Ding dong, new fic! Hope you like it, I was inspired by a prompt generator. It's not been beta-ed because after 19 years I still don't know how to ask people for help. Though Tia read the Donna/Rachel and Mike/Harvey scenes and assured me they were okay so thanks Tia!
"Sorry, I can stop talking about Mike and I if you want," Rachel apologised as she topped up hers and Donna's glasses.
"No, it's okay!" Donna smiled, taking a sip of her wine. "I told you before, I want to hear about the good going on in your life."
"You've got that date next week anyway," Rachel smirked, cocking her brow with a glimmer in her eye. She dropped her smirk when Donna let out a sigh, watched her friend's eyes fall onto the glass in her hands. "What happened?" She asked worriedly.
"Oh, no, nothing happened as such," Donna replied. "I just realised that I don't want to go," she continued.
"Does this have something to do with the H-word?"
"The H-word?" Donna asked incredulously.
"Well, you haven't exactly been that keen on discussing him," Rachel replied softly. Donna wet her lips, searching for a reply in her brain. "I get it, he chose you over her," the brunette continued.
"And it hit me that I was going on the date for the wrong reasons," Donna confessed. "But it doesn't matter now."
"Well, what if I set you up on a date?" Rachel suggested, her friend looking at her in disbelief. "No, seriously, I could find you someone who I think you would get on well with."
"I don't know, Rach," Donna said slightly hesitantly.
"Oh c'mon, please," Rachel said, wide-eyed and smiling, and Donna rolled her eyes before smiling back.
"Fine," she breathed, "but if this goes wrong then it's all your fault."
"I can live with that."
"Hey, wanna go grab lunch?" Mike asked as he entered Rachel's office.
"Umm, I'm a little busy, sorry," she replied, not looking up at her fiancé from her computer screen.
"The Collins merger?"
"Uh, no," Rachel replied, scrolling through her screen. Mike walked closer before he leaned around her desk to look for himself.
"Are you on Facebook?" He scoffed.
"I told Donna I'd set her up on a blind date," Rachel sighed.
"And let me guess, you need someone who's enough like Harvey she'd be interested but not too much of a reminder?" Mike said and Rachel groaned in confirmation. "It's not gonna work," he stated.
"Oh really? What makes you so sure?"
"Because it's not Harvey."
And as much as Rachel hated to admit it, he was right. She wanted to see her friend happy and she wanted to help that happen as much as she could, but frankly, she wasn't sure that she could.
"I know," Rachel sighed, tapping on the keyboard as she thought about it. "Unless…" she mumbled but swatted the idea away.
"Unless the date is Harvey," Mike said, finished her statement but Rachel shook her head vehemently.
"It'll never work," Rachel stated.
"Won't it?" Mike replied instantly.
"We could send them both on the same blind date. Once they get there, it's up to them what they do, but without a nudge in the right direction they might never get the chance," he explained as he perched himself on her desk.
"Even if you're right, how would we convince Harvey to go on a blind date when he just broke up with Paula? And then told you he wasn't looking to be in a relationship with anyone right now, even Donna," Rachel questioned.
"You leave Harvey up to me," Mike assured her, though Rachel wasn't exactly sold. "Trust me, what have we got to lose?" He asked, jumping up off of the desk before he left her office.
"Their trust?" Rachel said to herself when he was out of earshot, wincing at the idea of this impromptu plan going to shit.
"Harvey," Mike said when he entered his mentor's office.
"What do you want?" Harvey asked from his desk, not bothering to look up from the file that was open in front of him.
"I have an opportunity for you," Mike said.
"No." Harvey said adamantly and bluntly.
"You haven't even heard what I was going to say!" Mike pushed.
"Fine, you can tell me and then I'll say no again," Harvey told him, finally looking up from his papers to see a pouting Mike. Harvey signalled with his hand for him to go on.
"How do you feel about blind dates?" Mike asked and watched as Harvey's face screwed up in front of him; brows furrowed and mouth grimaced. "Rachel's second cousin on her mother's side is trying to get over someone and Rachel agreed to set her up on a blind date," Mike explained—a little white lie never hurt anyone, right?
"No," Harvey said before flashing Mike tight-lipped smile.
"Why not?" Mike asked, sounding as though Harvey was being unreasonable.
"I told you, I'm not interested in a relationship," Harvey replied with a shrug of his shoulders. He wet his finger with his tongue before flicking a page in the file on his desk.
"You don't have to be," Mike said, to which Harvey looked at him bemused. "It could be a fun night that might or might not end in a good time, a relationship, or neither of you seeing each other again."
"Or I could go to a bar and pick someone up without the small talk," Harvey suggested smugly.
"You could, but then I wouldn't owe you one."
"What makes you think I'd want a favour from you anyway?" Harvey jested.
"So tonight at 8, yeah?" Mike said, pointing a finger at his boss.
"Fine." Harvey replied, pursing his lips and returning to his file, unaware of the grin plastered across Mike's face as he left the office.
Harvey felt his phone buzz as he got out of the car, reaching into his pocket to see it was Mike calling.
"I'm just about to go in," Harvey said upon answering. He looked up at the restaurant, Del Posto. An uneasy feeling pooled in his stomach, being there with someone who wasn't her just didn't feel right.
"You're late, Harvey," Mike said, slightly annoyed.
"Only by 5 minutes," Harvey said with a roll of his eyes. "I'm here, aren't I? I'm doing you a favour."
"Hm," was all Mike responded with before he took a sip of his beer. Truth be told, he was really fucking nervous. He heard Harvey speak to the front desk, say the name 'Zane' under which Rachel made the reservation.
"So, what does she look like?" Harvey asked, following the server as he snaked through the restaurant.
"Uhh," Mike hesitated for a moment. "Don't you want the element of surprise?"
When Mike's question was met with silence, he knew.
"Right, have a-"
Harvey didn't let Mike finish, ending the call as his eyes remained fixed on the mystery woman sitting at their table. He took in the sight before him: her hair fell over her shoulders in perfect curls and she was wearing a dark blue, low-cut dress that made her hair even brighter. She had a shocked look on her face, mouth dropped slightly open and her eyes were wide like every other time he'd seen her looking like a deer in the headlights.
"I guess Mike and Rachel blindsided both of us," Harvey said when he collected himself and pulled his chair out.
"Yeah, I guess so," she replied quietly. She was caught entirely off guard by his arrival and hadn't prepared herself for any difficult conversations. She came out for a good night to get her mind off of her feelings for Harvey, not to confront them and she was pretty pissed with Rachel for putting her in this position.
"Have you ordered a drink?" He asked, hiding his uneasiness.
"No, I thought I'd wait," Donna smiled.
And it was awkward at first. They made small talk and sipped on their wine until the waiter took their orders when Donna finally asked a question she'd been pondering since he sat down.
"How did they convince you to go on a blind date?"
"Mike said I'd owe him one," Harvey smirked which made his date smile. His date, god, he never thought he'd be calling her that.
"Of course, he did," she chuckled, twirling her glass,
"What about you?" He asked and Donna looked up suddenly. "How did they get you onboard?"
"Well, I told Rachel I cancelled a date I'd planned and she begged me to let her set me up," Donna replied and watched his jovial smile fade a little. He gulped his drink before pursing his lips and forcing a small smile.
"What?" Donna asked hesitantly. She wasn't sure she'd get an honest answer but his reaction took her back to the time she was seeing Stephen. She thought it must have bothered him to hear she'd been due to meet someone else, someone who wasn't him.
"I didn't know you were looking for someone," he told her.
"I thought I'd test the waters," she smiled, though she wasn't particularly comfortable with the conversation. "I've been single for a while…"
"Yeah, of course, I forgot because I was with," he said but paused pretty abruptly, not sure he should say her name because he knew she'd bothered Donna.
"Paula." Donna said, finishing his sentence bluntly and turning to her liquid courage to soothe her discomfort.
"Yeah," Harvey mumbled, tapping on the bottom of his glass.
"Is this your first," Donna paused to prevent herself stumbling over the word 'date' because she wasn't sure if they were calling it that. "Since, you know."
"It is, yeah," he said. "I guess I assumed that because I wasn't looking for anyone then you wouldn't be either."
"You know what they say about assuming," she said and a silence ensued.
It was awkward and left both of them uncomfortable in the foreign situation they found themselves in so when the waiter arrived with their food, they were both more grateful than they let on. He asked her how her food was and she asked him about his, and for a moment they were worried that this forbidden evening would stop them from ever being normal with each other again.
But then Harvey broke the ice by bringing up the time he had to give a woman his grapefruit because Donna refused, and he grinned even harder when he saw the crinkles by her eyes as she laughed.
Their discomfort disappeared as they spent their time reliving old memories and laughing about things that they'd done over the last 12 years. It suddenly felt like any other night at Del Posto even if this time they weren't celebrating the day she started working for him. They fell into their rhythm; one they'd struggled to find for a while but that didn't seem to matter now.
The evening flew by and, before they knew it, Harvey was paying the check—which neither batted an eyelid about, he always did.
"This was nice," Donna smiled before she found herself biting her bottom lip.
"It was," Harvey smiled back, though he wasn't really there, his mind stuck on their earlier conversation. And Donna could see it.
"What is it?" She asked.
"I don't know how to ask this so I'm gonna just come out and say it," he began and Donna felt her smile weaken. "Why did you cancel your date?"
Yeah, she should've seen that one coming a mile off.
"Um," she said and ran her hand through her hair. "I realised I was doing it for the wrong reason."
"What reason is that?" He probed and watched her take a deep breath before she answered.
"I wanted to feel good about myself," she said and she took a moment before continuing. "I wanted a distraction, and the last time that happened I ended up going to see Mark in a hotel room," she revealed.
"Mark as in, your ex?" Harvey asked and she nodded. "You're both adults," he said but she closed her eyes and twisted one of the rings on her finger.
"It wasn't that simple," she breathed and opened her eyes to look at him.
"What did you do?" He asked in confusion.
"I didn't do anything, I didn't go in," she told him.
"But… he's married, and I knew," she said and felt her throat constrict as she awaited his response.
"Why would you tell me that?" He asked, voice tinged with anger and drenched in hurt.
"I- I don't know," she stuttered, surprised the words had tumbled out of her own mouth. She scanned her mind for a reason; was it to keep him at arm's length? Or to sabotage the otherwise good night? Or, "honesty?" She said but it sounded like a question. "I don't want to lie to you, Harvey."
Her eyes were frantically searching for a response or a sign, for a look or some body language that signalled how he felt but it seemed like her usually excellent ability to read people was clouded and blurry.
"Why didn't you go in?" He asked before he pursed his lips and Donna was taken aback slightly.
"I got a text from Rachel. She told me I deserved the best and it made me realise that I didn't want to become that person," she confessed. "I didn't want to destroy a marriage just to feel good about myself for one night."
She watched Harvey nod, anxious to hear what he'd say next.
"When was it?" He asked.
"On yours and Paula's two-month anniversary," she stated and Harvey's bottom lip dropped. "What can I say? It bothered me."
Neither said anything, neither knew what to say, so they sat there for a minute biting their lips and avoiding eye contact.
"Maybe I should walk home," she muttered and was about to stand before Harvey's hand landed on hers. It stunned her. Shivers jolted down her spine and every hair on her body seemed to stand on end. They didn't do this. Hell, they didn't do any of tonight; honest conversations, hands touching hands, dates. Yet there they were. He shook his head and furrowed his brow and it was clear he didn't want her to go.
"Then say something," she whispered. "Say something, Harvey, say anything."
"You said you didn't feel anything," he blurted out.
"You said you didn't feel anything when you kissed me," he repeated, slowly retracting his hand, losing contact with her fingers little by little. "Were you telling the truth?" He asked and Donna's eyes flitted around the room.
"I-" she stuttered, stunned by his question.
"Because I don't know why you'd tell me that if you didn't. You said you wanted to be honest with me so… be honest."
"I lied," she replied and she felt her eyes go glassy. "When I said I wanted more, you went to Paula. I thought I was doing you a favour and stopping things from getting too complicated because it seemed to me that she was the one you wanted."
Harvey's phone vibrated before he could say anything and he peeled his eyes away to look at it.
"Ray's around the corner," he said and looked at Donna for a moment until she stood up and unhooked her handbag from the back of her chair.
They didn't say a word until they stepped outside. There was a bitter chill in the night air with a light breeze that got a strand of Donna's hair stuck to her lip.
"Here," Harvey said, taking off his jacket and placing it over her shoulders which were covered in goosebumps.
"Thanks," she said as they began to walk away from the restaurant.
As they walked side-by-side in silence, Harvey thought about the year they'd had. He thought about how he nearly lost her, nearly let her leave the firm that he'd fought for her to work at all those years before. And it hit him, how he stood to lose her again if he didn't say anything. If he wasn't honest with her like he'd asked her to be with him.
"Wait," he said, reaching for her wrist as they got to the corner and she pivoted towards him. He pulled her in and she stumbled, making her hands land on his chest to balance herself and the next thing she knew, her lips had collided with his.
He tasted like the whiskey he'd been drinking after their meal and it made her stomach flutter because it was so him. She felt somersaults within as he snaked his hands from her hips to the dip in her back, pulling her closer and holding her tighter like an anchor stopping her from drifting away. She was sure she would have, the way his touch made her head spin was more than she could handle.
Her lips were tinged with coffee that felt like the early mornings he'd dreamt of them sharing, the image of her wearing only his shirt that he'd peel off of her soft skin. When her hands landed on the nape of his neck, her touch was electric heat that overwhelmed his senses. He'd missed this. The touch, the fireworks, the feeling of being home where he belonged.
He pulled away and the loss of her lips was almost painful.
"I didn't want her, I wanted a distraction," he said softly, their foreheads touching as the world around them seemed to stop. "I wanted a safer option because I was scared but," he let out a breath that collided with Donna's. "I'm not scared anymore."
"Good," Donna smiled, pushing a hand up through his hair, brushing the short strands with her fingertips.
"Good," he grinned and he kissed her again. With no fear and no complications, just them in each other's arms on the corner of a street that held 12 years of memories.