The thing you have to understand about Mike, okay, is that he has never actually had money before. Yes, he did well enough at the few real jobs he's ever tried to hold down. And yes, things improved once he realized he could do even better and have more time for his grandmother if he gave up regular employment and slipped over (just a little, just a toe or two) onto Trevor's side of the law. But it's never going to be a simple matter for an unambitious twenty-four-year-old with no steady job to pay an eighty-year-old woman's medical bills.
And, to be fair, it couldn't have been easy for a sixty-year-old woman to slowly start demolishing her 401(k) because raising a little kid is expensive and retirement can only be put off so long. The point is, Mike is used to living just a bit short. Has always lived just a bit short. Is, not to put too fine a point on it, too young and still too flush with his own brilliance to contemplate a future in which living just a bit short might be a serious problem.
So it doesn't register with him at first that his $25,000 signing bonus from Pearson Hardman – perfectly, precisely, enough to cover the hospital bill, and barely a cent more – means that there's more to come. On the same, staggering (to Mike's "four tests a month pays rent and utilities, food is overrated" mindset) order. When he receives his first paycheck, three weeks and five days after Harvey Specter
changed his life forever kidnapped him for his own clearly nefarious purposes, he sits down, hard, right there on the floor of the shitty room he's renting at-will and just stares at it for ten solid minutes.
Then he calls the nursing home and asks how many days $15,000 will cover. The startled receptionist asks if he'd perhaps like to be transferred over to one of their financial planning associates, and when she's done with him Mike has arranged to pay all his grandmother's care for the next two months, and a few extra perks besides.
The money left over is still more than he's ever had at any one point in his life. It's not easy – the information is buried deep, so deep that Mike briefly wonders if he's actually forgotten it – but he finally remembers the number of the savings account his grandmother set up for him on his seventh birthday. He hasn't used it in years, not since he sold his first test score for cash (midterm, social studies, tenth grade. 82%, because it was exactly what Trevor needed to pass and Mrs. McCreedy never could tell them apart, anyway).
It takes him a while to track down the big bank that bought the little bank that his grandmother has used since 1937, but eventually Mike is standing in front of a shiny white counter with a shiny white clerk behind it. That clerk passes him off to a more senior clerk, who passes him off to an account manager with a pinstriped skirt and the most intimidating stiletto heels Mike has ever seen (the ladies at Pearson Hardman included). After an uncomfortable hour wishing he'd worn anything but threadbare jeans and a t-shirt with rips in both sleeves, Mike is able to walk away with a new checking account (complete with debit card and PIN), half a dozen bank-endorsed credit card applications, a shiny bank book with enough checks to last him the next ten years, and strict instructions to Call me, Mr. Ross, if you have any questions, because God knows whatever muddling along you've done until now isn't going to cut it anymore.
Mike is grateful for the offer, but he never does call. The credit card applications go in the trash. He uses exactly two checks a month (one to pay the rent on his new, cupboard sized, oh-my-god-I-signed-a-lease apartment; one to pay two more months at the nursing home, and isn't it odd to be building credit instead of using it, for a change?). He's fairly certain that if he didn't have an eidetic memory he'd have forgotten his pin number ten times over.
All in all, Mike is perfectly okay with this. He briefly considers trying to pay Harvey back for his first suit from René, but then he imagines how Harvey would react if Mike tried to give him a check and uses the money to buy a second suit, instead. He forces himself to add half a dozen "proper" ties as well, and reasons that it should be fine, no one pays any attention to men's fashion, and who besides Harvey would even notice, anyway?
It's not a very convincing argument, but Mike feels justified when the bill for his rookie dinner – including Louis's wine, and Mike's not forgiving him for that any time soon – is enough to make him wince, even after he remembers that paying it is well within his new means.
Then he finds out that Harvey has already paid it for him, and doesn't know what to feel.
-- -- --
He lingers outside Harvey's office the following Monday, waiting for Donna to leave – she gives him an odd look, but doesn't chase him away when she goes – before he slips inside with the lightest of knocks.
Harvey is neck-deep in manila folders, his crisp sleeves scrunched up to the elbows and his suit jacket flung haphazardly over the arm of the sofa. Framed against the city-dark sky outside his windows, sharp edges softened by the yellow glow of his desk lamp, he looks just like every cubicle-bound rookie associate. Mike realizes he's getting a rare look at what goes on behind the scenes of every sharp-tongued rejoinder, every citation, every smirk that he's seen Harvey pull out of thin air.
It's the magician, revealing his tricks. Mike wonders if this is also part of "getting it."
"You're not distracting me," Harvey says suddenly, looking up at him, "but it's generally considered rude stare at someone without even announcing yourself."
"You do it to me all the time," Mike protests, finally closing the door behind him and stepping around to Harvey's side of the desk.
"You’re my associate, I can do whatever I want to you." Harvey's eyes flick down and up, and Mike has just enough time to turn bright fucking red, you idiot, good job before he adds, "And you should know better than to wear the same tie two weeks in a row, by now."
"This – I didn't – you're the one who vetoed all my old ties!"
"And also gave you the name of my personal tailor, what's your point?"
Mike starts to splutter a reply, then stops and forces himself back on track.
"Look, I can see you're working, I didn't come in to bother you. I just wanted to say thanks. For…the thing. With my rookie dinner."
Harvey blinks at him.
"Aaaaand I'm gonna go now, before this conversation gets anymore awkward because I forgot you're a cyborg who doesn't experience human emotions." He spins on his heel and is halfway out the door before –
"Androids," Harvey says. "Androids are full robots with only a superficial human appearance. Cyborgs are humans with robotic attachments. Unless you're contending that a mechanical arm negates the capacity to feel—"
"…right," Mike says.
-- -- --
Mike does his best to forget about the whole thing, grateful that his memory doesn't seem to encompass the vast majority of his social interactions. He does so well that he's considerably confused when, one morning, Harvey walks by his desk, stops, backtracks, and says flatly,
"You've got to be kidding me."
"Huh?" Mike has barely looked up from his work when Harvey grabs him by the scruff of his neck and hauls him out of the building, scattering the briefs Mike was reading in his wake. Mike is used to it by this point, though, so he doesn't start to worry until they've made it four blocks from the Pearson Hardman building and he realizes Harvey 1) hasn't said a word, 2) is making a beeline for a public park, and 3) looks more pissed off than Mike has ever seen him, including that time with the pot and the fantasy football guy and the really, really scary looks from Donna that Mike never ever wants to get ever again.
"Harvey?" he tries, and "Harvey?!" when his mentor only walks faster, lips pressed tightly together. "Harvey, wait, you can't kill me, a park is a terrible place to hide a body and everyone saw you drag me out of the office—"
"Please, this suit is Michael Andrews; René would never forgive me."
"…well. I'm so glad to know that at least your tailor is standing between me and your crazy homicidal impulses—"
"Sit down." Harvey pushes him toward (almost into) a nearby fountain and stands, towering over him for a moment – before he scowls and folds himself down onto the smooth, grey stone, close enough to brush Mike's knee with his own.
"For the record," he announces, "I am not doing this because I am worried. I am not worried. I think that, despite your irritatingly wide-eyed naiveté about the legal profession, you are a grown-ass man who can deal with his own goddamn problems." He pauses. "That said, Donna can be very intimidating when she wants to be, and so just this once I'm going to ask: what the hell is going on with you?"
"Huh?" Mike says, again.
"All right, clearly eidetic memory doesn't mean genius," Harvey notes. "What kind of trouble are you in this time? Is it Trevor again? Because I will have him arrested."
"I'm not in trouble!" Mike is torn between confusion, mortification, and the little part of him that perks up every time Harvey acts like he might actually be a bit protective of him (Mike tries to squash that part as much as he can; it's clearly delusional). "Why do you always think I'm in trouble? I'm never in trouble! Also, how do you know about Trevor?"
"You're a terrible liar," Harvey informs him. "And I'm brilliant. In the past three months, you've been paid a $25,000 signing bonus—"
"That was for my grandmother's hospital bill!"
"—$36,000 in outright salary, not to mention another $4,000 in assorted bonuses, and you've got the regular benefits package for a rookie associate. You still bike to work, you own exactly two adequate suits and six ties that aren't horrendous, and you live in an apartment I wouldn't leave my dog in."
"You have a dog?"
"What? No. Focus, Mike. Where is the money going? You're not spending it on pot, you'd kill yourself if you smoked that much—"
"The money isn't going anywhere!" Mike snaps, suddenly understanding, and Jesus Christ he's never blushed this much before in his life, why is he starting now? And with Harvey, of all people. "It's – I just like knowing I have it, okay?" he continues, trying to be quiet. "In case my grandma needs the hospital again, or there's an emergency, or—" Mike swallows, forces himself to continue. "Or, you know, I get fired. From the job I'm not supposed to have in the first place."
Harvey is silent for a long moment.
Then he smacks Mike on the back of the head.
"That's it?!" He laughs, an unfamiliar, raucous laugh that lights up his whole face and turns heads all around the fountain. "Oh, rookie." Mike winces and flaps ineffectually at Harvey when he reaches over to ruffle Mike's hair. "I'm going to have fun with you."
-- -- --
Mike knows Harvey is up to something – besides the something that Harvey is always up to, anyway – but he has absolutely no clue what it is, until he's woken up at an unholy hour on Saturday morning by an insistent pounding on his door. He stumbles out of bed to answer, and nearly gets a fist in the face for his trouble.
"What the hell, man?" he demands, glaring blearily in the direction of the Harvey-shaped blob in his doorway.
"You're late," Harvey says. "Car, five minutes, coffee's waiting. And for God's sake don't wear anything with holes in it, you'll give René hysterics." He shuts the door.
Then he opens it again.
"That includes your underwear, by the way."
"Oh my God!"
But four minutes and fifty-one seconds later, Mike is sipping the best coffee he's ever tasted in the passenger seat of Harvey's sleek, black, European something, while Harvey cuts through the New York traffic like a taxi driver with bills to pay.
"You spill that, I leave your ass on the sidewalk," he warns, cornering a hard right and cutting off a particularly irate BMW in the process.
Mike grins, and sticks out his tongue.
It's not until they actually pull up outside a familiar, glass-doored store that Mike registers what Harvey said earlier about René and hysterics.
"What are we doing here?" He scrambles to keep up as Harvey whips out of the car and up the front steps.
"Rule the first, rookie." Harvey gives him a once over, nods and shoves him through the door. "Spending money is a privilege. Enjoy it."
"Harvey!" René claps his hands as they step into the show room, his delight completely at odds with the arched-eyebrow disdain Mike remembers. "Twenty minutes you've kept me waiting, you tease; I'll have to have Veronica push back Mr. Litt's appointment to tomorrow." He doesn't seem particularly distressed at the prospect.
"Now, now," Harvey is grinning – a real grin, or as close as Mike has seen, without a hint of anything but honest pleasure – as he steps forward to shake the tailor's hand, and wrap a familiar arm around his shoulders. "It doesn't do to go insulting your own client base, René."
"Oh, please," René sniffs. "Because I'm so incredibly worried about Louis damaging my reputation. Now, you, on the other hand…" Mike is astonished to see a mischievous glint flash in his eyes. "Well, we'll just need to keep you very happy, won't we, Mr. Specter? It's a bit early for a winter suit, but I've got a lovely new wool pinstripe, dark gray with burgundy accents. Very tricky to carry off – just your style." He winks, and Mike's jaw drops. "Now, I know you're set in your ways, but you have the height for a three-button and—"
"Hold on!" laughs Harvey, holding up a hand. "I know I made the appointment in my name, but it's not for me." He steps aside and gestures at Mike. "I'm sure you've met my new associate, Mike Ross?'
René's face falls fast enough to make Mike wince in sympathy.
"You – you – Harvey Specter, you are as deceiving as a low down, dirty…deceiver!" He thumps Harvey in the chest with a closed fist. "We are going to have words, later."
"Come on, René," Harvey wheedles. "The kid's got potential – I've seen his new suits, he looks fantastic. Even though they're, you know, completely the wrong cut for his figure. And the wrong pattern. And just…wrong."
"He started as close to the door as he could possibly get." René is clearly still distressed over the incident, enough to make Mike stare guiltily at the floor. "He asked Veronica if there was another rack that belonged in the empty space!"
"And you did the best you could under the circumstances, I'm sure. No one expects every suit to be a sartorial marvel." Harvey pats his back soothingly.
"Don't think I don't know exactly what you're doing," he says sternly. Then he leans around Harvey and crooks one imperious finger at Mike. "Come, my friend." The smile on his face sends a shiver down Mike's spine. "And we'll do wonders…won't we?"
-- -- --
They don't let Mike get any closer than twenty feet from the door, but to his relief Harvey doesn't prod him to move any further than thirty, either.
"Another year or two, I think. We'll wait until Louis starts worrying about you making partner," he says with relish.
Mike is no longer so relieved.
René says things like, "Herringbone, Harvey, I want to put him in herringbone, he's so skinny," and "If you don't stop hiding the dark green cotton I'll give you stubby arms for a year, just look at his hair for Christ's sake." Harvey says things like, "Trust me, wait to see if he bulks up a bit first. You have no idea how he's been living," and "Stop doing weird things to my associate. He's a rookie, not a runway model."
Mike very carefully doesn't say anything at all. At last, he's hustled into a dreadfully familiar, curtained-off fitting room in the rear of the store. René takes one look at his pants and whips them off; Harvey (the bastard) just stands aside and looks smug. The following two hours, as far as Mike is concerned, are a whirl of fabrics and patterns and pointy needles prodding him back into position, and he's quite happy not to remember them very clearly at all.
In the end, they settle on four suits: two in shades of pale grey cotton, one in navy wool for when the weather starts to turn nippy, and one in linen because René insists that the silhouette will be divine if Mike just keeps it from creasing and Harvey insists that Mike needs something to practice being responsible on. The two of them sweep back out into the show room, arm in arm, leaving Mike to struggle into his old (strangely uncomfortable, suddenly) clothes. By the time he joins them, Veronica is presenting a smiling Harvey with a discreet square of paper.
René leans over to murmur something in his ear, and Harvey's smile grows even wider. Mike, on the other hand, takes on look at the paper and blanches.
"Harvey—" he hisses.
"Rule the first, rookie, what is it?" Harvey snaps out, in the same voice he uses when he's demanding a citation. Mike answers automatically.
"Spending money is a privilege. Enjoy it." Mike pauses, then scowls as Harvey pats him on the head.
"Good job. Now, René here does extraordinary work – but he doesn't do it for everyone. Mostly because not everyone is willing to listen to his frankly brilliant advice."
"Louis," René adds darkly.
"I, however, listen to everything he tells me, and end up looking…well, you've seen." Oh, Mike's seen that smirk before. He scowls harder. "And as a result, it is my privilege to pay him an exorbitant amount of money for his artistry." With a flourish, Harvey presents a gleaming black credit card to Veronica.
"Normally, the process isn't so rushed," he adds, as she vanishes behind the counter.
Mike wrinkles his nose. "You call this rushed?"
"Two hours for four suits, and nothing to drink?" René looks faintly scandalized. "It's practically barbaric. Harvey, you have to bring him back for a real winter wardrobe. Have. To. And something new for you, too – I can't believe I'm letting you walk out of here without."
"Done and done," Harvey says warmly, retrieving his card from Veronica. René shakes his hand, and Mike's as well.
"Don't come in here looking like a train wreck again," he warns, giving Mike a small smile.
"If I do, it'll be your fault," Mike retorts. René looks blindsided for a moment; then, he starts to laugh. Harvey joins in, the same laugh from the park, his eyes all crinkled up at the corners, and all Mike can do is stare.
"I told you the kid had potential!"
-- -- --
The following week, Harvey treats Mike the same as he always has. That is, he ignores him half the time, expects him to single-handedly divine the workings of the American legal system (through the magical powers of his eidetic memory, maybe), and generally heaps so much cheerful abuse on him that by the time Saturday rolls around, Mike is convinced he hallucinated the whole previous weekend.
So when Harvey all but beats his door in at another ungodly hour (of the evening this time), Mike thinks he can forgive himself for wondering:
1) whether he's hallucinating again
2) whether one can have déjà vu of previously hallucinated events
And only after several second have passed,
3) what the hell Harvey wants this time.
He says as much to Harvey. Harvey shoves a suit bag at him and informs him that have a reservation at Jean Georges in an hour and a half.
After Mike gives up on keeping him out of the apartment, he graciously adds that, considering the traffic, it will take them just under hour to get there.
Mike swears at him and sprints for the bathroom.
It takes him forty-five minutes to get ready, because Harvey's drilled enough into him about representing the firm, rookie, whether you like it or not, and Pearson Hardman is never threadbare, scruffy, or more than twenty-four hours away from a hot shower. And, to be fair to René, also because his new suit (one of the cotton greys, with a black shirt and silver-blue tie that just scream, "Harvey picked me!") is possibly the most self-indulgent thing he's ever worn. Mike spends way too long perched on top of the toilet seat, fiddling around and admiring himself in the tiny bathroom mirror.
He decides the fifteen minutes of feeling like a girl on a date are completely worth it, however, when he steps into the living room and Harvey just – stares. And keeps staring, as Mike does his best strut over to the sofa and executes a slow turn.
"You were right," he grins. "René did make me look like a runway model."
"Of course I was right, I'm brilliant," Harvey says absently, craning his neck just a bit, and it sends a thrill up Mike's spine to wonder if Harvey is trying to get a better look at his ass. "Wait, what?"
"Nothing. Come on, tough guy!" Mike bounces up on his toes and shadow boxes the air in front of Harvey. "Tonight, Jean Claude; tomorrow, the world!"
"It's Jean Georges, rookie. And…you have absolutely no idea who or what that is."
"Not a clue," Mike says cheerfully, and bounces out to the car.
-- -- --
They arrive at Jean Georges less than half an hour after leaving Mike's apartment and just in time for their reservation – either because Harvey is an outstanding and wily driver (Harvey's opinion) or because when it comes to estimating travel times he is a shameless, lying liar who lies (Mike's opinion).
The host seats them at a white-clothed table in one of the quieter corners of the restaurant; a few minutes later, the sommelier is at Harvey's elbow with a smile and a wine list so densely printed it makes Mike's eyes water. Harvey takes one look and waves it away.
"I'm trying to introduce my new associate to some of the…finer points of New York City," he tells her, as Mike desperately scans his menu for a price that doesn't make him want to cringe. Harvey glances at him, then sighs at the sommelier with a little quirk of his lips that adds, and isn't he adorable for trying so hard. She nods and taps the side of her nose, tight blonde ponytail swishing with the motion.
"I think I have just the thing, sir," she says, and swishes off. Mike seizes his opportunity.
"Harvey, I don't think—"
"Rule the second, rookie," Harvey interrupts. "Spending money is a responsibility."
"I'm not handing it to you on a silver platter this time. Think, put that giant brain to some practical use."
"I'll giant brain you," grumps Mike, but he leaves off panicking over the menu and obeys. He's so wrapped up in the problem that he doesn't notice when the waiter arrives with a four-part amuse-bouche, or when Harvey orders the autumn tasting menu for both of them. He does notice when Harvey discreetly reaches over to stick something in his mouth – and his thoughts stutter to a halt as his brain shuts down in sheer gastronomic bliss.
After that, it's a rout. Egg toast with caviar; soft, white sashimi; nishiki risotto, grilled bass, lobster, lamb…every course – just four or five bites each – does things to Mike's mouth that he's convinced can't be strictly legal. Harvey pours them both glass after glass of wine, and Mike can feel every sip going straight to his head. His knees are wobbly under the table, Harvey's ankle a spot of warmth pressed against his own. He can't seem to stop smiling.
In the end, chin propped on his hand and a smudge of chocolate on his cheek, watching as Harvey savors a sangria-poached cherry, Mike has the distinct feeling he's missing something. It doesn't bother him nearly as much as it should.
"Well?" Harvey asks, polishing off his Château d'Yquem and setting the glass aside.
"Mmm?" Mike is busy staring at Harvey's throat, contemplating the pulse point that flutters every time he swallows, but he manages a vague noise of inquiry.
"Rule the second, rookie."
"Spending money is a responsibility," Mike parrots, and slow-blinks his opinion of that. Harvey rolls his eyes, but otherwise doesn't seem particularly concerned.
"Take a look around. See any familiar faces?"
Mike looks left and right – and then stops, quickly, because it's making his head spin. Harvey (or, possibly, a block of air six inches to Harvey's right; Mike is a little fuzzy on the specifics at this point) gets a glare for that.
"Right, I forgot. Books, your thing; people, not your thing."
"People are so my thing! I'm – I'm very good with whassisname, the guy who makes the engines…"
"Point proven." Harvey's grinning outright, now. "Here, I'll help you. If one of our clients walked through the front door, right now, what would they see us doing?"
"Um…they'd see us…us…" On a date? No, no, bad answer. "Having dinner? Having expensive dinner!" Mike adds, on a stroke of sudden genius, and feels very proud.
"And drinking…?" Harvey prompts.
"Wine!" Mike's exclamation is quiet, but vigorous. "But…you never drink wine when you're working. At least not—" He starts counting glasses on his fingers, gets confused, and settles on, "Not this much." He's secure in the accuracy, if not the specificity of the statement. It seems to satisfy Harvey, who signs the check (when did…what? Mike is utterly lost), considers Mike for a brief moment, and steps around the table to lever him to his feet.
"So, to recap," he says, wrapping a supportive arm around Mike's waist once they make it outside, waiting for the valet to retrieve Harvey's car, "I'm having dinner with my new associate on a Saturday night, which suggests a work ethic for both of us that extends well beyond the normal nine-to-five. But we're drinking, and more than a little, which suggests we don't have a pressing problem to discuss; this must be mentoring, networking, not a crisis. Besides, I've deemed him worth bringing to Jean Georges even though he's only been with me three months; either he, or Pearson Hardman, or – most likely – both are doing very well.
"In sum," Harvey reaches over to buckle Mike into his seat; Mike thinks about protesting and decides it would be rude, and also way too much effort. "The firm looks great, I look great, and our clients are happy – all for the price of an exquisite meal and a few hours of scintillating conversation."
Mike ponders this for a few minutes.
"You," he says at last, flopping his head over to look at Harvey, "do not scintillate. Cuttlefish scintillate. Butterflies scintillate. Louis's bald spot, technically, scintillates. You…I don't know what you do, but you do not scintillate."
"And you're an annoyingly articulate drunk."
Mike must fall asleep in the car, because the next thing he registers is the creak and shift of a mattress – firmer, and with softer sheets, than his own – and the heat of a warm body stretched out alongside him. He stirs, but he can't open his eyes and his head feels like it weighs a ton.
"Shhh." Harvey's voice rumbles against Mike's back, and a straw is pressed between his lips. Mike sucks instinctively, and a trickle of cool water slips down his throat. "Drink. Then sleep. Think later."
It's the best idea Mike's heard yet.
-- -- --
Mike is hot.
Mike is really hot. Roasting, in fact, sizzling, scorching, sweat-soaked—
"Gah!" He jerks upright, fighting his way out of the heap of blankets, gasping for air. The air conditioning is running at full blast and it feels amazing; Mike spends a few moments just soaking it in, savoring the late-morning sunlight filtering in through the glass balcony doors.
Wait a minute.
Mike's apartment doesn't have a balcony.
Or air conditioning, for that matter.
A quick look around confirms Mike's suspicions. He's stripped down to his underwear, his suit hanging neatly from the door of what he suspects is an enormous walk-in closet. His feet are still tucked under a luxuriant, royal blue comforter, which Mike's struggles have rucked up against a gleaming wooden footboard. And Harvey…
Harvey is sacked out not even a foot away, on his side, one arm flung out and still resting across Mike's waist. His hand is well into sexual harassment territory, curled around the fabric-covered swell of Mike's morning wood. It looks oddly innocent.
Then Mike realizes he's contemplating Harvey's hand on his cock and leaving a wet spot on his boxers in the process. He squirms away, eventually managing to extricate himself from Harvey's surprisingly possessive grip, and – after tucking the blankets in a suitably obscuring pile around his waist – jabs Harvey in the shoulder. Hard.
Harvey, to Mike's astonishment and delight, makes a noise like a cranky four-year-old and flops over onto his stomach, squirming deeper into his nest of pillows.
Harvey lifts his head and fixes Mike with a bleary scowl. A frown. A pout, even, because Mike is feeling daring and Harvey is clearly not a morning person.
"Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy; because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done," he grumbles, and shoves his head under a pillow.
"Genesis, chapter two, verse three, New International Edition," Mike says (he learned the hard way that crushing boredom was, at least for him, a better option than skimming the Gideon Bible in the hotel night stand). "Harvey, I'm hungry. I'm your guest, aren't you supposed to take care of me?"
There's a vague mumble from under the pillow that could be interpreted, by a generous soul, as "Coffee. Kitchen. Go."
Mike, on basis of the fact that Harvey didn't let him sleep in his suit, decides to be generous.
The coffeemaker isn't the most confusing Mike's ever seen (that would be the one in the board room at Pearson Hardman, with the eighteen buttons, two kinds of foamers, cream tank, and optional sugar dispenser). However, the matte silver rectangle with neither a space for the carafe nor a readily discernable 'on' button doesn't seem particularly user friendly, either. Nonetheless, he prods at it hopefully for a few minutes, until bare footsteps pad up behind him and he hears Harvey rasp,
"Stop. Just stop. You're never going to get coffee out of there."
"Why not? You expect me to figure everything else out on my own."
"Because that's a toaster."
Mike steps aside as Harvey shuffles over, grabs his Blackberry, and hands it to him.
"Westway Diner, it's in the contacts under 'Breakfast.' Two eggs over easy, half a grapefruit, and…whatever else you want, I don't know. They have my card. And the coffee'll be over there," he waves vaguely at the other end of the kitchen, "if you just wait ten more minutes."
He disappears back into the bedroom, from whence Mike hears a groan and then the loud thump of Harvey faceplanting back onto the bed. Mike takes a certain amount of satisfaction in treating himself to the two most expensive omelettes on the menu, an order of blueberry blintzes, and a yogurt parfait (what? Harvey should be pleased, he's taking his lessons to heart). He waits for the coffee to brew, keeps one mug for himself, and leaves the other, with its four sugars, no cream, and don't give me that look, rookie, when you make six-hundred-fifty thousand a year you can take your coffee however you want, too on Harvey's night stand.
Then he goes into the living room, sits down on the sofa, and proceeds to very, very quietly freak out at the revelation that Harvey apparently sleeps – and wanders around his apartment – completely, totally, bare-ass naked.
-- -- --
The rest of the day sort of reminds Mike of that book his grandmother used to read to him when he was little, the one about the mouse and the kid and the Law of Unintended Consequences. If You Give an Overbearing, Stupidly Rich Attorney a Rookie…yeah, that sounds about right.
See, when Harvey finally wakes up for real some time around noon, Mike – very politely, with only the barest minimum of absolutely justified shouting – makes him go back and get dressed before he'll let him into the kitchen again. And when Harvey returns, freshly showered, in tan slacks and a tight blue polo (that should scream asshole but really just murmurs, how does a guy with an office job look so damn good?), it reminds Mike that he's still half-hard and in his boxers.
And when Mike emerges from his own shower, resigned to walk-of-shame-ing his way home in last night's suit, Harvey hands a pair of skinny jeans and a faded Mötley Crüe t-shirt through the door with the comment, "Think these might be a bit small for you, I was a skinny bastard in college. We'll have to go shopping."
And when Mike starts feeling reluctant to set foot outside Harvey's apartment, let alone walk down the street, in clothes that, yes, are a bit beyond "small" and edging over into "painted on" territory, Harvey (the bastard, again) notices, and apologizes, and gets Mike a white button-down to throw on over them, and drives them downtown instead of just catching a cab, even though the parking is easily twice what the fare would have been.
And when Mike finally just grabs the first thing that looks like it might fit, because Harvey's got him in the middle of SoHo and he knows that if he starts paying attention to price tags he'll never convince himself to buy anything, Harvey frowns and does his imperious little attend my will, peon finger crook thing, bringing a tiny, terrifying salesgirl down on Mike's head. Skilled lady that she is, she talks him into buying what feels like half the store before he manages to escape; somehow, it all ends up on Harvey's card, which Harvey seems to take as justification for choosing another store to herd Mike into. And another. And another.
And when Mike protests that he barely has room in his apartment for his new suits from René, let alone more clothes than he can physically carry (he made Harvey start helping somewhere around bag number five), Harvey gets a gleam in his eye that Mike is quickly learning bodes ill for anyone with ideas about fiscal prudence. Forty-five minutes and two very confusing cell phone conversations later, Harvey informs Mike that he is now the proud new tenant of the lovely vacant apartment across the hall and half the size of Harvey's, which his landlord has been trying to get him interested in for going on six months now. Harvey also adds that he's gone ahead and made the down payment for him, so even if Mike decides he wants to move out after a week or two he doesn't have to worry.
And when Mike starts to announce that he has no intention of actually moving in, Harvey suddenly decides he's starving for an early dinner and zips them uptown before Mike can get two syllables in edgewise. The sushi at Hashi is as incredible as Harvey claims; for a few minutes, Mike actually forgets that he still has to figure out what to do in the face of today's incontrovertible evidence that his boss is literally insane.
-- -- --
Eventually, Harvey drops Mike off outside his apartment – the old one (Harvey calls it; Mike refuses to acknowledge that there could be any cause for confusion). He offers to help Mike with his completely stupid number of bags, but Mike is weirdly embarrassed to let him inside now that he knows what Harvey's own place looks like. He makes two trips, instead, sprinting up the stairs and dumping everything in a heap outside his door while Harvey keeps the car idling by the sidewalk.
"I'll be back in a few, with your suit," Harvey says, when Mike comes out to say good night. "Don't go anywhere."
"Wait!" Without thinking, Mike leans into the open window and catches Harvey's wrist, before he can release the parking brake. Harvey freezes. "Why are you – I mean, today was – you told me before I was on my own." Mike is tripping over his words; he's not entirely sure what he even wants to ask, let alone how to ask it without sounding like a third-grader with a crush. "So…I don't…"
His uncertainty seems to reassure Harvey.
"Rule the third, rookie," he says, with a smirk. "Spending money is fun." His eyes slide down Mike's chest, over the expanse of skin visible between the stupid t-shirt and the stupid, stupid jeans, with more than a hint of appreciation. Mike realizes he's still holding Harvey's wrist and yanks his hand away, his cheeks burning. As soon as he's clear, Harvey guns the engine and whips around the corner into the blur of evening traffic, leaving Mike feeling more confused than the time he tried to file a lis pendens while Rachel was out sick.
He trudges back upstairs, fishing for his key – but the door swings open as soon as he touches it. Mike's first thought is that someone has broken in, which, okay, it's happened before; he just hopes they're not still there. He'd hate to have to explain to Harvey how he lost all the stuff he bought him five minutes after bringing it home (mostly because he suspects Harvey's first reaction would be to drag him out to replace it all).
Fortunately, it turns out Mike isn't facing a home invasion this month. Unfortunately, he'd almost rather be: the sight that greets him is none other than Trevor, hunched over on Mike's sofa with his hands in his hair, his ever-present suit (which René would have a field day with, and Mike will never forgive himself for knowing that now) a wreck of creases and sweat stains. He looks like he hasn't slept in days.
"Mike!" Trevor fixes on him the instant he steps in the door, wild-eyed with something that isn't quite relief. "Mike, thank God, I've been waiting for you all day—"
Mike can still feel the ache from the punch Trevor landed to his jaw, the elbow to his gut, the knee viciously low along his hip.
"Get the fuck out."
"No." Trevor takes two swift steps toward him, crowding Mike back against the door. "You have to help me. They've got Jennie."
Mike feels the blood drain from his face – but if three months with Harvey Specter have taught him anything, it's the value of specificity.
"Who's got Jennie?"
"Who the fuck do you think? The cops!"
"Oh, fuck you!" Mike drops his bags, spilling a half dozen shirts onto the floor in a jewel-bright tangle, and shoves past Trevor. "Fuck you, you scared the shit out of me, I thought you got her tangled up with those fuckers you sold me out for!"
"She's in jail, Mike." It's Trevor who's gone white, now. "I needed a place to keep my shit, you know, minimize the risk after my runner almost got made—"
"Don't call me your runner, you fucking—"
"—some other asshole on her floor, the landlord let the cops in and the dogs smelled it but I wasn't there, but she was—"
"You got her arrested for your fucking stash?!"
"Yes! Okay?" Trevor slams his fist into the wall, hard enough to rattle the door in his frame. "I got her arrested, and she doesn't deserve it, and she'll be waiting there for three fucking weeks unless I can come up with sixty-five thousand dollars to bail her out!" What he expects is – at least to Mike – really fucking obvious.
"I don't have that kind of money!" Mike protests before he can think better of it, and then, "And even if I did—"
"Don't give me that crap," Trevor snaps. "You think Jennie didn't tell me about your shiny new job? Mike Ross, Attorney at Law, now there's a fucking joke. What do you think they'd do if I told them you never even applied to law school? Hell, I don't even have to do that; I just need to tell someone exactly what you were doing the day you got hired!"
"Trevor, I swear, I don't—"
"You've got enough cash to buy yourself a goddamn fashion show, but you can't fucking help Jennie?"
"I didn't buy those, Harvey did!"
"Harvey?" Trevor's tone changes; there's a new, nasty sort of glee in his voice. "Harvey. Wow, man, I'm impressed. The Mike Ross I knew only ever sucked dick for weed—"
Mike explodes. His hand is fisted in Trevor's shirt and then his fist is in Trevor's face, and Mike can't think through the fear and the worry and the guilt – because maybe, if he hadn't taken the suitcase; maybe, if he'd said something sooner; maybe, if he'd loved Trevor a little less and Jennie a little more—
The door bangs open. A hand catches Mike's wrist as he draws back for another blow, and Harvey's arm is around his waist, dragging him backward as he mutters in Mike's ear, "Tell me you have a good explanation for this, rookie."
Trevor cups a hand under his streaming nose, and glowers, and says nothing.
Harvey sits them both down on the sofa. He hands Trevor a handkerchief; Mike takes a perverse sort of pleasure in seeing Trevor's eyes bug out when he realizes he's bleeding all over Simeon Farrar linen. When Trevor gets through his story (with a minimum of interruptions, thanks only to Harvey's hand resting heavily on Mike's shoulder), Harvey pulls out his Blackberry and spends several minutes tapping away at it in silence. Then he looks up.
"I've just sent an email to my accountant," he announces, to Mike's dismay. "And in the morning, he's going to call me, and then he's going to call my bank, and then you and I, Trevor, are going to go to the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where I am going to post Jennie's bail and you are going to tell them everything you just told me. You're not going to say a word about Mike. You are going to get arrested, without protest, and you're going to repeat your confession as many times as the police want you to. And do you know why you're going to do all that, Trevor?"
"Why?" Trevor's voice is shaking, but he meets Harvey's gaze. Harvey smiles.
"Because if you don't, I'll go to the District Attorney – who, by the way, is married to my secretary's sister – and offer him my assistance with your prosecution. Pro bono, of course. And when I'm done with you, everyone in that court room is going to be absolutely convinced you're one dime-bag away from becoming the next Amado Fuentes. You'll be lucky to get paroled while you can still walk out on your own two feet – if you don't get your ass ruined by a narcotraficante with a grudge, first.
"Come on. You're spending the night at my place. Both of you," he adds, with a look at Mike that just dares him to argue.
Mike doesn't argue.
When Trevor is safely ensconced in the back seat of Harvey's car, however, Mike pauses.
"The maximum sentence in New York for possession with intent to sell is fifteen months," he says quietly. "And Donna doesn't have a sister."
"Oh, yeah." Harvey grins, wicked and triumphant. "But he doesn't know that."
-- -- --
Harvey makes Mike take the bed.
"I never sleep the night before a case opens," he says. "And this is a case, now, as far as I'm concerned. Besides, someone has to keep an eye on him." He jerks his head at Trevor, passed out on the sofa from pain meds that – just maybe, Mike's not accusing Harvey of anything – might have been a little too strong for a bloody nose.
Mike starts to protest, but something in Harvey's expression shuts him up, fast.
"Good night," he says instead, giving Harvey a cheerless little wave. As he starts to close the bedroom door, Harvey murmurs,
"Pretty dense for a genius, rookie."
Mike pretends not to hear.
On Monday morning, Mike wakes up to an empty apartment and a note taped to the toaster.
Taking your friend in before he pulls it together enough to make trouble. Your suit's in the closet.
If I make it to the office before you, you forfeit Rachel's help for the rest of the month.
When Mike arrives, a cup of coffee and a bacon-and-egg burrito are sitting on his desk, both still steaming. Donna pops her head around the corner of his cubicle.
"Oh good, you're here!" she says brightly. "Harvey called and asked me to get you breakfast from the cafeteria downstairs, but I didn't think you'd get here before it got cold."
"Thanks—hey, what are you implying?" Mike asks, eyes narrowed suspiciously. Donna points a stern finger at him.
"Eat and be grateful, you." She whisks off, leaving Mike to his burrito – and the pile of briefs that, apparently, came with it.
Harvey waltzes in just before noon, looking not at all like a man who just dropped sixty-five grand getting one stranger out of jail and putting another one in. Mike swallows when he walks past, but Harvey barely spares him a glance, except to bark,
"Finished with those briefs yet?"
"It's only been four hours!"
"Tsk tsk, falling down on the job," Harvey calls over his shoulder. Mike pulls a face at his retreating back and resolves not to thank him for breakfast.
He ends up doing it anyway, though, late that evening when even his fellow associates have shut down their computers and toddled off into the night. At first, Mike doesn't notice Harvey leaning over the top of his cubicle. He's got his nose buried in the paperwork for the Grossman case, highlighter cap between his teeth and The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style open beside him.
" 'All the way up to Heaven, and all the way down to Hell,' " Harvey says, making Mike start violently. His highlighter draws a streak of flourescent green across his cheek.
"Cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad infernos. But you won't find it in there," he adds, nodding at Mike's book. "It's mostly defunct now, at least compared to what Blackstone originally meant. Are they seriously trying to rest a claim on it?"
"No. We are."
Harvey winces theatrically.
"Have fun with that." He turns to leave.
"Wait!" The word slips out almost panicky; Mike bites his lip and charges on. "This morning—I mean—"
"Relax." Harvey's soft smile actually seems genuine. "I'm brilliant, remember? Went off without a hitch. And I'll get the money back in a few months, anyway; your girlfriend doesn't seem the kind to skip town."
"Pffff," Mike scoffs, even though he can feel the blush heating his cheeks. "What are you talking about? I just wanted to say thanks for breakfast, man."
"Yeah, yeah. Wrap it up, I'll give you a ride home."
"Hey! Weren't you the one who gave me a lecture on how you worked a hundred hours a week your first year?"
"No, rookie, I said everyone thought I worked a hundred hours a week. Try to keep up." He reaches down into the cubicle and flips Mike's book shut. Mike grabs his stuff; they're halfway out of the parking lot before it occurs to him to ask,
"You'll give me a ride to whose home?"
"…you know, this would be much simpler if you just agreed to move into the new apartment."
-- -- --
On Friday, it all goes to hell.
Mike knows something is up as soon as he sees Louis zipping around the office like a mosquito on crack. The man is only, ever, energetic when someone he doesn't like has gotten screwed – or is about to. Mike tries to convince himself it doesn't have anything to do with him. He can't be the only associate Louis lives to torment, right?
But that faint hope only lasts until Rachel comes by and hands him another folded note.
"Donna has a question for you," she announces loudly. Her delivery isn't nearly as smooth as it was the first time, and she shoots him a worried look as she leaves.
Harvey called to Pearson's office 2 hrs ago. Still not back. Missed Lindner-Vandenburgh mtng.
Technically, it's none of Mike's business.
Because that's totally the way Harvey's been teaching him to think. The Lindner-Vandenburgh contract is one Harvey's actually taken an active interest in, and it's an important account for the firm on top of that. Jessica would have known about the meeting for sure, so for her to haul Harvey in despite it…
It doesn't take much doing for Mike to slip up to Harvey's office on pretense of needing some file or other. Donna is stationed outside, looking as frighteningly competent as always – except for the white-knuckled grip she has on her mouse, and the fraught tangle of her hair where she's clearly been running her hand through it.
She doesn't give an inch, however, even after Mike checks the corridor to both sides before saying quietly,
"What happened to Harvey?"
"Sorry, he's not here at the moment," Donna replies, as though Harvey just stepped out for a late lunch. "You'll have to talk to Louis."
"He's got the file you wanted – big manila folder with the photographs in it, right? He's in Ms. Pearson's office right now, but you might catch him on his way out if you're quick about it."
"What fol—ohhh, that folder." Mike catches on. "Yeah, that's the one I – I'll just go and—"
He takes off, fighting down a sudden, irrational fear that he's already too late.
Jessica's office is walled in glass on one side and by floor-to-ceiling windows on the other, but being nestled in the crook at the end of a long hallway gives it the illusion of privacy. It also, unfortunately, keeps there from being any convenient place for Mike to stand and eavesdrop unseen. He settles for leaning casually against the opposite wall of the corridor, just barely in sight of the door and as far away from Jessica's secretary as he can manage. She gives him a suspicious look, but after he holds up the case brief he's pretending to be frantically skimming and smiles sheepishly, she seems content to leave him alone.
Mike can't hear much through the glass – but he can see, a little, and what he sees alarms him. Jessica is standing beside a low table, one hand gripping the back of her chair; she looks angry, but also resigned, as she jabs a finger repeatedly at something lying on the table. Harvey is seated, his hands in his lap. Every time he tries to speak, Jessica cuts him off, until he's reduced to shaking his head, emphatically, over and over again.
Louis stands behind him, ill-concealed glee written in every line of his body. When Jessica turns away for a moment, he leans down to whisper something in Harvey's ear that makes him go pale, hands balling into fists underneath the table. Mike is so busy trying to figure out what Harvey's saying in response that he doesn't realize, at first, that Louis has spotted him – until he calls out, loud enough to carry through the closed doors,
"And here he is -- the man of the hour!" Three quick steps and he's throwing open the door, ushering Mike inside with poisonous glee. "Come in, Mike, come in. Maybe you can shed some light on the case that's got our best closer completely stumped."
Harvey doesn't even twitch. He's still staring at the papers on the table.
Mike's first thought is that he's been caught out. That somehow, Louis has figured out his lie (maybe he spoke to his cousin, God, why did Mike even pretend to know the guy?) and now he's going to get fired, and he's going to get Harvey fired, and—
Then he actually gets a look at the papers.
Only they're not papers. They're photographs.
Harvey and him in the park, three weeks ago, Harvey's head thrown back in that raucous, incongruent laugh. Harvey and him coming out of René's after his fitting, Harvey looking pleased and Mike looking stunned. Harvey and him drinking at Jean Georges, Harvey carrying his bags in SoHo, him stealing a piece of sushi off Harvey's plate at Hashi.
Him, asleep, in Harvey's bed, spooned up with his back to Harvey's chest and Harvey's arm curved around his waist, with Harvey's face buried his hair and a look of contentment on Mike's own face that he's never seen there before.
For the first time in his life, Mike's thoughts stutter to a halt. The incessant commentary that runs just behind his eyes, taking in this and binding it to that and showing him how a is connected to forty-seven is connected to blue, is silent. There is only the sound of his heart, beating a tattoo against his ribcage, and somewhere in the distance, Louis asking him—
And everything clicks into place, like the endless map of facts inside his head – except this map is made up of people, Louis and Jessica, himself and Harvey, their actions and reactions spinning out like threads that Mike can read as clearly as words on a page.
He wonders if this is how Harvey feels all the time.
"—care to add?"
"Oh, yes." Mike's voice softens around the edges and slides up a good half-octave. He crosses the few steps to Harvey and stands by his shoulder, hips cocked at an outrageous angle. When Harvey finally looks up, Mike winks and perches himself delicately on Harvey's knee. "With those pictures out all over the place, there's just no point in hiding it any more, is there? Harvey," Mike winds his arms around Harvey's neck and affects the campest lisp he can muster, "is my sugar-daddy."
Louis and Jessica both stare at him as though he's lost his mind. It's encouraging.
"Mike," she begins, "are you seriously—"
"What?" Mike shoots to his feet, every inch the steel-spined kid that the great Harvey Specter hand-picked to bring into the firm. "You were ready to believe it before I walked in here thirty seconds ago, so why not now?"
"I was ready to believe sexual harassment—"
"Harassment?!" In his incredulity, Mike is more than willing to run roughshod over the only surviving Managing Partner to actually bear the Pearson Hardman name. "Have you actually looked at those pictures, or did you just throw them in front of Harvey and ask him how many times he plowed the new rookie? Do I seem harassed to you? Hell, does Harvey?"
"Nonetheless, the imbalance of power between a Senior Partner and the associate he oversees is enough to warrant an investigable presumption," Jessica says, and her stare would have been more than sufficient to sit Mike straight down on his ass, if he'd only been arguing on his own behalf.
"That presumption only holds if there's evidence of a sexual relationship—"
"Do not try to lecture me on the bylaws I helped write, kid. Even if your actions – whatever they were – were entirely consensual, Pearson Hardman still adheres to a strict anti-fraternization policy. Especially between ranks."
"Sorry," Mike backpedals frantically, cutting in before Louis can add his two cents. "Sorry, that's not what I meant. Just – look, I didn't have a lot of money, growing up. I got into college on scholarships and loans that I'm still trying to pay back, and this, all of this," he gestures to his clothes, to Jessica's office, to everything that is Pearson Hardman, "isn't a world I know anything about. Harvey's been taking me out to try to teach me how to fit in, with our clients and our competitors both. That's it, I swear."
Jessica crosses her arms and considers him with narrowed eyes, but Mike thinks he spots just the most fractional relaxation in her stance.
"There's still the small matter of you sharing his bed," she says. It's halfway between an accusation and a challenge: Okay, kid. Convince me.
"The first time Harvey took me to a restaurant, I didn't know what I was getting into." True enough, so far. "I had a little much to drink, and I was tired. I passed out before I could even tell him my address. Harvey brought me back to his place so that I wouldn't be alone. He stayed in bed with me so I wouldn't be in danger of choking on my own puke. Whatever it looked like when we were both asleep..." Mike shakes his head. "I certainly wouldn't know. Strictly speaking, no one should know – considering that unlike every other photograph here, Harvey and I weren't out in public at the time. We were in his private bedroom, on the fifteenth floor, with the lights turned out."
At last, he turns to Louis.
"Which kind of makes me wonder how you got that photo in the first place."
Louis starts sputtering, but Jessica just shakes her head.
"I can't tell if you've been spending too much time with Harvey, or not enough," she decides. "Those theatrics might work on a judge, or even one of your peers if he's not too savvy. Trying them on your supervisor and the head of your firm? Not so bright. If you want to get out from under an allegation like this, you have to make people believe it. And people will believe whatever suits their advantage the most."
"All right." Mike shoots a look at Harvey – who still hasn't moved a muscle – and licks his lips. "How's this for advantage: if Harvey gets hauled in front of the ethics board, I guarantee Louis will, too."
"The only photograph that actually suggests anything untoward is this one." He jabs a finger at the bedroom photo. "And like I said, it clearly wasn't taken in a public place. That's wrongful invasion of privacy right there. My privacy. Louis supervises all the new associates; he has a tremendous amount of power over me, power he's already shown himself willing to abuse. Pulling me aside for 'special' drug tests, trying to commandeer my time away from Harvey's cases, and now stalking me in my free time, too? If that's not a textbook pattern of escalating workplace harassment, I don't know what is.
"You'll lose your new Senior Partner – who happens to also be your best closer – and the highest-billing Junior Partner in the firm. Pearson Hardman's reputation will be wrecked. Your billables will plummet, and so will your client base." Mike spreads his arms wide. "All over an itty bitty little rookie associate who might not even make it to next quarter."
Jessica stares at him for a long, breathless moment.
"Louis," she says suddenly, making him start. "Get this stuff out of my office. Now."
"Now. Not that one," Jessica adds, as Louis starts to slip the bedroom photograph into the envelope with the rest. "You know better than that."
The sneer Louis throws at Harvey as he leaves, envelope clutched tightly in his fist, makes it clear that this is far from over.
Harvey looks up at last, expression unreadable.
"You're done for today. If I see you back here before noon on Monday, you'll be doing nothing but pro bono for the foreseeable future."
Harvey's gaze stays fixed on the carpet, all the way to the door – and Mike realizes he's been left alone with possibly the most frightening woman he has ever met.
She takes a seat at the table, motions for him to do the same.
"When I first met Harvey," she begins, "he was a complete screw-up. But I saw that he had potential I could put to use. I hauled him out of the mail room, forced a Harvard J.D. down his throat, and rode him so hard I'm still not sure his ass has completely recovered. I even got the board to institute a company-wide random drug testing policy, just to keep him in line." She smiles thinly at Mike's incredulous look. "Four years ago, Harvey brought a man as his plus-one to a city-wide Assocation dinner – and because of who I am, and who he was starting to be, no one batted an eyelash. At least, not where either of us might spot them.
"Louis had just made partner then. I'd only recently started keeping an eye on him; Hardman brought him in as an associate right before he died, and afterwards I think everyone just sort of forgot about him. Louis clawed his way up the ranks by tooth and nail, and he never hid who he was, even though an open secret like that could have easily cost him his career. When he got to the top, he was rightfully proud of himself – until he found Harvey swanning around in his limelight, seemingly without a single scar on his pretty skin. And Harvey being bisexual just made it worse. Whether Louis was angry because he thought Harvey should have helped him, or because he thought Harvey had it too easy, or because of something else, I don't know. And you know Harvey well enough to understand he's not exactly the type to refrain from throwing fuel on the fire."
Jessica stops, head bowed, leaning forward on her arms. She looks sad, and exhausted – a woman too young to be so worn down by a struggle that has no end in sight.
"I really thought things were getting better, after that first year. I put Louis in charge of the new associates, hoping that having gone through what he did, he'd be the best man to keep it from happening again. I waited longer than anyone wanted to promote Harvey to Senior Partner. I even," she shoots Mike an ironic, conspiratorial smile, "let Louis mess around with Harvey's new associate, because maybe if he saw another screw-up fighting to turn himself around, he'd have a better idea of what Harvey's path has been like."
She holds up a hand when Mike starts to speak. "I'm going to pull rank on you now and shoo you out of my office without letting you ask any questions. I'd thank you for letting to an old woman prattle on – but I'm not that old yet, and I suspect you've gotten just as much out of listening to me as I have from talking."
Jessica stands, and Mike scrambles to his feet after her.
"I – right," he says, and flees. He's halfway out the door when Jessica calls,
"Oh, and Mike? I don't need to tell you that it's worth more than your ass, and the asses of everyone you know, to take special care that not a word of the past forty-five minutes leaves this room."
Mike nods furiously, not trusting himself to speak.
"Good. Now, go make sure your man gets home safely. He can't drive for shit when he's upset."
Not possibly, Mike decides, as he sprints for the parking garage. Definitely. Jessica Pearson is definitely the most frightening woman he's ever met.
-- -- --
Mike finds Harvey sitting in his car with the ignition on, one hand on the shifter, the other on the wheel as he rests his head against it. He taps on the window, trying to get Harvey's attention
Then he walks around and opens the passenger door.
"You know, hiding in your car is a lot more effective if you don't forget to lock it," he says conversationally. Harvey refuses to look at him. But when Mike reaches over and curls his hand lightly around the back of Harvey's neck, just above the stiff-starched collar of his shirt, Harvey lets out a deep, shuddering sigh and doesn't move away.
They stay like that for a really, really long time.
-- -- --
"You know," Mike says, loose-limbed and happily flopped over on Harvey's sofa, his feet in Harvey's lap. "There's only one thing I regret in all this."
It took a while, but he'd eventually convinced Harvey that the solution to his woes was far more likely to be found at the bottom of a sixpack than in a slowly darkening parking garage. Harvey had stiffly offered to drop Mike off at his own place, but Mike wasn't having any of it. There's an inkling of a thought growing in the back of his mind.
Mike likes where it's going.
"You? What do you regret?" Harvey scoffs. He doesn't seem to realize he's gently running his thumb up and down the jut of Mike's ankle bone. He's only had two beers to Mike's three, and he tried to stop Mike from drinking that last one, so Mike doesn't know what his excuse is – but he's not about to call him on it any time soon.
"I regret that after all that drama, we never even got to have sex."
Harvey's thumb stops moving. The next instant, he's shoving Mike's feet off his lap and fixing him with a furious look.
"You are not that drunk," he snaps.
"What, I need to be intoxicated to sleep with you?" There's more challenge in his voice than Mike meant there to be, but there's no taking it back now.
"Don't go there, I'm warning you."
"Leave it, rookie!" Harvey's on his feet and storming into the kitchen, but Mike's not going to let him get away that easily. He grabs for Harvey's arm and catches the back of his waistcoat, which is enough to get his attention even if Mike doesn't have the strength to haul Harvey around to face him.
"What is the matter with you?" he demands. "Okay, I was a little slow on the uptake – but you gotta give me some time, I've never done it with another guy sober before."
Harvey makes a strangled noise and tries to jerk away. Mike just hangs on harder, fingers digging into the richly dyed Assam silk, pulling the threads out of true. He silently apologizes to René, promising to buy Harvey a new one as soon as he can.
Eventually, Harvey stills. Mike rests his head against Harvey's back, and waits.
"Ten years," Harvey says. "Ten years I've spent making sure that everyone, everyone, sees exactly what I want them to see, when and how I want them to see it. And three weeks after I start letting myself pretend that maybe, this time, no one's looking—" He breaks off.
Mike blinks for a moment, processsing. Then he steps swiftly around in front of Harvey, getting a firm grip on his wrist so he can't run away again.
"This is about your job?" he demands, more than a little irritated. "I fixed that, damn it, you saw—"
"My job?" Harvey repeats, incredulous. "Believe me, that's the least of it; I could have gotten out of that hole any time."
"Then what the hell is it?!"
"Well, there's the minor matter of these photographs, you may have seen them—"
"Oh my God, are you serious? You're serious, aren't you—"
"—couldn't miss it, let alone you, you're a goddamn genius—"
"—control freak, I don't even know why I'm surprised—"
"—heart on my sleeve like a complete idiot, don't pretend you'd want anything to do with me after that—"
"Oh my God," Mike says again, and kisses Harvey just to shut him up.
It's clumsy, and awkward, and Mike's nose is jammed up painfully against Harvey's cheekbone because he forgot to account for the lack of height difference, but it works.
"There, okay?" he demands, when they break apart. "That, that is my final input into this conversation, I can't do anything else, you're on your own from here on out."
Harvey looks completely shell-shocked.
Then a slow, stunned grin spreads across his face.
"Final input, huh?"
"Nothing else to add?"
"No addendums, codicils, amendments, or special provisions you forgot about?"
"Not a one."
Slowly, so slowly Mike wants to scream, Harvey's hands come up, one to settle on the small of Mike's back, the other to rest a gentle thumb on the sharp ridge of his cheek.
"Your technique needs a lot of polishing, rookie," Harvey says. "But you've got a lot of potential."
Their first kiss is way, way better the second time around.