Hello everyone, remember me and this fic? I'm so so sorry it took this incredibly long to update as I wanted to get it all out before the season and now we're a couple of days away from the midseason finale. Some of you know, but life took a big turn (for the better) but it left me with close to zero time for a long time but I got it done. FINALLY. So I wanted to thank you all for your patience, for all the favs/follows and reviews you left on the previous chapters. They've been such a big inspiration and really helped me get this out at last. So without much further ado, this turned into a monster of a chapter. Longest one I've ever written, I bet. Warnings mentioned before still apply *pretends to be shocked* I do really hope it was worth the wait, and please let me know what you thought. X - M.
You're too proud to say
That you've made a mistake
You're a coward '
til the end
Chapter Six | The Hard Truth
He blinks twice and eyes the four red glowing numbers his microwave presents to him at this godforsaken hour. He yawns then, runs his hand over his face and rubs his eyes as his feet heavily pad through the kitchen. The bottle of Macallan 18 on the liquor cabinet near the window looming in the back, the dream he woke up from about an hour ago nearly making him cave but he flicks on the coffee machine on his right instead.
Impatiently, he taps his fingers on the counter and waits for the white mug to be filled with the first fresh brew of the day. The motions so ingrained in his morning routine he mindlessly reaches for the small bottle of vanilla extract and adds a splash of it to his cup. Only realising his actions once he takes a sip, the added flavour suddenly overwhelming at the moment and sending a warmth down his frame.
One he, despite the ending of his dream, woke up with and one that kept presenting itself every time he let his thoughts drift off throughout the short hour he wandered through his apartment. Dreaming about her wasn't an entirely uncommon occurrence, whether actively putting his mind to it like before the other time or his subconscious bringing it to him in the later years. His skilled practice of putting those thoughts, the flashes of red hair, long slim legs and freckles, out of his mind and not question them again failing this time. Even after he took a cold shower.
He swallows thickly and glances at the cup of coffee in his hand, but it's her he tastes on his lips. He ends up pouring the remainder of the hot beverage down the drain. The drink too much a reminder of the redhead.
Empty cup in hand, he steps aside to open up his dishwasher. The machine still containing the china used on Sunday evening, he finds himself putting away plates he barely touches at five twenty in the morning. Replacing the dessert plates with the cup, he opens up the cabinet on the left and adds two to the remainder of the set.
The sight oddly catching his attention and he frowns when he notices the stack is one short compared to the matching dinner plates on the right. It's not something he ever thought of noticing and he can't even remember how many of each he's supposed to have but he does consider the inconsistency to be off.
Checking the dishwasher again for another item he doesn't find it but apart from questioning its whereabouts he doesn't give it much more thought. Settling on once having broken one and never replaced it to be the reason, he shrugs it off with another yawn and despite his sleepiness he decides then to just make his way into the office already, hoping work will be a distraction.
It's just over six that Tuesday morning when he enters the office, sauntering down the empty hallways of the fiftieth floor. He deliberately takes the route that doesn't pass her office, the vanilla free coffee that had followed after the one he tossed away not having helped one bit yet. By the time he sits behind his desk and flips through his files he feels the need for alcohol even more than before but it will be one hell of a day if he gives in, so he doesn't.
Instead, he tries to focus on his cases. Hoping to get as much work done until the inevitable happens. Meaning running into the redhead and going through this wave of emotions again; first the rush of seeing her that makes itself known in a warm sensation: a fluttering feeling in the pit of his stomach, a twitch in his groin and momentary lapse of concentration.
As soon as that comes it fades with the memories of the end of his dream, the fear of her having told the truth coming with short quick breaths and an increased heartbeat but it's the third thing that he keeps settling on. The one thing that sticks around the longest and is starting to drive him insane.
He closes the blue manila folder in front of him and picks the next one from the stack on the right corner of his desk. His gaze briefly landing on the two glasses on his coffee table. A physical reminder of last night.
He thinks about the drinks they shared. That nothing new between them and while nothing happened, he can't say that when he got up and told her he was heading home, his proposal of giving her a ride home wouldn't have been testing the waters.
The words however never having come to life as she had instantly nodded and replied with saying she should finish up some files she'd been working on. As merely her colleague he hadn't been in the position to tell her to leave it for the other day.
He sighs then, returning his gaze to the papers in front of him in the hopes his mind will focus on it too but, for now, all he can think about is how he'll ever be able to find out the truth when he couldn't even ask her if she wanted a ride home or not.
Louis knocks on the glass partition twice before letting himself into the junior partner's office, stopping in his place when Katrina raises her index finger in the air and signals the phone next as she moves around her office.
Quickly rounding up her call with her client, reassuring him they'll take care of his every need. She places her phone on her desk and turns to look at the name partner. A soft smile spreading across her face as she greets her friend. "What can I do for you, Louis?"
"Ooh," the name partner mutters, pointing at himself with his hand. He quickly shakes his head. "Nothing," he reassures her. "I just came by to tell you that it took some convincing but your promotion to senior partner should come soon and don't worry you have months to pay the buy-in."
Louis watches his former associate, the look on the blonde's face however not matching his own bright grin or the look her pictured her to sport. "What's wrong? I thought this is what you wanted?"
"It is," she answers in an instant. Biting down on the corner of her lip, holding back a sigh. "I just –" She turns around to look out of the window, she can't face her friend at that moment much less get words over her lips. Being used. "I don't think I'm ready, that's all."
"Katrina," Louis objects taking a step towards her. "You are the best associate I have ever had."
She tilts her head to the side, doesn't fire back on how she's also been the only one he's ever had as a personal associate. "I know," she reasons. "I know I'm good enough to make senior partner but I want to make it because of that, not some power play that's been going on."
"There's no – "
"Really," the blonde junior partner cuts him off, turning on her spot to face the name partner and she defensively crosses her arms in front of her chest. "You don't expect me to believe the timing of my promotion being brought up, before Zane was even really here, isn't dodgy?"
Crossing her left leg over her right, she swirls the small layer of scotch around in her crystal tumbler. Her foot now bobbing up and down on the rhythm of the soft music coming from her laptop, that filling the momentary silence between them and she turns to glance at the man sitting on her right.
Her gaze landing on his frame first, her eyes travel over his face and while he absentmindedly stares at his first drink of the day in his hand she observes him. The wrinkles near the corner of his eyes and the smile tugging on the corner of his lips. It's his silence, the way he looks down that makes her ask though. "You okay?"
Her soft voice wakes him from his thoughts and he shakes his head slowly before turning to his left. His gaze locking in on hers and he bobs his head up and down with a smile this time around. "Yeah," he reassures her and he keeps looking at her even long after she redirects her gaze.
Moving the glass around in her hand once more, she draws her bottom lip between her teeth contemplating her next action. She quickly takes a sip of her scotch when she makes up her mind. "I got something for you," she tells him, briefly glancing at him over her shoulder. She ignores the way he still looks at her, focusing on her own words. She shifts over the couch to the edge of her seat, leaning forward to place her glass down.
He hums once, watches her get up. With a tilt of his head to the left, he lets his gaze to follow her every move, dropping down and tracing her form when she halts near her desk and he finds himself swallowing thickly when she leans forward.
He's always known and thought she was a beautiful woman but after the other time, he has never completely allowed himself to feel that attraction that has been there since the beginning. It wouldn't have been doable otherwise, work side by side but now that he does it's twelve years of repressed feelings catching up with him and he finds himself gawking at her more often.
This being the umpteenth time that day since he ran into her this morning. It's the lilac dress she is wearing. In all the years he's known her, he has seen her wearing a variety of colours and numerous shades of pink. Old, hot, salmon, peach, burgundy and various tones of purple but she has never once worn lilac.
Not since the other time.
This garment isn't as short and doesn't have lace framing her generous cleavage but it fits her body like a second skin and his gaze all too eagerly derails down her slim legs when one of her feet lifts of the floor for a moment. He swallows thickly, eyes closing for the briefest of seconds. He opens them again after the first flash of red hair on white sheets and he subconsciously wets his lips.
He quickly redirects his gaze to her face and discretely crosses his legs when she stands back up and turns around on her spot, this time he watches her walk back to him and he can't help but grin when she gives him a look. His brows draw together when he notices his tie rolled up in her hand, the one that he forgot the other day. "Where did you get that?"
She laughs once, shakes her head at his comment. He made it sound as if she stole it and that's the furthest thing from the truth. She could have given in back earlier though. "You left it behind on that chair," she counters, extending her hand with the silk object in his direction. Turning it around so that a part of the tie slips from her hand and hangs in the air between them.
He quickly downs the rest of his scotch, placing the tumbler on her coffee table he shifts ever so slightly over the couch. Sitting a bit more to the left now that he extends his hand to take back his belongings. His fingers sliding over the silver fabric, softly pulling on it. His action making her hand come near his and her fingertips brush over the palm of his hand while his reach her pulse point.
Swearing he can feel her heartbeat quicken under his touch, his gaze drops to their hands but in the same moment that spark of hope turns into a slight panic because it automatically comes with the fear of rejection. Quickly folding his hand around the silky fabric he produces a soft smile and whispers thanks as he pulls his hand back.
Feeling her fingertips tingling she holds her breath and shuffles over her spot, now turning to sit back down on the couch next to him. Still planted down on the edge, she turns to the right a bit, her knees getting close this his legs and she leans forward to refill his glass and add a bit to her own.
Holding out his glass in front of him like before, this time both of them are hyper aware of the small touch they just shared and his fingers fold around the bottom of the glass. She reaches for her own glass after handing over his and she slides back over the seating area. Crossing her left leg over her right, she lets out a tired sigh when her back hits her couch and her right-hand drops to the small space in between them.
"Long day?" he asks her, knowing fully well his own day has been longer than hers.
"No," she whispers, with a soft shake of her head she turns to look at him. "Not really," she admits, thinking back to what she did today and it actually included a long lunch out of the firm with Katrina. "You were here early though," she counters, remembering seeing him moving around in his office in the distance already when she arrived at seven thirty.
"I can do that you know," he fires back in a beat. "Be on time."
She snickers first, shooting him a look that tells him she knows enough from experience over the years and it usually is the other way around. Her mind then drifts off to the reason of almost every single time he showed up late at the firm.
He notices her smile and the sparkle in her eyes fading, that observation making him swallow. He knows their words don't indicate it this time but he also knows where her mind must have drifted off to. While that look pains him to see, it also selfishly gives him another tiny piece of the puzzle he's trying to solve.
"I uh –" he tries to find his voice. "I actually woke up around four and couldn't fall back asleep after so I came into work early." He moves the glass around in his hand, watching the auburn liquid swivel and when the tiny wave settles again he brings the crystal to his lips and takes a big gulp.
She wants to ask if it's the weather, the heat that's currently tormenting the city but in all the years she's known him she's never once heard him complain about that so she settles on something else, her words meant as a tease because it's him but she has no clue how spot on they really are. "Bad dream?"
He swallows thickly, the memories or in particular one moment of that dream never having left his thoughts but her words bring it back all the same. "Something like that," he answers, it the most he's ready to share on the subject.
He brings the glass to his lips and downs the rest of his scotch in one gulp, his silent and not so subtle way of changing the subject he brought up himself. Angling his body forward he slides his empty glass on her coffee table before he moves back to lean against the couch, his left hand sliding of his thigh to the small place between them.
While the motion was a move on his part to distract himself, from the conversation, the dream and his new but in reality perpetual fear, their new sitting arrangement is a distraction in itself. Both having moved and shifted around since they sat down at the beginning of the evening and the space between them had subsequently grown smaller over time.
He hears her talk but listening would be an overstatement, her voice turning to background noise as his attention is on her presence. Hyper aware of her posture, body angled in his direction, her knees turned ever so slightly to the right. Legs crossed, her left foot would scrape past his suit pants if she were to bob her foot up and down. But what he experiences the most is the proximity of her hand. Resting on the soft blue coloured couch next to his, less than an inch between them.
He swears he can almost feel the warmth coming from her hand and he remembers the way her hand slipped into his months ago and just a couple of weeks ago at their friend's wedding. A moment he'd treasured at both occasions but the freedom the last one provided is what he misses now. That excuse to hold her, to feel her, to hide behind the truth.
His gaze fixates on his own pinky finger, can almost feel it wanting to twitch. If he would just extend it a little, he'd touch her, slow and careful. Hesitatingly, like the thought of doing so long been forbidden, his fingertip would trace her phalanx. One, two, never reaching the one attached to her knuckle as it would slip in between the warm space of her last two fingers and hook around her pinky. The gesture quite literally a promise of what could be.
He draws his lips between his teeth, subconsciously wetting his bottom lip in the process as he hums along to her voice, that however fading away behind his own thoughts of that gesture. He's so close to doing it, the simplest and smallest of touches and he feels like if he even wants to have the chance to do so he needs to look away now, redirect his gaze from their hands for the woman next to him has the uncanny ability to sense his every move and thought but never quite interpret it the way he means. Lifting his gaze slowly, at the same pace his finger shifts to the left.
His head bobs up at that and his hand jumps an inch but lands on the soft couch instead of her hand. He watches her now, sitting perked up on the edge of the seat again, sliding her own glass onto her coffee table and just when she's about to turn to look over shoulder, in search for an answer to her question he swallows and makes up his mind.
"No." The word comes with a shake of his head and he brings his hand back to his own side, pulling on the hem of his jacket he scrapes his throat and suppresses a yawn. "Its uhm getting late…" A yawn escaping him now as his tiredness is catching up with him. "I'm going to head home," he insists, pushing himself onto his feet.
Standing in front of the couch, he glances down at her and presses his lips together in a thin line when she looks back up at him. Her bright hazel eyes staring up at him and the nod that follows almost making him cave but he can't. The nights of shared drinks a new ritual he isn't willing to give up but it also functions as a reminder of the almost, what might never be and he can't stay.
Remembering her reaction from the night before and the one of his own imagination in his dream he doesn't offer her a ride home today either. Depositing his hands in the pockets of his pants he wishes her a good night. "See you tomorrow," his last words come before he steps out of her office.
The suggestion of ordering in on the tip of her tongue, she watches him walk away. Her gaze slowly following him until he rounds to the right and disappears out of her sight. Holding back a sigh she finds herself glancing down at the two glasses on the table, the sight starting to match how she feels on the inside.
Empty, more confused than she already was but she was following his lead, letting him be just like she was suggested but each day that passes she wonders if it will ever lead to something.
"Well, thanks, Mike."
He looks down at his feet, shuffling them over the elevator floor while waiting for the doors to close. The metal box empty beside him, the thirty-second ride up to the fiftieth floor on Thursday morning long enough to let his mind drift off to the dream starring the redhead he had last night.
It's the third day in a row he dreamed about her. The first taking place in his office, the second a replay of the other time and the one from last night set in a potential future, all three of them ended the same way though. With her telling him his feelings aren't shared.
"You never know for sure if you don't ask."
He hears his mother's words again. The advice being one of the first thoughts he has after waking from each dream and while his fear of already having heard the truth is still there he fantasises about asking her.
"Did you -"
The rest of his practice sentence dies on the tip of his tongue and he stops rocking back and forth on his feet when the elevator comes to a halt, the doors sliding open with a soft pinging sound. He lifts his head and his gaze instantly locks in on her form stepping off of the opposing elevator.
She's wearing a fitted maroon coloured dress with a structure he doesn't fully understand but the neckline definitely speaks his language and he has a hard time not staring at her. He bites his tongue to stop himself from swallowing, producing a smirk to match the smile she's wearing, Harvey stuffs his hands down the pocket of his suit pants. As discreetly as possible he adjusts the latter while stepping off the small metal box and meeting her halfway.
She draws in a breath at the sight of him, clad in her favourite grey Tom Ford suit and smile to boot. She stalls, bringing her hands together in front of her. A somewhat uncharacteristic trade but she has to stop the urge from fixing the black tie he put on this morning. Bobbing her head to the side, she allows her gaze to flick over his form once as she draws her right leg behind her left pressing her thighs together in the process.
"Harvey," she greets him. Her flirtatious tone even surprising herself but there's something about his air that brings it out in her. The looks they share a little bit too long for two regular colleagues and they silently turn on their place. Simultaneously making their way to the main reception desk like countless times before.
He glances at her from the corner of his eye, watching her walk beside him and the way a smile tugs on her lips. He's reminded of his mother's words again but when he opens his mouth other words come out.
"If I'd known you'd come now, I'd have gotten you coffee."
Her brows knit together in a small frown, his words taking her by surprise she turns to look at him again. Pressing her lips together in a thin line, she smiles and shrugs softly. "It's okay," she replies, lacking a better answer.
He matches her smile, his own soon turning into a grin when a thought crosses his mind and he guides the two of them to the executives kitchen. Holding the door open for her, he urges her to get into the room with a bob of his head.
"What are you doing?" Her questions comes the second she steps into the room, turning to look over her shoulder as he follows her inside, closing the door behind him.
"Getting you coffee."
She chuckles once and shakes her head, watches him cross the room to the counters now. Already opening up one of the cabinets when she uses his name in objection. "Harvey."
He merely shakes his head, doesn't want to hear her objection and continues the excuse he gave himself to spend some time with her before they each have to retreat to their own offices. He reaches for another coffee cup and moves to the coffee machine.
She watches him move the cups back and forth in the machine, her gaze moving from his hands to his face and she notices the frown that's forming between his brows and how he hustles with the machine. She shifts on her spot, bites down on her lip to stop herself from commenting but when she sees his hand move to the wrong button she steps ahead and stops him.
Her hand on his arm, she softly pushes him aside and starts finishing the task for him. Explaining every move as she goes, she's fully aware he does know how to make coffee or more specifically her coffee.
It's his hand gracing the small of her back when he sidesteps her to open the cabinet on her right. His body sandwiching her between the counter and his own, he blindly reaches for the bottle of vanilla while keeping his gaze on the woman right in front of him and he thinks he sees her swallow but it might be his own reaction.
Stepping back, he increases the distance between them just a little. Not because he wants to but has to, for his own sanity. The look she throws him and the way he smirks however only getting closer to that line they've been toeing for years.
He takes one of the cups out of the machine and adds a splash of the sweetener to it before handing it over to Donna. "There you go."
She snickers at the confidence the sentence was delivered with even though she did most of the work. Covering the cup with both of her hands, she brings it to her face and just before she takes a sip she vocalises her gratefulness barely above a whisper.
He watches her eyes fall shut and her lips curl up in appreciation on the first sip, only tearing his gaze away from her after. He takes the small bottle of vanilla and adds a splash of it to the second cup. Placing the vanilla extract back in the cabinet, both of them turn to look at the door when Samantha marches in.
The redhead nods once at the other woman and quietly steps aside, making room for the female lawyer to make a drink of her own. The blonde lawyer, however, surprises both of them by just taking the cup that was still on the counter. "Sorry, I'm in a rush," she reasons, turning around again.
Samantha senses that the name partner wants to protest to her actions and she slows down just in front of the door again. Turns to look at the lawyer and the COO, she stops any words from him with her own. "Some of us actually solve cases, coffee boy."
Donna bites down on her tongue to prevent a chuckle from escaping and she peeks at him from the corner of her eye. The dumbfounded look on his face making the soft sound echo through the room anyway. "Here," she adds, handing over the vanilla flavoured coffee to him after taking one more sip. "I got a meeting," she explains, bidding him farewell with a thin lipped smile and a nod.
He mirrors her motions, waiting until the redhead disappears from his line of sight until he lowers his gaze to the white cup in his hands. Eyeing the object, he takes in the familiar scent and he spots the red lipstick stain on the cup then. Smiling to himself he turns the cup around in his hand, lining the red marks up with his lips when he brings the coffee cup to his mouth.
And for the first time in days, he enjoys his favourite hot beverage. His fears, his dream filled nights and the uncertainty aren't on his mind, she still is though but he considers it a good start of a day.
That's the word he'd use to describe witnessing someone who's doing what he's doing. It's also the word he knows the pup would chime in his direction but he can't help himself. She's on his mind more than ever; his concentration failing every time she passes his office. Meetings are a staring fest and above anything, he makes the most random trips around the fiftieth floor in the off chance to run into her without having to march himself into her office for no specific reason. There's only so much advice one can ask for on a case and still sound believable.
He looks to his left, scanning the fiftieth floor before he turns to the right and does the same; looking for any curious glances and prying eyes. When he spots neither, he quickly takes the last five steps towards the file room and enters the archive just like the redhead had done seconds prior.
It really is pathetic, the way he acts and he knows it but he doesn't care. Quietly closing the door behind him again, he takes slow and measured steps through the room, halting near the end of a row filing cabinets he leans against the metal structure and watches the redhead go about her business.
She bites down on her tongue, continuing her task at hand by opening up the copy machine and placing the original file on the glass plate, shutting the lid after again. All the while pretending she didn't sense his presence the moment he stepped into the room and no matter how carefully slow or soundless he moves she'd recognise his steps in a heartbeat anyway. Counting to five in her mind, she decides to break the comfortable silence by acknowledging his presence. Something she does by pronouncing his name.
"Harvey, you don't have any papers in your hand why are you waiting in line for the copier."
He swallows once, holds back a grin but pushes himself onto his feet at the same time. "Okay, mind reader," he mirrors her greeting with the same mirth and he crosses the small section in the back of the file room, coming to a halt just behind her. "What are you doing?"
She chuckles once and fights the urge to roll her eyes at his question. That in itself being so obvious, it's the tone it got delivered with that prevents her from doing so, her stomach, however, does turn. She lets out a breath, keeps her gaze firmly directed on the machine in front of her. "I am making copies, what does it look like I'm doing?"
"Well," he mutters. "Yeah." His eyes close at his own absurd question and he shakes his head cursing the effect she has on him. Trained to talk for a living, win cases by presenting facts in a favourable light yet with her it's the opposite, losing his ability to talk almost altogether.
She turns to look over her shoulder in his direction, his stammering endearing but not enough a reason to take it easy on him. As much as she wants to, her witty remarks, the teasing still her default way to cover her own feelings. "I know you might not have a clue how this works but just because I became COO doesn't mean I can't make my own copies."
He grimaces at her words, it's not the first time she called him out on his inability to do the simplest of tasks. He nods at her then, proudly but it also makes him realise that what he's witnessing, as much as he enjoys the view, shouldn't be necessary in the first place. "You don't have to -"
She throws him another glance, blindly pressing another button on the control panel. "Are you going to make copies for me, copy boy?"
Her words fluster him more than he wants to admit and he crosses his arms in front of his chest for a moment, immediately dropping them after. "No," he admits, taking a step towards her still. He shakes his head at her newest nickname for him, it's a clear play on what she heard Samantha call him that morning but this time around he doesn't mind that much. "But your assistant will."
"My -" She can't even pronounce the word. She wants to say she doesn't need one but after having been that for so many years the idea of having one of her own is appealing too.
"Assistant," he repeats, redirecting his gaze from her to the control panel of the copy machine. Pressing start for her as she hadn't done so yet. A grin plastered on his face when he glances back up at her. "You're our COO, you deserve to have one. I don't know why I -"
He swallows in the rest of his words when she tilts her head to the side, watches her turn on her spot towards him and next thing he knows her hands slide over his tie. Fixing the dimple that was just ever so slightly to the left. Swallowing thickly once more, he finds himself staring at the woman in front of him. Gaze slowly dropping from her eyes to her lips and he can't help but wet his own.
She notices his gaze drop and a shiver runs down at that realisation, her own soon mirroring his action. Looking at the lips she doesn't allow herself to think about but she can still feel and even taste his on her own. She lets the silk piece of fabric slide through her fingers and she brings it back to his chest. Hands resting there for a moment, tapping on the lapels of his jacket on the rhythm of the only sound in the background. The copy machine pushing out her papers, the lack of noise when it finishes its task also what makes her snap out of her thoughts.
"There," she whispers. Taking a step back and bringing her hands back to her side, she quickly turns on her spot. Making her back face him as she tries to hide the warmth that had spread through her body at his proximity. "Thank you," she adds now, logging off from the machine. "But I could just steal Cameron whenever I need something."
He bites down on his lip at her stubborn reaction, wants to tell her once more she doesn't have to because she should have her own. She's a great COO and he should have told her that before, given her all the perks that come with the job and in the end it just came down to the fact that he should have promoted her years ago. Instead, he half plays along. "Well you can have him, kid's colour coding system is a mess."
She holds back a chuckle but shakes her head all the same. Can't believe the guy still didn't follow her advice after she practically spelt it out for him. "Well," she muses then, unceremoniously waving her hand around before she turns to remove the original file from the copier. "Not everyone can be like me."
He glances at her again, lets his gaze move over her frame and he doesn't exactly know why she said it and even if she meant it on a pure professional level, his next words aren't. "No one is like you."
She feels her chest tighten and the warmth she felt before now spreading over her cheeks in the form of a blush. She keeps facing the machine, head tilting forward just a bit making her hair fall over her shoulder and shield her face from him.
He watches her intently, notices the fumbling of her fingers and the way her chest rises up and down with a deep breath she takes. He doesn't regret the words because they are very much the truth in whatever way she will interpret them but in thirteen years of seeing her reactions he also knows it means something that she isn't letting him see hers this time around, or at least not right away.
Biting down on his lip he takes a step to the left, standing next to her in front of the machine. He reaches for the files in the printer tray and holds them up in the space between them, his gaze only meeting hers when she takes them from his hand, the entire exchange of files a couple of seconds to long to just be that.
The moment broken by the nod that follows, a silent thank you on her part and he takes the way her lips curl up into a soft smile as a win he didn't know he was playing for but he realises now it's by far one of the most beautiful things he has seen and would do anything to get her to smile like that.
Her smile enticing his gaze back to her lips, something he could stop from happening for years because he pushed the possibility of something so far down, the mere suggestion from anyone would result in a confused look on his part. These days he finds himself more and more distracted by her, by the possibilities and the memories of her touch. Her hand in his, her body close to his own and her lips soft against his own winning it from the fear of rejection.
The need to spend time with her, being close to her winning it over the pain of saying goodbye. An invitation to dinner is on the tip of his tongue but he doesn't get to pronounce it when her fingers tapping against the paper wake him from his thoughts seconds later and his gaze travels back to hers.
Keeping the idea of dinner to himself, he decides showing up with takeout is a guaranteed night with her whereas an invite to go somewhere is more likely to be shot down. He has the memory of his mother's invite days before as proof of that.
Staying silent, he merely grins at her in return and signals with a bob of his head to the door for them to leave. Moving ahead, he holds the door of the file room open and lets her out first. Allowing himself one last glance over her form, the dress long zipper running down her spine, he quickly follows her out of the room and he takes two big strides to catch up with her. The two of them silently strut through the office like they've done countless times before, this time he can't stop thinking about his plan.
She nods at him when they reach her office, despite the file room being on his side of the office. He's ever the gentlemen, in everything he does and she grins to herself when he turns around to leave her be.
She pretends to walk over to her desk but two seconds later already she struts back to the glass panelling to make sure he's out of sight. His behaviour this day is making her nervous, first their run in and the drinks, the advice he sought merely an hour later and his rather slow departure of her office afterwards and now he came to find her in the file room.
The last encounter not even having a had a purpose. Him mentioning her getting her own assistant sincere, she knows that. She also knows he didn't follow her just to tell her that, which leaves one other option. One she doesn't allow herself to think about but she can't stop her mind from going there either anymore.
When she's absolutely certain he's near his own office, she sprints back to her desk. Hand nervously flicking against her thigh she contemplates calling her friend. Something she hadn't mentally been able to do earlier this week, but the time difference isn't exactly allowing her to do so now.
Besides the two friends have an exact schedule, on thursdays the young lawyer calls the redhead during her lunch. Meaning she is left alone with her thoughts and mildly raging feelings for another two hours.
And thus the redhead dives into her tasks again. Not only busying but distracting herself from a certain co-worker with actual work. A reason she's never wanted to acknowledge but definitely played a role in making her the workaholic she is today. Managing files left and right, a meeting with Katrina, quick tea break with Gretchen and an impromptu pep talk for Brian later, she's in over her head when her phone rings.
"Do you have time?"
She smiles at the sweet voice of her friend coming through the phone. "Barely," the chief operating officer answers with a deep sigh, moving more files around, phone crammed between her ear and shoulder. "But for you always."
"Stress at work?"
"You know what the firm is like," Donna reminds her friend, her tone of voice already giving away it's nothing out of the ordinary. "Besides your father's pit bull butting heads left and right, it's just… I'm a bit on edge, I guess. That's all."
Rachel hums in understanding, swivelling around on her seat in the Starbucks she's called home during her lunch calls with Donna for the last couple of weeks. "You know what you need?"
The redhead holds back a sigh and bobs her head to the side, fully aware her friend can't see the warning look on her face. "Don't."
The three letter word pronounced with an amusing tone, one too much for the redhead's liking. The young lawyer never had the courage to be so bold to her before, but she can't blame her friend either. Knows she, and her husband, only means well.
She rolls her eyes and shifts over her desk chair, crossing one leg over the other while she turns her chair to the side. She can't even deny Rachel's words anymore but she doesn't bite that easily. "I don't see anyone waiting in line."
"First," Rachel objects after taking a sip from her Frappuccino, the cup hitting the small table with a little more force than she intended and she uses a napkin to wipe away some spilt droplets from the straw. "That's ridiculous. Second, I know -"
"Rach," Donna objects before the lawyer can finish her sentence and the name she knows would follow and deep down wants to hear is pronounced. Hearing it would just make it harder to push it all away again, if need be.
Rachel bites down on her lip and presses her lips into a thin line, smiling at the waiter bringing her the mercato salad she ordered. She waits for the young man to leave before she speaks up again. She knows she has teased her friend enough so she switches to a more serious approach. "Do you remember the day you started working for Louis?"
Donna takes in a deep breath and swallows, her eyes flickering shut at the memories rushing back. The events that caused that change and how in a way they're still in the same place when it comes to them.
If it had been any other question she would have been her witty self and used a quippy remark. Reminded the brunette of who she was talking too but she can't, so she merely hums in response.
"You told me you lied when you said you can never go back and that day you told me it turned out you lied when you said you lied."
The redhead hums in acknowledgment once more.
"I know you don't want to push anything anymore and I get it but you know what stood out most to me when you told me that? How much you lie to yourself."
The objection comes in such a soft tone of voice it makes the brunette swallow and almost regret saying anything, but just like her husband had told the redhead before, she wouldn't be able to live with herself if she didn't try and help her friend obtain the happiness she has in her life.
"I think you know the truth, whatever that may be for you but maybe it's time you tell him too." Rachel continues. "I know you tried before and I know the risk and I can't guarantee you that this will be the right time or how it will go from there but what I do know is that what kept Mike and I apart in the beginning was him lying to me about being a lawyer and when he stopped lying to me, well we -"
Rachel pauses, chuckling to herself at the old memory and she quickly glances around the establishment to make sure no one is within earshot. "I'm not saying you'll end up having sex against a filing cabinet but you might end up -"
Rachel laughs at the directness Donna's rebuttal comes with. "Well that too," she admits, realising it was her who joked about it first in the conversation she also knows that when the redhead does so it's a deflection method. "But I meant more, everything. Mike is right you know, you two could be as happy as we are."
Donna lets out a soft sigh, biting down on her lip to prevent herself from verbalising how she knows her friend is telling the truth. She also figures she doesn't have to do so anyway, the brunette has obviously learned some of her own tricks over the years and she wouldn't be telling her all this unless she knows she's right and that she'd agree. So instead of pronouncing her thanks, she focuses on something else, still part of the brunette's explanation to let her know the real meaning behind the conversation didn't go completely past her. "Really the file room?"
"That's what you took away from this conversation?" Rachel counters, seeing through her friends answer but in a way she's glad it did. It means her friend heard her and the playful tone it was brought with means it isn't directly pushed aside either.
"Amongst other things," Donna admits now, it's as close as she'll get to acknowledging the rest. At least for now, while things are still the same.
"It's that I'm not there, but I'm sure by now I would have had to stop Mike from locking the two of you in there."
Donna laughs once, louder than she expected and she shakes her head and looks down at her desk because of her own involuntarily reaction. The movement making a few strands of her hair slip off of her shoulder and cover the blush creeping up on her cheeks. The image her friend's words sketch in her mind bringing that edge back again.
Harvey can hear her laugh when he steps out of Robert's office, his head automatically turning to the right to look in her direction. He watches the way she shakes her head and looks down, and if he didn't know better he'd think she's blushing.
The sight in his passing by something he witnesses for nothing more than two seconds but it does more to him that he imagined and if he didn't know about her weekly calls to Rachel he'd have felt a hint of jealousy over that reaction. It's knowing she's talking to Rachel that also stops him from marching into her office and demanding her attention, trying to cause an equal reaction out of her.
Instead he smiles at the happiness she radiates out now, takes one last glance at the redhead and continues his path down to his office. Upholding the promise he made her of not interrupting her Thursday 3pm half hour meetings, as they're officially scheduled in in both her and his own calendars.
"From what I just learned that room is off limits now."
"Now," Rachel emphasises, her tone questioning that part of the statement since the fact that Mike and her happened at the office wasn't exactly news to the redhead, before she continues with her remark. "So you did think about it?"
"You know you thought about it."
"I think about a lot of things."
Rachel's choice of words brings back memories of their time at the district attorney's office, that particular conversation held just days before the other time. And now she was having the same kind of conversation on the possible brink of the next time, just with another person.
"I work fifteen hour days and I've spent almost a third of my life in this building, my mind may have wandered. Once or twice."
Rachel smirks, she knows a lot of ins and outs of the redhead's love life. Just like the other way around. The answer is, however, as ambiguously phrased as possible. In true Donna style, but Rachel wouldn't Rachel if she didn't see through it and fill in the gaps. Something she for years silently did, keeping the conclusions to herself this time she tries her luck once more and pronounces her thoughts. "To Harvey?"
Her mind does in that exact moment, her eyes pressed shut and the images her mind provides a mixture of the other time and how he followed her into the specific room earlier that day; remains of whipped cream on the copier and an accidentally created piece of physical evidence of the encounter in the paper tray.
She breathes in deeply, shifts over her desk chair and crosses her right leg over her left.
"I didn't hear a no."
Donna pushes the colourful thoughts away with a shake of her head. She didn't deny it indeed but that wasn't because the trick of her mind in that moment; it would have been the same answer anyway. It hadn't been a lot of times and for years it had been none at all, but waking up from that dream after the wedding had changed things in that perspective.
She spins her chair around to face the window now, the conversation making her a little uncomfortable she draws her thumb under her index finger, nails fidgeting as she takes everything in and thinks over a witty response now, to regain control over the exchange. "Maybe I don't miss you as much as I thought I did."
"I miss you too," Rachel answers sincerely, smiling to herself as she finishes up her meal.
Donna moves through the bullpen later that night. Thoughtlessly cleaning and rearranging files left and right on the empty desks, much like she'd done in the first couple of months after Mike had joined the firm. Like a good fairy mother she kept his clean and organised. Placed the files in order of importance for the following day. The pup had never asked her how or why this happened but she had heard him mention this mysterious occurrence to Harvey once.
Though from her desk she had never seen his reaction that came along with the words, something along the lines of how he should do that himself anyway. Being the extension he was of Harvey, Mike's desk had to look just as pristine as Harvey's office was, the suit and tie thing but different. She knows he'd known it was her.
It's a silly thing to remember now, a couple of years later as she walks through these cubicles. Her hand eventually resting on the partition of the desk that once belonged to the puppy. She misses him, a lot. Rachel too but she's happy for them as well. Knows they're living their dreams from the near daily phone calls she has with either. Not only keeping up with her friends but also filling the void of the two name partners who sometimes just forget.
Letting her fingers trace along the edge of desk, she rounds the cubicle and pulls the chair back. Sitting down in one of the chairs she's never sat in before but she needs a moment of silence for herself, a space to deal with her thoughts. Her emotions and the words, advice of her friend. Hence why she ended up here.
"You can pull over here, Ray."
The request comes with a bob of his head to the side, he doesn't need to explain his driver why. They've stopped on this particular corner more than once and always for the same purpose, tonight no different.
He shifts over the back seat of the black Lexus, hand moving to the door to open he stills just before doing so. "Do you want anything?"
Ray glances at his employer through the rear view mirror but he shakes his head. "My wife's making Biryani and she promised to save me some for later. So I better not sir."
Harvey presses his lips in a thin line and grins in understanding. "I'll be right back," he announces before opening the door and stepping out. He makes his way into the Shitty Thai place and even though they've never eaten in the establishment in person, Donna may have never even set foot in it all, the chef does know him by name.
"Mr. Specter," the old man greets the lawyer that once helped him keep the place. One of the only pro Bono's he's willingly taken back in the day. "Beef Pad Thai?"
"Yes," the lawyer answers with a nod. "And -"
"The usual for miss Paulsen?" The owner of the restaurant adds before Harvey can finish his sentence.
He grins to himself as he indeed hears his thoughts pronounced for him. "Have I ever left this place without it?"
The old man laughs now, shaking his head in return. "No, you have not, sir," he admits. "It'll be ready in a few minutes."
"Thanks," he answers, swivelling around on his spot he paces through the empty waiting area. Hands in the pocket of his pants, he thinks about his plan from earlier that day.
Tonight he'll find out if she lied.
Dinner was step one. That the easy start, ordering from her favourite take out restaurant. Already having picked up a bottle of merlot on the way over.
Asking if she did in fact lie, a whole other thing. The idea so simple, execution quite the opposite and he almost wishes this was a case. Donna the witness on the stand, him asking the questions like he does for a living but he doesn't ever want to put her through an experience like that again however easier it would be for him.
So he finds himself practicing. One simple question, almost pronounced today already but in his mind he repeats it over and over again. Did you lie? Did you lie? Did you lie?
Completely focused on the three word question, he absentmindedly takes the bag of food from the chefs hand, handing over cash and leaving a generous tip in return.
Did you lie?
Did you lie?
"Did you - Did you lie?"
"Lie about what, sir?" Ray asks, glancing at the lawyer through the rear-view mirror once more as he takes off for the firm again.
The driver's question causes his brows to knit together as he snaps out of his thoughts but he still needs to shake his head to clear his head and he silently curses himself for letting this slip. "Ooh," he mutters, adding a shrug along with it to play it down but his added rambles only ending up having the opposite effect. "I … I didn't -"
"Miss Paulsen?" Ray asks then, filling in the answer he knows he wouldn't have gotten from the lawyer but he's known him and there for them long enough to notice when something is off or when to put two and two together.
Ray catches a glimpse of Harvey's reaction from the corner of his eye as he makes another turn with the car but the way the man's face fell tells him enough. The subject of his question had indeed been the redhead.
"I don't think I've ever heard Miss Paulsen lie," Ray continues when a verbal response on his previous question lacks and the driver only adds it to ease some of the lawyer's worries. Or so he hopes.
This time around he attentively watches his employer's face through the rear view mirror as they wait for the traffic light to turn green. He sees the man swallow thickly and his eyes close and if the driver has to be honest he's only seen the man this lost a handful of times.
He realises then he must have said the wrong thing to the question that wasn't even meant for him in the first place. But his intent had been to reassure his boss and his second attempt is the same, while he builds on the answer he'd given before but the choice of words this time around differently but what he is pretty sure is the truth. "Unless it would be to protect someone," Ray adds this time, switching gears as he takes off again. "Then she would."
"She would?" It's a repetitive and rhetorical question, one he's known the answer to for as long as he knows her and yet he asks. Seeking reassurance and a need to fuel that glimpse of hope he needs to make it through his plan.
"I mean," Ray hesitates for a moment, realising it's a rather uncommon topic for him to be discussing so freely with his boss. Especially since the lawyer in question should know the answers above anyone else. "I don't know Miss Paulsen as well as you do, Mister Specter but yes. I believe she would."
Harvey hums along in agreement, gaze still down on the bag of food in his hand. His lips curl up ever so slightly cause of course she would, she's done so for years to protect Mike. To protect him. He knows that, but either situation slightly different from the one they find themselves in now, he hopes the same principles apply though.
He thinks it might.
Ray thinks so.
His mom said so.
"You could always ask someone else," Ray suggests when an answers lacks this time around too. The words still sounding strange to him too, but anything to help the troubled man. "I mean ask if they think Miss Paulsen would. Miss Zane and Mister Ross might know if you really need to know."
Harvey presses his lips in a thin line, thinking over his driver's suggestion and he nods then. "Thanks Ray," he replies without acting on the suggestion just yet. He turns to look out of the window, noticing they're only two blocks away from the firm now and as soon as the thought crosses his mind he acts on it.
"Why don't you pull over here," he instructs. "I'll walk the rest. Take the night off and enjoy dinner with your wife."
Rays smiles and nods, silently pulling the black Lexus up at the side. He wishes Harvey a good evening and waits for the lawyer to turn around the corner before he drives off as told.
Bag of food in hand he crosses the street, left hand impatiently tapping against his leg as the prospect of asking her gets closer and closer. Ray's advice something he ignored for the last block but now with the familiar building inside it's back on his mind and he blindly reaches for his phone from the pocket of his pants.
Having pressed number two on his speed dial, he brings the phone to his ear and continues his way across the square to the entrance.
When the phone goes over for the third time without an answer he's found himself grown more nervous than he imagined, especially over something he hadn't given a minutes thought in doing so.
But now that he is calling he wants to know, the pup's phone rings another time before he hears it go to the familiar voice mail intro. Harvey sighs once, contemplates hanging up altogether but somehow he finds himself speaking. Needing to get it off his chest.
"Hey, Mike. It's me," he starts, making his way through the revolving door of the building. "You're not there so uhm- Yeah. I guess it's -"
He hears himself stammering, once more wondering about the purpose of leaving a message in this situation.
"The thing is," he continues anyway, holding onto the paper bag a little tighter and where he normally and even just hours before would have looked around and made sure no one was around to see or hear him, he can't help the words from coming now regardless.
"Do you think she lied?" He asks, just like Ray suggested him to do, he suppresses a chuckle when he realises he never told the kid what she told him the day after the event. What he's actually asking about. "Donna I mean. About the kiss. Or could it be -"
The rest of his sentence never leaving the tip of his tongue when the elevator doors slide open in front of him and the managing partner and Samantha come into view. He ends the call without finishing his monologue, stepping aside to let the two lawyers of the elevator. Harvey nods once at the older man as greeting when they switch places.
"Working late?" Robert asks turning to look over his shoulder, he signals the paper bag with a bob of his head when the lawyer questionly looks at him in return.
Something like that.
"Yes," Harvey answers, pretending that to be the case to avoid any more questions or knowing grins. "Merger negotiations."
"Hmm," Robert huffs as he tries to wrack his brain around the client Harvey must be referring too but he realises then the other man wasn't talking about work at all. "Well, Good luck then."
"Need help?" Samantha asks politely, still trying to find a way to show the other lawyer she was serious about being on the team.
Harvey takes a deep breath as he can already see his plan for the night crumble to pieces. "No," he replies with a shake of his head. "I need to do this alone."
The blonde lawyer nods but tilts her head to the side when she can't fully place his facial expression. "You sure, I wouldn't mind."
"Samantha," Robert warns his trustee, holding her back with a hand on her arm. "You heard the man. He needs to do this himself," he reasons, nodding at Harvey. He shares one knowing look just before the doors close again.
Harvey stares at his blurry reflection in the elevator doors, shakes his head at the encounter just now and he can't help but wonder if it's that obvious. If everyone really always knew about them long before there was something to know. And if they did, how did he not know? How did she not know?
"You know I love you, Donna."
"Love me how?"
"You're saying you want everything?"
"I don't know, Harvey."
"What do you mean more?"
"I don't know, but I guess I'm going to have to figure that out."
"I just had to know."
He thinks about them, what they are or more specifically what they aren't. The moments shared between the two of them, how they acted, how she acted and what they said, in specific the things she said to him. All could be in line with what she told him later.
"I didn't feel anything when I kissed you, Harvey."
Could be, he tells himself. He may not have the best track record when it comes to relationships and he's hopelessly bad at expressing himself but if he has to be honest, it just doesn't add up anymore. What he so easily believed to be the truth for weeks, for years even, doesn't make sense when putting it in perspective of everything they've been through.
It doesn't add up with the way she acts, the way she smiles or looks at him. So he thinks about her, those long seconds the elevator takes it to make it up to the fiftieth floor.
He thinks about the night before, her proximity and the way he felt his breath hitch when she moved out of his reach anything but forgotten, it are her actions from this afternoon; that simple touch and her smile that made him come up with his plan. That make him wander back into the firm this night, determined to find out the truth because ultimately the idea of not spending time with her definitely being worse than the memory of imagined rejection.
Walking his usual route down the fiftieth floor he nods at his former secretary when he passes Louis office and he has to hold back a grin when she calls after him, commenting on how the bag of food in his hand looks a bit too big for one. He turns to look over his shoulder, wants to counter with something witty and deny anything and everything that statement was insinuating but the look he finds on her face tells him there's no point in doing so.
The secretary smiles to herself, she finishes up packing her bag and reaches for her coat from the back of her chair. "No point in letting that go to waste," Gretchen muses, signalling the paper bag from the Thai with her hand. "Red must be around somewhere here."
Her comment this time even more spot on than the one that made him turn around in the first place, and this time he shakes his head. Knows there's practically no one left in the workplace at this hour but he still can't let her get away with it. "Alright. Goodnight Gretchen."
"Good night, mister Specter."
Her eyes close and she holds back a sigh when that moment gets interrupted mere minutes later, she exhales slowly and produces a small smile before she turns to face her friend.
"What is it, Louis?"
The name partner moves from the door opening through the bullpen towards the redhead, stopping right in front of the cubicle, he lets his hands rest on top of the partition. "I wanted to talk to you about Katrina."
"Her promotion?" Donna guesses, shifting the chair a little, she crosses her hands in her lap.
Louis nods, hands tapping against the small glass plate. A trait that gives away he has found himself in a situation he doesn't know how to deal with. "I know we said she's ready -"
"But she doesn't agree," Donna finishes for him, reading the answer to her assumption on his face already.
"Yes," the lawyer admits. "She doesn't think it's time," Louis starts, using the same words Katrina said to him, explaining to Donna how she said it would be a part of a power play and that she doesn't want to be a part of that. That she wants the position because she deserves it and she knows she does.
"I get it," the redhead whispers softly, while she had been on board with the plan or more like she hadn't been against it. Feeling the need to side with the two name partners on this, it doesn't mean the words don't ring a bell with her. Hitting closer to home than she might realise and for a second she feels like she's on the stand again facing Andy Malik.
She glances up at Louis, takes in the look on his face and even though she sees a hint of understanding the main expression is confusion. "Like she said," Donna starts, "not only is this something she worked so hard for to get it, and she deserves it but when that is challenged or question because of circumstances -"
On his way to his office, Harvey tries to ignore the teasing tone Gretchen's statements were delivered with and he looks down at the bag in his hand that indeed contains too much food for one. And on top of that is also very much from the shitty Thai place the redhead loves.
Passing Zane's empty office, nerves start to kick back in. He unrolls the top of the bag, peeking inside just to make sure they got the orders right. Noticing they forgot to add in some paper napkins, he quickly makes his way into the associates' kitchen.
Barely inside the room, he comes to a quick halt upon hearing her familiar voice. The first thing he does is look over his shoulder but when his view lacks the sight of his favourite redhead he takes another couple of tentative steps into the kitchen, nearing the cabinets he was going to anyway. His new position also giving him the opportunity to peek through the glass door leading to the bullpen, and the mere sight of her, even when talking to Louis, makes his stomach flutter.
He doesn't know why he does it, stepping out of sight and sticking around and he doesn't mean to pry. It's just that when he overhears their conversation, he can't move.
"It's just natural for a decision like that to come with hesitation, you know?"
Her voice turns softer and she swallows once, deciding to continue her explanation annexe inner monologue to her friend. The words she says very much meant to be just about the junior partner's situation but in it, she finds a way to hide her own.
"If it's something you want, something you always thought would be this amazing thing, something worth fighting for and then when it's in reach. When it's close or even when it's happening. You- You start to wonder. Does it really live up to what I thought it would be? Is it enough? What if it won't be like I thought it would be? What if that's that? What is that means the end? Would you blindly give in and go through with it or would you stay where you are, with the possibility of that dream being everything you want?"
Feeling his heart thumb in his chest, his breathing becoming heavier as all of his previous doubt and fear rushed back. Harvey suddenly curses having stayed here and listened in on something he wasn't supposed to hear and the only thing he can settle on is that he didn't want to hear it.
Hands gripping onto the paper bag, he doesn't reach for the napkins anymore. He doesn't close the cabinet either and he doesn't even bother making it out of there unseen or unheard.
Just needs to get away.
Louis slowly bobs his head up and down, missing the door fall shut a couple of feet away he takes in the redhead's words. Her explanation for their friend's hesitation regarding her promotion enough to make him understand where Katrina might be coming from. He lets his hands move over the blue coloured partition, softly tapping on it as he shuffles on his spot. "What can we do?"
The paper bag feels heavy in Harvey's hand by the time he nears her office. The space empty, a gloomy light hitting the room and it's the exact opposite of what he imagined the night to be. Just spending time with her always been the excuse, now with his underlying plan of asking her it's just too much. Her words too much of a reminder of what he deep down already knew and his subconscious had been reminding him of.
She had wanted to know.
Her kiss had been her way of doing so.
What if that's that. What if it isn't what you imagined it to be.
"I didn't feel anything when I kissed you, Harvey."
The words a new mantra, Harvey repeats over and over to will the spark of hope his mother and the redhead's own behaviour had given him out of the way. It only settling in when the bag slips from his hand and lands on her desk with a loud thud. Hand clenching into a fist, he leaves her office and retreats to his corner of the firm.
"Be honest," Donna answers Louis' question now. "Tell her truth, why she should get her promotion and why now. Tell her the circumstances and give her time to figure it out."
"And we trust her to make the right decision. Because even if it isn't exactly as she imagined or happening under the best circumstances it's still what she wants. What she dreams of," Donna continues her explanation. "She'll realise that. She will. We just have to give her time and trust her. Trust her to come to that conclusion."
Forcefully pushing the door to his office open, Harvey ignores the noise it makes when it swings back and he makes a beeline for the bottle of scotch in his office. Pouring himself a glass, he can't even find the energy to bring the alcoholic beverage to his lips. It not just being that anymore, his favourite at that but it was them. A tradition that started way back in the District Attorney's office and has been there through every good and bad moment and was now a near-daily connection they shared.
Leaving the crystal tumbler on its spot he walks towards the record player. The silence in his office too deafening, leaving him with too much to think about. He picks up his father's last album and places the record on the player. Only being able to exhale when the soft tunes of a saxophone fill the space around him and he returns to his desk, drowning himself into work.
Nodding once more, Louis lets the advice the redhead gave him sink in. "Thank you, Donna," he speaks now. "You're right. I'll give her the time she needs."
Donna presses her lips into a thin smile and nods once, her own words a reassurance she had needed. "No problem, Louis."
"Thanks again," he mutters, finally lifting his hand from the partition and he moves to the door, turning around once there to face her again. "Hey. I noticed you keep working these long hours every day, you do know that as COO you don't have to stay around till he leaves anymore, right?"
She chuckles once and nods. "I know," she reasons but she doesn't comment on why she makes these long days. "Have a good night with Sheila, Louis."
He smiles again. "See you tomorrow."
She waits for the lawyer to leave the room, glancing down at the desk in front of her, she thinks over Louis' last advice but he doesn't know why she works late.
The ritual of drinks late at night better than what's waiting for her at home.
And for the briefest of moments, she allows herself to wonder if that's always been the case, not just for her but for both of them. She never needed to stay the odd hours he maintained and yet she did, but for the first time she wonders about why he even had those long workdays. If maybe, just maybe, his reasons for working late were the same as hers.
Feeling her stomach rumble she wakes from her thoughts, any other person would follow the advice she'd just gotten and go home. For her, it's a reason to stay, to order in and maybe spend another couple of hours with him. His behaviour from earlier that day very much the catalyst for these thoughts and her own words a reminder of what she should do. What he's unknowingly given her.
She rolls the desk chair back and gets up, turning the stack of files one more inch to place them just so before she struts out of the bullpen and towards her own office.
Any thoughts about going back to work being put aside when she spots the paper bag from the Thai place she loves on her desk. Smiling to herself she thinks about him, the only person who could have done this but he isn't in her office along with the food like she would have expected him to be.
She then wonders if the bag on her desk even contains food for two. It's a weird thought as they've never not shared it before when eaten at the firm but his absence causes the thought to cross her mind nonetheless and she quietly steps towards her desk. Opening the paper bag to look inside, a relieved sigh escaping her when it shows not just her but his favourite dish inside.
Closing the back again, she looks down. Hiding a blush that crept across her face even if there's no one around to see it and she smiles to herself. Of course, he ordered for both of them, a bottle of her favourite wine to boot. So she gets two glasses and places them on her coffee table ready for use. Her next step is retrieving the reason for her late nights at the office, the reason she's been feeling more on edge today and the reason behind her answer to Louis.
Harvey senses her presence in a beat, knows she's standing there in his door opening just watching him work. Her gaze as firm on him as his is on his laptop, trying his best to ignore her. His plan from earlier that day so abruptly turned upside down and losing all its meaning by just a string of words.
Words she isn't aware that he heard them, that they hurt him even though they just confirmed what he had known deep down all along. The memory of her words and the annoyance he felt because of them, brought back the second she stepped inside his office but he can't ignore her completely. Not really, never has been able to do so and with his feelings bubbling to the surface again he can't do so now. Keeping his head low and his voice barely above a whisper, he acknowledges her presence at last.
"I know you're there."
She smiles softly when she hears his voice mumble those five familiar words and she drops her arms down her side, hands moving over her skirt. She watches him sitting there, suit jacket discarded over the chair in front of his desk and she waits for him to look up but when he doesn't she softly calls out his name. "Harvey."
He hears the hint of uncertainty in her voice and as much as his fear of rejection and his annoyance over that self-made spark of hope are still on his mind, he can feel all that fade away by her mere presence. Her soft voice soothing his uneasiness and he wants to do the same for her, now looking up at the redhead in his door opening. His last bit of annoyance disappearing at the mere sight of her.
She smiles quietly when his gaze meets hers and she feels her stomach flutter, automatically taking a step forward she stalls right after. Fingers impatiently tapping against her own thigh, she gives him a somewhat questioning look.
"I know I usually steal a bite from your Beef Pad Thai but I can't eat all that by myself."
Her words the truth but a hidden question lies beneath it, whether he will join her or not. She watches his face lit up ever so slightly and the signature smirk she has grown to love form on his lips, she doesn't wait around for him to answer.
Instead, she turns on her spot expecting him to follow but she stalls just as quickly as she turned around when she doesn't hear his chair roll back. She looks over her shoulder first, spotting him still sitting there. Gaze directed on his work again and she swallows once, contemplates asking again or not but she swivels on her four-inch heels once more and takes the three steps towards his desk.
The question comes with an extended hand and he looks up at her in a beat. Gaze shifting from her eyes to her hand and back up, his head tilting to the side as if to mock her gesture but in reality, it's him hiding his own desires. Moving in and extending his hand to her, as much as he might want it, something he can't allow himself to do right now. Afraid he'll never get over the loss of her touch, that would only be just that, otherwise. So with an equally curious look on his face, he keeps his gaze on her while rolling his chair back, getting out of it and rounding the table without reaching for her hand.
She slowly pulls her arm back, hand balling into a fist she tries her best not to show it. Hiding how his reaction affected her, she shuffles on her spot and only gets into motion again when he's next to her. Her shoulder accidentally bumping into his as she does so, the moment resulting in a shared look, hidden smiles and neither of them speaks.
Her inability to ask or read into things, as she's trying to do on Mike's advice, does result in more bold moves on her part. Body acting before mind and this time she finds herself hooking her arm around his, squeezing softly and holding him close.
"Not letting you get out of this."
The words are added in a teasing voice but if he were able to do what she doesn't allow herself to do anymore he'd know it meant so much more.
The short distance between his office and hers is crossed by each other's side, bodies nearly pressed together in the same way as at the beginning of their friends' wedding. They walk in sync, always have and always will, and while this time it's not an aisle and there's no ceremony they're walking towards too, the looks they share while half missed are very much the same.
Nearing her office their pace slows down, subconsciously prolonging their excuse to be together. To touch, something that's seemingly part of the new normal but tests it all the same.
He uses his left hand to open the door to her office for her, holding back to let her go inside first and her arm slowly slips from his, her hand trailing down his wrist until his hand lingers on her own. Both missing the other's touch as soon as they part but neither is willing to say it.
Instead, he clenches his hand and takes a deep breath. Watches her move to her desk and reach for the paper bag he left behind earlier that night and the sight of her stepping ahead much like the day before distracting him for a good moment. Only when he hears the paper bag crumble under her grasp does he snap from his thoughts.
Letting out a deep but barely audible breath, he tears his gaze away from her small frame and maroon dress that has captured his attention on more than one occasion that day and makes his way over to her couch and drops down on what has become his spot.
Bag in hand, she quickly pauses near the cabinet on her wall, reaches for a silver fork she had stacked there for occasions like this before she joins him at the other end of her office. A chuckle escaping her when she sees him sitting there, on his side but near the middle of the couch. Feet unceremoniously propped up on her coffee table and his head tilted back against her couch.
"Sure, make yourself at home."
He pries one eye open and sees her signal his feet on her table. He studies her for a moment, grinning then, he pulls his feet back and places them down on the floor. The movement itself not reluctant but he can't say he didn't place them up to get a comment out of her in the first place.
"You do know you always did this in my office."
She hums and smirks, takes the two steps towards her couch and sits down next to him. "But that's because I owned the place," she counters with a look.
He chuckles and shakes his head, decides not to comment on her words but he reaches for the fork she's holding up in front of him as she places the paper bag on the coffee table and opens it up. "Give me that," he orders now, using his elbow to tap against her arm, bobbing his head in the direction of the merlot.
She slides the bottle of wine over the table in his direction, moving the two empty glasses along next as she moves onto the bag of food. Reaching inside now for the two boxes of food, she lifts both out of the bag. Opening the first she sees it's his Beef Pad Thai and places the paper box in front of him next to the silver fork.
"Might be slightly cold now," he comments, referring to the food he ordered before.
She leans forward and removes her own box from the paper bag, letting the back of her hand rest against the material for a moment. "Should be alright," she reasons before she leans back onto the couch. "Besides you already thought it was a shitty place so won't matter much."
"You're never going to let that slide, are you?" He turns to look at the redhead next to him, watching her move her chopsticks around and take a bite. He watches the way her eyes close and she hums in appreciation.
"I'll take that as a no," he mumbles softly before he lifts his own box and the fork, focusing on his dinner.
"Please." She breaks the silence after a few seconds, using her chopsticks to tap on the edge of his box. "As if you don't remind me about that record I scratched every chance you get."
He quickly takes the fork full of noodles into his mouth, chews twice and swallows thickly. Hand already lifted in the air as protest while his gaze turns towards her. "It was my Miles Davis."
She swifts slightly on the couch, knees turning in his direction almost touching his thigh as she does so. "One accident," she emphasises the word, pointing her chopsticks towards him. "In over a decade of taking care of your collection."
He bites down on the inside of his cheek, remembers the moment she's referring to. How she had been standing in his office, record in hand and he had all too silently entered the room and then all too loudly pronounced her name. Surprising her so much the record had slipped from her hand and thus gotten scratched.
Her words also remind him of a more recent moment, the demands from an outside party after that and the words she had uttered then. One mistake, in thirteen years. He swallows now, remembering how she phrased it and it may have been that given the circumstances but he wouldn't describe it like that. Especially not because in hindsight he unknowingly caused that to happen too.
"It was my fault, really," he answers then, his admission soft, the rest of his sentence almost inaudible but he isn't talking about the record anymore. "I never should have scared you."
She feels her chest tighten and while she was talking about his record and she doesn't want to assume anything else. She did hear his answer, barely above a whisper but she heard it and her gaze locks with his soon after. Her own words reminded her too of one of their recent outfalls, the Paula debacle and she isn't entirely certain if she phrased her sentence on purpose but completely coincidental isn't the truth either.
She remembers telling him the kiss was a mistake. One mistake in thirteen years. Another lie. Because it wasn't a mistake. Not really, the circumstances anything but ideal but she doesn't regret it one bit. She told him she didn't know if she'd change things if she were able to go back. She now knows that she wouldn't. Not this at least, she'd kiss him again. She'd kiss him right now if she could.
She realises then that her thoughts made her gaze drop to his lips, it's the umpteenth time that day and she can't even say that she hopes he didn't notice. So she smiles and looks back at his eyes. For a moment she thinks they're darker now than before but she figures it could be her imagination. Her desires projected onto him.
Moving the chopstick around in the cardboard box for her own distraction, she looks away and finds herself softly chuckling before looking at him again. "I missed this."
Her admission catches his attention but at the same time her words confuse him a little as they've spent more time together recently than in months maybe even years before.
She notices the way his brows knit together, can already read the question in his eyes. "Us," she adds now, signalling between them with a small wave of her hand. "This," she continues. "Just having dinner together. I missed that."
"We did just -"
"A week ago," she fills in his sentence for him, her gaze firmly directed on the food in her hand as she can't look him in the eye at the moment. "Not that I'm keeping track, but."
The corner of his lip twitches up ever so slightly at the way she tries to cover up her slip up but he knows it too and if she hadn't interrupted him he would have said the exact same time period. He glances at her from the corner of his eye and watches her for the briefest of moments before he speaks again.
"It could have been less you know."
She exhales once at his words, knows the exact moment he's referring too and she feels her stomach twist as she still isn't sure if she made the right decision that day. "I know," she agrees then, drawing her bottom lip between her teeth, "but I-"
"I get it."
She peaks up at him from under her lashes, wants to ask him if he does but she isn't even sure if she gets what she was trying to say. She studies his expression now, hoping to find any hint of the underlying meaning in his eyes but he's looking ahead and she can only focus on the dimple in his cheek, the remnants of a smile and the way he swallows thickly.
He breaks the silence a minute later, telling her something he's known to be the truth from the second he realised it happened, deep down maybe even before that but he hadn't told her yet. "I'm glad you met my mom."
Donna smiles softly, glad she did too. Always having heard stories of the woman gave her an idea but meeting her was so much more. Being able to see the features and characteristics he's gotten from his mother in person, some things she always imagined after having met his father.
"She seems very nice."
He turns to look at her, it aren't words he's use to describe his mother or maybe he would but his default is still something else. Letting the words simmer for a moment, he bobs his head up and down in agreement. A soft yeah leaving his lips at last.
His mind drifts off to the day they're talking about, his run in with his mother in the firm and the way they walked by this very office. The unnecessary introductions that followed and he snickers again, his elbow automatically tapping hers as he speaks.
"You could have told me you met her already though."
She grins, tilts her head to the side and gives him a look. "When did I have the chance to do that," she objects but she's aware there were a number of ways to have done so. Through text the obvious one and used to warn him about many guests in his office before, the fact that this is one of the only times she didn't giving away that she didn't know how to do just that.
Her tone of voice doesn't give anything away but he does notice the way she shifts over the couch as she speaks. How her gaze redirects to her hands just as quickly as it turned to him.
"Well," he muses, picking his next words just so to uplift her spirit again. "Maybe before I made a fool out of myself."
"Harvey," she pronounces his name in that teasing tone she only uses with him. "I bet your mother, just like I, has seen you made a fool out of yourself plenty of times before."
He gives her an unimpressed look but he can't help but grin at her argument too.
She bites down on her bottom lip, trying to stop herself from smiling but a smile tugs on the corner of her lips nonetheless.
"You didn't though."
He turns to look at her, brows knitting together in a frown as he studies her expression. The way she looks down at the glass of red wine in her hands, how the alcohol swivels around in it.
"Make a fool out of yourself," she continues after a deep breath, she brings the glass to her lips and takes a sip. Letting the alcohol burn she turns to glance at him again. "It was sweet," she adds. "Thank you."
Donna tilts her head a bit to the side, making the smallest of shakes with her head in the process and oddly she can't help but smile because he doesn't know. "For wanting me to meet your mom."
He slowly bobs his head up and down taking in her words, smiling along with the movement and he swallows thickly when the silence and the increasing tension between them becomes too much. He shifts over the couch, elbows leaning on his knees as he refills his own glass with wine.
"Well," he says with a soft chuckle, the tease that follows just made to break the seriousness of the moment. Something he wasn't sure how to handle before but with his emotions all over the place, her behaviour he can't decipher and then the words he overheard, he does so to gain control again. "I met both your parents, so."
"Are we keeping score?" She asks, one eyebrow raised as her gaze locks with his again and she shifts forward now too. Copying his movements, she places her almost empty glass on the table next to his own, a silent gesture for him to give her a refill too.
Taking her glass in his hand, bottle in the other he draws his bottom lip between his teeth and he automatically shakes his head to answer her question that wasn't really a question. "If we are," he continues nevertheless, placing the bottle down again and he hands her the glass back. His fingertips meeting hers when she takes it over and for a second his gaze drops to where their touch had just been.
He clears his throat and redirects his gaze, getting his own glass next he moves to sit back against the couch once more and he only speaks again when he looks at her again. "You're ahead," he reminds her. "And then I still haven't met that aunt of yours you kept telling me –"
She laughs and slaps his arm with a flick of her wrist. "No," she counters, shaking her head and she kicks off her four inch heels to pull up her legs as she returns to her previous position on the couch. This time however her knee almost resting on his thigh when she leans forward, her index finger poking his arm to emphasize her point. "That's just because you dragged me to Marcus' wedding and God no. She's. No –"
He watches her shake her head, the slight look of terror spread across her face. No doubt her mind is running a million miles an hour, recalling the stories she told him about her aunt that thought her how to act and then some he doesn't know but all he can do is look at her in awe. Completely mesmerized by her and while he'd made the comment to take a detour from the heaviness of their conversation he can't help but direct it back to that. Needs her to know.
"It just seemed natural, you know," he tells her in that low voice he only has for her. "You're family too, so."
He has called her his family on more than one occasion and it's almost a given when it comes to them, past, present and future in one but her stomach flutters all the same hearing it again now and she smiles sweetly at his words. She has to redirect her gaze though, can't look at him when she pronounces her next words.
"Tell your mom I loved meeting her, okay."
He breathes out a soft laugh, lips settling in that signature Specter grin. "She told me to tell you the same."
She nods slowly, smiling at his answer when she can't find the words to respond herself. She takes a deep breath, glances at half full box of food on her coffee table but her appetite has disappeared completely. Leaving the cold noodles be, she moves the glass of wine she had in her hand around, fingers of her left-hand circling the stem of the glass, a nervous habit only he can get her to give into.
He watches the redhead shift over her couch, the soft smile on his lips and the way she looks down. Her hair sliding for her eyes, he wants nothing more than to brush it aside, make her look at him again but he can't. Just like the question that had been on his mind for days is the only thing he wants to ask but having gotten his answer already he just can't.
It's then that she looks back up at him, her eyes locking with his and a currents runs down his frame. Strong enough to make him swallow, to make his gaze drop to her lips and his brain short circuit for a second. Almost long enough to make him forget about everything he knows to be the truth and throw caution in the wind but the strong pounding of his heart in his chest makes him aware of her presence again.
He catches himself peeking at her lips one more time, feeling him wet his own lips in that exact moment and it's getting all too much. Too dangerous. He takes a deep breath, glances at her from the corner of his eye one last time before he shifts over the couch once more. It taking every fibre of his being to utter out the next three words and the movement that follows, but staying and knowing that everything he wants, is everything he will never have, is too hard to bear.
"I should go."
She watches him slowly stand, her gaze travelling over his form. She notices the way his Adam's apple bobs thickly, how heavy the two steps are that he takes from the couch to the spot just in front of her door and it reminds her all too much of a moment they shared before. One that set everything into motion and was the first catalyst to shake what they'd found to be their foundation.
It's when she catches him peek over his shoulder at her one more time that she speaks and it isn't deliberate but she uses the exact same words she did back then too.
She watches him stall on his spot, posture tensing she notices his shoulders raise and then fall in the same second. The way he inhales slow, tired and the look in his eyes along with the way his head tilts to the left brings her back to that one night once more.
"You know why."
He sees her big hazel eyes search for his own and he lets her find them; the look they share silent, so telling and yet unexplained all at once. There isn't the slightest shake of her head this time around but he remembers it all the same. The situation they've been in before, the way he left then, did just now and he'll never be able to forget the words he spoke for the first time of his life that time.
"You know I love you, Donna."
They still apply today, have probably done so every day for the last thirteen years he has known her and they'll continue to be the truth for the rest of his life. He doesn't pronounce the six heavy words this time around though.
Still very much aware of the pain they went through the last time he did, he also knows that whether he says them or not it will be just him going through to the emotional aftermath this time around.
"What if it won't be like I thought it would be?"
He swallows thickly, remembering her words from mere hours ago and just like when he heard them he thinks about their fall out in the lobby of the firm weeks before.
"Whatever I thought might be there… wasn't."
"I didn't feel anything when I kissed you, Harvey."
He blinks back the tears starting to well in his eyes. Ones he would be willing to show her, but he doesn't want to burden her any more than he know his words will already do. So instead, he looks down and tries to compose himself with a smile that's more for her than for him.
"Because," he says, the sigh that falls off his lips soft and tired. Tired of holding it all back in, and even when he already knows the outcome won't be in his favour he can't keep it in anymore. Needs to be able to tell himself he tried, that he did what he set out to do and that he once and for all can let go of the slightest glimmer of hope. That one percent chance he might have it all wrong.
So, using different words he tells her what he told her that night in her apartment, answers the three letter question that followed the next day in his office and dismisses the objection she threw in his direction that night in the lobby when he told her the kiss did affect him.
"Because you didn't feel anything."
Harvey reminds her of her own words, his lips pressing together in a thin line in the pause that follows. Another way of showing her that it's okay. Still, he slowly shakes his head only to keep his gaze on hers.
"And I did," he admits next, "I do."
Her mouth slowly parts but words die on the tip of her tongue, eyes widening and glossing over at his words in the same moment. She finds herself frozen on her spot in front of the coffee table suddenly terrified by the truth. Something she deep down knew to be just that, something she thought she had recently accepted to be the truth. Something she longed to hear all along and something she imagined telling him herself that very night and yet she's unable to speak let alone move.
She doesn't know how she ended back up on the soft blue couch in the corner of her office or how long she sat there. Head in her hands and tears freely flowing over her cheeks, the sound of her sobs echoing through the room. It's when she has to catch a breath and her gaze flickers up that she really notices why she was in tears.
The spot he'd been standing.
She can't remember how he left or when; if he said anything else but she remembers her inability to respond. An inability that had been second nature to him for years, something she tried to help him with, occasionally grew tired off and one of the main reasons she tried to let go one too many times and now it happened to her. That doubt she'd talked about earlier to Louis kicking in in the most unfortunate's of moments and she mulls over the encounter again.
The epitome of missed opportunities and everything she imagined to never get, lost all the same in a split second.
Her eyes close heavily, head tilting back to rest in the palms of her hands. She doesn't want to feel sorry for herself cause it was her own fault but a sob leaves her lips all the same and her body involuntarily shivers.
It's then that her mind, her mouth, and her ability to speak kicks back in. She verbalises a reminder of the words he said to her, followed by what her reaction should have been.
"I did. I do… I do too."
She gasps now, loudly but at the same time her eyes widen and she scans the room again. It's still empty but this time around she stands, looks around once more and an overwhelming need to right what she wronged kicks in.
She slips on her shoes and grabs her phone from the coffee table. It might be a coward's way out, or in her case, in, because it should be said in person and if that can't happen than by voice but she finds herself opening her text messages.
Afraid he won't answer when she calls, or worse experiences another moment where she can't get the words out. So she does the only other thing that's left, typing the two words she should have told him that night. Has been wanting to tell him ever since the kiss and right now it's the first thing she has to get off her chest in whatever way she can communicate with him.
The message barely sent she moves, hectically. Pacing back and forth twice before she gathers her purse, still forgetting about her coat when she makes it out of her office. She automatically glances to the dark office on the left before she reminds herself it's Zane's now and she starts to move in the opposite direction.
A small step first, the second faster and third bigger until she strides into his office. His name on the tip of her tongue, it being pronounced barely above a whisper when the emptiness of the room sinks in on her. She stares at his desk, chair still in the same spot near the windowsill where he left it when she came to find him earlier. His suit jacket still hanging over the back of another chair, but he's gone.
She waited too long.
A heavy sigh escapes her then, head hanging low as her shoulders drop. The sight to anyone else just that but she doesn't have to walk over to find out his phone is in the inner pocket, she just knows it is.
Devastated and drained she backs away, the first two steps with her gaze still low and on his office. It's when she reaches the threshold of the door again that she takes a sharp turn to the left, brushing past her empty cubicle as she makes her way to the elevators.
It's a strange place he has found himself at. Not his office, the bathroom, file room or even the roof. It's Zane's office, Jessica's old office and his old office but most importantly away from, yet close to her.
He gazes out of the window and into the darkness, it oddly matching how he feels inside. He'd known, deep down he'd known it and yet having it happen all the same is heart breaking. Especially when the one scenario that hadn't crossed his mind was what reality entailed, he likes to think he would have known how to handle her saying she didn't feel the same but the silence that followed his words isn't that.
In a way it's worse.
He swallows thickly and blinks once, fingers tapping on the window sill for the last couple of minutes. It could have been five, ten maybe even half an hour, he doesn't remember. All he knows is he said what he had to say and in a way got to know what he needed to know.
If his younger self had found himself in this particular situation he would have thrown himself into scotch and put the thoughts, the words he spoke but didn't receive back in a box so deep down it would never see the light of day again.
His younger self would have cursed himself for getting his hopes up, despite the warning he got even earlier that day. His younger self would even have blamed his mother for getting inside his head.
"You'll never know for sure if you don't ask."
Yet twelve-and-half-years of growth make him experience the exact opposite, finally and maybe inevitably excepting the full truth. The hard truth. He, Harvey Specter, is in love with Donna Paulsen. Probably always has been and he can't imagine ever not being, even if she doesn't feel the same.
The buzzing sound of his phone wakes him from his thoughts and while he is in no particular mood to read the string of messages the pup no doubt left after his pathetic excuse of a voice mail, he still reaches for the device. Turning the screen on with a single press of his thumb on the home button.
She presses the button of the elevator, waiting in the lobby of the fiftieth floor for one of the elevator doors to slide open and take her home. It's then that she catches a light coming from the corner of her eye. It's small but bright and she only turns to look over her shoulder because she remembers looking at the entirely dark corner of the firm minutes earlier.
She glances through the glass partitions of both the lobby and the managing partner's office and she's only able to make out a silhouette from this distance but she can recognise his shape from a mile away. Her heart leaps, her stomach flutters and the ding the elevator makes to announce its arrival is just background noise as her feet start to carry her towards him.
The screen of his phone illuminates the dark office around him and when his gaze locks in on the notification prominently displayed on his screen it also reignites the ever simmering fire of his love for her in such a quick pace he didn't know was humanly possible.
His heart skips a beat.
He reads the message again.
And again. Over and over until the only thing on his mind are these two words and their meaning. His thoughts becoming such a repetitive sound they fall in line with the familiar soft thudded rhythm of her heels inching closer and he only becomes aware of her presence when he catches a glimpse of her from the corner of his eye.
She takes the last step to cross the literal and figurative threshold and enters the office he'd been standing in. Her hands dropping to her side, purse dangling down from her fingers. It's his name on the tip of her tongue but she doesn't get to pronounce it when his gaze flickers up to meet hers in that exact moment.
Everything after that happens fast and in slow motion all the same.
Neither of them know who closed the distance between them, if it were her three small steps or his two big strides or if they met somewhere in the middle. Whether her purse fell down first or if his phone cracked on the wooden floor before that and in the end it doesn't matter when his lips crash down on hers in a bruising kiss.
Decade long denied desires turned desperation has them stumbling through the office to the first surface they can reach. The desk in the middle of the room. The glass edge pressing in both their legs is sharp like the line they drew and cross again in the place it was invented for; painful for the years behind them and the lies they told each other but mostly themselves and just like the files tumbling off the surface to the floor it's messy.
It's messy because after all these years it's not how or where it's supposed to happen. Quickly, both still dressed and apart from gasps completely silent. Quick all it could be but not enough to make up for the years lost. The clothes they still have on their armour, their shield. Something to hide behind if need be and silent because over the years they already ruined so much with words they can't allow themselves to do so in this moment.
So they use their hands, their lips and their eyes to do the talking. Undoing the one necessary button and zipper, hands quickly pushing up and aside fabric to ghost over flushed skin and lips meeting over and over again. Their names replaced with moans.
The moment they unite fully, raw and unprepared but needed. So needed. And as fast as everything had gone since the second she stepped into the office as slow as the pause that follows, the breathless gasps that mingle in the small space between them as they still, but it's the way his left hand sneaks around her waist and holds her firmly in place before he thrusts again his way of telling her that he won't let anything happen to her. Ever.
When she brings her hand around his neck and hooks her leg around his hip, bringing him as close as their united bodies can be she's finally telling him what she meant with her more. The only sounds echoing through the room now are moans, gasps and his body joining hers over and over again until the breathing sounds intensify in pace before being fully replaced by a loud cry. The rest of her verbalisation kissed away by his lips when she rides out her high, the moment so powerful it makes him come undone right away and he loses himself in her. Filling her with more than love.
His head crashes in the crook of her neck, arms limb and breathes heavy as they stay like that for a moment, overwhelmed and for the next couple of minutes both are still unaware of their surroundings. There's no kiss that follows but her hands move lazily through his hair and down his cheek until he moves back ever so slightly. Her hooded eyes meeting his and in them he sees the exact same look he saw the night she kissed him.
A look he is now certain meant she felt it. Felt everything. Just like him and he can't believe how blind he's been, how stupid he's been and the apology for all that and more is on the tip of his tongue when she says something else.
"We're in Robert's office."
The words far from perfect and breaking their spell but his words would have done the same so it doesn't matter. With a swallow he nods once slowly, moves back and out of her and suddenly a shy awkwardness washes over him at the realisation of what just happened.
They dress themselves quietly and quickly and once more it's the complete opposite of how it should have been but that's them. Nothing goes as planned and he finds himself at a loss for words. He wants to tell her so much, more than he already did and more than the deed should have proved but he watches her slide off the desk, brush the maroon fabric down her thighs and all he is able to do is follow her lead.
She brushes her hair out her face, still out of breath and possibly shocked over what just transpired between them in the last couple of minutes. She doesn't regret it but once aware of their location again she realises how far from ideal it is and so she snaps back into her signature mode. She plans and she fixes, rearranges the files they messed up and places the picture of Rachel that had fallen over back up on the desk.
Any day she would have laughed at that stupid touch, having had sex 'in front' of her friend. Today she doesn't and because she plans and fixes, she stays quiet. This time it being a deliberate choice because she knows he always followed her words to the letter even when she was wrong. Even when she lied and she's aware of how much can be ruined by talking and after what they just did she can't let that happen.
Letting out a deep breath, she pats her hands down her dress and reaches for her purse from the floor. Throwing him one look she hopes her actions will tell him all he needs to know and it seems to work as his feet move. Silently inching closer to her, following her until he's right beside her. Their walk silent, short, and when they reach the elevators a slow press on the downwards button causing them to halt makes the moment mirror many shared before.
As the door slides open and she gets in, it's when his goodnight should be heard but it isn't there. When she turns around and meets the look in his eyes her greeting lacks too and neither of them smiles. He watches her stand there, hair fixed but still undone. His gaze drops over her face to her plump lips he can still taste and the definition of beauty standing in front makes him freeze for a second.
While any other person would say that the life altering moment between them already happened it's really now, as they stand there on either side of the elevator door at the end of the night. Each time before he had let her go alone but this time he moves forward. Taking two steps until he's inside the small metal box too, gaze kept low he turns around to stand next to her.
I'm not running away.
It's when the doors slowly close and the elevator starts its descent that she blindly extends her hand in search of his. Her fingers sliding over the palm of his left hand to his, parting his digits before slipping between and folding around them. The smallest of squeezes making him do the same.
Neither am I.
The rest of the ride down they keep their gazes ahead, their thoughts to themselves but their hands remain linked. Even when they reach the lobby, or pass through the front door or call for a cab neither of them let's go and she doesn't either when they reach her apartment. It's just a look and a tug on his hand that makes him come up the two flights of stairs and eventually inside.
Their movements slower this time around, it's her guiding him. She places her keys on the bowl in the hallway, her bag on the empty spot next to it and after kicking off her four inch heels she turns to face the man who's hand she's still holding. Her gaze slowly lifting until it meets his.
She watches the glistering in his eyes as he watches her. The smile he sports mirroring the one that spreads over her face and she steps closer then. A sudden nervousness settling in the pit of her stomach but the desire and love she feels for him is so much stronger and what makes her close the distance between them again. Her left hand slipping over his chest to the back of his head, bringing him closer as she lifts herself on her toes and brings her lips to his.
He answers her kiss in a beat and it's only then that he takes his hand from her grasp. Only letting go to hold her close in a different way. His hands finding their rightful spot on her waist, her hips, pulling her small frame even firmer against his own. Still holding her close when the need for air becomes too much, heavily panting both pull back the absolute minimal distance necessary.
Still caught up in the moment, their foreheads meet and their gasps mingle between their lips as they stay like that for a moment. He slowly opens his eyes after, meeting her gaze in a beat and the look in them tells him all he needs to know.
She smirks, slowly shakes her head at the smile he's giving her and she kisses him again, hands blindly moving down over his vest to undo the two buttons and her palms move over his sides next, counting ribs as she tries to guide him through the hallway.
He releases her locks from his grasp to reach behind his back and pull the vest away, bringing his hands back to her waist. Showing her he remembers the location of her bedroom from all those years ago as her deft fingers make quick work of his tie, tossing the piece of fabric aside before she focusses on the buttons of his dress shirt, pulling the fabric from his pants like she'd done earlier that night.
He growls at her hands on his skin, hot and cold at the same time and her nails digging into his skin, he kisses his way down her neck as he backs her up against the door of her room. Hands searching for the knob behind her back, she turns around when he fails to open it. Throwing him a smug smirk when she succeeds, she pushes the door open and tip toes into her room feeling him follow her suit.
He closes the distance between them a mere second later, sneaking up behind her with his hands on her waist. It's when he moves his left hand up to bring her hair to the side that he meets her gaze in the mirror in front of them. The moment a weird pause, but he finds himself looking at the room around him. Different colours and textures and yet exactly how he remembered it to be.
It's still the same.
That's what his gaze tells her when her gaze locks with his through the mirror and she nods softly, a silent acknowledgement of the other time. Neither ever having been able to forget, as hard as they might have tried. She exhales slowly, watches him watching her and then the way he picks up the task he'd been just about to do. Move the last of her auburn strands over her left shoulder, his lips soon meeting the exposed skin of her neck again.
Her eyes close at that, the sensation of his hands over her frame making her knees weak and a moan slips off of her lips when his tongue drags over her skin. The action bringing her back to twelve-and-a-half years ago and as she peers through her lashes at their reflection in front of her she doesn't see them now but their younger versions. Barely dressed and whipped cream can held in his right hand as he held her in his left.
She feels him kiss the base of her neck and she knows he knows better to leave a mark. Something she had to warn him about that night all those years ago and while he obeyed, he always did, he still did. Just an invisible version; a hold on her heart she hadn't been able to shake since.
He focuses on her dress now, the one that had intrigued him from the second he saw her this morning. The zipper running down her back a distraction in itself. He undoes the small clip of the cape in the back of her neck first, letting his fingers trail down the exposed part of her spine to the zipper. Finally completing the one motion he'd imagined himself doing all day long.
Taking away her mask, the Roland Mouret dress falls to the floor with a soft dud, the sound nothing in comparison to the groan that escapes him at the sight of her in front of him. Exploring her body with his gaze, he lifts his eyes an inch every second. Taking his sweet time to take in the woman in front of him, her long slim legs first. A thin piece of teared black lace that doesn't leave much room for imagination next, he swallows and wets his lips and the way she inhales, notices her muscles flex and her chest rise and fall in a slow pace.
The reflective object in front of them exposing every emotion they feel, it's not just them getting physically naked but emotionally. Letting down their guards completely, no wall left behind. Everything they feel for the other, even without the use of words, out in the open.
She exhales deeply, starting to feel nervous under his gaze. The only man who's ever had that effect on her and she brings her arms around her frame, but his hands are just as quick to undo her motion. Linking their hands in the process, he looks back up at her through the mirror.
You look beautiful.
She smiles at the unsaid words between them, her head lowering for just a moment until he steps closer again, taking the strap of her bra between his fingers he brings one of them over her shoulder. Kissing the soft mark left behind he blindly reaches in between them to undo the clasp.
She inhales now, meeting his hand moving the left strap of her shoulder halfway. Taking the black band from his hand she is the one to remove the piece of clothing altogether. Letting it reunite with the pool of maroon fabric at her feet and where she had used her arms to cover herself a mere minute ago she doesn't do so now. Just watches him as his gaze drops back over her frame to her newly exposed skin.
He remembers every curve and freckle, the pattern they formed and yet it felt like he was looking at her for the first time. Already stood closely behind her, he took one small last step until their bodies were firmly pressed against one another making his appreciation for her even more obvious. He bites down on his bottom lip, taking a moment to think over his course of action but when her body starts to melt against his chest his hands automatically slip up her sides again.
Holding her in place at first, he opens his mouth to pronounce her name but it's left unspoken when she reads it off of his face and turns to look at him over her shoulder and his lips find hers in a beat. The kiss slow and sensual, the roll of her hips against his own making his hands come into motion again. Slipping up over her ribs to the front, he cups her voluptuous breasts in her hands and draws his thumbs over her hardened nipples.
The moan that escapes her in between his kisses the exact sound he remembers she made when he licked the whipped cream from her in the exact same slow circular motion he draws with his thumb over her right breast. A motion he repeats after with his left hand, this time around he observes her reaction in the mirror, the way her eyes shut down and her mouth parts in an inaudible gasp.
He drags his gaze down her flushed frame until it rest on the black lace once more; the glistering darker spot either a remained mixture of their bodily fluids from earlier or giving away how turned on the redhead in his embrace already is.
Most likely both.
He swallows thickly at his own thoughts and trails one hand down her stomach when his curiosity gets the better of him. Fingertips tracing the edge of her panties in a slow tease, it's when his name rolls off her tongue in a plead for the first time that night that he gives in. Hand finding her still covered centre when he brings his hands between her legs. Pressing the moist fabric against her, he starts with a slow caress. Up and down, once, twice. He makes it to five before she protests and he gives in, sneaking his hand under the now soaked lace, touching her without any barriers at last.
"Fuck, you're wet."
She can only snicker at his obvious observation. His husky voice only increasing that and she lets her hips roll against his once more but when her silent request isn't answered by his fingers inside of her she runs her hand down his arm and presses his hand against her heat. A smug grin spreading across his face, she watches it form in the mirror and rolls her eyes but doesn't comment any further. Just uses her own hand to guide him once more, his fingers slipping between her folds.
He feels the warmth of her breathy moan against his neck and he finally continues his movements. Massaging her breast with one hand, rolling her nipple between his fingers as he places wet kisses on her every piece of skin he can reach. Never entering her, the hand down her panties continues its up and downwards slide until it settles in a circular movement on her bundle of nerves.
She shudders inside his embrace not long after, the mirror in front of them displaying her in her throws of ecstasy as she comes undone under his touch. He kisses her earlobe, coaxes her down from her high with slower movements now until her breathing settles again and her shoulders slump against his chest.
Releasing her breast from his hold he caresses the other before he moves his hand soothingly up and down her side as her removes his other hand from her panties. He lifts his in her, but in reality their mixed juices, covered fingers to his face, needing to taste her but before he can do so she takes his wrist in her hand and covers his two fingers with her lips, sucking them clean.
She lets his fingers slide from her mouth with a soft plop, and she shrugs once.
"I wanted to taste you."
She purposely licks her own lips, the look she's sending him can only be translated into a what are you going to do about it.
He leans in then, kissing her smirk smile away and when his tongue slides over hers he can taste just a hint of himself, but it's not enough. Not by a long shot and his hands are already back on the ripped piece of lace before he parts from the kiss.
Using both hands to drag the ruined fabric down her hips, he kisses her shoulder, then her shoulder blade and her spine next. All the way down until he kisses the bare piece of skin where her thong had just resided, and he lowers himself onto his knees to be able to guide her panties all the way down to the floor, even helping her step out of the pile of fabric before his hands guide her to turn around.
She does so slowly, looking down at the big brown eyes staring up at her. His head so close to where she wants him to be, what he said he'd do but he isn't even looking and it's driving her insane. Her second orgasm that night not having turned down the desire she feels for him in any shape way or form and she know for certain now, something she also realised twelve-and-a-half years ago. This man has her completely ruined.
He stares up at her from his position, her long hair cascading down her shoulders, her hazel eyes looking down at him and her breasts heaving up and down with every breath she takes and it's a mesmerising sight but he she's right in front of him and her scent draws his attention back to his plans.
He trails his hands up over her calves, knees and thighs. Lips soon following that path and he kisses, licks and sucks on her thigh. Teasing her for a good minute until his own need becomes too much and he lifts himself into his knees just a little, bringing him at the exact right height. His mouth meeting her lips in a chaste kiss that has her moaning right away.
The second kiss on the same spot but longer this time, allowing his tongue to lap up her juices. A motion her repeats thrice, as his hands settle on her hips and hers slip through his hair, holding him there and yet demanding his attention at the same time.
He hears her pant and he knows what she wants, what she really needs and he nods once but not before leaning in one last time. Dragging his tongue between her slit to her clit, sucking he engorged nerve end into his mouth. That one suck just a second but enough for her groin to buck to his face and he looks up at her with an all to self-satisfied smile.
She shakes her head, wants to wipe that smile off of his face but all she can do is lift his chin and make him look up at and next stand up in front of her. Her hand still on his jaw when she steals a kiss.
The action just long enough to distract him when her free hand cups his burgeoning erection through his suit pants, stroking him through the thick fabric a few times before she halts her ministrations.
Instead she runs her hands over his arms and looks him deeply in his eyes before she kisses him again, she doesn't use words but she hopes her actions will tell him everything he told her with his own.
The way her fingers trace his lips and cheeks after her way of telling him she loves his smile, hands trailing down his biceps her appreciation for him always protecting her and when she places her hand in his heart it's her I love you.
These three motions followed by the next, where she thinks about the way he makes her laugh. His stomach. She uses her index finger to trace down his V line, you're the best I've ever had, until she meets the edge of his pants again.
Biting down on her lip in concentration she undoes the one button and pulls down the zipper, both motions slow. The complete opposite of the way she lowers to her knees, pulls down his pants and boxers along with it, freeing his erection right in front of her face.
Swallowing in anticipation she brings her hand to his shaft and trails her fingers up and down his length. Thumb moving over the tip, soon replacing that by her lips.
He twitches inside of her warm mouth and his eyes close for a second at the sensory overload she's giving him but he forces himself to look down at her right after. How she holds him in her grasp and fondles his balls, needs to see himself disappear between her lips, wants to see her big eyes staring up at him and that small smile she produces even when bobbing her head up and down in a tortuously slow rhythm.
She smirks, moving back and letting his penis slide from her lips, her tongue darting out one last time to lick away some pre cum. She drags her finger over the underside of his member as she brings herself to her feet again, kissing him softly before pronouncing her counter.
He opens his mouth to comment, but her grasp on him prevents him from doing so and before he knows it he finds himself pushed down on her bed. A laugh escaping him them and he pushes himself up the mattress just a little to make himself more comfortable, his erection hitting his stomach in the process as it stands to attention waiting for her. He bobs his head to the side as his gaze meets hers.
She watches him adjust, dragging one leg up just a little to give her an even better view of and access to him. His unpronounced but very clear message still on her mind she finds herself watching him for a moment, just in awe that this handsome man is actually hers and that he wants her to have her way with him.
He notices the way she bites her lip and rocks back and forth on her spot, no doubt pressing her legs together in the movement to relieve pressure he so easily could do himself. He tilts his head to the side once more, asking for her attention but she seems too spaced out to notice.
His dick twitches again at the lack of attention and she's barely touched him but he's so incredibly hard it's almost embarrassing. Almost uncomfortable and he doesn't want to but he has to, hand curling into a c shape as he reaches for himself.
"Don't," she objects, stepping forward and crawling onto her bed at last.
It wasn't a move on his part, but he isn't surprised it had this affect. In fact, he knew it would, it's exactly what she did during the other time. Just like when she sucked him off only seconds ago the only difference was the lack of whipped cream but her modus operandi was the same.
Sliding one leg along his, her hands padding over his chest in support and her knee lands on the matrass right next to his hip. She brings her lips to his in a sensual kiss while lowering herself on his length. Twin moans filling the dense air between them as he fills her completely and just like as in the office the moment is followed by a pause. One where they adjust to the changes ahead and admire each other in the process.
It's her picking up the lead again, just like she had guided him home and undressed him first. Told him everything she loved about him with her touches and kisses, it's now that she starts to roll her hips, slowly riding him that she tells him she wants everything.
"What do you mean more?"
"So you're saying you want everything?"
"Yes, ooh fuck." Her eyes shut and she pants loudly when he lifts his hips and thrusts. His hands moving over her thighs to her hips, holding her steady as he accompanies her every move for a minute, until he flips them over.
Leaning down slowly to kiss her, he runs his hands over her chest, her breasts and along her arms in a soft caress, pinning them above her head until his digits slip between hers. Holding on tightly to her hand with every thrust that follows as he continues to make love to her, feeling the pressure to start building inside of him again.
He kisses her again, on her lips first and down her jaw next. Gasping her name in her ear on a particularly deep thrust, freeing one hand to pull her leg further over his hip to repeat the motion. He manoeuvres his hand between them, blindly finding her bundle of nerves. Every circular motion of his thumb and slide in and out of her bringing her closer to the edge. Feeling her muscles starting to clench around him and her body wither underneath his he picks up his pace.
"Ooh, God. Har –" She sucks in a deep breath, biting down on her lip and her nails digging into his skin as he rubs her clit one more time. "Fuck. Harvey," she pants when he hits that spot and pushes her over the edge, her back arching in the process. She runs her hands from his biceps down his back to his behind.
Squeezing his butt, pulling him even closer than he thought was humanly possible and it's this reaction in her throws of ecstasy that pushes him over the brink. "Donna." He comes with a loud grunt, emptying himself inside of her.
He manages to kiss her one last time before his arms give in, his tired and limb body crashing into hers. They lay there for a moment, limbs still intertwined in every possible way as they try to regain their breathing. She laughs contently and brushes his hair from his sweaty forehead only to place a kiss there on his skin.
He wishes he could stay like this for the rest of time but he also knows he's crushing her delicate frame and he's the one to pull back after a moment. He drops on his back and a soft but breathy laugh escapes his lips when his head hits the pillow. He opens his mouth to speak but can't yet, inhaling deeply he tries to catch his breath and turns his head to the left. Turning to look at the redhead next to him, her hair spread out over the white sheets, her eyes closed but a satisfied smile spread over her lips making him smile too.
"So," he breathes, taking a long pause as he waits for her to open her eyes and look at him. He smiles first when she does, turns a little to rest on his side and uses his left hand to brush a strand of hair out of her face before he props his head up on his hand and brings his right hand to her waist. "You lied."
She inhales sharply, presses her lips together in a thin line and her eyes close for a moment at his words and her own feelings towards her actions. "I'm sorry," she whispers, glancing back up at him from under her lashes as she moves her hand to his bare chest. "I should have been honest from the –"
He runs his hand from her waist to her hip, fingertips softly pressing into her frame as he interrupts her words. "I lied too," he tells her, thinking about that one night in the lobby. He knows everything they've been through these past hours should tell her exactly what she needs to know, what she has probably known all along as she's Donna but he wants to tell her.
He also knows he has a habit of saying the wrong thing just as much as she has a habit of taking what he is trying to say in the wrong way. When he feels her small frame tense under his grasp he realises that's exactly what is happening again, so gets the next words out as quickly as he can. "When I – I lied when I said I didn't want more."
"God," she slaps his chest halfway through his added sentence as a nervous and yet relieved chuckle escapes her. "You," she continues, now using her fingers to sooth the spot on his chest she just hit until her motion turns into drawing lazy circles. "You can't say it like that."
She watches his brows knit together in a beat and she can't help but grin at the man she's loved for a third of her life. "For a second there, I –" She pauses, her hand stills on his chest, just above his heart and she can only tell him the truth, as stupid as it may make her sound. "I thought you were going to say you don't love me too."
He smiles at a words and a year from now he'll tease her about the way she phrased her sentence and what she let slide but he also realises he'll only freak her out if he does today. "You uhm…" he swallows, letting his hand slide over her arm to her hand resting on his chest. "You don't need to say it," he tells her then, with a look that shows her he knows and he smiles again, taking her hand in his own.
"I love you," he says. "I think I've always been in love with you, Donna."
She'd known, deep down she'd always known and she also knew these words were coming and yet it makes her breath hitch, her stomach flutter and as much as she wants to say it back, everything that happened this night makes her feel so overwhelmed that she can't.
She squeezes his hand though and blinks back a few tears. The three little words don't leave her lips but a soft good does and she leans in to press a kiss against his lip. It was meant to be quick one but it turns into a long lingering one. Her hand still resting on his cheek when she pulls back before she rolls out of his embrace and turns to sit on the edge of her bed.
He watches her move out of his embrace, instantly missing her warmth he props himself up to sit too. Head now crooking to the side, he lets his gaze trail over her bare spine as she pushes herself onto her feet. "Donna," he swallows now, his hand resting on the still warm spot she'd just been laying. "What - where are you going?"
"I –" She stalls, shuffles on her spot to think over his question. Realises she's doing what she couldn't stand him doing over the years, just because she's so overwhelmed. Forcing herself to exhale deeply, she glances over her shoulder in his direction. "We," she starts her sentence again now. "Are taking a shower."
The words are close but not the same to what she said over a decade ago but the smirk smile and the raised eyebrow they were delivered with are. He doesn't jump out of bed, lift her up and throw her over his shoulder but he does nod with a big smile, rolls himself over the mattress to her side and gets out behind her. His hands finding her waist and his lips the spot at the top of her neck, whispering his eager reply in her ear.
She ruffles the towel through her wet hair, a squeal escaping her lips when he steps up behind her and his arm wraps around her waist. She laughs softly at the ticklish feeling of his warm breath in her neck. She uses her hand to wipe the mirror in front of her clean, allowing her to look at him in the reflection of the mirror.
He kisses the top of her shoulder, uses his right hand to move her damp locks over her shoulder before he continues placing wet kisses up her neck. He uses his other hand to reach for the edge of the towel, blindly undoing the part where she folded it together. "Let's go to bed."
She chuckles lightly at the boyish grin she sees appear on his face the exact second he manages to make her towel drop to floor and she squirms at his hands on her skin. "I don't think I'll survive a fifth orgasm," she counters using her elbow to poke his abs. "And there's no way you could go for another round, hotshot."
He grunts at the elbow in his side and his head bobs up, gaze meeting her pointed smirk in the mirror. He thinks about her quick kisses, long torturous strokes and those big hazel eyes staring up at him as she made him hard inside her warm mouth and he swallows now, intensifying his grip on her frame. 'I could."
He notices the way her eyebrow raises and he caves instantly. "Okay fine, I couldn't," he admits, pressing a kiss against her cheek. "But I meant to sleep."
She takes in his words and keeps looking at him in the mirror, the look on his face in particular and she remembers seeing it before. In this exact spot, over a decade ago. Her body thrown over his shoulder, remains of whipped cream left in every crook of her frame and she remembers the kiss he placed on her hip, how she looked over her shoulder into the mirror at his face before he placed her down on the ground and took her in the shower. She thinks about his words now, the ones from earlier this night.
"I think I've always been in love with you, Donna."
Years ago she would have challenged his think, just like she asked him how. Right now, seeing that look on his face she knows she doesn't have to. Because it doesn't matter if he can or cannot explain how, or tell her when things changed for him or even when he realised it, because truth to be told she wouldn't be able to answer any of those precisely either.
All that matters is that he did, she did. They did and that they're here now.
She smiles softly at that, turning around in his embrace and letting her hands run up over his chest util her arms link around his neck. Lifting herself on her toes to her lips to his for a quick kiss, letting her heels meet the tiled floor soon after again. "I love you."
His face breaks out in a smile so big and he feels like a kid at Christmas because even after making it to the top of his career, signing various of his childhood heroes as clients this right here. Having the love of his life in his arms telling him she loves him, is the very best moment of his life.
He leans forward and presses a kiss to the top of her nose, and her forehead then. Just holding her when she laughs and buried her head against his chest, his chin landing on the top of her head for a moment.
"Harvey," she whispers then, brushing her hands through the short strands in the back of his neck.
"Let's go to bed."
Even though she is a perfectionist, any works of William Shakespeare aside, Donna Paulsen doesn't believe true perfection exists or is achievable. One can always improve and strive to be better but as she stirs this morning, sunlight streaming in through the cracks of her curtains and her body aching in all the right places, memories of last night bringing a warmth over her as she stretches her long legs, she thinks then that waking up next to him is pretty damn perfect.
She grins at the sappy thought, slowly turning around to face the man that had held her close all through the night, but her heart for the last thirteen years. A greeting on the top of her tongue, she pries her eyes open in a beat when her wandering hand meets the warm but empty spot besides her.
Perfection doesn't exist.
She feels her stomach turn and her inner voice finds all the reasons that made her believe in that statement; the way they happened was anything but that. She couldn't find the words when she needed to, he left. A declaration by text. Neither of them scream perfection.
Having sex on Robert Zane's desk is about the furthest thing from the definition and it lasting all but three minutes either. The way silence followed wasn't what anyone pictured a thirteen years in the making moment would be, but it did.
She turns then, needing to avert her vision from the empty spot beside her before emotions take over and it's only then that she spots it.
Still scattered around the floor. A thousand dollar Tom Ford suit ruined by wrinkles and bodily fluids.
It's not perfect, but it's real and there's nothing more real than the bond they share. The thirteen years of trust, support and love.
She chuckles to herself now, head meeting her hand for the moments of doubt she went through and she knows better. He wouldn't leave again, not after everything but it's twelve years of fearing he might that took over.
Not perfect, but real.
She moves to the edge of her bed, reaching for his dress shirt she exchanges the sheets for the other white piece of fabric. Buttoning the shirt up as she moves, she quietly tiptoes her way to her living room and when she finds it empty but hears sounds come from the kitchen she continues her path.
Her gaze lands on his bare back seconds later and her stomach flips again, but for a different reason. She knew he was still there and yet seeing him standing there right in front of her makes her leave out a relieved sigh.
The next few steps she takes are quicker and before he has a chance to acknowledge her presence she closes the distance between them, wrapping her arms around his frame as she hugs him from behind. Her lips finding a spot between his shoulder blades before her forehead meets his frame.
He freezes on his spot but doesn't flinch, instead he smiles and leans into her embrace. Her hands warm on his stomach, he brings one hand from the coffee machine to cover hers, giving it a quick squeeze.
"You're not allowed to do that, you know…"
Make coffee? He wants to ask her but all he can do is frown because he's certain she doesn't mean that and that her explanation will follow.
"Leave me to wake up alone in bed. I thought you -"
He tenses at her words, hands automatically placing the small bottle of vanilla extract down on the counter and he turns around in her embrace. Wrapping his own arm around her to hold her and he brings his free hand to her chin, lifting it ever so slightly with his index finger to make her look at him.
"I'm not going anywhere, Donna," he tells her, for once he knows exactly what to say because he realises that her fear is his fear and the words he needs to use are the ones he would want to hear. "I was just making us coffee."
She nods in acknowledgment, presses her lips together in a thin line and holds her hands on his side.
He mirrors her move, taking a step towards her and making her move to the opposite side of the kitchen. He lifts her up then, placing her down on the counter top and he steps between her legs. His lips finding hers in a reassuring kiss, it's when his hand drops from her side and hits a cold plate on its way down that he pulls back.
Peering to the left he stares at the small white porcelain item, one with a soft gray line around the edge and looks oddly the same as what he has at home.
"What?" She whispers.
"Isn't that mine."
She follows his line of sight as he nods at the object, a chuckle escaping her when she sees it. "Yes," she admits, "your mom asked Ray to bring it to me."
"It wasn't empty."
He grins then, remembering what his mother made the weekend she stayed in the city and he looks back up at the redhead right in front of his. "Strawberry pie."
She tilts her head to the side and bites down on her lip. "Is it?"
He slowly shakes his head but keeps his gaze firmly directed on her, his hands moving from her to her thighs and he softly squeezes her legs just above her knees. Both of them already knowing the answer to her question. Something he told her during the other time.
She squirms a little on her spot, tapping his leg with her foot. She runs her hands over his chest, drawing lazy circles until she looks up at him again. "It really was nice meeting your mom."
"I'm glad you did," he tells her again, picking up the conversation where things changed between them last night. He moves his thumb over the spot just about her knee and he takes a deep breath before he speaks again. "Just so you know," he moves his head to the side, letting his gaze search for hers. "She wants you there at dinner next time."
"Next time?" she inquires, taking a deep breath as her hands still near his collarbones.
Donna chuckles softly and lets her head fall to his chest, resting there for a moment as she tries to control her emotions. "I can't believe we actually got here."
He breathes in the scent of her vanilla shampoo, lets his lips ghost over her temple before he tilts his head back and uses his index finger to lift her chin and make her look at him again. "You got the rest of your life to get used to that."
"Was that a proposal?"
He grins, shakes his head lightly and runs his hands further up her thighs, pulling her just a tad closer to him. "I know you well enough to know not to deprive you of getting down on one knee."
She chuckles once, glances down and bites her lip to hide the blush that is creeping up on her face. "You got that right." Her whisper followed by a throaty laugh on his part and she returns to look at the love of her life. Letting him hook her right leg around his waist as he moves in to kiss her again.
She meets him halfway, playfully alternating tugging and pecking his lips. Letting her hand slide around his neck and through his hair as she kisses him like she did the night before; hungrily and a moan escapes her lips when his hands slip under the edge of his dress shirt.
"This," he mumbles, tugging on the white fabric once. He steals another kiss from the redhead as he moves to unbutton it. "You in my shirt," he explains, looking down at her frame, popping another button open and swallowing thickly when he uncovers the constellation of freckles he still recalls from over a decade ago. "Incredibly hot.
She hums, her eyes closing when he draws his index finger over her skin between the valley of her breathes as his other sneaks back up over her thigh to her hip. "Like a dream come true."
"You have no idea," he tells her, kissing his way up her neck to her ear. Taking her earlobe between his lips, softly sucking on it as he lets his hands roam over her body.
She matches his wandering hands with her own, one slipping down his front and over his boxers. Finally letting her feel what she hoped to wake up next to. "Ooh," she grins, stroking him once, before she slips her hand under the fabric and releases him from it. "I think I do."
Her hand on him only reigniting the need he woke up with, but it also reminds him of the night before and something important they hadn't thought about at the time. At least, it hadn't been on the forefront of his mind, though he's certain she would have let him know but he needs her to know he thinks about it now. "Babe," he stalls her.
He bobs his head aside, giving her a look and his hand slides over her arm to her wrist. Holding her hand in place, because what he has to say is important. "Last night... We didn't –"
She takes in a deep breath, doesn't need him to finish the sentence to understand what he's trying to tell her. Their behaviour in the office anything from perfect and reckless is just another additive to that list, but she also knows he's the only one she's willing to take that risk with just like she is for him.
While that is the truth she also knows he knows he's bringing it up as a formality. Knows he knows she wouldn't have let it happen otherwise, just like the other time. It's a strange way to broach the subject, way too soon for them as couple and for them as friends way too late but here they are and she does anyway because he did.
"What if we made … a babe?"
He smirks automatically at the way she phrases her question, but thinks about it seriously for a moment. Something he has known for a longer time now but never admitted out loud. "I think I could get used to a mini-you running around."
"Know," he corrects his previous answer.
"It would be a mini-us though."
"Ooh," he fakes a sigh but a laugh escapes him next. Wondering if the world would ever be ready for that, but he knows that he is. His hand moves over her thigh, squeezing her soft flesh once as the playful exchange returns to the serious undertone of the conversation they were having.
"Did we," he mumbles then, suddenly questioning what he already knew.
She covers his hand with her own, softly shakes her head before she brings her other hand to his cheek and makes him look up at her again. "Can you open that drawer?" she taps with her hand on the counter next to her.
He frowns briefly but does as she asks. Slowly opening the drawer on his right, he watches the content come in to view and he sees it before she even leans forward and reaches for the strip of contraceptive pills. He'd known before he even brought it up and the sight only confirms it but he still feels the tiniest bit of disappointment.
She lifts the pink piece of foil in her hand, holding it in the limited space between them as her eyes search for his. The small smile on her lips matching his thin lipped smile and the silence between them is a conversation on its own in a way only they can.
About timing, planning and the future.
Nothing is said out loud, but that doesn't matter because it isn't anyone else's business but their own.
It doesn't matter that this conversation happened on the morning after instead of week or a month later because the answer will always be the same.
And the answer had always been the same. A week from now, today, yesterday, a month ago and even deep down all those years ago. Both aware that when they would happen, and a when it's always been not an if, they'll be all in.
That's also why the lies they told each other and themselves would never hold up in the end, because the truth had always been there and bound to come out. As it had done on numerous of occasions, timing the only thing to mess things up. And it had, boy it had.
They have twelve and a half years behind them to testify to that.
He moves his hands over her thighs to her hips and pulls her closer to the edge of the counter, using one hand to hook her leg around his waist and he closes the distance between them then. His lips covering hers in a silent agreement, one she answers instantly.
But the time was finally right.
- The end.
He shifts over the couch, drags his gaze from the redhead walking around their apartment back to the voice on the other end of the line. "Hey mom," he answers, smiling to himself as he glances at Donna one last time. "I was thinking maybe we could have dinner sometime soon."
He rolls his eye at teasing sound that one word question was delivered with, knows his mother hasn't forgotten about her comment just before she left the city. Neither has he. "Yeah, you know the meal people eat at the end of the day."
A laugh follows. "Ooh, that one."
"I want you to meet Donna," he tells Lily now, cutting to the chase. "For real this time and as my girlfriend."
The word pronounced by both his mother and the redhead at the same time as the latter passes behind the couch. He throws her a look and shakes his head at her smile.
"Was that Donna?"
"Yeah," he answers, frowning as he watches the redhead slip on the black leather couch next to him. Shaking his head when she extends her hand and signals for him to hand over the phone.
"Can you put her on the phone?"
He sighs loudly now, doesn't even get the chance to tell the redhead his mother wants to talk to her or think about the odd ability both women have to ask the same thing at the same time when Donna grabs the phone from his hand and greets his mother with a bright smile.
He pushes himself to stand and moves to the kitchen. Laughter following and easy chatter filling the room around them in mere seconds. He shakes his head again, grinning to himself as he watches her settle in the couch further and the way she admires the ring on her finger. He knows she won't tell. He also knows his mother has guessed by now at the slightly flushed face of his fiancée.
By the time he moves back with one cup of coffee and one decaf, the shared laughter over the phone only increased. Him no doubt being the subject of that conversation, an assumption he's proved right about when he sees the redhead's face drop once again and overhears his mother's voice come through the other end of the line.
"Okay, that's it," he announces just loud enough. "I'm cancelling dinner."