Hello everyone, and happy #DARVEYDAY2020

I can't believe it's been a year since the show has ended and that our favourites got married. I'm still in such denial, because this show means so much to me and has been with me for so many years and different phases of my life, brought so many friendships. So I really wanted to post something on this day, to celebrate, that did mean I had to cut this chapter in half.. hopefully the next one will follow soonish as it's mostly written out. I want to thank everyone for sticking along, the favs, the reviews. THEY MEAN THE WORLD. Here's to darvey, and I hope you all enjoy this. Let me know what you think.

X- M


MISTLETOE MYSTERY

CHAPTER IX

Harvey clutches onto the arrangement of flowers as he struts his way through the crowd, finally making it backstage. He spots actors left and right, but not her. He does see Benjamin round up some wires, and he figures now is as good a time as any to visit the student.

"Specter," Benjamin greets him. "I got it all; you should be able to pick it up tomorrow." He refers to the favour Harvey asked of him earlier that week.

Harvey grins. They know each other through Donna, and apart from the redhead they don't have much in common, so he appreciates how the stage production student cuts right to the chase, sparing them both an awkward conversation. He reaches for the wallet from his back pocket then, pulling out two twenty-dollar bills, he hands them over as promised.

"Thanks, man," Harvey answers. "Have you seen her around here?"

Benjamin looks over his shoulder, but shrugs. "Guessing she's getting changed, but shouldn't take long."

Harvey nods again, tapping Benjamin on his arm as he decides to continue his search. This time he's walking in the direction of what he knows to be the dressing rooms. Harvey nods left and right; he ignores the stares he gets and the murmurs that follow. He assumes they know; it's what they intended for this act to do, but when his eye lands on Daniel across the room he wishes he could write off the knot in his stomach to their deal too, deep down he knows it has nothing to do with their act, but the one he saw on stage.

He's been her best friend for years, has seen her date a couple of guys during these times, comforted her through breakups whenever Rachel was unavailable, but he has never, ever, seen her kiss some other guy. So when Daniel spots him too and makes his way over, he stands a little taller, jaw squared, and a fist clenched.

"Hey, man."

Harvey's greeting comes through gritted teeth, much like Benjamin he knows the other guy through Donna but other than that he doesn't consider them acquainted well enough to warrant such a response. And when Daniel, either oblivious or plain ignorant to their albeit fake relationship, starts off bragging about this being the moment to win Donna over, he thinks he should win a fucking Tony for keeping his cool.

The real reason he manages to do so is the glimpse of her auburn locks he spots coming their way and the smile plastered across her face with it. He also realises that in the next few seconds, he is going to be able to put this douche into his place without even having to utter a single word.

He turns a bit on his spot, creating a space for her to occupy which she does. Words left unspoken, she eyes the bouquet in his hands with a somewhat bewildered look, she seems surprised, and it only makes him grin wider. He lifts the pink peonies and hands them over, the smile he receives in return should be enough to convey the dynamics to Daniel. Still, he's feeling bold as he brings his left hand to her cheek, tugging a loose strand of hair behind her ear before Harvey closes the gap between them and he hears a muffled 'Harvey' leave her lips.

"Harvey."

He hears his name for the second time, and he snaps out of his thoughts then. "Right," he whispers to himself, he shakes his head and glances at the redhead beside him, Daniel next to her and then the bouquet that was still in his hand.

He does step closer for real, his free hand finding the small of her back as he pulls her in. "Hey, babe," he ignores the rules with his greeting, and it leaves his lips a bit forced, but it seems to have the desired effect as Daniel takes a step back.

Donna gulps at his greeting, deep down she knows it's just a part of their act even though he's breaking a rule. The realisation she had an hour ago makes her heart skip a beat because of it just the same, and she automatically turns her frame towards him—her left hand meeting his chest.

He would have noticed the shiver running down his spine at her touch, and he would have told her how amazing she was on stage if he wasn't still feeling jealous and overprotective over something they aren't. His every move is, therefore, still mainly focused on making Daniel disappear. He remembers the flowers, at last, smiling down at his fake girlfriend, he hands her the peonies.

Mixed up in her own emotions, she isn't able to decipher his actions down to jealousy. Instead, she takes in her favourite flowers, bringing them up close and enjoying the smell. "Thank you," she says sincerely, and she stands on her tiptoes to press a kiss against his cheek.

It's the second time in as many minutes that Harvey snaps out his thoughts; this time not just because of her words but the feeling of her lips on his skin. He swallows, forgets all about the unspoken power play, and he doesn't notice Daniel walking away.

He blinks twice, feeling his cheek burn he takes a moment to find his composure. Telling himself, she was just doing her part of their pact. Harvey turns to face her again at last. "I uhm… I wanted to bring them to your dressing room before, but we were running late. So uhm —" he pauses, takes a deep breath and glances at the floor. "Dad's waiting outside."

"Ooh.. yeah, right." Donna's cheeks redden a bit, and she mirrors his actions. Looking down at the flowers in her hand as she rocks back and forth on her spot and the arm that rested on the small of her back slips to his side.

His fist clenches at the loss of contact, and he swallows then, stepping aside and ahead. Guiding Donna through the crowd to where he knows his father is waiting for them. Holding the door open, he takes the flowers from her hand the second Gordon sees them emerge.

"There's the rising star," Gordon chirps, stepping forward with his arms wide. He greets the redhead with a hug. "You were amazing, Donna."

"Thank you," she blushes, steps back and retakes the flowers from Harvey, who watches the little exchange with a proud smile. Only realising he hadn't verbally praised her work yet when he hears his father do so. He mumbles a confirmation under this breath, but no one hears it.

"Should we wait for your parents to join us for dinner?" Gordon asks then, checking his watch as he looks around trying to spot them. He's never met either of them, but he's heard different descriptions from his son. Her mother is a redhead like her, vibrant and the life of the party; so much so that even Donna doesn't always know how to handle it. Her father, he has no clue, only heard less desirable things about the man from his son, he's sure Donna herself would give him a different description even if their relationship seems a bit strained.

"Ooh," Donna freezes on her spot. "I uhm — they couldn't make it," she tells him at last, it's a lie. She never invited them in the first place, not to spare herself the disappointment of them possibly not coming. Her father that's is, her mother would come down in a heartbeat. She never asked because it would only make things more difficult with the act they're putting up.

Harvey takes in Donna's reply and thinks over the words. He knows she would have told him if that was the case, so the only conclusion he can draw is that it is a lie. Why he isn't one hundred per cent certain, but he gets the git when he glances at her, and she offers him a small, encouraging smile in return.

"Do you want to invite your friend?" Gordon asks then, nodding his head to signal the blond that walked out of the theatre and into their direction.

Donna hesitates for a moment, she isn't opposed to inviting Samantha too but just like having her parents around it would complicate things more than they already turned out to be. She can act circles around anything and everything on a stage, but right now she thinks it would be impossible to pretend to be with his son in front of him. Not with the Specters knowing it's an act, Samantha believing it's real and Donna wishing it was. She accepts his offer though and asks if Samantha wants to join them.

The blonde thanks the company of three for the invite but declines. Explaining she had made plans with her sister and brother-in-law already when Gordon jumps in and says he's okay with her being there too. She does, however, ask Donna to join her for an early lunch the following morning.

"I'd like that," Donna says, waving the lawyer goodbye and she watches the lawyer cross the street.

"So," Gordon starts when Donna turns around to face them again. "Where would you like to go?"

"Would it be bad if we ordered in?" She asks, instead.

Gordon shrugs, not minding one bit. "Of course not, anything you want."

"Not Thai," Harvey mumbles under his breath, but this time it's just loud enough to hear, and he realises the mistake he's made the second he sees her eyes light up and his father's brows draw together in a frown. He knows the chances are she would have picked Thai anyway, but he's sure it will become the choice of food now.

Donna doesn't miss the curious look crossing Gordon's face, the way he turns to look at his son for an explanation and when it doesn't follow, she gives one for him. "Harvey dislikes my favourite Thai restaurant."

Harvey's mouth drops, and he glances back and forth between the two of them. "I never —"

She cuts him off right before he even tries to defend himself, mimicking his voice as she tells his father how this is the shittiest Thai food he's ever had. Using the same line, he said to her years earlier.

Gordon laughs at the exchange, a spot-on imitation of his son and he would have agreed to her request anyway, but he does it with a little bit more joy now. "Thai it is."

Harvey rolls his eyes and sighs, ignoring Donna's smile and his father's chuckle. "Let's go. I'm freezing."

.

"Ooh, hell no," he exclaims, shaking his head in between bites. "Nah, ah, no way." He moves his chopstick from left to right in the air, ignoring his father's triumphant smirk and Donna's laugh as it echoes through Donna's living room. Instead, he focuses on his takeout again, scooping out another piece of shrimp; the exact reason for his father's comment and he can't, well actually he can believe that she told him.

"Okay, okay," Gordon mumbles trying to catch his breath, an arm falling against his chest and he watches back and forth between the two best friends. Donna's wiping away a tear, nearly having doubled over and his son, if he'd ever seen him blush, he's sure now is the moment. "Be careful with those shrimps son."

"I hate you," he mumbles under his breath, glaring at the redhead before he takes another bite.

She laughs louder this time around, nearly doubling over again as she visualises the entire ordeal once more. "Okay," she says out of breath, and she takes a moment to drop her food on the table, reaching for the remote."Why don't you check what's on TV." She tosses it over to Harvey as she gets up and makes her way to the bathroom.

When she returns, she's changed into black yoga pants and a loose sweater, and she pauses for a moment just watching the father and son duo interact. The TV tuned in on a movie she knows to be one of Harvey's favourites, but instead of watching it as they planned, she catches the tail-end of a conversation.

"Ooh, by the way, ran into Richard Garfield at the record store earlier this week. He told me to say hi to you."

Harvey's brows draw together for a brief second, thinking over his father's words. "Ooh, Ricky. Is he still playing?"

"Yeah," Gordon confirms, "he had a gig two weeks ago, turns out his niece was on a date at the venue, and you'll never guess with whom."

Harvey frowns once more, shrugging without even trying to guess.

"Marcus," Gordon answers with a proud smile.

"Dipshit went on a date," Harvey counters with a chuckle.

Donna rolls her eyes at his comment and pushes herself off the wall, at last, making her way back to the couch. "That's more than you can say," she teases him as she sits down, pulling her legs up and wrapping an arm around it.

"Well, I don't want to go on a date, I -"

"You just want sex," Donna cuts him off, bobbing her head to the side to challenge his rebuttal as he gives her a disapproving look, but it stays at that.

Gordon bites down on his bottom lip to hide his grin and lightly shakes his head. He knows better than to comment and so he doesn't. Instead, he brings the conversation back to his youngest son. "Well her name is Katie, they've been on three dates and from what I've heard she likes your brother."

"Did Marcus tell you that, 'cause that's not a reliable source."

"Richard, actually," Gordon says. "Marcus hasn't said anything yet, meaning you don't get to give your brother shit about it."

Harvey groans, he leans back against the couch and props his feet up on the table. "Then why did you tell me at all."

Donna slaps his arm, mouthing a 'be nice' before she turns to face Gordon again. "I'm sure she's lovely and speaking as your girlfriend," she pronounces the last word with air quotes and pauses for dramatic effect. "I'm glad to hear that at least one of your sons knows how to woo the ladies."

"Hmph." He crosses his arms and turns to look to his left. He shakes his head the second she returns his gaze, but it results in her sticking out her tongue in his direction.

The conversation dies down after that, the three of them quietly finishing up their take out as they watch Top Gun. It's during the second round of commercials that Gordon can't contain his yawns anymore.

Blinking twice, he runs his hand through his hair and shifts in his chair and when another yawn follows he knows he is done for. "I'm going to call it a night if that's alright with you two."

"Yeah, sure," Harvey answers, shifting over the couch and stretching his arms above his head as he muffles a yawn too. "I'll walk you up," he adds as he pushes himself to stand, giving his old man a hand to help him up.

Donna gets up too, she thanks Gordon for his presence once more and wishing him good night with a hug. She tiptoes out of the embrace and turns around to watch the two men walk towards the hallway. "Harvey?"

He turns around at the sound of his name, his gaze locking with hers and while neither of them speaks he nods. Telling her, he'll be back without any words.

She smiles then, nodding silently in a way that tells him it's okay if he wants to stay over too and she draws her hand over her elbow. Hugging her frame as she sits back down on the soft blue couch. She hears some rummaging coming from the hallway but doesn't pay much attention other than hearing her door open and fall shut again. So when she hears his footsteps on the hardwood floor once more, she glances up in surprise. "I thought you —"

"Gave him my key," he answers her question with a shrug, rounding the couch to return to his previous position. "Figured I could always borrow your spare."

"You know where it is."

He does, and he shows her, bringing up his hand as he lets it dangle from his index finger. The brown leather chain is still on it like he gave it to her years ago. He stuffs the spare key to his apartment in his pocket. He's lost in thought for a moment after, recalling the events of the night and he chuckles, remembering Daniel.

"What?"

Harvey realises he chuckled out loud and he swallows, and shifts then, elbow hitting the back of the couch and he turns his knee onto the seating too. Taking a moment to find the words, he eventually just blurts them out. "So that co-star of yours tried to pick you up." He can't even blame the guy. "What's his name anyway."

"Daniel," she answers, knowing damn well he knows it too. She just doesn't call him out on it. Instead, she shrugs. "I know," she admits then with a half-smile. "Cahill mentioned it before."

Harvey nods, and it's Donna who chuckles at a thought now, going over her history of dating co-stars. Mitchell and Mark. Her success rate is pretty damn low. "Should have made that my rule," she mumbles under her breath.

"Huh?" his inquiry comes instantly, more because he could barely hear what she said, but the last word he did catch piqued his interest.

"Not dating any co-stars," she clarifies.

Harvey bobs his head up and down, taking in her words, and he thinks over one of the first things she said to him years ago. I don't date anyone from the same building. And for a split second, he gets his hopes up, with that rule gone it would mean… but his smile falters even before it fully formed, realising that with the act they're putting up now, he is her co-star.

"Right," he mutters, at last, exhaling deeply as his shoulders drop because whatever rule she has or would have, they apply to him anyway. "Yeah."

She shakes her head again, pushing away the bad memories of her exes and looks at Harvey again. A thought pops back into her mind, something she'd been wondering about all evening. "Who's Richard?"

"What?" His reply comes a bit stand-off-ish because her question catches him off guard; his mind still reeling over her last news, he takes the easy way she changed the subject as another confirmation of how things are between them.

"Richard," she says. "Your dad mentioned him; you've never done before so-"

"Ooh," he shakes his head, catching up at last. "Ricky," he adds as if the nickname will explain more to her, but it doesn't. "Just a kid who went to high school with me," he explains thinking back on his father's words, and then the interactions he had with the kid at seventeen, and he suddenly remembers his mother. He grins at the absurdity of it all.

"What?" She whispers, witnessing his expression change from a frown into a smile, clearly recalling a memory.

"Nothing." He shakes his head. "It's uhm…it's just, I realised you remind me of his mother."

Harvey catches Donna's mouth drop, and from the sigh he hears, he knows that came out all wrong. Or even if it came out right, it's not something she wanted to hear. "Not-" he pauses, taking a moment to think over his next words lest they add fuel to the fire. "She was a beautiful redhead. A hot mother."

There's something about his tone in the way he says beautiful redhead that has her stomach somersault all over again. It's not said with those exact words, but he did just compare her to another redhead she figured he had a crush on and she gets the feeling he's not telling her everything there is to the story yet. "How old were you?"

"Seventeen.."

She bobs her head up and down, processing the information, and while she doesn't know much about him before college, she knows a thing or two. "I thought you were with Dana?"

"Huh?"

"She told me once," Donna admits. "About you two in high school."

"Ooh, yeah," he says. "I was."

"Is that why it ended?" She asks, much like she knows bits and bobs of his life before she met him, she only knows little pieces of his history with Dana. Not that it's hers to know, but she wonders out loud.

He glances at her, brows knitting together as he reads her face. There's something else there, something she isn't saying. "Are you asking me if anything happens with Mrs Garfield?"

"No," it's her instant reaction. But she bites down on her lip, curiosity getting the better of her. "Did there?"

He shakes his head. "No, never," he admits. "But I had a crush on a woman who didn't give me the time of day and Scottie knew. And then I found out about my mom, so.."

She watches him shrug, and she takes in his words, the look on his face. A part of her is curious about his now verbal admittance of the crush and the comparisons between the woman and herself. Another part recognises a hint of sadness in his voice; she forces herself to focus on that for now. "Do you regret it?"

"What?"

"Letting her go?"

He bobs his head to the side, eyes searching hers.

"Dana," she clarifies.

He thinks about it for a second, it's not something he's given much thought to over the years but that in itself tells him everything he needs to know. "No," he answers. "I know we used to hook up first years here, but… it was always just that … I don't know."

Donna hums, taking in his words about how he describes the one relationship she thought he had as nothing more than hooking up and it reminds her of the discussion they had years ago and recently again when he came up with the idea of them fake dating. Where he said he didn't want a relationship, she finds herself wonder aloud if that is still the case. "So your stance on relationships hasn't changed yet?"

He gets where her question comes from, it's the question she asked him years ago, and he confirmed it back then. He likes to think his answer wouldn't be the same now.

"No," he answers, though, and it's a half-truth. Cause he wouldn't change his stance on it for Dana or any other girl, but Donna. Her new rule stops him from telling her because he's certain that having the truth out there would only hurt him more in the end. "No, it hasn't."

She watches him shake his head, and she feels her shoulders drop, her mouth turning dry, and she bites down on her bottom lip. "Okay," she answers after a pause.

He catches a hint of a smile tugging on her lips as she answers, but it feels anything but joyous, definitely not on his part. He looks down at the floor, breathes in and out. The silence between them growing more palpable by the second, and he feels his throat closing in on him.

"I uhm …" he pushes himself to stand. "I should go," he says, making the mistake of looking at Donna again just as she glances up at him. Because even though the truth hurts, it makes him want to stay. "You know, check up on dad," he adds with a shrug as he starts making his way to the hall. "Make sure he isn't telling Mike and Tanner too many shit stories."

She does laugh at that because she knows what Gordon is like, knows there are some brilliant little insights into the life of her best friend that she would have never gotten without him. Some she shared with the subject, some she hasn't yet found the right moment for.

So she pushes herself to stand too, following him to the front door. "If you get teased too much to crash on the couch tonight..." she stalls her sentence and rocks back and forth on her spot, a shy smile forming on her lips when he meets her eye.

She freezes for a moment, just a second, but as her heels hit the floor again she wakes from her thoughts and fishes the spare key to her place from the bowl on the dresser. She holds it up for him to take. "You know…"

"I do." He nods, and he takes the keys from her hand. His fingers brush past the palm of her hand as he does so. It's a minor touch, but he still feels it everywhere. He swallows then; thinking over her suggestion and while it's what they've done for days now and as much as he wants to, he doesn't consider it wise. "I'll be fine," he says instead.

Her lips twitch, smiling at him every so softly. And she nods then, pulling her hand back and bringing it behind her back.

He smiles too and opens the door at last. "Goodnight, Donna."

"Goodnight, Harvey."

.

He shifts and a heavy breath escapes him. Willing himself to sleep, he forces his eyes shut and counts to a hundred for the umpteenth time that night. He gives up and opens his eyes around ninety-three, turning around ever so slightly to catch the time displayed on the microwave from his spot on the couch.

02:27 am

Harvey groans and pulls the throw blanket up to his chin, turning onto his side to face the backrest as he starts the countdown yet again.

One,

two,

three.

He takes in a deep breath and yawns, he is tired but sleeping on the leather couch just isn't the same as his bed. Or hers for that matter. It's a fleeting thought that he doesn't dare to entertain, even if she, without that many words, invited him. He counts on instead.

Thirty-two,

thirty-three,

thirty-four.

He dozes off eventually, but it isn't for long. The door of the bathroom falling shut, waking him, and upon his stirring, he hears a mumbled apology he makes out to be Mike's.

"It's fine." It's an automatic response because what else could he say, but he feels anything but fine. He turns over again, pulling the woollen piece of fabric with him as he does so and he eyes the microwave once over.

03:06 am

He sits up then, runs a hand over his face and through his hair. Decides it's best to pay a visit to the bathroom himself, lest he falls asleep eventually just to wake for the need of relief himself.

He stops near his bedroom door on the way back, pushes the cracked door open just a tad and peeks inside to check on his father. The soft snores coming from within the room tell him enough, he half-smiles and closes the door before making his way back.

Blanket already in hand, he's about to plop down again when the set of spare keys on the coffee table catches his eye. He stalls and thinks about it for a minute, but he grabs the keys eventually and walks the three flights of stairs down.

He sneaks into the apartment on the second floor as quietly as possible - tiptoeing through the hallway he spots the soft blue couch from the corner of his eye, and he looks at it for a moment.

He's slept on it before, once and just weeks ago because of a rule they seem far past by now. He thinks it would be best if he lay down there now and let himself succumb to sleep at last. But even in his tired mind, he knows he'll have a harder time explaining sleeping there if Rachel or Samantha sees him than explaining himself to Donna in the morning.

So he chooses the latter, and a soft smile spreads over his face when he peeks into the redhead's room. It's dark, but he can still make out her features - laying wide-spread over the bed; precisely like his description days prior. He takes her in for a moment, revelling in the soft breathes coming for her lips, he contemplates his options but moves to his side of the bed at last.

Carefully pulling aside the duvet back a little, he pauses and checks if his best friend is still asleep. He sees her stir a little, but she doesn't wake. In fact, her left arm spreads out even further down his pillow.

He bites down on his bottom lip, breathes out slowly and holds back a sigh before he carefully leans, knee sliding over te duvet as his hand reaches for her shoulder. Fingers pressing against her bare skin, he softly pushes against her frame to turn her on her right side as much as possible before he slides under the covers on the small spot next to her.

Pulling the duvet back up, he brings his left hand up under his head as he settles against the pillow. A yawn escapes him, and he closes his eyes again, for the first time that night finally believing he'll be able to fall asleep.

And he does, almost, until Donna's movement rouses him from his sleep and it takes a moment to realise what's happening as he feels her body turn into his, an arm sliding over his chest and her head settling against his side. His body tenses on the spot, not daring to move but he gazes down at his best friend with a little hesitation nonetheless as he wonders what's happening and why. He only exhales again when he realises she's still fast asleep.

He smiles then, softly as he relaxes again. Allowing himself to really take in her presence, her warmth, her smell, her touch, and he turns his head to the left just a tad. Chin settling on the top of her head, he closes his eyes as he whispers. "You were amazing tonight."

.

Saturday, December 15th

She stirs a little, waking ever so slowly but not finding the will yet to open her eyes. Instead, she lets her other senses rise first as she basks in the warmth that envelopes her, hugging her, like a blanket draped over her frame.

She inhales then, profoundly, and a mixture of familiar smells come to her. The sweet scent of strawberries, her laundry detergent, but a more decadent, richer aroma follows. So layered and familiar and yet only to be described with one word. Harvey.

She smiles to herself, memories of the day before brought back to her. The play, her realisation and the moments after. She remembers him leaving, her wordlessly asking him to stay over and her heart wells at the thought he did. He's there, right next to her, when he isn't supposed to be.

She inhales one more time, and then, at last, pries her eyes open. Her room is already basking in the late December sun, but the thing that stands out most is in stark contrast to the light. His absence, she has to blink twice to wrap her head around it, but when she opens her eyes fully for the second time that morning, the spot beside her is still empty.

She does notice she's clinging onto her duvet, leg and arm wrapped up in it, and her head is resting on the pillow he uses these days. She sighs softly, realising now, the warm body and strong arms she had felt were nothing more than a figment of her imagination. The truth that's come to the night before; her feelings along with that had presented themselves in a dream.

.

Gordon pours coffee in a second to-go cup and slides it over the counter to Mike who's just joined Travis and him. "So," the older man starts, eyeing the room as he now fixes himself a cup too. "Has either of you seen my son this morning?"

Tanner shrugs, waiting for Mike to take the lead seeing as he's had more contact with their roommate's father than he has, but when the blonde doesn't comment he speaks up at last. "Probably at Donna's, he's been staying over there a lot lately."

Gordon's eyebrows shoot up in surprise, he just about manages to hold back his surprising comment when the sound of the lock turning and the front door opening and falling shut echoes through the hallway instead. The subject of their conversation running in out of breath. He watches his son come to a halt near the sink.

Harvey pulls out his headphones and grabs a glass in the same motion. Filling it with water, he chucks the majority of it down in one go. Only stopping when he notices three pairs of eyes staring at him. He swallows then, thickly as he tries to catch his breath. "What?" he says, running the back of his hand over his mouth, and he wipes it across his sweatshirt.

As much as they want to watch their friend squirm during this pending conversation with his father, one that can't possibly be that serious as they know Gordon knows, they still opt-out of being there. "As much as I would love to stay, I have to go to the gym," Tanner announces, raising his to-go cup in a wave, he nods at both Specter men.

"Right," Mike mutters, looking back and forth between Tanner and the Specter's, he catches the time on his watch next. "I'm uhm … I have to do my rounds. Thanks for the coffee Mr Specter," he adds, grabbing his cup and his helmet as he makes his way to the door as well.

Harvey draws in a breath, tongue running over his teeth as he eyes his friends leaving the room, but he does wait until he hears the door fall shut again to speak up. "What was that all about?"

"Staying over a lot at Donna's lately," Gordon repeats Tanner's description.

Harvey takes in his father's words; it's not an accusatory tone, more one of wonderment - a tease. He knows better, though. "Dad," he sighs.

"I thought it was just an act."

"It is," he reasons, more for himself than his father. He drops a hand on the counter and swallows. "The couch.. my shoulder -"

"You're too tough to share a bed with your old man now?"

Harvey just sighs now, followed by a shake of his head but he doesn't comment.

Gordon nods slowly, noticing the way his son glances down. He's known about Donna and Harvey's pact for a while now, but Gordon also remembers a conversation he's had with his oldest about it. "I just don't want you to get hurt."

Harvey gulps silently at the sincerity of his father's words. He wishes the same, but deep down, he knows better. "I won't," Harvey lies, and he pushes himself to stand again; visibly distancing himself from this conversation. He downs the remainder of his water and places the glass in the sink. "I'll get dressed, and we can get something to eat before you go."

.

She rolls around under her duvet, moving to her side of the bed at last before she pushes herself to sit, feet dangling down the edge of the mattress. Her mind is still on Harvey, how it felt as if he was there but she knows better. Knows his father is leaving again today, and she knows the two of them always conclude a visit with a shared breakfast. So she reaches forward and grabs her phone from the nightstand and sends a message to Harvey.

Thank your father for attending the play, please. X

Just after she hit send Donna realises she could have easily texted Gordon himself, so she does that too.

Thank you for coming to the play yesterday and for dinner after. I've had a great time, say hi to Marcus for me and happy holidays. Love, your fake daughter-in-law

The last couple of words are nothing more than a joke, and she sends them without much thought; only revelling in the meaning behind them later. She closes her phone, tosses it away and she can't help but think about Harvey.

Being her best friend, he's always been on her mind, but it's even more now that she has become aware of her feelings. Complicated feelings at that, because she loves him - something she has always done, except now it's become clear to her those feelings mean more than just being best friends. And if that wasn't a difficult realisation to handle already, it's the mixture of him not wanting a relationship at all while being in a fake one with him at this exact moment that makes her cautious.

She sighs softly, shakes her head and pushes the thoughts to the back of her mind. She clings the duvet aside and gets out of bed. Slipping on her yoga pants, she gets a knitted sweater from her dresser to put on over her sleeping shirt before she makes her way to the kitchen.

"Morning," Rachel greets her roommate the second she spots her, and she smiles knowingly taking in her friend's outfit. It was a habit of Donna to sleep in and have a lazy day after a performance, and it makes her feel less guilty about not extending the workout invitation for this morning. "I'm so sorry we had to miss your play, but I heard you were amazing."

Donna smiles but shakes her head. "Did Sam tell you that?" She asks, looking around to the living room to see if she spots the blonde, but she comes up empty.

"She did," Rachel confirms, "but Harvey already texted we were missing out on your greatness during intermission."

She snickers, shakes her head at his actions. "Well, he lied."

Rachel rolls her eyes and turns around to grab a cup from the cabinet. Filling it with freshly brewed coffee, she slides the cup over to Donna. "He's so proud; it's sweet."

Donna whispers her thanks and takes the cup in both of her hands, but she doesn't comment further on Rachel's statement about Harvey. Instead, she takes the time to take in her friend's outfit, letting her gaze travel from her tied up hair to the trainers on her feet. "You're going for a run in this cold?" She asks then, signalling Rachel's clothes with a bob of her head.

"No, I'm joining Katrina for a dance class this morning."

"Nice."

"We'd have asked but -"

Donna already shakes her head and waves the invitation off. "Apart from brunch with Sam, I'm doing absolutely nothing today," she reassures her. "So, enjoy and say hi to Katrina for me."

"I will," Rachel says, "Sam should be back any minute now, she was getting some sweets for your lunch, and we planned on going shopping this afternoon so if you change your mind about not doing anything today."

Donna chuckles but shakes her head.

"Okay." Rachel nods. "I got to go. See you later."

.

His phone buzzes just as they slide down into the booth, two cups of hot coffee and breakfast on the tray he's carrying. He nods to his father, a signal for the older man to go ahead as he fishes his phone out of the pocket of his jeans.

"Donna says thanks for coming to the play," he says, reading the message and he sends her a quick answer back before he drops his phone on the table.

"Of course," Gordon answers. "Tell her I want tickets for her next show too."

Harvey bobs his head up and down, takes a bite of his pancake and a sip of his coffee before he answers. "I'm sure Donna will send them over just to get me to watch too."

His father laughs, and Gordon wouldn't put it past Donna to do that, but he also knows his son has been to every one of her plays anyway. The ones he couldn't attend, and especially the plays she performed in before the two of them were officially introduced.

Harvey's ringtone breaks the comfortable silence, and both Specter's turn to look at the screen as it lights up on the table.

Scottie

Harvey frowns and quickly swallows the bite he'd just taken. For a second he contemplates letting the call go, but he also knows Dana never calls him, so there must be a specific reason for her to do so now. "I should take this," he announces, grabbing his phone and walking towards the bar as he answers. "Scottie."

"Is it true?"

He frowns, not sure what prompted the call in the first place or her question for that matter. His only way of answering that question, to him, is the use of a joke. "That professor Gerard picked me as his favourite student, of course."

"Harvey." she presses, her tone is firm and cuts straight through his bullshit.

He sighs loudly. "Well, good morning to you too, Scottie," he says, the annoyance palpable in his voice. It's therefore only met with a sigh on the other end of the line. He also doesn't have the patience for her games, so he pays her the same respect of getting to the point. "You're gonna have to be more specific than that."

"Samantha," she answers, "I heard she's back on campus."

"She was at the play yesterday, yes," he says. "Why?"

"Nothing."

But he can hear from the way she says it, that it's not nothing at all. "Dana, are you -"

"Harvey," he's cut off before he even gets the chance to formulate his answer. "I don't want to hear it."

"Okay," he hums, knowing better than to get himself into an argument with her. She never listens to him, just like he never listens to her. "Just... watch out for yourself."

Gordon watches his son return to the booth after ending his call. He waits until his oldest is seated before he speaks. "How's Dana?"

"She's fine," he answers. "Top of the class, actually."

"So you two are still friends?"

Harvey thinks over his father's question for a moment, wondering if they've ever been friends in the first place. They weren't before they dated in high school. It wasn't all friendly after their break up either, but they've managed to remain civil to one another for the last couple of years. "Yeah, I guess."

.

Donna paces through the room, with Rachel having left and Samantha not yet come back, her thoughts about Harvey have returned. And it makes her more anxious than she likes to admit, she's never felt nervous about realising she has feelings for someone before. But Harvey isn't just someone, he's her best friend, and this isn't any other time — all of their friends already believe they're together. Which means she has absolutely no one to discuss her feelings with, let alone the confusion that comes with them.

Apart from Harvey, her go-to person to vent to is Rachel, but in this case, it's damn near impossible to confide in her. Not with Mike being Rachel's boyfriend and living with Harvey, the chances of it getting back to him before she's ready to share are too big.

She thinks of Samantha then, the woman knows every single one of her friends, but she isn't a part of their day to day lives. She contemplates telling her, not just about her feelings but about the entire act she's putting up with Harvey. It would be so good to talk things over with someone, but she simply can't. Not even with Samantha, it would be putting a secret between the sisters just like she wouldn't put anything between Marcus and Harvey.

In a way, she's glad Marcus and Gordon know of their act, but talking to either of them isn't something she thinks herself capable of. They're his family at the end of the day. She thinks of her family, and she can only conclude that she's glad they aren't aware.

Her sister is much older than she is, and while they aren't in touch much, she remembers one thing that stood out as she grew up. She remembers her sister never pining after a guy, not even as a sixteen-year-old in highschool; meaning it's impossible for her to tell Alice that that's what it has come too—pining after her best friend.

Her dad has never liked Harvey, just like he has never liked her father. Jim doesn't understand their friendship, meaning he wouldn't understand their pact, let alone her feelings. He's never been the person she went to whenever she had a broken heart anyway.

Her mom was the shoulder to cry on; her mom would be the only one to understand. But because her mom knows Harvey and likes him, she would also be the one who would ask Donna questions in return. Questions she isn't ready to think about, and so telling her mom isn't an option either.

She hears the keys enter the lock of the front door then, and for a split second, she considers telling Samantha everything after all. But when the first words out of the blonde's mouth that morning are well wishes on her relationship, she lets it go and just smiles.

.

Harvey hands the duffle bag over to his father after the older man steps back from their hug. "Thanks again," he mutters on behalf of his best friend.

Gordon takes the bag over and nods. He places his free hand on his son's shoulder, squeezing it once in a way to urge his oldest to look up at him and when he does, he speaks. "Tell Donna how you feel." The words are more of a general statement than a suggestion, he knows his son needs to come to terms with everything on his own, and deep down he knows Harvey can do so, but he can't help but clarify after seeing a glimmer of panic in his eyes. "You love her."

Harvey feels his chest tighten and his throat dry, but he shakes his head anyway. "No."

Gordon gives him a sad smile in return. "Love is a terrifying thing, Harvey. It's not safe. Because when you realise you love someone, you have to face the fact it might not be reciprocated. But that's okay."

He pauses when he catches Harvey drawing in a breath, biting down on his bottom lip and glancing at the floor after. "I know your mom and I may have never given you a decent example of love, and I understand you may not ever be ready to qualify or accept what you feel as such. But I need you to know; it's okay to fall in love."

Harvey blinks back the tears that are forming in his eyes; he swallows and runs his hand along his knows. Buying himself a second to find his composure. "I know."

Gordon presses his lips into a fine line once more, the answer his son gave him what he wants to hear. He also knows it's Harvey's go-to way to get himself out of a conversation he doesn't want to have, and he can only hope that somewhere deep down, his son truly means the words.

He swings the handle of the duffle bag over his shoulder then, giving in to Harvey's silent plea to let it go and he nods once more instead. "I should go," he says. "See you over the holidays."

Harvey merely bobs his head up and down, watching his father walk away. "Goodbye, dad."