It was the day Jessica told Harvey and Mike they'd be going to Atlantic City when her thirteenth anniversary present came. They'd be heading there this weekend, they had the rest of the week to prep. But he didn't care about that. He stared at the package in front of him. He had forgotten all about it until the mail room clerk dropped it off at his desk. The package mocked him as it sat on his desk, not ready to send it back yet. He wondered if it was even possible to send it back. Maybe he would just give it to her. He didn't know what he wanted yet. All he knew was the empty desk was hurting him and he couldn't stand to look out his own office door.
Harvey waited two days before gathering up whatever courage he had to face Donna. He had attempted to dial her phone number, but always stopped before pressing the call button on his phone. But, he thought to himself, she didn't make any attempt to come to him. They hadn't said a word to each other since the incident in the women's restroom. The long, intense looks as she carried her meager box of personal effects were all of what was left of their relationship. Without a sorry, he didn't know if they could ever be the same. With a sorry, he wasn't sure either. But at least with an apology, it was a start. His call went to voicemail, on her home and cell. She never avoided his calls. Even when they had gotten mad at each other these past twelve years, she never once ignored him. Then again, they had never had a fight like this. She had never betrayed him like this. The Cameron Dennis thing was water under the bridge compared to this. She had never gotten fired under his watch. This was new territory for both of them.
He told Ray to wait there at the curb, he'd call if he was allowed to stay. Hiking up the stairs, after a neighbour let him in the door, he made his way to her apartment door. Knocking three times, he stood back, listening for her familiar footsteps. She was always prompt when answering the door, even if she didn't want to talk to anyone. Finding no prompt answer, he dug out his keys from his pockets and pulled out her key. She had one to his, he had one to hers. He briefly wondered if he would have to give it back now. His footsteps echoed in the room, and calling out her name didn't do any good. There was no sign of her here, she was gone. As he clenched his fists in frustration, he noticed a post-it with her writing stuck to the fridge. It was away from prying eyes, if they did have a key. But he knew her like she knew him. She knew he would catch the slightest hint of something out of place: like a post-it on the fridge.
H, gone home. -D
He peeled the post-it off the fridge and sighed. Locking up her apartment, he made his way down to Ray. As he sat in the back seat of the town car, he scrolled through his contact list, searching for the number he had dialled many time when they were younger.
"Is she there?" he asked as soon as the line picked up and Donna's father answered.
"She is," the older man answered. "Out with her mom. She's trying to get the girl to smile."
"Can you not tell her I'll be there in four or five hours?" Harvey asked.
"I never picked up the phone," Donna's father said.
The older man hung up the phone with a knowing smile. The younger man told Ray to drop him off at the office, he needed something before heading back home.
Mike had tried to talk to him, pepper him with questions as to Donna's whereabouts. He ignored his associate, fishing out his keys yet again as he unlocked the drawer below where his record player sat. The younger man watched as Harvey pulled out a package. He didn't miss the addressee was Donna Paulsen, but he wasn't going to bring it up.
"You can handle yourself for one day?" Harvey said more than asked.
"Does this mean you're going to find her?" Mike questioned as he stood in the doorway of Harvey's office.
He received no reply and stared one minute too long at the empty desk. Harvey refused to hire a temp, refused Norma's offer to substitute until he found a new assistant. No one would replace Donna, ever.
The sun was just beginning to set over the hills as Harvey pulled his Aston Martin into the driveway of the large farmhouse in Cortland, New York. He saw a man stand up from the porch swing and gave a friendly wave to Donna's father as the man moved inside. Minutes later, he was leaning against the bumper of his car when Donna appeared. She was dressed in simple denim shorts and a sweatshirt. He would swear the sweatshirt looked familiar, but he didn't want their first talk to end badly and have his sweatshirt thrown in the mud. She made her way down the steps and faced him a few feet away. She wasn't going to make it easy.
"I left you that note so you wouldn't come here," she said as she crossed her arms over her chest.
"When have you known me to do what I'm told?" he asked.
"Why are you here?" she asked.
"You didn't answer my calls," Harvey said.
Her hair was muted out here, it lost its shine and vibrance. Or maybe it was the sunglasses he was still wearing. But she looked dull, lifeless. Nothing like the woman he had known for over twelve years.
"I don't have a job. I don't have a life that I need to get back to," she shrugged. It was half hearted, they both knew it.
"Don't bullshit me, Donna," Harvey said as he pulled off his sunglasses. Damn the sun setting into his eyes, he needed her to know he was serious.
"What do you want from me, Harvey?" Donna asked. She was close to losing it. Or maybe yelling, probably a little bit of both.
"I want you back," Harvey said simply.
"You can't have me back, Harvey. Jessica fired me. I committed a crime. I shredded the damn memo. You may be a great lawyer, but you can never have me back as your assistant," she said.
Her voice was starting to crack and he swore when he looked up at the house, he saw her father in the window.
"I can find a way to fix it," Harvey said slowly.
"I don't think you can right this wrong, this time," she said.
"Donna," he pleaded.
His voiced had cracked at her name. The single utterance made her look at her feet. The dirt and mud were ruining her shoes. They were ruining his, too. But he didn't seem to care.
"Why did you do it?" he asked. He needed to know, even if he did have his suspicions.
"I don't think you want me to answer that question," Donna said as she looked away from him. The tears were threatening to fall again, and she didn't want to break down in front of him. He wouldn't be able to handle that anymore than she could handle him crying. He moved closer, a hand snagged her waist before she could escape. Sometimes he knew what she would do before she did. His fingers drew a pattern up her spine, and she couldn't help the shiver that passed through her.
"Donna," he said quietly, silently repeating the question.
She looked at him, looked at the lines he had accumulated within the last few days. His face was set in stone, a serious expression cast upon her.
"Maybe I'm still in love with you," she whispered. Her voice was quiet, but it carried with the wind as it wound through the hills of farmland.
"I'm sorry," she whispered. She clenched his shirt in her fists, moved closer to him and whispered it again. She looked up at him, watching as he licked his lips, his shoulders sag in defeat. Those were the two words she knew he needed to hear the past two days. It wouldn't fix everything, but it was a start.
"Come here," he said as he pulled her in close.
She wrapped her arms around him just as tightly as he did to her. It was a painful scene for anyone to witness. Especially a father, watching from the window of the house, making sure his baby girl's heart didn't get even more shattered than it started with.
"I told you loving me wouldn't be easy on either of us," he whispered into her hair. The people who loved him never stayed in his life for long. The only proof he ever needed was to look at his family.
She bursts into tears without being able to control herself any longer. It had finally hit her that she was fired. She would never be coming back. She had betrayed him, why would he want to fight to keep her job. An apology wouldn't be able to save her job. But maybe it could save the longest relationship both of them ever had. He pulled back, and if she wasn't a crying mess, she would have teased him about the pool of tears. But she didn't, because his fingers were stroking her cheek, wiping the tears away as they fell. One hand fell to her throat, his thumb resting on the pulse point. She was sure he could feel it beating under the heat of his skin against hers. His forehead rested against hers and she let out a shuttering breath as she closed her eyes.
"I'm sorry," he whispered back. His breath mingled with the warm summer air, the setting sun's rays, and the warmth she felt with his presence. She smiled a small smile, in the corner of her mouth. But it was the first real smile anyone had seen since she had left Manhattan a week ago. Her hands wrapped around him and she pulled herself in, soaking up as much as she could before he had to leave. After all, he had a job to get back to. The only thing she had to get back to was disappointment and an empty apartment.
"Don't," he said as his thumb rubbed against her pulse point and he pulled his forehead away. He knew what she was thinking. "I'll figure something out. Jessica, Mike, and I."
"You don't know that, Harvey," Donna said as she bit her lip.
"Promise me you'll never do something like that again. Even if its to protect me," Harvey said as she watched her expression.
"Promise," she nodded.
They both turned as heavy footsteps made their way across the porch.
"You staying for dinner, Harvey?" Donna's mother asked.
He looked to Donna and watched her nod subtly. He raised his head to her mother and nodded once. The older woman going back inside.
"Guess we should go inside then," Donna said as she dropped her hands from his waist. He dropped his own hands and moved back to his car, pulling out a package before automatically locking it. There was no one around for miles, but that didn't mean it was more secure than Manhattan out here. He took a single digit into his hand, holding onto it as he led her up the stairs and across the porch. He looked down at his shoes and kicked them off before watching Donna do the same.
Dinner was a quiet affair. No one talked about the firm or their lives back in Manhattan. It was still a sensitive topic. And Donna's mother and father were not dumb. They knew a five hour drive and an apology wouldn't solve the problem their daughter came here to forget. But they were both making an effort to get to a middle ground, that much was hinted at as the parents watched Donna go back to her old room. She had told Harvey to meet her on the porch swing, and she'd be out in a minute.
As promised, Donna was back, holding a wrapped package in her hand as well. Wordlessly, they exchanged their packages. Harvey quietly began to unwrap the paper as Donna poked and prodded.
"Its easier if you just open it," Harvey commented as he began to reveal the gift.
"But less fun," Donna noted as she relented and ripped at the manila bubbled envelope.
Both had smiles that graced more than the corner of their lips as the packages were revealed.
"Like minds," Donna said as she looked at the framed photograph in her hand.
"Yeah," Harvey agreed as he looked at the picture and smiled.
His phone vibrated in his pocket and slipped it out of his jacket to look at the number. A brief smile flashed across his face before he hit the answer button.
"Hi," he said in a low tone.
"Hi," she said. She was sure she had cracked at this point. The tears were silently making their way down her cheeks as she clutched the old phone in her dad's office.
"How's mom and dad?" he asked as if he didn't see them mere days ago. He figured they should start a conversation. It was easier than listening to her not cry, as she would emphasise.
"Good, they're good. You know how retirement goes," she nodded at the phone as if he could see her. She could keep a charade going if he was going to offer it.
They said each others names at the same time. Pausing to let the other speak and then interrupting each other again.
"I need to see you. Talk to you, again," she finally said after minutes of silence.
"Jessica has Mike and I going to Atlantic City today," Harvey said as he looked at his watch. His associate was late, as usual.
"After, then," she told him. "I'll be home soon."
"Yeah," Harvey nodded as if she was standing before him.
"Okay," she agreed.
"Okay," he reiterated.
"And Harvey," Donna called out before he could hang up.
"Yeah?" he asked.
"Don't do anything reckless. I'm not there to clean up your messes anymore," Donna smiled sadly.
"I promise I'll try not to," Harvey said.
"That's not making me confident you listened," Donna told him.
"Goodbye, Donna," Harvey said.
"Bye, Harvey," Donna said as she hung up the phone.
She turned to sigh heavily and leaned back in her father's chair. She smiled as she looked at the pictures on his desk. She grabbed the picture of her and Harvey, bringing it closer to her to get a better look. It was from her dad's birthday party a few years back. She had told him he was coming with her, she had already cleared their schedule. They wore coordinating colours, his tie and pocket square matching her ruby red dress. They hadn't planned it, but they always seemed to match at these kinds of things. The moment the photographer had captured was perfectly them. She was fixing his tie with a serious expression as he smiled at her. He was holding their drinks in both of his hands, looking like the lady of justice as he held them up. She may have pretended to choke him with his own tie before the moment was captured, she couldn't remember anymore. Their lives seemed to be picture perfect, she realised as she remembered the photo they had exchanged days ago. Their thirteenth anniversary would have been today, and she knew he knew it, too. But life was more than just a bunch of numbers and words. She didn't know how or even if he could get her job back. But he had promised her before he left that night, that he would try. And Harvey Specter didn't just give up a fight. Especially a fight he thought was worth it. And damn, if she wasn't worth every ounce of fight he had left in him.