Here we go again... I hope you still remember what's the story about, because I suck at updating, so sorry about that... I also hope the first episode of the last season created big darvey bubble around you because for sure it did for me. I had it written before all those beautiful and heartwarming scenes, so it's spoiler free, you don't have to worry.
As I'm still a rookie in a writing division, especially because I don't remember how to use proper English anymore (time to go back to my high school lessons...), I bet there are mistakes, but you know that already. I was sweating and bleeding over this chapter more than the previous ones, I admit, as I grow into the story, it becomes clearer and clearer how many layers of personality the character can have and I always want to show it to you to the fullest, so the difficulty level rise with the number of the chapter... Therefore, enjoy.
Oh! And of course big THANK YOU to the godmother of this fic.
And yet, here they are and even though the situation isn't ideal, they will have to deal with that in the best possible way. For now, she sees only one solution.
Donna opens up her eyes, mowing away and her fingers slip from his grip, what catches his attention and he sends her questioning look.
"I think we need some time out."
"What?" his brows knit immediately. No. No, she can't! "Donna, you can't–"
"We've been through–"
"A lot, I know," Donna interjects him and continues before he will get into her way. "That's why is the best if–"
"No, it's not only your decision to–"
"You'd see it's a good decision if you'd let me–"
"Are you out of your mind?! I will not let you leave again because of such a trivial shit! This is not a reason to split!"
Every fear he had about her leaving resurfaces and despite his solemn confidence he has worked through his past issues, panic starts to spread in his chest and he can feel his heartbeat increasing rapidly.
It's really remarkable how fast an amygdala sends an impulse to an adrenal cortex, stress hormones are released and what once makes people fight, the other time can make people flight. Or freeze. Harvey swallows, but his mouth is suddenly too dry for such reflex to happen and it freaks him out even more, words he shouted still ringing in his ears.
Donna shifts her weight backwards, taken aback by his unexpected reaction and eyes him with lack of understanding for his behavior, her irises big with surprise. Just when she's about to ask him where did that tantrum came from, it downs on her, heart breaking a little when she realizes how deep his scars run. Her face soften and her palm cups his cheek on its own volition, gentle, reassuring smile on her lips.
"Relax Harvey, I'm not going anywhere. I never meant to. I wanted us to drop the conversation for tonight, that's all," she observes as threatening gleam in his gaze settles down and he exhales deeply through the nose.
"Good," he murmurs back and looks aside, slightly ashamed with his outburst.
The moment prolongs as she caresses taut muscles of his jaw until he consciously eases them. Then she finishes her thought. "But this argument… I think we have rather long talk ahead of us and we are going to need a clear head for it."
"Donna, I'm sorry, I didn't–…" Harvey bows his head a bit, feeling like an idiot. Embarrassment isn't something he's used to hear in his tone and part of him cringes internally by how weak he sounds. Jumping to such conclusions wouldn't be so terrible in itself if he didn't get a shameful throwback gratis.
The redhead nibbles on her lower lip. "It's alright. We are not handling things, but we will."
"I need to get myself under control."
"I haven't been myself too," Donna shakes head to confirm her statement. "It's for both of us, Harvey. Things got messy along the way. We need to clear the air."
Then out of nowhere, he asks, "Am I screwing this?"
His voice is barely above a whisper when he verbalizes his reflection and lifts his chin up, reluctantly meeting her gaze. Her heart aches even more seeing the amount of anxiety behind those chocolate eyes.
"No. No," she repeats more confidently this time. "Why would you even think so?" she tilts head, trying to pour into her expression all the adoration she feels for that man. The emotion that survived long years hidden under all those layers of denial and insecurities, now burning bright.
"I just… do. Sometimes."
For tonight, she's going to cut him some slack and let it slide, but tomorrow… Tomorrow they will start fixing what still remains broken, because no matter how their work situation looks like, it's the highest time they focus on the issues waiting for them at home.
"You think that will do the work? Talking?"
"We've got into this by not talking, so yeah. I'm Donna, remember?" she quips in her usual manner.
"I could never forget," he declares somehow definitely, not following through the humorous gate she has opened.
"What does it mean?"
"That you could never forget?"
Harvey flusters a bit, his reaction rather adorable when he cannot find words to describe what he means and being New York City best closer, he is still not the best feelings speech giver. Donna doesn't mind him that, after almost fourteen years by his side, she understands his inhabitations sometimes even better than her own.
"Exactly what it sounded like," he decides finally.
"You're weird man."
He simply stares at her face, memorizing lines engraved in his mind long time ago and reminding himself there's nothing they can't manage together. Anger, set ups, fights, threats, heartbreaks, dirty deals, separation, hurt. They have handled them all, so how can he doubt them facing some overdue conversation would be any different? This evening really had to rub off on him.
"Your weird man," he corrects. "Right?"
Without any further explanation, Harvey opens up his arms, signaling her to step inside what she does with a glad chuckle. He rests his head next to her temple, leaving there a peck and his embrace closes securely around her. He exhales deeply, letting her presence calm down anything stormy within his soul.
How many times did he think about this in previous years? The number surely uncountable as his vivid imagination liked to go to this little hugging fantasy of his in times of need. It was tricky. He didn't even notice when I can handle on my own whatever shit life throws at me turned into fuck, where's Donna with her stupid comments when she's needed?! and ultimately okay, just this one time to calm myself down and I'll never imagine us ever again.
Harvey snorts internally as he can almost hear Mike's sing-song voice saying 'Pussy!' upon his past illusions. Damn, he can hear himself saying much worse words. The irony is, now he's either getting old or soft, because since they got together, he cannot think of any better ending of a day than being able to hold her just like this. And for the rest of their lives. And if there is afterlife he never believed in, he hopes he will deserve her then too.
Definitely getting soft, he muses spreading his palm on her back and truth be told, he couldn't be less bothered by that.
The redhead smiles, nuzzling her cheek into his shirt and breathing in the smell of his cologne. The aroma was taunting her for years and now she gets to sense it any waking hour she wants, his scent masculine but warm, inviting. Despite where they are going to find themselves for a night, she knows her home is always with her. Forget all the arguments and hurtful words, he has been safe harbor in her mind since the very beginning, since their hands shook and she fell for these gleaming chocolate eyes and complicated soul behind them.
Getting sentimental by the memory, she tightens her hold around his body. The world will probably never stop putting obstacles in their way, this evening the best example, but they'll make it. Donna has no doubts on that matter.
"I love you, you know?" he whispers, busying his lips with leaving kisses on the side of her face.
"I do and you're sappy and please say it again?"
"I. Love. You. Donna. Roberta. Paulsen," he laughs and murmurs in between kisses, his hand sneaking under the hem of her jumper and shirt. She tilts her neck, giving him more room for the caress and purr escapes her lips.
"I'm actually flattered you remember my middle name," she jokes as her palm rise to his hair and she uses her nails on his scalp the way he loves. "I love you too, Harvey."
"Well, I remember mine and Roberta sounds almost like Reginald so with that connection it wasn't so hard."
"Now I know why you couldn't keep girl's names straight – you were thinking too much about yourself," she feigns shock.
"Well as I said, there's one I could never forget."
Donna suppresses the squeal fighting its way out of her mouth, because come on, she's not sixteen, even though the butterflies in her stomach may have other idea. Instead of amusing him with her girlish reaction, she reaches for his mouth with vigor and passion.
His other hand lowers itself to her bottom and cups both cheeks, bringing her flush with him. Donna's hips starts to move against his on their own accord, sparkling more need into his system. Growing impatient, she brings his mouth to hers once again and kisses him deeply, tongues involved. It never ceases to amaze her how their bodies work together in a perfect harmony, even if it means being equally impatient with teeth clashing and getting stuck in clothes, it's a harmony nonetheless.
Astray thought catches her attention, saying the best way to get rid of that awful sensation Paula's visit brought is to sweat it out in a hot sex session. Smirking internally, she couldn't agree more. When they separate, his hooded eyes tells her everything she wants to know.
"Make love to me."
"As you wish," he smiles his most adoring smile and walks after her as she directs them to the bedroom. Fingers intertwined, he would follow her to the end of the world.
Having Donna sleeping next to him took Harvey onto different level of comfort. He didn't notice it until first night apart happened and he swore to himself, he's never letting her out of his bed ever again. Or hers for that matter, but they spend more time at his place anyway. Not that he minds Donna's apartment but having her bringing something indescribable into his bachelor's cave – something as simple as this mermaids blanket or claiming concreate mug as her own or the ridiculous amount of cosmetics in his bathroom – and making it home, it's making him mushy.
He cannot help that any more than he can help expansion of the universe, so he just keeps being this cheesy version of himself whenever she's not aware. Of course, he's not going to admit he turned into Mike Ross and his puppy crap.
On the other hand though, Mike seems to appear in his mind too often.
To shake off this thought, Harvey takes a long inhale and wraps his arm around Donna tighter from behind. His eyes close again as he drowns in her scent.
"You're creepy, you know it?"
"You're gritting your teeth when you sleep."
"The fact that you know it, makes it even creepier."
"I'm sure the guy across the hall knows it too."
"You're an idiot."
"Wanna switch roles for old time sake and I'll make you appointment with my dentist?"
"And Louis's," she points out to annoy him.
"Too late, I got over that. He says my teeth better anyway, but that's not a surprise since they fit in my mouth."
She chuckles, actually amused by his comment and turns around to cuddle into his chest. Usually impossible bright room they are in is still dusky, so they may as well use the opportunity to catch up some sleep. Harvey kisses her forehead and settles as well, pleased grin stretching his lips. Yet when sleep isn't coming after a while, he resigns and allows his thoughts to flow.
Unfortunately, they happen to be circling about the subject he would rather avoid.
Truth be told, when he first thought about asking her out, it wasn't because he was on pins and needles for the waiting period to end. He was going through major changes in his life and it reminded him about the therapy sessions – the other time when his life was drastically shifting. And as Donna's leaving his side shook him to the core, the awareness he has to take the reins and become managing partner did that too. Taking responsibility for his or Mike's stunts had been a child's play comparing to what Jessica had been doing all those years to keep this firm running and he was supposed to be her. Simultaneously showing the world he was not her and he had his own plan how to take care of the business, whereas the only thing he had in mind was how to keep them afloat. And even that wasn't working out exactly how he wished to.
As if it wouldn't be enough, there was also mysterious I want something more coming from the very person he was never allowed nor ready to give more, not to mention she didn't have straight answer what that something was. Even though he tried to not overthink Donna's statement, part of him expected her to want to be with him and he felt like a mess who still didn't figure out how he loved her. And other part feared that if it's going to turn out true, he would eventually screw this big time and she would leave him once again, this time for good.
It triggered a panic attack, what triggered usage of coping mechanism and one thing led to another, he was thinking about his former therapist and her superficially uninterested demeanor. He had a hunch it was just a façade back then and it got him curious, since it was unusual for women to hide their attraction toward him. The other advantage was the fact he was rather comfortable around her and trusted her with his secrets… She was intelligent, eloquent and knew how to get to him. She was also completely different from the crew he used to lay his eyes on, less provocative and one-night-standish. It seemed like a good call, even better as the waiting period was over with a little surplus. He asked himself: why not give it a shot?
A thousand reasons, really. Some of them he discovered long after the actual relationship ended, sitting in Lipschitz's office and being lectured about transference or whatever is that called. Some of them he was made aware of just yesterday. Leaving aside Paula's mendacity, what bothers him is how and why did he find inaccurate regulation and followed it's character.
Harvey stirs, all of sudden tired of his current position and rolls on his back, bringing peacefully sleeping Donna with him, her head landing on his chest. Out of habit he is not even aware he possesses, his palm rests on her back and his thumb caresses her side.
He is the best closer in the NYC and among the skills he polished up to the perfection, he goddamn knows how to make his research. No matter the perplexity following him at the time, he wouldn't make such a rookie mistake. On top of it – during the therapy sessions Stan focused on the unethical side of the situation, never mentioning the illegal one and given the Louis's stories, he loves rules as much as any other German, so why wouldn't he? Scottie seemed to know the one year version too.
"I can hear you thinking, you know," he feels more than hears her hoarse voice against his skin.
"And I was convinced you don't see me as someone who is capable of such activity."
He expected to gain a point by catching her off guard but she's as quick on her feet as always, even being halfway still asleep.
"Quite the contrary: I think you can but oh God sometimes you use it the worst way possible."
"Like?" he volunteers, curious how she's going to end her jab.
"Remember when you bought your niece a dog without asking Katie or Marcus and it turned out she's allergic? You couldn't get rid of fur starting from–," she yawns midsentence and stretches after, then props herself on the elbow to look at him. "From your suits to the couch for next four weeks after you find the puppy another home."
"Well– it wasn't so bad – she loved it even when she got rash all over her face," Harvey smirks slightly.
"Yeah, remind me to never let you nowhere near my nieces or my cousins will kill me."
Specter shakes head at her remark. "Why are you awake? The alarm won't go off in another thirty minutes."
"My pillow was uncooperative and all tensed up," she taps his right breast and tilts her neck, looking at him from a new angle. She spots marks of tiredness under his eyes and wrinkles around his mouth point at uneasiness he's trying to cover. Donna is aware she has to tread carefully if she wants him to open up on whatever bothers him so much, even though she has some good guesses herself. "What's on your mind?"
Harvey inhales deeply, feeling guilty for being the cause of her worried expression, yet knowing he has to wrap his mind around the problem before he shares it with her, he negates. "I need to figure it out myself first."
"… Or, we can make it the easy way," she arches her eyebrow at him with a slight side glance. "And save us approximately six to eight hours before we will talk about whatever is bothering you again."
"What?" his forehead creases.
"Come on, Harvey, we've been doing it for years over and over again. We ping pong until you get mad, we fight, you shut me off, eventually you come to your senses and we talk this through," Donna elaborates, drawing a draft on his skin with her finger. "Don't you think that after yesterday we may try to fix this?"
Just as she said – until recently, she would push until he would get irritated, then wait appropriate amount of time and he would come to her on his own, reentering the subject after longer consideration. Truth be told, lately it was taking him less time and sometimes he was even reaching certain conclusions she didn't think he would, but getting to him was only through the hard way. One thing was constant – Harvey Specter didn't react to gentle suggestions or different points of view.
Since they broke the status quo of their relationship, Donna has been trying to find a method of planting a seed in Harvey's mind without digging up the giant hole beforehand. Latest problems presented them with a united front and yesterday they did not, but now was the perfect opportunity to finally coax him in a less arguable manner, maybe even without getting angry herself in the process.
Harvey dries up when realization he was doing exactly what she listed sinks in. Every time he could recall, it worked this fashion and it always ended with him finding a right solution after he confronted his thoughts with her. How the hell was he so predictable through all those years and he didn't notice? The second guessing he was experiencing moments before comes back as an itching feeling in the back of his mind. First doubting his research expertise, now his decision making… What's going to fail him next? His job fitness?
Donna observes with apprehension as scowl forms on his face and she runs her hand through the mess on his head, trying to gain back his focus. Whatever is happening under that shag doesn't seem to be going in the right direction.
"At least try to talk to me," she pleads with a sigh.
He doesn't respond and neither he moves, convincing her she lost her shot. Baby steps, Donna. A minute passes while he avoids meeting her eyes, but at least he mutters, "give me a moment to gather my thoughts."
"Okay," Donna whispers and leaves a kiss to his forehead (let's be honest, men love them too) and two moles, then settles back on his chest, her arm wrapped around his middle in a hug. It's not much, but it's a sign she's going to be there for him whenever he needs and what he's battling on his own, it's better to work out together. She wonders if he's bothered by the anxiety attack from the last night, owing to the fact that it seemed to be a past issue and now he can't rest.
Silence falls upon them like a sheet, the quietness of the morning encouraging to swim in their closeness before the buzzing of the work will separate them. She can still sense the flow swirling in his head, but after a while of the tight embrace he clear's his throat.
"Do you question your methods sometimes?" he voices finally, not quite sure he has chosen right words.
Donna shifts in his arms, trying to get a better look at his face while pondering the inquiry.
"Well, yes, sometimes I do. If I find them inefficient–"
"No, I meant more like – do you have something so automatized you don't double-check it and then you wonder if you did this correctly?"
The redhead takes a moment to analyze, also making an attempt to understand the following implications. Whatever skill he has in mind, it has to be imprinted into his very being because as long as she knows him (and God knows it's been long years) he never impeached his practice nor double-checked. What has happened to that world-wide known self-confidence he prided himself upon?
"Not usually, Harvey. When I have already learned something as a habit I stop checking up on that. I may ask myself if I did it, if I zoned out and haven't noticed but I don't question the integrity of my actions," she props herself back on the elbow. "Why are you now?"
He clenches his jaw, his sight aside, but he reluctantly shifts his gaze at her.
"You're not gonna like it."
It takes Donna a heartbeat to figure out what is he talking about. Or rather – about whom. "Paula." And before he gets a chance to speak, she interjects, because now it makes sense, "she said you screwed your research and you never screw your research."
"She got into your head…" Donna's eyebrows arch and it looks like a challenge.
"She didn't," he counters instantly, tightening his grip on her waist.
"Yes, she did. Otherwise you wouldn't been losing sleep over it," she shrugs, leaving no space for other justification. What a better way to start a day than learning your boyfriend is spending his morning worrying over what his psycho ex said, she thinks, moving away from his embrace. Paula showed up for one night and honestly managed to fuck all balance they had, furthermore pissing Donna off so much, just a mere mention of her person manages to bring the redhead into fighting mode. Here goes less arguable manner, huh.
He inhales deeply with I-knew-it expression threating to show up on his face, yet he finds in himself enough perceptuality to recognize her behavior as a defense mechanism. The weird tango continues, once making him run, once her. They deserve each other, don't they?
"Donna, wait," he reaches for her wrist before she slips away and he silently congratulates himself composure when he says, "you wanted me to share and I'll try to share, I know you hate her, but you I need your help to make this relationship work."
She halts abruptly, halfway on the other side of the bed and takes a long breath. She used to think Harvey was the only one acting out in their peculiar dynamic, but truth be told, she had her issues as well, Paula being one of them. Or maybe it was a realization her know-it-all skills had a blind spot and it took away the control she had over their relationship, possibly leaving her all alone even without their substitute friendship. Anyway, now she should step up her game and follow her request to heal them too.
"I'm sorry," she lets out, turning back into his direction. "It wasn't fair."
"It's okay. Old habits die hard, huh?" he winks at her, shifting his hand to lock their fingers.
"You tell me," she chuckles, moving her thumb over his. "So what doesn't stick?"
"For the record, I don't screw up my research and secondly – I'm sure if it turned out to be two years period, Stan would insist to report her on his own, but he focused only on an ethic note during our sessions. And Scottie knows the one year rule too."
"And how do you know that?"
"We had a little chit chat when she didn't want to take back her closing argument, where she stated her reputation was damaged by working in the same place as the fraud," Harvey announces casually, leaning against the headboard.
"Oh yes," she rolls her eyes, recalling the situation. One thing let to another and puff! Ladies and gentleman's, Zane Specter Litt. Donna rests her back too, trying to ignore the weird sensation caused by talking about legality of his previous relationship. "So to sum up – you think there's no option it's been two years as she said and that's yet another lie?"
"No, I don't."
"What?" her head snaps into his direction.
"I think she thinks she's right and the truth is different."
She studies his face for a moment, contemplating the possibility, before she hesitantly suggests, "is she psychiatrist or psychologist?"
"Yeah, but did she finish medical school or psychological school?"
Harvey's gaze narrows when he looks at her with lack of understanding and it makes Donna roll her eyes once again. "You know the difference, right?"
"Of course I do," he snorts.
"So which one?"
"Ughm…" he scratches back of his head, rummaging through his memories to find an answer, but before he does, a question on his own leaves his mouth. "Why does that matter?"
"Because I think both associations has the same signature and if that's true, one of you must have get their hands on the wrong ethic code. Though I think it doesn't matter, maybe aside from taking your mind off the case."
"If I'm right she won't have grounds to claim anything from me ever again."
"Well, if you wouldn't act like a maniac few years ago, she wouldn't have now," she points out, tilting her head just slightly to emphasize her sarcasm.
"I guess I deserved that?" he chuckles.
"You did, Mister."
"Guilty as charged."
To her surprise, Harvey pulls her closer by their interlaced fingers and before their lips meet, he says, "at least there's no pee in my shoes," making them both smile into the kiss.
He never screws his research and neither did he over two years ago. He could feel it in his bones, growing like a cold shiver before it finally met his skin. In United States of America residence takes two APA's: American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association, each of them having their own ethic practice. How did Paula manage to fail at finding the right one, he would rather not know. It would only make him angry he not only dated incompetent therapist, but was also treated by her. As far as he would call it treating now.
To gain absolute assurance, he makes quick call to dr. Lipschitz, who reluctantly – because Harvey don't want to tell him why he needs that information – confirms, the waiting period is one year indeed. He mentally pats himself on the back, because he is the best New York City closer with foolproof research methods and she can suck it.
Pleased with himself and freshly printed ethical code under his arm, he drops by SLWW COO office to share the good news and say he's going to be back in an hour. Donna looks up shortly, then nods, engrossed in some calculation he knows nothing about, yet her minimal response catches his attention nonetheless.
"How are your feet?"
"You had these terrible blisters yesterday, so I asked how are your feet," he repeats, putting both of his hands in pockets and rocking on his heels.
This time she takes a moment to actually meet his gaze.
"They are better, thank you," she answers bit confused, her forehead creased. "What's going on?"
"Why something has to be on? I'm just a caring boyfriend."
She shots him don't-you-bullshit-me glance.
"Okay, just making sure we're good."
"We are, but it doesn't change the fact we have some talk waiting for us at home."
"You never forget, don't you?" he snorts and shakes head. "Why now?"
She sighs, leaving her pen and calculator on the desk and she brings her hands underneath her chin. "It's time, Harvey. I don't think we'll grow further as a couple without it."
He fights back a joke bubbling in the back of his throat and it's his turn to nod, "okay." Because there isn't much he wouldn't do for her after all and he's certain he'll survive the conversation as well.
She gifts him with a small yet honest smile and gets back to her work, giving him a sign he can go too. Content with the current atmosphere between them, he turns around and walks to the exit, already pulling his phone to notify Ray he's on his way out.
"Harvey," Donna calls after him before he passes the threshold.
"Make this go for once and for all, ok?"
"You have my word," he promises and winks at her with that Cheshire Cat grin of his.
She locks the door to her home-slash-office and tugs the handle one more time to confirm it's actually closed. Swallowing thickly, she opens up her bag and casts in there her keys, out of habit stepping down from the stairs not looking up. She's been living there long enough she might as well do it in a sleep and she wouldn't stumble upon anything. Or so she thought before her gaze spotted very familiar figure leaning against her fence.
"Harvey," hangs in the air between them, the name spoken with both shock and relief. Despite all the awful words that fell from her mouth regarding his person, the corners of her lips turn slightly upward.
"If I were you I'd get this smile off my face, because I'm here to prove you wrong and show you how deep you can shove this favor thing down your… throat."
As soon as a cheered up expression reached her features, that fast it faded to give a mix of acrimony and ire place.
That son of a–
"And before you say anything, read this," he throws at her a file, knowing full well few printed pages inside are going to take away every right she might ever have to claim something from him. "It's the ethic code you should have knew by heart before you finished your school, but don't worry, I sensed you might have problems with reading, so I underlined the most important articles."