A/N: Oh my god, it's been months and yet it seems like yesterday when I began this story!
The love and support I received was nothing short of wonderful, and reading your reviews was my favorite part of the week. Seriously, thank you so much to anyone who's given this version of Harvey and Donna a try.
Last but not least, the biggest thank you to Stefanie who's been my guiding light through it all. She'll deny it, but I know I couldn't have done it without her.
I love you and this story so so much, and as bittersweet as it is to say goodbye, know I've enjoyed every second of it. Hopefully, you did too.
I'll be back... sooner or later.
Later that night, Donna heads to the en-suite bathroom of her apartment, leaving the door ajar and standing in front of the mirror as she takes off the little makeup she put on today. She applies some expensive anti-age cream to her face, unscrewing the lid and massaging the scented moisture on her cheeks and down her collarbone.
Harvey glances at her from where he's seated on the bed, lack of sleep catching up with him, even though he's not comfortable getting under the covers without her, still tiptoeing around what he's allowed or not allowed to do. There's no such thing as written rules, and even if no one forbids him to fall asleep before she does, or move to the couch and watch a movie without her, it's still her apartment and he respects that.
There's something about how she lets him get a sneak peek into her nightly routine that definitely puts him at ease. The action is so domestic, and specifically because of that also foreign, while somehow worryingly familiar. But what really strikes him is the way she gets ready for bed, so carefree about the fact that she's sharing this intimate moment with him, and the notion makes him grin shamelessly.
Donna proceeds to untie her robe to hop in the shower, when her hands froze at the level of her belt, suddenly self-conscious about the fact Harvey's watching her. She dares to glance at him, catching his playful gaze and she finds it a little overwhelming. She knows he's not insinuating, nor expecting, anything from her, but she feels the need to grovel in a corner and wait until her confidence comes back. She throws him an apologetic and sheepish smile as she closes the door, trying to make it look more casual than what it feels to her. The action is connoted by such speed that she can't even see the look on Harvey's face.
When she finally gets out of the bathroom and makes her way to bed, she avoids looking him in the eye, afraid of what she might read there. For once, her innate talent doesn't actually come in handy.
Donna can feel the weight of Harvey's gaze on her, and she's suddenly brought to realization that this is exactly what broke them once: miscommunication. This time, she didn't do anything wrong, and neither did he, so what's the point in acting all weird around each other for something that's probably only a figment of her imagination?
Donna sits on the edge of the bed, willing herself to turn to him and open her mouth to say something.
"Do you miss sex?"
Alright, that may have not come out the way it was supposed to.
Harvey nearly chokes on his own saliva, dumbfounded by the question and finding it difficult to weave through the subject just raised by his girlfriend without sounding like an asshole.
He looks at her through hooded eyes. "Is this a trap?" he wonders, genuinely confused.
"No," she rolls her eyes, "it isn't about— well, it is. It's just not—"
"Donna." Harvey muffles his own chuckles, enjoying seeing her this flustered but not wanting to put her in a more difficult position than she already is. "What the hell are you trying to say?"
She takes a deep breath, trying to organize her thoughts.
"I want to have sex with you."
She regrets the words as soon as they leave her mouth, mainly because they came out so quickly that it wouldn't be possible to pinpoint the tone of the sentence. Was it a statement? A question? An invitation?
Harvey blinks at her and visibly swallows, when he shifts, almost imperceptibly, on the bed next to her, and she snaps.
"I mean…" She looks around the room awkwardly. The more she tries to explain, the more tangled and ambivalent the conversation becomes. She sighs in defeat, mortified by the way heat creeps under her skin, and flushes it. She clasps her hands together, then points them right at him. "You know I love you, right?" She asks, plain and simple.
The corners of Harvey's mouth curve up involuntarily. She's said the words before, the night she left his desk and, just a couple of weeks ago, the night she came back to him, only as something more than a secretary. Still, the fact they can now say this freely never ceases to amaze him.
"And I love you, too," he says, then questions her surprised face. "Surely that can't come as a surprise anymore?"
"No." She shakes her head, chuckling softly. "It's just nice to finally hear you say it."
"I was just too caught up in the moment to form a coherent thought that night, but it doesn't mean I don't. Love you, I mean. Hell, Donna, I think I've loved you since the moment you approached me in that bar."
She laughs, as he reaches for her hand.
"So, you believe me when I say that there's nothing I'd want more than to be with you that way again," she says, and he can see how she really means it, and he has no choice but to nod at her. Then, the warmth in her eyes leaves until the only thing he can read into her orbits is apology and shame. "But I just had a baby not even a month ago—," she starts to reason, but he immediately stops her, understanding where the conversation is headed to.
"No, Donna. You just had two babies not even a month ago," he emphasizes.
"I know that you have… needs."
"Oh god," Harvey mutters under his breath, thinking that the way he wants to reconnect with Donna is far from the concept of carnal and primal need. Sure, no matter how much he loves her for being caring, smart, and witty, he's still human and she's still the most gorgeous woman he's ever laid his eyes on, so it's obvious he also finds her attractive. But if her looks were the only thing he'd go after, he wouldn't be committing to her for life.
There's a reason why all his conquests during the years remain nameless and why she's… well, Donna.
"I want to be able to…," she alludes. "But I just don't feel like I own my skin anymore," she says, then realizes how lame that sounds. She's a grown woman, she knew her body would change when she chose to embark on pregnancy, but she wasn't at all prepared for the effects this is having on her mind. She's happy, and she has so much to be grateful for, including how Harvey's eyes still look at her like she's the only woman in the room, so she knows he knows her worth. She just guesses she'll need a little bit more time to feel like herself again, or rather adapt to this new version of herself. "I don't want to burden you with my problems, I just wanted you to know that it's not you…"
"Burden me? Donna, I'm sorry you feel this way or if I've ever let you assume I wanted to—"
"You didn't. You're being so patient—" She squeezes his hand on the mattress.
"Donna, this is not about patience. I'm not… waiting for the ball to drop so I can have a quickie and then leave. This is it for me. I'm not going anywhere. I don't want you to feel like you've got to fulfill some kind of duty to get me to stay."
Donna nods, biting down on her bottom lip. "I just wanna be able to give you all," she says to him.
"Donna," he replies, but it comes out so strangled that he remains speechless. It's like some invisible force is holding back his words, making him swallow them inside because there's absolutely no way they can come close to explaining how he truly feels about her. "Donna," he says again. How can she not see that he's got everything and more? "You're giving me more than I'd ever let myself hope for. I've got all I need, right here," he adds, cradling her face and bringing her so close their breath mingle.
"You're the most beautiful woman I've ever met, and the fact that your body was able to give me two full-grown humans on a silver plate without me doing anything? Seems pretty amazing to me."
His words trigger her tears, and Donna realizes she didn't know how much she needed to hear them until she did. Harvey wipes the wetness away with his thumb, while Donna looks at him in awe. She starts to wonder when her feelings for him were brought to the next level, then she reminds herself they were always pressing up to the surface but she kept shoving them down. But when did things shift so much in the direction of Harvey that he's become the only person to make her feel… everything?
"And plus, I want you to feel at your best to enjoy the full Donna-experience." He cracks a stupid joke, one that would have probably resulted tacky to her ears, but that lights up her soul, just because it comes from him. She chuckles wetly, nodding her head in a silent promise.
"Soon," she says, and she can imagine their future so brightly, maybe for the first time, without a margin of doubt.
"We," he places a kiss on her forehead, "have," he does the same on her left cheek, "no," on her right cheek, "rush," he finally reaches her mouth.
His right-hand combs into her locks, bringing him back to the time when this only used to be a dream. Now, feeling her soft, yet slightly wrinkled skin of her face and her silky, yet curly from the steam of the shower, hair, he gets an image of her that's so real and unfiltered, and he knows his dreams were nowhere near this good.
He sees her, all of her.
Donna blinks at him, once, maybe twice, then says, "Move in with me."
There's no mistaking her words, and if she wasn't looking at him with the softest expression on her face and through pleading eyes, he probably would have considered the proposal close to mandatory.
"What?" he asks for good measure, making sure he's heard it right.
"We already lost so much time," she shakes her head, "I don't want to waste another second."
"I know, I know, it's early. But if you think about it, it's really not. We've spent twelve years in denial, but now we're together, we have two children... I mean, what are we waiting for? We already did everything in the wrong order, and I know for a fact you want to be as close to the kids as possible anyway," she reminds him, and, frankly, it makes so much sense. "Listen, the kids are still little now, but they'll soon demand separate rooms, and my apartment is too small for twins anyway. The idea was to buy a new place, but I would really love if we'd share it. As a family."
During his whole life, Harvey had thought he was perfectly fine spending it on his own. He's a handful, even for himself, most of the time anyway, and fighting his nature to be with someone who'll like him for what he pretends to be and hate him for what he really is just didn't fall into his plans. It may be that he's getting older and needs something to rely on, but the truth is that he cannot think of a single time he's ever needed to pretend with Donna. She's the only one who's not just accepted but loved him for all his baggage and his flaws, and he'll be damned if there's anyone in his life that's ever done that.
And that's not even why he loves her so much.
He loves her because she's been his constant, sure, but he chooses her now and for another eternity because she's the only one the prospect of spending eternity with doesn't scare him a bit.
If anything, the knowledge that anything can happen in the world and she can be taken away from him any moment is what leaves him breathless. But life's too short, he's realized, to be petrified by the fear of the unknown and not take matters, no matter how risky, into his own hands.
So, no. The thought of buying a house and moving in together after just a few weeks of relationship sounds more enthralling than scary. Because as Harvey himself has whispered in the dark of Donna's bedroom one night — it felt like they've always been together.
"Yes," he announces as he leans in to kiss the smile forming on Donna's lips. When he parts from her, he notices the twinkle in her eyes shifting to something sultrier as her pupils darken and widen. She moves seductively towards him, grabbing his shoulders and whispering, "Just because I don't feel ready, doesn't mean you can't have a little fun."
Her hand travels down his torso, her intentions clear in her flirty attitude, and it takes everything in him to grab her wrist to stop her.
Donna hikes up an eyebrow.
"You're turning me down… that's never happened before."
A deep laugh bubbles in Harvey's throat. "As tempted as I am, since we're in the mood for big talks, there's something I wanted to talk to you about…," he begins, filling her in about everything Jessica's told him. Surprisingly, she listens to him, all through the ten minutes of monologue, and she doesn't seem angry or annoyed by him raising a touchy subject like work this late at night.
When he's finished and he asks her what she thinks, Harvey can literally hear her thinking.
"Do you need an answer now?" she says at last, visibly waged.
He doesn't want to put her in a difficult position or demand anything from her now, but she'll have to start thinking about it sooner or later.
"I don't need an answer at all," he replies, and she's instantly relieved. Then he adds, "But Jessica does."
And she does. Of course, she does.
Donna is a new mom now, her day revolves around her children, and the life she's been conducting the last month surely follows a different path than what she's used to, but she hasn't forgotten how her life at the firm was. Pearson, Specter, Litt is Jessica's firstborn, and Donna respects the woman too much not to understand that work is her priority. She knows it's been hers for the better part of a decade, without having to feel the weight of the institution on her shoulders.
For the first time in weeks, Donna actually thinks about her job, and an unexpected sense of excitement and thrill flutters in her stomach. But then she thinks about Rose and Ryder, how she wants to spend every waking moment with them, and she's left torn.
"I'd like to get back to work," she confesses.
She does. Staying at home wouldn't be her thing. She's restless, always in need of something to do, and she knows she won't be neglecting her children if she decides to work, simply because a mom who comes back home happy and wanting to spend time with her kids, is eventually better than one who's forced to stay with them all hours of the day.
"But?" Harvey senses there's a but.
"But I don't think I'd want to work those crazy hours anymore, you know? I mean, I thought I'd never say this, but… my priorities have shifted."
Harvey's eyes fall back to the baby monitor he checks every two minutes, and he finds himself understanding her perfectly.
"So maybe just start slowly, not full-time, see how it goes from there," she suggests with a hopeful smile.
A year ago, Harvey would have gone nuts at the thought of Donna not being outside his office 24/7. Now, helped with the fact he has her outside the office's walls, he takes the news better than he would have in the past. He knows her too well that she wouldn't throw her professional life away, but he also gets that she needs to be challenged and find herself in another environment that isn't the firm. He'll miss having her in the same building, but he knows he'll come home to her at the end of the day.
Harvey leaves a peck on her lips and they slide under the covers. He reaches for the nightstand and turns off the light, making sure, one more time, that the baby monitor is working. Satisfied, he rolls over and envelops Donna from behind. Spooning had quickly become a natural thing for them, and even if they know that they'll eventually separate and sleep on their side of the bed during the night, they enjoy this moment to just be, undisturbed.
A few quiet moments pass, and just when Donna's breathing evens, a signal she's falling asleep, Harvey can't help but say what pops into his mind right that second. "Who's going to tell Louis you're bailing out on him already?" he murmurs into her neck, still vaguely sleepy.
Donna chuckles lightly. "Actually, I'm not bailing out on Louis." She turns around in Harvey's arms, the fabric of her shirt rubbing between their bodies pressed together. She takes a good look at him, her eyes having adjusted to the darkness of the room. "I'm bailing out on you."
Harvey pulls back a little, making sure she's not joking, but she seems deadly serious, despite the smirk on her face.
"What?" He asks confused.
Donna sees how he's visibly excited, probably already making up all kinds of scenarios in his head, but how he tries to stay as put together as possible, not wanting to get his hopes up. She decides to put him out of his misery.
"I talked to Louis this morning, and he said that he would very much like to switch secretaries with you," she explains, stroking his arm.
"It was his idea?" Harvey asks incredulously. Maybe they all did grow up.
"Huh." She nods. "You're getting this redhead chick. Rumor says she's pretty good at what she does."
"The best." His face splits into a grin that reaches his ears, so stretched his cheeks may hurt. He pulls her closer if that's even possible. He kisses her then, deeply but chastely. "You're saying you're coming back to me?" he all but whispers, feeling like every piece of the puzzle is falling into place.
"Yes," she breathes out, and it really sounds like a finally. "I am."
"Good," he says.
"Good," she mirrors.
That night, around four a.m., Donna tries to turn on her left side. She feels a weight blocking her, and reaching over, she touches a little foot wiggling near her hip. She smiles, realizing how very little has changed since she was pregnant. The little creatures who rendered it impossible for her to have a good night's sleep when they were in her belly are currently hogging the bed. Harvey has probably moved them so he could watch them more closely, despite Donna's reprimand that they should stop doing it as soon as possible, not wanting them to get used to it. She whips her head around, as much as she's allowed to by Ryder squirming beside her and kicking her in the process.
When she finally manages to flip onto her left side, she sees Harvey laying there, in her bed, hugging their children, products of their love in a time when they weren't even able to name it.
She was wrong.