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Suits Fic: Some Nights (It Takes A Conversation) - tranquility... best achieved in chaos
phrenitis
phrenitis
Suits Fic: Some Nights (It Takes A Conversation)
Title: Some Nights (It Takes A Conversation)
Rating: PG
Category: Donna Paulsen/Harvey Specter.
Spoilers: None
Disclaimer: Owned by others.
Summary: He knows they're talking about a kiss and is well aware of the irony in approaching it like lawyers.

Part 1: Some Nights (It Was Meant To Be)
Part 2: Some Nights (It All Could End)

==

It's the end of a fucking terrible week.

The Herrick case is relentless with billables bordering on the obscene. Harvey really hates it when a client lies and changes the game plan after months invested, and he goes from sour to taciturn after the week's beating they receive in court as a result. God knows they're all lucky a settlement is in the works at this point with a case that's barely even salvageable. But all the time spent fixing the damn Herrick deal meant an equal amount of time lost on the rest of the cases, and Harvey's just about had it with clients walking out the door over trifles that ordinarily wouldn't be of concern. It's twenty-five million lost this time, to be precise - and even Donna's pulling in favors now to try to stem the exodus and keep everyone else happy.

With Pearson Hardman (name change still painfully pending) caught in public turmoil, Harvey knows the firm can't afford the loss of any more clients if they mean to survive. Everyone is putting in the extra hours, Jessica more than anyone as she keeps the PR threat just below critical. Harvey has upped his morning coffee to a triple shot, and Donna's drinking so many chai lattes a day, Lenny from the cafe down the street has taken to having them delivered.

So Harvey is not in a happy or patient mood to be attending the bar association's holiday festivities when he's nearly desperate for any distraction that can keep him from thinking about the law. Nothing sounds more appealing than a game on in the background or a stiff drink, preferably both and then an eager woman in his bed. But the night drags, speeches middling and lengthy, and when he looks over to his right, Jessica is staring down at her empty martini glass like she's surprised to discover she already finished it and yet half-hopeful it contained enough alcohol to knock her out.

Harvey has no idea where Donna has gone off to, only knows she's been bored since she put on a surprisingly passable Italian accent and started calling him Salvatore. Mike, meanwhile, is looking blankly at the speaker, his eyes fixed in place and glossed over. Harvey waits for Mike to blink and wonders if the kid's actually asleep with his eyes open.

Clapping interrupts his idle observations and Harvey glances down at his watch to note the time. He's just shy of the two hour mark, but figures it's close enough to start angling toward the exit.

He makes it as far as the coat check where he finds Donna looking completely sober sitting on a love seat in the hall as though she's been waiting for him.

"Sneaking out?" she asks, her eyebrow raised knowingly.

"Hey, I put in an appearance."

"For two hours?" she says like she's guessing, but with that look of hers like she knew exactly how this night would play out. He elects not to answer because the truth is Donna does know too much sometimes and he likes to keep her guessing.

She tilts her head toward the door and red hair tumbles over her shoulder. "Ray's waiting out front."

"You called him?"

She shrugs. "Tell him he owes me."

"Okay, that's it." Harvey shakes his head and pulls her to her feet. "You need a drink."

He's pleased when she looks surprised.

"What?" he asks, and retrieves her coat. "Didn't see that one coming?"

The side of her mouth quirks upwards. "So this is how you wine and dine a girl."

"Is it working?" He slides her coat over her shoulders, his fingers accidentally brushing against the soft skin of her arm. The contact is brief, but it makes him pause all the same.

"Hmm?" She clears her throat and then looks at him. "All I really heard was 'drink'."

==

He has Ray take them across town to a small, dusty bar tucked between a Chinese restaurant and a 24-hour laundromat, the bar's windows covered in pennants and neon lights. It's a deceptive kind of place on casual glance - a locals-only crowd backed by a steady and comforting murmur of sound at any hour, but it served some of the best beers brewed on the east coast, and game nights were loud, legendary gatherings.

They're dressed too formally - tuxedos and flowing black dresses for a jeans and sweatshirts crowd, but Donna doesn't seem the least bit bothered. She slides into the booth he indicates as glittering Christmas lights wink at them from around the window's edge.

Behind the bar, Charlie tips his head in acknowledgment of their entrance, but doesn't wait for an order. Moments later he's placing two Dogfish beers on the table in front of them with a welcoming grin for Donna.

"IPA special tonight," he says of the beer. Charlie's a big bulk of a man, equally tall and wide with a lived-in face and crooked nose, but it's offset by his perfect white-toothed smile and full head of thick, silver hair. He is, as he likes to state, evidence of God's sense of humor.

Harvey looks down at the drink with anticipation and tries to guess at the minutes. "90?"

"A 75. They're calling it the Johnny Cask."

Donna smiles, amused. "Sounds deep and rebellious."

Charlie eyes her appreciatively. "Over here, we're calling it the Specter."

"And it's selling?"

Harvey frowns. "Hey."

"We had to spice up the descriptor," Charlie admits with a wink.

Donna takes a sip and muses. "Hmm. Prideful, bold notes of ego with underlying hints of charm?"

"It's a closer, seems to be working."

"Does that mean it's on the house?" Harvey asks, interrupting their repartee.

Charlie laughs. "You finally bring a beautiful lady like this to my establishment and you want to talk about the bill?"

"Lawyer," Donna says as explanation.

"Nah, he was like this as a kid, too."

Donna's eyebrows shoot up, and Harvey immediately knows this is why he needs to gut check his plans first when it comes to her because now there's no getting out of what he's just unintentionally set up. She looks at Charlie with all the coy innocence she possesses. "Do tell."

Harvey simply shakes his head and settles back with his beer as Charlie launches in to the story.

"It's right at the end of the game - Yankees and Mets, so you can imagine the crowd - and this kid, skinny as all hell, is at the bar arguing with me over a charge. He's going on about happy hour this and the game day double special, trying to prove the math and what not, and all I keep thinking is, how old is this kid? It'd been busy so we'd been serving pretty indiscriminately, but this kid's just out of puberty."

"It wasn't that bad," Harvey interjects.

"You telling this story now? So I check the kid's ID - barely 19 years old. Couldn't believe it; he's in here drinking underage and has the balls to call attention to it all to get a couple of bucks off the bill."

Harvey shrugs. "It was a matter of principle."

"Yeah, that's what he said then too. I can't exactly call the cops so I just need to get him out the door. Well, turns out the kid is right about the mistake in the charge, so we settle the tab and I tell him I don't want to see him in here again for two years. The next night, no joke, this kid's walking through the door again like he's suddenly a regular."

Donna looks like she's hit the jackpot as she listens to Charlie with eager attention. Harvey knows she has more than enough in stories from Gordon to tie him up in blackmail schemes for years if she were ever to choose to exert her evil side against him, but his teenage years had always been more carefully concealed from her.

"I go to grab my bat for a little persuasive help, you know?" Charlie continues. "But the kid's gone by the time I look up again. I don't find out for two more days - turns out Rodrigo, god rest his soul, the guy I got in back handling inventory and stuff at the time - seems Rodrigo hired the kid a week before to man the dishwasher. My own bar and I'm just hearing about it, so I go back to confront the kid and get the rules straight. Now here's the kicker - the kid tells me he never even had a drink in here that night. He'd just stayed late to watch the game and argued the bill for a customer!"

Donna's smile is luminescent, her laugh fluid and lovely, and Harvey thinks maybe it was all worth it.

"So," she says, eyes shining. "Lawyer."

"Sounds like you know him well. And now I know why you needed a drink." Charlie gives a small bow to Donna, and then turns to Harvey. "She's a good one; don't screw it up," he warns and wanders back behind the bar.

"Drinks on the house?" Harvey calls out after him, but there is no response which is exactly as he expects.

Donna is watching him over her glass, her expression inscrutable.

"What?" he asks and waits for what he's fairly sure is coming.

"Quite the big shot," she says slowly, looking impressed. "The Specter? You're moving up in the world."

"Didn't Lenny name that latte after you?"

"Please, that was easy. Now the car, that was masterful."

He stares. "There's a car named after you?"

"Jealousy is not a good look on you, Harvey."

"This is disbelief."

"First step is the beer," she says kindly, but her expression is playful. "I'm sure a car is somewhere down the line."

He smirks. "You don't sound convincing."

"Well, good; I'm lying," she allows and sits back in relief. "We all have different talents."

==

Neither of them are drunk - too wound up from the chaotic week to fully let go even with the promise of a weekend and upcoming holiday. But they're relaxed, unwinding slowly thanks to Charlie's attention, and the comfort of familiar company and easy conversation.

Harvey knows he's also venturing into risky territory; interaction with Donna outside of work always implies an intimacy they've studiously tried to avoid since the time the line suddenly became obvious to them both. But late nights and formal wear combine into a murky grey area that Harvey's never quite figured out - it's work-related which suggests safety and allowable interactions, yet he's never found it to be anything that simple. Somehow the hour or the dress code step them into each other’s spaces too frequently, accidental touches or looks seemingly layered in meaning, and he finds he thinks too much about her and not enough about consequences.

So when they end up in the narrow hall together, suddenly face to face as they exit the restrooms simultaneously, Harvey knows it's not the alcohol that gives them pause and brings her hands up to his tie. It's not likely to be the late hour either as she gently loosens the knot and he stares at the way her eyes are dark and wanting in the hazy light. It's all about the formal wear, and he waits off balance in the moment while she pulls the tie from around his neck and gives it to him, the touch of her hand warm in his.

"You need to learn how to relax," she says quietly.

Oh he has a snappy comeback alright, but he's distracted by her proximity. It feels dangerous, precipitous, and the kind of ending to the week he needs. In the small hallway at the back of the bar, they're removed from sight, and the privacy it affords throws him away from any sense of reason.

He turns her hand in his, thumb finding the soft part of her inner wrist as he takes measure of her pulse. Outwardly she's serene, even smiling lightly, disarmingly, but her heartbeat is pounding, blood thrumming through her veins, and he thinks about her many talents.

"That's not fair," she argues as she frowns down at their hands, but there's a lack of conviction behind it.

"You need to learn how to relax," he repeats back to her.

She glances up. "Well, I've had five chai lattes today."

"That's not your best excuse." Harvey knows he shouldn't continue to enjoy the moment any longer, but the risk is all temptation and hard to deny what with Donna making no move to leave either. "Wait. Five?"

"Fine, six," she concedes and puts her free hand on her hip. "But I only drank half of the last one before Jessica was ushering us out."

"You had six lattes in one day?"

She gives him one of her patented looks. "Do you know how much work I got done for you today?"

"Is that why you were speeding around like the Road Runner and talking too fast for me to understand?"

"You said yes to everything I asked."

"Because you told me too!" he says incredulously.

"Then you're welcome."

He stares at her. After the number of years they've spent together he knows her better than he ever meant to - the way she stands confident and close despite what it could mean, or the perfume smelling of citrus and sandalwood that she only wears at night. He's seen the necklace she has on, is familiar with the way her hair curls in toward her collarbone or how her freckles spread across her cheeks - he is observant without meaning to be, and goddamn thankful he trusts her because sometimes she's also so unknown to him it's staggering.

Her pulse continues to flicker wildly beneath his thumb, but if what he knows can be relied on in this instance, it's not hard for him to guess why. His own heart is thumping in his chest that's tight with anticipation because he knows he plans to kiss her - thinks he might have even decided that at the start of the week when she was at the office before him, sitting through the abuse coming in from the Pattison widow, and somehow managing, in under an hour, to keep Louis at bay, Mike on track, and the widow from walking over to Smith & Devane. And when she'd finally looked over at him and asked, what next? and he'd flippantly suggested saving the world, she hadn't even batted an eye.

"We'll have to talk about it," she says, looking at him carefully.

He hedges momentarily just in case. "Your caffeine addiction?"

"Among other things," she says dryly.

"Before or after?" he asks. He knows they're talking about a kiss and is well aware of the irony in approaching it like lawyers.

"What will you regret?"

"I'd rather not talk about it at all."

"Let's say it happens," she offers, painting the scenario. "Then we just don't mention it again. We can do that."

"We have done that," he points out although it's unlikely she's forgotten. "So is this us talking about it beforehand?"

"Any regrets?"

"Aside from it taking a long time?"

She rolls her eyes fondly. "Then sign the deal already."

It's as much permission as he could ever want, so he stops stalling, curves a thumb down her jaw, tilts her chin up, and kisses her.

It's unhurried, her lips soft and right because there's something complicated about kissing Donna that makes him want to draw out the moment and discover it in layers. Her tongue finds his first - just a quick flicker as the kiss deepens, and he likes that it's surprisingly sexy. With few exceptions, he can kiss any woman he wants, but somehow it's never quite matched kissing the woman he shouldn't.

It's not really fair that they do this to themselves - both willing and suffering. The kiss is neither meaningless nor a commitment or promise of anything greater, and sometimes that very ambiguity creates endless scenarios of what ifs. They each move on, but they don't seem to move forward, and he's occasionally wondered what that means.

But in the moment, none of it matters, and they live outside consequence in the grey area of possibility. She's his for a time, need and possession drawn in the length of her body arched firmly against his as the week's tension fades under the tantalizing skills of her lips and teeth and tongue. It's a thrilling rush, like tumbling from a plane at 10,000 feet, and if he weren't in control of the situation, he might be in real trouble of wanting it to be something more.

Donna pulls away first, her chest and cheeks flushed attractively, but she seems composed as she straightens his collar.

"Tough week," she observes with a sideways smile.

Harvey wants to touch her, wants to feel skin and curves under his palms, but he stands with his hands at his sides. "This isn't going to be a thing."

"Is this us talking about it afterward?"

He smirks because he deserves that one. Donna's perfume is still in the air between them, and it's always been one of hers that he likes. It's distracting him from thinking clearly. "Another drink before we go?"

"You just want to show off your beer again," she says drolly, but she brushes at an invisible fleck on his shoulder and leads the way back to their booth.

==

He can't stop thinking about the cases from the week, or the kiss from an hour ago, and he makes it halfway through the car ride to her apartment before his rampant thoughts get the better of him and he asks the question aloud. "Why not?"

Donna isn't following his train of thought for once and her puzzled look in return gives him the opportunity to change the subject. And yet, he doesn't, caught somewhere between curiosity and stupidity despite himself.

"You and me," he explains.

She gets that immediately enough, and her eyes go wide in surprise, her mouth dropping open slightly. Then her eyes quickly narrow in suspicion as though he's joking, her expression growing bemused. "Which reason do you want?"

"All of them," he says seriously. He knows there are many reasons, is sure he'll wish he never even opened the door to this conversation in short order, but right now all he can think about is how she knows him, how she puts up with him, and how that might look if he were to ask the right questions.

"Harvey," she starts, and her voice is so cautious it's like she's not sure whether she should let him down gently or give in to the idea and see where it runs. "Please. Let's not do this."

He can see the way she swallows nervously and licks at her lower lip. He should stop, for her sake if nothing else, but now he has to know.

"Do you ever wonder?" he asks.

She looks away, out the window and up into the night sky as they pass through the city's streets. "What do you want me to say?"

"The truth."

She thinks, and he watches her reflection as her eyes close and she touches her forehead gently to the glass. "Then, no."

"Really?"

"Not anymore."

It stings in a way he isn't prepared for, and there's something about it that feels an awful lot like loss. "Is it a timing thing?"

She looks at him then, studies him like she's trying to make sense of it all. "Thirteen years and you're still trying to figure that out?"

"I have you for these things," he reminds her.

"Flattery won't get you out of this one."

He ignores that because he's suddenly realized the other side of what she said before, remembers how clever she is with words. Not anymore is both a long time ago and yesterday. "So, there was a time."

She pauses. "We've had thirteen years together, Harvey."

"Right."

"I'm not in love with you," she insists.

"I know."

It's also not what he asked, but he doesn't press the issue, and she gives an exasperated sigh. He knows she's frustrated, desperation tingeing the edges in a way that's far too alluring. His fingers find her wrist again and confirm what he already knows; her pulse is racing.

Donna doesn't pull away, but her head falls back against the headrest as she surrenders to the inevitable. "You can't keep doing that."

"It's like a human lie detector," he says, fascinated in spite of the circumstances. He knows her, he trusts her, and somehow he's still far too easily taken in by what she says instead of what she means.

She glances over at him. "It would never work, you know that right?"

"Let's say it happens," he says, referring back to the game they played earlier. "You wake up in my bed-"

"Oh my god," she exclaims and then shakes her head. "Why am I surprised?"

"Or, I wake up in your bed."

She laughs at that. "No."

"It's a thought." Harvey releases her wrist to prove a point, and he likes the way she watches him - pensive but curious. Ray stops in front of her building and she looks through the window to the lights outside.

"And then what?" she asks. "We don't mention it again?"

His heart speeds up slightly. They're talking in vague what ifs set in the hazy maybe of tomorrow, and he's not even sure what he wants from any of it. Their relationship works already, and he has everything he needs, but he's bothered by the sudden selfish awareness of those very facts. It's been an awful week framed by tension and abrupt change on one side, and Donna's unwavering loyalty and stability on the other - and it all means something he can't express.

He waits too long to answer, and she's getting out of the car before he can stop her. "Donna."

She looks back, coat wrapped tightly around her and hair blowing in the wind. He tries to find a way to tell her what he’s thinking, but isn't sure if it should be an apology, a request, or a confession. She's always been the one who knows how to read him.

Donna smiles gently in understanding. "I'm not going anywhere, Harvey."

The car door closes and he's left in the silence wondering why that seemed to be exactly the right thing for her to say.


- Fin

Part 4: Some Nights (It's Because Of The Past)

Tags: ,

6 whispers :: tell me a secret
Comments
muldy From: muldy Date: December 25th, 2012 01:55 am (UTC) (Link)
OMG THIS FIC IS AMAZING AND I WOULD JUST KEYBOARD SMASH TO SHOW MY EXCITEMENT AT IT'S AWESOMENESS, BUT I'M ON MY PHONE!!

I love everything about all three parts. I love the progression, I love their conversation, that she hurts him because it's Harvey and he doesn't get hurt, but of course Donna can hurt him because she's Donna and I LOVE IT ALL!!!!
bristow1941 From: bristow1941 Date: December 25th, 2012 07:28 am (UTC) (Link)
OMG, you just broke me on how close they came to it... I kept hoping, but Harvey really isn't ready is he? *sniff* However much we may love a happy ending right now in fic, the characters just aren't there yet and I love love love how you have showed this throughout this sort of series sort of riff on a theme you have going.

And thank you for providing me with more Donna and Harvey in formal wear... My phone and computer may have drool on it after thinking about what they are wearing, but it was OH SO WORTH IT!

Also much love how Harvey still second guesses giving Donna more insight into who he was before they met (and before Harvey ended up in the mailroom)
onlywordsnow From: onlywordsnow Date: December 26th, 2012 02:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Can I start telling you "write me fic" and you do it? I found this to be wonderful and refreshing and enjoyable. Your words are much more eloquent and quietly descriptive than mine are. So excited you wrote more!
lizook12 From: lizook12 Date: December 27th, 2012 03:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love the progression here, especially from Harvey's POV. The way he appreciates her - her work, her understanding of him, everything - from the beginning to understanding how much that actually means to him by the end is just perfect.

Donna's smile is luminescent, her laugh fluid and lovely, and Harvey thinks maybe it was all worth it.
I think this bit is particularly telling. That her joy at something he loathes (other people really knowing him, getting past that barrier he has) actually makes him happy.

Really nice ending of promise, too. Thanks for sharing it :)
bichito From: bichito Date: January 6th, 2013 08:44 am (UTC) (Link)
OMG, OMG, OMG, PUT A THOUSAND OMGs RIGHT HERE PLEASE THANK YOU! YOU'RE MY FAVOURITE PERSON IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD AND YES I HAVE TO WRITE IN CAPS BECAUSE OMG THIS IS JUST TOO MUCH AND I THINK, I TRULY THINK YOU KILLED ME A LITTLE. I'M GONNA GO AND READ IT AGAIN, THANK YOU. DID I SAY THAT I LOVE YOU? NO? WELL, I DO. OMG, OMG, OMG!
anr From: anr Date: February 27th, 2013 11:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, nicely done! I like where you've taken this -- another step forward in this so close, so far dance they're doing (because what else can you do in formal wear but dance). Lovely lovely.
6 whispers :: tell me a secret