirms a little on her spot and looks over her shoulder in his direction. Wanting to give him a warning look, but the second her eyes meet his all is forgotten again. She hums again, agreeing to what the person on the other end of the line was saying. She shakes her head at him, pressing the index finger of her free hand against his lips. Inaudibly mouthing his name as warning.
He smirks, pressing a kiss against her finger and he sneaks his other arm around her waist. Holding her close, he returns to placing kisses in her neck. Hoping it will make her end that phone call soon. "That is perfect," she answers, her shoulder nudging his chest when she can feel him grin against her skin. "Yes I'll get back to you. Thank you," she adds before ending the call.
"Finally," he groans, prying the phone from her hand, he tosses it to the other end her bed. He quickly lays her back down on the matrass, turning over himself to lean on his side next to her. His hand sliding over her stomach and his knee moves between hers, he kisses her collarbone. Fully aware there's no point in really kissing her, because she's going to want to tell him what that was about first anyway.
"That was Holly Cromwell from the meeting yesterday," she states and he chuckles against her neck. He was right. He looks back up then. "She wants to invest," Donna beams.
He smiles. Bringing himself closer, finally covering her lips with his in a quick kiss. "Told you," he smirks, his eyes locking with hers again. "But in the future you should let your attorney handle these calls."
He grins now, his hand softly squeezing her side. "You didn't you'd be getting rid of me so easily now, did you?"
She smiles, shaking her head. She could never get rid of him, not even if she wanted to, but she also knows what he meant with those words. "I haven't made my decision yet," she reminds him again. "I mean… I know I want to do something more, but I don't know if this The Donna thing is what I want to be doing for the rest of my life."
He nods in understanding, his lips curling up in a smirk at his thoughts. "I know something you should be doing for the rest of your life, though," he counters, placing another kiss in her neck and she giggles, wrapping her arms around his neck, his name on the tip of her tongue. He looks at her again before she can pronounce it. "We'll make it work, Donna."
A/N: Thank you so much for reading. I hope you liked it and I'd LOVE to hear your thoughts.. I'm pretty sure the show will be different (because Machel's wedding and the bar thing.. but I didn't want to bring all that up in this fic). I do believe The Donna is what's going to make Donna question about what she wants from life, both professionally and personally and how that might make her think about leaving Harvey as a secretary and how that should hopefully spark something in Harvey (now that he knows about her project) and that he's going to make a move..or tell her that work is one thing, and they're another and that he'll support her. *FINGERS CROSSED* .. IM SO EXCITED FOR THE NEXT TWO EPISODES.. xx