Title: Some Nights (It All Could End)
Category: Donna Paulsen/Harvey Specter.
Disclaimer: Owned by others.
Summary: It's merely a thought born because all the hours at work in her company are far far greater than the hours he has to spare for other women and anything else.
Part 1: Some Nights (It Was Meant To Be)
It's a passing thought.
Of course he thinks about Donna, about any number of women - the city providing plenty of distraction. He's an affirmed bachelor (for now), with an aversion to commitments and baggage, but no lack of willing women in his bed at night. It's the lifestyle he wants, and he's more than satisfied in all departments, so he really has no complaints and no reason to stop his wandering thoughts over what he sees sometimes.
His years working with Donna, however, have bred a kind of rare familiarity with someone else to which he's never been accustomed. It's a comfortable, albeit surprising, relationship within and beyond the walls of the firm, and it's one that matters very deeply to him. It's teasing and sexy and inappropriate in the standard sense, but it's also functional, effective and painfully honest. He can't deny she's a package deal with all that redheaded temperament - her attractiveness and intellect only adding incentives to the offer, but their partnership is effective and has seen them through success countless times. So he's never once been tempted to mess with it.
He looks up through the glass of his office and she's at her desk working on a case file, her hair twisted to the side neatly and the end of a pen near her mouth. She thinks with a slight furrow between her brows, lips pressed together, and he watches as she takes a note, pen coming back up afterward and briefly catching between her teeth before she turns to the computer as something there catches her attention. The thought flies by quickly and he needs the break, entertains the moment - her lips, her tongue, and exactly how she might use both if he covered her mouth with his - and then it's past, the Davoy papers pulling his focus again.
So if there's a curiosity that idly bubbles up into distraction on occasion, if he's considered how he might run his hands up the inside of her thighs, or how she'd move and bend readily beneath him, or how she'd taste of chai tea and honey if he kissed her late at night (and, yeah, so maybe he's wondered about it a lot), it's merely a thought born because all the hours at work in her company are far far greater than the hours he has to spare for other women and anything else.
It's just a proximity thing.
"You can pick me up at 7," she says over the intercom when Louis leaves.
He'd been careful to avoid looking in her direction when Louis brought up the governor's Black & White charity ball, but he knows she's fully aware just how conspicuously empty his nightly schedule has been the last couple of weeks with the Davoy case taking up all his time. He could make a call and change that quickly enough, but setting up a date requires effort he'd really rather not expend at the moment.
Leave it to Donna to know he'd planned to eventually ask her to join him, just as he had known she would be prepared to go even if he never actually got around to asking. At least with her presence, the night would be uncomplicated and no doubt prove entertaining.
"Would you like to go to the governor's ball with me?" he asks unnecessarily, glancing up and catching her eye.
She grins, then drops the expression as she gives a shrug of a shoulder and looks put out. "If I must."
He doesn't get a look at her dress until he's helping her out of her coat, and even then he doesn't fully get a chance to appreciate the outfit until she's standing out in the midst of everyone, a cocktail in her hand, and Louis repeating wow and Donna at her a half dozen times like a skipping record stuck crooning the same lovesick chorus.
"She gets it," he says to Louis, and it comes out a bit snappy in a way that surprises them both.
Her dress is pristine white, the cut simple and in a single, clean line from where it hangs gracefully off of one shoulder to where it meets the floor, but the fit is perfect, hugging her form and leaving little of her curves to the imagination. Her hair is glossy, red waves that cascade down past her shoulders, and altogether the effect is striking.
"Thou art more lovely and more temperate," Louis continues undaunted.
Harvey rolls his eyes.
It's a party of who's who with half the city's big names making an appearance, and he spends the first hour on and off with Louis or Donna as they greet clients and make introductions to the prospectives they'd previously marked. It all progresses more smoothly than he expects, everyone congenial with the alcohol flowing, and he's feeling pretty pleased with his efforts when he catches up to Donna. She's finishing a conversation with someone he vaguely recognizes from Wakefield-Cady and he waits a short distance away until she's free.
"Schedule the Turners for next week," he tells her quietly, stepping up beside her and making a simultaneous note in his phone for them. "We're taking the Gellerman suit."
She nods, but the quick smile she shares with him is knowing and proud. And actually, truth be told, he's feeling very pleased with himself indeed.
"Oh shit," she says under her breath, and then unexpectedly her fingers are threading through his, a jolt radiating up his arm at the contact. She presses into his side intimately, effectively sending him into a momentary sideways train of thought as his attention zeroes in on the way her body is suddenly pliable and flush with his, her chest pushed into his arm. The closeness is startling, and it doesn't help that her dress does little to hide her frame and keep his mind from drifting into diverting territory.
"David, hi." Her voice sounds odd, like she's being overly cordial, and it brings him back to the situation at hand.
The kid in front of them can't be more than thirty - he's familiar-looking somehow, but his earnest regard for Donna is plainly written across his face. Harvey starts to understand her hasty reaction then, even as she lightly squeezes his hand in warning, and he can't help the smile that forms.
"Harvey Specter," he says and puts his hand out in greeting.
Despite a youthful appearance, David stays poised and shakes his hand in return, grip surprisingly firm and confident. "David Walsh."
The name combined with the other clues set off an internal alarm, and Harvey holds back a frown, lets the two engage in small talk while he thinks. It all clicks together when he notes the smart way the kid is dressed - a Walsh. As in, one of Mayor Walsh's sons. Oh.
He misses the entire conversation, brief as it is, and manages to give a farewell nod as David walks away with a courteous goodbye.
"The mayor's son?" he says to her when David is out of earshot. "Really?"
"The sources in my network are confidential," she replies archly with just the slightest tinge of embarrassment.
He knows when she doesn't move away that this situation is going to play out for the night, so, what the hell, he thinks, why not make it interesting? He pulls his hand out from where it's grasping hers to instead wrap it around her waist and turn her to face him so he can read her expression.
She looks resigned to it, like she knows she opened the door to this one, and he grins. His palm settles on the small of her back more comfortably than he expected it would, and he watches over her shoulder as David gives them a quick backwards glance.
"Although," she continues, a note of sarcasm creeping into her tone, "this all can be a lot more trouble than it's worth, too."
"I assume David's an example of the downside?"
She offers a droll smile. "The fallout."
He's never questioned the tactics she's used or people she has cultivated over the years because the massive amount of knowledge at her disposal is more a part of his success than almost anything else he can credit, but he does wonder to what lengths she goes sometimes.
She catches his look and makes a face in response. "Oh my god, Harvey, I didn't sleep with him."
She's much closer wrapped in his arms like this, an embrace that is entirely too easy given they've never been this physically near to one another before. It's surprisingly pleasant, her body arched into his as she keeps up the pretense that they're a couple.
"Why not just go for the mayor himself?" he asks. He's joking, but he finds he's actually half curious if she tried.
"Oh, so there is a line?" he says, amused.
She gives his chest a firm pat. "Just shut up and pretend to be in love with me."
"That does seem to be the theme of the evening," he notes.
It's another hour past and they are crowded around the far end of the bar, Donna practically pushed into him in the narrow space as they ply Louis with aquavit and beer - reliving the old days.
"And between us we had five clients walking through the doors the next morning." Louis finishes the story with a wide grin, eyes glossy and half lidded from all the booze.
"Not a misrepresentation in the bunch," Harvey adds.
Louis enthusiastically nods in agreement. "We were that good. Tonight was like before. And now with Donna."
"Thank you, Louis." Donna hasn't been keeping pace with the number of drinks in Louis' system, but Harvey can still hear the effort she puts into articulating her words, can feel the way her hand smoothes up and down his back, fingers catching in the lines and creases of his jacket as she plays her part.
By comparison, he's only a few drinks in, but the liquor is already buzzing in his blood, his boundaries elastic and nearly forgettable. And when he sees David across the room - much too far away to be of any consequence, Harvey reacts to his presence anyway and decides to one-up the situation. Donna roped him into this game of hers for the evening and he'd be lying if he didn't admit he was having a little fun with it.
He quietly maneuvers her to bring her back against his chest, tucks her to him and wraps his arm around her waist, his hand splaying over her stomach. It's effortless, like he's held her this way a hundred times, and it's a subtle enough change in position that Louis doesn't even blink. Donna, on the other hand, stiffens, and he knows even with the alcohol obscuring whatever lines they've loosely set over the years, she's suddenly very aware of him.
"The Gellerman case though. That's nice," Louis says, and even drunk he still manages to pull out his favorite smug expression. "But the Thompson merger. My billables will be huge."
"Got to make up for other shortcomings," Harvey replies, unable to help himself.
Louis smirks. "Ha ha. Now who's insecure?"
Harvey waits for Donna to react, but he's not prepared when she relaxes into his hold, body curving into him. Her hand comes up, fingers twining with his where they rest across her midriff, the other hand sliding down his thigh. Surprise catches at him, sudden heat flaring in his gut.
"I can judge," Donna offers flippantly, and her hand squeezes his upper thigh because she's evil. Harvey glances toward the back of the venue, can't control the thought that briefly wonders what it'd be like to walk her straight to the bathroom and fuck her up against the cool marbled wall.
David happens to cross his view then, breaking the moment, and Harvey takes a swig from his beer to wet his throat and clear his mind.
Louis gives a quick shake of his head like he's actually just considered and rejected her proposal. "I know your loyalty to Harvey doesn't work to my advantage."
"You don't think I can be unbiased?" she asks, and she sounds offended, like this conversation is even based in some sort of possible reality.
"Are we really still talking about this?" Harvey says, and neither Donna nor Louis look remotely contrite. As if in response, Donna's hand slides around to the back of his thigh and she pulls her body into his suggestively. Her antics have him half hard already, and it's all he can do to try and shift his hips backward in the tight space so he's not pressing right up against her. She's killing him.
Louis looks at the shot of aquavit in front of him blearily and then leaves abruptly without any preamble for what, Harvey presumes, is the restroom.
"So," Donna says, unconcerned and making no move to step out from their compromising position.
He decides to raise the ante, uses his free hand to gently sweep her hair to the side. "So."
"That was fun," she remarks and he feels her laugh as it rumbles against his chest. He runs his thumb down the line of her neck to the soft curve at her throat, her heartbeat pulsing steady and strong. She turns in to him, her chin lifting as though she's waiting for him to kiss her. And for one seemingly long moment he almost does.
Then, suddenly, he realizes he wants to, and it's like a swift, hard kick to the chest that sobers him immediately. He's unsure if this is all still a game, if there's indeed a line they're crossing - the night, in retrospect, like a precarious balancing act without a safety net. And when he follows her line of sight and glimpses David leaving, he strangely tastes regret, an unfamiliar, sour flavor.
He releases her, stepping away to try and put some space between them so he can regain his composure, and does his best to avoid the curious look she gives him in return. It's not turning out to be the evening he'd had in mind, although he'll admit Donna's company definitely kept things interesting.
"We should call it a night," he says. It comes out unintentionally harsh somehow, and he attempts to mitigate it. "We got what we came for."
Everything he's saying sounds horribly wrong all of a sudden, and Donna's expression has changed to one of concern. He has quite possibly never been more relieved than he is now to see Louis stumbling toward them.
"Who killed your buzz?" Louis asks, and downs his shot.
Barely twenty minutes later, with Louis left at the bar to sober up on sparkling water, Donna drags him all the way outside to the alley at the side of the building. She stands with her hands on her hips, fine lines appearing at the corners of her eyes as she frowns.
Harvey waits, confused. "What?"
"I could ask you the same thing," she says, studying him in a way that makes him feel exposed, and he's really not in the mood for more games tonight.
He sighs. "Donna."
She glances off to the side for a second, but he catches the way she briefly bites at her bottom lip, and knows from that involuntary reaction she's thinking through whatever is going on in her head. It suddenly makes her look vulnerable.
"What happened in there tonight," she starts to say, and accompanies it with a gesture of her hand that he doesn't understand, but he knows what she wants to say now. She rubs her arms unconsciously and he sees the small goosebumps that have formed from the night's chill.
Chivalry rises to the surface and he takes his jacket off, pulls it around her shoulders while she boldly meets his gaze. It creates an odd feeling in his stomach - apprehension, like he's going to be asked to reveal answers to questions he's already supposed to know.
"We should go back inside," he offers, but he knows it's avoidance and it comes out half-hearted.
"Do we need to talk about it?" she asks seriously.
"What? Leading the kid on a little?" He deflects with humor automatically, even as he fights the urge to be obtuse. It was just a night, a nice night all things considered, but he's hardly planning to dwell on it.
She's still watching him intently, but surprisingly a corner of her mouth turns upward. "Okay, fine; let's call it that."
"Hey, I thought we were pretty successful," he says, feeling indignant.
She shakes her head and looks up at the sky in exasperation. "You're actually impossible."
"Look," he says, and knows he's not getting out of this until he gives her a little honesty. "It was fun. It doesn't have to be anything more than that."
For a fleeting moment he thinks he sees disappointment cross her face, and it sends a flash of heat from the top of his spine straight down to his groin. Suddenly all he can think of is her mouth and how much he really needs to know what she tastes like.
She beats him to it while he's still stuck convinced he read her expression incorrectly, and he misses the first few seconds of the kiss while feeling catches up to override his brain. But his body reacts appropriately, instinctually, mouth opening to hers as he pushes her up against the stuccoed wall of the building.
The movement's more rough than he intends, her back hitting the wall with some force, and she groans from the impact, bites his lip hard in retaliation. He hisses from the flare of pain, and her tongue follows in apology to soothe the mark she's made.
He's not sure he's breathing properly and getting enough air - only aware that he's hungry for her mouth and so very wrong in how he'd imagined she'd taste. There's aquavit and beer lingering faintly, but in front of that is the mint and strawberry from her gum, and a thin, sharp note of citrus on her tongue. It's a heady combination and one he knows he'll absolutely think about now.
She has her fingers in his waistband pulling his hips tight to hers, and for the second time in the same night he finds himself getting all half-cocked against her like he hasn't been laid in a month. It's enough to bring him partway to his senses and he pulls back from her mouth, from her, as a hundred different thoughts immediately flood his brain. Only one is important - what the hell are they doing?
Donna looks like she's thinking the exact same question, her eyes wide as she stares at the ground somewhere past him. Her mouth is red and swollen, hair disheveled from where he had tightened a hand in her curls.
"Okay," she says slowly as she finds her breath. "Let's start over?"
He tries to remember what they were even talking about. "We led the kid on."
"Right." She nods in agreement.
"It was fun," he adds.
"Right," she says again, and the wicked little smile that quickly comes and goes nearly undoes him.
"That's all still true," he points out. He really has no idea what's just happened, and tries to ignore the worry that it will change something fundamental between them. The line, or whatever it is that exists, is far behind where they started the night, but he hopes there are enough solid years built into their relationship to give it the stability needed to withstand the moment.
She looks at him then, pensive. "So we're fine?"
"Are you still coming in to work on Monday?"
Her mouth quirks as she gives a small huff. "You need me."
"Then we're fine," he says, and feels as relieved as she looks. There have been plenty of arguments, a few confrontations they never bring up, and one incident that left them both completely shaken, but whether it's work first and friendship second, or the other way around, it's nothing either of them are prepared to lose.
They're back inside and nearly to Louis who looks sufficiently lucid and verging on grumpy when Donna turns to him.
"Just for the record," she says, eyebrow raised because she's making a point. "I made the first move."
So it's more than a thought.
If he knows now, instead of wonders; if it takes awhile before it's not always her all the time, then it's just an experience thing - idle distraction turned weighted and real, at least temporarily anyway, because of that night.
Nothing fundamental changes between them.
Any difference is insignificant.
And somehow, that's what bothers him the most.
Part 3: Some Nights (It Takes A Conversation)