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Six Degrees of Mistrust (2/?)

Title: Six Degrees of Mistrust
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.

& Darby New York Office, Manhattan

The morning rustle of people arriving to their cubicles and settling
in for the day's work was just waning down, as Mike spied Harvey
stroll past the cubicles and towards his own office with the same
confidence as always. Harvey looked like he always had, today
impeccably dressed in a charcoal suit, not one hair out of place,
face sculptured as if from marble. He was on time. Like he had been
every single day since the merger. Like Mike himself had been. And
all this time Harvey hadn't spoken a word to Mike, hadn't give him
work, hadn't asked anything of him. He hadn't even shown the
slightest sign he remembered Mike existed. Today was no different.

Harvey walked past him and away without looking at him. Behind and
all around him Mike could hear his fellow associates whisper,
speculating about the fallout and its cause, the underbellies of the
small civil war before the merger still unknown to most. Harvey
himself gave no cause for further gossip. On the surface, he looked
and acted as if nothing had changed. The differences were much more
subtle and invisible to those who had never caught a glimpse of the
man behind the facade.

He dispatched what would be associate work through Donna, avoiding
the bullpen and avoiding Mike, who suspected the senior partner even
did some of it himself. He came in earlier than he used to, anyway,
and left always very late. More often than not Mike found himself
leaving the firm before him. He was polite to a fault to the “British
invasion”, as the American side called the English lawyers moving
in. More so than Louis, who was often sour and snappish to them.

Mike hadn't had the chance to see much of Harvey's and Jessica's
interactions of late, but that was because he suspected there wasn't
much to see these days. Every time he saw them, the two of them were
distantly polite to each, yet the familiarity and the casual humor of
their dynamic was gone. As expected, Harvey was the colder one, with
Jessica, visibly pleased with the outcome of the merger, trying to
mend bridges. But Mike doubted she was not able to break through to
Harvey. At the same time, he suspected the managing partner had
absolutely no cause to complain about the city's best closer. Harvey
worked harder than Mike had ever seen him and the firm resounded with
his fresh successes.

Harvey's utter indifference was hard to take for Mike. While Harvey
thrived, his own work had suffered lately. He had expected his mentor
to blow over after the merger, to sabotage Jessica, to snap at Darby
and to torture his former associate. Instead there was nothing but
stark silence to him and calculated formality to the rest. It made
the firm a colder and sadder place somehow, and it hang over everyone
like a heavy cloud. Mike would have rather have him show his anger
the way Donna did. Manifestly and viciously.

The next day after Harvey's defeat Donna had started an unprecedented
reign of terror over the firm. Paralegals and associates of all
passports swayed from her path, while even the new senior partners
threaded lightly around her. Louis' clashes with the foreigners had
ended ugly on more than one occasion, with Jessica having to
interfere to settle the conflicts. But that never happened to Donna.
She won her wars decisively and without word of them getting to
Jessica or Darby. And she unfailingly mistreated him.

Harvey's distancing from him rarely put him in direction interaction
with Donna nowadays, but when they did meet, she always gave him the
cold shoulder, before proceeding to find other ways to make his
workload harder to bear and life miserable. He took it quietly, of
course. After all, he deserved it. Things were only made worse by
Louis' unexpected sympathy for him. The older lawyer tried to shield
him from Donna, protect him from the worst of the gossip and threw
legitimate case work his way as often as he could. Before long Mike
had become Louis' de facto associate.

He wasn't sure how much Louis knew of his betrayal of Harvey and he
couldn't confide in him, because he could never tell the whole story.
No matter what and how much Louis knew, Mike had a feeling the man
empathized. Mike was now nowhere Louis had not been before.

The loss of his mentor and friend was not the only one Mike had to
endure. Things had been terribly difficult between him and Rachel
after... their encounter in the file room. She had run away from him
immediately after, sobbing as she went and ignoring his calling her
name. She had ignored his phone calls and attempts to talk to her for
days, to the point they had attracted Katrina's venomous attention,
which promptly forced him to tone down his pursuit within firm walls.
The ensuing gossip about a possible split between them had not help
his credibility at the firm.

The rumors that he was the one in the wrong had started instantly and
Mike suspected Donna had something to do with that, as well. He had
attempted to explain himself to Donna in the aftermath, both on
Rachel's account and on the one of his betrayal of Harvey, but that
had gone directly south, as she had stalked menacingly from behind
her desk. Harvey wasn't in and he wasn't sure what his former boss'
assistant was about to do, when Louis showed up out of nowhere and
physically gotten between them. Donna surely knew Harvey's version of
the events. If she also knew he had told Rachel his secret, he had a
sneaking suspicion disappearing without a trace was in his near
future. And they would probably never find his body, either.

He had, however, managed to track down Rachel to lunch one day and
sit down to talk to her. Unsurprisingly for his life, that had gone
less than well.

“I have nothing to say to you, Mike,” Rachel had intoned icily,
keeping her gaze on her food instead of him.

“Rachel, look at me... please.”

She had and he wished he hadn't asked her to. The devastation was
written all over her beautiful face. Before that moment he hadn't
realized just how selfish he had been and how much he had taken her
for granted. He had been the one to constantly screw up only to
expect her to forgive him the next day. And she had. She had always
forgiven him, always helped him, always been there. He had been the
one to take and she the one to give. Mike thought he saw her for the
first time and while doing that, he also saw the missed opportunities
and the relationship he had not allowed to grow sufficiently. He had
found a reason every time, but he suddenly felt as if he had yet to
find her.

“I really am sorry,” he whispered, unable to say anything.

Her face hardened, growing distant and cold. It reminded him a bit of
Harvey's. “Just go, Mike. Go and never come back. We have nothing
to talk about outside work, anymore.”

“Rachel...” he made another feeble attempt at making her hear him

“And don't worry,” she added sternly. “Your secret is safe with

That had been it. Rachel had made good on her word. His secret hadn't
come out and their strained interaction was limited to mere work. All
of his calls to her afterwards had gone unanswered. After a week, her
number was no longer in service. With asking Donna for the new one no
longer an option, he resolved not to turn into a stalker and wait for
the good moment to right what was wrong between them.

Shaking himself out of his funk was not easy, but work waited on
nobody so he got up and started in the direction of the kitchen for a
fresh cup of coffee. It was then when he saw him. Confidently
stalking up the corridor in a most likely obscenely overpriced suit.
Hair slicked back. Obnoxious smirk in place. He was exactly what the
current state of affairs at still minted Pearson & Darby didn't
miss. Not that they were vulnerable anymore. The firm had been on the
expansion since the merger, hiring, getting additional office space
and new clients. But anyhow, when had Travis Tanner been anything but
bad news?

~ * ~

Donna lifted her eyes from her computer screen, as soon as the
strong, woodsy scent of excessive cologne wafted into her nose. It
wasn't sweet enough to be Louis' so at first she wasn't alarmed, but
then Travis Tanner's person flitted into her view. She made a face.

“What are you doing outside after sunrise?”

Tanner's smirk widened. “Hello, Donna. It has been too long.”

“And yet you have aged so much. Are those a few gray hairs I see?”

Tanner's smirk didn't falter. Okay, I'm bitchslapping this one
, she thought as she got to her feet. From over Tanner's
shoulder she spied Harvey approaching the door with wide, menacing

“How's New York Barbie doing these days?” Tanner asked
cheerfully. Donna's hand went up.

“Donna,” Harvey admonished, while stepping outside his office.

“That's not fair,” she mock-pouted. “You already got to hit

Harvey frowned theatrically. “Hey, I only wanted to suggest you use
your stapler instead of just your palm this time.”

“Good idea,” she grinned reaching to open a drawer.

“Still having your women fight your battles for you, Harv? In court
and outside it,” Tanner interjected.

Harvey's pretend frown shifted to a full-blown glare. “What do you
want, Trav?”

Tanner slapped an envelope on Donna's desk. The stapler got into her
right hand in record time. “I came to deliver this to whatever
dungeon you're hiding my witness in,” Tanner retorted without
missing a beat. Donna paused. First he was accusing them of hiding a
memo. Now a whole witness. She was not hitting him with the stapler.
She was getting the big hole puncher from the print room.

Harvey visibly shared her ire. “What witness? We don't even have a
case in common these days.”

Tanner grinned knowingly. “We don't? Oh come one, don't tell me you
of all senior partners at this firm don't know about the subpoena
your former Harvard colleague had annulled just last week. Good thing
I had the judge changed and got a new one. The witness is getting her
copy, as we speak.”

Harvey went absolutely still, his hands balled into fists at his
side. Her own irritation pushed to the side, Donna steeled herself to
interfere in case things out of hand.

“Get out, Tanner, before you start losing teeth,” Harvey warned.

Tanner unwisely chose to chuckle. “Looking forward to litigate
against you again, Harv.”

And with that he pivoted on a heel and left. Harvey inhaled deeply,
curtly glaring at his opponent's retreating back, before turning to
Donna. His face was more or less unreadable, but strands of unease
flitted briefly through. Donna knew they were for her eyes only.
Tanner had dropped by for more than just taunting. He was itching for
a rematch with Harvey and was probably more dangerous than ever after
the previous defeats.

“Find out what is about this subpoena that Scottie won't tell me,”
he told her in a lowered voice.

She nodded. Admissions of love hadn't made Scottie more honest in her
work relationship with Harvey. The lack of a personal relationship
between them following that one and the bitter fact that she owed him
for getting her job back hadn't help smooth things over, either. No
sooner had Harvey turned his back to start towards Scottie's office,
that she ripped the envelope Tanner had brought open, muttering about
needing to sprinkle her desk with holy water to get rid of the stench
of sulfur. She knew Harvey had heard her and reveled in the shared

~ * ~

Harvey strolled into Scottie's office with all the aplomb he was
capable of.

“Who is this witness Travis Tanner is accusing us of hiding and why
haven't you told me you're litigating a case against him?”


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Re: Friday-Sunday, February 22-24, 2013

Thank you for the recommendation! Very kind of you!

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