Hello everyone, just in time for the midseason finale. I actually did something I said I wouldn't do, write about this season.. but making theories with Cece and Ana helped me so much these last couple of weeks and a couple of days ago Cece and I were talking about the promo for tonight's episode and Mike's role in things.. and that inspired this way way way too long one shot. So this is, I guess, my take on 710.. I do hope you enjoy and have fun/stay strong watching tonight. (also i didn't have to time to really go over this and edit, so I apologise for any mistakes).. x - M
She never imagined having to let go of the love of her life and he swore to never use those words again.
Look what you made me do.
The young lawyer stares out of the window into the Manhattan skyline, lighting from the nearby windows reflecting in the glass as he waits for his boss.
"Don't tell me you still want me to give up," Harvey starts as he strides down the office. "Because even if I wanted to -"
Mike shakes his head, turning around to look at the other man. "That's not what I'm here to say," he interrupts the older man. He shuffles on his place, continues his explanation when he catches a glimpse of confusion on Harvey's face as to what he's doing here then. "We need to figure out what case he's talking about."
A soft scoff escapes his lips during the last two steps, now coming to a halt himself. "I know what case," Harvey answers, a hint of mocking almost clear in his tone of voice. As if he wouldn't know. "He worked in the D.A.'s office ten years, he's talking about Clifford Danner."
"Harvey, that doesn't make any sense," Mike counters, pushing himself on his feet. "You didn't suppress that evidence. Cameron Dennis did."
"Malik doesn't give a shit about that." He shakes his head once. "I was the prosecuting attorney," he continues pointing at himself with both hands. "I should've known what was happening with my own case, which means we're screwed."
"Unless what?" Harvey inquires in a beat, brows knitted together as he wonders what the other man is referring to.
"Unless we can get Cameron Dennis to admit that he buried the evidence and that you didn't know about it."
"Mike," he speaks, immediately crushing the younger man's suggestion. "There's no way Cameron's going to admit to that." He pauses now, gaze drifting off to the view outside for a moment as an idea pops into his mind. "Wait a second," he mumbles now.
"There's also no way he'd set me up for something I didn't do," he vocalises his realisation. Instantly moving on to the new problem at hand. "Which means we need to figure out how Malik's going to make it look like I suppressed that evidence."
"He's going to subpoena the one other person who was there when you put Clifford Danner away."
Donna's voice echoes through the room and he twists on his spot after just the first words delivered by the redhead. He turns to face the COO, dressed in black, the file in her hand only confirming her statement.
His right foot moves backwards, weight shifting from one leg to the other. His frame tense, his head crooks as he takes her in, lips pressed together in a thin line. "No." The one-word answer leaves his lips in a soft tone, a near sigh, with shake of his head.
Mike lets out a breath, placing his hands in the pocket of his suit pants, he looks down. Bites his tongue as it's not his place to comment.
"Yes," she rebuts, gaze drifting off to the younger man in the back of the office. "He's calling me to the stand in two days."
Mike looks up at the exact moment that another sigh leaves Harvey's lips. The younger man's focus moving from his boss to the redhead, while Harvey's shoulders drop almost in defeat already and his eyes fall shut in the same moment. Harvey slowly turns his head away from her when Mike speaks.
"Then we need to get you prepared."
Harvey shakes his head again, jaw clenching further as he turns to face Mike. Already having an idea of what the junior partner is about to suggest.
"And we need to do it in front of an audience."
"You're talking about a mock trial?" Harvey counters, just to make sure the other man meant indeed the one thing he didn't want to hear and despite the words being phrased as a question, he doesn't await his answer. "No way, I'm not putting Donna through that."
"Harvey," she speaks, immediately catching his attention once more. " Mike's right," she adds, siding with the junior partner. "But you're not the one who has to put me through it, it has to be Louis."
"Donna." He pronounces her name in that tone of voice he only reserves[ for her. Now turning on his spot he takes a few steps towards her. "You know what happened last time Louis did that," he reminds her. His eyes widening as he takes her in, wondering if she's replaying the same memories in her mind as are flashing by in front of his eyes. And even when he tries his very best not to think about it, he can still see her sitting there in the library. Clad in a tight blue dress, one leg crossed over the other. Purse stuffed on the side of the chair, hands protectively folded over her knees.
The expression on her face growing more flustered with every question Louis threw in her direction. Or more specifically, that one single question the other lawyer repeated over and over again, but he doesn't allow his mind to go there and the can of worms it ripped open. Deep down he, and maybe everyone else, knows it wasn't just the case against liberty rail last year but that exact moment that things between the lawyer and the redhead shifted again.
"Yes, I do," she answers. 'How could you not,' the words Rachel would use later that night. They're true for the redhead too. It's not a day she often thinks about, in fact it's one she actively tried to forget but with the brief return of Mark in her life, that being something entirely of her own doing but ever since she declined his indecent proposal the memory to this day inevitably returned. In particular two questions:
He asked you to choose between him and Harvey, didn't he?
Do you love Harvey Specter?
She couldn't at the time but she can now without a doubt answer both questions with the same three letter word.
Yes, he did ask her to choose. Yes, she chose. And yes, she does love Harvey Specter. It's the truth, as hard as that might be to swallow given the circumstances they find themselves in. Or rather, the circumstances she finds herself in. Being in love with the managing partner, her former boss. The man she once called her best friend but almost grew estranged from in the blink of an eye compared to the years behind them. The hardest thing being the fact that he found himself a 'more' she didn't even realise she wanted with him before she found out that wasn't even an option.
"He was brutal," she admits, referring to Louis coming after her during the last mock trial. Something she hated at the time, she understands what made him do that. She understands it's what's needed this time around as well, because truth is: "Which is exactly what Andy Malik's going to be."
He catches himself gasp, instantly pressing his lips together in a thin line and swallowing to cover that motion. He knows her statement is true, wishes it wasn't though because he doesn't want her to go through this again. Isn't sure he is able to see her go through that again.
"So either you can tell Louis or I will," she presents it as an option, but it really isn't. "But either way, it has got to be him."
"Donna, even if I said yes," he talks as if it's his call but it isn't. Not entirely. It's just his case, his ass on the line and the woman in front of him being put through the ringer for it, in the end it's just as much her call if not more and deep down he knows it, but it's his instinct to protect her. Words like these slipping out all too easily. He changes the direction of his sentence then, making it about the man she asks to be a part of this. "Last time Louis did that, it made him sick. He's not going to want to do that again."
She swallows at those words. She may have never seen the initial reaction of the man they're talking about but she knows their friend well enough to understand that what Harvey is telling her is the truth. She scolds herself then for wondering, just a fraction of a second, if that's the only reason he's opposed to this, but she doesn't dwell on the thought. Focuses on the case instead and catches herself being relieved when the other man in the room finally speaks up again.
"He won't want to. But he will."
They make their way down to the lobby together, just having missed Louis on the fiftieth floor. The ride in the elevator quiet, neither brings up the 'either you tell him or I.' It wasn't a suggestion, words more a formality, both knowing it would be a 'we tell him.'
They've always been a team, even in the hardest of times. She still had his back when she moved to Louis' desk and the only real moments she questioned his actions were right after he proclaimed himself managing partner. She briefly wondered if that had been because of her move from his desk to her own office but when he'd smiled and brushed it off as if the panic attacks he never told her about but she knew he had never happened in the first place, she categorised it as him wanting to put his mark on the firm and told herself not to question it again.
She realises now as he stands next to her that maybe her questioning his actions, not blindly picking his side and sticking up for herself may have been a result of him not being on her team either. Or maybe not as much as she'd liked. She never expected him to make her partner, that not the position she was after, but she hadn't expected that change to come with the increase in distance between them in the capacity it came with. She figures it wasn't just work keeping them apart but his focus being on another woman.
Their bond is slowly returning though. It's not the same as it once was and she doesn't think it will ever be the same. Or come even close to that but she's glad that when it comes down to situations as the one they find themselves in now, they are still a team. She tells herself they can count on each other when it matters, but pushes away the words she once told their current opponent. Working hard isn't the only thing that matters in life.
"Louis, wait," he calls after the other name partner when they round the corner.
The name partner stalls the slightest at Harvey's voice reverberating through the room, he doesn't turn around though. His reply pronounced as he keeps making his way down to the door. " Whatever it is, guys, I can deal with it tomorrow. It's been an emotional day."
"Unfortunately, it's not over yet," she answers taking the lead in the conversation. They didn't discuss how to bring the news to Louis and she can feel his gaze falling on her face. Knows it's not to question her, but to tell her to continue. That he's accepting the direction Mike suggested. "I've been subpoenaed by the Attorney General's office."
Louis turns around now, arm swinging along his body as he eyes the duo. "What are you talking about?" he asks. "You have nothing to do with Harvey's case."
"She doesn't," Harvey confirms. "But he wants to use her to prove that I've suppressed evidence before and I'm doing it again."
"Did you?" The question asked in a beat, may be an old habit of questioning the other man's actions, hoping to find a fault in something. It's more about his friend this time, the woman becoming part of the other man's problems again.
"Louis," she tries now, not even bothering to defend Harvey's statement against Louis. All three of them know he would never do that and the question itself was only a formality. "He is going to question me about the Clifford Danner case and try to make it look like Harvey knew what was going on and so I must've too," she reasons. "You know what that means. I need you to prepare me."
"Uh-uh." Louis shakes his head. "I don't care. I can't."
"Louis," the managing partner calls out.
"No," Louis answers resolute. "Ask Alex to do it, ask Mike."
"It has to be you, you've done it before."
He sighs, doesn't like being reminded of that dreadful day. The look on Donna's face never forgotten, the outburst in the bathroom later neither. He promised himself he'd never do this again, not to his friend. Not to her. "Which is exactly why I don't want to do it again. I'm not doing that to Donna."
"Louis," Harvey tries again, deciding to now use the lawyer's own words against him. "Look, you told me you did what you did because Travis Tanner doesn't give a shit about Donna and he was going to come after her full bore. Well, this guy has at least as much of an axe to grind. And he worked with us in the D.A.'s office."
"Which means he knows more about us," Donna adds then. "And the only way to protect me is to prepare me for what's coming."
He swallows, gaze drifting back and forth between his friends, resting on the redhead again. "You are asking me to go personal again. And I won't do it."
"No. Louis," she answers, her voice softer now. "I am asking you to do whatever you have to do to protect me again. And I am telling you it's okay to do it."
Louis stares at Donna for a moment, not answering her. His gaze flickers to Harvey, a silent question the other man silently answers with a nod. "Okay," he gives in then facing Donna again. "But I'm not going to do anything until tomorrow. Because I need to do something first."
He takes a sip of his coffee, the hot beverage just not tasting the same as it usually does. His mind too occupied to even try to enjoy it. He rounds the reception, struts down the hallway of the fiftieth floor with firm steps. Every time his black leather shoes hit the flooring another thought crosses his mind and he's having a difficult time trying to prioritize them.
Who wrote the memo? How is he going to get out of these bullshit accusations? Is there a way to keep Donna out of this? Is there another way to get this case dropped? What is Malik going to ask her? Why did he agree to take on this case in the first place? How will she react to this all?
He stalls in front of his office then, back straightening in the movement and his jaw already clenches in anticipation of what's about to come. He pushes the glass door open, gaze not leaving the two lawyers in front of his desk and the faces they sport can only mean his already grumpy mood is about to get worse. "What?" he almost barks then.
"Where just here to help you, Harvey," Mike counters in a beat, not even remotely surprised by the mood he finds his boss in. In fact he even expected it, would be more worried if the other man seemed okay.
Louis steps forward, finally mixing into the conversation. He starts addressing why Mike and he were waiting for the managing partner this morning. "Last night, you and Donna asked me –"
"Louis I swear to God, if you back out now I will single handily –"
"Harvey," Mike exclaims now, shutting the managing partner's tirade down in an instant. "No one is backing out. Like I said, we're just here to help you. This whole thing is about saving you."
He tightens his jaw, swallowing once. Keeps the comments about how he could do all this by himself to himself, goes another direction instead. "Then find a way to put me on the stand instead of Donna. She shouldn't have to go through this."
"No, she shouldn't have to," Louis counters. "But you know just as well as I do, that that's the card Malik doesn't only have to play, but will play. She got subpoenaed, she has to get up there and the only way for us to have a chance is to prepare her. You know this."
He nods then, silently giving the other lawyers the permission to further explain their presence as he rounds his desk and places tosses the empty cardboard coffee cup in the trash can.
Louis sighs once, bites his tongue at the managing partner's behaviour but he's here because Donna asked him to do this. Something he never wanted to do in the first place let alone a second time, but he promised and for him to keep his promise to Donna her he'll endure Harvey's behaviour. "In order for me to prepare Donna as good as possible, I need you to tell me everything about this Malik guy you remember."
Harvey's eyes close and his shoulders slump, his head slowly shaking, he sighs. He didn't even remember the man a few days ago and yes he'd been trying to recall things from back in the day the last couple of days but he fears he isn't of that much help. "Well," he starts, now making his way to one of the chairs and sits down. "You already know he worked with us in the D.A.'s office for nearly three years."
Mike smiles softly at the way the managing partner speaks of 'us' when it comes down to Donna and him, that not being something new in itself but it fits his suspicions. "And he said you we're kissing Cameron Dennis ass, while he was putting real criminals away," Mike adds, remembering their first run in with the prosecutor earlier that week.
Harvey sighs, rolls his eyes. Wants to say he put away criminals too, but doesn't. "Jessica got me my position at the D.A.'s office, she said I needed to have trial experience before coming over to the firm."
Mike and Louis make their way over to the seating area as well, now just listening to the managing partner recite everything he remembers from the early days of his law-career. Mike notices how different the man's story is this time around, not necessarily the facts cause he never got to hear what those days had been like when they worked on getting Clifford Danner out of prison. But back in the day the lawyer had repeatedly held back, told them he wouldn't testify as Cameron Dennis was his mentor, this time however the information comes more willingly.
"When did you find out Cameron Dennis was tampering with evidence?"
He thinks about his answer, a few seconds longer than he actually has too. We put it out of our minds and we never mention it again. That's what she asked him, it's what he agreed to do. The latter he managed to do (besides the few times it came up in a conversation with her but he never told anyone) the former however an impossible task. Even in the last two months, where he tried more than to actively ignore that, he never forgot. It was the day they came up with the ritual. Not the can opener one, but the other one.
He swallows, turning back to look at the two other lawyers. "The day I made head litigator," he answers then, the memories that day, the case coming back now that he starts talking about it. "Cameron Dennis and I worked a case against two brothers. The uhm…" he pauses, trying to remember the name. "Something with a 'M'.. Mackenzie I think," he shakes his head, trying to clear his thoughts. "Either way Donna and I, we uhm… We were celebrating my promotion late at the office that night and Big Bertha. She uhm, she was another secretary at the D.A.'s office, she showed up and handed over a file she found in another case box. Turned out a piece of evidence got left out of discovery."
He continues explaining both men how conflicted he was at the time, about whether or not he had to disclose it to make it seem like it had always been there in the first place. How Cameron Dennis called him out on doing the latter and stating that if he'd wanted the evidence to be in the report he wouldn't have buried it in the first place, how Cameron had made him take it out. How Donna then discovered it wasn't just this one case, but that he'd done it before.
"I ended up writing an affidavit, stating that it was a mistake leaving out that piece of evidence and I handed in my resignation," Harvey concludes.
"And Donna?" Mike asks, noticing how the story the lawyer was telling was very business orientated and even though they needed the facts, they also needed to understand how Malik was going to make it look like Donna knew along.
His gaze flickers to the junior partner in a beat, thinks he sees a hint of recognition in the other man's expression. I know. He shifts on his chair, choses his next words with extra care. "I only found out she had left the D.A.'s office herself after I resigned."
Louis bobs his head up and down, taking in the information. "So let me see if I got this, Cameron Dennis was the one making evidence disappear. You accidentally found out, Donna later discovered it wasn't just this singular case you believed it to be. You both left the D.A.'s office and then you brought Donna here, right?"
He exhales once, biting the inside of his cheek. "Yeah, that's about it," he counters pushing himself out of his chair. "Look I can barely remember the guy coming after us now, maybe it's better if you just talk to Donna," he pauses looking out of his office for a moment. "Where is she?"
Mike looks down for a second, holding back another comment. "Donna said she needed to take care of something," he answers.
Harvey frowns now. A quizzical look forming on his face he stares at the junior partner. "Take care of what?"
"I don't know," Mike admits. "Either way we can sit here and waste our time thinking about what Donna might be doing, but you could also help us get a clearer picture of what Andy Malik might use against her."
She leans against the concrete column. The late summer air colder than a few weeks ago, but not chilly enough for her to need a coat. She pushes the palm of her hand over her Roland Mouret dress, a soft sigh escaping her lips as she patiently waits outside the building. She opens her purse now, reaching for her phone. She presses the home button once, taking in the time she contemplates whether it's worth waiting here any longer or if she should get back to the firm. It's in that exact moment that the woman she was looking for makes her way out of the door.
The brunette stalls at the sound of her name and looks up from the phone in her hand to see a familiar face making her way over to her.
"Holly Cromwell," Donna continues this time. "I don't know if you remember me, I'm –"
"Donna Paulsen," Holly answers, her lips tugging up into a smirk as she catches the redhead off-guard. She opens her purse now, dropping her phone inside the leather item. Letting it dangle it her hand for a moment. "Of course I remember, but I already turned down your job offer a few weeks ago and I'm not planning on coming over to Pearson Specter any time soon."
Donna chuckles at that. "Fair enough," she admits, "but I'm not trying to get you to join our firm."
"But you are here to ask me for a favour."
Donna nods now. "Yes, I am," she admits. "During our last meeting you told me you got everything Harvey needed to win his case in a day and," she pauses opening her bag again to pull out a blue manila folder. Handing the item over to the other woman. "I need you to do that again."
Holly looks down at the folder, flipping it open. She scans the document inside of it. "Elmont Investments?"
Donna bobs her head up and down in agreement, now pointing at the folder. "As you can see, the article speaks about a memo and the prosecutor we're up against is someone from our past. He made up a bullshit accusation of Harvey being the one to have gotten rid of the memo."
"Who's the prosecutor?"
"Was Donna always your secretary?"
He frowns, shakes his head. All the questions combined bringing up so many memories he has been trying to suppress that the entire deal starts feeling like the Spanish Inquisition. He can't even remember the last question. Was it 'Was she just your secretary?' Or the meaning of it, or the meaning his mind is bringing his thoughts. Opposed to what? She's never been just his secretary, not to him and now she was nothing. "What?" he mumbles then.
"Donna," Louis repeats. "When did she start working for you? Did you two always work together?"
He draws his bottom lip between his teeth, wonders if it's just him or if every single question can be interpreted in different ways. It certainly doesn't help bringing peace to the lawyer's mind. "No," he answers then turning around as shuffles his feet over the carpet on his place now.
Mike raises his eyebrows, crooks his head and just studies the man's behaviour. Something is off, the pacing up and down certainly something he hadn't experienced before. He also notices that Harvey's really trying to keep up with the questions, but he keeps distracting himself. The answers that follow always sounding just a bit more forced then when he's bringing up things he remembers about Andy Malik or Cameron Dennis.
"No, I had another secretary before Donna," he pauses, staring out of the window for a moment as he tries to come up with the name. "I don't even remember her name, but no. Donna only transferred on my desk a few months before we left."
"Hhhm," Mike mutters now, the sound resulting in a narrow gaze from Harvey. "Nothing," he adds now, shrugging his shoulders. "Just didn't know this."
"Why did Donna transfer to your desk?" Louis buts in now.
"She asked," Harvey answers, a soft smile tugging at the corner of his lips at the memory. He turns around again, stuffing his hands in the pocket of his pants as he walks himself over to his desk, leaning against the edge. "We actually met in a bar."
Mike chuckles softly at the added information. He leans forward, elbows resting on his knees, genuinely amused by the way Harvey's behaviour flip flops from being stoic to reminiscent. He's pretty sure the older lawyer doesn't even notice he's recalling the memory out loud now, thinks it's hilarious that even when they met Donna already knew who he was and as much as he's enjoying getting a glimpse into the mystery of what Donna and Harvey are, he also knows they don't have the time for this. Louis' frown only giving that away.
"Who did Donna work for before she worked for you?"
He snaps out of his thoughts now, scolding himself for letting his mind drift off to all this again. It's almost overwhelming as he thinks how many important moments he shared with her. He shakes his head again, pushing that away because he has someone else with whom he shares those moments now, he just can't place why these memories do more to him than the ones he made in the last two months. "I… I don't remember," he admits then.
"Could it have been Andy Malik?" Mike suggests.
"No." Harvey shakes his head. "No that wasn't the guy she was working for, besides she'd have brought it up if it was the case."
"Yeah, true." Mike answers, adding a softer nearly inaudible: "I guess."
"So, this former secretary," Louis continues. "Was your work-relationship with her the same as with Donna?"
"No," he nearly scoffs. "Are we done now? I have work to do."
She slides over the backseat of the black Lexus, her head resting against the glass window as she waits for her driver to get back into the car. "The firm," she tells him then, closing her eyes for a moment when the engine roars and the company car takes off and turns around on 4th Avenue. She smiles softly at her action from this morning, seeking the help from Holly Cromwell and she hopes the woman manages to gather her evidence in the same time frame as she bragged about last time she spoke with her.
She lets out a sigh then, opening her eyes now. She focuses on the Manhattan traffic, the cars roaming by. One yellow cab after the other, her thoughts drift off to last night. The suggestion Mike made and how easily she gave in, she knew she had no choice. It was what was needed but that doesn't mean she has forgotten how it felt to be in the hot seat. Just like last night, she thinks about the questions Louis threw in her direction again.
She knows that this time around it will be different, not just because she asked him to do this or because she already knows what the nature of most questions will be like, but because time has passed and inevitably things both Harvey and her tried to keep to themselves for the longest of times have slipped out and may even be considered public knowledge. She knows Louis knows they slept together once and she's fairly certain that will result in a question. She's sure it will most likely be followed up by that one question Louis kept repeating last time, the one question that set off an argument with Harvey later in the middle of the street of all places.
She lied that day, she knows that now. At the time she really was certain that her feelings for Harvey were non-existent, nothing more than what one feels for a brother or a cousin. She knows now that that was just her defence mechanism. We put it out of our minds and never mention it again became deny at all cost, define it as platonic and move on. Three things she failed in, she told her friends. It wasn't platonic and over twelve years later she actually found out she hadn't moved on at all.
Mike and Harvey cross the lobby from the elevator down to the doors, the younger man going over the plan of attack for the meeting with Mrs. Stanger. "We need to talk to the employees of that department."
"No one would suggest their own department to get cut."
"But they are more likely to talk because they got laid off," Mike counters, pushing through the revolving door now. He waits for Harvey to exit the building as well before he continues explaining his plan.
"You son of a bitch."
Harvey turns around in a beat, the voice already gave it away but seeing the smug face of Andy Malik really set him off. "Me?" he counters loudly as he points at himself, feet already taking two big steps towards the prosecutor.
Mike turns around too, reluctantly taking a few steps in the direction of the two former colleagues. Already having the feeling this will only end one way, he's seen it happen more than once. "Harvey," he warns calmly.
"Yes you, you piece of shit," Malik goes off, taking a final step towards the lawyer. Now getting close, hand tapping against the other man's shoulder. "What the hell do you think you're doing going after my wife."
Harvey frowns now, no clue where this comment is coming from but he doesn't back down either. Broadening his shoulders and straightening his back, it takes every fibre in his being not to let Andy Malik get to him, but he can't hold back . "I don't know what the hell you're talking about," Harvey pushes back. "But last time I checked you are the one coming at me with a fabricated accusation."
"Malik get out of here," Mike calls out now, the words followed by his boss's name once more, he steps closer to keep the two man apart. Left arm now sliding in between the two man as neither of them seem to even hear the warnings from the junior partner.
He notices Mike is trying to stop him, but he can't. The entire situation just triggering rage and he leans forward even more, the rest of his sentence following mere seconds after his last. "It's one thing to come after me, but to jeopardize the life of the one person I can't –"
"Harvey!" Mike yells louder this time, pushing the managing partner aside and physically separating the two men. He feels Harvey trying to fight back but he blocks it, pushing the lawyer two steps back. He turns around himself, now facing Andy. Right hand still in the air to keep Harvey at a distance, the other hand pointing in the distance as he orders. "Malik, get out of here now!"
Andy Malik only recoils when Mike repeats his order. Smirking now as he looks at his opponents he turns around and walks away. Harvey shakes his head, turns around on his spot and walks off in the other direction. Bringing his right hand to his head, a headache the result of his sudden outburst. His stress level over the roof at the moment, he doesn't allow himself to dwell on why.
Mike lets out a breath when he's sure Andy won't return and he turns around himself now. Shaking his head because the run in went exactly as he predicted it would go the second he spotted the deputy general attorney. He bites his tongue once more, the look on Harvey's face already giving away he doesn't want to hear any comments. He obliges for now, but deep down he knows he shouldn't.
"Just get in the car."
She gives Louis a reassuring smile, nodding once before she steps out of his office, she looks down the hall to the right. Gaze now falling on Harvey's office, she finds herself taking a deep breath.
"You okay, Red?"
She freezes on her spot, somehow hadn't seen the secretary sitting behind her desk. She swallows, puts a smile on her face and turns around to look at Gretchen. "Yes," she tells the older woman. "I am," she adds now, her hand tapping against the partition twice before she starts moving again.
"Ooh," she realises now, turning around again. "In case he doubts this whole thing again, just tell him I asked him and it's okay, okay?"
Gretchen presses her lips into a thin line, noticing how the redhead brushed her question off and just put on a brave face. She doesn't comment though, doesn't consider it to be her place. She nods at last. "I will."
Donna bobs her head up and down, now finally making her way down the fiftieth floor. She can't help but watch him for a moment, buried in paper work. Her pace slows down and she lets out another breath. Her old self would have stepped inside, told him not to forget he needs to eat too or just have gone ahead and had Thai delivered in his office. Her old self would have taken place on that couch and helped him with the documents.
This time around she doesn't. Instead, she lets out another breath and redirects her gaze to her own office, feet taking two big steps forward. Her head crooks to the right when she takes in the junior partner sitting on her window sill. She slowly pushes the door to her office open, closing it right behind her again. "Mike," she greets him. "What can Donna do for you?"
He looks up at the redhead now, standing back up. He shakes his head. "Nothing," he answers. "I just wanted to see how you're doing."
She sighs, looks away. "You too?" she mutters then, making her way to her desk. Ready to just sit down in her desk chair and continue catching up on some mails, but she doesn't. Finally letting out a part of the frustration that's been building up inside of her. "Why is everyone asking if I can handle this. I suggested this."
"I know," Mike admits with a soft smile. "And that's not what I meant. I'm sure you can handle this, it's just –"
"I think it might be best if you talk with Harvey before the mock trial," he answers.
Donna's eyes widen for a moment, a nervous chuckle then escaping her lips. "And what does Mike Ross think we would have to talk about?" she fires back, her mind adding a 'what is there left to talk about.'
Mike takes a deep breath, didn't expect this response from the redhead but now that he's finally doing what he told himself for years not to do. He figures he should push further. "About the two of you, of course. You know what happened during the last mock trial and just because you didn't answer that question doesn't mean I and everybody else doesn't know the answer to that. You two have been skirting around your feelings for over a decade, I just think it would be better if the two of you have this conversation in private before it gets brought up in front of everyone again and might ruin what's there."
She bites the inside of her cheek, stares at the younger man for a moment thinking over her answer. She ends up just shaking her head and shutting everything down with one sentence. "Harvey and I don't want to be together."
"Are you sure?" Mike asks in return, because with all the little things he's gotten to know and observe over the years he can't imagine this to be the truth. In fact, he thinks it's actually the exact opposite and the shake of head that statement from the redhead came with makes him add the following. "Tell Harvey how you feel."
"I take it you worked late."
He closes his eyes at her comment, holds back a sigh he doesn't know where it comes from and he doesn't understand why he already feels annoyed when his day barely started. Instead, he just opens the door to his apartment further, letting her inside and he closes the door behind her. He forgets to answer, makes his way back to his bedroom to finish getting dressed.
"I kind of hoped you'd have stopped by my place last night," she chirps then, opening her bag she pulls out her iPad and checks her schedule one last time. "But since you didn't I wondered if you'd like to go out for breakfast."
"I can't." His answer is short, a hint of annoyance tangible and he brings the silk fabric of his tie around his neck, brings the collar of his white dress shirt up and folds it back over the tie. "It's this case," he answers then, figuring he should at least try to explain, focussing on perfecting the knot. "Against a guy that knows us from the D.A.'s office."
He sighs once more, can't get the dimple in the knot quite right. "He made up false accusations of evidence tampering and he's not just coming after me, but Donna too." He groans now, undoing his tie altogether and he starts over on the knot. "It's not fair, the only crime she ever committed was working for me."
He swallows now, realising what he's talking about and to whom he's talking. "Sorry," he mutters now, his hands moving over the knot of his tie one last time. "I shouldn't be talking –"
"Harvey," Paula speaks. "I understand and it's okay. You can talk about your case if you want to. I don't feel threatened by you having another woman in your life that you care about."
He turns around at that comment, brows knitted together in a frown and he doesn't exactly know how to respond. Part of him simply doesn't care whether she feels threatened or not, or if she allows him to talk about his cases. He's a grown man and can talk about whatever he wants, he then gets confused by his own thoughts and how it was actually him apologising for bringing it up that made her say this in the first place. He decides to let the comment slide, knows the things on the tip of his tongue wouldn't do the situation any good.
Instead, he lifts his suit jacket from his bed, putting it on as he manoeuvred through his apartment to collect his belongings. "I have to go," he announces walking further down to his door, opening it in one swift motion he waits for her to get out again. Closing the door right behind her once more, he misses how she leans in for a kiss as he reaches for his phone from the pocket of his suit pants and checks it for any missed messages.
Louis paces up and down the library, he eyes the associates starting to take their place in the back. He inhales deeply, going over the line of questioning he prepared the day before in his head again. He makes his way over to the desk on the small plateau now, smiles at his former associate and asks Katrina is she's ready to play the judge in this scenario. It's just a formality, having someone there to possibly stop Louis if needed and the blonde is one of the people who can successfully go up against the man in question.
She nods. "I am," she answers. "We still have twenty minutes left before we start. Maybe you should check in on Donna."
Louis slowly bobs his head up and down, he'd been thinking the same time but wasn't sure if the redhead wanted to be checked in upon or if she wanted space right now. "I will," he answers, pressing his lips into a thin line, deciding he can always leave again if she doesn't want him to be there.
He knocks on the glass door of his friend's office, waits for her to look up before he enters the room. Louis offers her a small smile. "Just wanted to let you know we're getting started in twenty minutes."
She swallows once. "I know."
"Are you sure you want to do this?"
She shrugs now, exhaling loudly. If she has to be honest, she isn't sure of anything anymore. Things she told herself to be true for too long getting mixed up, the last month a roller coaster ride and Mike's words from the night before still not forgotten. "I am," she gives in at last. "It's what needed to help Harvey's case." That's the only thing she is sure of this moment.
"Okay," Louis answers, struggling to find his next words.
Donna offers him a soft smile, already knowing what he's about to say. That he wants to apologise for the line of questioning that's inevitably coming her way. "I know," she whispers reassuring the lawyer. "I understand. I just need a minute, okay."
Harvey lets out a sigh when he finds his former office empty, the junior partner nowhere to be seen. He turns around, ready to ask the younger man's secretary but he finds himself staring at an empty cubicle as well. His stomach turns then and he swallows, the sight reminding him of events he'd rather forget, but he can still see her walk away. He can still feel the way that made his breath catch in his throat and how his vision blurred.
He shakes his head then, pushing the constant flush of memories away. He's worried but he's not supposed to be worried, or he is, but not like this. He shouldn't be so affected by this and he can't place why he is, why after everything he arranged for himself in the last two months to not have to go through this again it's the sight of her old empty cubicle that can still make him drop to his knees. That his vision still becomes blurry if he lingers too much on those thoughts and how a flash of red creeps into his mind in the most inconvenient of times.
He swallows then, physically removing himself from the situation and in his hopes the turmoil that's happening inside by taking large strides in the direction of the library. He takes a route opposite of his usual one, can't get himself to make his way to her office, his office and at last Louis's. All three combined too close to the same object that just blindsided him. He walks through the reception, pushing through the doors on the other side again, he rounds the corner and spots the junior partner he'd been looking for at last.
Mike turns around in surprise when Harvey passes by him, he shakes his head in confusion. "Harvey," he calls after his boss, making the man stall first before he walks back to him. "What are you doing here?"
His eyes widen in surprise. "What am I doing here? Are you fucking serious?" Annoyance now again overtaking the worrying feeling inside of him again. "We're putting Donna through a mock trial and like hell I'm going to let Louis come after her without her lawyer being present."
"Her lawyer is present," Mike counters, stepping in between Harvey and the entrance of the library. "But it isn't you."
"What did you just say to me?"
"I said you're not Donna's lawyer," Mike repeats himself, the words getting the same frown as a response the second time around. "Not only is this case against you and you asked me to represent you, I'm not going to let you do this."
"And why is that. Humour me."
Mike sighs now, bites his tongue as he looks away for a moment. But the man in front of him too stubborn for anything else but the truth. "When someone is special to you, it can mess up your judgment?"
"You're saying my judgement is off?"
"I'm saying that if it were Rachel, I wouldn't be able to guarantee I wouldn't cross the line," he explains as calmly as possible. "So I think it's best you let me handle this for you and you focus on finding another way out these last few hours."
Harvey scoffs. "Well, you don't know what I can and cannot handle. And when I want your advice. I'll ask for it. So –" His sentence gets interrupted by this ringing of his phone. He gives the junior partner a death stare, pulls out his phone while he barks. "This isn't over."
He looks down at the screen, sees Paula's name flashing on it and the only reason he answers is that it's an excuse to get out of Mike's lecture for a moment, the words the junior partner threw in his direction all hitting a bit too close to home. "What?" he answers then, bringing the phone to his ear as he takes a few steps aside, now walking up and down the hallway in front of the kitchen.
Paula frowns a little at the irritated tone his opening comes with, but she isn't surprised. Knows it's because of a case he's working on. She moves through her office, places the plate with a pop tart on the coffee table before she sits down. She puts on her best smile then. "Well I was thinking, maybe we can have dinner tonight?"
He regrets answering the phone already, yes it was a distraction from Mike but suddenly it feels like no one understands what's going on and if they don't get what his priorities are. "I don't have time."
"Well, you got to eat, don't you?"
He holds back a sigh. "So now I don't only have Mike telling me I can't be in this case, but you telling me what to do?"
"That's not how I meant it, Harvey. You know that," Paula answers, now focussing on the first part of his statement. "But if you hired Mike, it means you think he's a competent lawyer, so maybe it isn't so bad to just sit this one out?" she suggests carefully, thinking back to her own case a few weeks ago and how he suggested Louis would handle her case.
"Just sit this one out," he repeats in disbelief. "Are you kidding me? The Deputy General Attorney is coming after the woman I love, like hell, I'm going to sit this one out!" he near shouts this time around, completely missing the statement he just made himself. "Anyway, Paula," he shakes his head when he hears people entering the library again, indicating the mock trial is about to start. "I got to go."
She hears the call being ended on the other end the line. The phone still in her hand and pressed against her ear, she now blankly stares at the pop tart that's gotten cold in the time of the call. Her mouth drops as the only thing she still hears is that one line. The Deputy General Attorney is coming after the woman I love.
Mike stares at his boss now, he'd still been standing there just to make sure Harvey wouldn't try to sneak his way inside, but all he can do now is stare and wonder if he really heard that. The phone call itself kind of hushed and not giving away much, but it's the whispering coming from the associates in the room behind him and the wide eyed look on Louis' face that makes him realise that that statement he just overheard had indeed been said.
He places his phone back in the pocket of his pants, head crooking to the right and a look that says 'really' written on his face he walks back towards the junior partner. "Now are you going to move, or what?"
The sudden change in topic takes the young lawyer off guard and it takes him a few seconds to realise that the man in front of him might not even realise what he said mere seconds ago and the meaning of that statement. He shakes his head now, thinking he was spot on with the messed up judgement line. "I'm not," he answers at last.
Louis now joins the two lawyers in the door opening, the small shake of head Mike gives him enough for him to know not to address the elephant in the room. "What's going on?"
"Mike here," Harvey points at the junior partner. "Thinks I can't handle this and I'm going to prove him and everyone else wrong."
"No you're not," Louis counters.
"Louis," Harvey sighs now, still not giving in. "Like I told Mike. Donna was put in the position to testify again because of me, I can't not be here."
"Harvey I'm serious," Mike continues again. "You asked Louis to do this, you asked me to represent you, so I'm also going to do so for Donna. Now you can stand here for the next couple of hours or work on the case, give us a back-up plan in case needed."
"Mike is right, Harvey."
She lets out one last breath, now making her way over to the library for the mock trial. Her pace slowing down the second she sees him, in a heated argument with both Louis and Mike. The analytical side of her can't help but notice how stressed out he looks, but she doesn't allow herself to think anything of it or worse to connect it to her like all the times before she rightfully could do so. But he has someone else in his life now and his own career is on the line, she repeats that to herself again. What she saw now, it means nothing. At least not for her.
She takes another two steps, now stopping next to Mike. She nods at the two lawyers, turns to look at Harvey at last. She nods at him as well.
"You know what to do," Louis tells Harvey, now excusing himself from the others as he needs a minute to prepare himself.
Mike faces the redhead. "You ready?"
"Yes," she answers, pressing her lips into a thin line. She gives Harvey a soft smile and turns to follow Mike into the room.
He lets out a breath, her name on the tip of his tongue. His hand moves faster than his words and his fingers slide over her wrist, making her freeze on her spot. She slowly turns around, thinks it isn't fair how his touch can send shivers down her spine even now and she knows he lets go because her gaze drops to his hand on her skin first before her eyes lock with his, seeing the question written in his eyes.
"I'll be fine," she tells him, it's a lie. One she's been telling herself for a few weeks now and she figures one last time won't hurt. It's what's needed to help him and she can't help but help him. "They are right," she adds then, not having to have heard the conversation to know what the other lawyers told him. "You go do what you do."
With those words, she leaves him behind and he's grounded there for a moment, feet glued against the flooring and his gaze fixated on her retreating form. He silently watches her cross the room, pull the chair back and sit down. She says something to Mike, he notices the others in the room talking, but he hears nothing. Absolutely nothing.
She turns her chair, catches a glimpse of him from the corner of her eye. She doesn't want to have to be the one to reassure him, not now. Especially not now, but she knows him too well and she loves him too much not to do so. She looks to her right, her gaze meeting his again and she gives him a small smile that hurts her more than she figured it would.
She thinks she sees him inhale at last, but she isn't sure. Doesn't want to read him anymore, and she the only comfort she finds in this small gesture making him walk away now is that she doesn't have to go through this with him there.
Mike swallows, looking back and forth between his boss and the redhead next to him. He rolls his chair closer to Donna's then, covering her arm with his hand. "It's going to be okay."
She shifts in her seat when Louis gets up from his. Her hands moving over the metal arm rests she braces herself for what's to come, her breathing now in line with every step the lawyer takes through the room.
"Miss Paulsen," he starts and she gulps once, fully aware of what was about to happen, realisation only really hitting her now. "Who did you work for back in the D.A.'s office."
She inhales once more, just taking a second to gather her thoughts. "I started working for Oscar Clark and later transferred to Harvey Specter's desk."
"How long did you work for Harvey Specter?"
She swallows, wishes she didn't know the answer to this question down to a number of days. "Just under thirteen years in total."
"Just under thirteen years in total," Louis repeats. "And how many years of this was in the D.A.'s office."
"Not even a year," she answers.
"Tell me about your relationship with Harvey Specter."
"Vague," Mike objects, getting a glare from Louis in return.
"Did you and Harvey Specter work closely together?"
Donna sighs now, momentarily wondering what the point of asking questions everyone knows the answers to is. She crooks her head and then speaks. "He was my boss, I was his secretary. Managed his day to day schedule."
"And were you personally close?"
"Subjective," Mike calls out now.
Katrina shakes her head. "I'll allow it," she counters Mike's objection, knowing a real judge would too.
Donna redirects her gaze from the blonde woman next to her to Louis who now repeats his question. "Depends on what one would describe as personally close," she counters, crossing her legs. Her lips twisting a small smile as she bets neither would have expected her to be just as vague as the question already was.
"Fine," Louis gives in, pacing up and down the floor. "Were you and Harvey Specter in a romantic relationship at the time the two of you worked together?"
She bites her tongue, knows what he's hinting at. Where he wants to go with his line of questioning. She remembers the late nights, the flirtatious banter and the drinks they shared, but they were never in a romantic relationship. "No."
"So your relationship with Mr. Specter was purely business related."
She pauses, her eyes closing for a brief moment.
"Miss Paulsen, you paused," Louis observes. "Is that a yes or a no."
"No," she admits.
Harvey drops the box of files on his desk after his third trip down to the file room. Now digging into Clifford Danner's case once more, he's looking for things he could possibly use. Proof it was Cameron Dennis that tempered with the evidence and not him. Anything that could possibly help put this case to bed.
"Have you ever been involved in a sexual relationship with Harvey Specter."
She stares at Louis for a moment. "Yes," she admits, her answer resulting in some whispering amongst the associates in the back of the room and it makes her swallow. "Once," she adds loud enough to both shut the rumour mill and the whispering between the young lawyers.
She holds back a loud sigh now. "Yes. One night."
"Why only once? I think it's safe to describe your relationship with Harvey Specter as one of friendship, mutual trust and attraction based on what you told us about your days in the D.A.'s Office."
"Because," she starts, letting her gaze drift over the crowd, resting on Mike for a moment. His question from the day before coming to mind again. "I told him I didn't get involved with men that I work with and it only happened when we weren't working together. The next day he asked me to follow him to the firm. I agreed, reminded him of my rule and that was that."
Mike looks down at the papers on the table in front of him, as much as he liked knowing what happened between the two of them (it had been a thing he speculated about since his first day at work), he hates that this is how he gets to know it.
"If Mr. Specter hadn't asked you to come work for him, do you think the two of you would have started a romantic relationship."
"Objection," Mike interrupts. "Speculation."
"Okay, let me rephrase," Louis turns around. "At the time, would you have wanted a relationship with Harvey Specter."
She inhales sharply, suddenly finds herself back in the conversation she once had with Rachel. She knows for fact Rachel would never tell Mike nor Louis the content of that, but she can't help but wonder at the ease that every single question Louis throws in her direction if it really was that clear for everyone around them. "I would have wanted to try."
"Given as you name it, your rule," Louis continues. "Why did you agree to work for him again?"
"Because I'm good at what I do," she answers. "And I loved working for him. He never treated me as just a legal secretary."
"And the two of you just happened to quit on the exact same day?"
"I find that hard to believe."
"It's the truth."
"Is it?" Louis counters. "Or did the two of you decide this together and Harvey Specter asking you to follow him to at the time Pearson Hardman was part of a bigger deal?"
"A bigger deal?"
"You managed Harvey Specter's calendar, did you not?"
"You were on a very personal basis according to your own statement, were you not?"
"And he confided information regarding on going cases with you, did he not?"
"Then I find it hard to believe a person, in your position, wouldn't be in the loop on how cases were being handled and since there is no record of you coming forward which you were obligated to do the second you found out, did you use your knowledge of evidence tempering as leverage to guarantee yourself a new job?"
He flips through a file again, sighing loudly when he can't find what he's looking for. He's pacing up and down his office now, all other folders he's searched through scattered over his desk. He turns to the last page, skimming over the document. He lets out a loud groan when there's nothing of use there and he throws the documents towards the nearest wall.
"No, need to demolish your office just yet."
He turns around at the sudden appearance of a voice in his office and he frowns when he recognises the person it belongs to. "I don't have time to discuss you wanting to come work here after all," he tells her. "As you can see, we're in the middle of a crisis."
Holly looks around his office, smiles knowingly and steps forward at last. She reaches for a manila folder from her purse then. "I know," she tells him, now extending her arm to hand him the folder.
His brows knit together in surprise and he hesitatingly takes over the folder. Opening it, he skims over the content of the first page. His surprise only growing but turning into relieve soon after when he realises what it is. He looks back up at Holly then. "How?"
"Miss Paulsen told me to do whatever it takes," she answers with a smirk.
He smiles softly at that, looking back down at the documents that will likely save the day. "Thank you."
"You don't need to thank me," Holly answers on her way out again. "But it takes someone pretty special to always have your back."
He nods, a very soft 'yeah' leaving his lips when the woman leaves just as fast as she came, and he flips through the files now. His grin only growing when besides the name of the employee that actually wrote the memo he now also sees the information she got on Andy Malik that might change this entire case.
Mike leaves the library, with only little over an hour to spare before the court hearing, and makes his way over to the managing partner's office to let him know they're ready. The sight he witnesses when he pushes through the door something he expected, the only thing that's slightly off for the first time this day is the smirk smile on Harvey's face. "You found something?"
Harvey looks up in a beat, his grin instantly fading away when he takes in the look on Mike's face. He doesn't have to ask to know what just happened in there was brutal and despite the brand new information in his hands he received only a few minutes prior his stomach drops again. "Holly Cromwell did," he answers now flipping open the Manila folder again and handing it to the junior partner.
Mike frowns, he didn't know they went to Holly for help but he isn't one to question given the circumstances. "I hope it's good," he speaks now taking over the file. "And that this is good enough to get the case thrown out altogether, cause otherwise, it's going to get ugly."
Harvey feels his stomach twist at the words confirming his suspicions, his fear. "It's a long shot," he starts, motioning for the younger man to keep reading. "Because I have no time to check if this is legitimate but if this means Donna doesn't have to get on the stand I'm taking that risk."
He pushes himself on his feet now, lifting his suit jacket from his desk chair and he puts it on. "We need to get to Malik before this thing starts," he orders already walking out of his office he orders Mike to follow him.
She brings her hand to her cheek, brushing away a single tear. She swallows then, it's not that anything shocking came out at the mock trial. At least not for her, it was just facts. A summary of her relationship with Harvey, twelve years in the making but it stings that this entire thing is built upon how strong their relationship was, how everyone assumed they were a thing when in reality they never got there. She doesn't allow herself to add the not yet anymore, those days are over.
It wasn't consciously but she figures deep down she'd always believed it would one day happen. She hasn't been consciously in love with him for over a decade, far from that in fact. But everything they'd been through always made her believe that whatever their feelings were, it was mutual. She read him and anticipated his needs, he gave her the stability and security her childhood lacked. He always protected her and she did the same for him, it was mutual until it suddenly wasn't. The biggest shock for her is the fact that she got so blindsided by the entire thing, and she finds herself asking questions she doesn't want to ask. Why her? Why not me?
One thing is clear for her now though, she can no longer go on with this. Mike's advice isn't forgotten and she knows that it would have been best to take, especially if what's about to happen is anything similar to what just happened in the mock trial. She tells herself it's going to be the last time, the last time she lets herself get dragged into this for him. Maybe it's for the best that it will happen in court again, becoming part of the public record: her relationship with Harvey, or more so the lack thereof and thus countering the claims anyone ever might make again. She thinks at least there's that.
She presses the button for the elevator now, her head hanging low as she waits for the doors to the metal box to slide open. She knows there's still over an hour left before she needs to be in court, but she doesn't want to be in the office right now. Wants a moment for herself, to clear her thoughts and come up with a plan as to what's next. How to do what she should have done months ago when she moved to Louis desk but couldn't, move on.
"Hold the door," Mike calls out, sliding his hand between the closing doors and when he looks up he finds himself staring at the redhead.
She looks up, her breath faltering when she sees him. She doesn't cry, but her eyes are glassy and if she allowed herself to really look she would have seen that his face started mirroring hers the second their eyes locked.
Harvey swallows thickly, his mind telling him to do one thing, his gut another and his heart. He doesn't get to think about his heart because all he sees is her glassy eyes and he wishes he could take her worry away even though it might not be his place to do so.
He steps in the elevator, at last, ignores every fibre in his being screaming out to reach for her because he's afraid of what it will do. If anything he wants to be strong, confident. Prove it's going to be fine. That are exactly the words leaving his lips then.
"I'm going to make sure you don't have to testify at all."
She smiles softly but shakes her head. "It's okay Harvey. I'll do it if it means getting you out of these charges."
The ride to the courthouse is quiet and not because it's just her in the car without Harvey and Mike. She figures it would have been quiet then too, maybe even worse. Definitely more awkward and painful. They're on their way over to Andy Malik's office, hoping to find him there before the trial starts to confront him with the information Holly Cromwell found.
She gets out of the car then, shivers once when the chilly air brushes past her shoulders. She looks up at the court house, takes a step forward and silently climbs the stairs to the entrance. Walking through the building she searches for the courtroom mentioned on her subpoena. Finding it on the right end side of the hall she sits down on one of the benches and lets out a deep breath. Her gaze now falling on the phone in her hand, she presses the home button once to check the time. Only half an hour to go.
"Look who's here. Let me guess you couldn't wait for my line of questioning?"
She freezes on her spot the second she hears his voice, she slowly turns around then. Now looking up at Andy Malik, she shakes her head. "Don't think you can scare me," she counters pushing herself on her feet, coming back on eye level with the Deputy GA.
"Ooh I don't care if you get scared or not," Andy laughs. "I'm going to take your boss down and the fact that I get to do that through you is rather remarkable." He looks down then, at the phone in her hands, noticing two empty ring fingers. "You know," Andy continues now. "For a second there I figured he'd marry you just so you wouldn't have to testify, but maybe it wasn't like that after all. See you inside, Red."
She bites her tongue, holds back her comments of how she wouldn't have married him or that she still would have testified if they were. Instead, she unlocks her phone, hits the first number under her speed dial and brings the phone to her ear. "He's here."
The two men make their way back to the courthouse as fast as possible. He's looking left and right for the redhead, his heartbeat increasing with every hallway the pass without running into her. Pushing through the doors of the court room he spots her then. Her auburn locks a magnet for his eyes and he feels relieved and worried at the same time. His feet carry him down the aisle to the front of the room, but his attention is solely on her. Sitting on the first row, seemingly unaware of his presence.
He can't help but notice how she swallows, how her hand taps against the wooden partition. All signs she's nervous and his own discomfort only grows. It's Mike's cough that wakes him from his thoughts and apparently at the same time makes her realise they are here because she turns to look over her shoulder and for the umpteenth time that day their eyes lock.
Malik seems to notice their presence now to too. A smug smile forming on his face when he observes the two lawyers coming in his direction, the older sporting the exact same expression as the woman sitting a row down. "Ooh look," he speaks. "The bastard decided to show up after all, for a second there you had me thinking I got to go after your woman without as much of a blink of an eye from you."
"You piece of shit," Harvey storms forward. "I will drag you outside right now and finish what I should have done yesterday."
Mike quickens forward now, holding the managing partner back from doing exactly as he just threatened. The laugh that escapes Malik unsettling all three of them. "Harvey," Mike warns the older man, pushing the folder Holly gave them against the man's chest as a reminder of why they were here and what they needed to do now.
"Malik," Mike looks at the Deputy GA then. "You're going to wish I'd let him do what he said when you see what's in here."
Andy Malik quirks an eyebrow. "And what's that? A copy of your diary?"
"More like one of yours," Harvey counters now, handing over the folder to his former colleague. "Not only do I have a sworn affidavit of Mrs. Stranger's former employee stating they wrote and destroyed the memo you claimed I was responsible for, I think when you turn that page you'd rather drop all charges against me, Donna and my client."
Malik looks down now, opening the folder and he flips through the pages. Gaze falling on a couple of photos, a list of names and a few receipts, all screaming one thing. That he's actually guilty of the very thing he's falsely accusing Harvey off. He swallows then, the smug smile fading from his face and a response lacks.
"That's what I thought," Harvey counters, taking a step back he turns around and looks at the redhead again. A soft smile now gracing his lips he nods once, silently telling her this whole thing is over.
She paces through her office, coming to a halt near the window sill. She looks outside, taking in the Manhattan skyline at this hour. She didn't have to get on the stand, after all, made it back to the office before the two men as they needed to take care of some last things with Malik, but that doesn't mean the events of the last two days aren't on repeat in her mind.
The things that came out during the mock trial, what Mike told her to do. That not being the only thing she hasn't been able to do yet, moving on the real problem. She can't help but think about it all, how she keeps trying to move on and keeps failing at doing so.
She now knows part of that is because she's never been truly honest. Not with him, she never really told him what she wanted and maybe more importantly never really with herself either. Even yesterday when she told Mike that Harvey and herself don't want to be together. It's a half truth, half lie, because yes, she would have wanted to be with Harvey.
As scary as her thoughts are, accepting the truth has a somewhat calming effect on her and she realises now that since there's actually not any risk left she might as well tell him. He's made his decision, he already moved on. She decides then that Mike's words are the last bit of encouragement she needed, not for things to result in what she assumes where the junior pilots hopes, but for her to move on.
If she really wants to move on, she needs to have it all out in the open and she figures then and only then, she might finally be able to let go.
Mike follows the managing partner to his office, not sure if the older man misses the way Donna is staring out of her window or if he chooses to ignore it. He isn't entirely sure the redhead took his advice and told Harvey how she felt, he, however, decides he may need to be just as clear with the lawyer as he was with the COO.
The junior partner lets the glass door fall shut behind him, his attention now directed to the older man he studies how he makes his way through his office. They might have gotten the case thrown out and prevented Donna from having to get on the stand, or in reality, Donna prevented all that herself. He still notices how tense the other man is, how the worry is still written on his face and how instead of offering a celebratory glass of scotch he first only pours one and chucks it down in one big sip.
The alcohol burns in his throat, leaving a bitter taste that may be the result of more than just the drink. He lets out a deep breath, can barely believe the whole ordeal got ended as it did. He's relieved, but not in the same way as with any other case, not in the same way as when Louis told him he took care of what Paula asked him to do and he tries his best to ignore as to why that is. Why everything today felt so much more intense, as if his own heart was ripped out of his body and put on a platter for the world to demolish. He shakes his head, swallows thickly now.
"God, you're pathetic."
"What!?" he replies, turning around, his hands automatically stopping with pouring another drink.
"You need to talk to Donna," Mike answers, not beating around the bush anymore.
Harvey's brows quirk upwards, a quizzical look spreading over his face as he stares at his mentee. Deep down he might know what the younger man means, but he can't bring himself to accept it.
Mike sighs, tired of the games both of them are playing. Tired of how blind the man in front of him is when it comes to the most important person in his life. "The last two days I've seen you lose it more times than I can count, and it's not because it's a difficult case. Or because your career was on the line but because they came after Donna."
Harvey's mouth is left agape for a moment and he feels his breath starting to falter for the millionth time today. The younger man's name is on the tip of his tongue, not sure if it's a protest or a plead. Either way, he doesn't get the chance to speak because Mike finally let's go off all the information and build up annoyance he felt on their behalves.
"And it wasn't just now, Harvey." Mike shakes his head, a near chuckle leaving his lips. "It was the exact same thing when Anita Gibbs had her colleagues come after Donna's father, or when Terrence Wolf came after Donna with the liberty rail case. You broke the law for her then, just to keep her safe."
Speechless, he stares at his friend. The words nothing but the truth and he can't deny them, he can't pretend it's not true like he so successfully managed to do so the last two months.
"It's been this way ever since I came to the firm and I'm willing to bet it was this way long before that," Mike continues. "I think you act the way you act in situations like this for a reason, Harvey. And I think deep down you also know why."
Harvey swallows, wishes he could tell the younger man to go to hell. That's he's got it all wrong, that everything he just said is a lie but he can't. He physically can't.
Mike bobs his head up and down, not sure he expected an answer or a reaction at all from the managing partner but he does consider what he just said to have been the right call. It needed to be said, he's seen his friend get hurt enough.
Donna steps outside of her office then, deeply inhaling once, she counts to three and turns to her left. Walking the six steps from her door to his, the glass plating feels cold against her fingers and the sight of the two men present almost makes her retreat, but she pushes through. She has to do this. She has to do it now. For herself.
Mike notices the way Harvey's eyes widen in that moment and it cues him to look over his shoulder, spotting the redhead as predicted. He looks back and forth between the two of them for a moment. Whispers her name as a greeting before he looks at Harvey again. This time giving the man a stern look, he nods once. A silent reminder of what he just told Harvey before he leaves the two of them alone to go home.
His throat is dry and his voice barely there, but it's the look on her face that makes him want to be the one to break the silence.
She is, however, one step ahead of him. "I need to tell you something."
It are six words, and she could have said anything really because his world already started to crumble down by the sigh that preceded that statement. His mouth left agape and if she were to look in his eyes right now he's sure she could have seen terror, just terror. "Is…" he pauses, scraping his voice. He struggles to find the words. "Is everything okay?"
She swallows, wants to shake her head and tell him no but even that she can't do cause it's not life threatening situation and even now she doesn't want to worry him. "Yes," she whispers, pressing her lips into a thin line. A forced smile now clad on her face. "It's just…" she lets out a breath, trying to find the words and mostly the courage to tell him. "I need to tell you something because it would have come out at court otherwise anyway, just like it did at the mock trial and I need you to listen, to hear me out. Okay?"
He can only nod and so he does.
"Okay," she whispers to herself, her hands fumbling with the edge of her sleeve, she looks down for a moment. "When I asked for more," she starts looking back up at him, "I told you I had to figure out what that meant and for the longest of times I thought or maybe kept telling myself that I meant work. A new position and I did. I did mean it, but the last couple of weeks made me realise that that wasn't everything after all."
She swallows now, his silence almost deafening but she asked him to listen and he is. "The thing is, I came to realise that besides telling myself that it was just work, I had also been telling myself that what I felt didn't matter, but it does. Time after time I have tried to move on and I've never been able to do so, because I've never been able to admit that I was in love with you and still am. I'm not telling you this because it would change anything, it won't, I know that. You found someone that makes you happy and I meant it when I said that I'm happy for you. All I want is for you to be happy, but I also realised that this time, this time I need to be able to move on and finally get to be able to find happiness myself," she swallows, fighting the tears.
"I realised that for years I put you over myself and I did it again today. I let myself get humiliated in front of the entire group of associates, for you… and I can't do that anymore. I love you, Harvey and I would have wanted more with you but I can't keep choosing you. I can't keep waiting another twelve years. I'm letting you go, Harvey," she adds, now wiping a single tear away from her cheek.
"Goodnight. I really do hope you're happy," she whispers, walking away before he gets a chance to say anything back to her.
His gaze follows her half as she steps away, his head automatically turning back to look ahead. All the times he found himself speechless or unable to move today combined are nothing compared the way he feels now. Her words shaking him to his core, leaving him almost so confused he can't even begin to progress any of it. It weirdly is the very last sentence that he finds himself repeating over and over again in his mind.
I really do hope you're happy.
I really hope you're happy.
I hope you're happy.
He doesn't even realise the words leaving his lips the first time around, finds himself still staring into the distance, nothing in particular. It's all a blur, a red blur and his breathing is heavy.
"I'm not," he mutters again. "I'm not." It takes three times for him to register what his heart is telling him, temporarily winning it over his mind. "I'm not," he repeats, this time fully aware he's speaking, it takes only a few second to realise what he was actually telling himself, what he was answering. "I'm not happy."
I'm not happy.
And suddenly everything ties together or in a weird and twisted way in his mind it does, what Donna just told him. What Mike had been telling him all day long to even what Paula told him weeks ago. She loves you.
Of course, you have feelings for her.
He turns to look over his shoulder, his torso soon following as he turns on his place, but he doesn't even realise that between Donna leaving and him turning around minutes have passed. He feels the air drain from his lungs yet again, this time by him looking at the empty spot she had been standing earlier. He's trying to catch his breath, regain his sense and move forward.
He's not sure how he made it out of his office and over to hers, but the lights are out and only darkness surrounds him. He finds himself calling out her name again, can't even register himself doing it nor stop it if he wanted to.
The entire thing feeling like an out of body experience.
And the person staring at him when he turns back around is like a bucket full of ice, bringing him back to reality but reality is what Donna just told him and reality is that he's now standing here, the handle of the door to her office in her hand instead of in the middle of his own office where the entire scene had started.
Reality is that he isn't happy.
Reality also is the blue eyes of Paula staring at him.
He doesn't even have it in him to greet her, tiredness now overcoming him. The situation just completely draining himself, all that leaves his lips in a flat tone is a question. Almost an accusation. "What are you doing here?" He shakes his head, his shoulders dropping in defeat. He doesn't understand what happened anymore, why the woman standing in front of him is in his life. He doesn't know what it all means, but he can't keep things up anymore and it's not just a thought crossing his mind. It are words being pronounced. "Look Paula, I think –"
"I can't do this," she interrupts him. "I can't do this anymore," she repeats with a shake of her head and a part of her hoped to see a surprised look on his face, but she only interrupted him so she got to be the one to do what she knew was coming.
Paula looks down, opening her purse and she reaches inside. She lifts out two items then, first the key he'd given her very recently and if she had been honest with the situation, too soon. The second, a letter. Handing over both, she adds. "I explained why in there," she points at the envelope. "You should read it."
She shakes her head and lets out a sigh when she spots the lawyer waiting in front of her door. Her head hanging low, she doesn't want to talk. She doesn't want people checking in on her. "Louis," she mutters anyway, reaching for her key. "I don't feel like…"
"I just wanted to know how it went," he answers with a nod. Understanding that it's been a long and emotional day for the redhead, but she's his friend and he wants her to know that he's there for her. "I'm sorry I couldn't be there this afternoon."
She shrugs, opens her front door and invites him in regardless. Not even having it in her to send him away. "Alex needed your help," she recalls, tossing her keys on a cabinet in the hallway. She shrugs off her coat and kicks off her shoes, now motioning for the lawyer to follow her. "It's fine," she adds now walking over to her liquor cabinet. She returns with two glasses and a bottle of red wine, sitting down next to Louis on her couch. She merely lifts the bottle as a silent question if he wants some too.
Louis nods, waits for her to pour the drinks as he tries to find the timing to tell her what he came to tell her. "Mike told the charges got dropped," he starts then, deciding to go with something positive first.
"Yes," she says, taking a sip of her wine. "But if you already knew that, then why are you really here?"
Louis looks down, should have known Donna would see through his act right away.
"I don't want to talk about Harvey," she adds then, knowing all too well that that was the real reason her friend showed up now.
"I think something is going on with him," Louis answers, ignoring her statement.
She can't help but laugh, a near hysterical chuckle escaping her. "You mean other than the fact that he suddenly decided he wanted a relationship the second he decided to take the reins at the firm and that he started dating his therapist. His therapist."
Louis nods and presses his lips together in a thin line.
"Of course," she adds then. "You already knew."
"I did," he admits. "But the last couple of days got me thinking, something doesn't add up."
She lets out a sigh, can't believe that after everything she still finds herself in the midst of all this. "What Louis? What doesn't add up?" she repeats, taking a large sip from her wine. "Or what does add up?"
"You said he went to her the day he decided to become managing partner right?"
She nods once. "So?"
"Isn't the timing of it all weird."
She shakes her head. "I don't know Louis, I –"
"What else happened around that time?" he cuts her off.
"Well," she pauses letting the wine roll around in her glass. "Mike came back."
"And…" Louis tilts his head, waiting for her to fill in the blanks but he does so himself when she merely shakes her head. "You left him again."
She looks down at her drink. "That doesn't mean anything, Louis."
"Last time he had panic attacks," Louis recalls. "You leaving him triggered a panic attack and deeper issues, issues he ended up in therapy for. Don't you think it's odd that the second time around, he ends up dating his therapist of all people instead of perhaps going back to therapy?"
"Of course it's odd, but that doesn't mean…" she pauses, doesn't even know what she was going to say. She just shakes her head and raises her shoulders. "I don't know Louis."
"Look," Louis covers Donna's hand with his own. "I'm not a therapist, but I can tell you that issues aren't gone just like that and definitely not in the time frame Harvey actually went to therapy. Now I'm not Harvey, but I've been in therapy for seven years because I'm projecting my feelings of disrespect onto others and of course I don't really know what's going on with Harvey, but I do know that in some cases patients can also project their feelings for other people onto their therapist."
She swallows, doesn't know what he's trying to say or what she needs to do with all this information. "Louis."
"I know you love him," he continues giving her a small smile. "And by the looks of what happened these past months and especially today, I get the feeling you want to move on," he pauses holding up his hand to stop her from talking. "I'm not here to tell you not to, I just thought you should know everything that is possibly in play before making that decision."
His head is pounding by the time he makes it home, so many things happened today that it's all overwhelming. From the stress of the case, the surprise by what Donna told him to even the relief that followed after his run in with Paula. He knows she broke up with him, he's is completely aware of that. The key and letter in his hand tangible proof of the fact, he just didn't except to feel relieved to even wanting to have said the same thing.
He looks at the letter in his hand now, remembers her telling him to read it. That it would contain an explanation, he can't really say he cares to know but his thumb slides under the folded piece of paper and rips it open regardless. Placing the key and the envelope in the bowl, he now stares at the folded letter in his hands. Opening it up, he scans the few first lines but tosses the letter on the kitchen counter when he doesn't see the point in reading the damn thing.
On the verge of turning around to grab himself a glass of scotch he spots it then. One word, five letters. A name he'll never forget.
He turns back now, pushing the piece of paper out on the kitchen counter. His hands resting on either end as he now reads the letter with more care. It explaining how she as his therapist should have never agreed to dinner in the first place, let alone let everything that came after that happen. How she got swept away because he showed up in rough time and that she knows that's not an excuse. She apologises for the further damage it may have caused and recommends him going to another therapist to deal with issues she neglected to see.
He reaches the sentence then, the one containing her name. The reason he's now actually reading the letter.
I met her, Donna. Twice actually, the first time being just after our last therapy session. She came to find you and what I saw that day was a woman who believes in you, who loves you.
I never told you about this because I wrongfully assumed it wasn't mutual. You never spoke about her in that way during our sessions and I can't even put this blame on you. I should have paid attention and asked questions. I should have seen it, that there was a reason you didn't want to talk about her at all.
The last couple of days have shed some light on this for me. I saw you go above and beyond for her and it seems like this woman has a hold on you like no other can. It was because of her that we even met and I think I never got the full picture of your relationship but that too is all my fault. It was my job to ask and I should have asked. I should have seen it…
I told you once that it's natural for patients to transfer feelings of desire onto their therapists that aren't real and I know I don't have the right to make this statement after everything that's happened but I do think that whatever you thought you felt for me is based on feelings you have for someone else.
He stares at the letter now, reading it over and over again and while the letter never explicitly states it, it's the redhead's name that he hears himself whisper when he reaches the end again.
- The end
So if you made it till the end, thank you. I'd love to know what you think.. xx