This is my first attempt at writing a story with chapters and not a one shot, so it's harder to organize the development.
I just really hope you can understand and follow it smoothly.
This might not be everyone's cup of tea, but the idea was one of the many what ifs that my mind has created during the seasons and now that I've launched myself into writing, I wanted to give it a try.
I'm not even going to talk about the end of suits, because I'll have another breakdown and we don't want to open that can of worms again :)
Rachel pads towards the bedroom during the early hours of the morning, wrapping her cardigan tightly around herself with one hand and holding a cup of fresh coffee with the other.
The coldness of the floor sends shivers up her spine.
She steps over the threshold and finds her boyfriend slipping into his shoes, tie still undone hanging around his neck.
"What are you doing up so early? Didn't your deposition start at ten?" She asks, voice still hoarse after the hours of sleep.
"Well, something came up. I have to take care of it before that." Mike responds yawning, clearly not that excited someone had pulled him out of the arms of Morpheus.
"The boss called?" She guesses chuckling.
"The boss called." He confirms, standing up and walking towards the brunette.
She places the mug down on the nightstand, then grabs his tie and starts working on it.
"Bishop is playing the hardass, we're going there to convince him to retract."
"And why is your presence needed since you have nothing to do with it?" Rachel runs her fingers down the silk piece of suit, securing the knot.
"I have absolutely no idea." Mike shrugs while his phone dings.
"Well, it seems like I have to go," He gives her a quick peck on the lips. "I'll see you later."
With that, he grabs his coat and leaves the apartment, rushing to the vehicle that was waiting for him.
Knocking a few times on the glass of the window, he waits for the car door to be opened, expecting to take his usual spot beside his partner in the back.
Instead, the glass comes down and reveals not just one, but two redheads.
The bigger one raises the big pair of sunglasses on top of her head and looks at him mockingly.
"Nice for you to show up."
"Please, I was an ace. Wasn't I Penelope?" He says, addressing the other girl.
She throws him the exact same look her mother gave him, maybe with a little bit more of sagacity.
It's almost frightening how much she resembles Donna, and not just physically.
Sure, the red locks and the fine features do their work, but her personality is the real deal.
Even if he's not sure someone can exactly inherit its attitude, the witty remarks, incredible empathy and brightness clearly come from somewhere.
Or maybe it's just taking on the traits of the person that raises you.
Either way, Penelope is definitely Donna's mini-me.
"Mh, I don't think so." She says, shaking her tiny head and crossing her little arms.
"P! You are supposed to be on my side!" He pouts, making her giggle. "And you are literally on my side of the car!" He gasps dramatically at the realization. "Speaking of which, why is she here?" Mike wonders, turning to Donna.
"I couldn't leave her home alone and I wasn't able to find a sitter in time." She explains.
"And her father?" He suggests and glances at the child, who is occupied by taking her breakfast out of the basket.
"Her father is useless." She lets the sentence slip off, taking advantage of the fact the kid isn't listening.
"Wait a minute," The lawyer understands. "You don't need my help, do you? You just need me to babysit!"
"Oh come on! With that brain of yours you were supposed to figure it out immediately." Donna rolls her eyes. "Now do you want to stand there and talk about your lack of intuition or do you want to get into the car?"
Mike lets out a sigh, pretending to be annoyed, but climbs into the car regardless.
The two girls slide on their sits to make room for the new traveller.
Penelope takes her belongings onto her lap, as her mother smoothes down her little pink skirt.
"Mike, don't you want to sit in the front?" The child asks, a little uncomfortable pressed between him and her mother.
"No, I prefer to hang out with you two." He sweetly smiles at her.
Penelope is pacing up and down the waiting room, restless and bored by the way her day have turned.
She scoffs loudly to get Mike's attention and taps her shoe on the floor repeatedly.
"I'm sorry you are not having fun, but this isn't exactly how I envisioned my morning either." The man says from his seat, stretching his back.
"You could at least let me use your phone…" She throws off casually.
"Nope, you know what your mum thinks about that." He calls her out of her bluff.
At her obvious disappointment, he almost feels guilty. He can never say not to her.
Out of the blue, he comes up with an idea.
"Come here." Mike pats the chair next to him.
The little one climbs into it and looks at him expectantly.
He takes his iPhone out of his pocket and unlocks it, searching the new issue of The Times online.
"No one can say you can't catch formative information while I casually read the newspaper."
Her face lights up and she shifts closer to him.
Penelope is probably the only human being on earth that enjoys reading the journal before the age of at least twenty.
It's one of the crazy things that Mike loves about her.
It kind of reminds him of himself.
The two of them are too caught up with the business section to notice someone approaching them.
"Mike Ross." He hears someone calling his name out.
He raises his gaze to meet an ice blue one.
He has patchs of facial hair on his cheeks and his features have been affected by the time that has passed and the ultimate events.
The man standing in front of him is certainly different from the last time he saw him, but the circumstances were very different.
That reminds him that he isn't even supposed to be there.
"Stephen Huntley." Mike acknowledges him incredulously. "What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be..."
"Yeah, right," He cuts his hint off. "I've done six years and I just got out, you know, with good behavior." He buries his hands in his pockets and raises his shoulders, a little embarrassed. Talking about it still hurts.
There's a pregnant pause, before Stephen speaks again. "I'm here to get back on track, I guess." He adds.
"Nice to know that they let convicts reintegrate so easily." Mike comments harshly.
Stephen lets the remark slip off and changes the subject of the conversation.
"And who's that? Is she your daughter?" He wonders, indicating the child next to him, who is still reading the article online.
Truth is, that little girl is the real reason he has come to talk to Mike in the first place.
There's something about her, something that draws his attention.
It's like gold for a magpie.
He has laid eyes on her and, next thing he knew, he was walking towards them.
"Oh no. She's not." He simply states, not letting anything else slide.
Although, the former prisoner isn't exactly satisfied with that little information.
He wants to find out the reason he is interested in that apparently anonymous kid.
"Hi," He cocks his head a little bit, as he greets the child. "I'm Stephen, what's your name?" He gently asks.
The girl raises her eyes from the screen and her gaze meets his.
He is affected by the action more than he could have possibly thought.
Something is definitely familiar about that look.
A strange feeling fills his stomach and he finds himself slightly dazed.
"Penelope." She finally answers.
She might find a stranger asking her name a little bit weird, but Mike's with her and her mother has taught her to always respond politely to questions.
Stephen lowers himself to stand at her same level.
"You're really pretty. How old are you?" He keeps going, hoping to get more without making the situation awkward.
Unfortunately for him, Mike is already more than uneasy. He wouldn't like to have contact with the man in general, but him talking to Penelope is another thing.
He knows the history between him and her mother, and realizes that it's better to get away before she gets back.
"P, you don't have to-" He tries before she cuts him with her response. "Five years old."
The number won't ring any bell for the first few minutes.
They hear some steps, announcing the arrival of a feminine figure.
Still glancing at the folder in her hands, Donna walks in their direction at a brisk pace.
"Of course I handled it perfectly, but again I'm a natural at-" She starts smugly, but stops roughly once she looks up.
Her mind suddenly doesn't work anymore, the sight of the man leaving her undone.
It's like she's there, but she's really not.
Everything and everyone around her is blur; she feels completely disconnected.
Like she's been thrown there right then and doesn't know a thing about what is going on. Thinking about it, it's exactly what it's about.
Never in a million years, Donna would have thought to see her former-what ?
What the hell was he to her?
A lover? A boyfriend? A man she was seeing?
Was there even a relationship? Or what they had called a short-term arrangement?
It's sure, though, that, never in a million years, she would have thought to see her former-something ever again.
And the certainty used to stand on a very solid base: him being behind the bars.
Donna relied on that, and it made her feel safe.
Not because she had been afraid of Stephen planning revenge against her, but because he had left her with nothing but shame and guilt.
And probably a little something else, slightly more important. Not that she has ever known for sure.
"Donna." His voice comes out almost as a whisper, and he comes to stand again.
The English man has thought about her several times over the years.
The fierce redhead had definitely left him with something too.
Although, his idea of her is clearly brighter than hers.
Even if she was the one who delivered the exciting news of his incarceration, his opinion of her hasn't changed, high as ever.
The betrayal had been his; he had lied to her and tried to cover up his crimes.
If he has to be honest, he had actually been fascinated by the ex-secretary's courage to call him out of his bullshit.
So that's why when he looks at her after six years, all he can focus on is how beautiful she is.
She's little thinner than before, but still in great shape, the waves of her hair have loosened up a bit and her face has developed an extra glow. She is stunning.
"Stephen." She finally lets out what sounds more like a question.
At the answer of the mother, Penelope hoops off the seat and runs to her.
"Mom, can we go now?" She pulls down at Donna's dress, throwing her head backwards.
It hits him without warning.
Donna is a mother.
She is the mother of that kid.
That's where the familiar look came from.
"Yeah, yeah. Mike, why don't you wait for me in the car?" She is taken off her state of confusion.
"Are you sure you ok, Don?"
"Uh. Don't worry, I'll be done in a minute."
She quickly dismisses them.
Mike doesn't need to be told twice, and, in a minute, they're out of the room.
Donna follows the two of them with her gaze, until they're out of sight and she abruptly turns her head to look at him.
"How the hell are you here?"
"Good behavior and a couple of good deals." He simply states.
She should have seen that coming. It's how they always get off scot-free.
She takes a big breath and redirects her gaze to the ground.
"So..." He cuts the heavy silence. "I have met your kid, she's wonderful."
She doesn't like where the conversation is heading, and feels the urge to walk away from the situation. Immediately.
It might look too hurried, but she can't take it anymore.
"Yeah. That actually reminds me she's waiting for me, so..." She chickens out.
Donna turns on her heels and starts walking away.
Stephen has been genuinely taken aback by the news.
Donna isn't the feisty ginger secretary he used to know.
She's got a family and everything.
She's probably a different woman now.
She's moved on so quickly. Maybe too quickly.
And finally, that ring bells.
His mind moving so fast and getting to a shocking possibility.
"She told me she's five." He tells, loud enough for her to hear.
She stops dead. Freezed.
Should she ignore him? But what he has just mentioned can't be casual.
"She was born little after I was arrested." He adds.
With that her worst fear becomes real.
Without turning back, she murmurs a chocked goodbye Stephen, and gets away from her nightmare. For now.
Donna gets inside the car in a hurry.
Landing heavily on the seat, she leans against it and closes her eyes.
Her body pumps out adrenaline and she needs to calm down.
"Donna-" Mike starts.
He understands that he doesn't have to push her, giving the sensitive subject and wanting to leave the little person next to them oblivious.
The car ride is extremely quiet, a sense of awkwardness and tension filling the air.
So Penelope is glad when they reach the apartment and she can go in her room and play by herself, leaving the two adults alone.
The second the bedroom's door closes, Donna jumps at Mike's throat.
"Why did you let him talk to her?"
"I didn't! I was trying to get us out of the situation but I didn't have the time-"
"You don't understand. I didn't even want that piece of shit to know about her existence!" She points out, frantically moving around.
"You're right, I do not understand. Why is it such a big deal that he knows her name and how old she is?" He throws his hands in the air desperately.
She stops by the couch and sits on its head, looking away.
She brings her hand to her forehead and starts rubbing it, looking down.
He can sense there's more to the story, something she's not telling him.
He doesn't want to see her hurt, but can't exactly help her if he doesn't understand what's the problem.
Mike remembers how overwhelmed Donna was when she broke up with Stephen, but presently he can't make sense of her fear.
He's right, she must seem crazy right now.
At least for someone who doesn't know the whole truth.
"You know, it's just... I don't like having him around." That's not a complete lie.
"None of us does, but we'll be okay."
The nods, even if she doesn't believe it.
Her expression cracks in a tentative smile, to which he responds.
"What was he even doing there?" She frowns.
"Apparently he wants to get in business with Bishop or something like that."
"Are tou kidding me?" She chuckles loudly, not because she's amused, but out of frustration. "Of course, why not, I don't know, maybe getting a walk in central park and enjoying your freedom?" She shakes ger head. "Nah, let's get on the train!"
"I know, it sucks." He feels her. "You want me to stay?" He gladly offers.
In these later years, Mike has significantly gotten closer to Donna.
When he found out she was expecting -and a father seemed nowhere to be seen- he was ready to let her move in with him and Rachel.
He wanted to help her raise the kid and enjoy the wonderful moments that were going to come.
Instead, things took a different -but good- way and, once the baby was born, it was like he had been given a little sister.
Donna had then been promoted to COO, and embraced the projects he took to the firm with open arms.
That's when he started to call her "boss", the name always bringing a smile to her lips.
"No need, the prodigal husband should come home soon." She reassures him.
Mike nods in understanding and, after interrupting Penelope to kiss her goodbye, leaves.
It's almost six p.m. when she hears the keys jingle in the lock and soon land on the kitchen island.
She's curled up on the couch, lips still wet by the glass of wine she's drinking.
He slowly comes behind her and leaves a kiss on the top of her head, the smell of her shampoo meeting his nostrils.
She lets him squeeze her shoulder passively.
"I missed you today." He tells her, in the tone of voice that he reserves only for her.
He heads towards the fridge, to pour himself a glass of water.
Opening it, he notices the lack of supplies and takes a mental note.
"Listen, we'll have to go to the grocery store sooner or later."
She just shifts on her spot and tucks the blanket right under her stomach, suddenly feeling hotter than before.
"Harvey..." Is the only thing that comes out of her mouth, slightly trembling.
"Uh-uh..." He absently answers, moving backwards to scan the few items a little better.
"He knows." She murmurs with her eyes prickling.
"Who knows what?" Harvey asks, as he closes the fridge with a bottle of water in hand.
"He knows." She says again, more meaningfully.
He fully understands what she's talking about the moment she turns around and makes eye contact with him.
Now it's his time to reply those words.
What does Stephen know?
Aand this is all for now. I will update soon, of course if you are interested. Please leave a review so I can figure out if there's a reason to keep going :)
Anyways, I named the kid Penelope on purpose; for me Darvey's baby name will always be Amanda, but this story is certainly different and it felt right to name her this way.