Mike was frantically typing, aware that it was time for Harvey to be hunting him down when he heard a very familiar voice ask, “Hey, we’re looking for Mike Ross?”
“Oh my God!” he shouted and jumped to his feet. “What are you doing here?”
The Air Force Sergeant and the big black Marine Captain, both in uniform with medals on, grinned hugely as Mike shot out of his cubicle and manfully backslapped them both.
“God, you guys look great, how are you?”
SSgt. Shep Wickenhouse shot a meaningful look at the Captain who did a thing with his hand that meant he was supposed to talk.
“No, really,” Mike said, ignoring the obviously curious co-workers whispering behind him, alarms starting to go off in his head. “What ~are ~ you doing here? I mean, Manhattan is like off the beaten path.” His tone was meaningful and both men laughed.
“Well,” Captain Johnson sighed and rubbed a nervous hand over his head before his attention was caught by an approaching audience.
“What is going on here?”
Mike turned and shot Jessica a wide smile. “Hey, just a couple of old military buddies visiting, Jessica. May I present Captain Frank Johnson, United States Marine Corps and Staff Sergeant Shep Wickenhouse, Air Force. Guys, this is my boss and the owner of the firm, Jessica Pearson.”
Both men nodded politely, and chorused, “Ma’am.”
Jessica’s eyes were sharp. “Gentlemen, thank you for your service. And Mr. Ross, this doesn’t explain why they’re here.”
Harvey chose that moment to come up and frowned at Mike. “Ross? What is going on?”
Mike shrugged and looked at his friends. “Just visiting?”
Johnson shook his head. “Yeah, not so much. Sergeant Ross, you are officially being recalled to active duty.” He tried to hand papers over but Mike ignored them.
“Um, no? I’m out, remember?”
“You were in the military?” Harvey asked, his voice rising in surprise. There was more whispering from the peanut gallery of associates.
Focusing on Harvey, Mike shrugged. “I joined the Air Force after high school. I had to get out when Grandma got worse.”
“Ross,” Shep said with a pained smile. “You’re still a reservist, even if you’re inactive.”
Jessica didn’t get where she was in corporate law without seeing that there was a bigger picture.
“Let’s adjourn to Harvey’s office,” she said before casting a jaundiced eye over the obviously eavesdropping associates. “I can send Louis down here if you all have nothing better to do,” she added sharply, watching with satisfaction as the associates scrambled so quickly for their desks that there were a couple of hilarious collisions. It said something to Ross’s state of mind that he hadn’t even noticed, and she saw Harvey frown as he caught the lapse as well.
In Harvey’s office, Mike sat beside Harvey on the small couch and watched as Shep stood by the door, obviously guarding it while Captain Johnson folded and spindled the papers he’d been trying to hand to Mike.
“Why? Or more to the point, why now?” Mike asked abruptly. His hands were deliberately dangling between his knees in an absurd parody of being relaxed. He wasn’t relaxed, he was wound tighter that a hooker at a religious convention.
Johnson sighed. “It’s classified,” he said, giving Harvey and Jessica a meaningful head tilt. “Suffice it to say, Dr. McKay asked for you, and the President agreed.”
"President?" Jessica asked sharply. "President of what?
"Of the United States," Mike answered absently. He didn't catch the look of shock Harvey and Jessica exchanged. His mind was still reeling with all of the horrible possibilities that needed his gene.
“Mike,” Shep said softly. “You have to come You're the only one that can figure it out and fix it.”
“Crap!” Mike uttered the curse word helplessly. The only way the Air Force, i.e. Dr. McKay, would recall him was if something had happened to Colonel Sheppard, and if McKay couldn't fix it.... Mike Ross had the second strongest manifestation of the Ancient gene the SGC had ever seen, and after he’d memorized the Ancient language, (and boy, Dr. Jackson had been pissed, then elated when Mike had corrected a translation he’d been working on) he had spent most of his time on Atlantis. He’d loved his job, and would have loved to stay but then his Gran had gone downhill and he’d had to leave. And he’d tried to bury the whole thing, despite missing Atlantis like a phantom limb.
Harvey watched as Mike got up to pace distractedly. “The original reason for Mike’s leaving is still in place. His grandmother is still in a nursing home and he’s her sole source of support,” he said, firmly on Mike’s side in this, whatever ~this~ was. He still couldn’t believe that his mild mannered associate was former military. It was like finding out he’d been working with Superman, or some other less ridiculous metaphor.
Johnson nodded. “Yes, sir. We’re going to provide for her care.”
“We, of course, have a policy for reservists,” Jessica began, not that they had ever had to use it. There were not a lot of people who went to Harvard and then into the military. “Do you know what the timeframe will be?”
“Um,” Johnson said, exchanging a look with Shep when there was an audible squeal and Johnson winced. He pulled what looked like a super advanced military headset out of his pocket and put it on. “Sir, yes, we’re here. We just told him. No. No, not yet. Sir…” the last was a somewhat plaintive whine that made Mike smile for the first time.
“Is that McKay?” he asked, making a gimme grabbing motion with his hand. Johnson gladly handed the earpiece, which was still making squawking noises, over. Mike slipped it on and went to stand at the windows that overlooked Manhattan.
Harvey watched, exchanging a glance with Jessica that said she’d also noticed this suddenly very serious man, a stranger compared to the brilliant, competent but slightly goofy associate who’d they’d known for the last few months.
“McKay. McKay! This is Ross. ~Yes~, no. No, they haven’t told me. How long do you need me for?” he asked, and his face went blank at whatever he was hearing from the other man. “Okay. When? Uh huh, okay. Yeah, I’ll go with them. What about my apartment? What, no it isn’t a ~slum~, just because I live in New York City, I’ll still need it, uh huh. Yeah, okay.” He pulled off the headset and handed it to Johnson before turning to Jessica and Harvey.
“I’m sorry, Dr. McKay doesn’t know for how long but he promised as soon as we’re done he’ll send me back,” he said.
Johnson nodded in relief. “Shep, help Mike clear out his desk.”
Harvey stood. “I’ll help. Is there anything else? Does he need anything from his apartment?”
“No,” Johnson said even as Mike said, “Yes.”
“Mike, we won’t have time.”
“Jesus,” Mike said bitterly and stalked out of Harvey’s office, Shep on his heels.
Harvey hesitated at the door before glancing back. “What does Mike do for the military?”
Johnson looked visibly undecided. “He saves lives, sir.”
Harvey looked at Jessica, then nodded. “Good enough.”
Mike had shown Shep where the restrooms were and was busy picking through things in his desk when Devon came up, a smirk on his face. “Fired, were you? It’s about time.”
“Devon, go back to brownnosing Louis’s ass, please? I’m busy,” Mike said, not even glancing up.
“So, what did you do?” Devon continued. “Did you go AWOL, is that what it’s called? Decided you couldn’t live with the ignorant slope-browed monkeys who couldn’t hack Harvard if they tried and decided the military was the only place that would have them. I always knew there was a reason that it always felt like I was slumming when I was in your presence…” he barely got the words out of his mouth when he found himself slammed up against the wall, a hand tight around his throat and Mike’s suddenly terrifying face in his.
“You need to shut the fuck up,” Mike growled. “The men and women who serve in the armed forces are head and shoulders above you inbred, juvenile jack-ass. They serve to keep your over privileged, ass kissing way of life safe and I will ~not~ listen to you ignorantly disparage them. Do you understand me?
“Mike,” Shep drawled, hands up as he cautiously came forward. “You can’t kill the obnoxious lawyer. Even the President couldn’t hide the body. Too many witnesses.”
Mike took a deep breath, then let Devon go, watching with malicious satisfaction as the other man coughed and gagged as he slid down the wall. “I was in the Air Force, you dick. I can kill a man with a ball point pen. Do not fuck with me again,” he said and swept around back to his cubicle.
Harvey, who’d witnessed the last bit, was impressed and a little aroused. Military bad-ass Mike was sexy, and hello, was this the most inappropriate time to realize he was attracted to his associate?
“Someone go help Devon,” he snapped and a couple of associates jumped and helped the red-faced man to the restroom, making sure they took the long way around the pissed off Mike.
Mike handed a large bundle of files over to Harvey. “Here, everything else in my desk is stuff another associate can have.”
“Mike,” Harvey said, his voice serious. “This ~is~ your desk. We’re obligated to keep your job for you until you come back. We won’t let anyone else take it, okay?”
Harvey’s deep brown eyes were serious and Mike had to swallow against the sudden tightening of his throat. “Thanks, man.” He was going to miss Harvey, his acerbic wit and his no nonsense, take no prisoners personality. Oh hell, he was attracted to Rodney McKay’s twin. He was doomed.
Johnson came down the hallway. “Wickerhouse, Ross. We need to go.”
“Yes, sir,” Mike said, shedding his civilian persona. He grabbed his suit jacket. “See you around, Harvey.”
Harvey nodded. “Be safe, Mike.”
Mike was in science blue bdu’s, staring down at the man in stasis. “So, the Colonel touched something, again, and this is the result. Nothing physically wrong with him, right?”
“Aye, Sergeant. It’s just a very deep REM sleep,” Beckett said. Dr. Keller nodded her agreement and made a notation in the chart that hung off the toe end of the stasis unit.
“Okay,” Mike said. He placed a hand onto the stasis unit. “See you later, sir. I’ll have it figured out in a jif.”
In all, it took five days for Mike to figure out that the device was a machine to enact complete relaxation when you were too stressed. Unfortunately it was screwed up. When he told McKay, the man ranted about how even the fucking city knew that the Colonel had been working too hard and how he was going to rub his face in it and make him say that Rodney was always right.
“The problem,” Mike said, raising his voice over the rant. “It is supposed to be a finite amount of time according to the health of the individual. I’m pretty sure that two weeks is overkill.”
Radek grinned a little as Rodney sputtered at the interruption. Everyone knew that McKay only let Sheppard and Teyla derail his epic rants.
Blue eyes pinned Mike, but he had worked with Rodney enough to not flinch. “Well?”
“My theory is I think that the stasis unit screwed up the programming,” he said and Radek sat up with excitement.
“You think that stasis stopped process and now Colonel is like Sleeping Beauty, yes? He needs regular sleep, and stasis is retarding progress of original machine,” Radek finished with a triumphant smile.
“Exactly,” Mike agreed.
“You’re sure?” McKay demanded. “Keller had him placed in the stasis machine when he began to lose weight.”
“It said in one of the addendums that that weight loss is part of the process, I mean, if you’re in a coma the docs add nutrients and fluids. I think that if they’d just settled for that then the Colonel would have woken on his own.” Mike shrugged. “It’s my best guess, McKay.”
“I concur,” Radek said when McKay’s hopeful eyes turned to him.
“Right, let’s head to medical,” McKay said.
Harvey sighed, leaned back in his chair to stare out of his window. He missed Mike, it was as simple, and as complicated as that. He’d been attracted to Mike before, but he’d been able to push it off, justify it that Mike wasn’t nearly mature enough, hadn’t lived life and wouldn’t be able to be…well, anything to Harvey that Harvey would stay interested in. The military thing changed everything, though God knew why.
“Ah, are you moping again?” Donna asked as she brought in more files. Harvey had flat out refused to go to the associates cubicles. It was a slap in the face reminder that Mike was gone so he’d been using Donna as a go-fer, which she’d protested was beneath her dignity but agreed when she’d caught the look on Harvey’s face.
“Did those morons do a better job, this time?” he asked instead of rising to her jab.
Donna chuckled. “Marginally, yes. Louis is down there cracking the whip. I don’t think he realized how much of everyone’s work Mike had been doing. The accuracy is shockingly bad since he’s been gone.”
“I know, Jessica even mentioned it,” Harvey replied dryly. Jessica had stopped by the day before and off handedly remarked that a couple of the other partners had mentioned the quality of work from the associates had noticeably dropped since Mike had left.
“He’ll be fine, Harvey,” Donna said, sitting in on of the chair in front of his desk that were usually used for clients. “I did some research, most recalls for the Air Force are not for longer than someone’s enlistment.”
“That could be two to four years, Donna,” Harvey said evenly. He’d done his research too. He also knew that in wartime it could be involuntarily extended.
Donna sat for a moment. “Are you going to tell him when he get’s back?”
“Tell him what?” Harvey said, playing dumb.
“Oh please, you’re moping around like your spouse has gone to war. Oh wait, he ~has~.”
“Donna,” Harvey pled quietly. “It doesn’t matter what I feel. Okay? He’s military, you know, ‘Don’t ask, Don’t tell’? And you of all people know he’s been sniffing around Rachel, and as good as my legs are, they’re not women’s legs.”
“Please,” Donna scoffed. “Don’t ask, Don’t tell’ has practically been abolished. And I know you’re not the most observant person when it comes to actual feelings, but Mike worships the ground that you walk on.”
“That’s because I’m the best lawyer in the city,” Harvey said.
Donna stuck a finger into her mouth and pretended to gag, making Harvey laugh. “Whatever, I’m going back to do some of my work. Try to do the same,” she advised and walked to her office.
Harvey sat for a moment longer, watching the city before spinning back to his desk and delving into the files. The first one he opened made him wince. He ~really~ missed Mike.
John slowly stretched down to his toes, feeling more rested that he ever remembered. But when he opened his eyes his relaxation abruptly vanished.
“Gah! What are you all doing in my room?” he squawked. Beckett, Keller, Rodney, Ronon, Teyla and Ross were all staring at him. Wait a second, what was Ross doing there?
“You’re in sick bay, you nitwit,” McKay said, his usual bite softened as he settled onto the side of the Colonel’s bed. “You touched something, again and you’ve been taking your beauty sleep for almost two weeks. After all of the times you tell ~me~ not to touch, and look what happened!”
John absorbed that. “Is that why Ross is here? Hey, kid, how are you?”
Mike laughed. “Hey, Colonel Sheppard. Yeah, they needed my gene to discover what happened.”
“Cool,” John said and he got a practically audible eyeroll from Rodney. “What ~did~ happen?”
There was some shuffling before Mike sighed with exasperation.
“Apparently you’ve been working yourself into the ground, again. The machine forces relaxation on you, a deep sleep appropriate to the level of stress that you’re under. You’ve been asleep for almost two weeks. Maybe the next time you’ll take some time off before Atlantis puts you back into a coma again.” His tone was sharp but his eyes were fond.
Colonel Sheppard had been the very best boss he’d ever had. He didn’t stop until his people were safe, he cared, and that’s what Mike had taken away from his experience in Atlantis. It was what he’d been having trouble translating to his job at Pearson Harden.
“A week? God, I can’t imagine how much paperwork that I have,” Sheppard whined and everyone began to laugh.
Rodney sat next to Mike in the cafeteria, watching as the younger man happily forked up the fried tormack. “Can’t get anything like it at home, can you?”
“I miss it,” Mike said, chewing quickly. It was his last meal on Atlantis, he was scheduled to head back on the Icarus.
Wickerhouse, who was sitting beside him snorted. “He’s eaten his bodyweight in it already.”
“Shut up,” Mike said, shoving his friend.
“We missed you,” Rodney replied, not looking up from the coffee he was doctoring with way too much sugar. “You can come back, you know.”
Mike swallowed and sat back. “McKay, I have to go back. My grandmother needs me.”
“I know, I know,” the older man muttered irascibly. “I thought I’d extend the offer. You’re so much better than those morons that they SGC keeps sending me.”
Chuckling, Mike took a sip of his bug juice. “Aw McKay, I knew you liked me,” he teased and ducked the half hearted swat. “I appreciate it, but as much as I miss being here, I miss being home more.” He never thought he’d feel that way, but his grandmother, and Harvey were in New York.
“Fine, fine,” Rodney said. “I’ve gotten you a little something for your going away ~again~ gift.” He pulled out a packet of papers out of the breast pocket of his science jacket and nonchalantly handed them over.
Mike took them and started flipping through them. “McKay!” he squeaked.
“Well, if you’re going to pretend to be a lawyer, you may as well have the proper paperwork to back it up.” Rodney said reasonably. He looked uncomfortable. “You helped save John’s life, okay?”
“God, you didn’t need to do this,” Mike said softly, smoothing the papers, including a very nice diploma from Harvard. Everything he needed to be a real lawyer, except the experience but he’d get that from Harvey.
“Well, we did,” Rodney said. He got to his feet and patted Mike’s shoulder. “Stay in touch, Ross.” He took his coffee and went off to berate some minions.
Wickerhouse snickered. “You look like a fish, Mike.”
Mike snapped his mouth shut and looked away from staring at Dr. McKay’s retreating back. He was going home.
Harvey was heading out of the courthouse into the bright sun when he thought he saw a familiar shape getting off of a bicycle, a messenger bag banging against a familiar hip.
“Mike?” he called, sure that he was hallucinating when the man in question glanced up and grinned.
He didn’t remember how he got down the rest of the steps, but he came back to himself when he found himself hugging Mike tightly in front of the courthouse, making a spectacle of himself, and he didn’t give a fuck.
“I’m happy to see you too, Harvey,” Mike’s voice was filled with laughter, but he was hugging back just as tightly.
“Are you back for good?” Harvey demanded and he forced himself to put some space between the two of them.
Mike nodded, unable to stop smiling. “Yeah.”
Harvey let a slow smile out in response. “C’mon, let’s show those morons how to do their jobs,” he said and began to tow the unresisting man behind him.
“What about my bike?” Mike protested but he was laughing as Harvey manhandled him.
“I’ll send Ray for it later,” Harvey assured him. He watched as Ray greeted Mike cheerfully as they got into the town car and was amazed at how it felt like a missing piece of himself was back.
Once they were settled, Mike pulled a folder out of his messenger bag. “I have a gift for you,” he said and passed it over.
Harvey opened it curiously and sucked in a breath. “Is this for real?”
“Yeah,” Mike laughed. “A gift from my boss.” At Harvey’s quick look he amended, “Old boss. You know, for doing good. Don’t worry, it’s all there. Transcripts, diplomas, photos, everything.”
Harvey boggled at the influence that a favor of this type would require. “Huh,” he said. He flipped through the papers for a minute before resolutely closing the file. “Do I want to know what you were doing while you were gone?”
Mike smiled apologetically. “It’s classified. But nothing dangerous, I swear.”
Muscles he hadn’t realized were still stressed began to relax and Harvey nodded. He placed the file into his own briefcase before pulling another file out.
“Tell me what’s wrong with this,” he said.
“Harvey,” Mike whined but eagerly took the file and began to go through it. He was back, he was with Harvey and he was sure that the older man had real feelings for him. His life was good.
Harvey met Ray’s eyes in the mirror and smiled. Mike was back. Life was good.
The financial office of the nursing home was a busy place. One of the women opened an envelope and glanced at the information in the letter before looking at the check. Her mouth dropped when she caught the number of zeros. Mrs. Ross’s future looked like it would be smoother sailing for a long time to come.