A/N: Hi. Just something simple and random.
Disclaimer: Suits doesn't belong to me. Unbetaed. Errors are my own. Reviews are welcomed and appreciated.
She slowed down to a jog, her labored breathing matching the rhythmic pattern of her feet slapping against the concrete. She let out a final exhale as she stopped abruptly, hands resting on her knees. Her ponytail fell over her shoulder and sweaty tendrils of loose hair were plastered to the side of her face. She nodded at a fellow regular as he sailed past her with his furry mutt in tow. She chuckled at the resistance the little pup gave, clearly agitated with being dragged out for a run so early in the morning. A tingling sensation put her on alert as she felt eyes watching her, but the familiarity of the gaze put her at ease instantly and a quick glance in the general direction of the bench confirmed his presence.
"Are you checking out my-"
"Form?" Harvey cut her off with a slow smirk. "I'm checking out your form. Why haven't we gone for a run together before? You might actually be able to keep up," he snorted. His lips turned up in a slight smile but she noticed it didn't quite reach his eyes.
"Whatever you say kid," she snapped back. She arched her brow, her penetrating gaze not leaving his until he blinked.
"Are you going to accuse me of harboring salacious thoughts and engaging in stare-offs or are you going to drink this godforsaken tea latte crap?"
He offered her the 16 oz. cup of liquid heaven and she practically threw herself onto the bench beside him doing her best to suppress the pure elation she felt. As far as she was concerned tea was happiness in a cup. The warmth of the cup thawed her fingers and the sweet taste of the liquid as it slid down her throat was enough to make her groan. She didn't even bother acknowledging the fact that Harvey was rolling his eyes at her as he took a sip of his own coffee.
"Oh you really shouldn't have, dear," she took another long sip before resting her head on the back of the bench and staring off ahead of her. "You actually got it right." A sense of nostalgia washed over her as she remembered the baby faced, arrogant mail-boy who'd casually slide a cup of her favorite tea from her favorite coffee cart on her desk once a week, while he would sneak a peek at the occasional proposal on her desk and offer mostly unsolicited advice.
"When don't I get things right?" he rose his brow at her, practically daring her to challenge him all the while knowing damn well that she could. "You still have the most complicated goddamn order in town. It took me ten minutes to order that thing. Not nearly as long as it took to get these though."
He whipped out a paper bag and dangled it in front to her, a mischievous grin spread across his face. She snatched the bag out of his hand and dug in, her hand wrapping around one of the most delectable pastries there was to offer. She canted her head to the side and smiled at him, as she pulled out a warm cronut. She contemplated whether or not to eat it for all of a second before taking a bite.
"See, everyone assumes it's your brain and your billables but this is the real reason I keep you around," she joked.
It was still difficult. The whole joking with him thing. They had their ups and downs over the past year and even though they fortunately found themselves on the same page again, there was an awkwardness that came with moving forward. In some ways moving forward felt like starting over anew, and their typical easy bantering at times felt strained. Her eyes softened when the corner of his mouth rose in a slight smirk, and she went back to eating her cronut.
"That and the hair, of course. I have great hair."
"Meh, more like the expense of cutting you loose. The alimony would be a bitch," she quipped with a wink. She polished off the last of her cronut and snaked her hand back into the bag to steal another one, before Harvey could even bat an eye. "You realize these will go straight to my ass, right?"
"You realize no one will complain if it does?" he responded cheekily, as he grabbed the last pastry and shoved it in his mouth.
"Jackass," she murmured under her breath.
Once again the smile he flashed her was forced and under the weight of her inquisitive gaze he seemed to distract himself with staring at a handful of ducks wading around in the pond. She knew something was up, could sense it as soon as she sat down, although his tracking her down so early in the morning, and lavishing her with food, drinks, and half-assed snarkies was a pretty big indicator. Harvey took a bit of finesse. She always found it so ironic that someone who was so overt and direct required such subtlety when it came to getting him to open up. She imagined it was what he enjoyed about her. She always found a way to pry just about anything out of him given a little time and pushing the right buttons.
"You must have been up early to get these," she raised the last of her cronut up before popping it in her mouth. She glanced at him for a moment before shifting her gaze to the pond that seemed to be occupying his attention. "How long have you been here?"
"Thirty-five years," he deadpanned. A long moment passed with her growling under her breath disapprovingly. "Long enough to see your last five laps. No one should be able to run that much and still smell halfway decent, by the way. I'm convinced you aren't human,"
"Hey, I never said I was," she shot back instinctively. His shoulders relaxed a bit more and she suspected it was because he thought he dodged an interrogation by distracting her with a joke.
"Stop deflecting," she said softly. She wanted to add that using sarcasm and humor as a defense against her was ineffective given the fact that she was no stranger to such defense mechanisms herself, but she didn't want to give him the opportunity to counter her with his own argument that would surely get them off course.
"I'm not," he sighed as he hurled his empty coffee cup in the nearby trashcan so forcefully that even he couldn't deny that he was on edge.
"You didn't come here to see me run or to buy me breakfast just because. You came because you either want something from me or something is wrong. I'm leaning more towards the latter," she said directly her eyes never breaking contact with his.
"I could have just been bringing breakfast to my favorite girl," he joked half-heartedly. The tension in his jaw was the only thing giving away the fact that he was everything but carefree. "Maybe I was just being nice."
"You aren't just nice. You're a bastard," she replied flatly. She felt the annoyance building up within her as the clock slowly ticked by and the last few drops of her latte went cold.
"True," he responded matter of factly. "But I'm your bastard."
He tried to grin but this time it was a failed effort. He turned his head away from her and sighed, his elbows resting on his knees, and his jawline ticking away as though her were physically biting his tongue to keep from saying something.
"Are the kids alright?" she asked breezily.
She shifted her body on the hard bench until her back was up against an arm-rail, and she did her best to stretch her leg out without bumping into him. She busied herself with rolling her ankle around to release some of the tension she felt in it, and let the question hang in the air as long as it would take before he'd eventually bend to her will as he so typically did if she pushed just right. She wanted to ask him if he was okay, but he always did better with speaking about others as opposed to himself. She winced as she continued to stretch her way through the pain, and within seconds his hands wrapped around her ankle, gently guiding her leg towards his lap. He rested it there as he began to absentmindedly massage her ankle and calf, ignoring her flinches when he reached a particular sore spot.
"Well, I had to put Roger in timeout for losing so epically during housing court," he shrugged as he kneaded away at the back of her leg. "And little Tasha is doing quite well but she's still a glorified kiss ass, and no one likes a kiss ass."
She stifled a laugh. "And the youngest?" She queried cautiously. She tried to keep her voice nonchalant but she could tell by the way his whole body stilled that she had hit a nerve.
"He's…." Harvey paused for a moment and his hands went back to kneading her leg as he went out of his way to avoid eye contact. "He's still a pain in the ass."
"He takes after his father," she punched him lightly in the arm but even she could hear the overwhelming sense of concern that rang through her every word. She hoped it would disarm him rather than put him on the defense or make him shut down.
"He's…leaving," Harvey sighed. "He's really leaving." He leaned backwards on the bench, and ran a hand through his hair in frustration as the other drummed against her leg.
She couldn't say she was surprised. She had already suspected as much. She knew Harvey didn't think the kid would go through with it, and perhaps part of her didn't think that he would either but it wasn't as much as a blow as one would have thought. The moment Mike was faced with the painful reality that he couldn't move any higher up the hierarchy, she knew he'd reevaluate his position at the firm. She understood it, to some degree. He was ambitious and ambition and determination was something she could relate to. No one wants to settle for anything less than the absolute best. But part of her was frustrated as well. As much as she could relate and respect him for wanting to push further and aim higher, another part of her couldn't help but be annoyed by Mike's incredible sense of entitlement. She was ambitious and worked hard because she always had something to prove. She could say the same for Harvey in some respects, but Mike was one of those kids who squandered his abilities but never wanted to face the long term consequences that came from that. He was good, he was great even, but there was always a fine line between his being ambitious and his being entitled. He was great at what he did but it would never change the fact that he cut corners and didn't necessarily pay his dues and yet wanted all the perks, titles, and accolades that came with the hardwork the everyone else had to put in. Part of her resented the fact that he couldn't be humbled and satisfied by what he had already achieved. Which was far more than even he could have imagined after years of lying, cheating, and drug dealing.
"Sometimes a bird has to leave the nest," she said after a bit. Her conflicting feelings about Mike's decision aside, she understood the warped combination of sorrow, betrayal, and pride that came with one's mentee going off and doing things on their own. Especially when a person didn't let too many people in as it was. Like Harvey. Or herself.
"I didn't leave the nest," he murmured. He was uncharacteristically quiet and solemn at the moment and part of her found it unsettling.
"No," she said. "You just wanted to take the whole damn thing over…." She let it hang in the air as it was, but the way his face contorted with sadness and a bit of shame compelled her to set him at ease. "What's done is done. We needn't rehash any of that. But c'mon Harvey, you definitely thought about leaving before."
"Maybe when you pissed me off," he winked at her and she smiled. He fell silent again and went back to absentmindedly tracing patterns into her skin.
"Baby." She quipped.
"We're going to be going against each other."
"You are," she agreed quietly. She glanced in his direction her brow furrowed. "Is that going to be a problem for you?"
"What?" he barked. "Hell no!"
"Because if I need to give you a pep-talk…" she started.
"Is that pep-talk going to include my giving the kid the spanking of his life and reminding him who his daddy is?" he raised his brow, a knowing look on his face.
"Possibly," she relented, chuckling softly.
"Then no, I don't need one of your pep-talks," he shook his head, a reluctant smile on his face.
"And…" she said after a while. He was lost in his own thoughts again and she could sense that something else was weighing him down.
"And…what?" he turned to face her, truly meeting her eyes for the first time since their stare-off.
"There's more," she sighed impatiently. "I can tell," she added the moment he opened his mouth to inquire as to how she knew. "Call it women's intuition."
"I'm not going to tell you," he shifted on the bench, bringing his knee up to make himself more comfortable but still holding on to her ankle as if the contact was putting him at ease. If she were really being honest with him, she'd say that he always became a bit more touchy-feely when something was troubling him. Like he was seeking something tangible to hold on to while everything around him was going to hell. It was the only time she could ever say that he was even remotely close to being affectionate. It was definitely one of his tells. "I don't want to here I told you so."
The last statement hung heavy in the air between them, and for a moment she could visibly see the sadness in his dark eyes. She could feel the absence and his loss…well, losses. For once he didn't bother strategically hiding his emotions behind a stoic exterior. He was just allowing himself to be every bit the distraught man that he was. His eyes told her a story, communicating all the things he couldn't bring himself to say verbally and there was something reassuring about the fact that she could still understand him. They could still understand one another without a single word having to be uttered.
"You're…" her voice trailed off as she tried to find a way to express just what she wanted to say. He stared at her intently, as though the next thing she said would be the very thing that somehow kept him together. "You're a difficult person to love Harvey," his brow furrowed before he quickly schooled his expression. "Difficult, but not impossible. Not for those who truly know you. You and Scottie have known each other for a long time…" she shrugged. "But I don't think she really knew you. Or rather, she couldn't completely accept what there was to know."
She shifted and squirmed on the bench. The movement, any movement, was a great distraction from the intensity of the conversation. She knew Harvey didn't do so well with emotions, expressing them or even discussing them, but the truth was that she didn't do so great with them either. She was just able to fake it better. His hand pressed firmly against her leg to steady her, to still her, and that was the only sign he gave that he was even remotely aware that she was as out of her element as he was.
"I just…" she tried to meet his eyes but he did a great job of avoiding her. "I know it's absurd and you'll scoff at me for even saying it, but just….try not to beat yourself up." To her surprise he gave a rather jerky nod of acknowledgement even though he refused to look in her direction. From his profile she watched him swallow hard and clear his throat.
"Everyone leaves," he whispered so quietly she almost thought she imagined it. He gave no sign that he said anything at all and he still wouldn't look at her but his body was tense beside hers and his lips were pursed so tight she could tell he was clenching his jaw.
She looked away from him as sadness and empathy consumed her. With two words she got the answer she spent the last fifteen minutes trying to pull out of him. He sought her out for comfort. He didn't need her to specifically do anything for him nor did he come for small talk and advice. He sought her out just for her simply being. It had been so long since he required that level of comfort that she hadn't even realized what was happening. Harvey didn't speak of his past often but the bits and pieces that came out sort of spoke for themselves. Occasionally his past and the feelings he harbored as a result came back to haunt him. She knew that every now and then he'd have these moments with Donna. But once in a while he'd come to her. He was arguably closest to Donna but she was the one who knew him the longest. In their fast-paced world where everything was a whirlwind and always changing, she had somehow become his constant. In the fifteen years that they had known each other, she was the one thing in his life that hadn't changed.
"I won't," she whispered back. a quiet declaration and promise. His eyes remained on the pond in front of them but he patted her calf until she removed it and slipped her hand in his, giving it a squeeze.
Their hands remained loosely tangled together between them and the silence that overcame them was a comfortable one. Minutes that felt like hours ticked by before he cleared his throat and finally worked up enough nerve to face her. His body was more relaxed but his face was serious and contemplative.
"You…You're…" his voice trailed off and she could almost see the thousands of different things he wanted to say, but he settled for an easy smile as he hoisted himself off the bench and held his hand out to her. "You ready to get out of here? If we don't get back in time to supervise the kids will burn the whole fucking house down," he smirked.
"Those goddamned kids," she sighed as she took his hand and they made their way down the bike path.