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Suits Fic: Catalyst - tranquility... best achieved in chaos
Suits Fic: Catalyst
Title: Catalyst
Rating: M
Category: Donna Paulsen/Harvey Specter.
Spoilers: Season Two, Asterisk
Disclaimer: Owned by others.
Author's Note: Thanks to just_liv for the prompt (Donna getting married) that started it all, and to ceruleantides for whom the simple term 'beta' is entirely inadequate.
Summary: So in a sense, they are neither of them in love, and yet, completely unintentionally, they are also the very definition.


cat∙a∙lyst \’ka-te-lest\
1. chemistry. an agent that provokes or speeds significant activity
2. an event, person or thing that precipitates great change


She doesn't wear the ring for four days - it's beautiful really, a stunning cut, the fit correct - and though she may have said yes to this type of promise before, she's familiar with the process and the endgame this time. She knows the feeling that comes with this is it, his proposal offered and accepted with all its finality and meaning, and surprisingly, it doesn't sound like disaster. But still she doesn't wear the ring for four days, and it sits on the dresser, the box closed (sometimes open because it's really impossible not to look every once in awhile), and Greg simply comes up behind her, doesn’t say anything, kisses her on the side of her neck.

"Just in case Sam decides to propose," she explains, jokes, although she's not entirely sure what she's trying to avoid discussing here.

Greg smiles and runs his hands down her arms, finds her waist. "I have to worry about the sandwich guy?"

"He makes a mean Italian sub."

"I'll win you back with my chicken cacciatore," he says confidently. His mouth finds her collarbone and she hums encouragement, leans back into him.

"So, you're jealous," she teases.

"Of course I'm jealous," he says, but he looks up with a grin, finds her eyes in the mirror. "And if Sam doesn't propose today, he's an idiot."

She appreciates his patience; his affability worn effortlessly although her inability to articulate the why that’s warring with the why not in her head leaves her unsettled. She’s a born and bred New Yorker, living life decisively in choices made and follow through guarantees, and yet, somehow - the ring. It’s simply a feeling, a rising awareness that she can't name, floating just out of reach.

But if there’s something she’s learned from Harvey (and she tends to be the one doing the teaching so she takes this advice to heart), it’s that feelings can be overrated. So she puts on the ring when Greg leaves - the second time it slides on to her finger, cool and snug - and she doesn't question it again.

It's no surprise then that she forgets about the ring at the same moment Harvey notices it, and it's such a typical example of their relationship and their timing that she actually should have expected it. All their years together and they are without thinking, cause and effect, the shortest distance between two points, and sometimes so perfectly out of sync they're running parallel.

She reads his expression before it's masked, but she doesn't put it all together until she's back at her desk and he's on the call, staring at the phone where she revealed the ring accidentally as she dialed him in. She works on his case schedule, but now the unfamiliar weight of the ring on her finger as she types is a constant reminder. The flash of emotion she caught from him plays in her head - confusion, surprise, fear - feelings too quick for him to check.

She knows Harvey hoards feelings - doesn't use them as a weapon, doesn't even use them at all - just collects and buries, a lifetime lesson in control from decades before. His life is an unwavering constant keeping him grounded, and the only surprises allowed are the ones he can manipulate in court. Their relationship, however, is both the exception and the rule; it's an unshakeable foundation they've built together, the walls high enough now to shield.

So she knows exactly what it all means: confusion - that it's this serious; surprise - that he missed it; fear - of change.

It's the last that keeps her company as she handles his trial prep, reschedules his dinner plans and fields the calls from the Gless Foundation while he's occupied on the other line. If she knows Harvey (and it's a rhetorical statement because of course she does), then she knows what's next, can practically count down to-

"That was one way to tell me." He's standing by her desk, expression casual as he glances at her ring.

"Bigger than you expected?" she asks playfully.

He smirks. "How long have you been waiting to say that?"

"You're ruining my moment."

The conversation is easy, but there’s just something about the way that Harvey is slightly more closed off than normal, his thoughts obscured from her, that she notes and can't completely ignore. It’s not the way she had planned to break the news, but then four days came and went – uncharacteristic hesitance stilling her, time betraying her.

“Congratulations Donna,” Harvey says with a genuine smile, relaxed and warm, and with none of the reservation from moments before. Maybe it's really just her doing the reading into things after all.

She smiles back, ignores the intangible feeling that lurks in her gut, and gives him an innocent look. “Greg says you can be my maid of honor.”

He thinks on it. “What exactly happens at a bachelorette party?”


She’s well compensated for being the best legal secretary to the city’s best closer, so she approaches wedding planning with the same attention to detail that is borne from years of cultivating her perfect work ethic – excellent judgment, an array of psychological skills, and a wicked penchant for organizational systems.

Half the checklist is marked off in less than a month’s time, and they haven’t even set the date. It’s an impressive feat, although she’s still waiting for the satisfaction she knows she ought to feel. It leaves her out of sorts, an unfamiliar feeling that pricks at her skin.

Greg pours her a glass of wine, joins her on the couch. “Do we need to talk about it?”

She looks at him and holds back a quip before it slips off the tip of her tongue because she’s always in work mode by default, exchanges with Harvey too quick and familiar. The relationships she's left behind her, cracked and splintered in all the same ways, aren’t without their lessons. “Too fast?”

“Not exactly.” He shakes his head with a smile. “I mean, you are racing for the finish line like you have somebody to beat before you get there, but as far as I’m concerned, you can have it all figured out tomorrow if that’s what you really want.”

“You could put up more of an argument,” she kids, wonders if he’s placating. “You’re making it very easy.”

“It’s my job to make it easy.” He kisses her temple and she glances at him, realizes he’s being truthful. A sudden anxiety flares in her stomach, and she takes a sip of wine to avoid further conversation.

It’s all been surprisingly, well, easy – a beautiful dress, in her size, at the right price, and a dozen other things efficiently secured and in place without any real flexing of her talents at all. Greg is amicable as usual, agreeing with her decisions, but she can’t shake the feeling that she’s somehow digging herself down into an unwinnable argument. She spends her days with lawyers, every conversation a debate, and she can’t see beyond the law anymore, is practically tense in anticipation of conflict.

At work, Harvey is just the same as always – cocky, egotistical, charming, and yet not at all the same although she can’t precisely pinpoint the difference. He’s almost too normal, a consistency so calculated and exact that it sends a red flag running up her spine, and she catches herself frequently looking at him through the glass door waiting to spot the change.

It’s irrational really, wondering at too easy and too normal - self-doubt is not in her repertoire, and yet she’s somehow honed in on the things that are going exactly right because they are exactly right. In the world of Donna Paulsen - in the world of Harvey - things are only exactly right because she’s the one keeping them that way.

She finalizes drafting the motions for the McCulloch appeal just as Harvey stops by her desk to pick them up, and she again tries not to notice the exactness.

“Did you call the caterer?” he asks, and it actually takes a second for her thoughts to pile up before she realizes that he’s talking about her wedding. “She’s one of the best.”

“And she’s $250 a person.”

He waves a hand dismissively. “Tell her I sent you.”

“Oh is there a Harvey Specter discount?” she says suggestively, raises an eyebrow.

He chooses to ignore that, simply gives her a look that’s a cross between oh please and wouldn’t you like to know, as if she hadn’t just gotten the answer in everything he didn’t say. There is not much he can keep from her without concentrated effort.

“Go try on dresses, choose a venue, plan your wedding,” he tells her like it’s a reminder, like she’s the Harvey in this relationship. “You don’t look-“

He bites off the rest of the sentence, looks surprised at himself, thrown, and it’s so unlike him, so startling to see, she very nearly does a double-take.

“You look much too calm,” he amends quickly, smirks, "for a bride-to-be.”

She’s hardly calm these days, but she masks the thought, turns her frown into a pointed stare. “I resent the implication that I should be typical.”

“You know that doesn’t work on me, right?” he says, amused.

“It would if I were standing,” she counters, and glances down at the time. “Three minutes.”

He concedes the point with a slight incline of his head, a smile playing at the corner of his mouth, before striding down the hall for the conference room. She watches him leave, looks for signs only she would perceive in his gait, his posture, his arm loose by his side or hand tucked into a pocket – a myriad clues available, and she can’t make sense of a single one.


At first it's just the once, then a day turns into three and she's again gingerly turning the key in the lock, quietly slipping into bed, home late each night like it's the week before a contentious trial. But there is no reason - just a comfortable, guilty pleasure found in the empty hours when the office has shut down.

In the unassuming silence that falls, she relaxes.


It takes exactly another month before she understands, the realization yawning in her gut so wide it feels endless - and it's simply because Harvey stops to ask her how she's doing.

If she weren’t completely on edge doubting painless wedding plans and perfectly routine interactions, she would miss it, would throw back a quick retort, so natural and entirely them it wouldn’t raise a single alarm.

But it’s too normal, too absurdly average, and past exchanges begin to unspool messily as she teeters on the edge of the precipice. Loose threads weave and she suddenly sees it clear as day - his questions, his care. He knows the growing disquiet she feels, is attuned to her moods because he’s looking for them.

She actually physically recoils from the thought because this is Harvey. And she knows Harvey like she knows herself, history long and winding with well-worn paths she’s crisscrossed a dozen times. He is forged from the damages of his childhood – believes himself to be steel folded and weaknesses pounded out. It’s not true, of course, the things she knows he tells himself, has witnessed the truth herself when his past escapes him temporarily. But change is as foreign to him as losing, and she just knows suddenly, dismally, she’s managed to successfully bring him both.

She stands abruptly, and he straightens next to her in response, looks at her in alarm. "What?"

It isn’t until she’s in his office, Harvey following a pace behind, that she takes a long breath. There are options available, excuses and deflections mostly, but she's never been good at getting to the bottom of a situation with anything but honesty where Harvey is concerned.

"You're right," he admits in the silence she leaves, trying for humor to conceal his uneasiness. "It's much more effective when you're standing."

She frowns as she thinks back and sees yet another pattern - his humor hiding what she can't forget. "Harvey, this has to stop."

He sobers at her tone. "What? What's wrong?"

"You, this," she says, pointing between them. She selects her next words carefully. "Your feelings."

Confusion reflects back at her so she steels herself, goes a step further and pushes him to understanding. "Your feelings… for me."

It happens as she expects, his body stiffening as his defenses immediately lift. "Okay, enough. What’s going on?"

She's not even sure where to begin - an entire lifetime lesson in words that all seem so paltry and inadequate. Arguments with Harvey are often a verbal match – exhausting when she fights, but there’s a rhythm to the game – punch, feint, duck, jab – a lawyer’s forte.

"You know, Harvey," she says, and the difficulty she has expressing the weight of this moment is almost amusing. "Of all the times you could have found love, it just had to be now."

His eyes narrow slightly as he processes what she's said. "If this is about the other time-"

"No, god," she interrupts quickly, shaking her head. "If I'd known all this then-"

She doesn't finish, but the thought continues, realization huge and overwhelming before she cuts it off. A small laugh slips out, uncontrolled. "Well, I imagine things would be very different right now."

"So," he says slowly, nearly sarcastic, his eyebrows raised skeptically. "You think I'm in love with you."

"I think you don't know what that means," she says honestly.

She sees his anger build swiftly in the way his face goes cold. "Oh really."

"Feelings can be a fault, an exploitable vulnerability," she quotes from memory. "I know you remember that."

His stony silence is enough of an answer. The statement had been the grounds for his last major case with Cameron, but those roots had originated long before the DA - deeper than even she'd realized at the time.

"You live life believing that care is an advantage you give an enemy," she reminds him. "So, no, Harvey, I don't think you understand being in love."

His face is still tight lines, angles of anger set in his jaw, but there's a shift in his eyes, and she watches as he sorts through a seed of doubt. "I’ve never said anything that would even-”

"Love is an action, Harvey; it's not just a word."

He almost scoffs, but hesitates at the last second and she knows he’s slowly piecing it together, the big picture just out of reach.

“Why did you hire me back?” she presses.

He gives her a look, the one she remembers from that day on the street. “This again?”

“I’m not invaluable, Harvey.”

“But you’re the best,” he counters, and indicates the office with a lift of his hand. “And I need the best.”

She sighs forcefully, frustration finally leaking out, her voice rising. “Because you need someone to call you out on your shit? To keep your secrets? To anticipate you before you even figure it out?”

“That’s not why-“

“Isn't it?” she continues, unrelenting, near to yelling. “And these late nights? Checking in on my feelings? Knowing what I need? Everything is so goddamn exact because you’re always there.”

He looks stricken, furious, eyes wide in recognition and fear as a gamut of emotions charge and the truth hits home.

“That’s love, Harvey!” It comes out as a shout.

“Damn it, Donna!” His hand slams down on the desk, his face red. “What do you want? Why now?”

She nearly laughs in dismay. "Because I'm getting married!"

"Then shouldn't you be happy about it?" He throws the words at her, loud and bruising, and immediately looks horrified as all of the air suddenly draws from the room. "Fuck. Donna. That's not what..."

He trails off, runs a hand through his hair looking entirely lost, overcome. But she hears the rest anyway, knows it's exactly what he meant to say, and her thoughts spin, loose and untethered in the chaos. Happy hammers at her - full and mocking, the word echoing crazily in a space too small for all its meaning.

"Donna." His voice breaks on her name.

"Don't apologize," she insists angrily before he can continue. "Don't."

She doesn't want to hear it, suddenly can't bear it - Harvey is not the apologizing type, and right now, in the moment, it's all too much. Too many emotions and feelings are on the line, the past and present colliding spectacularly, and it leaves her breathless, choking.

Her ability to read him isn't exclusive - their long history in common, and their intuition shared. She saw the painful realization in his eyes as the full understanding of love hit, and if he's also right about her...

She can't even meet his eyes - leaves his office without so much as a word.


She wants to get married on a Tuesday, mid-day with the sun burning and bright and everything crystal clear, somewhere so far upstate she's nearly toeing the border into Canada - and if she looks toward the horizon, she can actually see someplace else, can see the invisible dividing line between what's right in front of her, and what sits just on the other side.


She watches Greg as he cooks - a steady, calming rhythm to his movements, actions precise and sure.

"Are you happy?" she asks with some hesitancy, wondering.

He doesn't immediately glance her way and it sends a flash of anxiety through her chest. She waits as he finishes stirring the pot, then turns, his expression mild.

"Of course I am," he says gently. "But that's not what you're asking."

She tilts her head, feeling ill but curious. "What am I asking?"

"Are you happy?"

It reminds her of Harvey, the recall sudden and harsh. She feels herself rising into defensiveness off that memory alone. "Why is everyone asking me that?"

"Well, you're tackling wedding plans like it's a problem that needs fixing," he points out.

She stares, shocked. "I'm being thorough."

"It's not something you need to win," he says, frustration coloring his tone.

She starts feeling heated, a flush crawling up her neck as her stomach knots. "Is that what you think?"

"We haven't even talked about where we want the wedding."

She throws her hands up in exasperation. "It doesn't matter!"

"Shouldn't it?" he asks, the remark so sharp it cuts.

A heavy silence drops, the air thick with feelings and words on the verge of spilling. Her anger subsides quickly leaving guilt in its wake because it should matter, it should - but aside from a sense of responsibility, a longing necessity for more, all she really feels right now is hollow.

He looks at her levelly, but his voice is soft, pained. "I can't want this for the both of us, Donna."

It's quite possibly the worst thing anyone has ever said to her.


With the scales loaded and tipped so substantially to one side, it's with a profound sense of relief that she notices something finally beginning to balance out the weight.

It's not an apology, at least not in the way she feared it would come, not Harvey cowed or bent, not compromised or the least bit broken. It's just a silent acknowledgment understood implicitly through a wide pane of glass; it's all the things he doesn't have to say because they always did communicate best between pauses.

He simply promises to move on.

It can't be helped though that she is keenly aware of Harvey’s feelings as he attempts to put them aside – something she knows is easily offered but difficult to execute. His heart is suddenly on his sleeve in a word, a tone, an expression, and she wonders if this is what it was like when their roles were reversed. She finds herself emulating what she remembers of Harvey then – his quiet courtesy, his relentless pace, being exactly the same as before because there was comfort in the familiar.

But with Harvey, it’s as if a switch has been flicked - where before he was almost too casual and normal when he had feelings but no idea of their meaning, now that he is struggling to bury those feelings with all the loaded understanding behind them, they bleed through in everything he touches, marks left behind for her to erase.

And her feelings for him suddenly blaze in response - completely uncalled, surprising, right under the surface like that moment all those years before was just yesterday. It's idiotic - love for love's sake like something from the 18th century.

From a distance, she can still sense Harvey's attention on her like the constant, heavy pull of gravity, can feel him thinking about her – too much, all the time. Even Mike picks up on it, stops by to lean on her desk with a simple, “he’s weird, right?”

She knows time will help.



The conversation starts smoothly enough, but it unravels rapidly, tangling on phrases sharp and twisted with meaning until what’s left is tattered and defeated. Greg sits across the table, the distance suddenly vast as the ring shines prettily, abandoned between them.

“I love you,” she says to him, honest even though they’ve reached the end and her voice is rough with overuse.

"I know that," he admits as the anger dissipates, and his sad smile does little to dull the pain. "But you're not just looking for love, Donna."

She can’t find words, merely shakes her head, heart battered enough.

He continues. "It's more than just being in love. You wanted to be wanted. You needed-"

"-a change," she finishes for him - aware, so horribly aware, of the truth of it. "And you were there."

"I was there," he agrees quietly, and it's like a punch to her chest, the realization simultaneously wonderful and heartbreaking. "And we can't build a marriage on that."


In the midst of heartbreak, there is love, and it is ludicrous. Because she's been here before.

She's been here with Harvey before, and she's discovering that feelings forgotten are exactly the same as feelings buried or feelings you-no-longer-thought-you-had; years later and they still deceive all the time that has passed - just as inconvenient and unstoppable. And it feels as fresh as she remembers, raw and wanting, heart and head clashing every moment beside him.

And yet it's also not how she remembers - the awareness shared this time, alive and sparking between them like a live wire seeking a connection. It's electric and quick and catches her unawares with all its intensity, her feelings racing to meet his, reasons be damned.

She knows though how everything can turn and sour so quickly - both solace and disappointment bound together in bittersweet moments carried by the knowledge that Harvey is new to love in every sense of the word. His feelings for her are deep, storied and seemingly unforgettable because she is, ironically, the first.

So in many ways she's been here before, her heart in hand unwittingly, but at the wrong time for the wrong reasons. She again pushes them to the side and thinks, hopes, this time she's finally learned enough to avoid repeating the same mistakes twice.



She’s ready and waiting, first file held out long before Harvey has even made it to her desk. He stops when he gets there, looks down at the folder in surprise. She enjoys these moments entirely too much, feelings or no - waits for his reactions and the resulting thrill of pleasure it gives her when she’s right.

He glances up. “Is this the-“

“Nope,” she says, and hands it to him anyway, picks up a second file. “But this is.”

His brow wrinkles in confusion. “So, the first folder…”

“What you were going to ask me for later,” she says nonchalantly, secretly pleased. She is the best; he’s never been wrong about that.

He looks stunned. “The advancement records?”

“I just need your signature.” She reaches out to flip the top page and point with the pen. “Here.”

He looks at her quickly before he signs the document, expression a mix of complete disbelief and awe, but she doesn’t miss the more intimate feeling shading the edges. It’s a hot need he doesn’t mean to leak, a feeling meant just for her, and she feels a response bloom fiercely in her stomach.

But she doesn’t acknowledge it, swallows until it extinguishes – knows neither of their feelings are controlled, only made real by circumstance and nothing more. She tries to let it pass until his hand touches hers. The contact is brief, as though he acts without thinking, the moment so easily something that could be light and meaningless. It’s impossible, though, to miss the ring that is absent on her finger.

“Some things don’t change,” she says, trying almost desperately for flippant. She really means I was going to tell you, and you saw it coming, but also I’m damn good at my job, and this doesn’t mean anything - all the countless reasons tied up and past untangling.

If he guesses at any of it, his expression is inscrutable. “Now, that I know.”


Her emotions feel too large, stretched out and loose – too many times worn in too short a period.

And to think, at one point she wanted change. The thought makes her grimace. She’s had more than enough of change and feelings thanks to the last few months – goes to the bar with Rachel and orders the same drink again and again - four times, a classic martini so perfectly dry it makes her mouth ache with longing.

She thinks of Harvey.

She wonders sometimes, watching him watch her, if he can even know the difference between infatuation and love – if he can remember what they were in the past and ever get back to it again.


She forgets at an inopportune moment, the Alspach-Kenny and Volpato cases closing concurrently, and office activity sheer frenzy and approaching complete disorder. So there is no warning, no thought in advance because it’s very nearly the last thing on her mind.

The records room is ugly, more boxes covering the floor than the shelves, and every other free bit of space occupied by an associate or a paralegal. She makes her way to Harvey carefully, stepping between boxes and people like some kind of mad legal obstacle course, and sits in the free chair beside him, files in her arms hitting the top of the table with a low thud.

It’s just a short reprieve from his office, from the conference room, convenience over comfort on the last details to be put to bed, and it hits her only when she’s sharing the arbitration agreement with him, caught partway between term 7 and it is further agreed. They are squeezed together at the table – much closer to him than she’s allowed herself to be recently, closer even than she’s been to him in a very long time – the length of him from shoulder to leg beside her, pressed against her, the touch electric.

She draws a blank at admissible, her discovery minor but relevant and now lost as her focus scatters and her mind leaps to wants. The thoughts are inappropriate and ill-timed, breaking through barriers easily - wanting to feel his arms pushing into hers, skin hot and slicked with sweat, muscles solid and flexing; wanting their legs twined together tightly as her calf slides up the back of his thigh.

Harvey is unusually quiet, the continued touch a spark that combusts and multiplies between them rapidly, time elastic and burning.

Her mouth is dry, heartbeat thrumming in her chest, loud and fast though they are both unmoving, still as stone. She stares at the document, wills meaning into the words – binding, discovery, authenticity.

She suddenly remembers her findings just as Harvey stands.

“The evidence submission form,” he says sounding relieved, overly loud but right, having located the same line she found. He turns back to her after taking a step away from the table, but the moment is too recent, still smoldering and catching, and his eyes reveal thoughts she knows he’d never put into words.

And it tumbles out of her mouth before she can stop it. “We’re quite the pair.”


It isn’t long before the moments collect anyway, unbidden despite their efforts. At first it’s just a few - an accidental touch, a shared look. But soon –

- the silence on the elevator;
- his thumb softly brushing her palm;
- a weighted “including you”;
- the quick smile he tries to hide;
- and then,
- and more

– soon there are too many to hold, moments filling her hands, spilling over the sides, meanings and feelings saved in a hundred different memories.


In time, eventually comes and goes, but the feelings stubbornly remain. She half wonders if somehow it's deliberate.

Their chemistry is defiant, magnetic, working against them to pull moments together – doorways, conference rooms, hallways – and she is becoming much too familiar with the feel of him to keep it locked away. Their history is built in years, the layers going back past cocktail hours and Pearson Hardman, far beyond birthdays and funerals and promotions, and meaning more than can openers and confessions - but this, this is new.

This is intoxicating moments of proximity - previously undiscovered or restrained, even becoming a natural limitation in time because it was just the way things were. Now, every unintentional touch, every inadvertent glance - it's so much worse than before. The want is fervent, fanned to flames with each encounter, and it sweeps her emotions along.

She can't put the feelings away, isn't even sure if Harvey's trying anymore, and knows something, anything, has to change. And somehow, it actually takes longer than she expects - days and weeks and (nearly) months until she’s past her own defenses, past going home, and past his door laying it all on the line.

“Honesty,” she begins, stands in the middle of his condo with the room stretching out to all sides and her exits identified. “We agreed to that, right?”

Harvey doesn’t look surprised or concerned, merely contemplative as he nods, gives her space. She can't help but note his casual appearance, the way it softens him - sleeves rolled up to his elbows, tie off and collar undone – and refocuses somewhere to the right of him.

“You only think you love me,” she says, takes a breath because there are pages of thoughts and this is going to be long.


She holds up a hand. “I was getting married; there was a lot to process.”

“No, that isn’t-“

“But now,” and she knows the change in her voice is what stops him. "Now I'm..."

She struggles for the rest of the words, off script too soon, and the sight of Harvey's tie, casually draped on the couch, is a distraction she can't shake. She takes her own advice, goes straight for honesty. "I don’t know what to do."

She almost shakes her head helplessly, but she's not a helpless person and she will not let these feelings bring her to that. Harvey is looking at her carefully, so very carefully that she waits to break.

“What are you saying?” he asks slowly.

Even oblivious he can still manage to be infuriating.

“I can’t stop thinking about you.” She spells it out and then sighs, loud and frustrated. “Okay? It’s a problem. This,” she says, points back and forth between them, suddenly remembering that one night, “is going to be a problem.”

There’s a deep pause, like the sudden calm before a swelling storm, and her stomach clenches involuntarily; despite everything, this might be the end after all. But when she braces herself and glances at him, there's an odd little quirk to his mouth and she swears, swears, he’s about to smile.

“Harvey, this isn’t funny.” She frowns.

“No, I know,” he says, shakes his head like he’s trying to get back in the game. “You’re right; this is very serious, I'm sorry.”

She blinks. “Sorry?”

It’s like he doesn’t even hear her. “So, you can’t stop thinking about me?”

And this time he does smile, like he can’t control it, like he has feelings enough for days.

This is not at all going the way she planned, and she turns, manages to pace near his kitchen where the floor space is open and she’s put further distance between them.

“Can you please think about what’s happening here, Harvey?” she asks, a little angrier than she intends. “You’re just in love with me because… I was right there. Because it was easy.”

“I wouldn’t say that,” he interrupts, but he’s still wearing the damn smile.

She waves a hand in the air furiously. “Then it was because you couldn’t have me. Only a few months ago I was getting married for Christ’s sake,” she reminds him in exasperation.

The weight of her thoughts over the months, fears and hopes and doubts, the entire list of reasons, pours from her in a verbal deluge. “You were just finding love for the first time. I’m normally not a bad choice, all things considered,” she says, a hint of pride peeking out.

“But this is different, Harvey; this is you and me. What we have has always worked for us, but love?” A sharp laugh escapes her. “What do either of us know about love? It’s like you said the other time, ‘Don't let this ruin a good-‘”

She underestimates his stride, the distance covered before she can register the movement, and then he’s pressed against her, kissing her and stopping her words, her breath, with an urgency that she can feel all the way to her bones. And her body reacts before she can even formulate thought, mouth opening to his, hand finding the back of his neck to pull him closer.

It’s every memory come to life, needs surging to the surface, and she kisses him the way she’s wanted for so long – years spoken in the slide of lips and press of her tongue, past exchanges made messy and sexy and entirely unforgettable. She feels caught in free fall, gravity beckoning below, but Harvey has her firmly by the hips, pushes her backward until she’s up against the pillar that divides the room, gives her balance.

She has a leg curled around his, fingers in his hair, and his tongue runs the length of hers - suggestive and dirty and loving all at once. He pulls back then, slightly, just enough that she can see the way he looks at her, nothing hidden behind a professional mask, a suit jacket, or necessity any longer, just raw, open desire that sends sparks of heat down her spine.

His smile is shameless. This is Harvey - this is thirteen years of history and lines in the sand; this is seven years past and unspoken admissions of more; this is two years in and nothing ever changing - all of him connected, past and present, to her.

"Finally speechless?" he asks with a chuckle, leans in to let lips and tongue trace her jaw.

She doesn't want to think, doesn't want this to end - feels a little overwhelmed and a lot turned on, so she finds his mouth again, lets her tongue do the talking because her talents extend far far beyond mere words. And when she slides her thigh between his legs, pushes her hips forward and up against him with just the right amount of rotation and pressure, he drops his head to her shoulder with a groan.

"Objection," he argues when he finds his breath, a bite to her neck following for her temerity.

She isn't sorry, not with the taste of him still on her lips, and definitely not with the low longing in his voice playing against her skin. She isn't really aware of much except sensation - rushing at her, overloading - his hands pinning her wrists to the pillar that sits solid at her back, his mouth pulling a bruise to the base of her throat, and her body buzzing as it curves to meet his.

Harvey takes a half step back, needs a minute to breathe as though he'd forgotten how, but he keeps his hands locked on hers, looks at her like she's both trouble and dessert.

"In case I run away?" she asks amused as she pushes her hands lightly against his restraint.

He glances down with a wry smile. "For my protection."

She smirks and his eyes follow the movement of her mouth unconsciously, her pulse skipping in response.

The moment stretches, quiet and full, and she finds herself memorizing the details, loving the unguarded emotion on his face that she never sees, well aware they stand at a crossroad.

"Is this where we talk?" He poses the question casually, body relaxed and hovering against hers, but he releases her wrists and braces his hands on either side of her. She knows he's giving her room to bolt.

Over the years they've established a familiar routine, a comfortable and needed stability to their long relationship. She knows him, better than he knows himself sometimes; and he understands her, better than anyone. It works; they work. There are some emotions, sure, occasional surprises both good and bad, but there are still unstated rules they've set together - rules that never, ever change.

"We don't know what this is," she says, both a warning and a wish together in an uncertainty. He hesitates like he's trying to see down the paths laid in front of him, then resigns to truth, nods.

She shrugs a shoulder, relieved. "Okay."

Harvey looks confused, his eyes flicking away and then back like he's missed something. "Okay?"

"As long as we're clear."

She tries not to smile at the way he doesn't move, doesn't even know what to say after that as though he's afraid to scare her off, as though he's not really sure if he's just lost or won. She ducks under his arm and walks toward his bedroom, stops and turns. "What was it you said the other time, Harvey? 'Don't question a good-'"

It doesn't take him long to figure it out.


Harvey's bedroom is glass and city lights, a bachelor pad for one of the city's most eligible, and she knows exactly what that means - doesn't even care in the least. They are miles between then and now, and even if their relationship is moving into the undefined, lines muddled and future in balance, their feelings are not.

She manages to tear away from kissing that damn, perfect mouth of his, wanting to let him put it to good use everywhere else. She stops him when his hands find the hidden zipper on the dress, owns the moment and undoes it herself as he watches with a smile that is sexy and also ridiculous - Christmas and birthdays and after hours wrapped up as one. She gives him a quick kiss, pulls away before he can deepen it.

"Too tempting," she says with a smile of her own, and sets her dress over his chair. She's going to have to leave in it, and she is not doing it in creases.

He waits until she rejoins him, and she tries hard not to fall in love with the way he looks at her, takes her in slowly like art. And she may have unconsciously chosen a more than decent (if not exactly what she would have had in mind had she known) red bra and panties this morning, but it's pure luck that they match, so she doesn't immediately toss them to the side, lets Harvey do the honors.

"My turn?" he asks facetiously, arms around her waist as he pulls her snug against him, hands exploring the shape of her back.

She nods. "Counselor. Opening remarks?"

She gets a bite to the shoulder for that, too. Then he's leaving a kiss on her chest, between her breasts, hands holding her and sliding down her sides smoothly. She controls the arch in her back that begs to bend to him as he kneels, the flit of his tongue trailing to the dip below her hip, finding the soft skin at the top of her thigh.

He gently tugs her panties down her legs and she obligingly steps out of them, grateful when he helps her out of her shoes too because she's not in her twenties anymore, and well, there's a right time and place for heels in bed. Then she loses her train of thought as his fingers slip between her thighs, sliding into her because she's been wet and ready for too long, this foreplay of theirs a novel. His tongue joins, circling almost lazily as her pulse soars. And when he nips lightly at her with his teeth and curls his fingers forward, white light bursts across her vision and she can't even be entirely sure what words escape her mouth. By the way Harvey looks up at her, eyes laughing, she knows it was indecent.

"Exhibit A," he says, a wicked lilt to his tone that promises more. And here he is, on his knees in front of her, fingers inside her, and mouth all curved up in a smile that tastes of her - it's so much, so right, that she can hardly breathe.

"Make your case," she tells him, and maybe it comes out a bit breathless, a bit hoarse like her voice didn't get the memo that she was going for something more forceful, but he doesn't argue. He puts his mouth back to work on her instead - replaces his fingers with his tongue, spreads her with his hands, and it doesn't take long before she's riding the edge, heartbeat on overdrive and her body shaking with release.

She's almost surprised to find herself still standing in the middle of his room, amazed she's managed to stay on her feet. "Well," she says, "that was certainly an effective argument."

"Yeah?" he asks, but he's wearing an expression she knows well, the one that says he's feeling awfully pleased with himself.

"Harvey, your ego is showing."

He smirks and she decides to do something about the fact that he's still dressed. She takes her time, running hands over what she exposes, enjoying uncovering him in layers, but he is distracted by her breasts, making her efforts difficult as he works around her to unclasp her bra, rubs a thumb over her nipple, brushes his lips against her skin.

She stops, amused. "Are you planning to be of help?"

"This is taking way too long," he explains, just undresses the rest of the way quickly and has them on the bed before she can respond - his mouth, that mouth, kissing her deeply while he covers her body with his. He's solid and firm above her, tasting faintly of cinnamon, of her - the moment so long denied now real, and theirs for the taking. She's never felt so wonderfully caught off balance being right where she wants to be.

She sneaks a hand between them, wraps it around his cock because he's hard, of course, but she wants to draw him to the brink. She brings her lips to his ear.

"Ladies and gentleman of the jury," she says. It's not quite a whisper, but combined with the light pressure from her hand, it has the desired effect, her name coming from him involuntarily and sending a warm flush down her neck. She keeps up her ministrations as his hand finds her breast, mouth hot and wet on her neck. And when she adds a twist because she knows Harvey appreciates when she shares her more creative streaks, it reduces him to shaky breaths.

She pushes him to his back, and gives his cock a little pat as she leans over him to open a nightstand drawer.

"I assume, knowing you," she starts, and smiles as she finds what she's looking for, pulls out a condom. "No further questions."

Harvey can't seem to find words, so she uses the time to get the condom in place, then straddles his legs and, because she can't resist the way he's looking at her, kisses him again. She doesn't get further than that because he shifts and flips them, actually flips them, and it's in one swift movement that leaves her stunned.

"I rest my case," he says with a smile, voice a murmur against her lips.

"Are you always-" Her words fail her as he slides into her slowly, feeling her, filling her. She struggles for the words as her breath catches. "- going to have to have the last word?"

He doesn't answer.

It takes her a moment, but then: an action, not a word.

And she realizes he's letting her have the moment, letting her take the win. And it's not a courtroom, or a case, it's just them together in arguments and love, work habits and a decade of friendship, and all the feelings that took them away and back again. He knows her thoughts, knows her - when to push, and just how to catch her after she falls.

The truth, she thinks, is that she'd missed him before she had even had him.

She almost laughs at the realization, warmth enveloping her, and it doesn't take more than that to let go - she finds his rhythm, pulls him closer and tightens around him bringing an unintelligible sound out of his mouth. They move together, bodies tangled and sweaty, and he drops his mouth to hers, kisses her once, twice. Then the pace changes - speeds and slows as the rhythm staggers, and she follows what she can't control, willingly tipping over the edge in a rush of wild heat before his muscles go taut and he comes after her, shuddering, her name repeated in broken breaths that fall, whispering, into her hair.


They are, she knows, both resistant to change - naturally wanting more, but stuck in the comfortable.

She doesn't let him say 'I love you', doesn't even plan to reach that step until maybe they're a Sunday breakfast and shared rides to work kind of couple, or a do the dishes together and argue over shampoo couple, or maybe not until they agree they're just a couple at all. Definitions, it seems, are subjective.

She says they're still "figuring it out". Harvey argues it's "more than that".

So most days they just are, even if they've never been anything that simple.


"When?" she asks him once, already knows the answer, but wants to hear it from him anyway.

"Since the beginning," he says. "From the very start."


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54 whispers :: tell me a secret
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abvj From: abvj Date: September 14th, 2012 05:12 pm (UTC) (Link)


Never stop writing these two, please?
pengyn From: pengyn Date: September 14th, 2012 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

so damn dead
pengyn From: pengyn Date: September 14th, 2012 05:42 pm (UTC) (Link)

How am I supposed to function after that?

phrenitis From: phrenitis Date: September 16th, 2012 05:42 am (UTC) (Link)
ILU!! I will write more fic and make it all better? ;)
just_liv From: just_liv Date: September 14th, 2012 05:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's been a while since you posted brand-new-fresh-out-of-the-oven fic and damn this is a comeback!!
I have so many feels for this fic... and not enough time or enough brain activity left to do it at this very moment.
So I'll come back, I'll read it all again, and then, very throughly I'll make a very long and indecent comment about all the awesomeness achieved by this piece.

That being said, I leave this in advance: Thanks for ruining my life.
phrenitis From: phrenitis Date: September 16th, 2012 05:47 am (UTC) (Link)
I adore you, honestly. :) Thank you! I was working on this fic for so long, it gets hard to see the big picture sometimes when you're in the middle of it. I was definitely worried it wasn't going to convey what I hoped it would in the way I wanted, so it's very comforting to hear that it worked! *loves*
electrical_s From: electrical_s Date: September 14th, 2012 06:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
also perfect.
phrenitis From: phrenitis Date: September 16th, 2012 05:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Aiiieeee! This comment makes me grin! Thank you so much for reading. Very happy you liked it. :)
etoilefilante From: etoilefilante Date: September 14th, 2012 06:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow. This is just so beautifully them. This may now be my very favourite fic for these two; something I was thinking all the way through, but the last two lines cemented.
phrenitis From: phrenitis Date: September 16th, 2012 05:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh god, that it just the nicest thing. *blush* Thank you; that means a lot. <3
bristow1941 From: bristow1941 Date: September 14th, 2012 06:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Let me bring my jaw off the floor after the last paragraph. It makes soon much sense yet I never saw it. I like Harvey bring self aware enough to know that. Thank you a million times over for making my Friday!

May I be greedy and hope for more Donna/Harvey? This was so beautiful that I need to go reread it over and over.
phrenitis From: phrenitis Date: September 16th, 2012 05:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Ahhh, you have no idea how happy it makes me that the ending worked. I wasn't sure I got there the way I wanted it to in my head, so you've made me very happy. Thank you!!

And lol, I'm already at something embarrassing like 9 fics for these two, so at this point I don't think I can stop writing even if I wanted to. Your request is too sweet, and I will see what I can do to oblige! *grins*
magisterequitum From: magisterequitum Date: September 14th, 2012 08:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

So stunning, I swear. Never stop.
phrenitis From: phrenitis Date: September 16th, 2012 05:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Aw. *loves dearly* Thank you so much!
(Deleted comment)
phrenitis From: phrenitis Date: September 16th, 2012 05:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Heeeeeeee!!!! Loooooooove. <3
lapiccolina From: lapiccolina Date: September 14th, 2012 09:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
OMG. <3333

I felt really bad for Greg. I loved that you didn't make him some sort of bad guy, but really the guy who loved her enough to help her see how things really were.</p>


phrenitis From: phrenitis Date: September 16th, 2012 05:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you!!

I definitely wanted Greg to be someone Donna could fall in love with, could want to marry - a genuinely funny, nice, smart guy who was everything she thought she wanted. And I had to break his heart (because let's be real, he's never going to find another Donna and that's a harsh reality), but it's also why it had to be him that ended things. Because otherwise I would have cried too hard for made-up Greg and gotten all "unrequited love" angsty for him, and that is not okay. ;)

Very glad you liked the fic, and that it gave you feels! Lol. <3
bichito From: bichito Date: September 14th, 2012 10:00 pm (UTC) (Link)



phrenitis From: phrenitis Date: September 16th, 2012 06:00 am (UTC) (Link)
I love you, honestly. You make me laugh with your comments every time. :D

THANK YOU. *clings*
lizook12 From: lizook12 Date: September 15th, 2012 12:16 am (UTC) (Link)
What is this even?! I can't...

I think you broke my brain with perfection.

Like seriously, how am I ever going to write them again?

Honestly, there's just such honesty in the little things here, in all the ways they know one another, that everything comes together brilliantly. It's particularly clear here: – soon there are too many to hold, moments filling her hands, spilling over the sides, meanings and feelings saved in a hundred different memories.. I just love that image and the possibilities it brings.

phrenitis From: phrenitis Date: September 16th, 2012 06:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you hon, so much. That's SO sweet. :)

And please, your fic is fabulous, and we're all lucky because it's Donna/Harvey who lend themselves to every situation EVER because they are just ridiculous and perfect and broken and mended and downright adorable. YOU WILL KEEP WRITING. ;)

The section you noted was one of the first parts of the fic to be written, and one of my favorite lines of the piece. *grins* Thank you!!
onlywordsnow From: onlywordsnow Date: September 15th, 2012 03:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Nope. I literally cannot. Well, this was so good that I don't think that anything can ever be as good as this because it belongs in its own category. Thank you.
phrenitis From: phrenitis Date: September 16th, 2012 06:08 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't even have an appropriate response for how utterly sweet your comment is and how I'm all a flutter because of it. Just, thank you. I doubted myself a lot through the course of writing the fic, and this made it all worth it, and all better. :)
delarges From: delarges Date: September 15th, 2012 08:18 am (UTC) (Link)
phrenitis From: phrenitis Date: September 16th, 2012 06:09 am (UTC) (Link)
I am not going to lie, I spit up coffee when I saw this comment. Literally. On myself.

Thank you - it so made my day, you have no idea. :)
From: tidbit2008 Date: September 15th, 2012 08:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Omg. This is amazing. Guhh. I love it ♥
phrenitis From: phrenitis Date: September 16th, 2012 06:10 am (UTC) (Link)
*heart* *heart* *heart* Thank you!!!!
xyliette From: xyliette Date: September 15th, 2012 11:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Amazing, so amazing. I loved the entire progression. I wish it could happen like this! Thank you for keeping my crazy fed!
phrenitis From: phrenitis Date: September 16th, 2012 06:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much for reading and saying that! I was worried about the progression and love hearing that it worked. :) And omg, I cannot even function with this hiatus - what is this four month break? Why?! I'm just glad I could help provide some D/H love for you. *grins*
54 whispers :: tell me a secret
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