Summary: Putting the pieces back together.
Author's Notes: 1,140 words. Set immediately after 3x07. Written before I knew there were any sneak peeks. First time I've written in months, so be gentle. All words are mine. These characters, however, are not.
It is sheer selfishness and arrogance that allows her to watch Harvey walk out of that office, and the simplicity of their routines that allows her to find him in his own after the inevitable confrontation between him and Stephen. Donna has always been the one to pick up the pieces.
Pausing in the doorway, she watches him for a moment, takes in the soft line of his shoulders as they slump in defeat, the wince on his face as he flexes his hand. Her mouth presses into a frown and the bucket of ice feels cold against her fingers as they tighten around the sweating plastic. Harvey turns his head to the left, catching sight of her. It takes a moment longer than usual for the smile to turn near the corner of his mouth and the guilt does something funny to the back of her throat as it rises and catches. She hates herself, just a little, but doesn’t know how to think it, how to say it, how to apologize for who she is or what she’s done, so she pushes the guilt back down, buries it, and steps through the glass threshold of his office to bridge the distance between them.
She can’t quite figure out what turns her stomach more: that she can still remember the weight of Stephen between her thighs or the bit of blood staining Harvey’s collar.
The plastic container of ice and first aid kit click against the top of his desk when she sets them down. There is a glass of scotch already half-gone sitting atop of the files they both left strewn about and instinct has her reaching for it, moving it to a clear surface. She thinks she hears him laugh, expects to turn her head and see him smiling at her, at the routine of it all, but when she does he’s only watching, his mouth pressed into a thin, straight line.
Donna reaches for his glass again on reflex, raising it to her mouth and taking a long, thick swallow. Harvey merely says nothing, only reaches for the bottle off to the left with his good hand and refills the tumbler, his fingers not daring to linger against hers as he takes the glass from her. Neither of them knows what to say, so they both remain quiet. The silence makes the anxiety rise as it pops in her ears.
“I’m sorry,” she murmurs softly, honestly, watching his face as the words register, as his eyes finally meet hers.
Harvey shakes his head. “Don’t be. Not for that. Not for this.”
All she can do is nod.
There is a joke to be made, something witty to cut the tension, but she is too tired to figure out the punch line. At her side, her fingers twitch to reach for him, to trace the faint bruise beginning to bloom over his cheekbone, and everything that has happened today has her so screwed up, so thrown off kilter that she has to ball her hands into fists to stop her, to serve as a reminder that they aren’t those people anymore.
Instead, she busies herself with putting ice into a bag to place over his already swelling knuckles, at pouring alcohol and peroxide on gauze to clean his cuts. Harvey is hesitant when she reaches up to tend to the cut above his eye, and she pauses as his good hand starts to reach to stop her. The look she sends him has his movements ceasing midway and falling immediately thereafter. He settles his weight back against the desk, the sigh leaving his mouth in a soft whoosh of air that settles with the silence between them. She wipes at his brow, cleaning up the blood around a cut that will probably leave a faint, hairline scar only the two of them will remember is there years down the road. Donna is careful, diligent in never letting her fingers touch his face.
When he winces again, she smiles and mumbles, “I’ve had bigger cuts than this shaving. Put your big boy panties on,” and likes the sound of his laugh as it falls.
She watches his face for a moment, and he catches her, making her realize she’s been tending to the small cut far longer than necessary. Donna lets her hand drop to her side. There’s a look shared between them. One that speaks to the weight of everything that’s transpired in their long expansive history, a look so rare and intimate that it forces her to remember all the lines they’ve drawn between them over the years, all the things she’s forced herself to forget simply in an effort to survive the day to day with him.
Her throat goes dry. Donna swallows around it, starts to move away, and startles when his hand reaches for her arm, fingers first grasping near the elbow then sliding down, down, down until his thumb is curving the soft underside of her wrist. She knows he can feel the jut of her pulse under the skin, the way it stops and starts. She wants to move away, but doesn’t, and all she can do for along moment that stretches for a beat too long is stare at the sight of his fingers against her skin, his hand covering hers.
They aren’t these people anymore, she thinks. They haven’t been for a long, long time, and yet the routine is still familiar, still ridiculously easy to fall back into.
Donna stopped thinking long ago about just what that might mean.
“We see other people,” she starts before she even realizes the words are out of his mouth. Her voice is quiet, firm, final. “We see other people. It’s what we do, it’s how we survive.” His fingers tighten around her wrist, eyes sharpening as he reads her face. He doesn’t let go. She wishes she could want him to let go. It’s futile. “But I am sorry for this, Harvey,” she tells him.
They were the type of people, once upon a time, to be in constant contact with each other – innocent touches to the shoulder, to the arm, always in the other’s space without realizing it or bothering to care. The idea that they might just be again isn’t lost on either one of them as Harvey starts to tug her towards him, his fingers around her wrist forcing her to take that single step closer and over the line they’ve allowed to exist between them for so long.
Donna hesitates, and then relaxes, leaning fully into him, her face in the crook of his neck as she breathes in his warmth, the scent of him as she presses her eyes closed.
And then she does what she knows how and lets him go.