Title: Six Degrees of Mistrust
Pairing: none, gen!fic
Warnings: language, but milder than what you'd see on the show. Also unbetaed, since I don't know anyone in this fandom yet.
Disclaimer: I do not own "Suits" or any of the content affiliated with it.
Summary: shortly after the merger that created the legal giant that is Pearson&Darby, the firm is confronted with an apparently straightforward lawsuit, about which nothing is what it seems. The case brings Travis Tanner back but also threatens to reveal certain things that the client as well as Edward Darby and Scottie have every intention of keeping hidden. The ramifications might also force Harvey to take a closer look at his recent decisions, the betrayals he has experienced and the man they make him out to be.
Trump International Hotel Tower, New York, Present Day
Dana Scott, Senior Partner at the newly-formed legal fortress, Pearson & Darby, strolled in the five-star restaurant of the Trump International with the same catlike grace she walked into depositions and courtrooms. The maître d' courteously escorted her to the discreet table for two her boss was seated at.
“Edward, I thought we now have an office for us to meet in New York,” she said carefully. The work relationship between them had been somewhat, even if not straightforwardly strained, since she had leaked that file to Harvey right before the merger. Surprisingly enough he had rehired her out of the blue, as soon as the ink on the merging documents had dried, and even allowed her to work out of New York, but not before giving her one last case in Europe. Yet unsurprisingly she hadn't gotten her name on the door.
His response was a stern look. “I don't want anyone at the former Pearson & Hardman to know about this one,” he said, casually dropping a thick manila envelope on the table, she was just sitting down at.
Dana reached to take the proffered file, but his hand reached out and stalled her wrist. “One of Rolland Courtenay's companies and the man himself are being sued for patent infringement by a former employee.”
They paused as the waiter came up to them with the dinner menus and she ordered herself a scotch to match his brandy.
“Courtenay is one of the firm's oldest and biggest US client. I can understand why you are feeling proprietary of him, but there is no reason to keep this from Jessica Pearson anymore. We are all a big, happy family now, remember?”
She couldn't quite keep the bitterness out of her voice, as she said the last part. While her betrayal in Harvey's favor had not sat well with her boss, the failure in their latest dealings with Rolland Courtenay had not earned her any brown points, either. Even if the whole thing had not been entirely her fault. She had done her job very well, even if she did say so herself. If only Courtenay's daughter was not an irrational little bitch, who acted as if having a trust fund and an empire were the worst things someone could get in life.
“Big, maybe. But now quite so happy,” he commented. “At least, not all of us.”
She nodded at his pointed look, knowing perfectly to whom he was referring. “Is it him that you don't want to know about this?”
Darby shifted in his seat, as the waiter brought her the drink. “Not exactly. The employee suing Rolland is being represented by Smith & Devaine's best pit bull, Travis Tanner.”
She frowned. “Never heard of him.”
“Well, I did, and rumor around this town has it the only one to have beaten Tanner is Jessica's own pit bull.”
“I don't understand. If you want Harvey on this, then why keep the suit from Jessica?”
“Because Tanner somehow found out about Emmeline and now he is subpoenaing her as a character witness against her father.”
She made a face. “He knows Courtenay has an impeccable record and enough connections to get even US congressmen and senators testify on his behalf. What better way to impugn his credibility than get his daughter to say on the stand that he is a scumbag?”
A muscles jumped in his jaw at her words. She took a careful sip of her drink.
“That's the least Emmeline could do and we both know it.” They shared a look of mutual understanding, before he went on. “Rolland is not just a client. He is also a friend. We have let him down once and I don't want to see it happening again. Make sure his daughter doesn't get anywhere near a deposition, then get Specter on this and make the whole thing go away.” He indicated the file between them. “The faster the better.”
“Edward, getting Harvey on this might not be the best idea. I know you beat him once, but he is really good.”
“So I have noticed.”
“No, you don't understand. If he gets so much as a whiff that we are hiding something, he will dig until he gets to the bottom of it.”
Darby signaled the waiter over and asked for another drink. “That's why I want you with him on this. To keep him from digging anywhere we don't want him to.”
Her lips formed a tight line, before opening for speech again. “I don 't like what you are implying, Edward.”
“I am not implying anything, Dana. And I don't care less who you are sleeping with. If I did, you wouldn't still be working for me.”
Something flitted briefly across her face, before she could hide it. He leaned back in his chair, his satisfaction at having that particular ascendant over her plain and obvious. Her expression tightened further.
“I get it,” she said at last. “What happened in Rome stays there.”
He smiled genially. “I am glad you agree.”
She reached for the file on the table, as she got to her feet. “Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to book a flight to Italy.”
“That won't be necessary. She is now in New York.”
Dana slid back down with a slight grimace. “This isn't good, Edward. If she were on another continent, we still stood a good chance to keep her from Harvey. But she is right here,” she uttered forcefully, placing an additional emphasis on the verb. “In his town.”
He seemed non-surplussed. “I never took you for one to back down from a challenge. But now I recall he didn't only beat Tanner. He also beat you.”
Anger rose in her narrowing eyes. “Let's not get overconfident here, Edward. Jessica might have helped, but you played the main part in keeping Harvey's name from a certain door on Lexington Avenue. If he discovers this, nothing and I do mean nothing in this world will stop him from using it to bury both you and what used to be your firm.”
Her words did not seem to bother him in the least. “There is nothing more dangerous than a wounded beast,” he said as if to himself with a slight smile. “It is a good thing, though, that this time you stand more to lose than I do by leaking information to him.”
She grabbed her drink with a less than steady hand. “We need to get Emmeline Courtenay out of this city.”
He shook his head resolutely. “We can't.” She opened her mouth to speak, but her raised a hand to silence her. “Not yet, anyway. Even if we didn't risk setting her off by making a move on her so soon after the last one, her father wouldn't appreciate our toying with her without his permission.” He stopped for another swallow of his scotch. “Play the hand we've been dealt and make sure Miss Mother Theresa wannabe doesn't get to put her hand on a Bible in a courtroom... or worse, inside our law firm.”
She nodded, letting her expression fully communicate her displeasure, but he ignored her and moved to take the menu, as she lifted the manila envelope from the table.
* ~ *
As she stepped out of the taxi and onto the pavement of Queens, Dana Scott wished for the umpteenth time that evening that Rolland Courtenay's daughter had normal heiress interests, like doing a reality TV show or releasing sex tapes. But oh, no, the one she got rented in a moderately well-maintained Art-Deco building in Sunnyside. At least, the street wasn't half bad.
She scanned the names on the building's intercom, searching for a male one, and buzzed until someone responded. A man. It wasn't exactly difficult to play a ditsy woman having forgotten her key. She could, of course, call Emmeline directly, but she wasn't in the mood to beg her, in case the woman decided not to want to let her in.
The inside of the building smelled of pine-scented cleaner and though the corridors were a little dark, they seemed clean and harmless enough. If only the elevator had not been broken and she had not had to climb three flights of stairs in her new Louboutin pumps. The door with number 33 on it had a peephole, so, as she rang the bell, she gave it a fifty percent chance that she wouldn't have to stupidly stand in front of a locked door and try to talk her client's wayward daughter into opening.
She heard someone moving into the apartment and a moment later, the door opened. Emmeline Courtenay gave her a weary look and stepped aside, allowing her in. Dana smiled politely at her host, trying to keep her eyes from sweeping too insistently over the studio apartment she found herself in. From what she could see from the corner of her eye, the furniture looked cheap, but the place was spotless and on the neurotic side of tidy. The most striking of its features, however, were the bulgy book shelves lining every available wall. Emmeline herself looked worse for the wear, an observation Dana was careful to keep from showing on her face.
“Good evening, Mrs. Courtenay.”
“That's not my name,” the other woman said frostily.
She smiled pleasantly. “Of course not.... Mrs. Moretti,” she corrected herself, her eyes flying to the narrow band of gold on the ring finger of her left hand. Still there, just as she remembered. Dana would have paid good money to be suing a disgruntled ex for publishing an heiress' sex tape, instead of being here with...“Mrs. Moretti”.
Mrs. Moretti herself gave her a skeptical look and walked briskly to her nightstand, from where she grabbed an open envelope. “I suppose you're here about this.”
Dana didn't need to look to know what that was. “So you got the subpoena.”
“Just when I thought nothing about my family could surprise me anymore, I get subpoenaed to testify about something my father allegedly did two years ago. While I was out of the country.” She indicated the chair by the tiny coffee table near the loveseat positioned in the middle of the room. “Have a seat,” she invited in a carefully civil tone, as she sank on the couch.
Dana seated herself awkwardly. The chair was so hard, she would swear it was made of stone, and its back-support was awful. “We are currently trying to keep this surprise from disrupting your life too much.”
“Translation: you're trying to preventing me from testifying.”
Here it was. The moment of the truth. The other woman might have bad taste in neighborhoods, but she wasn't stupid and she could recognize a chance for revenge, when it was handed to her. “Like you said, it happened while you weren't even in the country. There is nothing to testify to.”
“Then why are you here, Miss Scott?”
Dana smiled agreeably. “To assure you that your father's lawyers are doing everything they can to protect you from unnecessary legal hassle.”
Emmeline winced in a way that made the lines around her eyes even deeper. “Alright. That's enough.” Her tone conveyed exhaustion rather than authority and Dana was struck by the difference between the woman before her and Courtenay himself, a difference made all the starker by slight the physical resemblance between the two. Emmeline shared her father's angular features, which no amount of femininity and grace could fully smoothen. She was not wholly unattractive, yet she wasn't beautiful, either. She had also lost weight, since Dana had seen first seen her in Rome. Her cheekbones were painfully obvious. Dana had always been very comfortable in her own skin, but everything about Emmeline, from her sallow complexion and messy ponytail to the generic house clothes she had on, made her pleasantly aware of her spotless good looks and the impeccable one-of-a-kind Chanel suit she was wearing.
“What do you want, Mrs. Moretti?” she asked confidently.
“To never set foot again in a world I spent thirteen years trying to escape. So go ahead and get me out of this,” Emmeline said, indicating the subpoena Dana still held. “And don't worry about me running to the other side to go on record about the things my father is capable of, if he thinks he can get way with them. Because believe me, of the two of us, I will be the happier one to see this over and done with.”
There was conviction in the woman's tone, but Dana still regarded her skeptically, trying to gauge whether she was telling the truth or not. She appeared to be, but appearances could be deceiving. “Are you sure you wouldn't be happier taking this opportunity for a little payback?”
“To you or to my father?”
“I assure you, what happened in Rome was nothing personal. I was just doing my job.”
Emmeline sighed. “I wish I hadn't known that to be true. And to answer your question, no, I'm not interested into revenge myself against my father, either. All I want is to be left alone.”
That had an almost absolute ring of truth. Dana shifted in her uncomfortable chair and smiled again. “Then I'll make sure this lawsuit will never bother you again.”
Her host raised an eyebrow at her. “But if you fail in that, you should know I don't lie under oath.”
Dana stood up, relieved to be out of that infernal chair. “I don't fail,” she stated matter-of-factually.
Not unless she went against Harvey Specter, but Mrs. Moretti didn't have to know that.
This new-built city from both work and sleep
suspended, like a prehistoric fly.
- Six Degrees of Mistrust (1/?)