So, here it is!
This is my first "full" fic and I'm really excited. I hope you like it and, if not, please help me to improve and do it better in the following chapters :)
I couldn't have done it without Uma (and her great ideas) and my two amazing and generous betas:
Karine (bewilclerment here, obsceniities in Twitter), thank you for offering yourself before I even decided I was gonna do it and for accompanying me during the whole process. Also for giving me that little push I needed to keep writing or to post it once it was done and still I was making excuses to delay it!
And Jo (Pegtastic here, jobiefreeman in Twitter), I cannot thank you enough for the time you dedicated to editing it and making suggestions. Your pov helped me to make it better and remain in character. I love everything I learn from you!
I also would like to thank the Darvey/Suits fandom on Twitter for the encouragement and support when I said I was writing a fic. And last, but not least, thank you to all the stellar writers who made me enjoy so much here and on Twitter. You are the reason why I decided to make this attempt.
Hope you enjoy it!
P.S.: English is not my first language, so I'm still learning!
The last few weeks have been the worst of her life. After making the most difficult and painful decision she could ever imagine herself having to make, she is now desolated. The sadness is so heavy, she can barely find the energy to get up every morning, put on her armour and rule Pearson Specter Litt like she used to do when she worked for Harvey. But once the elevator doors open and she steps outside, no one could imagine how difficult it is for her to start another day.
Today is not like any other Friday. She has never been a morning person, even if her schedule at work would say otherwise. Usually after her first cup of coffee, she would be ready to go. But not today. She takes extra time in the shower, choosing her outfit more carefully, and fixing her hair and make up. When she is finally ready to go she is running at least thirty minutes late. Today is not going to be a good day and she already knows it.
The traffic is uncommonly light this morning and that lifts her spirit. At least something seems to be working this morning (even if it isn't her). She hears the taxi driver babbling on another car while she is checking her emails on her phone but doesn't pay too much attention to him. At least until the car brakes suddenly.
Another car crashes against them. Her body shakes violently causing her head to forcefully hit the car window. Donna has no time to understand what is happening before everything goes black.
For Harvey, however, the day starts in a very different way. Since Donna has left his desk (and him), he has been hitting the gym every morning before sunrise. It helps to blow off some steam and cope with her departure, but it isn't enough. Nothing is enough these days. He's thankful it's Friday, at least. It hasn't been a difficult week, at least not in terms of work and clients, but Donna working for Louis still makes his life feel like hell. So, yes, today is Friday and that means two days ahead of him where he doesn't have to witness Donna sitting at another person's desk.
Mike is seated across from him when he receives the call. The fact that he doesn't recognize the caller ID makes him shift in his chair. Not many people have his mobile phone number and someone unknown calling him on a Friday is never a good sign.
"Harvey Specter," he answers on the third ring without bothering to hide his annoyance.
"Mr. Specter. I'm Sarah Smith. I'm calling you from the New York-Presbyterian Hospital. It's about Donna Paulsen." And that is all Harvey manages to hear before he feels like he cannot pull air into his lungs, his vision blurs and his body freezes.
Mike notices the change in Harvey's demeanor immediately and debates between getting him some water, or answering the person on the line who is still calling Harvey's name. Choosing the second option, he takes Harvey's phone from his frozen hand and answers the interlocutor.
"Yeah, sorry. Could you please repeat what you just said?" Faking to be Harvey isn't such a big deal given the current circumstances (and it's not like he isn't used to being a fake, anyway).
"Mr. Specter. I'm Sarah Smith. I'm calling you from the New York-Presbyterian Hospital. It's about Donna Paulsen." The nurse repeats.
"What happened?" Mike manages to answer with a shaky voice while looking intently at Harvey.
"She was involved in a car accident, but I'm afraid I cannot give you more information on the phone." The nurse answers patiently in a sweet voice. She clearly has made hundreds of calls like this one and no doubt understands the impact every one of her words has on the person at the other end of the line.
"Okay… Okay…" Mike answers, trying to gather his thoughts and think faster than he ever has before. "We are on our way." He finally manages.
As soon as Mike finishes the call, Harvey seems to come back to life. He stands up suddenly with such force that his chair crashes against the wall and he rushes out of the office and towards the elevators while Mike calls Ray, running behind his boss.
The ride to the hospital is probably the worst Mike and Harvey have experienced. Despite his previous awakening, Harvey is still having issues breathing. All the oxygen in the city doesn't seem to be enough for him. His forehead is covered in sweat and his hands are shaking. He would shout at Ray to go faster but he cannot manage to conjure any words out of his mouth. He is close to collapsing, but he refuses to give in to it. Donna needs him, and she needs him to function properly. He is doing it for her. Breathe in. Breathe out. Donna.
They arrive at the hospital in record time and run to the front desk. Mike is ready to talk, considering Harvey's state but Harvey surprises him by speaking up first.
"Donna Paulsen. We are here for Donna Paulsen. She was involved in a car accident this morning. You called me. I need to see her, and I need to see her right now." It's not about what he says but about how he says it.
"Of course, sir. I will find her doctor and they will come speak with you in a minute. Please, sit in the waiting room over there." The nurse's answer is not satisfactory enough for Harvey but before he jumps, Mike puts a hand on his chest and pushes him to the waiting room. Pissing off the nurses is not the best way of getting information, or anything for that matter, in a hospital.
A minute. Even taking what the nurse said literally, sixty seconds is too much when he has to wait for news about Donna's condition. She is fine. She has to be fine. God, she is the strongest woman he has ever met. She has to be fine because if she is not, he will never be fine again. He may be able to, barely, live without her at his desk, but he definitely cannot live without her in his life. So she has to be just fine.
It's been fifteen minutes and the doctor still hasn't come yet. Mike has to stop Harvey twice from bullying the nurse at the front desk, and talk him out of suing them three times. Just before Harvey directs his restless steps towards the front desk again, Rachel and Louis arrive. The brunette is out of breath, caused by her running all the way from where the taxi had dropped them. And Louis is, well, a flood of tears.
"What happened, Harvey? Mike? How is she? What did the doctor say? Have you been able to see her? How does..?" Louis fires in quick succession before Mike can stop him.
"Louis! Stop! We don't know. We arrived fifteen minutes ago and we haven't spoken to the doctor yet." And just like that, Mike's words trigger Harvey and he tries to rush again to the front desk to shout, or sue, or kill, or beg someone to see Donna. And Harvey Specter doesn't beg, ever! But this is Donna.. A doctor appears before he can leave the room.
"Donna Paulsen's family?" A young – too young in Harvey's opinion – doctor calls for them as he makes his entrance in the waiting room.
"Yes. We are her family. How is she?" Rachel said as she approaches the doctor followed by the others.
"Hi, I'm Doctor Robins and I took care of Miss Paulsen. She's okay." He says calmly in an obvious attempt to ease the tension in the room. He then continues.
"As you may know, she was involved in a car accident a few hours ago. She came to the hospital in an ambulance a few minutes after the accident. She has several cuts caused by broken glass, but all of them are superficial and won't leave marks. She also has several bruises on her upper body and two damaged ribs caused by her seat belt. None of these are serious injuries and she will recover soon with some rest." Every word spoken by the doctor feels like a death sentence to Harvey. The image of a badly injured Donna is living rent-free in his mind ever since the doctor started his speech and he cannot think clearly. He knows it could have been worse, much worse, but right now "no serious injuries'' is not enough to put him at ease. His level of stress is reaching its peak but he forces himself to keep listening to the doctor.
"However…" Dr. Robins continues. So here it comes. That is all Harvey thinks of when he hears the word. He knew something bad had happened.
"She hit her head against the car window pretty badly and suffered a concussion. She was lucid when she arrived at the hospital, but a few minutes later she fell unconscious. We stabilized her and set her in a private room. The only thing we can do now is wait for her body to heal itself, but we are confident she is going to pull through." The doctor finished. Harvey is unable to react. His knees go weak and the air leaves his lungs. He can't wait any longer. He has to see her and he has to see her now.
"Will she be okay?" Miike is the one to speak the words burning in everyone's minds.
"Unfortunately we won't be able to evaluate the damage until she wakes up," is the doctor's vague response. He gives them a few moments to let the information he just delivered sink in before saying goodbye and telling them to call for him if they have any questions.
"Can we see her?" Harvey manages to choke out before the doctor disappears.
"Of course. She is now in room 206. But, please, one person at a time." Dr. Robins smiles compassionately before finally leaving the room.
He has been sitting in this chair for a couple of hours watching her. The four lawyers have spent the day in the hospital waiting for Donna to wake up, keeping each other company. However, when visiting hours finish and they have to go home for the night, Harvey refuses to leave Donna's side. After some magical words with the nurses and some help from his colleagues, he has been allowed to stay there with her. He won't get any sleep tonight but he hates the idea of Donna waking up alone in an unfamiliar room, surrounded by machines and people she doesn't know. He has no idea how long it will take her body to heal itself but if she has half of the issues he has when he is away from her, it won't take too long.
"Hey" is the first word Harvey hears when he wakes up. He is not sure how long he has been sleeping but he can see the light through the curtains of Donna's room. His body aches from the position he was in, his head resting on Donna's bed, close to their intertwined hands. He opens his eyes and looks at her with a sweet smile on his lips.
"Hey… How are you feeling this morning, beautiful?" He answers. And this time she doesn't have any doubt who he is referring to.
"Never better." She answers with a painful smile.
"Okay… Let me call the doctor. I'll be back in a minute." Harvey says before kissing her hand and heading to the door with a bright and relieved smile.
A few minutes later, Dr. Robins enters Donna's room alone, which makes Donna lose a bit of the smile she was sporting since she woke up with Harvey at her side.
"Good morning Donna. I'm glad to see you awake this morning," The doctor greets her. "I'm Dr. Robins. We met yesterday when you arrived at the ER. How are you feeling this morning?"
"It hurts a bit, but I'm okay."
"Can you describe where exactly it hurts, Donna?"
"My head, ribs, and chest." The dull ache in her head thrums in response.
"On a scale from 1 to 10, how much do they hurt?"
"Oh, God. Why do you doctors keep asking that question? I don't know what to say… Maybe 5?" She groans.
"It helps, Donna. And 5 is more than okay considering what you have been through." Dr. Robins answers with a smile. He has a smart one in his hands,he can already tell.
"Okay Donna, I'm gonna ask you some easy questions, but I promise they are better than the one about the pain scale." He says, taking his notebook out to write the answers down. "Can you tell me your full name?"
"Donna Roberta Paulsen."
"Where do you work?"
"I'm a legal secretary at Pearson Specter Litt."
"Legal secretary…" The doctor repeats while he writes the information on his pad.
"I'm sorry." Donna interrupts him. "That was a lie… I'm not just a legal secretary. I'm the best legal secretary in this city. I was trying to be modest, but if you are going to determine if that crash damaged my head I better give you the right answer." She finishes with a grin, fighting against the pain in her chest.
The doctor laughs at the comment as he confirms he definitely has a good one on his hands.
"I'm sure you are, Donna." He answers still with a smile on his lips. "Okay, let's go with some more personal questions. Can you tell me the name of your father?"
"Jim. James. My mother's name is Clara and I also have a much older sister called Julianne, but I don't really wanna talk about her. Rachel is my best friend and Mike is her boyfriend. I'm pretty sure you have met them both. Oh, and Louis. Well, Louis is… He is my boss and my friend. He's weird, but I guess I have a thing for weird people." She takes a breath before carrying on with a shy smile on her face.
"And then…Harvey, my husband." Dr. Robins stops writing as soon as he hears the word husband and throws a confused glance at Donna. "I'm sure you have met him too. He can be a bit… protective when someone he cares about is in danger, so I already apologize for his behavior these past few hours." She rolls her eyes knowing Harvey only too well. He must have been a mess when he found out about her accident. "But he is the best man I have ever met."
"Your husband?" Dr. Robins asks, trying to show no emotion in his tone and expression.
"Yes. We have known each other for twelve years but we haven't been together for the majority of that time. We have been married for six months already and that's the reason why I moved to Louis' desk. We wanted to give us a real chance and if I kept working for him it wouldn't make it any easier." She finishes her explanation before giving the doctor too much information.
"So, Harvey Specter is your husband." Dr. Robins asks again to get a confirmation about her previous statements.
"Yes, he is. You sound surprised, doctor. Is everything okay?" She asks worriedly.
"No, Donna. Everything is fine." He answers with a smile. "Can you tell me the date of your wedding?" Dr. Robins asks, trying to dig into her mind.
"My wedding date?" She asks, suddenly becoming nervous. "I… I…"
As Donna struggles to come up with the date, he then asks "or anything about the day?", encouraging her to carry on.
"I… I'm sorry. I'm trying but I… I cannot remember. I'm…" She answers now visibly emotional.
"Don't worry, Donna. You just had a concussion and memory loss can be a consequence of it." Dr. Robins is already aware that something is not going well but he knows that pushing people after they've suffered a head trauma is not the way to get a clear answer and help his patients.
"So now I really need you to take it easy. Get all the sleep you can." He makes a pause and looks at her with a serious expression. "It's important you don't stress yourself now, okay?." He concludes.
"Okay, Dr. Robins. Thanks for everything." She replies as she makes herself more comfortable on her bed, still worried about her last exchange with her doctor.
The doctor tells her he will come to check on her in the afternoon before leaving the room.
Even if the doctor says it is a common situation, Donna is scared. She is sure about her and Harvey. She can feel the love in every cell of her body and she is sure about his feelings too, he has proven his love to her on more than one occasion. She knows they are happy and that being together is the best decision they have ever made. But all of these feelings and knowledge don't put her at any ease when she tries to remember special moments like their wedding, his proposal, or her parents' reaction to the news. However, she can remember mornings in bed, nights full of love and passion, a shared cup of coffee on his (their) kitchen counter, and evenings cuddling on the couch. Still, the images of them seem vague in her head and she cannot remember the little details she was sure she could never forget even if she tried. Because when it is about Harvey Specter, she doesn't forget a thing.
She knows she needs to calm herself. It will get better with time and she needs to focus now on recovery. She just needs to see Harvey again, to reach the peace of mind that will help get her there. And she needs to ask him about all the details. She may not remember all these special moments, but at least they lived them together and he will help her memory get back on track.
Dr. Robins is outside of Donna's room when he sees Harvey walking towards him at the end of the corridor and he prepares himself for a difficult conversation.
"Hey, doctor. How is she?" Harvey asks with concern in his voice.
"Mr. Specter," he starts.
"Please, call me Harvey." The lawyer cuts him off.
"Harvey, Donna is doing good. Her vital signs are stable and the pain seems to be bearable. However..." Dr. Robins makes a pause before spilling what he needs to tell him. "She seems to be experiencing some lapse of memory related to the last few months of her life." Harvey's worry increases with every word said by the doctor.
"Harvey, did something happen six months ago?" Dr. Robins' question takes him by surprise. Six months ago? Well, apart from his life becoming a hell, the woman he loves, leaving him after twelve years and panic attacks starting to rule his life… no, nothing happened.
"Yes. Donna and I have been together… working together for twelve years. Six months ago she left me to work for another named partner from the firm. I didn't cope well with it. We have not been on very good terms since then."
"Okay. That event may be the reason for her brain playing tricks on her." The doctor answers, trying to gather his thoughts together to tell Harvey the current situation and what he, and Donna, need from him now.
Harvey is looking at him with a confused look on his face before the doctor starts talking again.
"As I said, Donna is having some memory lapses concerning the last six months of her life. This is expected after a head concussion like the one she suffered yesterday. However, her brain seems to have filled that lapse with other memories, I'm afraid, that are not real." And now, this is the moment of truth, thinks Dr. Robins.
"Harvey, Donna is convinced she has been married to you for the last six months."
"She… What?" Harvey is shocked. He is sure he's having serious hearing issues because he just heard the doctor say Donna thinks she is married to him and, after the last six months, that cannot be possible.
"I know this is a shock for you, and considering you haven't been on good terms recently, I appreciate this may be a little awkward for you, but I need to address this situation from a medical perspective. Her brain is healing, it is going through a big trauma and it's not working properly. It needs to rest to function properly again and any stress she is exposed to will make it more difficult." The doctor explains trying to make it understandable for a very lost Harvey.
"She is sure you have been together for the last six months but she cannot remember details or special moments. She couldn't answer when I asked her about the date of you wedding and that made her nervous and stressed, so I stopped the questioning."
Their wedding! Is he dreaming? This must be a nightmare. He has spent twelve years fighting against his feelings for Donna and when he can finally accept them, he finds out Donna is already far ahead of him.
"I… I don't really know what to say." Harvey answers the doctor who is patiently waiting for the information to sink in.
"Harvey, I don't know what your current situation regarding your… love life… is, but my advice, as Donna's doctor, is to not go against the reality her brain has created during her coma."
"My love life? What? I… That is irrelevant here. I'm afraid I'm not following you, doctor. What exactly do you mean?" Harvey asks, getting frustrated with the doctor and himself for not getting to the point faster.
"Okay, I appreciate this might be difficult and uncomfortable for you, but..." The doctor prepares to lay all his cards. "The best treatment for Donna right now is you playing along with her current reality. I would need you to try and fill the gaps her brain is having regarding the relationship she made up in her mind." He pauses before carrying on. "I need you to tell her about your wedding day and your life together. I need you to put up with the charade until her brain is ready to recover by itself or is healed enough to cope with the shock of the actual truth."
"I know this is not easy, Harvey. And I know I am asking a lot. But if I read both of you correctly, you would do anything for her and this is what she needs right now. Take your time, think about it and please, let me know what you decided as soon as possible." The doctor finishes before touching Harvey's shoulder sympathetically and turning around to give him some time to clear his mind.
"Okay," Harvey says before the doctor can go much further. "Okay, I'll do it," he states.
"Are you sure? Once you make the decision, you can't go back without further consequences for her stability." The doctor warns him.
"Yes. I'm sure," he says with conviction. "Just tell me what I have to do,".
They talk for another twenty minutes before Harvey is left alone with some time to gather his thoughts. He knows he loves her, he has known for a long time, but finally, he knows how he loves her. But faking a relationship with her is not how he wants this to start. He wants it. All of it. He wants to kiss her, make love to her, wake up and go to bed with her every day. He wants to share his life with her, he wants to propose, marry her and start a family with Donna. But he doesn't want to do it like this. He doesn't want to lie to her. He doesn't want to hurt her. And still, he did what he had to do. For her.
Deep down, he knows that when he said yes to Dr. Robins, he was also saying no to any real possibility for them. And that ripped his heart to shreds.
Thanks so much for reading. Reviews are more than welcome :)