The thing is, despite Harvey's misgivings about the supposed limitations of his incredible brain powers, of course Mike can read people. Well, most people. Some people. Or maybe just Harvey, who's pretty much an open book, even with his shiny hair and 10-parsecs wide shark smile and you've been stuck by a smooth criminal cover.
Mike knows his way around a book, and you can never judge that shit by its cover.
If Harvey Specter were a textual medium, he'd be a Gospel. Although Mike is sure that, given a choice, Harvey would choose to be the whole Bible and Genesis would pretty much end up being, "And on the eighth Day, God was like, 'Dude, I almost forgot. I totally need to make a guy who can be me and do my work on Earth, therefore freeing the common man of all his burdens -- including the burdens of his wallet. And living in a multi-million dollar high rise in New York couldn't hurt. He can be my gift to the world. I'll call him Harvey and give him stupidly expensive suits and an oddly perfect mouth.'"
A Gospel, as any text to do with religion, is controversial and full of debatable ideas and information. Mike would never be so douchey as to limit Harvey by calling him a science textbook or even a novel. Harvey Specter is a subject that is up to much interpretation, one that has probably started a war or two. Of course he'd be a Gospel. And if anyone were to write the Gospel of Harvey Specter, it'd be Mike.
Which he is.
The Gospel of Harvey Specter is a work in progress, with chapters being in a constant state of addition and revision, complete with footnotes and important quotes, all detailing the small minutiae that make up the man, himself. But the day is quickly coming when the first edition will finally be complete. It will be a user-friendly guide to the enigma wrapped in a mystery sealed in a tortilla shell of gorgeous badassery that is Harvey Specter.
Mike has no doubt that Donna's produced a few of these, and probably keeps them in her desk drawer, but she doesn't see Harvey the way he does, and so his gospel is on the completely other end of the spectrum.
And his chapter titles rock harder than hers.
Excerpt from CHAPTER 3.
Approval, or Harvey might not actually be from Vulcan
Nothing and no one, not even a unanimous verdict by a jury full of the most unbiased and intelligent people the state of New York has to offer, will ever convince Mike that Harvey doesn't go to Vulcan High Command when he leaves the office. There is no fancy apartment, no four-thousand inch plasma HD TV mounted on the wall, no fire pole or twisty slide or bathtub full of champagne and hookers (Mike has given it a lot of thought). No, there's a portal somewhere on the Upper East Side that takes Harvey directly to planet Vulcan where they routinely cleanse him of all emotion and give him gold stars when he reports on how he is working his new associate into an early grave, which will bear the epitaph "Live long and prosper, bitch."
For all Harvey's "my hero is Captain Kirk, James T." crap, the man's totally a Vulcan.
Mike hasn't actually seen Harvey since this morning (or rather eleven years ago, because he's pretty sure he's been searching these files since he was fourteen) and he's running on about zero hours of sleep. The Poland Springs water cooler grew hands a few hours ago and waves to him whenever he works up the nerve to glance over at it.
The firm is taking this case very seriously, as their client is richer than God and has promised to bring all his equally rich buddies to Harvey should they win this case. The client, Conrad Buchanan (naturally), went into business with an old friend of his from prep school, opening a trendy cocktail bar called iDrink (more like iDouche). However, the partnership turned sour when the friend, one Hunter Worthington (of course), knocked him out of the deal and sold the business to some third party for an exorbitant amount of money. And to make matters worse, neither party can find their copy of the contract. While this lawsuit drags on, iDrink has become the newest social hotspot, and Conrad is pissed that he's not getting his due 50%.
All Mike sees are two rich douchewagons who got drunk one night, promised each other to open the best bar ever, congratulated themselves on being masters of the universe, and drew up a contract on a couple of napkins using the bartender's lipstick. Napkins which are supposed to be somewhere in the forty-six boxes of files, receipts, and paperwork that Worthington's people sent over.
Napkins. He's supposed to be looking for bar napkins.
Any sane person would have given up a long time ago, or gone to Louis and begged for something else, anything, even a game of tennis and the horror of seeing Louis in a towel. But Mike is either a masochist, insane, or just simply wants Harvey to look in his direction and see a man actually worth something.
This is the same Harvey who, instead of focusing on this case, had gone off with another potential client who happened to be an avid biker and invited Harvey to go biking in Albany. The fucking trails in Albany are supposed to be amazing, and Harvey instead challenged the guy to a race through the whole of the city. And used Mike's bike. Without asking. Mike had suffered a small stroke that afternoon when, on his lunch hour, he went outside to find his beautiful 10-speed missing and a post-it note with a smiley face in its place. Harvey probably trashed it somewhere between 5th and E17th and is laughing about it with his new BFFL in a Starbucks.
Masochism, insanity, or Harvey's approval.
He glances at the water cooler, which waves back. That settles that, then.
It's just gone midnight when the man himself comes swanning down the aisle between the cubicles like it ain't no thang.
"Find the contract yet?" Harvey asks, smirk screwed into his stupid face, and for a moment Mike can actually see where the Philipshead tightened those little bastards into place. It might be time for a break, or to not drink any more Red Bull until the blood levels in his caffeine have risen.
"You mean the one written on bar napkins?" Because, really. Bar napkins. "No, Harvey, I haven't. You know what else I haven't done? Sleep. In a little over a decade."
"Poor puppy," Harvey says, flat and amused, but even though the tone makes Harvey's face very punchable, Mike isn't paying attention to it. He finds himself drawn to the lines at the corners of Harvey's eyes, which crinkle with… something. "Anything I can do?"
Mike stares at him and resolutely ditches his first eight answers, which is too bad, because some of them are hilarious and brilliant and a sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to happen. "You could, oh, I don't know, grow a soul and take pity on the fake lawyer. Maybe pull up a chair and help me look for bit?"
The corners of Harvey's eyes crinkle even more, which somehow makes him look like he just stepped off the cover of GQ instead of just being old. "Sorry, but not having a soul prevents me from doing an assortment of bullshit just like this. Besides, you won't find the napkins in there. Worthington would never just give them up. If he had kept them, he would've gotten rid of them."
Mike might also be a masochist, but he's not dumb. "Which is why I'm not looking for the bar napkins, because no shit."
It isn't often that he catches Harvey by surprise, so he savors the slight widening of Harvey's eyes the way he's pretty sure Jim Kirk would do every time he schooled Spock in something. Treasure it like a fine wine, or a mountain.
"Then what the hell are you doing?"
"Gathering all the stuff we'll need to slap Worthington -- and, seriously, do all you rich people have these names? -- with anticipatory repudiation. He sold the bar before it was up and running, before he knocked Buchanan out of the partnership, which means that the whole deal is bullshit. As far as the napkins go, some lovely specimen at his company made copies of it, probably without realizing what it was." He waves his hand in the direction of the twenty copies he'd made, just in case they lost nineteen of them. You never knew when Louis would climb through a window or pop out of a potted fichus, twirling his invisible mustache and plotting shit that would only serve to make him look even more like a tool in the long run. "Which also gets us incorporation by signature, seen in L'Estrange v Graucob in 1934, 2 KB 394, and I can keep talking or you can just start worshiping me whenever you're ready. I'm thinking knees, some bowing and scraping. A sacrifice if you have undiluted wine, maybe a goat lying around somewhere."
Harvey glances down and taps the glass face of his (probably insanely expensive) watch. He's no doubt keying in codes to Vulcan, letting them know that he's going to Death Grip the shit out of his associate but will be in time for the Council meeting on fucking planet X94G-1M.
Except… maybe not. Because Mike's super observation powers catches the barely-suppressed twitching at the corners of Harvey's lips, the way Harvey lifts his gaze to Mike's, eyes bright with something that hasn't been there since the words "We should hire you" were spilled into the air. And because Mike has crazy brain powers, he's cataloged every single look that's crossed Harvey's face for further study (which sounds kind of creepy), and he's managed to label all of them except this one.
"You surprise me sometimes, Mike," Harvey says, the words somehow gentle in a way that Harvey never is or should be but still makes him go hot all over. "Good work."
That's what it is. Impression. Harvey's impressed. By him.
Well, that goes without saying, because Mike is never not awesome, but that look is something to hoard for himself, like his Twix bars during his freshman year because his roommate was a fucking entitled prick who used to take all Mike's stuff without asking.
That isn't a look from a Vulcan. No matter how many times Kirk managed to impress Spock, there was never that look. This one is all Harvey. The bottom of Mike's stomach drops and the back of his neck feels really warm, like the way his mother's hand used to feel on his skin when she was checking for fever or just to let him know she loved him.
He swallows, shifting in his seat, and then gestures to the boxes with the douchetastic Worthington family crest logo burned on the sides. "Of course it's good work. I did it."
Harvey rolls his eyes and his mouth does this weird Michael Bay thing where it transforms from that quiet, almost-smile into full-blown smirk. "Moment's over."
"That was a moment? We were having a -- the moment is not ov -- Get back here and finish the moment! It's not over!" Mike says loudly as Harvey turns and starts walking away.
"It really is," Harvey calls back, lifting a hand in a lazy attempt at a wave. "Have a lovely evening, Ross, and make sure those files are on my desk by 8am."
Slumping into his chair, Mike kicks one of the boxes in annoyance and shouts, "Fine, leave! Tell Administrator V'Las I said hi."
In a move that Michael Jackson would have been jealous of, Harvey spins on his heel and, with a grin, gives Mike a perfect Vulcan salute.
Reference Note #972-H: Harvey really is a Trekker. What the absolute hell.
Excerpt from CHAPTER 8.
Turtles, or Harvey worries about things just like us lowly humans
When Harvey leaves Judge Ida's chambers, the corners of his mouth are pulled tight, lips a thin line as if chiseled in stone. Harvey always looks like one of those bad ass secret agents, all slicked-back hair and expensive suits, faces clear of fault and the threat of guilt miles away. Except now.
The urge to go back to chambers and have words with the judge -- and by words, he means fisticuffs -- is surprisingly overwhelming. Mike's known Harvey all of a few months and already he's willing to risk jail time for knocking out a court justice. Although no jury would convict him once they see what a giant douche Ida is, announcing that Harvey's "arrogance gives the term 'lawyer' a bad name" in open court. Ida. What kind of judge is named Ida? Great aunts are called Ida.
Harvey wordlessly flags down a taxi, mouth still pinched with… whatever emotion he's feeling, and Mike can do nothing except get in when the cab pulls up to the curb.
"So… That was weird. With the judge. What was that about and how do I get the ball rolling on contacting the Ethics Board about this?" He asks after the most uncomfortable three minutes of silence in the history of ever, sneaking a glance over at Harvey, who is tapping frantically into his PDA. Harvey ignores him, naturally, and the skin around his eyes tightens even more at whatever he finds on the tiny screen. Fine. He can wait for Harvey to man up and confide in him, trust in him the way Mike has trusted Harvey.
He waits another minute. Then another. In the eternity that passes between those two minutes, eight species have been born and an entire galaxy somewhere has been wiped out.
Harvey slips his PDA into the inside pocket of his suit jacket and slumps back in this really unfairly graceful way that makes him look like a king sitting on a goddamn throne. If Mike ever attempted that, he'd probably be arrested for public indecency.
"The code of conduct for U.S. justices, Canon 2A, states that --"
"I know what the code states," Harvey mutters, his forehead thunking against the window, and stares blankly out at the street as it whips by.
Canon 2A. An appearance of impropriety occurs when reasonable minds, with knowledge of all the relevant circumstances disclosed by a reasonable inquiry, would conclude that the judge's honesty, integrity, impartiality, temperament, or fitness to serve as a judge is impaired. Public confidence in the judiciary is eroded by irresponsible or improper conduct by judges. A judge must avoid all impropriety and appearance of impropriety. This prohibition applies to both professional and personal conduct. (Guide to Judiciary Policy, Vol. 2, Ethics and Judiciary Conduct, June 2009)
Translation. A judge will not be an asshat, ever, or else shit will get real.
And because Mike is Fate's butt monkey, this is when they hit traffic on Park Row, leaving him trapped in a cab (that smells like Febreze and hot pockets) with Harvey, who is turning to stone faster than if Medusa bitch-slapped him with her face.
He's never seen Harvey like this. Even after Judge Pearl was openly being a dick to him during the patent injunction hearing, Harvey swanned out of the courthouse and labeled the whole thing a "wrinkle". This defeated, white-washed thing just isn't jiving with the person he knows Harvey to be. Harvey doesn't do defeated; Harvey saunters up to defeat, punches it in the face, fucks its mother and then never calls her again.
His fingers tap out a nervous rhythm against his leg and he steals a glance at Harvey, who hasn't moved his head from the window. He can't stay in this cab with Harvey acting this way; he has to do something to help, say something to get that look off of Harvey's face. If he doesn't, the terrorists win.
"I want to go on the record and just say that turtles are heartless bastards."
There is a moment of silence -- on top of the silence already there -- and Harvey lifts his head from the window, turning to Mike with an expression of utter confusion on his face. Anything's better than that forlorn defeat.
"I'm sorry," Harvey says, shaking his head. "For a second I thought you said something about --"
"Turtles," Mike finishes with an emphatic nod. "I did. And it's true. Turtles are the most ruthless, emotionless, conniving little pricks that have ever lurched across God's green earth."
Harvey stares at him like he forgot Mike was an idiot.
"I don't know what you've heard about turtles, but the whole thing about them being slow and stupid? Total myth. See, I bought into that crap when I was a kid, so when my grammy bought me Opie I was convinced it would be the easiest pet ever."
"You named your turtle Op --"
"Do we have to have that talk about interruptions? So, Opie was a box turtle, a gift for my eleventh birthday, but I think it was really grammy's attempt at keeping me occupied with something other than Trevor, and I loved him right away. Two minutes after she showed me his tank I was already drawing comics about Mastermind Mike and his turtle sidekick --"
"Shut up. Anyway, I memorized everything there was to know about box turtles. Waxed his shell once a week. Gave him bits of hamburger and chicken, and he loved egg noodles. I was the best damn owner any turtle could wish for, right? So, naturally things start getting weird around week two --"
Harvey drags his hands over his face with a groan, trying and failing to hide the smile that Mike can totally see. "Is there a point to any of this?"
Mike is two seconds away from calling up George W. and shouting "THAT'S HOW YOU ACCOMPLISH A MISSION, FUCKSTICK!", and never let it be said that Mike doesn't do gloating well, because he does. In this case, he pushes it all down and will revisit it when he gets to his desk, possibly with a fistpump and a victory dance, and instead smiles cheerily at Harvey. "Nope."
Another silence descends, but it's lighter, and Mike doesn't feel like his head's going to explode if he doesn't do something to fill it. Harvey stares straight ahead, lips twitching, and Mike taps the beat to 'Rhythm Nation' on the arm rest under his window, and it's pretty okay. The 'Oh, my manpain, I'm Batman' thing that Harvey was rocking is gone, which is kind of all that matters.
That doesn't mean that Mike's not going to dig up all the dirt he can on Judge Ida and bury the guy.
"So," Harvey says after a few minutes. "How did things get weird with Opie?"
Mike grins. "He started destroying my stuff -- I can't even tell you how he got onto some of those high shelves. And he stalked me."
"Of course he did."
"What can I say?" Mike shrugs loftily, catching Harvey's amused smirk out of the corner of his eye. "It's my animal magnetism."
There's a moment where it looks like Harvey's going to cut through all this bullshit about Opie -- who was a creepy little bastard that used to watch Mike when he slept and somehow get out of his tank and follow him places and wait for him in the shadows like a goddamn assassin -- and get right to the heart of the matter. Mike may still not be ready for the adult table (and for all that he complains about it, he knows he's not), but he can be Harvey's confidant as much as he is Harvey's protégé and "puppy". He'll take whatever Harvey tells him to his grave. And when St. Peter threatens to boot his ass out of Heaven if he doesn't give up the goods, he'll keep his mouth shut all the way down to Hell.
But instead, Harvey shakes his head and favors Mike with a grin. "Animal magnetism, huh? So, do pigeons stick to you when you walk outside?"
"I have to beat those little bitches off with a stick."
That's fine. Mike will wait as long as it takes for Harvey to stop being such a closed-mouth moron and trust Mike the way Mike has trusted him. He's not going anywhere.
Addendum: Harvey told him everything exactly seventeen days later. It wasn't anything he didn't already know.
Justice William B. Ida: Born March 4, 1975 in Brooklyn, NY to Marcus and Janine Ida. Graduated Harvard Law, class of 1997, magna cum laude. Obtained degree of Juris Doctor in 1999, gained judgeship in 2001, elected to bench in 2002.
Reference Note #41103-M: Ida was Harvey's best friend throughout their time at Harvard and beyond; friendship fell apart when Harvey discovered Ida's connections to certain pharmaceutical companies that were acquitted of an assortment of crimes.
Added September 9, 2011: New York State Ethics Committee has launched an investigation into Judge Ida based on "substantial and credible evidence" that Ida accepted bribes from MatchCo Pharmaceuticals in order to manipulate proceedings outcomes, as well as several claims of misconduct.
Who's arrogant now, fucker?
Excerpt from CHAPTER 14.
Hobbies. As in, Harvey has them.
"What the hell is this."
Okay, so Mike will totally admit to frequently dreaming about waking up next to Harvey. Those are the best dreams, and they usually end in hot sex and breakfast in bed (by which he means Harvey eating fruit off Mike's hipbones). Harvey standing next to the bed, fully dressed, waving a Red Sox hat around and wearing a horrified expression that wouldn't be out of place if he'd caught Mike fucking Louis? Not so much.
"Oh my god, you're like the ghost of Christmas future," Mike groans, dragging his pillow over his face and inhaling the comforting smell of sweat and shattered dreams. He pauses, then ditches the pillow, because, "you're in my apartment. Why -- how are you in my apartment? I know for a fact that I locked my door."
Harvey throws the hat at his face. "What is this and why do you have it in your possession?"
"No, no, we're still talking about how you somehow magically got into my apartment. It's that portal on 96th Street, right? All that construction's totally a cover up." He's just remembering that when he got home last night he dropped trou and crawled into bed, totally ready to waste his day off in a freedom-induced celebratory coma. He's currently not wearing any pants. And Harvey's maybe a foot away.
"I have no idea what you're saying," Harvey says, pointing to the hat which is now in Mike's lap (life-saver). "Get rid of it and put some clothes on. We have things to do."
Mike laughs. "'We'? We have nothing to do. Know how I know? Because we already finished our work and I finished all the bullshit that Louis foisted on me. Which means we are miraculously free to do whatever we want today. And I don't know about we, but I haven't slept since the fourth grade and that's precisely what I penciled in for the day, so --"
"You can sleep when you're dead or senior partner. So… when you're dead." Harvey glances around Mike's bedroom, lip curling. "How do you live like this? I swear to God I smell asbestos."
"Good thing you can't actually smell asbestos." Mike reaches over his shoulder to scratch an itch, and yeah, maybe he should buy a new set of sheets, and he looks up just in time to see Harvey avert his eyes and fixate on the poster on the opposite wall.
"The Muppets? What are you, twelve?"
Mike stares. "You don't like the Muppets? Do you kick puppies in your spare time, cut the brake lines on orphanage buses?"
"How did you know?"
It doesn't matter how hot Harvey is or how much Mike might want to sleep with him. Because he's going to kill him.
"Harvey," he says slowly, "if you don't give me a damn good reason for why you broke into my apartment on my day off? I will sue the fuck out of you for emotional damages and for being a dick."
A grin pulls at Harvey's mouth, his eyes bright. "We're going on a field trip."
"A field trip. You woke me up for a -- wait. A field trip implies having a hobby. You have hobbies? Like, actual hobbies?"
"Field trip. And unfortunately said trip requires you to wear pants. So, put them on. You have five minutes, and if you wear that hat I will murder you in cold blood -- and no jury in this state would convict me. Five minutes."
With that thrown down like the word of God, Harvey turns, sneers at the Muppets poster (and Mike weeps for Harvey's obviously terrible, terrible childhood), and leaves as suddenly as he appeared. Just in the nick of time, too, because the Red Sox hat that personally offended Harvey wouldn't have covered his hard-on for much longer.
Louis, naked, calling Mike his pony.
Boner Situation: Defused.
"Unfortunately said trip requires you to wear pants."
Grinning, Mike throws off the hat and the sheets, and goes to find some pants. Unfortunately.
An hour later, they're standing in Yankee Stadium and Mike feels like a traitor to the Nation. His grammy is going to kill him once she finds out that he voluntarily ventured onto enemy turf; his parents are rolling.
"Harvey, I can't be here," he hisses frantically, getting side-eyed by a fat guy like the dude knows that Mike's a Sox fan. This is going to end in torches and pitchforks. They're going to bury his body in the green.
Instead of caring about the fact that certain death is waiting for Mike at the second base line, Harvey throws out an arm and gestures to the field like he's fucking Vanna White, with the biggest grin on his face. "And on the eighth day, God made Steinbrenner, who made the Yankees into the MLB powerhouse they are today, with seven World Series titles and eleven pennants."
Considering that Mike's writing a Bible, he's pretty sure that's not how the eighth day went, but whatever keeps the manic look on Harvey's face.
"Please tell me this is just the first stop of many on our field trip." He's heard that Yankees fans can smell Fenway on people. His parents took him there for a game when he was little, going on almost twenty years, but it's still probably enough to incite a mob. That fat guy is still give him the stink eye. "Harvey, they know. They can sense it -- like dogs."
"I'm a season ticket holder. For life." Harvey smiles. There is no gel in Harvey's hair. How is Mike supposed to live in a reality that encompasses this?
"Is that, like, a personal thank you from Steinbrenner for getting Kuhn to reduce his suspension?" There's a girl at a concession stand and she's brandishing a knife, looking pretty damn shifty, but the hot dogs on the rotisserie next to her look awesome. He's starving, but he also doesn't feel like venting his spleen today.
Harvey stares. "That was in '74."
"I was barely a year old."
Mike shrugs. "I'm 81% positive that you popped out of your dad's head fully-formed with a law degree, so age really doesn't apply to you."
It doesn't win him the laugh he was shooting for. Instead, Harvey stares at him bemusedly, his gaze like a heavy touch that Mike can feel all over. "You know about the Nixon contributions?"
"Of course I do," Mike says, grinning a little, feeling a bit giddy from that look and bumping Harvey's shoulder with his own. "All Sox fans do. It's just one of many bullets in the gun we tote around when we come face to face with the enemy."
Harvey chuffs a laugh. "Might not want to say that too loud. Yankees fans are serious when it comes to their team."
"And you think we're not? I have Wally the Monster on speed dial." Which is true. "So… are we here to meet a client? Because I honestly don't remember anyone booking an appointment yesterday --"
Grinning, Harvey shakes his head and presses a hand to the small of Mike's back, which somehow burns through his shirt and skin and gets right to the core of him. He can't suppress the shiver that electric slides its way up his spine, surely felt under Harvey's splayed fingers. Thankfully (or unfortunately) Harvey doesn't call him on it.
Harvey steers him to the premium seats right above the dugout and plops his ass right down, sprawling indecently and surveying the field like it's his kingdom.
"There's no client."
Which is -- huh. "So, you woke me up on my day off, dragged me out of my asbestos-free apartment, behind enemy lines to… catch a baseball game."
Tilting his chin up to squint at Mike through the brightness of the day, Harvey grins. It's a transformation that sets Mike's heart to pounding. "Sit down, idiot. I'm going to show you what a real baseball team can do."
He feels flushed and dizzy and entirely too pleased with the world right now, but he sits and presses his knee into Harvey's. "And by 'real' you mean 'bought'."
"I will shout 'Red Sox Nation' and point right at you."
"And I'll announce that you hate the Muppets. Wanna bet which one of us gets the bigger beatdown?"
Addendum: The baseball games become a regular thing. And Donna usually comes, which is amazing, because she can catch foul balls like a pro.
Editor's Note #81: It was Mike's fault, but it turned out all right, and Harvey let it go.
No need to revisit this. Ever.
Excerpt from CHAPTER 26.
Having feelings is such an inconvenience, or Harvey Specter has a bigger heart than anybody on this planet.
His mind is buzzing. Not the usual "OH MY GOD I KNOW EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW EVER" buzzing, but softer. Whiter. Television snow, or what comes after the beep on an answering machine. There are a million things he ought to be doing right now -- making calls, putting things in order, wiping the tears from his cheeks -- but all he wants to do is just sink into the buzzing and drift until there's nothing left of him.
Closing his eyes, he drags in a breath, drops his head back against the file cabinet he's sitting against, unable to hold it up any longer, and exhales. It's not enough. It's not enough air, and he's going to suffocate, right here, alone, which is so appropriate and nothing short of what he deserves.
Naturally, this is when someone finds him.
"You're five minutes late with those briefs," Harvey says, sounding miles away. "Five minutes. You're a --"
"Reflection of you, your mirror image, your doppelganger, the second gate in Fantasia, I know, I know," Mike says shakily, just tumbling out, and he presses his face into his knees and sucks in another breath, another attempt to have another minute that shouldn't be his.
There is a moment of silence that stretches out until it's pulled thin and sharp between them, edges frayed like a rubber band drawn too tautly, broken only when Harvey ventures, "Mike --"
Something inside him crumbles and the world just… falls away. His breathing eases, slows. "She was alone. They say she went in her sleep, but it's really a polite way of saying that no one was there."
As Harvey moves to sit down beside him, Mike starts, heart pounding, because there is no way that those eight-million dollar, tailored by Renee pants are going to touch the dust and grime and failure covering the floor.
"Don't be an idiot! Your pants probably cost more than my life! Renee will kill me."
"Really? My pants?" There is sarcasm in Harvey's voice, warm and familiar and Mike closes his eyes to savor it, to remember it and file it away on its own little card in the drawer which holds all of Harvey's vocal tones, but it slips away, leaving him, and it's everything he's always wanted, just to stop and think about nothing, but it's not what he wants at all, it's not, and -- Harvey's arm drops around his shoulders and curls up, his palm covering Mike's eyes. "All right. Calm down."
"I am calm. This is calm."
"This isn't calm; this is shock." Something presses against his head, a weight that he can stand, and it takes him a moment to realize it's Harvey's cheek. "Tell me."
Where is he supposed to even start? How can he put his grammy into words, words she deserves, words that paint the large and colorful and beautiful and wonderful picture that she… He can't. He doesn't know the words. He's never read them, never seen them, never been taught them, so how can he know them? What the hell is he going to do for the funeral?
"I meant to visit her this week." There's a small trickle of sound and color, bleeding back into the white haze, and he draws in a shuddering breath. "I bought her this necklace. It's the kind of jewelry women like her deserve to have, you know? Elegant, classy, simple. White gold, because that's the good stuff, right? Grammy'd seen it in a catalog a year ago, but I saw it again when we were leaving Roslindale's a few weeks ago, and it was perfect, all these looping lines but it was subtle, and for the first time I had the means to buy it and I could show her how much I love and appreciate her because I'm never there anymore because she raised --"
"Shut up," Harvey murmurs, using the hand over Mike's eyes to guide him down to Harvey's Zegna-clad shoulder. "You're babbling."
"Is this you trying to be comforting? Because I know you pride yourself on being good at everything, but you suck at this." Except… the hand over his eyes is soft and cool, and Harvey smells like sandalwood and myrrh and Mike just sinks into him. "I talked to her on Saturday. Before we went to the game. She told me to get as many of those ice-cream-in-a-helmets as I could stomach."
Harvey laughs quietly. "Which explains why you bought nine and didn't share any with Donna."
"She makes more than I ever will and could've bought her own," Mike says, breathing in. "Plus, she ate two buckets of BBQ wings. Where does she put it all?"
"She'll never tell."
They fall into silence, a hush of dust and sandalwood that sets him adrift again, just coasting over all of the arrangements he knows he needs to make, the calls he needs to place, the grievance time he needs to put in for. All of it just fades into a haze, cupped into quiet by Harvey's palm.
"How can it be this sudden? She was fine. I mean, Christ, what the hell was I paying that place for? She was supposed to be fine. She's the whole reason I wound up here and -- it was supposed to be better now. How could this happen?" There's movement against him, Harvey shifting and pressing something soft to his temple. Maybe lips. Maybe his nose. "I was going to take you to meet her."
"She wanted to meet the idiot who gave her stoner grandson without a law degree the chance of a lifetime," he says, which is exactly what she'd said verbatim, although it was followed by 'and if Trevor tried out for the same thing I hope the door hit him on the ass on his way out.'
Another soft brush against his hairline. "I would've liked to have met her, too."
Harvey Specter and Claire Ross, together in the same room, no holds barred and completely unmitigated. It would have been amazing. They would've gotten along like a house on fire.
"I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do now," Mike whispers, the confession cutting through the white fog, the sandalwood and the hush, and the hand covering his eyes shifts until there is a thumb swiping gently across the top of his cheekbone. "I had, like, eighty back-up plans for when this… I can't remember a single one."
"Have you --"
"I got the call half an hour ago," he says, tilting his head up slightly, just enough to brush the tip of his nose against Harvey's jaw. "I can't… If I leave here, that makes it real."
Harvey sighs, uses his free hand to curl under Mike's chin and hold it where he wants, and brushes his lips against the corner of Mike's mouth, the swell of his cheek -- tongue darting out to taste the salt, the bridge of his nose; quick, sweet, and devastating.
Mike shudders, his hands coming up to grab onto Harvey's arms, his suit, his neck, anywhere he can find purchase, because Harvey will ruin him like this. He's going to shake apart under the force of Harvey's caring.
"Hate to break it to you, but it's real whether or not you leave here," Harvey murmurs, and kisses whatever kind of reply Mike could have made right out of his mouth, deep and over too soon. "It never stops being real."
Mike presses for something more lingering, but Harvey pulls away, removes his hand from Mike's eyes and thumbs the spit from the swollen skin beneath Mike's bottom lip. "And timing," he says faintly, lips tingling, heart cramping painfully, because this is seriously more than he needed to deal with. "Your timing blows."
"My timing is perfect," Harvey protests, lashes brushing Mike's when he leans in for another kiss. "But I'm not doing this in the fucking basement file room, so here's what's going to happen. I'm going to cancel all my appointments for the rest of the day, you're going to grab your manpurse, and we'll go."
Right. Reality. Mike pulls away from Harvey and rubs at his eyes, licks at his lips and shivers at the buzzy feeling. He gets to his feet and attempts to straighten out his suit jacket with trembling hands. Why couldn't they have just stayed right here for, like, the next ten years? "I can't take you."
Harvey, still on the floor, frowns. "Why the hell not?"
"She would've hated you," Mike says, huffing a wet laugh at the scandalized expression on Harvey's face.
"You just said she wanted to meet me."
"That was before I remembered that you hate the Muppets and the Sox."
Rolling his eyes, Harvey stands gracefully and absently brushes the dust from the seat of his pants, the hem of his jacket. "Please. She would've loved me. All women love me. I mean, look at me."
Mike smiles. "I'm looking." At the smoldering look Harvey gives him, he adds, "at the guy she probably would've poisoned the second you brought up Jeter's batting average."
But Harvey doesn't laugh. He reaches out and grips Mike's chin, no-nonsense, and searches Mike's face. He nods once, decisive. "I'm not going to lie, Mike. This is going to be painful. It's going to be hard, and you'll probably lose sleep, won't eat, and you'll be even more useless than usual. And that's okay."
"Shut up, because you're probably going to forget everything I'm going to say the second we get there, so listen. Your grandma didn't die alone, Mike; she went in her sleep. She was warm and comfortable and in a state of the art facility, paid for by her loving and doting and Red Sox-loving philistine grandson, who worked his ass off in order to keep her there. She went to bed last night knowing she was loved. I honestly can't think of a better way to go. It's okay to miss her and it's okay to grieve her, but it's not okay to blame yourself because that's just fucking stupid and, as a reflection of me, you're not allowed to be stupid. I don't waste my time or my… feelings on stupid people."
Mike stares. Harvey purses his lips thoughtfully.
"I should write a book."
"I'm kind of way ahead of you on that one. Also, please don't try and comfort anyone else ever; you made 'feelings' sound like a disease." But he can breathe a little better now. He can leave the stark comfort of the filing room without fearing a mental breakdown. If Kyle turns the douche on him, Mike probably won't snap and beat the shit out of him. Probably.
A hand presses against the small of his back and steers him toward the door. "C'mon, kid. In a pinch I can be tougher than you --"
" -- and maybe this is the pinch," Mike finishes, a slow smile spreading across his face. "You know, 'Boys Town' was one of her favorite movies."
Harvey grins and leans into him, solid everywhere. "She must've been something."
Claire N. Ross (née Bremmen), a high school economics and history teacher, died March 21 2012 in New York City. She was 87.
Miss Ross was the first of her extended family to attend college and to go into the field of education. While at school, she volunteered at various local factories to help with the war effort. In 1947, she completed her education and became HS 112's first female history teacher a year later. She was loved by all of her students and was known for her quick wit and humorous take on history.
As the economy boomed in the wake of the war, Miss Ross learned all she could about economics, hoping to instill some values into her students. She attended New York University in 1959 as one of the first female students admitted, which is where she met her future husband, James Ross, a professor at the NYU School of Law. They were married in 1961 and had a son, Aaron, who -- with his wife -- tragically lost his life in a car accident in 1997. Miss Ross raised her grandson, Michael, in their stead.
Miss Ross's contributions to HS 112 were frequently notable; she coached the mock trial team for eleven years and won the New York State Finals nine consecutive years. She retired from teaching in 2002 after the passing of James and was diagnosed with cancer in 2007.
When able, Miss Ross went to all of the mock trial meetings and challenges that she could, which helped foster a passion for law in her grandson. She was also a checkers master.
A memorial service is planned for March 30th on the green roof at Wilf Hall, NYU Law, 139 Macdougal Street.
Note, April 2nd 2012: Mike's speech at grammy's service goes down as the most hilarious and tear-jerking experience in recent history. Harvey didn't cry, but he did have something in his eye… four times.
Grammy would've laughed her ass off.
The Gospel of Harvey Specter is a constant work in progress with the fifth edition due to come out sometime next year, updating the user-friendly guide to the enigma wrapped in a mystery sealed in a tortilla shell of gorgeous badassery that is Harvey Specter.
But the only user this thing is guiding is Mike, and so he keeps it to himself, tucks it in the closet between his Sox jacket and Harvey's Dunhill Fall 2014 collection. Underneath case files and restaurant receipts. On the mussed bed sheets from last night and in the obviously douchetastic glass elevator that Mike secretly loves because it makes him feel like James Bond. Around his empty cans of Red Bull in the trash and in Harvey's glass jar full of stupidly expensive coffee that was crapped out by a cat. In the pleasantly soft curve of Harvey's smile in the mornings and the gold bands they wear but never talk about.
But if Mike did have any intention of hocking this shit, he's pretty sure he'd be on the New York Times Bestseller's List for all eternity.