Mike wanted to like Harvey, in part because he seemed like such a great guy. He was the kind of person Mike could see himself becoming in ten, maybe fifteen years' time, minus the ego and the personal limo and the elaborate pinstriped suits.
Harvey was successful, charming, undeniably stylish. The only flaw in his character was his overblown sense of self which wasn't so much annoying as it was distracting. It made it that much harder for people to notice his good qualities - and he had them, Mike knew, even though they were overshadowed by his arrogance and were kind of of the blink-and-you'll-miss-it sort - so people often looked at him and assumed, right off the bat, with the suit and the polished shoes and the neat slicked back hair, that he was an asshole through and through.
The only thing Mike really disliked about Harvey, besides his taste in women, was his tendency to give him all the grunt work, which, okay, Mike could work around, but he needed at least four hours of sleep to reach a level of functionality.
The lack of sleep was probably one of the contributing factors to Mike's lapse of judgment, because eventually, about five months in, he went and had sex with Harvey, another one of those things he wanted to add to his growing list of “stuff never to do again at the workplace” next to hitting on Rachel on his first day and peeing in a cup for Louis.
It just sort of happened one day without preamble, Harvey looking at him a certain way with a curl in the corner of his lips and Mike giddy enough on Redbull to reciprocate the gesture. They were complete adults about it, of course - they used protection and shared a cold drink afterwards, watching the lights of cars blink up at them from fifty stories below while Harvey contemplated a cigarette and asked him about the foreclosure agreement he was supposed to be working on.
They made a tacit agreement not to kiss and tell, even under duress, and Mike, because he wanted to keep his job as associate, was sure as hell going to keep his mouth shut. Besides, it wasn’t something he could casually bring up during lunch with the guys. “Guess what, I just slept with Harvey Specter,” didn’t exactly make for a good conversation starter.
Sex didn't mean you had to get involved. It was just something you did to blow off steam, or to stave off boredom or, on occasion, assure yourself of your rapidly declining physical appeal. It didn't have to mean anything, which was why, a week later, when it happened again during one of those late nights at the firm, Mike sprawled underneath Harvey on the leather couch as Harvey bore down on him, Mike's hand curled around Harvey's bicep, Harvey’s mouth hot and wet on his neck, Mike decided to just go with the flow and fuck it.
Sex with Harvey Specter was, just like the constitution, unquestionable. Absolute. Requiring no explanation. You just rolled with it and were glad you had it at all.
Mike, on his days off, when he had any, liked to visit his grandmother in the morning to update her on his life. He spent the remaining afternoon sleeping in, or just vegging in front of the TV which he kept on while he went over paperwork, eating from tin cans or whatever flavor of soup he felt like microwaving.
He used to have pizza for dinner all the time, back when he’d lived with Trevor in this dingy little apartment in Brooklyn, before Trevor wound up with the wrong crowd and started dealing pot. Jenny used to come over and cook for both of them, saying they couldn’t eat pizza all the time or they’d die from heart problems or kidney stones, whichever won out first. And she wasn’t the best cook in the world, her beef casserole looking like an exotic Korean dish, but she tried, and that was the whole point of it, and Mike still had a bit of a crush on her that he didn’t mind when she periodically came over with a bowl of mushy brown rice.
Spending his day off at Harvey’s condo, though, was nothing short of awkward and embarrassing. He’d fallen asleep right after they’d done the dirty deed, flat on his stomach, his skin sticky with quickly drying sweat. Harvey was, predictably, nowhere to be seen when Mike went to check up on him in the kitchen, then the living room, which were both, unsurprisingly, bigger than his entire apartment and outfitted in gleaming formica and tasteful minimalist furniture.
Mike had a leisurely shower, sampling Harvey’s collection of men’s body wash before settling for the one that had the viscosity of shower gel. He rooted around Harvey’s fridge for something to eat, afterwards, rubbing his hair dry with a bath towel until it stood out in tufts, frizzy with static. Harvey’s fridge was stocked with bare essentials, eggs and cream cheese, some sort of healthy power shake that looked like humus, plus a few cans of beer.
Mike drank coffee in his underwear, scooping scrambled eggs into his mouth with a wad of toast. A backdated copy of the morning paper sat on Harvey’s breakfast table and Mike read it to pass the time, seating himself at the balcony where he had a good view of Central Park.
Mike tried picturing Harvey making breakfast in the morning, his hair not completely ensconced in hair gel, wearing the dark blue robe he’d seen hanging in the bathroom with the gold stitching on the sleeves. Last night, when Harvey had pushed him down on the bed, his hair fell forward into his face like an avalanche. And it was different, kind of strange, for Mike to see him like that, with his hair down, his lips parted, and his naked thigh pressed alongside Mike’s own naked thigh.
Mike liked the suit and tie well enough, the idea that Harvey was infallible, that he was New York’s best and finest closer, but he wasn’t sure he liked knowing Harvey had a life separate from the firm, from work, that he had a battery operated toothbrush and owned several pairs of black jockey shorts which he kept in the upper right drawer of his dressing mirror. It didn’t make any sense.
Mike finished his coffee and, with these thoughts in mind, went to look for his shoes.
“You’re here,” Mike said that afternoon when he opened the door. Harvey. Harvey in a vest and tie. He looked tired but otherwise he looked good, Mike thought. His hair gel was holding up. Mike wondered if he reapplied the stuff from time to time, in the bathroom or whenever no one was looking. Maybe he brought a tube of hair gel with him wherever he went.
“To what do I owe this honor?” Mike asked.
“Dinner,” Harvey said simply, pocketing his phone. “It’s Saturday.”
“Yes,” Mike said slowly, narrowing his eyes. “I’m aware of that. And it’s my day off, so, what are you doing here? At 7PM. When you should be…doing whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing at 7PM. Soliciting prostitutes, bullying cab drivers. You know, the usual.”
“Ha, ha, ha.” Harvey gave him a brief once over. “I don't know how you got so funny, so soon. Get dressed. We’re going out.”
“I am dressed.”
“Your shirt,” Harvey said. “It offends me on a personal level. Where we’re going you’re going to get some looks and I’d rather not have you hanging off my arm looking like that.”
“I’d rather not hang off your arm,” Mike told him pointedly. “And looking like what? A complete stunner? FYI, I don’t know if you’ve noticed but these jeans flaunt my natural curves.”
“The only curves you have right now are the ones in your brain,” Harvey said.
“Okay, I’m not sure if that was a slight jab at my intelligence but that didn’t even make any sense,” Mike pointed out but Harvey was already barreling into the room, carefully sidestepping the coffee table and eyeing the curtains in distaste, which, in Mike’s defense, were a gift from his grammy. She’d bought them from a flea market in Jersey, one of those huge annual events that she would frequent whenever she had the time.
“Well,” Harvey said, raising an eyebrow.
“Well, nothing,” Mike said and went to change his shirt.
“Do you have a sweater?” Harvey called out from the living room. “Because I’d rather you don’t wear one when I’m trying to advance you socially. No sweaters.”
“No sweaters,” Mike repeated. “Right.” He put on a blue button up shirt which looked indifferent enough to make it seem like he didn’t try at all.
Harvey looked up from his phone, his eyebrows raised in interest when Mike walked back into the room, stowing his wallet inside his back pocket.
“You look like a ten dollar gigolo. That’s the best you can do? Seriously? Are you not getting paid enough?”
“Hey, this shirt cost me fifty dollars,” Mike told him indignantly. “Which probably makes me, at the very least, a reasonably priced male escort.”
“Yeah, well. You might want to button up the collar or wear a blazer with that shirt.”
“All this just for one lousy dinner?” Mike asked, making a face. He smoothed out the wrinkles from his shirt.
“I booked us a table at Jean Gorge’s so this isn’t just one lousy dinner. Smart clothes make for easier digestion. And mostly, I just want you to look good. Because if you look good then I look good.”
“I always look good,” Mike reminded him.
“Not in that shirt. Go change. We still have time.”
“The things I do for free meals,” Mike said, sighing dramatically.
“I’m sure you’ve done worse before for a lot less,” Harvey said. “So it shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Wow,” Mike said after the five course dinner. He felt full like a stuffed turkey, his pants an inch too tight, his stomach bloated. “That was something. That was… it was interesting. My tastebuds are still whooping with joy. I like the kobe beef. I didn’t think beef could sing but that’s what it did. In my mouth. It was heavenly. Heavenly beef.”
Harvey, who looked amused, smiled surreptitiously and finished signing the check. He tipped the waiter discreetly, nodding his head at the maître d'. Mike lumbered after him inelegantly, mentally gauging his inebriation. They had red wine to go with the food and he wasn’t sure how much he had of it, but it was enough to get him walking with a definite wobble in his step and feeling a profound sense of exhaustion overcome him. The drive back was quiet, except for the low jazzy music Ray decided to put on for the ride. Louis Armstrong or something.
Harvey walked Mike back to his front door even though he didn’t have to, scooping up the keys from the floor when Mike dropped them in a fumble.
“Your face is red,” Harvey pointed out.
“Nah, I’m great, man,” Mike told him. “You’re great.” He jammed the key into the lock in the door. “We’re both great. Now what?”
“Now I leave,” Harvey said, checking his watch. “It’s late. I’ll see you tomorrow. Try not to drown in your own pool of vomit, okay? You still have that Spellman contract to go over.”
“What? No kiss tonight?” Mike called after him.
“No,” Harvey said. “I don’t want to give you the satisfaction.”
“Pfft,” Mike said eloquently. “Would have been nice to cap off the night. It’s common date etiquette. You take a guy out to dinner, you walk him back to his apartment, you give him some sort of reciprocal contact.”
“Reciprocal contact?” Harvey repeated. “What do you mean? Like a handjob? This is not a date.”
“Yeah, well,” Mike said, sniffing. He felt suddenly embarrassed. “Reciprocal contact includes but is not entirely limited to a handjob. You have to make certain allowances should the need arise.”
Harvey breathed out a laugh.
“You have a nice laugh,” Mike blurted, and this seemed like the right thing to say, despite the circumstances, because Harvey seemed to perk up, which was to say, he smiled, all teeth, and walked forward until he stood toe to toe with Mike.
“I don’t get that often,” Harvey told him, curling a hand on Mike’s shoulder. “But if comes up again, I’ll let you know.”
“Thanks,” Mike said, not sure where the conversation was going. He heard something thump behind him and realized belatedly that it was the back of his head knocking gently against the wall. Harvey had surged forward without warning, and now he was breathing down the side of Mike’s neck, his thumb circling Mike’s cheek, his knee dangerously close to Mike’s thigh, his smell ashy and musty like expensive cologne.
“Huh,” Mike said, right before Harvey kissed him. Here we go again, he thought, with wry amusement. He wrapped his hand around Harvey’s tie to yank him forward, lifting himself on his feet even though Harvey was just a couple of inches taller. Mike raised his chin a little, tipping his head back. Harvey braced himself against the wall, his arms right above Mike’s ears, his nose squashing the side of Mike’s cheek. Mike felt the rasp of his stubble and laughed softly.
“So do you want to come in or…?” Mike trailed off when Harvey had the good grace to pull away.
“Didn’t think you’d be so easy,” Harvey told him. “Are you always this classy or do you always put out on the first date?”
Something in Mike’s stomach lurched and he knew it wasn’t the wine. Or the beef. Or even a combination of both.
“That depends on a number of factors,” Mike answered smoothly. “I had a good time so I figured I’d invite you in. For more good times.”
Mike wasn’t sure how some people could go around sleeping with their bosses. Obviously, he went around sleeping with his boss, but he saw it as a kind of extracurricular learn-by-doing thing, unpaid overtime he could profit from, in a way. Harvey was always telling him to sit back and watch, pay attention to what the pros were doing so that he might one day be able to at least mimic them. That was what Mike was doing, essentially, sitting back and watching events unfold. He was curious to see where this would take him.
The sex didn’t seem detrimental to their work relationship because they both had the right attitude about it, so it was fine. Or at least it should be fine, Mike thought. Neither of them had the tendency to get attached.
“You bit me in the ear,” Harvey complained the next morning, buttoning up his shirt which was miserably wrinkled. “Do I need to get myself checked for rabies?”
Mike, who lay on his stomach, chucked a pillow at him, missing Harvey’s head by a wild margin. “You’re leaving?” He checked the time. “It’s five in the morning. You actually have somewhere else to be at this hour?”
“I need to shower and get ready for work and feed my cat before it starts eating the carpet. I’m a busy man,” Harvey said.
“You don’t have a cat,” Mike told him.
“That was sarcasm,” Harvey explained. “In case you missed it.”
“I missed it,” Mike said.
Harvey stood and folded his jacket over his arm. His hair was limp, falling around his temples when he ran a hand to push it back up. Mike wondered how many people got to see him like this, ruffled, without an actual tie on. Jessica, probably. Donna.
“Wait,” Mike said before Harvey got to the door.
“What?” Harvey raised his eyes. He’d missed the topmost button at his throat. It was kind of a sight to see.
“Nothing,” Mike said after a beat, shaking his head and huffing out a laugh. He felt stupid, like a little kid, like when his grammy used to leave him half-asleep on the couch on the nights she had to go to work and Mike didn’t want to be left alone with the babysitter, the next door neighbor Tammy who used to have these huge braces and wore sweaters that made Mike itch all over.
Mike lifted his hand in a halfhearted wave. “See you later,” he said.
Harvey gave him a funny look but nodded anyway. “See you.”
When the door closed, Mike slumped against the headboard. He set his alarm for 6:45, then went back to sleep, willing his headache to go away.
It would pass, Mike knew, because all phases passed and even sleeping with Harvey, which counted as a phase, had an expiration date.
They didn’t talk about it in the morning, or even during the brief window of time they had in between meetings or scheduled court dates.
It never came up. The sex just happened, like a hurricane. Unpredictable and swift. All you could do was sit back and watch, wonder when it was going to strike next. You braced yourself for the next blow, made reparations and plans to build stronger fortifications, ones that could withstand a mighty impact but it came again and demolished everything like nothing you could have ever prepared for. Yeah, sex with Harvey was mind-blowing but it also kept Mike on his toes.
Jesus, Mike thought. As if keeping up the charade wasn’t hard enough, he had to worry about keeping appearances too.
Ray came to pick him up from his apartment a few days later.
It should've been Mike's first clue, his tip off that his entire day would not go as planned. Mike lived in Brooklyn, in a part of town where there were more liberal ideas than coffee shops and bookstores. A limo parked across the street stood out like a tomato in a cabbage patch
“Hey,” Mike said, confused, when Ray greeted him at the door. He rang from the vestibule and Mike let him in just when he was about to dress for work, the TV turned on to early morning news. Ray went up a few minutes later, waiting patiently by the door until Mike had finished putting his pants on.
“Am I late?” Mike asked. “It's only 6:50.” He checked his watch just to be sure.
“You're not late,” Ray said, laughing. He had such an honest, open laugh, the kind that clued you in on the kind of person he was, the kind that made you think, man, I want to have a couple of beers with his guy. “Harvey sent me.”
“Yeah, I figured,” Mike said. “Do you want to come in for like, coffee or something?” He stepped out of the way and gestured to the tiny kitchen behind him.
The apartment needed cleaning, Mike realized, what with all the stuff heaped to one side on the coffee table and the dishes left piling in the sink, but with the crazy work hours, Mike just couldn’t find the time.
Ray smiled, leaning forward with his hands clasped behind his back. He was such a classy guy, Mike thought, but in a way different from Harvey who was all about the status quo. Ray's classiness was more accessible, friendly.
“You know what Mike,” Ray said, doing that subtle lean-in thing he always did when he was imparting something clever, “I would love to have coffee with you, but I was under strict orders to pick you up for breakfast. Think you'll be ready in ten minutes?”
Mike shrugged and picked up his stuff from the couch. “I’m ready now,” he said, shrugging. “I can just dress on the way, right? The limo has this little window thing that you can just close?”
Ray smiled again and shook his head like he thought Mike was crazy, which, Mike thought, he probably was considering he’d slept with Harvey a grand total of five times in the last month alone.
“Yes, sure,” Ray said. “You can dress on the way and I’ll keep the little window closed for your privacy.”
Harvey was waiting for him at this French place on Chelsea, empty except for the next table over where an old couple sat arguing about the lemon tart. The restaurant had ambient lighting.
Everything was made of smooth blonde wood and draped in red velvet.
“Hey,” Mike said, seating himself. He unshouldered his bag as a waiter bent down to pour him coffee and mumbled his thanks.
Harvey threw him a cursory look over his copy of The New York Times. “Where's your tie?”
Mike’s hands flew to his throat. “Huh.” Empty. No wonder he felt like something was missing.
“I might have left it at the apartment,” he said, feeling sheepish for a second. He made a face and unfurled a napkin in his lap. Sniffed. “The food looks good. Why did you have Ray pick me up?”
“Why do you think? We have business to discuss,” Harvey said. He didn’t put down the paper but he did spare Mike a minute of scrutiny. Mike remembered the same gaze, hooded with something dark and appreciative, two nights ago, Harvey’s eyes lowered to slits, his hand flat against Mike’s thigh, and felt a familiar shiver shoot up his spine.
Mike had a bite of the eggs. “I thought for a minute you just wanted to see me for breakfast,” he said around a mouthful of food. “I knew it was too good to be true.”
Harvey hummed, ignoring him as he moved on to the business section of the paper. “You have a bit of egg white on your cheek,” he said even without looking up. “And don't think you can just waltz into the office without a tie on. It’ll reflect badly on me. Sloppiness, like cancer, is a condition for which we don't have a cure.”
“That would make a great ad,” Mike said. “Y’know, for vodka or MRI machines.”
Harvey looked up from his reading and sipped his coffee. “You need a tie,” he said, gesturing with his hand to indicate Mike’s person.
“I can take a cab back to the apartment and just grab one if it bothers you so much. Or I can just use my belt as a substitute if we’re really pressed for time. Tighten it like a noose, you know? End my suffering.”
“Ideal,” Harvey said. “But no. I have a couple of ties in the office that I don’t use anymore. I can lend you one.”
“Thanks,” Mike said. He’d always wondered, in some vague part of his mind, where in his office Harvey kept a change of clothes. Did he have a walk in closet behind his record shelf that opened up when you flipped the right album? Harvey, Pearson Hardman’s Man of Mystery, Mike thought. He hadn’t been aware of his mumbling until Harvey leaned forward across the table, his face scrunched.
“I’m sorry, did you say something?”
Mike blinked at him and opened his mouth, shut it, blushed. “Nah, I was just. I. Nothing,” he said, polishing off the rest of his coffee, wincing as it seared his throat. “I said, thanks for the breakfast. It was nice.” It really was. There were scones and all kinds of jam, baked vanilla toast and this other dish which had been a weird combination of yogurt, pancake and orange rinds.
Mike had a few bites of each. The combination of flavors gave him a good headache.
Harvey, when Mike glanced up from his plate, looked evidently pleased with himself. “Well,” he said, crumpling his napkin on the table top and leaning back in his seat. He steepled his fingers in front of his face.
“Now that breakfast is finished, how about we talk business?”
“Thanks for the tie,” Mike said later, rolling his shoulders, loosening the knot. Harvey batted Mike’s hand away from his collar, adjusting the tie a few more times until Mike felt like he could actually move his head around without experiencing any discomfort.
“A well-tied tie is the first serious step in life,” Harvey said, smoothing down the silk with his fingers.
“What’s the second step in life?”
Harvey shot him a look. “I was kidding. I read Wilde back in high school,” Mike laughed but Harvey didn’t laugh back and just sent him on his way.
Donna, behind her desk, took one good look at Mike and blinked, raising a perfectly curved eyebrow.
“You look happy,” Greg observed that afternoon, leaning over Mike’s cubicle, a folder of briefs in his right hand. He looked suspicious.
Mike bit his tongue. “I’m surprised you even noticed Greg, seeing as we hardly even speak to each other anymore.” He hit save on his word document and glanced up at Greg.
“Yeah, it’s this certain aura you emit.” Greg told him, frowning.
“Okay,” Mike said slowly. “I’m not sure where this leaves us but. Okay. An aura. Maybe I am happy. What then?”
“I’m not sure I like it,” Greg said then left promptly, leaving Mike to stare at his retreating back. Mike asked Rachel about it later on in the lounge, stirring his lukewarm coffee with a bread stick as he highlighted sections of the Heindenrech-Cole contract on one of the stuffed armchairs.
“Rachel, do I have an aura?”
Rachel did a double take. “Is this in any way work related?” she asked, squinting at him. “Or is this coming from a genuine place?” She crunched into a sugar cookie and smiled. “If you really want to know, Mike, it’s one of pain and suffering. Very dark and wraith-like. Why do you ask?”
“Greg says I emit an aura.”
“Well, doesn’t everybody?”
Mike shrugged. “I never really noticed before.” He made a face and put down his coffee. “Do I seem happy to you?”
Rachel just laughed which wasn’t very helpful at all. “Go back to work, Mike,” she said, patting him on the head on her way out.
Mike craned his neck at her, lolling his head against the back of his seat. “Hey, you’re not my boss. You have no right to order me around like that.”
“Yeah, but I have my own office and you don’t,” she sang sweetly.
“Touché,” Mike said.
“Oh and by the way,” Rachel said, peering back into the room. “I like the tie. Very snazzy. ” She gave him a thumbs up.
He should have slept with her, Mike thought. He had to complicate things by picking Harvey of all people.
Mike went to visit his grandmother. She always had sound advice to give him and even when Mike didn’t have anything on his plate and just felt like popping in for a visit, it was kind of nice to see her from time to time, her familiar comforting face smiling down at him, making him feel like a little kid again.
“So, Michael,” she said, folding her hands in her lap. “So nice of you to drop by. I haven’t seen you in two weeks. I take it you’ve been busy with the new job?”
Mike felt himself blush. “Sorry grammy. Yeah, I don’t know. Stuff happened.”
“Stuff? Is this about your boss again? Because if you’re not here about Trevor, you’re here about what’s-his-name, that Harold Lipschitz fellow.”
“His name’s Harvey Specter, grammy,” Mike said, embarrassed. He slouched low in his seat and sighed, scrubbing a hand through his face. “Hey, I don’t only come to you when I’ve got problems, you know. Sometimes I just stop by to see how you’re doing too.”
She gave him an appraising look. “Let’s not kid ourselves, Michael. It’s okay to have a life, you know. Your world doesn’t always revolve around me.”
Mike frowned and thought hard about how to word himself. “I’ve done something very bad, grams.”
“Well, I can’t say I didn’t see this coming. Did you sleep with him, your boss?”
She shrugged. “Every time you come in here, you’re always talking about how he’s giving you a hard time.”
“Yes, but that doesn’t mean anything, grammy. It’s normal to complain about your boss. A lot of people do it.”
“You complain about him all the time. And when I call you on your cell phone, you’re always with him. All I’m saying is, it’s a little suspect.” She raised her hands in defense.
“I work for him,” Mike explained. “It’s part of my job to spend time with him. And besides, I’m still not clear on whether I like him as a person outside work.” This was true. Harvey had principles. Mike was sure he had them but Harvey had yet to articulate what they were.
Mike’s grandmother shrugged again, sniffing, clearly not accepting this as a legitimate answer. “If it’s any comfort, you seem happy at least.” She reached across the table and patted him on the hand. “You have this bright glow surrounding you. This aura.”
“Those auras again,” Mike said and shook his head. “Really.”
Mike caught Harvey late one night when he was on his way home.
“I thought you’d already left,” Mike told him, surprised to see him on the fifth floor in front of the elevator. “Barry the security guard said you’d already left.”
Barry was this beefy guy on the ground floor who knew everybody including the janitorial staff. Sometimes, he let Mike in on some of the seedy stuff he knew about Mike’s fellow associates, who slept with whom, and who took the company stapler home and never returned it.
“Look, I don’t even know who that is,” Harvey said honestly, raising a hand. “I remembered I had to make an important phone call and realized I’d left my phone back in my office.”
Mike nodded. “Right,” he said, smiling. “Sure.”
They waited in front of the elevator, shoulder to shoulder. Mike adjusted the strap of his bag, tapped his foot, and wondered if Harvey had somewhere else to be. They hadn’t slept together in a week. And it wasn’t like Mike was waiting for another opportunity to have sex with him or anything, but if it happened, it happened. He wasn’t going to push it.
“You’re not going to believe this, but I think my grandmother thinks we’re going out,” Mike said before he could even stop himself. He figured, why not throw it out there, see how Harvey was going to react to that.
“You need to speak with her doctor,” Harvey said after a couple of seconds. “Something in her new meds is probably making her delusional.”
“I know right,” Mike said. “It’s just weird. She said I complained about you a lot, that’s how she knew.”
“You complain about me?”
“Every time,” Mike said. “Enough to drive her crazy.”
Harvey actually looked pleased. “I’m going to the Lincoln Center tonight. Tosca is playing.”
“Didn’t peg you as a fan of the opera,” Mike said.
“Actually, I’m not. Jessica is sending me to woo a client.”
Mike nodded. “Well,” he said, jerking upright when the chrome doors swished open with a ding.
“Good luck with that.”
“Luck,” Harvey repeated as they climbed inside. He shook his head, rolling his eyes. “Like I would ever need luck. You insult me.”
“So how did it go?” Mike asked when Harvey swung by his apartment later that evening.
When Harvey said he was a couple of blocks away from Mike’s place, Mike didn’t think he meant around the corner, calling from Ray’s cellphone because his had died.
“How do you think? She was wooed,” Harvey said. He looked affronted Mike even had the nerve to ask. “So are you just going to stand there all night or are you going to invite me in?”
Mike weighed his options. The apartment was a complete dump, clothes in mountains on the floor and boxes of take out on the coffee table. Inviting Harvey inside meant one thing and Mike was too tired to do anything but fall asleep in front of the TV. He didn’t even feel like reviewing the briefs he took home with him, much less taking off Harvey’s.
“I require a password,” he said, finally, putting on a robotic voice. “Please.”
Harvey stared at him, conveying with one eyebrow raise the incredulity he felt. But he didn’t say anything, just leaned forward, shoving Mike gently on the shoulder so that he stumbled back a little before regaining his balance. Then Harvey slid his fingers up Mike’s chest in one smooth, slow movement, framing the side of his face before kissing his mouth quickly.
“Okay,” Mike decided, shivering as Harvey slipped a hand up his shirt. “Good enough.”
Harvey shut the door behind him and on the way to the bedroom, shucked off his shoes.
Mike found a pair of socks he was sure he didn’t own at the bottom of his sock drawer. They were argyle, for one, and looked relatively new. Mike only ever bought socks in bulk which were often wooly in texture and cost him five, seven dollars tops. These socks, like the tie Harvey had lent him but Mike kept forgetting to return, looked expensive.
Mike presented them to Harvey first thing in the morning. “You’ll never guess what you left at my apartment.”
“My dignity?” Harvey asked, and then made a face when Mike lifted the socks to eye-level. “Oh good, I was wondering where I left those. I was beginning to think my housekeeper stole them or that they were keeping some homeless man’s hands warm in the biting cold.”
Mike slapped them on the desk. “Ha!”
Harvey blinked. “Do you want a gold star or something?”
“Only if it’s edible,” Mike told him. He made himself comfortable in one of the seats across from Harvey and rubbed his knees. “I still have your nectkie. The dark blue one with stripes. I promise to give it back.”
“Keep it,” Harvey said.
“I don’t really want it,” Mike said. “But thanks. I just might donate it to the Salvation Army.”
“Are you here for any particular reason other than to torment me this fine Monday morning?”
Mike shrugged. He just wanted to hang out, really, and the socks seemed like a good excuse. “Do you want me to leave?” he asked cautiously.
Harvey didn’t seem like he minded but with him, it didn’t hurt to make sure. Sometimes he meant what he said, sometimes he didn’t. Harvey always kept you guessing. When you thought you had him figured out, he swept the rug from under your feet. Which was why, Mike thought, he often felt harried around him, like he was perpetually late and trying to catch up.
“You won’t get any work done if you stay here,” Harvey told him, and he frowned as he said this, crossing his legs and threading his fingers in his lap. But there weren’t any lines in his forehead which Mike took as a good sign.
“I was just fooling around, anyway,” Mike said and stood up. “I guess I’ll see you for lunch.”
Harvey shrugged without actually shrugging. “I won’t be around for lunch. Meeting,” he said.
“Oh, well, maybe some other time, then. Whatever.” Mike leaned forward and rapped his knuckles on Harvey’s desk.
“Maybe,” Harvey said.
Mike felt Harvey’s eyes follow him all the way to the door.
“Hey,” Mike said, a few days later, touching Harvey on the elbow on his way out the building. Mike picked up his pace and followed Harvey to the taxi bay, hovering a few steps behind to give Harvey some room, an opportunity to shake him off if he wanted to.
“Do you have plans tonight?” Mike asked him, figuring he might as well ask. He was supposed to go out drinking tonight with these guys from accounting, Olson and Baxter, but they bailed on him at the last minute. Olson had a family emergency whereas Baxter forgot tonight was date night and left in a hurry to meet his girlfriend.
Harvey stared at Mike, considering. He didn’t look like he was going anymore. He’d loosened his tie which Mike knew meant only one thing: he was on his way home.
“No,” Harvey said after a moment. “I don’t have any plans tonight. Why do you ask?”
An hour and a half later, Mike found himself with his cheek pressed against the cool tile of Harvey’s breakfast bar, rocking back on his heels, his hands clutching the edge of the table. His pants were puddled around his feet and he felt incredibly fucked out with every rough jerk of Harvey’s hips and each thorough forceful slide. Harvey’s belt made a tiny jangling noise each time Harvey surged forward, holding Mike in his place with his broad, warm hands.
Afterwards, Mike showered and folded in on himself on Harvey’s sofa, putting his feet up on the coffee table and knocking back a beer. Another thing about sex with Harvey: it seemed very straightforward. No obtuse declarations of love. No dirty talk.
Mike found, two weeks into it, that he was, maybe, pretty okay with that. There was this one time, a month ago, when Harvey fucked him and said something about him being really tight, but he’d been a little bit tipsy then, loose-tongued, his thrusts sloppy and his aim terrible, so Mike didn’t think it counted as foreplay.
They’d done it on Harvey’s living room rug while news report of a landslide in Bolivia played on TV. Mike came after a few measured strokes, enjoying Harvey’s solid weight on top of him, Harvey’s hands under his knees, keeping his thighs apart.
Mike could sort of get used to it, hanging out at Harvey’s condo, using his electric shaver, eating the food in his fridge.
“Well,” Harvey said, passing Mike on his way to the kitchen. “Try not to make a habit out of it. You’re starting to become an eyesore.”
“Me? An eyesore?” Mike snorted and belched, tipping back his head. “But you love me. I’m your favourite person at the firm.”
“No, I am my favourite person at the firm,” Harvey corrected him.
“Fine,” Mike acquiesced, rolling his eyes. “Second favourite then.”
“I am constantly surprised at how you overestimate yourself,” Harvey told him, bending down to flick Mike on the nose. “That position, if you must know, is taken by Donna.”
“Norma just had a baby,” Donna explained, clacking away at her computer before gracing Mike with the briefest of looks. “And it’s also her birthday on Tuesday so the entire sixth floor is throwing a little party in her honor. It’s a pot luck which means everyone will have to pitch in, twenty dollars if you want alcohol, fifteen if you don’t.”
“I’ve never even seen Norma before,” Mike said. He heard Louis mention her in passing but he hadn’t been able to put a face to the name.
“Well, sweetheart, you wouldn’t be the only one,” Donna said, smiling indulgently. “But either way you have to hand in that twenty bucks if you don’t want people to talk. Office politics,” she hissed in a stage whisper, her teeth blindingly white.
Sometimes, Mike wasn’t sure what to think about Donna. While Louis gave him a bad feeling, , Donna made Mike wary. She wasn’t untrustworthy or anything, being Harvey’s right hand woman and all. She just seemed a little too devious, Mike thought.
“What is Harvey’s stand in all this?” Mike asked, finally cracking open his wallet. Donna flipped through his five dollar bills, holding them against the light like she was checking for authenticity.
“Harvey’s bringing the cake,” she said, scratching Mike’s name off this little checklist she had on her desk. She set it aside before Mike could peer over her shoulder to check if Donna’s name was on there, too.
It felt a lot like high school, seeing people who didn’t like each other trying to get into each other’s pants. Everyone was so awkward.
Norma, it turned out, was the redhead Mike saw at the deli every Thursday. She had curly hair that rolled down her temples and bright blue eyes. Donna said she was only five years younger than Louis but Mike thought she looked a lot younger than that.
“Her actual name’s Norma Jean,” Donna continued later that night. She was a little tipsy, swaying from foot to foot.
“Like the country music singer?” Mike asked, adjusting his party hat.
“Yeeeep. Just like the country music singer.”
Mike didn’t see Harvey until he was about to leave the office. Harvey was on the sidewalk with his arm around a woman who had the kind of blond hair that seemed like it came straight from the bottle. Mike watched them for a little bit, Harvey laying on his charm like honey. She fell for it, hook, line and sinker and Mike felt betrayed, confused, annoyed, on top of really fucking shocked.
It was like a slap in the face.
Someone tapped him on the shoulder. Mike whipped around, ready to launch into a complaint when he saw that it was only Rachel. His shoulders sagged.
“Hey,” she said softly, hefting her bag on her shoulder. “You left early. You missed Louis choking on a slice of cheese.”
Mike nearly laughed at the mental picture that made. “Yeah, I’m kind of tired, so.” He shrugged and made a face. It was times like these. Mike thought, that he wished he chose Rachel instead. She was sweet and insanely beautiful, and her smile was dazzlingly brilliant, genuine. Mike could see himself falling in love with her. It wasn’t completely outside the realm of possibility.
“Who was that? Harvey?” Rachel asked suddenly, following Mike’s eye line. The cab Harvey had climbed into zipped down the road, its tail lights flashing in the dark.
Mike shrugged again, wondering why his stomach felt funny, like he was going to throw up anyway minute. “I’ll see you in the morning,” he told Rachel abruptly and unhooked the latch on his bike, waving at her without looking back.
He dunked his party hat in the trash as soon as he got home. Then he thawed out in the shower until he calmed down enough, munching on leftover pizza from yesterday and reviewing the McMillan contract.
Mike didn’t sleep that night.
“You’re avoiding me,” Harvey said. “I sent you a breakfast bagel. Donna told me you gave it to a homeless person on your way out.”
“The homeless need to eat,” Mike said, not looking up from where he’d taped a note to his monitor that read: call IRS.
“You look busy,” Harvey commented, still leaning casually over Mike’s cubicle.
Mike refused to look up. “That’s because I am,” he replied.
Harvey whistled. “Well, look at you, associate Mike Ross. Actually doing some work. Commendable but not so effective.”
Mike snorted, resisting the urge to roll his eyes. His head hurt from lack of sleep. He didn’t need this. “What do you want, Harvey?”
Harvey smiled, his charming, megawatt smile that could probably thaw snow drifts if only he had a heart. “Are you busy tonight?”
Mike decided that he was, in fact, busy that night. “I promised my grandmother I’d swing by. Sorry,” he told Harvey, sniffing as he patted him on the shoulder. He flagged down a cab and went in alone, relishing the slack line of Harvey’s mouth.
The look of confusion on Harvey’s face, when Mike rolled down the window, was priceless.
They didn’t sleep together for a month and Mike almost forgot about his brief feelings of jealousy until the same woman came into the office one morning, asking for Harvey.
“Who’s she?” Mike asked Donna who sat, her face impassive, typing up a report.
Donna responded with a waggle of her eyebrow. “That,” she said with relish. “Is his ex-lover, Katherine.”
Donna rolled her eyes. “Why do you want to know?”
“You let her in without asking for identification. You never let me in without giving me the stinkeye and you’ve known me for a year.”
“That’s because you’re not a real lawyer,” Donna whispered. She leaned across the desk. “I don’t like fake lawyers, Mike.”
“Good to know we’ve built such a trusting relationship.”
“Tell that to Harvey,” she muttered.
Donna tapped her earpiece. “Sorry,” she mouthed, making elaborate hand gestures. “I can’t. I can’t hear you.”
Mike narrowed his eyes and went.
“Donna says that woman earlier, who came into your office? She says that was your ex-girlfriend,” Mike told Harvey over coffee the next morning.
“So you’ve decided to talk to me now of your own volition?” Harvey looked amused. Mike didn’t necessarily have to like it. He’d gone out for fresh air, saw Harvey across the street talking to the guy running the hot dog stand across the street and decided to join him. Harvey had glanced up, pleased, like he’d been anticipating Mike for awhile.
“She’s the wife of one of my clients,” Harvey continued as they walked back to the office. “If she looks familiar, it’s because she’s a former swimsuit model.”
“Wow.” Mike blinked. No wonder she’d looked like such a babe. She was exactly Harvey’s type: tall, curvy, with a definite air of inaccessibility. Harvey preferred his women, like his coffee, rich with taste and character.
“Is that a hint of jealousy I detect?” Harvey asked, voice low and teasing enough to make Mike blush and roll his eyes. Mike felt a little stupid and sheepish, getting worked up over something so trivial. Harvey was Harvey. Mike worked for him; they weren’t in a relationship. So why the need to even bring it up?
“Jealous? Why would I be jealous?” Mike puffed out his chest a little, a futile attempt at appearing smug because Harvey burst out laughing, shaking his head as he daubed an imaginary tear from the corner of his eye.
Sometimes, Mike hated him. “Do you enjoy acting like an ass most of the time?”
“It’s a natural gift,” Harvey said cheerfully, flashing his ID at the security guard. “The ladies love it. Makes them work extra hard to gain my approval. Daddy issues, and all that.”
Daddy issues, Mike thought. Harvey really knew how to gauge people, didn’t he?
After Katherine, there was Emma Lancaster, Charlene Hatfield and then Vivian Macdonald. They were all suspiciously “wives of Harvey’s clients”, simultaneously exceedingly good-looking and fitting Harvey’s description of Woman I’d Love To Fuck And Not Call Again In The Morning.
Mike didn’t call him out on it, knowing he had yet to earn the right. Besides, they were both grown men, and if Harvey wanted to sleep around that was his decision, fine, Mike didn’t really care and he didn’t have anything to say about the issue, either.
They weren’t having sex anymore.
Mike was beginning to believe he’d dreamt up the half-year he spent sleeping at Harvey’s condo until he’d bumped into Harvey late one night near the elevators, on his way home.
“Going home?” Harvey asked, scrolling through the messages on his phone.
Mike nodded, jiggling his leg as he waited for the pneumatic whoosh of the double chrome doors. “You?” He cast Harvey a curious look. Harvey didn’t have his jacket on tonight, just a vest and a maroon necktie with tiny silver stars on it. Mike never did get to return that tie he’d borrowed, Mike thought belatedly.
Harvey caught him staring. He didn’t look surprised or smug or self-satisfied. If anything, his face was hard to read. They climbed inside the lift as soon as it opened and Mike ended up going home with Harvey, even though he promised himself, during the awkward cab ride there, that he wasn’t going to sleep with him. That resolution sort of went out the window as soon as Mike’s bag hit the floor and Harvey shoved a hand through his hair, keeping his body framed against the wall.
“What the actual hell,” Mike said, punctuating the statement with a kiss, gripping Harvey’s shoulders firmly as he shimmied out of his pants. He couldn’t believe he was right back where he started.
They did it on Harvey’s sofa with Mike in Harvey’s lap, Harvey’s muscles shifting underneath Mike’s hands as he rolled his hips, shuddering and bucking, half of their clothes still on and Harvey’s shirt rucked up to his chest. Afterwards, they took separate showers. Harvey poured himself a glass of scotch while Mike sat alone on the balcony, watching the faint shimmer of stars in the night sky.
Times like these, Mike wished he still smoked pot.
Maybe he needed to reevaluate his choices. Mike looked up when he heard movement behind him. Harvey, in his blue robe with the fancy stitching, was clinking the ice cubes in his scotch. He stirred his drink with a pinky finger, rubbing his thumb across bead of moisture that trickled down the surface of the glass.
“View’s nice up here, isn’t it?” he said softly, his eye out on the horizon, his face oddly young in the glow of city light.
Maybe indeed, Mike thought. His stomach jumped as he tore his gaze away.
Mike found a flimsy pair of underwear in Harvey’s condo a few weeks later, under the bed. Women’s underwear, Victoria’s Secret, the kind you didn’t wear just because you wanted to feel sexy underneath your clothes.
“It’s the I’m-going-to-have-sex-tonight kind,” Mike told Trevor whom he’d called that afternoon after work. Trevor was in this rehabilitation facility in Montana that was lax about phone calls. As long as he stayed on the program and showed up for group therapy, the people there pretty much allowed him to do whatever the hell he wanted, provided he stayed on their grounds.
Mike had told him everything there was to tell, substituting the appropriate names and genders. It felt like a minor betrayal to lie his ass off when Trevor had been his oldest friend, but Mike figured since Trevor screwed him over a couple of times, he deserved the free pass.
“Man,” Trevor said when Mike had finished. “You really like this chick, huh?”
“Well I don’t like her, like her, she’s my boss. I’m just concerned, you know? She’s not telling me things.”
“Why would she? You guys aren’t exactly in a relationship.”
That made Mike start. He rubbed a hand on his shoulder, easing the knot of pain in his muscle.
“You’re right,” Mike sighed into the phone. “I just. I don’t know.” He pressed his forehead against the bookshelf and thumped it a few times. Trevor’s breathy laugh in his ear was a slight comfort and Mike remembered the few times they got drunk together and Trevor had been in his shoes, complaining about Jenny whom he’d broken up with right after the first month. It worked out in the end and they both found their middle ground through compromise up until six months ago when Jenny ditched Trevor for selling weed, which, okay, was kind of Mike’s fault because he’d been the one to out him, but Trevor was mostly the one to blame for keeping it a secret for too long.
Mike wondered if the key to keeping relationships afloat was to lie through your fucking teeth. It worked well for most people. What you didn’t know couldn’t hurt you.
“Take care of yourself, man,” Trevor said when his time on the phone was up. “Keep yourself together. I’d like to see you again when I get back. In one piece. We’ll have drinks and you can whine to me in person.”
“All right,” Mike agreed and hung up. He felt marginally better.
It was about damned time Mike faced the beast. There was no use beating around the bush, he thought. He’d rather be the one to break it off than be the poor bastard that got sacked because he had too many feelings. Not that Mike had too many feelings or anything. He just wanted to be done with it, done with Harvey. Sexually, of course. He still made a good mentor.
“I need to talk to you,” Mike said as soon as he caught Harvey exiting the office.
“Ah, just the person I was looking for. Where’s my Spellman brief?”
“I’ll hand it to you later,” Mike told him, squeezing through the trickle of people heading the opposite direction. “This is important.”
“More important than a multimillion dollar deal?” Harvey gave him an appraising look. “Do tell.”
“I’m not sleeping with you anymore,” Mike blurted. That made Harvey stop in his tracks. He seemed surprised at Mike’s sudden outburst. Harvey’s lips were parted and his eyes looked a little wild.
“Yeah,” Mike continued. “So. No hard feelings okay?” He slapped Harvey on the back, the same way Harvey slapped him after a job well done or when he meant to say: watch and learn.
“No hard feelings?” Harvey repeated but by the time he’d recovered Mike was already at the end of the hall, waving his fingers. “No hard feelings?”
Mike pretended not to hear him and felt a surge of triumph.
It didn’t last very long.
“Aw,” Greg cooed, making faces at Mike when he found him in the lounge, contemplating his life and choices. “Why the long face, golden boy? What happened to your shiny golden aura?”
“Greg.” Mike sighed and clenched his jaw, shooting him a look. “Will you please stop with the auras? I get it already. You relish the fact that I’m in pain. Can we just move on? I’d like to eat my bagel in peace.”
Greg shrugged one shoulder, his face sheepish. “Whatever,” he said just so he could have the final word. “You still suck and I still hate you.”
The only fly in the ointment was the fact that Harvey, being Mike’s boss, was practically unavoidable.
“You’re mad at me aren’t you,” Harvey said one day, the way some doctors said, you’re dying, with the same gravity in his voice and the same crinkled forehead. He was leaning over Mike’s cubicle, resting his chin against his fist.
“Not really,” Mike answered him. “Why would I be mad?”
He was disappointed, sure, in himself more than anyone, but mad? Harvey was staring at him like he was trying to read his mind, his gaze steady and cool, dissecting. It was his courtroom face, Mike knew.
Mike narrowed his eyes back, wary. “Um,” he said, putting the cap back on his pen.
“You’ve found a girlfriend,” Harvey conjectured. He sounded both relieved and disappointed, always a weird combination.
“Well, then,” Harvey said when Mike didn’t reply, still a bit befuddled. “That’s good. I’m happy for you.”
“Thanks,” Mike said even though he wasn’t really seeing anyone. “Good.”
“Good,” Harvey repeated. He reached out to clap Mike on the shoulder, recanted, and then said, again, “Good.”
Mike came to Ray for advice because Ray always had something useful to impart. Ray was Harvey’s friend first but that didn’t mean that he answered to him, well, most of the time. They were just that: friends. Mike thought maybe he could learn a thing or two from him about not overstepping his boundaries.
Ray would always say stuff like, “Making a left turn in New York is one of the harder things you're going to learn in life,” Or “Anyone driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac.” Things that, while on the surface, seemed completely innocuous as they were always reflective of the driving habits of New Yorkers, actually conveyed a deeper meaning applicable to everyday life.
“So tell me on a totally different subject,” Mike said that afternoon while they were waiting Harvey to finish up with a client. “Or almost totally different subject, anyway. How did you get Harvey to like you?”
“Certainly not the same way you got him to like you,” Ray laughed. He slapped Mike on the back when Mike slumped his shoulders. “Relax, Michael.”
“Only my grandmother ever calls me that,” Mike said, leaning against the car. He felt the warmth of the metal seep through his skin and it was comforting somehow, calming. He closed his eyes and sighed. Last night, Mike had been this close to sleeping with him again. He had a problem that required therapy, Mike thought.
“When you have Harvey’s seal of approval, you don’t question it,” Ray said. “You accept it for what it is, reap the benefits. And if it so happens he likes you more than he lets on, then by all means exploit that and use it your advantage.”
“Is that what you did?” Mike raised an eyebrow. “Because I heard a totally different story. He said you gave him back the three thousand dollars he left in the backseat of your limo. Were you tempted, you know, even for a second? I mean, three grand. That’s a lot of money.”
Ray shrugged. He finished his coffee, crumpled the Styrofoam cup and tossed it into a nearby bin. Then he did that thing where he leaned forward and smiled, like he was letting you in on a big secret, keeping his hands folded behind him. “It was just money, Michael. Money you use to buy stuff you don’t even need, let alone want. You know what make good investments? People.”
“You’re like this Sherpa of good wisdom and coolness,” Mike told him. He hugged Ray tightly and stepped back, shaking him by the shoulders. “Honestly, you should write a book or something. I would read the crap out of it. I like to read.”
Ray just laughed, throwing his head back. “You know,” he said conversationally, thumping Mike between the shoulder blades. “For the first time in months, I think I kind of see what it is Harvey likes about you.”
“Is it my spunk?” Mike asked, inexplicably curious.
“If by spunk you mean general charm and wit, then yes,” Ray said. “But if you meant the other thing, well. Perhaps that too.”
Mike laughed, a good solid five second laugh, the first in an entire week. It felt terrific.
“No, seriously, Harvey likes you,” Ray said afterwards, his voice low like he was afraid someone in the street might overhear. “He’s always talking to me about you. He admires your erudition. Though sometimes he complains to me about your inability to follow through on the simplest orders.”
“He complains about me too, huh?” Mike said, feeling something strange and thrilling bubble up his chest. He thought about Harvey slumped in the backseat of the limo, rolling his eyes while Ray drove him to his next destination. He liked knowing Harvey thought about him outside of work, even if it were to enumerate his many failings.
Ray nodded, smiling, leaning against the car too so that their elbows were almost touching. “That’s how I know Harvey likes you. A lot,” he said.
“A lot, huh,” Mike said wistfully. He tried hard not to smile.
The first time Mike had sex with Harvey, he thought about quitting the next day. He lay there in Harvey’s massive king-sized bed, staring up at the ceiling, his hands folded across his stomach, his eyes wide in the dark, periodically glancing over the curve of Harvey’s naked back.
This is it, Mike thought, clenching his fists. I’ve managed to fuck up. Again.
The thing that shocked Mike though was how different Harvey behaved once you got him alone. And he was still cocky and sharp tongued and pretty awesome, but alone he seemed…different. Relaxed. Nicer. Or maybe just nice. Mike wouldn’t say Harvey was sweet because that was just like saying Louis was funny, but he was charming and pretty damn entertaining with the jokes. Never a dull moment. It was hard not to love him.
Ensconced by layers of comforters, Mike was tempted to roll onto his side and push Harvey’s hair down with his fingers. It curled to the side, sticky little tufts crusty with hair gel, smelling like sweat and shampoo, city smoke.
“Nice shorts,” Seth commented, elbowing a bunch of other guys next to him to drive his point home. Laughter ensued.
Mike ignored him and continued tying his shoelaces, focusing on regulating his breathing and making sure his shoes were on securely. Last time he went running in Central Park, his sneaker went flying into the air because he hadn’t bothered to put it on properly. He didn’t want a repeat of that.
Next to him, another one of those corporate douche bag types started doing warm ups.
Mike was at the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge, this annual 5K race sponsored by the Chase Manhattan bank intended to promote “fitness in the workplace”.
The way it worked was that you signed up to represent a corporate team and paid for a shirt ($12) that had your company logo printed on the front. The aim was to encourage brotherhood and sportsmanship and camaraderie among coworkers, all that good stuff that Mike convinced himself didn’t exist when you worked at Pearson Hardman or at least were associate Mike Ross.
Whoever won got their company to look good and if you were really lucky, you earned the admiration and respect of your peers and a night of free beer. The race was non-profit, which meant it was basically self-flagellation in the form of running from Strawberry Fields up to The Boathouse where you were awarded a flimsy gold medal and a month’s supply of instant coffee courtesy of Folgers.
Mike was only here because Donna handed him a flyer that morning, raised an eyebrow, and told him to participate. “You want to do this firm proud? Run for Pearson Hardman.”
There must have been twenty other guys from Mike’s floor, including Greg who was shaking his hands and head as prep up.
“Need help with your stretches?”
Harvey. Mike glanced up. “I’m not one of your prostitutes.”
“Very funny,” Harvey said. He began warming up. Mike pretended he wasn’t paying attention to him, the smooth flex of his leg muscles and how there was just the right amount of suction at the back of his shorts.
“It looks like it’s going to rain,” Harvey said suddenly, craning his neck at the sky. Storm clouds rolled overhead.
Mike sniffed the air. “Yeah, well. I like rain,” he said.
When the race was about to begin, they took their positions near the starting line. Mike reevaluated his decision to come here. He’d never run a race before. He liked biking to and from point A to point B because it was cheaper and made parking way easier than when he drove a car. But running five kilometers was different. You relied on your body, not a machine to keep yourself moving.
“Good luck,” Harvey said, startling Mike a little. He didn’t pat Mike on the shoulder or anything but he may as well have.
Mike nodded and said, “You too,” and hoped this would be over as soon as possible.
It did rain after all, halfway into the race, a slow trickle at first, then fat raindrops that hit Mike in the eye. People started breaking away from the pack, unable to withstand the weather, until there were just a few hundred of them there, getting pelted by rain, their clothes soaked through, shoes squeaking.
Mike gave up at the 3 kilometer mark, running under the awning of a fast food restaurant and waiting for the rain to subside. He stood there shivering in running clothes, rubbing warmth up and down his arms, his bag at his feet, when a cab rolled to a stop in front of him and Harvey opened the door to the backseat.
“Mike!” he called out. Mike jogged towards him, nearly skidding on the sidewalk. The inside of the cab was cool, the leather gummy and he shivered harder, lurching forward when the cab rolled over a speedbump.
Harvey threw a towel at his face. It smelled a little, not in a bad way, but just enough to let Mike know Harvey had probably used it before. He patted himself dry with it, wringing out his hair. “Thanks,” he said. “Did you finish the race?”
Harvey had thrown a grey sweater over his running shirt and his hair hung limply down his temples. “No, I quit before I caught hypothermia.”
Mike laughed at that.
At Harvey’s condo, Mike shucked off his wet clothes and dumped them in the dryer. He borrowed some of Harvey’s clothes, not a first, a shirt in deep red a couple of sizes too big with a worn faded H on the upper left side.
“Hey, you found my Crew shirt,” Harvey said, walking out of the shower in a white t-shirt and cotton pants. “I didn’t know I still had it.”
“That shirt,” Harvey said. “You know how the typical Harvard stereotype is the male guy who’s on the Crimson and does crew?” He reached out to rub the hem between his fingers, smiling, and Mike glanced down and shivered when Harvey’s fingers brushed his stomach.
“You rowed Crew?” Mike asked. He realized this was the first time Harvey actively volunteered information.
“Yeah, but I wasn’t on the Crimson though. Too much politics. Plus I punched the editor-in-chief for being a dick. He kept trying to climb my girlfriend like a tree.”
Mike smiled. He was a little tired from the race so he went and lay down in Harvey’s bed. The sheets were crisp, freshly made, and Mike enjoyed being the one to unmake them, pushing his face into a pillow and breathing in. He could live here, Mike thought. Wouldn’t be a problem. He’d find a little corner and set up shop and feel cozy.
The mattress dipped next to him. Mike cracked an eye open.
“You’re still mad at me,” Harvey surmised, steepling his fingers across his chest. He cocked his head to the side so that they were watching each other, faces half a foot apart, Mike on his stomach with his cheek squashed into a pillow.
“I’m not mad,” Mike said and rolled onto his back, the side of his arm brushing Harvey’s as he maneuvered around. He already missed sleeping here, Mike thought. How long has it been? Two months? Three? Harvey’s bed was roomy and warm and smelled really really good, like him.
“I just don’t think we should sleep together anymore,” Mike continued.
“Give me one good reason we shouldn’t.”
Mike looked at him incredulously. “Harvey, you’re my boss.”
“And?” Harvey pressed.
Mike kicked his ankle gently. He caught Harvey smiling, the edges of his mouth soft as he sniffed out a laugh and rolled his head to the side. For the first time in a long time, Mike actually wanted to kiss him without it having to lead to sex. Just for the hell of it, for the thrill of it. Just because he could and Harvey would most probably let him.
Mike sighed and closed his eyes. He wondered if his clothes had dried. He should really leave soon before the weather worsened or it got dark.
“I’m going to sleep,” Mike decided, announcing it to the room at large. He yawned and stretched, turning on his side again, back facing Harvey. The muscles in his thighs felt numb and heavy like lead; they ached from running.
“You better not try anything funny or I’ll sue,” Mike warned him.
“Don’t tempt me,” Harvey said. Mike grunted and waved a hand at him, burying his face under a pillow. The last thing he remembered was Harvey throwing a blanket over him. Then some shuffling around, a heavy thump next to him, then falling asleep to the sound of the news.
Two days later, Mike answered the front door. He found Harvey standing in the hallway armed with a box full of stuff. He wasn’t in a suit and tie, which was a charming development, but in white pants and a grey long sleeved shirt, the collar loose and forming a v around his neck. Only Harvey can wear casual clothes and still look intimidating. Mike ran his eyes appreciatively over the length of his outfit and then realized he was ogling and blinked.
“I came here to return these,” Harvey said, by way of explanation. He gave Mike a meaningful look or as meaningful of a look as Harvey Specter could give anyone.
“But none of those things are mine,” Mike told him, blinking again, confused. He was pretty sure he didn’t own ten striped ties and a pair of sharp brown loafers. The box had other things too: a book about the ins and outs of Harvard Law (Surviving Harvard: So You Think You’re Ready For That Grand Intellectual Bitch Slap? Think Again!) and two tickets to see the Yankees game on Friday sitting on top of the pile. Mike didn’t even like baseball. He prefered basketball.
“Well, they’re your things now,” Harvey told him, shrugging. “Congratulations.” He pushed the box towards Mike, jostling its contents.
“I know there are a lot of things to say, but it really isn’t worth saying them, so I’m just going to give you these things that Donna picked out specifically for this occasion, hoping they’ll do all the talking.” Harvey sighed, looking immensely pained, the first truest human emotion Mike ever saw in his face besides the one he made pre-orgasm.
“That is the nicest thing you’ve done for me all year,” Mike said and then rolled his eyes. “You may now enter.” He bowed theatrically and stepped out of the way.
Harvey lowered the box on the ground in the living room, whirling around to face Mike who still hadn’t moved from the door.
“I know why you hate me,” Harvey said.
“Because you’re crabby and sinister and bully people?”
“Say what you want,” Harvey said, holding up a hand. “You know you can’t get enough of me.”
“Sounds like you can’t get enough of you, either.”
“Look,” Harvey sighed again. He looked like this entire conversation was giving him emphysema. He kept closing his eyes for seconds at a time. “What do you want me to say?”
“That I’m awesome and the best associate there is at the firm?”
“You want me to lie?” Harvey widened his eyes. “Fine, you’re awesome and you’re the best associate there is at the firm. Currently.”
Mike smiled. “I think I would like that on the record.”
Harvey threw him a look. Mike thought he was going to say something biting after that but all he said was, “If you’re not seeing anyone,” and that was all it took for Mike not to laugh in his face and dance around in his living room, pointing at him. He raised a hand and said, “All right, stop, Harvey. This is just weird.”
“How is this weird? I’m asking you a simple question: are you seeing anyone? Because I don’t think you’ve noticed but we haven’t had sex in seven weeks. Getting you to put out is like trying to draw blood from a fax machine. One minute you’re like, stick it in me, stick it in me, and the next you’re all, no hard feelings, sorry bro. I mean, what the hell Mike?”
There was his courtroom face again, Mike thought, and then remembered something. “Hey, I sound nothing like that. Stick it in me? Come on, man. I’m not some ten dollar hooker.”
“I never said you were, Julia Roberts.”
“I like that movie,” Mike said. “She had a heart of gold and a lustrous mane of hair.”
“Neither of which you have,” Harvey pointed out keenly.
Mike smiled. “What do you want Harvey? Seriously.”
Harvey pursed his lips and sank back against the back of the couch. He sat there on the headboard, his hands cradled in his lap. “I know you think I’m a heartless bastard.”
“But you can’t just stop having sex with me and not tell me why.”
Mike blinked. “So this is really just about the sex, huh? Okay, so, I found lingerie under your bed.”
“It’s a hobby I’m not particularly proud of,” Harvey confessed, opening his arms.
Mike crossed his.
“I don’t know how it got there – I blame Rosario my new housekeeper, she can’t speak a word of English and keeps calling me Meester Haavi – but if you want to know the only woman in my life right now is Donna. I’m not sleeping around if that’s what you think.” He stepped forward, putting on his best earnest face.
“This is the part where you forgive me. And then put out.” Harvey raised his eyes hopefully.
“I just wanted to avoid conflict,” Mike said. He felt sheepish, sagging back against the kitchen counter and letting it carry most of his weight. Was this their own weird version of a Relationship Talk? Were they even in a relationship? Meanwhile, Harvey ambled even closer until he had Mike crowded effectively with no means of escape.
“Were you jealous of the nonexistent woman? Because it seems to me like you were.”
Mike snorted. “Hardly. I just thought you had a freaky crossdressing thing going on.”
“Freaky? You’re one to talk,” Harvey muttered, and then reached out to cup Mike’s neck. Mike shivered and felt the same sharp tug in his stomach that he only ever associated with watching Hallmark movies and eating too much Mexican food.
“I’m going to kiss you now,” Harvey said, completely unselfconscious about the proposition. “You have five seconds to object.” He began counting on his fingers, rubbing Mike’s cheek with a thumb, staring down at his mouth. “One.” He curved his other hand around Mike’s waist. “Two.”
Mike felt Harvey’s breath coast the side of his face. “You should probably know that just because you gave me free stuff doesn’t mean I’m going to resume sleeping with you.”
“Noted. But I doubt you can resist me. I mean, look at me,” Harvey said, spreading his arms to indicate the entirety of his person. Mike almost expected him to twirl just to give him a complete view of the goods.
Mike shook his head. He slipped an arm around Harvey’s neck and pulled, grinning. “Yeah,” he said, sighing and making a face. “You’re a real stunner all right.”
Harvey burst out laughing before kissing him firmly on the mouth.