"No needles," says Mike one evening after dinner, and Harvey raises his eyebrows. They have just finished their meal, have pushed their plates aside and they're sipping on their glasses of wine. Soft jazz music is in the air and the doors to the deck are wide open. Very soon it will be summer in New York.
"Excuse me?" Harvey sounds bewildered. He sits back and lets the wine in his glass swirl in lazy circles.
"I said 'no needles'," Mike answers, looking Harvey straight in the eyes, voice steady and confident and colored with the faintest hint of a smile.
"I heard what you said," Harvey replies, taking another sip of wine. "But what--"
"I mean that I don't want needles. No hoods. No rape play. No cross dressing. No animals. No scat."
Harvey nearly chokes on his wine and coughs. "What are you--"
"I'm going through my list, preparing to negotiate," Mike answers calmly, his eyes never leaving Harvey's. "No human furniture or anything along that line, no pony play, no branding, no guns. Those are my hard limits."
Harvey just stares at Mike while the younger man continues.
"My soft limits are caning, puppy play, humiliation, golden showers, punching and--"
"Mike," Harvey interrupts, reaching across the table and covering Mike's hand with his own. "Slow down." He takes a deep breath and squeezes Mike's fingers lightly. "Why? I mean – why now?"
The very first time Harvey and Mike sleep together – after they have brought a very tricky merger finally to a good close and celebratory drinks at a hip downtown bar have led to an impromptu nightcap at Harvey's, which has led to a shouting match over nothing at all, which has led to frantic kisses and heated confessions of want and desire, which have led to one thing, which has, in return, led to another – Harvey gathers both of Mike's wrists in one of his hands and tries to pin Mike's arms to the mattress above his head, thrusting his hips against the younger man's and devouring his mouth in a claiming kiss.
Mike simply breaks the kiss, turns his head slightly to the side and when Harvey's grip loosens on his wrists he pulls his hands free.
"No," is all he says, calmly, though a little out of breath, lips swollen from their kisses, and Harvey looks into his eyes and nods slowly.
"Okay," Harvey answers, his voice hoarse and breathless, and brings his hands down to Mike's sides, slowly running them over Mike's smooth skin. "Okay."
The second time Harvey tries something is well into their first month of being lovers. He is buried deep inside of Mike's tight heat and he's mouthing against the sweaty nape of Mike's neck, licking the salty skin and trailing little playful bites along Mike's spine. He knows Mike is painfully close to coming, his breathing erratic and his cock fat and heavy in Harvey's hand, pulsing against his palm.
Mike is pushing back, trying to draw the other man even deeper inside, trembling on his hands and knees underneath Harvey, clenching around him, moaning almost continuously. "Gonna come," Mike pants and pushes back against Harvey once more.
"Not yet," Harvey presses through his teeth as his fingers tighten around the base of Mike's cock and he feels Mike tense underneath him and for a moment there he believes that Mike is going to give in. A smile starts to spread over his lips and he murmurs against Mike's skin. "Good bo--"
"Don't." Mike's voice is much calmer than Harvey would have thought possible and he can feel Mike clenching around him again the second he loosens his grip on Mike's cock. A keening sound escapes Mike's lips, something between a moan and a scream, when he reaches for his own cock, covering Harvey's hand with his, and pushes himself over the edge.
Afterwards, when they're lying next to each other, Harvey drawing lazy patterns on Mike's stomach, Mike still trying to steady his breathing, Harvey kisses Mike's chest and inhales.
"Mike," he murmurs, and the other man opens his eyes to lock gazes with him. "I want--"
Mike sighs and stills Harvey's hand with his own. "I know what you want, Harvey," he says, blinking once before locking eyes with Harvey again. "But I don't want that."
"I--" Harvey starts, nipping at Mike's chest again, but Mike cuts him short.
"Please, Harvey," he says, cupping Harvey's face and caressing his cheekbone with his thumb. "Let it go."
"Okay," Harvey nods after a couple of seconds and closes his eyes.
Harvey brings it up again a couple of weeks later. He's rock hard in his trousers, and Mike can tell that he's just dying to push Mike down to his knees, naked, and to make him offer his mouth for Harvey to fuck.
He can see the longing and the pleading in Harvey's eyes and his heart clenches in his chest.
"Harvey, no," he says, shaking his head ever so slightly and trying to make his voice sound as calm and firm as possible. He reaches for the other man and draws him in closely, pressing their clothes-clad erections against each other. Harvey moans into Mike's shoulder and Mike knows that he' squeezing his eyes shut tightly.
"Mike, please," he moans against Mike's jacket, fisting the cloth behind Mike's back and clenching his jaws. "Please. Let me. Please. Just-- I would-- It would be--"
Mike thrusts his hips against Harvey's again, eliciting another low moan from the other man. He cups the back of Harvey's head and brings his other hand to Harvey's ass.
"Harvey," he soothes and pushes his leg between Harvey's legs, adding to the pressure. "Please. I asked you to let it go."
Harvey grips Mike's ass and pulls the younger man firmly against him, pressing their groins together even tighter.
"I told you I don't want it."
Harvey bites down on the shoulder pad of Mike's jacket and jerks against Mike's groin.
"Want me to suck you off? Want to come in my mouth?" Mike whispers into Harvey's ear and Harvey nods.
Mike can feel Harvey getting more tense and in a way more impatient with every passing day. Out of bed, Harvey's the calmest and in bed he's the most tender Mike has ever seen him. Mike knows that Harvey's about to crack, so it doesn't come as a surprise when the other man pours them two more glasses of wine after dinner one night, straightens his back and clears his throat. Mike knows what is coming.
"When you said," Harvey clears his throat again. "When you said that you don't want it…" His eyes search Mike's and Mike nods. He knows what Harvey is talking about.
"Did you mean," Harvey interrupts himself again and takes a sip from his glass. "Did you mean not at all or not from me? Not with me?"
Mike stays silent for a couple of moments, staring at his fingers and biting his lips, so Harvey continues. "I mean, I might have made a mistake. Reading you," he adds after a short pause. "I don't believe I did but-- Maybe I've made a mistake and you're not into it or you are into it but you're not--" He reaches for his glass once more but sets it down again before it touches his lips. "Submissive."
"Can I be honest with you?" Mike asks after a couple of seconds and Harvey nods.
"Of course. Always. Please. I want to know. I need to know."
Mike nods and takes a deep breath.
"First, you didn't make a mistake. I am. Into it, that is. And I am a sub."
Harvey exhales audibly and a bit of the tension leaves his body.
"Second, I'd never just enter a scene like that, unprepared, not with somebody with whom I haven't-- Not with somebody I-- Not with you. That's one reason why I said no when you initiated or tried to. I just can't do it that way. I-- I need structure. Boundaries. I need to know where this ends and that begins."
"Mike--" Harvey tries to speak but his shoulders sag and he meets Mike's eyes before he nods. "I hear you, Mike. I am sorry. I shouldn't have assumed--"
"And," Mike reaches for his glass and takes a deep swallow. "And I don't want it from you. Or with you. I'm sorry."
Harvey runs his hand over his mouth and looks at Mike with wide eyes. "I don't understand," he murmurs.
"I can't-- Harvey, if that doesn't work between us… I'd never risk this for the sake of that. Never. It's too--"
"But," Harvey cuts in and reaches for Mike's hand. "But I want to share that with you, too. I want you to trust me with that part of you as well. I need you to. I can't keep this and that separate like that, Mike. Not forever. I want that to be a part of this."
"Okay, then let me rephrase," Mike says and withdraws his hand but holds Harvey's gaze. "What I meant is that I can't or don't want to give you that – yet. Basically because I'm not sure yet if you can meet my needs."
Harvey's eyes narrow and his eyebrows furrow. "What are you talking about? I mean, what are you into that you think I couldn't--" Harvey stops and leans back when Mike actually bursts into a laugh.
"Oh, Harvey. I could be into all sorts of things I'm sure you'd never--" He reins his laughter in until it's nothing more than a chuckle. "Not that I am. At least I don't think so. My kinks are pretty average, I think. For the most part."
A faint grin spreads over Harvey's face and Mike continues. "It's just--" he reaches for Harvey's hand and gives it a light squeeze before letting it go again and reaching for his glass. "It's just that I'm not sure yet if you're worthy of my submission."
"Wait," Harvey's grin fades. "You think I'm not worthy?"
"No," Mike replies, meeting Harvey's eyes. "I don't know if you are. That's different." He takes a deep breath and takes Harvey's hand in his. "Listen, I know that sounds weird, and I'm sorry. But it's the only way I know how to put it. That's what I think I'm feeling and I swear I wish it was different, but that's how I feel. I just don't know if you are."
"But," Harvey says. "But you know me."
"I do," Mike answers, shaking his head at the same time. "I know you as an attorney, as my boss, as my friend and as my lover. And you are more than worthy of my mind, my passion, my friendship and… my love."
Harvey swallows and Mike knows why. They haven't said those words to each other yet.
"But you don't know me as a Dom," Harvey concludes and Mike nods, biting his lips.
Harvey withdraws his hand from Mike's grasp and nods as well. "I understand."
"No," Mike interjects and leans forward. "I don't think you do." He takes a swallow from his glass and closes his eyes for a moment before he looks at Harvey again. "You're right. I don't know you as a Dom." He can see how Harvey tenses up again. "Yet."
He really wants to hold Harvey's hands for this but Harvey keeps them hidden in his lap.
"Look," he says. "I have a Dom I trust with that. He and I, we aren't-- He's someone I go to from time to time to--. I've been scening with him for a couple of years now, in between relationships and even during them when my partner wasn't--. They knew. They always knew, so--"
Mike interrupts himself when Harvey inhales sharply. "Harvey, I want you to know-- I haven't seen him since you and I started this. I'd never--"
Harvey exhales slowly and nods. "Good."
"I've been subbing for him for a couple of years now and it took me a long time to agree to it." Mike sighs. "I've made… certain experiences at an earlier time in my life that made me… require the knowledge that a Dom deserves my submission. Otherwise, I can't. I won't."
"You want me to earn it," Harvey muses and bites his lips.
"No," Mike replies and mirrors Harvey's gesture. "I need you to." He stretches his arms out and reaches across the table, turning his palms up. "And I want you to, too, because I want to be able to give you that. I want to want that as much as you do. I want to offer you what you want. But I can't. Yet."
Harvey nods and reaches for Mike's hands. "How can I--"
"I don't know," Mike says. "Harvey," he continues and clears his throat. "I want you to know. That. If you need-- You can go to somebody else. For that. It's not cheating. You have my permission. I trust you."
"Will you--" Harvey swallows and withdraws his hands. "Will you do that? Go to him, I mean?"
"I don't want to," Mike answers. "I don't know. I'll try not to."