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. The witness in Tanner's lawsuit, however, turns out to be more deeply connected to the firm than anyone could have imagine... anyone but Harvey, that is.
A/N: FYI, for those of you not addicted to caffeine (though I don't believe you exist anymore than I believe in the Tooth Fairy or Yeti), this is a Moka pot: wiki/Moka_pot. They make good, strong coffee, almost as strong as espresso from the machine. They are quite common in some parts of Europe, especially Italy, where they were invented. Another FYI: as seen in the ep Decision, Harvey uses a French press, which makes one fine regular.
Queens was one of the strangest places to find an heiress in New York. There were no designers boutiques, no trendy bars and too few an opportunity to try the latest drugs to hit the streets. Even Bronx had Riverdale going in his favor. There was nothing dangerous or hip about this boring residential street in a traditional emigrant neighborhood. But the coffee cart a few paces away from Emmeline's building smelled enticing enough for him to consider giving it a try. As soon as business was over.
He had decided to wait the day out and seek his target after office hours, leaving the firm for once at six-thirty. Donna had an air-tight excuse, in case anyone was being noisy. Still when he pressed the button of Emmeline Moretti's intercom, no response was forthcoming. He would have to come back some other time then. As he descended the building's steps, he decided to take a cab and send Ray home. The man lived in Queens, as well, and there was no point in making him go all the way back to Manhattan, when he could instead get to spend a longer evening with his family.
When Emmeline walked up the street, carrying a huge bag of groceries, he was forced to pull the breaks on that particular plan. He waited until she was right in front of him, though he doubted she noticed him with her heavy charge obscuring her line of sight.
"I've seen a lot in my legal career so far, but a witness sending the other side dirt on herself is new," he commented casually.
She struggled to get a good look at him past the bag in her arms. "You live long enough, you see everything," she replied coolly.
"Here, let me take that," he said, reaching for her burden.
He didn't understand why she had to carry something so obviously too heavy for her, but he still half-expected her to refuse to relinquish her grip. She didn't. She let him take her bag with a sigh of relief and a soft "thank you." She started up the steps to her building and he followed, watching as she opened the door with her key-card. He carried her groceries up three floors, since the elevator was broken and besides, the tiny front lobby or the staircase didn't seem like the right place to have the kind of conversation he had in mind.
"Sorry about elevator," she muttered, as they were climbing up. "My landlord tells me they'll come to fix it the first Monday after Judgment Day?"
"The one in the Bible or the one in Terminator?" he asked good-naturally, careful not to chafe the rough paper bag against his suit.
"Terminator?" she asked, glancing over his shoulder at him confused.
He took a moment to decide whether she was joking or not. "You don't know Terminator?" he inquired incredulously.
"Is that new NYC slang for lawyer?" she chanced with a perfectly straight face, as she was opening her door.
"If you're screwing with me, you're good at it."
His compliment only made her look more bewildered and he wondered briefly if he shouldn't check the back of her head for strange protuberances, sign that she was an alien, as he had seen on a two-parter on Star Trek. New Generation.
She held a hand up to him. "Hold on," she said, as he found himself standing in the middle of an apartment that was, if possible, even crappier than Mike's, his arms full of an enormous grocery bag. She bounced over to one of the bulky book shelves carpeting the walls and grabbed a volume from it: St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. His eyebrows rose in disbelief all by themselves.
"Oh!" she exclaimed, after quickly thumbing through it until she found the right reference. "I see. I didn't know there was talk of Judgment Day in modern SciFi."
He had an odd feeling of displacement. "How do you not know Terminator?"
She snapped the book shut and returned it on the shelf. "I'm being told I'm pop culture impaired," she answered as if that explained everything. "I'm sorry," she said quickly, sounding genuinely contrite. "I've been keeping you standing there carrying my own groceries."
"It's alright," he said mildly. They were all that heavy for him, but he couldn't imagine how she had managed to move them at all.
She signaled him to follow her through a set of shaky French doors and into a kitchen that was rather large and well-stocked for such a small apartment. "The kitchen was really this place's selling point," she explained. "You can put those on the table." He did. "Would you like some coffee?"
He confirmed he did and she busied herself with readying a well-used Moka pot and placing it on the stove. She was really friendly, when he wasn't bullying her, but then he supposed she had no grudge to hold, since she had been the one to send him that compromising file on her.
"Cake?" she asked, while opening the fridge and taking out big, rounded chocolate cake. "You caught me right before I handed it out to the family's down the hallway children."
"Do you always buy a huge chunk of cake just to pass it over to the neighbors' kids?"
She smiled a little, as she cut them two generous slices and places them on the plates, she retrieved from one of the cupboards. "Actually, I made this one myself last night."
He tried to cross his legs and make himself more comfortable, which was not easy to accomplish under the too low table and while sitting on a rather unstable kitchen chair. "That makes even less sense."
She just shrugged, handing him a tea spoon for the cake. "I gave up sleeping around four last night. German chocolate cake takes about three hours to make and requires all of my concentration. And it's cheaper and sweeter than therapy."
He chuckled briefly before sobering up again. "Why did you send me that file, Mrs. Moretti?"
"Because only I could. I am the only one who has those blood test results I gave you. My father flung them at me thirteen years ago as a symbol of the all the things he did for ungrateful little me. The police report of my accident tells a whole other story."
She paused in pouring them the freshly-made coffee and looked him straight in the eye before nodding. "Milk or sugar?" she asked.
"No, thank you."
"I didn't know how much the other lawyer knew and I panicked when the second subpoena came and there was no word from your colleague."
Harvey drew on air, warming the pads of his palms against the steaming coffee mug. "You mean Dana Scott? She contacted you after the first one?"
She nodded suddenly withdrawn and studying him with narrowed eyes, no doubt trying to gauge what it was that he knew exactly.
"Why didn't you give those documents to her then?"
"I couldn't be sure she wouldn't go to my father with them first. Or at least, to Edward Darby, and he would definitely show them to my father. And father doesn't like closed chapters that may put his family's shiny reputation at risk reopened. I needed someone who'd use them."
"How did you know that someone was me?"
"I looked your firm up. Online and in New York legal magazines. That's how I found the articles about you." She paused and sipped from her cup with gusto. "The best closer in the city. The Unbeatable. The youngest senior partner in your firm history," she quoted. "You're not the first corporate lawyer I met, Mr. Specter. I know you like to win. I thought I'd supply you the means."
"Even if it lead to what happened this morning? Are you that sure that your father is not responsible for that patent infringement? It's obvious you didn't do it to protect your close relationship."
She looked away, the pained expression from the morning back. "I don't think my father did that, because he doesn't have to." She turned to look him in the eye sadly. "He doesn't need to break any law, Mr. Specter. He can always buy or blackmail those who make them to change them any way he wants."
"That one would've gone great with a judge and a jury," he said sarcastically. He tasted his coffee. It was heart-stopping strong, but good.
"I could've done even better. I could've told, if asked, how my father treats his underlings... or his family. There's nothing illegal there, but there are awful things. And if I had, there wouldn't have been a jury in the world that wouldn't have convicted him of just about anything, evidence or no evidence, simply because he is..." she paused, uncertain. "... who he is."
"And he is an asshole, right?"
She looked as if he had slapped her again. "He is my father," she whispered firmly, as if that was justification enough.
He sensed the vulnerability instantly and though he did admire the apparently undeserved loyalty to her parent, he had to seize the opportunity. "Mrs. Moretti, what happened in Rome? Why did you really lose your job there?"
She jumped to her feet, nearly spilling her coffee, her face tight and cold all of the sudden. "No!"
"Whatever Dana Scott and Darby did to you, I was not involved. I didn't even know about it, but I need to protect my firm."
She shook her head resolutely. "There is no trace, no proof and I won't talk. You don't have to worry about me blowing the whistle."
He leaned back in his chair study her better, as she attempted to put as much distance between them as possible, drawing towards the far wall. She wasn't telling him to leave, though.
"So you'd answer any question about yourself, but not about a father who's obviously terrorizing you?"
She inclined her head to the side, neither denying or confirming. "I will tell you this, however: nothing traces back to my father. He has something on Edward Darby. Don't ask what it is, because it involves someone else dear to me. God forbid... and I do mean that literally," she said gesturing toe the diminutive gold crucifix she was wearing around her neck. "God forbid anything transpires, it's all on Miss Scott, Edward and your firm. I'm sorry."
This was just wonderful. Jessica sure had known how to pick the firm to merge. Something about merging with a large firm from overseas they had no time to properly look into, had always rubbed him the wrong way. All had happened so quickly, so soon on the footstep of the Folson Food debacle, that had nearly crushed them financially. He had wanted his name on the door; he never denied that. Part of him still did. But underneath that there had been concern and the feeling that something wasn't quite right. If only Jessica hadn't gone and made it happen behind his back, setting him on a deadline to stop the inevitable before it was too late. And then she had done the unthinkable and it had been all over. Now the firms were one and any potential sword above Darby's head hang over theirs, too.
"How do you I wouldn't find out all by myself what your father has on Darby?" he asked in between mouthfuls of her cake.
She came back to the table. "You wouldn't know where to look. This one's crazy even by my family's standards."
And he had thought his family was messed up. He set his spoon down on the now empty plate. "We'll see." He stood up. "Thank you for the coffee and cake."
"Thank you for helping me with my groceries," she replied amiably.
~ * ~ ~ * ~ ~ * ~
Aided by the massive caffeine jolt and the sugar rush, Harvey put his thoughts in order, as he rapidly descended the building's staircase. Of two things he was sure: the woman upstairs was the only crack in the armor Darby and his nefarious client had surrounded their secrets with, and Scottie deserved a piece of his mind for getting into the middle of it, something he couldn't do, since he couldn't afford her realizing how much he suspected. Of one thing he was almost certain: Darby had wanted a leg in New York and had targeted their bleeding firm on purpose. Which meant he had been bluffing about the other merger opportunities in the States, he had pressured Jessica with. She didn't know, of course, that he was aware of Darby's trips, right before she had blind-sided him.
It was a cheap tactic Jessica should have seen right through. The fact that she hadn't meant Hardman was right, infuriating as that was, and Darby had most likely seen the same thing, too. Jessica was indeed afraid of him, afraid that what had grown in her shadow would outshine her or worse, overthrow her. And she didn't trust him not to.
There had been a time, when he would have claimed Jessica would never stab him in the back, but to do so using Mike as the knife had been one step too far. He didn't know whether there was a coming back from it. He hadn't thought that far ahead. His only goal lately had been not to think. So he worked until exhaustion threatened to overcome him, went home to sleep it off or boxed it away and repeated the cycle the next day. He worked from home on weekends and took breaks mostly to run in Central Park until his lungs burnt with exertion. Now he had to think it all over, whether he wanted to or not.
He paused to let an old lady with a dog walk in, before stepping outside, in the chilled evening air. Spring still took its time to arrive to New York. He clamped down on the grief threatening to overwhelm him at his earlier thoughts. He needed to keep his head and make rational decisions. He walked to his car and dismissed Ray, then hunted down a cab, asking to be taken to the address of the gym he frequented. He needed to box.
The air in the cab was stuffy and his thoughts came tumbling down, stepping onto each other, making it even harder for him to breathe. He was backed into a corner. His entire firm was and nobody but him knew. He couldn't go to Jessica. She wouldn't listen to him under the circumstances and anyway he had no proof. He couldn't tell anyone, in fact. Talking to Mike was unacceptable, he didn't want to frighten Donna and Louis wasn't ready to deal with something like that. He had to look into things quietly and see what he could do all by himself.
There was a third option. He knew there was, even with his newly-extended noncompete that stated he could not only not take any clients, but that he also couldn't practice law in the continental US for two years, if he left. Jessica had gone a bit vindictive in putting that one in, but he had signed it and there was no going back on it now. But there were firms in New York with excellent offices abroad and they would take him in a heartbeat. Some had even stepped up their courting lately, no longer circling the firm, but circling him instead. Still he couldn't bring himself to think of that just yet.
The chirping of his cellphone nearly startled him. The caller ID read Vanessa.