Chapter 1: Just You Wait, Harvey Specter
“Hello, everyone,” Jessica began, her mere presence causing a hush to fall over the conference room packed with employees. “It’s that time of year again, and all you Pearson Hardman veterans know what that means.”
A collective groan emanated from the partners, while the first-year associates looked around anxiously. “What?” Mike whispered, leaning toward Harvey, “What’s she talking about?”
“One night spent serving firm-mandated hard time,” Harvey replied through gritted teeth.
“I don’t want to hear any grumbling,” Jessica continued, raising her voice only slightly to compensate for the cascade of whispers now filtering through the room. “The Pearson Hardman Annual Yule Ball is one of our firm’s most honored traditions, and you will all be attending as the personal guests of Sebastian Hardman himself.”
“Every year it’s the same deal,” the junior partner on Mike’s other side whispered to his companion. “We’ve all got to run around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to get dates for this thing just because the old man gets his rocks off watching us swan around in monkey suits.”
“Hey, at least there’s free booze,” the other man mumbled back.
“Would you two idiots shut up?” Harvey whispered fiercely, leaning over Mike to reprimand the two now terrified-looking young lawyers before returning his attention to Jessica.
“The ball takes place in exactly one week, so save this date, people, December fourteenth. No excuses will be accepted for failing to attend - if you think I’m bluffing, just ask Tom Greene. He used to be one of Pearson Hardman’s best and brightest, until he decided to fake a cold on the night of the Yule Ball because he ‘just didn’t feel like attending.’ Now the only briefs he gets his hands on are the ones he sells in the Men’s Department at J.C. Penney.”
Several of the first-year associates swallowed audibly, and Mike noticed Harold’s hands actually beginning to shake.
“The party starts at eight o’clock in the Windsor Hotel Ballroom. I don’t think I need to emphasize the importance of your attendance any further.” She paused to look meaningfully around the room before raising her hands in a shooing motion and saying, “Okay, we’re not paying you to stare, back to work!”
A brief commotion followed as the associates scrambled to get back to their cubicles, whispering frantically all the while, and the partners followed after a beat, muttering amongst themselves.
“Harvey?” Mike asked, keeping his voice low as he followed his boss down the hallway, “What did that guy mean, running around trying to get dates?”
“The Yule Ball is a barely concealed excuse for the founding partners to see which lawyers function best in...an intimate social setting,” Harvey replied dryly as they rounded the corner into his office.
“Wait,” Mike said slowly, reading between the lines, “You’re telling me that the founding partners are actually evaluating us based on whom we’re dating?”
“You’re surprised?” Harvey asked, raising an eyebrow. “It is a well-known tenet here at Pearson Hardman that a great lawyer must be able to navigate a wide variety of social situations, many of which require an appropriate escort. The partners also like to see their employees in long-term relationships; it goes toward establishing responsibility and ambition.”
“And yet they promoted you to senior partner,” Mike pointed out dryly.
“I have proven myself exceptional,” Harvey said smugly. “Others do not have the same luxury.”
“Exceptional enough to be exempt from this ordeal?” Mike asked, amused.
“Unfortunately not,” Harvey said with a grimace. “Jessica insists that all the senior partners set an example, so I’m as stuck as you are.”
“So...I guess that means you’ll be needing a date, then,” Mike said, trying desperately to sound casual.
“Just because I’m being forced to go does not mean I have to perform like a trained monkey,” Harvey said with a derisive snort. “I will be going stag, standing in a corner, and sipping an extremely expensive scotch all night as an act of protest.”
“Well, as fun as that sounds...” Mike stalled, screwing up his courage to finish hopefully, “Don’t you think you’d have a better time going...with me?”
Harvey looked up sharply from the contracts he had been glancing through. He made a point of crossing the room in a few steps and shutting the door before turning back to Mike. “Let me make something very clear to you, kid - this thing between us? It’s just sex. We are not dating. I am not your boyfriend. And I am certainly not making public a relationship we are not having by taking you to a firm-sponsored event like the Yule Ball. Are we clear on this?”
“Crystal,” Mike said quietly, turning toward the door so Harvey wouldn’t see the hurt and disappointment undoubtedly etched all over his face. “I should go - Louis gave me a stack of files he needs read, and I still haven’t finished highlighting the Parkinson briefs.” He walked quickly out of the office before Harvey could think of anything even more cutting to say .
“Mike?” Donna called out as he flew past her desk, even going so far as to swing round it to grab his arm and ask, “Hey, what’s wrong?”
Mike’s first instinct was to lie and say that everything was fine, but one glance at Donna’s expression told him that would be both futile and a distinctly bad idea; he had this sneaking suspicion she knew exactly what had happened and was merely asking as a courtesy.
“It’s me, I was being stupid,” he said, waving it off with a sigh, “Harvey told me when we started that it wouldn’t mean anything - just two colleagues who were attracted to each another letting off some steam.”
Donna’s let out a gasp of surprise. “Wait, you mean that you and Harvey...?”
Mike shot her a pointed look. “Donna, I know you listen.”
“Right,” she replied with a guilty little smile, “Sorry. Go on.”
“I don’t know, I just thought...I mean, I could have sworn, these past couple weeks, it was turning into something...real. So when Jessica announced the Yule Ball, I thought that maybe...”
“Maybe Harvey would take you?” Donna finished for him, the sarcasm normally present in her voice replaced with sympathy.
“Stupid, right?” Mike let out a bitter, little laugh. “Thinking Harvey actually cared, let alone cared enough to show it in public.”
“Come on, Mike, it wasn’t stupid,” Donna said soothingly. At the incredulous look Mike sent her, she amended, “Okay, we’ll say incredibly optimistic, but I don’t want to hear yourself calling yourself stupid. Only I may do that.”
Mike laughed and gave her a quick peck on the cheek. “Thanks, Donna - I needed that.”
“Don’t think I’ll be making a habit of it,” she warned, though she couldn’t help giving his shoulder an affectionate squeeze before he turned to leave.
As Donna watched Mike shuffle dismally back to his desk, fall inelegantly into his seat, and run both hands through his hair, looking thoroughly miserable, she felt a sudden surge of anger, the level of which she normally reserved for Louis.
“Do you know how many irate clients I have to pacify for you?” Donna asked, storming into Harvey’s office.
“Donna, while being yelled at by you would normally be the highlight of my workday, I really have to -” Harvey began, but Donna cut him off.
“Hundreds. And do you know what I always say to them?”
“I have a feeling you’re going to tell me,” Harvey quipped breezily, although the look in Donna’s eyes was beginning to scare him.
“ ‘Harvey Specter may seem like just another selfish jerk,’ I say, ‘but trust me, everything he does is because he cares about winning your case. The callousness you’re seeing is a front he has to put up to swim with the other sharks in this business. Believe me when I say there is no one you’d rather have representing you.’ “
“I should give you a raise,” Harvey said, unsure where this was going.
“Damn right you should,” Donna agreed, “But that’s not what we’re talking about here.”
“Donna, the reason you are the only administrative assistant I have ever agreed to work with is that you don’t play games - not with me at any rate. You’re a straight-shooter, and I love that about you. So why don’t you tell me what we are talking about here?”
“I’ve only been telling the clients that because I believed it, Harvey. I also believed that underneath that ‘I don’t care about anyone’ line, you had a great heart; I wouldn’t have agreed to work with you otherwise.”
“Believed, as in past tense?” Harvey observed, reading between the lines.
“In the five years I’ve been your assistant, I’ve seen you be a hardass, and a scrapper, and a bit of a bastard, and I’ve never judged or disapproved because, ultimately, I knew you were doing it to help somebody. But what you did to Mike earlier? That wasn’t the necessary means to an end, Harvey - it was just cruel.”
“Oh, come on, Donna,” Harvey scoffed, trying to push down the waves of guilt he could feel Donna’s fierce stare stirring inside him. “I’m not the ‘prom date’ kind of guy - I know it and you know it. All I did was do Mike the favor of making sure he knew it.”
“That’s the trouble with defending people for a living, Harvey,” Donna said, her voice hard. “It gets so nothing’s ever your fault.”
“I’m not breaking any promises,” Harvey objected. “I made it very clear from the start that anything emotional between us was strictly off the table.”
“You’ve gone to an awful lot of trouble to assume no liability for a man who’s done nothing wrong,” Donna shot back, “I think you knew from the beginning, even if Mike didn’t, that there was no way in hell he could keep his emotions out of it. He’s just not built that way.”
“Why do you care so much, anyway?” Harvey interjected. “Mike’s a big boy; he can take care of himself.”
“Because, unlike you, I have no problem admitting that there are people I care about, and I don’t like it when they’re hurt,” she said matter-of-factly. “You know, when you started this thing, I was worried that he was sleeping with you to get ahead, that he wasn’t good enough for you. Now, I’m starting to think you’re not good enough for him.” She whirled around to leave.
“Come on, Donna, that’s not fair,” Harvey called after her, surprised at how much her words stung.
She paused in the doorway and turned to look back at him. “Just remember, Harvey,” she warned, “If you tell yourself a lie one too many times, it starts to become true.”
She left Harvey standing there with a stunned look on his face and went in search of Mike, whom she found sitting at his desk haphazardly highlighting files.
“Hey,” she said, carefully perching on the edge of his small desk, “Do you still want a date for the ball?”
“I don’t know, Donna,” Mike said with a sigh, “I can’t afford to have the senior partners thinking I’m not Pearson Hardman material, but at the same time, I wouldn’t want to mislead anyone...”
“You won’t have to,” she said firmly, “if you take me.”
“I couldn’t let you do that,” Mike objected, amazed and touched at the offer. “You must have twenty different guys begging you to raise their profiles at this thing.”
“The current waiting list tops out at forty-seven,” she said complacently, but her face softened as she added, “but none of them ever bring me coffee with whipped cream and sugar. Besides, I’m dying to see what Harvey looks like jealous.”
Mike’s eyes lit up. “You really think we could make him jealous?” he asked hopefully.
“Honey, you go with me, and we’ll make everyone jealous,” Donna promised and was gratified to see a real smile spread across Mike’s face for the first time that day. “All right, then it’s settled. Meet me in the lobby at nine, and we’ll begin the lessons.”
“Lessons?” Mike asked, confused and a little scared.
“Well, of course! You don’t honestly think that I’m going to let you escort me to the firm’s most prestigious social event of the year without some serious preparation, do you? For the next week, I am Henry Higgins and you are my Eliza Doolittle.”
“Righty ‘o, gov’nr,” Mike said, tipping an imaginary hat toward Donna, his smile fading when he saw the horrified expression on her face. “What? That was good!”
“Better move up the meeting to seven,” she said, shaking her head. “You’re in much worse shape than I thought.”
Chapter 2: Last Tango in New York
Mike asks Rachel for fashion advice, Louis is creepy as always, and Donna gives Mike a very sexy lesson in tango and life.
“Rachel, do you know what a cumberbund is?” Mike asked, strolling into her office.
“I’m assuming this cumberbund issue must be both very pressing and work-related for you to be interrupting my lunch hour,” she said warily, taking a bite of her peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
“And does black tie mean that my tie actually has to be black, or is it just an expression?” Mike made no sign that he had registered Rachel’s protest.
“How have you never learned this stuff?” she asked incredulously as she effectively protected her bag of Chips Ahoy! from an impending incursion by Mike.
“Give me a break, it’s not like I spent my formative years going to the opera every weekend,” he defended. “When you don’t have a lot of money, tuxedos aren’t exactly on the top of the list of must-haves.”
“Fair enough,” Rachel ceded. “What’s all this for, anyway?”
“Homework,” Mike said grimly. “Donna’s given me a list of things I need to buy before Saturday in order to appear properly attired.”
“Wow, she is not kidding around,” Rachel said, seemingly impressed.
"No, she is not," Mike agreed. "Who are you taking, anyway?"
Rachel's face took on a rather proud expression as she said, "New girlfriend."
"Ooh, really?" Mike teased, "Tell me everything."
"Let me see, her name is "none of" and we met at "your business."
"Come on, Rachel," Mike begged, "I’m in the middle of an unexpected dry spell, and I need details."
"Oh God, you’re giving me the puppy face," Rachel said, rolling her eyes, "Fine, her name is Sara, she's an insurance investigator, and we met in Krav Maga, okay? Now, that's all you're getting."
"You do Krav Maga?" Mike inquired, intrigued.
"Yes, so you should think twice before trying to filch my cookies," Rachel said, slapping his hand away.
“Fine,” Mike said sulkily. “I’ve have to go, anyways. Harvey’s got me searching the file room for a needle in a cabinet.”
“Don’t you mean a needle in a haystack?” Rachel asked, confused.
“No, apparently one of the law clerks got a bit preoccupied and dropped a used hypodermic needle that was supposed to be in an evidence bag into one of the filing cabinets, and now he can’t recall which one. The senior partners are terrified someone’s going to get stuck and sue the firm, so Harvey’s got me combing the file room for it - with proper safety precautions, of course.”
“You’re not working with him today? That’s a bit unusual,” Rachel mused.
“I haven’t seen much of him in the past couple days. I think he’s been avoiding me ever since - well, never mind what since. Point is, I’ve got an appointment with a tedious and slightly dangerous errand in the filing room that I simply can’t miss, so I’ll see you later.”
“Yeah, see you, Mike,” Rachel called out, her expression thoughtful, as if she was carefully considering his words.
No sooner had Mike stepped out of Rachel’s office than he felt a pair of clammy hands grasping his shoulders. “Hello, Louis,” he forced himself to say, albeit through gritted teeth.
“Hello, Michael,” Louis said unctuously, “How are we today?”
“We are very busy at the moment, actually,” Mike said, looking for a quick escape, “so if you’ll excuse me...”
“Actually, I’ve been wanting to have a word with you,” Louis continued, swinging around to block Mike’s path of escape. “It’s about the Yule Ball.”
“Yes?” Mike asked, sure nothing good could come from this.
“I have decided that of all the associates this year, you have shown the most promise. As a reward, I am generously going to allow you to escort a junior partner to the Yule Ball - namely, myself.”
“Ah, well,” Mike said quickly, “as much of an honor as that would be, Louis, I’m afraid I already have a date for the ball.”
“I’m sure whoever it is will understand,” Louis said with a predatory smile, moving closer to Mike.
“Mike is my date for Saturday,” came a very welcome, female voice from behind Louis, “So I’m afraid you’ll have to find someone else’s soul to siphon.”
“Donna,” Louis said with clearly put-on civility, “I had no idea that Mike was your date. Of course I wouldn’t dream of splitting up such a perfect couple.”
“That’s what I thought you would say when you find out,” Donna said, smiling sweetly at him as she moved in front of Mike and said, “Come on, Mike, we’ve still got a lot to do before the big event.”
“So sorry, Louis,” Mike called over his shoulder as Donna led him away, “That would have been so much...okay, good, I think we’re out of earshot. Thanks a ton - your timing is impeccable.”
“So I’ve been told,” Donna replied a bit smugly. “Though I’m always willing to rescue you from Louis, I did actually need you for something. I’ve managed to secure us an hour in the dance studio on the eighth floor, and it is long past time you had a much-needed dancing lesson.”
“I’d love to, Donna, but Harvey has me looking for this needle...” Mike began.
“Oh, don’t worry about that,” Donna said, waving him off. “One of the girls from the twentieth floor found it searching for a subpoena.” Seeing Mike’s alarmed look, she added, “Don’t worry, she didn’t touch it - although for the scream she’d let out, you’d have thought the thing had tried to eat her. Long story short, it looks like you have an hour free after all.”
“Has anyone ever told you that you remind them of a tornado?” Mike asked as she led him to the elevators.
“A senator once told me my hair was like a whirlwind of fire, does that count?” Donna asked cheerily, pressing the button marked “8.”
Mike had to laugh. “You are a wonder, Donna,” he said, shaking his head admiringly.
“Now, that I have been told dozens of times,” she said matter-of-factly. “Come on then, here’s our stop.”
Mike followed her out of the elevator, down a hallway, and into a large, well-lit room with a long, wooden bar at one end.
“Today we will be learning the tango,” Donna announced as she pressed play on remote situated on a small table by the door, causing a robust, Spanish melody to blare out of the speakers.
“The tango?” Mike asked incredulously. “Do you really think I have what it takes to tango?”
“I think you have the most important prerequisite - an excellent instructor,” she said firmly.
The next half hour was spent with Donna showing Mike, in painstaking detail, how to perform each of two dozen basic tango moves, each with its own Spanish name. Although memorizing the steps was no problem, Mike found himself feeling awkward and uncomfortable while performing all of them.
“No, no, no, Mike, you’re just not getting it!” Donna exclaimed, exasperated. “The first rule of dance is that you must have confidence. Confidence...” Mike was startled to find her wrapping her right leg around the back of his left, “and passion.”
“You know I’m gay, right?” Mike asked doubtfully, “I like Harvey, that’s why we’re doing this?”
Donna sent him a withering stare and kept her leg firmly in place. “That, Mike, is the truth. But dancing, like the law, is not about the truth - it’s about knowing what story you want to tell and selling it for all you’re worth.”
“Should I be writing this down?” Mike asked, looking around, only half kidding.
Donna ignored this and placed Mike’s left hand on her hip, while taking his right in her own. “For the purposes of this dance, we are not Mike and Donna, co-workers and, if I’m being pressed, friends.”
“We’re not?” Mike was suddenly very unsure about this whole dance lessons thing, although his eidetic memory was filing away Donna’s admission that they were friends for later use.
“No, Mike, we are not. We are lovers, consumed by a passion for one another that burns so hot,” She leaned close to Mike to murmur suggestively, “it is constantly threatening to devour us.”
“That’s it, I’m out,” Mike said, disentangling himself from Donna to take a few steps back. “Face it, Donna, I’m just not the sexy, Latin ballroom type. You need Han Solo, and you got Luke.”
“Okay, first of all, there are no Star Wars references in the tango,” Donna said firmly, looking scandalized. “Second of all, I never want to hear you say you’re not the type. You’ve got the passion, Mike, you just have to tap into it.
“But how?” Mike asked a bit despairingly, placing his hands on his hips.
“How about we do a little exercise?” Donna suggested, taking a few steps toward Mike. “Close your eyes.”
When Mike continued to stare at her skeptically, she asked, “Do you want to do this or not?” He nodded reluctantly and closed his eyes.
“I need you to imagine that you’re with Harvey,” she began to whisper seductively, “just the two of you, all alone in that swanky penthouse of his. Sure, it’s been a long, hard day, but none of that matters at the moment: right now, there’s only you, and him, and the heat that’s sparking between you.”
Mike made a very slight, involuntary moaning sound, eyes still closed, and Donna moved her hands to his hips and began to gently spur them back and forth.
“You’re both feeling that heat, so you take off your jacket, throw it over a chair. Harvey does the same. And then he looks at you - no one’s ever looked at you like this, wanted you like this, like you are the only thing in the entire world that matters.”
She brought his hands to her hips and continued the slow, steady motion, back and forth like the pendulum of a clock.
“He steps forward, grasps your shoulders in his strong grip, leans toward you ever so slowly and...eyes open, tango, right now!”
As Mike’s eyes shot open, he was astonished to find his hips already moving in perfect harmony with Donna’s. With a few words of encouragement from his partner, Mike found himself automatically repeating the steps he had learned earlier, except this time he didn’t feel awkward. No, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, he felt...passionate.
“Jesus, Donna!” Mike exclaimed, when they’d turned round the room a couple times, “That was amazing! You’re like the tango whisperer or something.”
“My mother was a dancer,” Donna volunteered. “She said that as long as you danced from the heart, the steps would always follow.”
“Sounds like a wise woman, your mother,” Mike observed, raising an arm to send Donna into an elegant twirl.
“She was,” Donna said wistfully, before adding, “It’s a family trait.”
“Yes, I’ve noticed,” Mike agreed. “Tell me, Donna, why hasn’t some French millionaire landed a helicopter on our roof and begged you to run away with him? If I were straight, I’d propose at least once a day.”
“Who’s to say one hasn’t?” Donna asked, raising an eyebrow, causing Mike to laugh. “I’ll tell you what, you can work yourself up to proposing by buying me dinner - if, that is, you can ever master the abrazo.”
“That sounds fair to me,” Mike said. “It’s the least I can do to thank you for helping me.”
Donna gave him a little smile before continuing, “Okay, that was much better, but we still have a lot of work to do before Saturday. Let’s take it from the top,” She reached over to grab the remote and press play once more, with a quick, “And a-five, six, seven, eight!”
Chapter 3: I've Grown Accustomed to His Face
The upcoming ball has everyone at the firm going nuts, including Harvey, who is surprised to find his life feeling a little empty without Mike and Donna.
As Harvey made his way to Jessica’s office, he couldn’t help but notice that the atmosphere in the firm was uncharacteristically frenzied. It seemed like every cubicle and conference room was full of employees engaged in frantic conversations.
“Please, Angela, I’m begging you, you have to go with me!” A young man in an ill-advised sweatervest was imploring a pretty brunette who was tapping her foot impatiently at him in the cubicle directly to Harvey’s right. “I’ll do all your subpoenas for a month!”
Further down the hallway, Harvey could hear a junior partner shouting into his cell phone, “What do you mean it’s cheating? I don’t see what the big deal is, Phil. All I want to do is borrow your wife for the evening!” A pause. “Not like that, Phil! Although if Mona wanted to...” Another pause. “Of course I’m kidding!”
By the time he arrived at Jessica’s beautifully furnished corner office, Harvey was shaking his head despairingly. “Have I told you how much I hate this Yule Ball?” he asked, dropping a stack of files on her desk.
“Only once or twice a day, every day, every time December rolls around,” Jessica said dryly, picking up one of the files and flipping through its contents.
“For one week out of the year, every single person in this firm becomes clinically insane!” Harvey complained, plopping down in one of Jessica’s luxurious black leather chairs. “It’s just ludicrous is what it is.”
“I have to say, I’ve never understood this vendetta you have against the Yule Ball,” Jessica said, looking amused. “You’ve never been one to say no to a good party.”
“The Yule Ball is not a party,” Harvey insisted, “It’s a French farce - one with a mandatory plus one. I resent being asked to dance around like a puppet pretending to be someone I’m not for the amusement of Sebastian Hardman and his cronies.”
“Harvey, please tell me you aren’t trying to use your sexuality as an excuse,” Jessica said, placing her hands on her hips. “You know very well we have one of the highest percentages of LGBT employees in the city, including two of the other senior partners. Hell, Hoskins is apparently insisting that he be allowed to bring two members of the New York City Men’s Ballet.”
“Hoskins?” Harvey asked incredulously, “But he’s a tax lawyer! I guess it is always the quiet ones...” Harvey shook this image from his head and continued, “The firm may not care if I want to bring a guy, but they obviously do care if I don’t want to bring anyone.”
“And this gets under your skin because you think showing up with a date would compromise the “Harvey Specter, heartless bastard-at-law” image that you try so hard to cultivate?” Jessica asked shrewdly.
“This ‘gets under my skin’ because I don’t appreciate being told how to live my life,” Harvey said firmly.
“So...It’s your life, it’s now or never, you ain’t gonna live forever, huh?” Jessica asked, trying to suppress a smile.
“You’d better not be mocking Bon Jovi, Jess,” Harvey said seriously, “Or I will storm out of this office and take the Epstein briefs with me.”
“Perish the thought, Harvey,” she assured him, holding up her hands in surrender. “Speaking of the Epstein briefs, I have to say, I was expecting them a little earlier. Didn’t you have Mike give you a hand with them?”
“No, I - I put him on another project,” Harvey lied, less smoothly than he usually did.
“Uh-huh,” Jessica said, her tone conveying only a tinge of suspicion. “Well, thank you for those; I didn’t trust anyone else not to screw them up.”
“Since you put it like that, you’re welcome,” Harvey said with a smirk, extricating himself from the chair. “If there’s nothing else you need, I have a few depositions I want to look through before I head out tonight.”
“Sure, Harvey,” Jessica said, giving him a nod of dismissal, “I’ll see you later.” Harvey felt himself instinctively pause for a moment, sensing that Jessica wanted to say something more, but he shook off the feeling after she merely sat back down at her desk and began looking over the files once more. He was already halfway down the hallway when Jessica sighed and sent a worried look toward the doorway from which he had just departed.
As he passed the break room, Harvey could make out Louis’s distinctive voice addressing someone inside, and he stopped to listen, just in case Louis was discussing something about which Harvey could later mock him mercilessly.
“You just listen to me, Harold,” Harvey heard Louis say. He couldn’t help peeking around the corner to watch the show unfold, and when he did so, he saw Louis standing at his customary, uncomfortably close distance to his red-haired associate, who looked as if he might pass out at any moment.
“I am not going to have the senior partners thinking that I can’t get a date for this ball. As I have exhausted all the more palatable options, you will be going with me and that is the end of the discussion.”
“But, but Louis, I really don’t...” Harold sputtered, continuing to nervously wring the paper in his hands until it seemed on the verge of ripping in half.
“I will pick you up here at 8:30 p.m. sharp. You will wear emerald green to set off my eyes. You will get a professional to do something about that unruly mop of hair of yours. And if you still want your job on Monday, you will do and say nothing that could even potentially embarrass me.”
Harold gripped the paper even tighter in his shaking hands and nodded a couple times, seemingly unable to speak.
“Good,” Louis said with a brisk nod, “And I want the Parkinson papers on my desk by six tonight.”
Harold just kept bobbing his head up and down while Louis left through the opposite exit. As Harvey turned to make his way back toward his own office, he would have sworn he heard Harold exclaim despairingly, “But where am I going to find emerald green wizard’s robes at such short notice?”
Well, he thought to himself, at least this idiotic dance is ruining everyone else’s week as well.
No sooner had this comforting thought occurred to him than he rounded the corner to find Mike leaning amiably on Donna’s desk and chatting warmly with her, both completely oblivious to his presence.
“Don’t keep me in suspense - did the guy from the sushi place call you?” Donna was asking eagerly.
Mike paused for a moment before leaning in a bit to whisper, “He left me a message before I even got home.”
“Ooh, what did he say? Was it sexy?” Donna pressed, smiling excitedly.
Mike sighed, looked at her with a pained expression and said, “He asked if he could ‘sashimi’ some time.’”
“No,” Donna exclaimed, bringing a hand to her mouth, “He did not say that. No one says that.”
“I swear to God, Donna, he did - he actually took the time to create a sushi-related pick-up line. Under different circumstances I would have been impressed.”
“I’m sorry,” Harvey said, striding toward them, “I didn’t realize that Kappa Kappa Gamma was having their monthly sisterhood tea here today. And here I was thinking this was a law firm.”
Mike looked like he was about to apologize, but Donna placed a hand firmly on his arm and said, “Mike was just waiting for you to get back to give you the contracts you asked him to highlight.”
“Yes, yes, I was,” Mike said quickly, handing them to Harvey.
“My office, now,” Harvey said, motioning Mike into to follow him after trying and failing to fix Donna with a death glare, which she just reflected back at him with double force.
“Did you need me to work late tonight?” Mike inquired as he entered the office, “Because I was wondering...”
“Actually,” Harvey said, shutting the door behind him and loosening his tie, “I really do need a second opinion on the Sullivan files. I was thinking you could come by my place tonight and...have a look at my briefs.” Harvey realized with a sinking feeling that he may on some level have wanted to prove to Mike that he, too, could think up topical pick-up lines.
“You don’t have to keep humoring me, Harvey,” Mike said with a resigned smile. “I was being naive earlier - I should have known a guy like you wasn’t looking for anything serious. No, you were right as usual: we’re just two colleagues who needed to blow off some steam together. It’s sweet of you to ask for a repeat performance for my sake, but really, it’s not necessary.”
“Besides,” he added, turning to leave, “I’ve already made plans with Donna. She’s coming over to my place to watch Back to the Future. Count yourself lucky you’re not my boyfriend, or else it’d be you on that couch listening to me say all of Doc’s lines before he does.”
“I’ll consider that a bullet dodged,” Harvey deadpanned, though he was surprised to note somewhat unconvincingly.
Mike gave him a laugh and a little salute before leaving the room muttering to himself, “1.21 gigawatts? 1.21 gigawatts? Great Scott!” Harvey watched him whisper something to Donna, which caused her to laugh, before the two of them walked toward the elevator together. As they passed the office, Mike shot Harvey a smile, which might have tricked him into smiling back had his view not panned past Mike to Donna, whose death glare had only become more intense.
He forced himself to turn away from the two of them and focus instead on the million dollar view his senior partner status awarded him. To further remind himself of just how lucky he had it, Harvey even poured himself a glass of Glenlivet eighteen year old, single malt whiskey and sipped it as he stared out over the lights of the city.
Why would he want to be anywhere but here tonight, Harvey thought to himself - this was perfect. So what if Back to the Future was a classic? He was sure watching it with Mike in his rathole of an apartment wouldn’t be any fun. The kid would probably insist on ordering some greasy pizza to go along with the movie. I mean, sure, it always brought Harvey back to his time at Harvard and countless nights spent at the library with a pile of books and one of Rubio’s extra-large pepperoni masterpieces, but a table for one at Chez Papaye was just as good.
“Yeah,” Harvey said firmly to himself, contemplatively swirling the scotch around his glass, “I’m Harvey Specter, damn it. No one gets to tell me my life isn’t awesome.” As he took a sip of the scotch, he couldn’t stop his brain from silently finishing, Not even me.
Chapter 4: Bond and Jones
The night of the Yule Ball finally arrives. Jessica brings a familiar date, Louis doesn't appreciate wizarding apparel, and after seeing Mike and Donna's insanely sexy tango, Harvey is afraid he's missed his chance.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
“Are you sure the tuxedo’s not too flashy?” Mike asked anxiously, surveying his reflection in the hallway mirror and tugging at his bow tie.
“Yes, I’m sure,” Donna said firmly, reaching a hand up to still Mike’s twitching one and to straighten the tie. “Harrison Ford wore one of these in Temple of Doom. Would you call Indiana Jones too flashy?”
“Considering he got poisoned by Chinese thugs in that tuxedo, yes, I would,” Mike pointed out. Seeing the I-am-not-amused look Donna sent him in response, Mike added begrudgingly, “But...I suppose it did manage to make him look devastatingly handsome, even when he was stumbling around looking for an antidote.”
“That’s what I thought,” Donna said with a satisfied nod. She brushed off Mike’s sleeve and let her hands rest on his shoulders. “You ready, kid?”
“I suppose I’d better be,” he said, though he sounded unsure.
Donna leaned up to give him a peck on the cheek and said, “You’re going to knock ‘em dead, Mike. Trust me - Harvey won’t know what hit him.”
Mike gave her a smile and said, “I hope so. But no matter what happens, I just want you to know how much I appreciate this, Donna. You’re the best friend a guy could have.”
“Oh, I know,” Donna quipped, though the smile she sent him was warm and sincere. “Now, it’s time to stop stalling, get in there, and watch their jaws hit the floor.”
She slipped her arm through Mike’s and led him toward the doors of the ballroom. Donna rested her hand on the door handle for just a moment and, upon receiving a slightly nervous nod from Mike, she flung it open.
Okay, Mike thought with a gulp as they stepped into the room already filled with people, It’s show time.
Harvey Specter had been standing at the bar, staring disdainfully at the crowd of Pearson Hardman employees, and sipping a martini - shaken, not stirred - for half an hour, and he was already bored. Normally, pretending to be James Bond - complete with telling any beautiful women in the vicinity that he was a spy only pretending to be a lawyer - got him through at least the first couple hours of the ball, but this year its novelty had apparently worn thin.
Since the fantasy was no longer amusing him, Harvey discarded the martini and turned toward the bartender to order a scotch instead. If the firm was going to compel him into attending, he was determined to make them pay for it in alcohol. While he was giving the bartender his order, Harvey heard a wave of whispers make its way through the crowd behind him, and he whirled around in the hopes of finding something to enliven his party-going experience.
Upon seeing every eye in the room turned toward the main entrance, Harvey craned his neck to search for the object of all the attention, and from his vantage point at the bar, he could just make out the couple at the epicenter of the commotion. Even at some distance, Harvey could see why everyone was in such an uproar; the two new arrivals both looked like they’d stepped off the silver screen.
The man, tall and lanky with expertly styled blond hair, was dressed in a white tuxedo jacket, black bow tie, and perfectly tailored black pants, cut in such a way as to leave just enough to the imagination. His companion, meanwhile, was wearing a knee-length dress with artfully arranged straps that clung to her curves, the teal color of which, Harvey noted, set off her fiery red -
Oh God, Harvey thought as a terrifying realization hit him, that’s Donna. Which can only mean...
He shifted his gaze back to her escort, hoping desperately that there had been some sort of last-minute change in plans, but his hopes were dashed the second he took a closer look at the man’s face: it was definitely Mike.
When did Mike get so...hot? Harvey wondered in amazement, unable to pry his eyes away from his associate. I mean the kid was always cute, in an all-American sort of way, but nothing like this.
As he watched Mike make his way across the room, Donna on his arm, Harvey was startled at the sudden bolt of lust that lodged itself in his stomach and began to inch slowly downwards. He found, to his utter horror, that it took every ounce of his considerable self-control not to go over and grab his associate by the hand, drag him to the cloakroom, and remove every piece of that white tuxedo using his teeth.
“Boy, the rookie sure cleans up nice,” came a cool, appraising voice from behind Harvey’s right shoulder, which startled him enough to make him glad the bartender hadn’t brought him his scotch yet.
Not trusting his voice to work properly yet, Harvey merely nodded slowly, his gaze still fixed on Mike, who was currently conversing animatedly with the pretty brunette next to Rachel whom Harvey assumed to be her date. After a few moments, he felt recovered enough to add, “Donna’s a miracle worker.”
“She certainly is,” Jessica agreed, picking up a cosmopolitan from the bar and pivoting to stand beside Harvey. “They make a handsome couple.”
“So did Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, look how that turned out,” Harvey said sarcastically, taking a sip of his scotch.
“Careful, Harvey,” Jessica warned, smiling knowingly, “Some less enlightened humans might construe such bitterness as caring.”
“The only thing I care about at this party is rapidly disappearing from this tumbler,” Harvey said dryly, tilting the glass to his lips to get the last drops of scotch.
“Ah yes, just a hint of alcoholism, that goes perfectly with the lone wolf image you’re trying to project. Really, Harvey, I should commend you on doing your research so thoroughly.”
“You’re one to talk, standing here drinking with me,” Harvey said defensively, though he put down the glass. “Where’s your date, hmmm?”
“Right over there as a matter of fact,” Jessica responded coolly, pointing toward the side door where a cute, but unassuming-looking blond man was scanning the room, presumably searching for her. She raised a hand in a little wave and sent him a smile, at which point his whole face lit up in the biggest grin Harvey had ever seen not on a small child receiving a pony.
“Where did you find him?” Harvey asked, impressed as always by Jessica’s ability to keep her private life private.
“He runs a little commuter airline,“ she explained. “He was my expert witness on the US Airways class-action we handled eight months ago.”
“And he asked you out?” Harvey inquired, intrigued.
She fixed him with an amused stare. “Actually, I asked him out - after the case had concluded, of course.” Harvey was surprised to see the unguarded warmth in her smile as she reminisced, “For our first date, he took me to see the dinosaur exhibit at the Museum of Natural History. For our second, he flew me up to his cabin in the Poconos. And the rest, as they say is history.”
“Well, good for you, Jess,” Harvey said sincerely. “About time you found someone who treats you like the goddess that you are.”
Jessica looked at him strangely for a moment, then said quietly, “You’re a sweet man when you want to be, Harvey Specter. Sometimes I wish you’d realize it’s not a liability in life like it is in the law.”
Before Harvey could think of how to respond, she surprised him by giving him a quick peck on the cheek before turning to meet her date. Harvey watched the pilot whose name he still did not know sweep Jessica off her feet in what appeared to be a bone-crunching hug before leading her out onto the dance floor.
Harvey had only watched them dance for a few seconds before his ears caught two voices engaged in a heated argument nearby.
“What in God’s name were you thinking, showing up here wearing that?” the first voice, which Harvey quickly recognized as Louis’s, was whispering angrily. Pleased at the thought that Louis was having a worse night than he was, Harvey took a few steps toward the cloakroom, which he identified as the source of the voices.
As he carefully positioned himself behind a pillar, so as to see, but not be seen, Harvey had to bite his tongue to stifle the giant roar of laughter that threatened to escape from his lips when he saw the reason for Louis’s anger. Harold, Louis’s associate and his date for the evening, was wearing what looked a bit like an emerald green bathrobe over an otherwise normal vest and pants ensemble.
“But...but...but you didn’t tell me that it wasn’t that kind of Yule Ball!” Harold was protesting frantically, his increasingly pale face causing the green of the robes and the red of his hair to stand out even more.
“I’m sorry,” Louis snapped, sounding not in the least bit sorry, “I didn’t realize it was necessary to specify that as one of New York’s most prestigious law firms, we would not in fact be having a Harry Potter themed Christmas party!”
Harold whimpered and drew back, finally getting up the courage to point out, “They are emerald green like you wanted.”
Louis let out a yell of aggravation and began pacing back and forth. Finally he threw up his hands and said, “You know what, just forget it. Go home. I’ll just go in there and pretend like once again, I couldn’t find a single person who liked me enough to come to this stupid thing with me. Better no date than one who looks like an Irish transvestite!”
With that, Louis stormed out of the cloakroom, giving Harvey only just enough notice to duck back behind the pillar. Harvey turned back to the cloakroom just in time to see Harold raise his hands in the air and throw them back down again before muttering despairingly, “But I do like you...” and slumping against a wall.
Harvey was just about to remind himself that he was not the sort of person who would even think about cheering up an underling he barely knew, even one who looked as dejected as Harold, when he heard a projected voice announce, “Ladies and gentlemen of Pearson Hardman, may I have your attention please? Sebastian Hardman wishes me to invite you all to the floor to participate in one of the Yule Ball’s most honored traditions: the tango-off! Anyone who thinks they have the passion and the steps, come on down!”
Harvey glanced briefly back at the cloakroom, but after finding that Harold had mysteriously disappeared, eagerly re-entered the main ballroom. Watching drunk and deluded co-workers dancing around each other, trying to act sexy was usually one of the only salvagable parts of the evening for him.
God, finally, Harvey thought, smirking to himself as he stepped closer to the dance floor, some real entertainment. He nearly dropped his new glass of scotch, however, when he saw Mike and Donna walking onto the dance floor amid the usual crowd of show-offs and wannabes. His first instinct was to laugh at the mere idea of Mike doing the tango, but something about the look in Donna’s eye stopped him. Still, he thought, even with Donna’s magic, there’s no way she could have taught Mike to tango in a week...
“So the Van Gogh was hidden in the fireplace the whole time?” Mike was asking Sara, Rachel’s date for the evening.
“The owner actually thought I wouldn’t notice that he was covered in soot from shoving it up there minutes before,” Sara explained with a laugh.
“Being an insurance investigator sounds so exciting,” Mike said a bit enviously. “If I ever get tired of the law, I might give you a call.”
“Well, there’s a lot of paperwork, too,” she assured him, “I just try to gloss over that part - Rachel gets enough of it during the day.”
“Damn straight,” Rachel agreed, raising her glass of champagne in a toasting motion, causing Mike to laugh at seeing this rare glimpse of a slightly tipsy Rachel.
It was at this moment that the announcer decided to invite everyone to the floor for the tango-off.
“If you ladies will excuse us,” Donna said, grabbing Mike’s hand, “I believe that’s our cue.”
“Nice meeting you, Sara!” Mike called over his shoulder.
“You too, Mike!” Sara shouted back, before Rachel whispered something in her ear that made both of them break out into fits of giggles.
“Deep breath in, deep breath out,” Donna coached as they strode onto the floor. “Just remember what I taught you.”
“Dance from the heart, the steps will come,” Mike closed his eyes and repeated it a few times like a mantra, until he felt once more like the confidant, passionate dancer that Donna had taught him to be.
When he turned to look at Donna, his eyes were open, clear and full of purpose, causing the hint of a smile to ghost around the corners of her mouth as she whispered, “They’re going to be scraping Harvey up off the ground.”
“Who’s Harvey?” Mike whispered, staring into Donna’s eyes mischievously, “I see only you.”
“Oh, you have learned well, Grasshopper,” she said with an appreciative nod.
Mike wanted very badly to ask why Kung Fu was allowed in the tango, but Star Wars was not, but as that would have constituted breaking character, he ultimately decided against it.
Instead, he lifted their raised hands so Donna could walk behind him, in preparation for the start of the dance. Just before he lowered his head slightly to the left to convey mystery and sensuality - or so Donna said at any rate - Mike couldn’t resist sneaking a glance at Harvey, whom he was gratified to see was staring at him, eyes wide.
Mike thought about winking or blowing him a kiss, but decided that less was more, and settled for sending three seconds of smoldering eye contact Harvey’s way before looking down. Then the music began, and Mike stopped thinking altogether.
Harvey had been under the illusion that he was covertly observing Mike and Donna until the moment that Mike’s eyes met his and he realized that, no, he had in fact been staring blatantly at them for the past five minutes. He was fully intending to look away and act like nothing had happened when Mike fixed him with a gaze so intense he felt quite incapable of escaping from it. There was a want in his eyes, hot and undisguised, that Harvey had never seen there before, not even in situations far more compromising than this.
The idea that Mike had no qualms about sending him a look like that in a room full of their friends and co-workers sent a jolt straight to his pants, but before Harvey had time to think on this further, the lights dimmed, the music started, and any thoughts not directly related to what Mike’s body was doing completely faded away.
For the first few seconds, the music was soft, just a whisper of bow on strings. While the other couples began walking each other aimlessly around the floor, Mike and Donna stayed almost entirely stationary - the only movement either of them made was Donna snaking her leg around Mike’s and sliding it up and down a couple times.
Finally, Donna bent her leg back and took a couple steps out from behind Mike, her hands dragging across his shoulders. At this point, both Mike and the music suddenly came to life, and as the strings began to increase the volume and pick up the pace, Mike grabbed one of Donna’s hands and spun her so she was pressed up against him.
By this point, the other couples on the floor had realized that they were very much out of their league and had stepped back to join the other awed bystanders, although Harvey only gave them a fleeting glance before concentrating once again on the main event.
When Mike extended his hand again, Donna did a graceful little twirl and, after striding back behind Mike, slipped her hands under his suit jacket, moving them up and down in time with the music. Mike threw his head and arms back, and in one swift movement, Donna had whisked the jacket from his shoulders. She continued to walk seductively around Mike before turning toward the audience for just long enough to send Harvey a brief, but very challenging look and to hurl Mike’s jacket directly at him. Harvey had just enough time to throw out his arms to catch it, but by that time neither Mike nor Donna appeared to be paying him any attention.
A drum began to beat out a syncopated tattoo to compete with the strings as Mike and Donna began moving around the floor in a close hold position, their feet alternating steps in perfect unison. Donna’s head was pressed against Mike’s right shoulder, his right arm looped around her back, and their other arms extended out as they manueuvered back and forth.
The unending give and take reminded Harvey as much of a battle as of a dance. One minute Donna would gain the upper hand, spinning toward Mike, her hair a whirlwind of flame, the next Mike had sunk them both to the floor, his hand trailing seductively up her extended leg.
Harvey could only watch, completely spellbound, as the music became faster and faster, and so did their footwork, each of them alternating little kicks between the other’s legs while keeping their bodies pressed impossibly close together.
Finally, as the violins reached a fever pitch, Mike spun Donna into a dip, at which point she lowered herself to the ground and snaked through his legs until she was seated on the floor, clinging to his calf. Harvey couldn’t believe what he was seeing as he watched Mike move like lightning to lift Donna from the ground and spin her swiftly around in a circle; afterwards, he released her only long enough to lower her nearly to the ground in an even more dramatic dip using only his left hand, while he lifted his right into the air in triumph.
There were a few seconds of stunned silence following this grand finale before the lights came back up and the entire room erupted into cheers and applause. Mike grinned and gallantly extended his other hand to his leading lady, which she took and used as leverage to elegantly return herself to a standing position.
In true theatrical fashion, Mike and Donna raised their joined hands into the air and took a joint bow before stepping back and repeating the process for each side of the audience. Harvey felt vaguely like he wanted to do something, go up and join the throng of impressed well-wishers or maybe run to the bathroom and splash cold water on his face, but before he could decide, he saw Mike winding his way through the crowd toward him.
A thousand things popped into his head to say: That was the sexiest dance I ever seen in the whole of my life; I’m going to mandate that all the associates take tango classes; you, me, men’s bathroom, sex, now. Somehow the one that came out when Mike was standing in front of him was, “Your jacket.”
“Oh, thanks!” Mike said brightly, taking it from him and clapping Harvey on the shoulder before grabbing Donna’s hand again and heading to the bar for a drink.
As Harvey watched men and women in formal dress clamoring to buy Mike drinks, he was struck by a strange clawing, burning sensation in the pit of his stomach. So accustomed was Harvey to getting what he wanted in life that it took him a full two minutes to realize that what he was feeling was jealousy.
No, not just jealousy, Harvey thought; he knew all too well that the bitter taste he was trying to drown with another scotch could only be one thing: regret.
Mike had just finished laughing at a surprisingly dirty joke Hoskins had been telling him about jurisprudence when his phone buzzed. He fished it out and read the text that had flashed onto the screen: Mission accomplished. Don’t stare. - D.
Mike’s head snapped up, and sure enough, the first thing he saw was Harvey leaning against a pillar, drinking a scotch, and looking thoroughly miserable. He was just about to get up and put him out of his misery when his phone buzzed again. No. - D.
He looked over to where Donna was seated at the other end of the bar, surrounding by her own group of fawning admirers, and shot her his most pathetic puppy dog expression. She responded by emphatically shaking her head from side to side and sending him another text, impressively never breaking eye contact while she did so. Don’t try the puppy look on me. I am immune. - D.
He typed a few words of response into the tiny keyboard and pressed “Send.” But he looks so sad! Please? - M.
Donna shook her head vehemently again. You’ve got to play hard to get a little longer, so he comes to you. Trust me. - D.
Mike sighed and sent her another question. How do you know he’ll come to me? - M.
Donna sent him a smile that looked very devious indeed. You should have a little more faith in me, Mike. Didn’t I tell you I had this all planned out? - D.
Mike glanced at the text, then up at Donna’s smile, then back down at his phone. You scare me sometimes, you know that? - M.
Donna grinned. I know. - D.
Hopefully the dancing stayed at least somewhat true to the tango - I based most of it off So You Think You Can Dance clips. In case anyone's wondering, the song I was thinking of was Libertango by Bond.
Also, bonus points to anyone who spotted the Firefly reference.
Chapter 5: I Did It My Way
Acting on advice from Sebastian Hardman himself, Harvey finally admits he was wrong and asks Mike to dance. Meanwhile, Louis fulfills the wish of a would-be wizard and Donna hops a ride from a very old friend.
Harvey was just finishing his scotch when he heard a pair of approaching footsteps and a deep, masculine voice, fully steeped in Southern twang, asking, “Enjoying my little shin-dig, son?” He turned to find an imposing man in a tuxedo and bolo tie hovering over him, smiling inquisitively.
“Mr. Hardman,” Harvey exclaimed, surprised, extending his hand, “A pleasure to see you again, sir.”
“Oh, I think you can drop all the Mr. Hardman bull hockey for tonight, son” the other man drawled out pleasantly as he shook Harvey’s hand in a bone-crushing grip. “Just call me Seb.”
“Yes, sir...er, Seb,” Harvey acquiesced hesitantly.
“That boy of yours is a mighty fine dancer,” Sebastian observed, gesturing to where Mike was whirling round the floor with both of Hoskins’ dates.
“Oh, we’re not-“ Harvey responded automatically, before realizing that the other man probably meant professionally. “Yes, yes he is.”
“And from what I hear, he’s shaping up to be a mighty good lawyer, as well.”
“The kid’s got enormous potential,” Harvey admitted, a tone of pride in his voice, ”but he still has a lot to learn about the law.”
“Well, that’ll come with time,” Sebastian said easily. “Why, I remember my first case, hell, I got so flustered I forgot which side I was arguing and broke my own witness! Hoo boy, did old man Mason tan my hide for that one!”
Harvey chuckled appreciatively before elaborating, “No, Mike’s actually pretty good under pressure, and he has an amazing eye for detail. It’s just some of the larger, less appealing truths of the law that he refuses to understand.”
“Uh-huh,” Sebastian said thoughtfully, taking a sip of his own scotch. “Just what sort of truths we talking about here?”
“He doesn’t understand that there isn’t room in the law for personal feelings. Insists on caring about every client like they were his best friend in the world.”
“Well, hold on now, that ain’t necessarily a bad thing,” Sebastian objected. “Law’s a big place, Harvey, and there’s room in it for lots of different kinds of lawyers, including the ones who care about people. Hell, if we had more of those, people’d probably make fewer jokes about sending us to the bottom of the ocean.”
“You do have a point there,” Harvey admitted.
“And, you know, I can’t tell you how it breaks my heart to see these idealistic kids who come into the law wanting to help people and come out of it just wanting to win. So if you’re telling me you’ve found one who can actually preserve that kind of heart and still succeed...well, son, I’d say you’ve got yourself a keeper.”
“I’ve been hearing that a lot lately,” Harvey muttered, before adding quickly, “No disrespect intended, sir.”
“None taken,” Sebastian said amiably. He gave Harvey a long, piercing look, and Harvey was immediately reminded that under that veneer of Southern congeniality lurked one of the sharpest legal minds in the country.
Sebastian opened his mouth to speak, and Harvey, expecting more insight on the law, was surprised to hear instead, “Son, do you know why I made this Yule Ball a Pearson Hardman tradition?”
Harvey decided that responding with a mix of truthfulness and tact was probably best. “Word around the firm is usually that it’s some sort of evaluation of social skills.”
Sebastian let out a loud, cascading laugh. “Well, if that isn’t just like a bunch of lawyers, treating a holiday party like one more way to one-up each other.”
Harvey’s whipped his head toward him in surprise. “Wait, you mean it’s not?”
Sebastian took another sip of his scotch before admitting, “Now, I didn’t say that - the founding partners often use the ball as an opportunity to see which employees are running ahead of the pack. But that is not why I insist on throwing it every year.”
When Harvey continued to look at him inquiringly, Sebastian explained, “Thirty-five years ago, when I was still with Street, Mason, and Drake, I danced with Bethany James for the very first time at a Yule Ball much like this one. Proposed nigh on a year later.”
“And you lived happily ever after?” Harvey hazarded a guess.
“Nope,” Sebastian said with a laugh, “We made it five rocky years before she upped and ran off with a golf pro from Austin. Still gets two thousand a month from me, too.”
“I’m sorry, I’m a little confused,” Harvey said slowly, “Doesn’t throwing the Yule Ball just bring back some painful memories for you?”
“Hell no!” Sebastian insisted. “It reminds me of what it felt like to be young and in love with a pretty girl. What’s more, it just tickles me pink to think that on that dance floor out there, under all these tiny, twinkling lights, some other couple might be having their first dance, too.”
“Not to put too fine a point on it, sir,” Harvey began a little hesitantly, “but that seems an awfully romantic view for a man whose been married six times.”
“Of course it is!” Sebastian said agreeably, “You think a man would actually get married six times if he wasn’t a romantic?”
“I can’t argue with that,” Harvey admitted.
“The point I’m trying to make, son, is that I intended the Yule Ball to be a night for milestones and romance, and, up until now, you have shown yourself to be mighty resistant to creating either.”
“No disrespect intended, sir,” Harvey interjected quickly, “I’m just not really the type to - wait, sorry, what do you mean up until now?"
Sebastian put his scotch on the bar and when he looked Harvey straight in the eye, Harvey was startled by the intensity of his gaze. "Son, never kid a kidder."
"Sir?" Harvey asked, though he had an unnerving feeling that Sebastian already knew everything there was to know.
"You have had your eyes glued to that kid all night," he said, pointing to where Mike was now standing at the other bar. "The last person I looked at like that cost me two million dollars and a beach house in Malibu.”
"No, I - I mean, he's not..." Harvey began, but Sebastian's gaze made him realize all at once why the man was such an feared cross-examiner. After a moment, he sighed and admitted, "I screwed it up."
"Did you hit him?" Sebastian asked evenly.
"Of course not!" Harvey exclaimed automatically
“Did you cheat?” he continued.
“No, I didn’t” Harvey admitted.
“Well if you’re willing to believe an old man who’s screwed up a lot of things in his life, then trust me on this - it ain't broke so bad you can't fix it.”
“I wish I had that kind of confidence,” Harvey said with another sigh.
“Hell, son,” Sebastian exclaimed incredulously, gesturing with his scotch for emphasis, “You’re one of the best damn closers in this city - or at least for what we’re paying you, you’d better be. If you’ve got a confidence problem, well, I’d say we’re all in serious trouble.”
Harvey smiled ruefully, and pondered Sebastian’s words for a few moments. Finally, he took a long sip of his scotch, replacing the empty glass on the bar with a loud clink, and shook the other man’s hand.
“Seb, thanks for the advice,” he said sincerely, preparing to leave, “but if you’ll excuse me, I believe there’s a milestone out there with my name on it.”
Harvey was just close enough to see Sebastian raise his glass to him and mutter, “Go get ‘em, son,” but was well out of range by the time he exchanged winks with a certain redheaded tango expert who had been watching the whole exchange.
At the bar across the room, Mike had just taken a swig of his beer when he saw movement out of the corner of his eye. He nearly groaned aloud when he saw it was Louis, approaching too rapidly for Mike to have a chance at an escape.
“I really enjoyed your tango out there, Mike,” Louis began, brushing a hand provocatively over the sleeve of Mike’s tuxedo. “Maybe later you could show me how to -”
“Okay, you know what, Louis? Just stop right there.” Mike wasn’t sure whether his confidence came from the three beers various admirers had insisted on buying him or the fact that he had managed to pull off a semi-professional tango in front of all his co-workers, but either way, he was done putting up with Louis’s bullshit.
“I am tired of having to brush off all your flagrant attempts at hitting on me. It cannot have escaped your notice that I’m not interested. Here’s a thought - why don’t you dial down the creepy by about ten and go talk to the guy who’s actually interested in you?”
Louis’ face turned a bright shade of red and he began to shout, “Now you listen to me, Mike Ross, I am a junior partner, and you cannot speak -” He paused in his tirade as Mike’s words fully sank in. “What do you mean the guy who’s actually interested in me?”
“I mean,” Mike replied, the hint of a smile lurking on his face, “the kid in the wizard’s robes who’s been cowering in the corner all night, wishing to God that he hadn’t screwed up so badly so he could have gotten just one dance with you.”
“Harold?” Louis asked incredulously, instinctively glancing over to where the redhead sat slouched in the shadows, looking gloomy. “Don’t be ridiculous - he doesn’t like me, I ordered him to come.”
“Louis, do you know why I’ve put up with all your blatantly inappropriate sexual advances until now?” He didn’t give Louis a chance to respond or object before barreling on, “Because I knew that if things ever went too far, I could just ask Harvey - or Donna for that matter - to beat the crap out of you, and that would be that. But haven’t you ever wondered why Harold hasn’t reported you for sexual harassment?”
“Because he knows I’d fire him,” Louis submitted, though he looked less than convinced.
“Which would just double the millions any reasonable judge would have award him in the suit,” Mike shot back. "Seriously, Louis, it's pretty bad."
Louis looked at him suspiciously for a moment before heaving a little sigh. “Look at me, Mike - what choice do I have? Being aggressive is the only move I’ve got.”
“Uh-huh. And that move’s worked how many times, exactly?” Mike asked, shooting him the pointed, knowing look he’d seen Donna use so many times.
Louis thought back. “Okay, none in recent memory, but come on, do you really think it would make a difference? Nobody likes me."
"Harold does," Mike pointed out, "And trust me, it's not because you keep asking him to be your pony."
Louis had the decency to look a bit ashamed before muttering, "Yes, well, fun as this has been, I should go." He inclined his head to where Harvey was making his way toward them. "Wouldn't want to 'get the crap beaten out of me'."
Mike grinned before laying a hand on Louis' arm as he turned to go. "I wasn't kidding about Harold," he said sincerely. “Think about it, would you?”
He would have sworn Louis actually blushed just a little before disappearing once more into the crowd.
“Louis giving you any trouble?” Harvey asked as he approached, gesturing in the direction from which Louis had departed.
“I took care of it myself,” Mike said with a little shrug, determined to act detached despite how much he enjoyed the impressed expression on Harvey’s face. "Figured it’s about time I stopped assuming you'd be there for me."
"Okay, I guess I deserve that," Harvey admitted, turning his head to look at Mike.
Mike met his gaze head-on and said coolly, "Yeah, I guess you do."
Harvey was about to reply when a a tenor voice filtered through the din of chatter, singing a slow, expressive tune Harvey immediately recognized as one of his favorites.
Taking it as a sign, Harvey extended his hand toward Mike and and asked tentatively, "Perhaps you'll let me make it up to you with a dance?"
Mike glanced briefly toward where Donna was standing, holding up a hand to indicate that he should wait. “Why should I, Harvey?” he asked challengingly.
“Because they’re playing my song.” When Mike still seemed unconvinced, Harvey snuck a look at Sebastian - who gave him an encouraging nod - then let out a frustrated sigh and said, “Because your boyfriend’s asking you to dance with him, okay? Now come on.”
Mike glanced eagerly at Donna, who gave him a sage nod - which was good considering he was going to accept regardless - before relenting and taking Harvey's hand. “Now, was that so difficult?” he asked, giving Harvey a blinding smile that sent a current of warmth through Harvey’s body.
Mike pulled Harvey onto the floor, then right up against him, resting the hand not joined with Harvey’s on the other man’s shoulder; Harvey took the hint and wrapped his other hand around Mike’s waist as the two began swaying back and forth and turning in a very gradual circle.
“Yes,” Harvey said quietly after a moment.
“Yes, what?” Mike asked, confused.
“What you asked me before - it was difficult,” Harvey explained, raising his eyes to Mike’s. “I’m exceptional at many, many things, Mike, but knowing how to be in an actual relationship is not one of them.”
Mike stared at him for a few moments, his eyes filled with understanding and a touch of sympathy. “If I didn’t know you better, Harvey, I’d say you were a bit scared,” he said gently.
“If I didn’t know me better, I’d say you were right,” Harvey agreed with a nervous laugh.
“Well,” Mike murmured, moving even closer so that his cheek was pressed against Harvey’s, with one hand on his shoulder, the other at the small of his back. “It’s a good thing we both know you better, then.”
Harvey was glad Mike couldn’t see the fond smile that crept onto his face as he eagerly shifted his own position to a more intimate one. For a little while, they simply danced like that, Harvey relishing the opportunity of being so close to Mike after a week of what had seemed like solitary confinement.
But when the singer reached the part of the song about regrets, Harvey was reminded in a flash of the cruel words he had thrown at Mike which had started this whole fiasco, and he knew that there was one more thing that needed to be done before they could put this behind them.
“I’m sorry, Mike,” he said quietly, rubbing his cheek against Mike’s. “About what I said in my office. I know I hurt you.”
“Just don’t make a habit of it, all right?” Mike said after a moment, laying his head on Harvey’s shoulder.
“I won’t,” Harvey promised, wrapping his arms tighter around Mike to emphasize his point.
A few moments passed, the music crescendoed, and, out of nowhere, Mike began to laugh. Harvey leaned back to ask a bit suspiciously, “What’s so funny?”
“I just realized what song this is,” Mike said in way of explanation. “I Did It My Way, Frank Sinatra. No wonder you said it was one of your favorites - it’s practically your motto.”
Harvey was laughing with him, registering the truth of Mike’s statement, when a strange thing happened. He wasn’t sure if it was the song, or the lights, or the dancing, but when he looked down at his dance partner, he found that the rest of the room just faded away. All of a sudden, there was only Mike, smiling dreamily and staring up at him with those big blue eyes, his hair a little tousled from when it had rested on Harvey’s shoulder.
An intense rush of emotion swept over him, a kind of burning tenderness that a different man might have been tempted to call love; though that was a word Harvey was nowhere near ready to use, he could no longer deny that the feeling was unmistakably some type of caring.
As the singer demanded to know what is a man, if not one who shows the things he truly feels, Harvey decided that, once again, Frank knew best, and swiftly lowered his lips to Mike’s. Mike instinctively wrapped his arms around Harvey’s neck and deepened the kiss, coming up for air only momentarily before pouncing on Harvey once again.
They had been moving in such perfect unison that the kiss didn’t still their momentum for even an instant, and it was only when the music stopped and the lights came back up that they broke apart, accompanied, to Harvey’s great surprise, by applause and a few scattered shouts from the surrounding crowd.
Harvey felt his cheeks heat up, but when he grabbed Mike’s hand, intending to drag him off the dance floor, Mike merely laughed, raised their hands in the air, and took a bow like he had done earlier with Donna. Harvey was struck once again by the change that had come over his associate in the past week, and as his eyes swept over the crowd, he found the reason for the change leaning against a wall, staring directly back at him, amusement dancing in her eyes.
“May I steal your date for the next dance?” he asked Mike, leaning toward him.
“Hmmm?” Mike tore his attention from the crowd to look back at Harvey and ask incredulously, “Donna? You and I both know that isn’t up to me.”
Harvey laughed and agreed, “True, but I’m hoping she’ll be willing to give me one dance to make things up to her.”
“I hope so, too,” Mike said sincerely as Harvey turned to go. A few seconds later, Harvey heard Mike call his name, and when he instinctively spun around to see what Mike wanted, was shocked when the other man bounded over to him and pulled him into a passionate kiss.
Harvey barely had time to react before Mike had pulled away and murmured, “Just one dance, then you’re mine again,” before disappearing back into the crowd. Harvey could only stare after him in mild amazement for a few seconds before shaking his head vigorously and walking toward Donna.
By the time he found her, Donna was surrounded by a crowd of men - and a few women - begging her for the next dance. “I just don’t know which one of you to pick - it seems like Eeny Meeny Miny Moe would be the fairest.”
“Doesn’t that end with ‘My mother told me to pick the very best one’?” Harvey asked with a smirk as he caught her eye.
“And that’d be you, would it?” Donna asked skeptically, though she did push off the wall to make her way toward him.
“Give me a dance, and I’ll show you,” Harvey said, offering her his hand.
“First, I’m going to need to hear those four little words I love so much,” she said, crossing her arms.
Harvey rolled his eyes, laid his hands on her shoulders, and said clearly, “Donna, you were right.”
Donna’s eyes gleamed in triumph as she asked in mock sympathy, “That wasn’t so bad, was it?” She threw a quick apology over her shoulder before accompanying him onto the dance floor.
“Does this mean you’re no longer mad at me?” Harvey asked, placing his hands on her waist.
“No, you manning up and making it official with the kid means I’m no longer mad at you,” she corrected, linking her arms around his neck as they began to sway back and forth.
“How do you know I have?” Harvey inquired.
Now it was Donna who smirked. “I think having a make-out session in front of all your co-workers rather screams official, don’t you think?”
Harvey tilted his head as if considering this carefully. “Well, when you put it like that...”
Donna laughed before saying a bit more seriously, “I don’t enjoy being mad at you, you know.”
“Could’ve fooled me,” Harvey said dryly, raising an eyebrow.
Donna rolled her eyes and admitted, “Oh, don't get me wrong, I adore playing puppet-master. But I would much rather do it for you than against you."
Harvey grinned and pulled her into an easy hug, murmuring, "Me too, Donna," before releasing her and resuming the dance. "I have definitely missed having you as my..."
“If you say girl Friday, I will smack you,” Donna warned.
“I would never,” Harvey insisted, looking appropriately outraged, “I was thinking more...consigliere.”
“What is it with men and The Godfather? I swear, the gene for appreciating Mafia movies is located strictly on the Y chromosome.”
“You know you love it," Harvey teased.
“Consigliere does have a nice ring to it," Donna admitted. "Perhaps I’ll have some new business cards made up.”
“I’ll buy you some for Christmas," Harvey promised, only partially joking.
"Yes, I’d like that, just put on them ‘Donna - " she stopped mid-sentence, catching sight of something on the other side of the room and directed Harvey’s attention to it with a whispered, "Oh, Harvey, look."
Harvey swiveled his head in the direction Donna had indicated and laughed in surprise at what he saw. Mike appeared to be doing a vaguely waltz-like maneuver with a smiling Harold, still wearing his wizard's robes.
"He has a good heart, that kid," Donna said with a smile.
"The best," Harvey agreed, adding suddenly, "Oh, this just keeps getting better."
He and Donna watched as Louis approached them and whispered something to Mike. After a minute, Mike grinned and stepped back to allow Louis to awkwardly take his place with a shocked, but eager-looking Harold.
“Who would have thought Louis had it in him?” Harvey asked incredulously.
“People can surprise you,” Donna replied with a smile, and Harvey got the distinct feeling she wasn’t just talking about Louis.
After he’d finished the dance with Donna, and quite a few more with Mike, the rest of the evening passed in a blur of dancing, drinking, and a lot of laughter, punctuated in Harvey’s memory by a few fleeting images - most notably Rachel dancing provocatively atop the bar, Seth drunkenly serenading a lampshade, and Gregory flirting rather shamelessly with the newest Mrs. Hardman.
So it was that by the time he was stumbling out into the softly falling snow, one arm slung around Mike's shoulders, the other around Donna's, Harvey felt like all was once again right with the world.
“I’m telling you, Harvey,” Mike was arguing only a bit tipsily, “Johnny and Baby at the end of Dirty Dancing is the sexiest dance in the history of film.”
“Bullshit,” Harvey insisted, “Al Pacino’s tango in Scent of a Woman blows it out of the water. The man was blind, for God’s sake!”
“He’s clearly not the only one!” Mike shot back.
Harvey stared at him stormily for a few seconds before erupting into a fit of laughter, which set Mike off as well, and soon they were both clinging to one other just to stay upright.
“Well, as much fun as this has been,” Donna said, neatly shifting Harvey’s arm from her own shoulders to the other side of Mike’s neck, “I’m sure you boys won’t mind if leave you to your own devices for the rest of the evening.”
“Hot date, Donna?” Mike asked, feigning hurt as he added, “What, I wasn’t enough for you?”
“Not a date,” Donna corrected, though there was a gleam in her eye, “Just an old friend from...out of town.”
“Any old friend of yours must do something incredibly cool,” Mike said, his eyes lighting up. “Let me guess - he’s a spy. Ooh, no, a Prime Minister. A championship race-car driver!”
Donna smiled mysteriously as she turned to walk away, calling over her shoulder, “No, just a doctor...but he’s got a ride you wouldn’t believe.”
“It’s a pity you only have the weekend with him,” Harvey shouted after her.
Donna laughed and called out cryptically, “Don’t worry about that - weekends with him tend to feel like they can last for years. See you two lovebirds on Monday!”
Harvey and Mike watched as she sent them a little wave and disappeared behind a building. While they were debating whether or not to follow her, there came in quick succession from around the corner a metallic thrumming sound, a flash of light, then utter stillness. When they stumbled over to examine the area, however, neither Harvey nor Mike could find any trace that someone had been there at all.
They looked at one another quizzically for a few moments until Harvey laughed nervously and said, “Probably just too much scotch.”
“Yeah,” Mike agreed, leaning on Harvey as they slowly walked away, “Definitely too much scotch.”
As they neared the corner where Harvey had instructed Ray to pick them up, Mike suddenly stopped walking, causing Harvey to nearly lose his balance.
“Sorry,” Mike apologized, steadying Harvey’s arm, “But I feel like I need to tell you - I’ve got a secret.” Upon seeing the pointed glance Harvey was sending him, he amended it to, “Okay, another secret.”
“You do?” Harvey asked, sounding extremely interested. He swiftly pivoted so both his arms were wrapped around Mike’s waist before he continued, voice serious but eyes twinkling, “Well, I think you’d better tell me. Potential liability and all that.”
Mike looked around, as if to make sure no one was listening, before throwing his arms around Harvey’s neck and leaning up to whisper, “I’m magic now.”
“Oh, you are, are you?” Harvey asked indulgently. “How did that happen?”
Mike pulled back to look him in the eye as he replied earnestly, “Harold showed me, when we were dancing. He taught me all the spells.”
“Go on then,” Harvey challenged. “Show me some magic.”
Mike gave the deserted, snow-covered street another thorough once-over before shouting, “Accio mistletoe!”
Harvey instinctively looked up in surprise and laughed aloud when he saw that, sure enough, there was a sprig of mistletoe attached to the lamppost just above their heads. When he looked back down again, his eyes were alight with desire, and he closed the distance between them until only a few centimeters remained.
Despite the freezing air swirling around them, Mike felt snug and warm as Harvey brushed a gloved hand against his cheek and began to lean ever so slowly toward him. Just before Harvey pulled him into a kiss that made his head spin, Mike heard him murmur, so softly it was barely audible, “Ten points to Gryffindor!”
Harvey admits to being my boyfriend and a Harry Potter nerd in the same night, Mike pondered in amazement, a few seconds prior to the kiss shutting down his brain function completely - Maybe the Yule Ball really is magic, after all.