"Do you love Harvey Specter?"
The question comes out of nowhere. The words shock him like a splash of cold water to the face. With a sharp intake of air his gaze shifts to Louis.
Swallowing the undeniable lump in his throat, he turns his eyes toward Donna who looks equally stunned on the stand.
"What?" she responds sharply.
If there was anyone in the room that couldn't hear the annoyance in her tone, they could easily see it written all over her face.
"Do you… love him?"
Harvey balls his fists under the table. He can feel the tightening in his chest but he can't place the exact reason for it. He should have seen this coming.
"That has nothing to do with—"
"It has everything to do with." Louis's tone is sharp and direct. "Why'd your last boyfriend break up with you?"
The question is met with silence. Donna opens and then closes her mouth with an exasperated sigh. A sigh loud enough to raise the eyebrows of every member of the firm looking on. Not to mention what it does to Harvey's pulse. He opens his fists and runs his now sweaty palms on his thighs as he watches Donna look to Mike for guidance.
"Ms. Paulsen," Louis continues with a wave of his finger, "why'd he end it with you?"
As Donna responds with an explanation of prioritizing her work, Harvey's mind starts snapping pieces together like a puzzle that suddenly makes sense.
"Your work?" Louis frowns. "He asked you to choose between him and Harvey. Didn't he?"
Harvey's eyes dance between the two of them as he rubs the tips of his fingers together.
"Yes." Donna practically spits.
"Who'd you choose?"
The question hangs in the air like a dense fog that does nothing for the tightness in Harvey's chest. He'd had no idea her relationship with Mark had ended because of him. He hadn't known... because he'd never bothered to ask.
Donna knows exactly where this line of questioning is going and despite the loud cries from her subconscious to make it stop, she can't seem to find the right words. Donna Paulsen always had the right words. Until now.
Her eyes move from Harvey, to Mike, to Hardman and when it's clear they are all awaiting her answer she concedes with another sigh.
"Because you love him." Louis states more than asks.
Hearing Harvey's weak attempt at... what, protecting her, only fuels the anger and hurt she's been harboring for weeks.
"It's not that simple." It's a ridiculous response and she knows it. Of course, it's that simple.
"Do you... Love him? Yes? Or no?" Louis gestures with his hands. "Answer the question!"
Donna's heart begins to race as Louis's tone turns even more condescending.
"Louis!" Harvey interrupts again.
"You're with him all the time. Your work revolves around him. Your life revolves around him."
Louis begins an arrogant strut toward her, and Donna can feel her control slipping. After all these years, it always comes back to this… She just wants it to stop. All the excuses. All the pretending and rationalizing. Always ducking the reality of her feelings for that asshole sitting across the room who has made it more than clear just what her role in his life amounts to.
She can barely make out Jessica's objections through the ringing in her ears.
"You don't have a boyfriend, but the one you did, didn't want to share you with him."
"Please! I just need a—" Her heart is in her throat and she can hear the panic in her tone.
"Do you love Harvey Specter?" Louis raises his voice and leans in closer.
Donna swallows and stutters but can't find the words.
"Do you love Harvey Specter!"
He's yelling now. And as her breath hitches, the only thing that is clear to Donna is that she wants him to stop. Needs him to stop.
Like an out of body experience, or some kind of lucid dream, she sees Harvey shoot up from his chair and shout something. But it takes several deafening beats of her heart pounding in her ears to realize that she is also standing. And it's her words that have silenced not only Louis but everyone in the room.
"Yes, God damnit!"
As if the words had left her mouth and then bounced off the surrounding walls, they come back to her. And the gravity of what has just occurred is more than she can bear. Clutching her purse tightly, she bolts from the room.
No one in the room is more stunned than Harvey. Louis got just the answer he'd been digging for. Mike runs a hand over his face in despair, and every member of the firm seems to sigh in unison. They all knew. In some capacity, anyone who spent any time around them at all knew that Donna's feelings for him went far beyond office obligations.
But for Harvey Specter, it was an aha moment. A blinding light turned on in a dark room.
Donna loves him.
He races after her. Unsure of what he will say or do if he catches her but acutely aware that he has no other choice.
"Donna!" he calls out as she enters the elevator, but there is no answer. And as the doors begin to close between them he meets her eyes. And the pain he finds in them breaks his heart in two.
It's now or never a small voice whispers.
And just before the doors shut between them, his hand darts out to stop them.
The metal doors bounce back open and Harvey is met with a steely glare.
"Harvey. Move your hand."
He is a huge fan of all things DC Comics, and he's read enough of The Flash to be eerily reminded of Killer Frost.
"Donna." It's the only word that comes to mind. And he can tell she's not at all impressed.
"Just let me go."
The tone of her voice is unlike anything he's heard from her in the past. But the sour taste it leaves in the back of his throat is all too familiar.
Donna beats repeatedly on the down button, seemingly hoping it will speed up the process of her escape. Her eyes cast at the floor as tears stream from her swollen eyes.
He's been here before. Trapped between the longing in his heart and the fear in his mind.
Move, you idiot. Say something.
Let her go. You aren't worthy.
And back to...
Tell her, goddamn it.
And then the doors are closing again. And the moment is slipping away. Donna is slipping away…
By some small miracle, he turns his body sideways and slips through the closing doors shocking them both.
An audible gasp escapes Donna's throat as she backs up in surprise. Her eyes meet his, but neither speaks at first.
"Harvey." She finally sighs with a shake of her head. "Please. I can't do this any—"
He reaches for her then. Unable to fight the ever growing need to comfort her for a second longer. These past few weeks had been utter torture. Knowing the pain he'd caused letting her walk out that way. Not going to see her. Not returning her calls. It had made her hate him. But worse than that... it fueled the way he hated himself. He couldn't, wouldn't, let her walk away again. Not now that he knew the truth.
Donna's breath lodges in her throat and for a brief moment, she is sure her heart stops. The warmth of his palm, and the sheer strength of his hand, as his fingers slip under her hair and his thumb grazes her cheek, are enough to take her breath away for good, but it's the look in his eyes that makes her knees go weak.
It's only the second time since the night they'd met that he's opened himself up to her this way. No walls, no armor, no bullshit.
And then his lips are on hers. Softly at first. Testing the waters. Asking permission.
She loses all sense of reality as she just lets herself fall. Into his arms, into his kiss, into the love that both lifted her soul and threatened to drown her.
His arms envelop her. His kiss consumes her. And as his tongue glides slowly across hers and his body presses firmly into her, for the second time that afternoon, she simply… surrenders. And it feels incredible.
Harvey isn't sure if the moaning he hears is coming from him or Donna. But he is certain that he's never felt a kiss quite like this. He has kissed Donna before, hell, he'd done more than that, but this… this was new. This was more. And for once in his life, instead of running away, he wants to dive in. To bury himself inside her in every damn sense of the word.
And he tries.
He deepens the kiss, changing the angle of his head to ease his tongue deeper into her mouth. He presses his growing erection into her slender frame. Pulling her against him with hands spread across her lower back. But it isn't enough.
Pulling away and gasping for air, he leans his forehead against hers. He's so tired of the denial, of constantly obsessing about lines, and rules, and consequences. He needs to rid himself of these chains before they cost him everything.
He takes in a shuddering breath and locks his gaze on hers. And before he loses his nerves…
"I love you too, Donna."
And just like that, for the first time in his life, as the elevator dings to alert them to their arrival at the lobby floor, Harvey Specter surrenders.
AN: Thanks to my besties Steph and Heather for the support, guidance, and cheerleading. Love you both more than, well as much as, coffee.