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Six Degrees of Mistrust (3/?)
playthewoman
Title: Six Degrees of Mistrust
Rating:T/PG-13
Pairing: none, gen!fic

Warnings: language, but milder than what you'd see on the show. Also unbetaed.
Disclaimer: I do not own "Suits" or any of the content affiliated with it.
Summary: in the aftermath of the merger, relationships unravel at the old Pearson & Hardman, as the landscape of the firm changes. In the midst of it all, Travis Tanner returns and he is not the bearer of good news.

On paper things couldn't have been better. Just as she had predicted,

the merger had been immensely lucrative. In a shrinking economy, the
new firm was hiring, expanding, getting new clients. The transition
had even gone more smoothly than anticipated, the new partners
settling in nicely. The best thing: her fellow managing partner,
Edward Darby, was too caught up in the European and Asian side of
things conducted by their London office, to drop by New York too
often. They kept in close contact online, of course, but overall, she
ruled absolutely over the American part of their shared co-dominion.






New York Lawyer had celebrated the merger with a spread on her and
her career, calling her a most inspiring woman. As expected, the
sharks circling around her formerly sinking ship had tactfully
retreated, with even the Daniel Hardman front going silent. She had
even had the pleasure of shipping off some of the senior partners who
had crossed her in the past to the Hong Kong office. She had never
been more at the top or safer. There wasn't even the faintest murmur
of disagreement around her.






Edward was delighted with the status quo, thinking even Harvey's
mutiny over and done with, the attack dog brought to heel. The
English lawyer was an agreeable managing partner, treated her as an
equal, showed her nothing but respect and they worked well together.
But she knew he had signed on the merger solely because it benefited
him, too. There was no bond of loyalty or genuine trust between them.
If the push ever came to shove again, Edward would easily bow out, if
that suited his own interests. She could never came to him with
anything too delicate and he would always keep the secrets she sensed
lurking beneath his affable facade.






Deep inside, in places her mind visited only rarely and only in her
too few sleepless nights, she missed being able to talk openly to
somebody. Every now and then she was able to admit to herself that
somebody was Harvey. She quickly squashed the regret every time.
Nobody got where she was now without pushing sentimentality to the
side and stepping over a few bodies. She had already sacrificed a
marriage to a man she sometimes thought she still loved for her
career. The friendship with Harvey should have been an easy casualty.






These days Harvey treated her no differently than he treated Edward
Darby. He never talked to her anymore and had stopped casually
dropping by her office for one of their rounds of verbal sparring
peppered with movie references. When the baseball season had opened,
she had hoped he had come around enough to ask her to go to a game
with him. He hadn't.






The truly irritating part was that Harvey conducted himself in a way
that left her with no room for mending bridges. He was professional
and coolly polite to her. He rarely disagreed with her anymore and
when he did, he made his point with an unbeatably precise logic, that
was virtually impossible to disprove. His work had soared to new
heights of excellence. Every case was superbly handled, polished to
perfection down to the most insignificant detail. He had even taken a
few more risks than usual with going to court and won every time,
literally crushing his opponent. Rumor around town had it that once
his opposing counsel had been all but reduced to tears after the
trial and sworn never again to come up against him.



She suspected he was pouring his anger and frustration into work and
had a hard time resisting pointing out that he could use a defeat
every now and then, if this was the outcome. She had been the one to
call him the best closer in the city, but she sometimes thought that
even she had underestimated his talent. Anyhow, their English
colleagues were bewitched by him, and she suspected the associates,
if not the partners, had hid an altar to him somewhere in the firm.
The man himself took the obvious adoration in stride, stalking the
halls with his monumental swagger and overwhelming strength of
personality.






Yet something was still nagging at her. Something wasn't right. The
silence surrounding her was deafening. It was as if she was on the
wait for a bomb to go off. As if something ominous hovered in the not
so distant future. It wasn't just Harvey, though he was the worst of
it. He wasn't the only one who had stopped talking to her. Donna was
avoiding her. She had borrowed a page from Harvey's book and kept her
distance. And it was a distance measurable in light-years.






Mike Ross looked at her with silent accusation, when he thought she
didn't see him, but other than that, he had never mentioned any of
the events before the merger. He was too busy reeling from Harvey's
utter indifference to his existence. Though she told herself they had
brought the whole thing onto themselves, when Harvey hired a fraud as
his associate, she had actually attempted to breach the subject with
the senior partner once. The closer had not moved a single muscle,
his face completely closed off, as he had assured her he would take
her opinion under advisement, but meanwhile he didn't need Mike's
help. She felt like yelling at him just to see if she could get a
reaction, yet she had restrained herself and decided for the subtle
approach of dumping a pro bono on him.






The gamble hadn't paid off. Harvey had not objected to the case,
worked on it all by himself and won without incidents. To her
knowledge, Harvey had yet to speak to Mike and the battered woman,
whose custody dispute the senior partner had won, was still sending
baked goods to his office. Since he ignored them, Donna shared them
with Norma and the paralegals.






Sometimes she thought Donna was the only one at the firm with whom
Harvey behaved like he always had. The other exception was more
disturbing. Louis was not a fan of the new colleagues and he had
caused several minor head-aches along the way. As she was trying to
settle one of them, Harvey had out of the blue volunteered to smooth
things over with Louis. She had been too shocked to do anything else
but agree. Harvey had not only succeeded at it, but afterwards,
Louis' behavior had improved significantly. Then things took a turn
for Bizarro World.






Donna perpetuated her practical jokes on Louis and Harvey teased hims
mercilessly about the silliest of things. Oddly enough, Louis
actively encouraged both of them. Otherwise, how could have Harvey
known that his colleague was searching for a new cat or that his
favorite ballerina had sprained her ankle? But underneath it, there
was a complicit camaraderie that had been lacking in their
relationship before. She had even heard Louis' secretary say Harvey
and Louis sometimes went to lunch or dinner together. And Louis kept
supplying Donna with unrequested theater tickets. Also there had been
a significant improvement in Louis' suits and ties. But not in his
shoes. Harvey and Donna teased him about those, too.






Absurd as it was, Jessica found herself almost jealous of this
newfound closeness. It was one thing for Harvey to replace her and
another to replace her with Louis Litt of all the lawyers the firm
had to offer.






She had read many times before about the isolation of the one in
charge, but she had never quite expected to feel it herself. In all
the years since she had made managing partner, she had felt it only
once. The same evening Harvey had showed up with her tea service,
assuring her she wasn't alone. Harvey wasn't showing up anymore. But
Jessica Pearson had not gotten where she was now by being soft on
people who stood between her and what she wanted. So she gritted her
teeth against any form of missing her former left hand and stepped up
to rule her empire.






~ * ~






Harvey strode into his office, Donna in toe. “What did Scottie
say?”






“That she isn't hiding any witness and Tanner just happened to be
opposite her in a lawsuit involving one of the oldest clients of
Darby's firm. She claims she didn't know I had come across Tanner
before.”






Donna arched a skeptical brow at him. “You believe her?”






He slid into his chair and rested his elbows on the table by his
laptop. “No, she's lying. There is something about this case that's
rattling her.”






The sarcastic retort died on Donna's lips. Nothing rattled Scottie
but Harvey himself. If something did, then odds were good the client
was Satan itself.






“Are you gonna be on this deposition?”






“She won't have a choice. Tanner took this case to go against me
again. He doesn't want anyone else in the firm on it and won't rest
until he gets me there. Who's the subpoena for?”






“Scottie didn't tell you?”






“She says it's for the client's estranged daughter. As a character
witness,” Harvey was pulling out his cellphone, even as he spoke,
his thumb hovering over speed dial number 9. Donna handed his the
subpoena.






The deposition was in two days. There wasn't much time, but Vanessa
worked fast. The investigator picked up on the second ring. “Vanessa,
I need everything you can find me on an Emmeline Moretti by
Wednesday.”






~ * ~






Scottie stood in front of the the vast windows of her brand new New
York office, her eyes resting on a fantastic view of Manhattan in
under the rosy-golden rays of the morning sun. Her office in London
had also been in a sky-scraper but had not enjoyed the same
spectacular view. Normally she couldn't get enough of it, but today
it unsettled her. The chances of her keeping this view were heavily
dependent on her ability to keep light from being shone on the darker
recesses of the Courtenay lawsuit. She had underestimated Tanner and
the depth of his rivalry towards Harvey. When she had made the
subpoena go away, she had thought she would never see Emmeline
Moretti anywhere near the case again.






Evidently she had been wrong. Darby would not be thrilled, but at
this point, with Tanner out to get Harvey and only Harvey, her best
chance was to have him in the room with her at the deposition. Risky
as that might be. Besides, Emmeline had no proof of anything and
Tanner no way of knowing about Rome. There was no paper trail, no
evidence anywhere and her trip there had been conveniently covered by
other firm business. With that out of the way, everything else
Emmeline would say could be painted as the words of a disgruntled,
emotionally unstable daughter with a grudge against her father. With
the proper spin put on it, Emmeline's recent life could fit that
bill. Drawing heart from that, she dialed Darby's personal number.






~ * ~






“Scottie's case?” Donna asked, as she walked into his office on
Tuesday evening with a fresh cup of coffee and an abnormally thick
jumbo envelope.






Harvey looked up from the papers he was going through. “Tanner
decided to use the post this time?”






“No idea,” she replied. “It came addressed to you, but it has
no forwarding address.”






He reached for the coffee first. “Why do I feel like in Lethal
Weapon?”






Donna grinned at him. “Don't worry. I pressed to my ear. No
ticking. And when I shook it, it sounded like all there's inside is
paper.”






Harvey raised an eyebrow at her skill and she winked at him, as she
set the envelope on her desk. “That for Scottie's suit?” she
repeated, indicating the documents splayed all over his desk.






He merely nodded. “Darby called Jessica from London that he thinks
it's best if we both worked on this one.”






“He means he needs you on this then.”






He took a generous sip of his coffee. Just like he liked. As always.
“Actually, he doesn't. And neither does Scottie. The plaintiff's
claim is paper thin. If Tanner weren't his attorney, it'd be already
thrown out. This is a matter for the Patent Office, at best.”






Donna pulled herself a chair. “I asked around. Nobody knew Scottie
had this. Not even her assistant. Like she said, the defendant is an
old client of their firm and he throws a lot of legal work their way.
But that's all my contacts had.”






His nod was somewhat absent. “They didn't want us to find out about
this lawsuit. And I think whatever it is they're hiding will come
back to bite us.”






Donna looked down first before raising her eyes to search his face.
He had been tired lately, working relentlessly and with a
determination bordering on obsession, but other than that, his
expression was pensive rather than anything else. She had a feeling
he didn't have much of a life outside the office anymore. She hadn't
seen him spend so much time at the firm, since he had been an
associate.






“Did you tell Jessica?”






Something fluttered in his eyes, deep and dark, but he gave her no
other reaction to go by. “Jessica made it clear before that it
wasn't my place to. Not anymore,” he said in a strangely calm tone.






“Harvey,” she began unsure of how to continue.






“Their... our client,” he corrected himself. “Courtenay is a
defense contractor, old money, big connections. He could be involved
in any of the stuff the military industrial complex is routinely
accused of. Yet Darby and Scottie bent over backwards to keep his
daughter under wraps.”






Donna tried for a small smile. “Maybe she's made a sex tape with
one of their partners and is blackmailing them with it.”






Harvey's face registered pure disgust. “That imagine is going to
stay with me, you know.”






“I could try and get you some brain bleach,” she offered. He
smiled and absently reached for the envelope she had brought in.
“Wait, but isn't the heiress involved in her father's business?
Maybe she was the one who stole the patent.”






Harvey was opening the envelope, as he spoke. “That's the whole
thing. She couldn't have. Thirteen years ago she signed away her
trust fund and her rights to her family estate. Then she dropped off
the face of the Earth. Vanessa's still trying to find out where to.”






Donna was momentarily struck speechless, thinking that maybe Scottie
didn't say a word about her, because the client didn't want people to
know his daughter was insane. Why would a sane person gave up a trust
fund just like that, anyway? Across the table from her Harvey frowned
profusely. “Donna, since I've been working with Vanessa, has she
ever sent anything here?”






Donna shook her head. “No, never. What's in there?”






Harvey looked up at her with stormy eyes. “Information on the
client's daughter. And documents supporting it.”






“Is it bad?”






“It is for Tanner.”






~ * ~






Mike's mind was buzzing with the details of the Sparling lawsuit, as
she rounded the corner coming from Louis' office and towards
Harvey's. He was in there, talking to Donna, smiling about something,
like he used to smile at him, when he made a funny reference. Mike's
stomach dropped dizzyingly fast. He forced himself to walk away and
almost missed Jessica turning on a heel and walking briskly in the
direction she had just come from, presumably after seeing at the same
tableau.






~ * ~






Louis poked his head out of his office to draw Norma's attention to
her ignoring his calls through intercom, when he caught a glimpse of
Mike staring dejectedly at his mentor. He withdrew quickly, choosing
not to acknowledge Norma's curious look. Every day, as he walked into
the firm, he promised himself he would approach Harvey about Mike.
Every evening, as he left, he reminded himself to do it the next day.
He understood where the kid came from. He knew first-hand how
formidable Harvey's resentment was. And he wanted to help. He did.
But he was finally starting to form the kind of friendship with
Harvey he had always secretly dreamed of and he wasn't ready to risk
that by provoking his colleague unnecessarily. Not when Harvey proved
to be a better potential friend than he ever imagined. He had even
taught him how scoring in football worked. And about baseball. And
basketball. There was no way his cousins could make fun of him at the
next family reunion now.






He would go to Harvey about Mike tomorrow. Or maybe after Donna
finished with helping select a new cat.








TBC

  • 1
I've been reviewing on FF.net but decided to comment here, too. I just don't have the words to express how much I'm loving this and how much I love the fact that you update daily. This fic is simply fantastic and I'm completely addicted.

Thank you so much for all the thoughtful reviews you've been leaving on my work. I'm very glad you enjoy my writing so much. I try to update daily, because this has been so easy and so much fun to write, that I think I have a new hobby, but that won't always happen, because you know... RL!

I know the finale has been dramatic and summer is too far away (not to mention the fact that Suits season are unfairly short... what's up with that, given that the show's a big hit?!?), so it's good to have something else other than reruns in the meantime, right? Besides, War was so dramatic and defeated&tormented!Harvey is made of so much awesome, that one cannot help but speculate where he goes from there.

  • 1
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