Author's Note: Hi, people. In my last story, I said I would try to finish this particular segment. I started writing things down and before I'd gotten halfway through the chapter, I realized I had completely forgotten how I was going to end this part of the story. So I decided to sit on it and wait for an ending to come to me. It has seriously taken this long for me to think of something. Hopefully it makes sense! And because I changed the story, it's now going to be a 3-parter instead of a 2-part, so there is yet another installment.
Beware - there is offensive language in this chapter.
Subterfuge, Part 2
Harvey wasn't entirely aware of how he managed to get to his own condo, but he shrugged the thought away. It really didn't matter in the whole scheme of details through the week and all he intended to do was drink his brain to numbness to forget the worst week of his life.
Donna was gone. How could it all have gone so wrong? He thought maybe Tanner had conjured an imaginary memo, but then there it was. At least according to Mike and Donna, because he never even saw it. It was difficult to fathom that one memo he had never even seen was all set to ruin his life. And not just his, but Mikes and Donna's, and then Pearson Hardman's reputation. Everything had been going so well that he should have known it wouldn't last.
"When I said lose, I didn't mean for you to lose so spectacularly."
Harvey jumped so violently that the glass he got out for vodka skittered across the counter and smashed on the floor. "Goddamn it, Lucas! What the hell are you doing here?" Harvey snarled at him when he finally spotted him sitting in the darkened living room with his back against the window. It just went to show how distracted Harvey was that he didn't even notice him.
"My apologies," Lucas said smoothly, "but I wanted to sneak in without anyone noticing." Quiet fell on them as Harvey set about making another glass of scotch and Lucas studied him carefully. Finally he said, "What the hell happened?"
Once again, Harvey didn't respond, but he did walk over to sit in his leather chair opposite Lucas. He peered at the younger man cautiously and then in a quiet voice asked, "How much do you know?"
"Only that your career is in danger and there might be a legitimate case of burying evidence."
After another hefty swallow, "I was brought the suit by the biggest Tennis-playing douchebag. I never saw this memo. Then my secretary found it and she destroyed it before it could be verified," Harvey said, wincing at the mere thought of it.
Lucas rubbed a hand over his face in exasperation. "Wow."
"I didn't bury the evidence. I would never do such a thing," Harvey replied, staring intently at him. Lucas seemed to weight his answer and then he nodded.
"I believe you. But the public thinks you're another rat bastard lawyer. I don't even need to tell you the odds of a win."
"I know," Harvey snapped, but then he slumped back into his chair. "I don't know what to do. Usually Donna and I can come up with a plan, but she' gone."
"What happened to her?"
"Fired," Harvey replied thickly.
A tense silence filled the room as though Lucas knew he was treading into dangerous water. He studied Harvey with a morose expression, even as the older man downed his drink and immediately poured himself another one.
"You can still win this. There is always a way!"
"How? Donna destroyed the evidence! My fate is in the jury's hands," the lawyer replied, staring into the glass of the amber liquid before he tossed it back. When he made to pour himself another drink, Lucas abruptly pulled the bottle away.
"Hand the liquor over. It's expensive and this may be the last chance I have to enjoy it."
Lucas glared and simply put the bottle down by his chair. "Not a chance. If we're going to think this through, then I'll need you sober to remember the fucking details."
Harvey's face was like thunder. "Hand it over," he said in a dangerous voice.
Lucas' face was stone. "I'd like to see you try and take it back."
When the older man actually clenched his jaw like he was ready to pick a fight, Lucas said, "I'll give it back to you when I leave, but I need you sharp for scheming."
"What is the point?" Harvey yelled, leaping to his feet. "I've lost! Lost everything, just like you had planned. Congrats, your plan worked."
Lucas was on his feet, standing toe to toe with him, peering up at Harvey as he was a couple inches shorter. "Get a grip! You have not lost! You only lose when you give up. Weren't you the one who taught me that no matter how shitty life gets, there's always opportunities! You may have been knocked off your feet, but you still have the choice of whether you get back up or not."
Harvey's anger faltered.
"I know you're not a soft and cuddly bear, but you are an honorable man. You. Did. Not. Know! Justice will follow accordingly."
The lawyer gave a hollow laugh. It actually took a moment to gather himself and then he shook his head and said, "Wow. You're as naïve as Mike." The kid merely cocked his head in question. "Did you know that I put an innocent man behind bars?"
"No," Lucas whispered but he didn't even flinch at the thought. "What'd you do about it?"
"I did a retrial and got him out."
"And so justice played out accordingly."
"Stop holding me up like a saint!"
"Yes you are! You haven't said anything negative about me; I don't exactly shit rainbows here."
"You want negative? You're a conceited asshole and very rarely do you look at anyone's problem without wanting something in return. You're hypocritical, arrogant, and snide. You are a deeply flawed human who few people like and whom even fewer people are friends with."
Harvey seemed to relax and although he didn't show it, he was almost reveling in the anger and disappointment on the young man's face. He could finally see his true face.
"But that is a caricature," Lucas said quietly to break the silence.
The lawyer scowled. "No, that's me."
"No it's not. You may somehow find a perverse pleasure in being that dick, but that is not who you are. That doesn't reconcile with the man who pulled me up in my worst hour and taught me to take control of my life."
"Do you think that man would have immediately started working to free the person you wrongly accused?" Whether the question was rhetorical or not, Harvey didn't answer so Lucas kept going. "You may be a man of few friends, but it seems that they would move heaven and Earth for you. Your assistant shredded that memo because the odds are it would have been the death knell to your career. There are very few people who can command that kind of loyalty let alone deserve to command it."
"I didn't ask her to do it."
"Which meant she did it to protect you. You would have done the same for her, am I wrong?" He let it sink in for a moment and continued, "And that's what makes you a good person. One who doesn't deserve the fate you're lined up for. You can win this and get your assistant back, but that means you have to help me think things through so that we can get to the bottom of this," Lucas said with just the barest note of pleading in his voice.
Harvey sighed. "I was never good at knowing when to quit."
"That's more like it," Lucas said, with a grin and he playfully punched him in the shoulder.
Harvey gave him an exasperated look. "You're reminding me more and more of my associate."
"If we're so annoying, then why do you keep hiring us?"
"I hired him for his brains and you for your outside-the-box thinking."
"Then you should keep trusting me. I bring a new perspective." They returned to their seats and Lucas leaned forward, rubbing his hands together in conspiracy. "All right, so we know that you and your assistant, Donna, never saw the memo when you tried for this case."
"I suppose Donna may have slipped…"
"To hell with that, Harvey. Wouldn't you remember the smoking gun?"
"Yes, I'm just going through the possibilities. The memo is real and my company hid it from me, but how can I possibly prove my innocence?"
"If the file was added after the trial, then someone put it there."
"I thought maybe Tanner did…" Harvey said, his voice trailing, knowing how very unlikely that was.
"He doesn't have access to those files," Lucas replied. "It had to be someone in the firm."
I know that! Maybe he paid someone?"
"Certainly possible, but would money be enough to do something that could land your ass in jail?" Lucas seemed to becoming increasingly irritated about something, which frayed Harvey's own patience.
"The associates have been upset lately about unfair treatment. One of them was already busted for trading firm secrets to Tanner before."
"What happened to him?"
"Fired. Tanner's firm promised him a promotion, but they never kept their end of the bargain."
"Then your associates should know that dealing with him is a hazard. They're not likely to take the bait again. It had to be someone else, someone who's probably not an associate. Any enemies?"
Harvey's eyes grew distant and then he looked at Lucas as though he didn't quite believe the words that came out of his mouth: "Hardman."
"Do you think he's sadistic enough to do something that would bring down his own firm?"
"It might seriously hurt the firm's credibility, but the only one it would bring down is me."
"And he's been gunning for you since you came back. We discussed this back in October."
Harvey gave a hollow chuckle. "Everything's making a lot more sense. Hardman brought in Coastal Motors! Was he still here when - ?"
They both looked over in alarm towards the front door as they heard it click to unlock.
"There's only one person with keys to my condo…"
Right on cue, Donna swept into the room. She was only wearing jeans and an exercise jacket with her hair tied into a sloppy bun, but she had a look of such fury on her face that Harvey was afraid it might scorch him. He did wince as her slap stung him across the face.
"You asshole! Ten years! I've spent ten years doing your bidding and even risking my career for yours and you can't even fight for me! Oh, what should I expect? You couldn't even fire me yourself."
"Donna," Harvey tried to interject, but he said it so quietly she might not have heard.
"I thought we were a team, Harvey! I always, always had your back! You wouldn't be anywhere if not for me, but as soon as I need you, you tuck your tail between your legs, and slink off to let your master deal with it."
Harvey felt his ears go red, but more from anger than embarrassment. When she stopped to take a breath, he finally interjected, "Let's get one thing straight here: you broke the law! How can you possibly expect me to save your job when you do something that grievous?"
This time color filled her cheeks and she briefly glanced down to the floor.
"You knew better, Donna. After everything Cameron Dennis put us through, how could you shred that memo?" He fell silent. Donna didn't need him to spell it out for her and he really didn't care for Lucas to learn more than he needed to. "I'm going to get your job back, but first I need to keep my own."
She looked back up at him and he could see the furious spark return. "I still can't believe I spent the last decade of my life to waiting on you practically hand and foot. I've learned my lesson, Harvey, I'm not sure I want to be back if our friendship means so little to you."
Harvey gritted his teeth and he barely kept himself from grabbing her shoulders, so he clenched his fists. "What would you have me do?"
"You could have said something! You didn't even call!"
"What could I possibly say? There was nothing to say! Neither one of us cares for empty words. We're still trying to find a way to save myself."
"What do you mean 'we?'" Donna said, her eyes narrowed dangerously as though he dared to imply she'd be helping. He just glanced to his side, to which she followed his gaze and jumped when her eyes fell on the young man, sitting in the armchair and he gave her a little wave.
There was a moment of silence as Donna seemed to struggle to find something to say, but then she finally pointed at him and said, "You're the new associate, Lucas Klein."
"That's right. Pleased to meet you," he said, standing once more from the chair with a hand extended.
Donna appeared to regain the rest of her composure and she nodded confidently. "Second in the class at Harvard, fifth in your class at MIT. You have a fifteen-year-old cat named Ginger and you still pull the Pepperonis off a pizza before you eat it."
Lucas shook his head in amazement, even as he continued to grin. "You are good! You could give my CO a run for his money."
Harvey frowned and crossed his arms. "I thought you liked your privacy."
"I do, but there's only so much I can hide. Besides, you said Donna was good. I am a little concerned about some things, but my military career is classified."
Her smile turned lackluster. "I don't break the law."
"Except shredding that memo," Harvey muttered snidely.
She whirled on him, ready to tear him a new one but Lucas cut her off. "That's enough! We've already established the memo is fake. We need to figure out our next move."
"We have not! That's pure speculation."
"Your history is on your side; you've never buried evidence," Lucas said pointedly, looking back and forth between both of them.
An uncomfortable silence followed and Lucas sighed. "Are you trying to tell me you have?"
"No! When I was at the DA's office, many of my cases were…manipulated without my knowledge. The accusation over those cases started coming up again," Harvey said so quietly it was likely he hadn't wanted to be heard. This was practically common knowledge now and the kid needed to hear the facts.
"Shit, you are in a mess."
"Wait," Donna suddenly spoke up. "Where in the hell did you get the idea the memo was a fake?"
"Because of your impeccable record. No one with a record as clean as yours just starts misplacing documents. You don't think it a little odd as soon as Hardman returns, trouble starts brewing?"
"How could he possibly…?"
"He's done it before," Harvey replied, glancing at her surreptitiously.
Lucas raised his eyebrows and looked between both of them for details. When none were given, he simply nodded in resignation. "The speculation that Hardman is behind this deserves a more thorough investigation. Don't bother telling me what you find; he might be reading your e-mails."
Harvey sighed in frustration and ran another hand through his mussed hair, causing it to spike up in ways that looked like Mike's. Donna smirked at this.
"So, this is what's been going on behind my back. You've been getting advice from him."
"He's looking at this from a difference perspective. Mostly free from the drama."
"Mostly free?" Donna, of course, seemed to know there were layers to such an innocent sentence.
"Daniel Hardman approached me at Harvard, offering me a direct apprenticeship, knowing full well that Harvey's already…claimed me," Lucas finished with a grimace, clearly not liking the way he worded it.
"That fucking bastard," Donna said through clenched teeth. Harvey appeared a little stunned at her cussing.
"That encounter is partially why I believe this memo is simply a manufactured situation to take Harvey down."
"Hardman brought in Coastal Motors. He could have buried the evidence pertaining to these flaws before I was even handed the case."
"This is all well and good, Harvey, but we need proof! If this all turns out to be true, I swear if I get my hands on him…" Donna made a violent gesture with her hands, as though she were craving to wring the man's neck.
"Jesus, Donna. After all this is done, I don't want to have to try to get you out of murder charges."
"I think the jury will understand," she replied.
Lucas chuckled. "We have a plan! Try to find anything that suggests Hardman's behind this and you should be free."
Harvey just shook his head, astounded at how simple Lucas was thinking. "It's not that easy! We can just go and point fingers at named partners of the firm. Pearson Hardman would look weak and then other firms would start gunning for us."
Lucas flinched slightly at the phrasing, but he recovered quick enough. "But you still can't keep a viper at the head of your firm. Besides, that other lawyer, Tanner, would like to keep from getting his license stripped for presenting false evidence." Harvey remained quiet, still puzzling over it. "It's either the firm faces some difficulties in the future or you lose everything you've worked for, which should also leave the firm vulnerable from losing such a key member to the kind of damning reasons that no firm wants a part of their reputation."
"I know," Harvey snapped, "but you seem to be forgetting one contingency: what if Hardman isn't behind this? I could go to trial with nothing but my words to protect me and Donna could be in trouble," he finished lamely.
Lucas seemed almost exasperated by Harvey's necessity to look at all angles, apparently convinced that Hardman was the bad guy. He stared at the older lawyer with an inscrutable expression until he finally said, "Call me as a character witness."
"You think that's a good idea?"
"Absolutely. It keeps Donna off the stand and the majority of my past is all classified. Tanner would have nothing to attack me on. I really have to go now. Good luck!" The kid swept out the door without even glancing back.
"Well, looks like you've found a suitable substitute for me," Donna said coolly, standing once more with her arms crossed.
Harvey clenched his jaw. "Don't."
"What? You've already found someone to expand on all those schemes. Looks like he'll fit right in at Pearson Hardman."
"Nothing and nobody can replace you!" Harvey snarled at her, trying to hide the confession behind a nasty tone. They stared at each other a moment until he finally turned away to pick up the bottle of vodka Lucas had confiscated earlier, and then he proceeded to pour two glasses.
"So this is what the great Harvey Specter is reduced to when I'm not around?" Donna asked, a bit more softly. Much of her temper had been more for show than real anger. It was better than the despair.
"I said I needed you when I hired you. That hasn't changed," Harvey said in a monotone, trying to hide the depth of his words.
But she was Donna. She always knew.
"If this whole scheme turns out to be true, you can be exonerated. I can get you your job back."
"What makes you think I want to come back?"
Harvey hesitated but finally said, "Because Pearson Hardman is your home." Then his expression went deadpan. "And because no one will ever give you bonuses more generous than mine."
"That is most unfortunately true," she replied, but she's smiling at least, even if it's a shadow of its former self. Several minutes of silence followed as they continued to sip at their drinks until she said, "I'm going to check my network to see if Hardman's up to anything suspicious."
The lawyer nodded. "I'll have Mike start looking back through the old files for something."
There was more quiet as though both were afraid their conversation would take them to dangerous waters. "It sounds plausible, Harvey. This sounds like a scheme created to take you down."
"He's had years to stew about it."
"We'll get him, Harvey. And…thanks for giving me another contact for my network. He'll come in handy."
"He already has," Harvey replied with a smirk as he finished off his glass.
Mike's head reeled as he feverishly and inconspicuously searched old files. They were related to Coastal Motors, so it shouldn't raise too many eyebrows. Otherwise, everything about this day had turned out unusual. He was immediately suspicious when Harvey had told him to meet him at the café before work, though it was said in his usual commanding bark.
From there, Harvey quietly laid out the idea that the memo was a plant by Hardman and that Mike needed to look for evidence that the sneaky bastard may have known and therefore created the memo to oust Harvey. It sounded ridiculous but somehow….he wouldn't put it past the man. This was, after all, a step back from stealing money.
He pulled out a document and glanced at it. This was it! It was dated the day after the inspector had voiced her initial concerns. Naturally, there were no notes on the meeting. However, they could easily get several Coastal Motor employees, including the inspector herself to testify that they hadn't written the memo, as she had admitted to Harvey weeks ago. This could actually work!
He left to show Harvey his findings, trying to hide his child-like excitement.
I may not have said this before, but I can't believe it took them almost the entire first half of the season to even suspect Hardman. I said, "It was Hardman," the moment Donna pulled the memo out of the file.