Fandom: suits usa
Characters: harvey specter, donna paulsen, stephen huntley (mentions)
Warnings: canon compliant, spoilers for 3.08 'endgame'.
Summary: how do you wash the hands of a murderer off your skin?
It takes a long while for the stilted euphoria to wear off. Somewhere between 94th and Central Park a shiver runs up her spine and she feels a cold clarity descend on her. At first, it is a question. What now? That takes the edge off slightly, the ability to create a homogenous direction for her thoughts. But her knuckles are white, keening against the skin and she realises she's been gripping the handle of the car for half an hour.
Stephen is in prison, she reminds herself. A hard slab of concrete and a cell wall would be his reward for the crusade. Darby was back in London, leashed and gagged from coming back to break them. Everything was fine. Everything was done. And yet. Everything was -
'Miss Paulsen?' Ray says, quietly.
She takes that to mean she's dismissed, that work has ended for the day but she can't help but feel disheartened as she leaves the cab. The backseat smells like home.
Her home is bitterly warm when she walks over the threshold. She sits down at her breakfast bar, easing into the barstool and mudding the edge of an old issue of vogue with a biro. Tomorrow, she doodles, is new.
And she feels so awfully tired, places her head in her hands and doesn't know why she wants to cry so much. The bubble of anxiety clusters around her heart until she feels short of breath and she's mumbling no, no, no into her hands until its warm tears running down her cheeks.
The worst part is the curl of treacherous heat that simmers between her legs when she thinks of Stephen. His hands still feel close and hot around her waist reminding her just so real he really was. His mouth, cupped over her hipbone, vibrations of his laughter against her skin.
She wonders how it is possible to feel so much for a man that clearly felt so little for her. So she showers, alternating the water between freezing and volcanic until she feels alive again. She takes the pumice and drags it over her arms until her skin is raw, small ribbons of dead skin race down her arms and she feels dirtier than she did to start with. But she tries anyway. Tries to wipe him away.
Until his fingerprints no longer demarcate her body. Until his mouth is no longer imprinted in her mind. Until he is gone. Until she has stopped crying.
Donna knows, she'd told him knowingly.
Donna knows shit, she realises.
She makes tea, she hates tea. She makes the bed, she finds it so bitterly pointless. She even goes as far as booking herself balates some sort of bullshit hipster fusion of pilates and ballet. But her hands still shake when she walks past the fucking shoes she wore the first time they had sex and they dumb white dress she really goddamn liked.
And so what is the point?
She demystifies her psyche and cruelly whispers 'where our desire is got without content; it's safer to be that which we destroy.'
The next morning it burns a little less, the nausea receding and she just feels ridiculous for how she felt the night before. She dresses for work, buys two coffees at the vendor outside what will in moments be renamed Pearson Specter and heads inside. She smiles at Rachel and even makes a joke about Norma's quiff before she sinks into her desk.
The spots, the lives of men and children, terrorists or freedom fighters, still linger on the places he touched her. And Donna knows that is the blood, the skin, the memories she will never be able to atone for.