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prologue

August 1996, Mike is 9 and 7

He wakes up freezing, choking on half a foot of ditch water and shaking so hard it’s making his bones hurt.

He sinks into the water for a second, thinking of letting it fill his mouth, but his survival instincts kick in and Mike is hauling himself up, sloppily and through much trial and error, until he’s finally crawled out of the ditch and up onto the shoulder of the highway.

He’s just in time, like always. Just in time to watch the semi-trailer crash headlong into his family’s mid-sized sedan, just in time to watch his parents die for the fourteenth time, just in time to do nothing about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 2011, Harvey is 34, Mike is 24

{Mike}

Mike is running, fast as his feet and brain can take him.

He gets into the interview room through the bold gambit of telling the truth and then he’s shaking hands with Harvey Specter and trying to breathe, thinking for a second that maybe he’ll actually get away with this, with all of it, and that’s when the briefcase snaps open. He feels his heart jump back into his throat, feels cold fear grab hold deep inside of him, and yet already his mind is racing again, searching for a solution.

But when he opens his eyes Specter is smiling, and there’s something strangely sad and unsurprised in his face when he simply shakes his head and bends down to gather up the weed, finally turning to meet shocked eyes, saying with well-worn fondness, “Oh, Mike.”

Impossibly, Mike feels an even stronger spike of fear. He wants to back away from the stunning awareness he sees in Specter’s eyes.

“How do you know my real name?”

Specter puts his hands in his pockets and looks disturbingly smug when he says, “Because you told me it 17 years ago, when we first met.”

March 1994, Harvey is 17, Mike is 28

{Harvey}

Harvey is walking Lisa Mitchell home from their date when a man in ill-fitting jeans and a women’s blouse accosts him in the street, shouting his name and pulling Harvey into a crushing hug as soon as he’s close enough.

“Harvey, thank god,” he babbles into Harvey’s neck, still holding on.

Lisa is backing away from them, open-mouthed, and Harvey is trying to pry strange limbs and fingers off of him as quickly as possible, without much success.

When his assailant finally releases him, Harvey takes in a worn but pretty face and the most startling eyes he’s ever seen. It’s not the colour, a pale but inviting blue, it’s the emotion held in them, a devotion bordering on awe that’s deeper and more sincere than anything Harvey’s ever seen.

“Who are you?” he demands, feeling the question is more than his due.

But this makes the stranger shake his head irritably, distress overcoming the adoration in his eyes. “Come on, Harvey, that’s not funny, alright. It’s me, it’s Mike, and I’d really like a change of clothes and some food, so if you’d be so kind as to tell me where you hid them and maybe get me a sandwich, that’d be great.”

He looks at Harvey like he actually expects these requests to be granted, or at least to make sense, and Harvey takes a deeply troubled step away from him, hands raised in the air.

“Look, Mike,” he says the name uncertainly, just missing the mark on scornful, “I don’t know who you are or what your game is but--”

Mike interrupts him with a chocked, startled sound and then he says, “Oh shit,” and disappears in front of Harvey’s eyes.

---

A week later, Harvey is more or less ready to write the incident off. It’s not that he starts to believe it didn’t happen - he saw it with his own eyes, he’s not delusional - but after seven solid days of working at it, he’s well on his way to convincing himself it didn’t have anything to do with him, that is was just a mistake, or an isolated event.

Denial is a process, for Harvey, one he works hard at. Harvey ascribes to the platitude that anything worth doing is worth doing well, and doing everything he can to push away the recognition and love he saw in Mike’s eyes is certainly worth doing, as far as Harvey is concerned.

Still, he breaks up with Lisa, not just because she can’t stop talking about what happened, but because whenever he looks at her, he can’t get the image of those shocked blue eyes out of his mind.

June 2011, Harvey is 34, Mike is 24

{Mike}

Mike shakes his head and takes a few steps backwards, like putting physical distance between them will stop Specter from looking at him like he could recount all of Mike’s secrets, one by one.

“Look, man, I don’t know who you think I am or how you heard about what I can do, but I don’t, I mean, I don’t travel anymore, alright? Haven’t since I was a freshman in College.”

Specter’s mouth twists with disapproval and he says, “I know. It’s the weed.” He punctuates this comment with a disdainful glance at the briefcase lying on the floor at their feet. “It suppresses your condition, stops the triggers from getting to you, mellows you out.”

It’s true. He discovered it early into his decline, as he’s labeled this period of his life, back when he’d first started going way beyond just smoking the occasional bowl on the weekends with Trevor, when he was already kicked out of school and living in a shitty, roach-infested apartment he still couldn’t really afford. Back when he’d started smoking daily, sometimes first thing, drifting so aimlessly through his days that it took him over a month to realize he hadn’t traveled once since he started his little wake and bake routine. It’d seemed like a blessing, at the time, the silver lining to his whole world dissolving around him, all the dreams he’d cultivated so carefully for years turning to dust over one stupid set of test answers, one mistake.

“Yeah, well, if you’re so well-informed, then you should know what you’re saying is impossible. I don’t know you, and I certainly don’t remember meeting you seventeen years ago, when I was seven, by the way, and besides, I don’t travel anymore, so.” He shrugs. “Logic.”

Specter grins, managing to look proud and mocking all at once.

“Bit of a snag in that reasoning, I’m afraid.”

“How do you figure?”

“Well, your argument is predicated on the assumption that you’re going to continue flushing your potential down the drain by smoking up all the time. But the thing is Mike, you’re not.”

“I’m not?”

“No. You’re going to stop.”

Mike laughs. He can’t help it. He’s been restraining himself diligently this whole, crazy, dizzying conversation, but everyone has their limit.

“I’m really not.”

But Specter just nods, smug smile securely in place and says, “Yeah, you are.”

Mike shakes his head. “If you know so much, then you’ll know how dangerous traveling can be. Why exactly would I want to start doing that again?” He won’t deny that he misses it, sometimes, at least not to himself, but it’s never been worth the risks, the danger so often combined with humiliation, the people he had to take from, the traumas he had to relive over and over, the way pain and fear ruled his life for years.

Undeterred, Specter comes closer, placing a strangely reassuring hand on Mike’s shoulder. “Two reasons. One, if you’re going to be my associate, which you are, then you need to quit anyway, because we drug test. Two, if you don’t, you’ll never meet me.”

“I’m meeting you right now.” Whether Mike believes him or not, he’s at least willing to admit, again, only to himself, that never meeting Harvey sounds like a powerfully unattractive prospect.

“Yes, but only because I warned Donna in advance to let you in.”

“You knew I was coming?”

Harvey nods.

“And you knew I’d be...” He waves his hand.

Harvey nods again. “I told Donna to watch out for an out of breath twig of a human with a bad suit and a smart mouth. Wasn’t too hard for her to pick you out, I’m guessing.”

Mike runs a shaky hand through his hair and curses the part of himself that’s starting to believe Harvey.

“You have an answer for everything, huh?”

Harvey shrugs, supremely unconcerned. “It’s easy when you know you’re right.”

Mike barks out another incredulous laugh.

“You’re an arrogant douchebag. I mean, I’ve just met you, but I’m pretty sure. I’m a smart guy, I can usually tell.” And yet, he can’t help the way this comes out half-way congratulatory, no matter how much Mike tries to make the syllables sound disapproving.

Doesn’t matter anyway, Harvey just laughs and rocks back a little in his feet, more smug than ever.

“Hey, I’m not the one who started this thing in the first place, okay? You’re the one who came to me when I was seventeen and told me I was going to be amazing. A legend.” Harvey grins, and on anyone else it would probably look rueful. Except Mike’s already pretty sure that’s not a look Harvey Specter does often.

Harvey forces eye contact again, the way he’s so good at, the way he’s easily commanded Mike’s attention with the flick of a wrist or a dart of the eye since the minute they met. Mike guesses he’s got a lot of practice at it, if what he’s saying is true.

Mike swallows and stares unblinkingly back at Harvey when he says, “Like it or not, Mike, you made me the man I am today.”

---

Later, it really is entirely unclear to Mike how he ends up letting Harvey hustle him into a limo that cuts through New York traffic like it’s not even there. It’s equally mysterious to him why he allows Harvey to guide him into a building that seems to be made entirely of glass, bypassing a security guard with ease and holding onto Mike the whole time, his hand wrapped tight around Mike’s elbow.

Once inside what has to be Harvey’s apartment, going by the lavish decor, Mike gives up the last hints of protest to ask beseechingly, “You really think I need to stop?” Even now, he’s a little bit high from the joint he smoked at lunch, and he can’t imagine living without the soothing fog that’s been wrapped around his brain, keeping him calm, keeping him in one place in time, for the last five years.

Harvey just shakes his head, cool as a cucumber and infuriatingly sure of himself. “No. I know you do.”

He doesn’t want to believe it, but he does. He’s pretty sure he’d believe anything Harvey Specter told him, at this point, driven to it by the knowledge that pours out of Harvey’s eyes whenever he looks at Mike, knowledge and something else, something like longing, a feeling Mike is all too familiar with and so can’t help but recognize.

He lets his shoulders slump and just for a second, Specter looks at a loss, like his confidence has deflated along with Mike’s resistance.

The moment lasts for a minute, then two, sincerity and seriousness hanging between them precariously, and then it’s gone. The slightly mocking, utterly certain smile is back and Harvey’s clapping Mike on the shoulder saying, “Don’t worry so much, babe, all you need is a little more practice, and you’re going be great at it.”

Mike steps out of Specter’s reach, again, rubbing his eyes with his thumbs. “That’s not how it works, okay? You don’t practice, you can’t. There’s no control with traveling, it’s just random, stress or flashing lights or a headache or nothing at all can set it off and if I don’t have the drugs to calm me down, I’m as helpless as the rest of poor bastards with Chrono-Displacement.”

Something soft and strange crosses Harvey’s face, but he shakes it away and keeps smiling. “That’s where you’re wrong. You’ll learn how to control it, and when you do, you’ll be magnificent. And you’ll find something worth going back for.” His smiles widens into a sharp edged grin. “You'll find me.”

“How can you be so sure?”

Harvey laughs, and Mike knows why, knew he’d get laughed at before he even asked the question, but he’d had to ask it anyway.

“Because it’s happened already.”

“Okay, but, how am I supposed to get good at it? What makes me so special?”

Harvey waves a hand, impatient to get back the point, whatever that is for him. “You’re you, you’ve always been special, better. Why should this be so different?”

It’s not the way Mike’s used to thinking of himself, and certainly not how he’s used to being described, so he just sort of shrugs and hopes Harvey will elaborate.

He does, still looking impatient but restraining himself from mentioning it. Calmly, clinically, even Harvey states, “You’re smart, you learn. When you were a kid, the traveling was a burden, a curse, I get that. You were scared and you had to learn all kinds of stuff kids shouldn’t.”

“You know about that?”

“I know a lot,” Harvey answers, voice kinder than it’s been so far. “But you get over it. You learn how to keep your cool without the drugs, for one. I help with that, we’ll talk more about it later.” Mike would like to talk more about it now, but Harvey’s tone brooks no interruptions. “Even then, you can’t usually control when you go, that is, you can’t control when you’ll slip out of your own time, the same triggers still affect you, but you can always get yourself back, as soon as you want, and, unconsciously or not, you can usually decide where in time you want to go. In fact, you stop traveling anywhere but to me, once you get the hang of it.”

“That’s not possible.”

“I assure you that it is. I’m not saying we don’t have a few tricky moments, here and there, but it doesn’t take long for us to work out a system that proves mutually beneficial.”

Mike’s kind of afraid to ask what that means, but he does anyway, “Mutually beneficial?”

Harvey smiles, a soft, distant smile. It’s not what Mike expects when he answers, “Mostly you helped me study, if you’ll believe it. Got me to think about something other than sports, showed me my arm wasn’t the only thing I had going for me. You were my friend,” he chuckles, some inside joke Mike isn’t aparty to yet. “My mentor. Your mind is like nothing I’ve ever seen, and I’m not talking about the Chrono-Displacement. I’m talking about you. And now, what the two of us can do, together and finally living in the same time? There’ll be no limit to what we can accomplish.” Harvey grins, looking exhilarated, and for a second Mike feels swept up in his enthusiasm, until the reality that he knows basically nothing about Harvey comes crashing back.

Hesitatingly, Mikes asks, “So that’s why you want to what, hire me to your firm even though I don’t have a college degree, let alone one from Harvard law?” Even though they’re strangers, or at least one of them is?

“That’s about the size of it.”

Mike laughs, and doesn’t fight it when his knees give out. He just lets himself sink down onto the polished hardwood of Harvey’s living room floor, tucking his knees up against his chest and doing his damnedest not to hyperventilate.

Harvey kneels down beside him, rubbing concentric circles into the hollow above Mike’s collarbone with his thumb.

“You seem surprised. And I mean, I know you’ve been in kind of a slump, Mike, but come on. You shouldn’t be. You’re good at most things. Brilliant, actually. Why not time traveling and practicing law, too?”

“You don’t even know me.”

Harvey smiles, but it looks different than anything Mike has ever seen. “Yes, I do.”

June 1994, Harvey is 17, Mike is 27

{Harvey}

It’s been long enough that Harvey has all but entirely pushed aside the strange incident of the Man in the Woman’s Blouse (as he’s referring to it, as little as possible, in his head), which is of course when it happens again.

It’s a little different, this time. He’s alone, thank god, taking the long way home from practice, cutting through the park and reviewing his pitching his head, reprimanding himself for screwing up the curve-ball he threw to Douglas when quite literally out of nowhere the same man - Mike - appears naked in front of him, which frankly seems like an improvement over the sheer offensiveness of the floral print blouse he’d been sporting the last time.

They stand a few feet apart, just staring at each other, before Mike grits out, “Harvey,” and then promptly passes out.

Harvey didn’t even mean to move, but then somehow he’s catching Mike just before his face hits the pavement, manhandling the comatose stranger without thought to his nakedness, dragging him as quickly as he can into the nearest thatch of bushes and awkwardly shoving Mike into them.

He bites his lip, planning on leaving it at that, and ends up sprinting the remaining quarter mile back to his apartment, shouting a hello and good-bye to his mother and rushing back out the door, a change of clothes tucked under his arm.

---

He finds Mike more or less where he left him, lying naked in a bush, but when Harvey clears his throat and kneels down beside him, Mike’s eyes snap open and he looks at Harvey like he’s Mike’s personal Jesus.

Mike releases a rush of nonsensical gratitude, grabbing the clothes out of Harvey’s hands and shucking them on quickly, clearly older than Harvey by half a decade or more but still dwarfed by Harvey’s jeans and button-up shirt.

He looks good, though, more real somehow with the clothes on, and strangely that makes Harvey want to reach out and reassure himself all the more, so he does, putting a finger against the ridge of Mike’s cheek and pressing down until Mike winces, then laughs.

“Push until it hurts, huh, Harvey?”

Harvey shakes his head, unfamiliar with the expression, if that’s even what it is, but Mike just smiles. “I’m at a bit of a loss here, Harvey. When are we? You’re still wearing your uniform so I’m guessing it’s your senior year of high school, and it’s too cool to be properly summer yet, but that’s about all I’ve got. What is this, my fourth or fifth visit?”

Harvey shakes his head. “Second.”

Mike gapes at him for a minute, and then wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. “Jesus. Sorry. You must think I’m a complete crazy person.”

Harvey means to nod, but ends up shaking his head.

Mike laughs. “Well, it’s better than I deserve, then. But you always were, weren’t you?”

Harvey says nothing, can think of nothing to say, but has to fight to stop himself from touching Mike again. It’d felt... right, when he’d done it before. The touch had grounded him, and right now it feels dangerously like the earth is spinning off its axis.

As if sensing this, Mike reaches out instead, cupping Harvey’s jaw with a sure hand, smiling into his eyes. “Don’t worry. Someday you’ll get to do this to me and I’ll be just as confused as you are now. And Harvey? I promise you, you’ll pay me back with interest for the whole cryptic Houdini routine, but all I can say right now is that I’m going to come back, and keep coming back, okay, whenever you need me, for as long as you need me.”

Harvey wants to ask what he means, needs to know when Mike’ll be coming back, but Mike is already gone, without so much as a puff of smoke, Harvey’s borrowed clothes lying in a heap on the grass.

June 2011, Harvey is 34, Mike is 24

{Harvey}

On the outside, he remains calm, schooling his features into a mixture of smug aloofness. But inside, he is rejoicing, cheering and raising his fists in a completely undignified victory-dance, because this is Mike, here and now. This is Mike, looking lost and impossibly young, but finally here with Harvey in a shared present, finally ready to be properly his, to belong to Harvey like he’s belonged to Mike since he was seventeen years old.

He wants to run up and down the street, celebrating, bragging to everyone he meets and most of all showing Mike off, but instead he acts cool and unaffected because that’s how Mike told him it would be.

“You were very... yourself,” Mike once put it, describing their first meeting.

So Harvey does his best impression of the person he’s spent the last ten years learning how to be, emotions locked behind a facade of calculated aloofness and supreme confidence, and stops himself from doing all the things he really wants to.

He rattles off facts and answers questions when he wants to press his mouth to Mike’s until neither of them can breathe.

He tells Mike about the firm he’ll be joining and the deception that will get him through the door, degree or no, when he really wants to grab Mike by the shoulders and shake him. When he wants to shout about the decade it’s been since he last saw Mike, when he wants to demand an apology even though Mike’s already given him one, whether he realizes it or not, just by being here.

He shows Mike around the condo they’ll be sharing when he wants to shout at the top of his lungs that he loves Mike, that he’s loved him half his life and it’s finally time to collect.

He doesn’t do or say any of this, doesn’t even let it show on his face, even as this reunion is rapidly becoming something he wants to be able to hate Mike for, another in a long line of impossibly important moments in his life Mike has dictated for him.

Still, he retains his composure, because Mike wouldn’t have told him to unless it was important, and they work through Mike’s remaining skepticism over cocktails while Harvey discovers that the hardest part of all is keeping the surprise off his face at seeing Mike like this. So young and unpolished, so obviously floundering, not just in their current conversation, but in his whole life.

He was running from the cops, for god’s sake, carrying eight to ten years worth of weed in a borrowed briefcase and wearing an appalling one hundred dollar suit. Even now he’s red-eyed and swaying in his seat, hands clenching and unclenching like he can’t remember the last time he had a problem that he didn’t solve with a long bong rip.

All this too, Mike told him about, warned him about, but Harvey had never quite been able to believe him. Aside from a few initial missteps involving unplanned trips and nudity, the Mike who came to him growing up was always poised, exuding confidence and charm. He was all-knowing, brilliant, and the most beautiful, powerful being Harvey’d ever seen.

The boy crumpled on his leather sofa holding a drink between two shaking hands is not that Mike. He’s not Harvey’s Mike, not by a long shot.

But he will be.

{Mike}

He finally gives up on even trying to convince himself that Harvey is lying somewhere between their first and fourth drink, when something about Harvey finally loosens and he starts looking at Mike with unguarded devotion, with the kind of love that promises a lifetime together, one started long ago. He starts talking more honestly, too. Not what he’s saying, Mike’s sure now that he’s been telling the truth all along, but how he says things. Harvey’s voice turns soft, intimate, and there’s fondness and warm, inviting humor in his words where before there’d been distance and mocking.

“How often did - do - I visit you?” he asks when Harvey finishes telling Mike about the park a few blocks from his childhood apartment, the one where he says they used to meet up when Mike would travel.

Harvey gets up off the couch and walks over to the mantle, picking up a carved wooden box and opening it. He rifles through the contents for a minute and then withdraws a thick stack of yellow pages held precariously together by a rusted paper clip. He hands the lot to Mike, who scans them quickly, effortlessly memorizing every date he takes in.

He looks up at Harvey with renewed disbelief. “Is this accurate?” Harvey nods. “There’s over 200 dates on this list. Jesus, they go up until 2001, all the way back to 94 - that’s, you said we met when you were 17?”

“That’s right. You came the most back then, that first year and into the summer before I started at Harvard. You came less and less, in the later years.”

“Why? I mean, you say I learn to control it, why would I stop coming?” He leaves silent the question, why would I start coming in the first place?

Harvey answers both. “As I said, you never really learn to control when you’ll travel, just where in time you’ll end up and where geographically you’ll travel to, but when you did have to travel, I think you mostly go back to those times because it was when I needed you most. As for why you stopped, well, all I have for that is another guess, but it’s a fairly educated one. The oldest I’ve ever seen you is mid-thirties, and the last time was the oldest. You wouldn’t tell me much, just that I wouldn’t be seeing you for awhile but that we’d be meeting again and properly, in both of our presents, eventually. I asked you to tell me why you’d be gone so long and you wouldn’t, but over the years I’ve only been able to think of three options.”

Mike tips forward a little in his seat and asks, “Which are?”

“Either you start getting high again, something you promised me you wouldn’t,” the tone of Harvey’s voice makes it clear what he thinks of this option, almost too unlikely to name. “Or they finally find a cure for Chrono-impairment. Or...” His voice trails off, leaving Mike to decide whether or not he wants to press.

He does. “Or?”

Harvey shrugs, but meets Mike’s eyes when he says, “Or you die.”

July 1994, Harvey is 17, Mike is 24

{Harvey}

He’s waiting for Mike where he always waits for Mike, a bag containing a change of clothes and a Tupperware full of last night’s leftovers slung over his shoulder. He checks his watch, and the list of dates Mike recited and made Harvey take down during their third visit, the one full of explanations and details and a lot of weighted, promising looks that made Harvey’s stomach flip in his chest.

He’s on time, early, but Mike’s always on time too, he’s promised Harvey that, at least.

He’s only seen Mike four times, now, the first two barely counting for anything and the third leaving him jittery and unsettled, clutching a stack of legal sheets that promised hundreds of visits to come. The fourth time was short again, but sweet, sweet enough to have Harvey rocking back and forth on his heels in anticipation.

The Mike who’d come to him the fourth time was familiar with him, old hat at their park routine, and he’d filled Harvey with a sense of calm, of happiness, unlike anything he’d ever felt before. They’d talked easily, so easily it was like Harvey knew Mike as well as Mike knew him, and he’d be in the middle of laughing at something sharp and wry that Mike had said when he’d disappeared.

This time, Harvey isn’t going to let go of Mike that easily. This time, he’s taking something for himself.

Only, when Mike finally shows up, the first thing he does is puke on Harvey’s shoes, and the second thing he does is pass out.

Harvey figures the make-out session is going to have to wait awhile.

---

When Mike finally comes to, Harvey’s dressed him and gotten a proper look at Mike, who looks younger than Harvey’s seen him yet.

What’s even stranger is that he’s looking at Harvey with something close to disbelief, and it doesn’t even seem entirely as though he recognizes Harvey.

“Harvey?” he asks, and Harvey is surprised to note awe in his tone, so much so that he doesn’t even flinch when Mike reaches out to carefully trace the lines of his face with his fingertips.

“You look so different,” Mike says, still all hushed and in awe, and Harvey shakes his head.

“Different than what?”

Mike smiles, a dazed, distant smile. “Than you do now.”

Harvey rolls his eyes. “Helpful.”

Mike smiles again, more focused this time, more aware.

“It was just like you said,” he whispers rapturously, shaking his head. “You told me I’d be able to control where I’d go and I was afraid you’d be wrong but of course you weren’t. ” He laughs, “You’re Harvey.”

Harvey just stares back at him, not knowing what to say, but swearing to himself that he’s going to live every day for the rest of his life making sure Mike will always say his name that way.

June 2011, Harvey is 34, Mike is 24

{Harvey}

Around the time he drops the bombshell that Mike’ll likely either be cured or dead by his mid-thirties, Harvey figures Mike’s probably had enough for one day.

He takes the half-drunk glass of scotch out of Mike’s - now strangely steady - hands, and tips Mike’s face up by the chin when he doesn’t react, when he won’t look at Harvey.

It’s strange, like all of this is strange, but more painful than most of it, to see the lack of recognition in Mike’s eyes, the lack of faith, of love. He got so used to it, so trained to expect nothing but endless trust and devotion, that this Mike, the one who looks at Harvey like a stranger, is someone Harvey finds himself barely recognizing in return.

But he’s still Mike, of course, even if he’s a Mike who doesn’t know or maybe even like Harvey yet, and Harvey sternly reminds himself that it doesn’t matter what Mike thinks of him now, it just matters what he’ll think of Harvey soon, in their future, the one they’ll finally share.

For now though, he’s got a Mike who’s half-drunk and glassy-eyed, who’s tired and scared, and who doesn’t even protest when Harvey hauls him to his feet and half carries him over to the bedroom.

He deposits Mike gently, and takes a moment to revel in the bone-deep satisfaction of finally, finally seeing Mike spread against those sheets. He picked them for Mike, the way he picked everything in this condo, the way he’s picked everything in his whole life, from his career path to the shoes on his feet, all with Mike in mind, wanting, needing, to be every bit as impressive as Mike always told him he’d grow up to be.

It’s not how he imagined it, sure, Mike passed out and not even aware of him, but it’s a start, and after waiting for this moment for ten years, Harvey figures he can wait a little longer, even if it means spending the first of their nights together sleeping on the couch.

August 1994, Harvey is 17, Mike is 33

They’re going for a run, something Mike assures Harvey he does often, and despite some trash talking at the start, Harvey isn’t surprised when Mike beats him by a few dozen metres.

“Fuck, you’re fast,” he tells Mike as they’re catching their breath.

Mike doesn’t smile at the compliment, just gets a grim, determined look on his face. “Have to be.”

Harvey gets it, then. Before, whenever that was, before Mike met Harvey in his future, before whatever else changed, Mike couldn’t control where he was going, where he’d end up. He’s told Harvey some of the stories, but Harvey’s guessing he’s mostly gotten the funny, wacky hi-jinks end of the spectrum, not the dangerous, having to run fast enough to steal food and clothes end.

“Why start again? Why do this to yourself?”

Mike laughs. “I had it on good authority that it would be worth it.”

Harvey feels his heart squeeze painfully in his chest, and he forces his voice not to waver when he asks, “And is it?”

Mike smiles, soft and yet so brazenly full of love, and kisses Harvey lightly, right on the mouth.

“Every second.”

Then, before Harvey can reply, Mike is gone.

June 2011, Harvey is 34, Mike is 24

{Mike}

Mike wakes up, and he doesn’t know where he is. Doesn’t remember how he got there.

He panics for a good 30 seconds, thinking he’s traveled again, somehow, despite the steady stream of drugs he keeps in his system. He tries frantically to sit up but then everything comes rushing back, knocking him back bodily with it.

He falls back down onto Harvey’s ridiculously opulent sheets and stares up at the equally ridiculous high ceiling, and focuses for a long time on staying exactly where he is, in this moment, this time.

When he finally makes himself get out of bed, he sees a fresh change of clothes laid out, presumably for him, and, eager to get out of his suit, he slips into the bathroom and changes after washing his face and under his arms.

Dressed and as close to showered as he’s willing to get in foreign territory, Mike begins taking a cautious lay of the land, tensing every time he turns a corner, expecting to see Harvey lying in wait.

His expectation is eventually fulfilled, although it’s all rather anti-climatic when Mike finally locates the kitchen and Harvey in one fell swoop.

Harvey is sipping what smells like seriously expensive coffee, and he looks up at Mike mildly when he shuffles into the room.

“You found the clothes, good,” is all he says by way of greeting, and then he silently pushes a plate of toast and honey in Mike’s direction.

Mike knows, at least in theory, he shouldn’t be surprised, not after everything, but he still is.

“You know my breakfast order.”

Harvey smiles, all self-assured knowledge. “Correction, I know your comfort-food breakfast order. If this was a normal day, you’d be getting a spinach omelet and wheat toast, but since you’ve had an overwhelming couple of days, you get wonder-bread and half a tub of honey.”

Mike shakes his head, smiling despite himself and more touched than he’d like. It’s one thing for Harvey to know that stuff about him. It’s another for him to give a damn about it, for him to use that knowledge to try and make Mike feel more relaxed, and maybe, even probably, more at home.

“Thanks,” he says, when he can’t think of anything else, sliding onto the stool opposite Harvey’s and falling upon the toast with considerable enthusiasm.

Once all the toast is gone, Mike finally makes himself look at Harvey again, and he catches Harvey staring. A second before Harvey recovers himself and slips back under his impassive mask, Mike catches a spike of want in Harvey’s eyes that goes straight to his dick.

Blushing, he coughs and looks away.

When he looks back, he’s not surprised in the slightest to see Harvey smirking.

Deciding not to be cowed, Mike meets Harvey’s eyes and asks, “Are we...?”

Harvey raises his eyebrows and offers no further response.

Cursing a little under his breath, Mike tries again. “You called me ‘babe,’ yesterday. And then last night you told me I’d be moving in, but then you spent the night, well, actually, I don’t know where, but it wasn’t with me.”

Harvey puts down his coffee and looks at Mike seriously. “You were drunk. And scared. And just starting to trust me. Not exactly the best time to try and get laid.”

Yeah, that make sense. Enough to make Mike blush again, even more embarrassed this time. He was a fall-down mess last night, complete with the actual falling down. Not his most attractive hour. Day. Whatever.

Still, it’s not like he was making the other stuff up, right? And Harvey’s been acting like they were cosmic soulmates since the moment they met, or at least talking like they were, so Mike asks a third time. “But, I mean. Eventually. In your past and my future, we’re together?”

Harvey smiles a secret smile, but nods. “Yeah. We are. We’re going to be together here and now, too, I assure you.”

“We are?” Mike hates the way his voice cracks when he asks, but there’s nothing to be done about it.

It just makes Harvey grin, anyway, not mean but genuinely delighted, like he thinks Mike’s amazing no matter what stupid shit comes out of his mouth, and then Harvey says again, “Yeah, we are. We’re going to be married, actually.”

He says it all casual, like this isn’t the weakest and most backhanded proposal ever, and Mike is so thrown out of the moment that he’s actually able to scoff and says, “Yeah, how do you figure that?”

Harvey shakes his head, grinning wider. “Well, it’s legal in this state now, you may have heard.”

Mike makes a sour, unimpressed face and tosses his head a little. “Yeah, I got that memo, thanks. Doesn’t explain why I’m going to marry you.” And okay, maybe Mike can think of a few reasons, but he’s not going to tell Harvey that. Not that it would matter, probably.

But still. He has his pride.

Sort of.

Somehow though, the comment sobers Harvey, and when he puts his hand over top of Mike’s, the accompanying look on his face is startlingly sincere.

“Seventeen years ago you made me fall in love with you. Now it’s my turn to do the same.”

October 1994, Harvey is 17, Mike is 26

{Mike}

He comes to in the park, just like always, and Harvey is waiting for him, just like always.

He doesn’t say anything, just turns around and waits while Mike gets dressed, which is also basically standard operating procedure.

The punch that comes as soon as Mike’s dressed, however, is not.

Reeling, he covers his face and stares at Harvey is shock.

“What the fuck was that for?” he sputters, swallowing back what tastes suspiciously like blood.

Harvey looks like he’s working very hard not appear contrite, and he shrugs in the most surly manner Mike has ever witnessed, which is saying something.

“Next time you kiss a guy for the first time, how about sticking around long enough for him to reciprocate, or at least have the decency not to disappear for three months after.”

Cursing his future self, Mike wipes the blood from the side of his mouth and attempts to adopt a sufficiently contrite expression.

“I promise,” he says, hand over his heart.

Harvey glares, just long enough to make Mike nervous, but then the glare twists into a smile and he’s tugging Mike closer, pulling him in for some payback of another — and entirely more pleasant — kind.

June 2011, Harvey is 34, Mike is 24

{Mike}

After they’re done breakfast, Mike asks, “What happens now?”

Harvey leans back in his seat, looking positively gleeful, and says, “Now we go shopping.”

Mike groans, clearly not the reaction Harvey was going for, but he takes it in stride, patting Mike bracingly on the arm and saying, “Don’t worry, I’ll try to make it as little like the shopping montage in Pretty Woman as possible.”

Mike laughs, amused despite himself, and says, “I appreciate that.”

---

Harvey takes Mike to see the office after they’re done shopping (which takes all day even though they only go to two places, Harvey’s tailor and a swanky sushi restaurant for lunch), but he’s called away two seconds after they step through the elevator doors.

Harvey leaves Mike with Donna, pointing at her and saying, “Behave,” before stalking off purposefully.

Donna snorts, and clearly has no intention of listening to Harvey’s command. Mike is impressed. That totally would have worked on him.

“So, you’re really Mike, huh?” She asks, swiveling in her chair to get a better look at him, hands folded under her chin.

Mike shrugs and resists the urge to tug nervously at his collar. “I guess.”

“You guess?”

Mike clears his throat. “I’m sure.”

She nods, looking thoughtful.

“How much did Harvey tell you?” All he told Mike was, “This is Donna, she’ll take care of you.”

“Enough,” she answers enigmatically, startling a laugh out of Mike.

“You’ve been spending too much time with lawyers.”

She laughs too. “It can happen to the best of us.”

Mike nods, and then tries to rest his elbows on the top of her desk, but snatches them away immediately upon seeing the look on her face.

“Sorry,” he says quickly, eyes lowered.

She makes a noise of mild surprise that has Mike looking at her again.

“I’m a lot different from what expected, huh?”

She smiles at him warmly, but Mike is still completely floored when Donna responds, “You’re better.”

---

Harvey comes back and leads Mike into his office with a proprietary arm around his shoulders.

Mike takes a good look around and then plants himself in the middle of Harvey’s office with his arms splayed wide and his palms open, shaking his head.

“Your condo looks exactly like this office.”

Harvey shrugs, unapologetic as usual. “Of course it does. I planned it that way.”

---

They make it all the way home before Mike realizes he hasn’t smoked all day. He looks at Harvey accusingly, realizing that this whole whirlwind tour of a day has probably been explicitly designed to keep him busy, keep him distracted, and Harvey’s self-satisfied smile is all the confirmation Mike needs.

“This isn’t funny, okay, Harvey? This is my life and don’t get me wrong - I wish it could be like you said, I wish I could control my condition without the drugs and I wish I could have all the things you’re offering me, this job, this life... you, but I don’t - I’m not. Whatever you think I am, whoever you’re expecting me to turn out to be, I don’t know how to be that guy. I don’t think I can.”

Harvey shakes his head, and comes over to Mike, hands heavy on Mike’s shoulders, gaze steady and proud.

“Yes, you can.”

Mike shakes his head, feeling frantic, suddenly, out of breath, and Harvey pulls him close, hugging him like they’ve been doing it for years, and Mike closes his eyes and begs.

“Please, Harvey, please, I’m not ready, I can’t, I need--”

Harvey makes a low, disappointed noise, but moves away, saying, “Fine, Mike, fine.”

He turns his back on Mike for a minute, rustling through the same wooden box he took the list of dates out of, and eventually hands Mike a joint and a lighter.

Mike feels gratitude and relief rush over him, feels calmer already, anticipating the high, and the sharpness of Harvey’s tone when he commands, “Outside,” barely even registers.

He goes out onto Harvey’s balcony, which is easily bigger than Mike’s whole apartment, and lights the joint, inhaling slowing and feeling the smoke tickle the back of his throat.

He’s half done the joint by the time Harvey finally joins him, feeling loose-limbed and floaty.

“This is good stuff,” he laughs, flicking ash off the side of the railing.

Harvey’s face sours further, but he says nothing.

Choosing to remain oblivious, Mike continues, “And I mean, I thought being best friends with a drug dealer meant good shit, but clearly it’s Manhattan’s finest attorneys who have the real hook-up.”

There’s no ignoring the way all of Harvey tenses and darkens at that comment, however, a dangerous look passing across his face.

“Look, I’m sorry, Harvey. I really will try, I just can’t yet. I’m so turned around I barely know where I am right now, never mind how I’d actually get anywhere specific if I tried to travel. I need this. Just for now.” He hopes.

Harvey just shakes his head, and says, “I knew it would take awhile to convince you, you warned me about that.”

“Then what?” Mike asks, the weed making him bold, blunt.

“Your 'best friend' the drug dealer.” Harvey explains sarcastically, still looking vaguely murderous.

Mike raises his eyebrows. “Trevor?”

Harvey’s eyes darken even more at the name, and Mike hums thoughtfully. “Well, I guess he can have that effect on people. Not a fan, I take it?”

“No,” Harvey says simply, like that will be the end of it, but Mike’s not ready to let it go.

“Why not? I mean, I know he’s a douche, but I thought maybe you’d like that about him. You know, something you have in common,” he means it lightly, teasingly, but that’s not how Harvey takes it.

His hands clench and he says, “Don’t compare me to that parasite,” turning away like he’s going to go back inside.

Mike finds himself wildly opposed to this course of action and he grabs at Harvey clumsily, fingers clutching at the front of Harvey’s shirt, crumpling the fine fabric.

“Hey, sorry, I’m sorry. You’re nothing like Trevor, okay?”

Harvey shakes him off, but softens a little when he meets Mike’s pleading gaze.

“You wasted your potential, your life on him. For years. And whenever he’s going to turn up next, it’ll be the same story. Making you help him and pretending it’s him helping you. You’re better than that, Mike, better than him but he spent most of your life convincing you otherwise. So yeah. I’m not crazy about the guy.”

Warmth floods Mike that has nothing to do with the drugs in his system. “You really are rather fond of me, aren’t you?”

Harvey laughs, a kind of painful, helpless sound. “Don’t let it go to your head.”

Mike closes his eyes, and silently promises Harvey that someday he’s going to be worthy of him.

October 1994, Harvey is 17, Mike is 28

{Mike}

They go to a flea market, shopping idly all afternoon, because Harvey needs the distraction from thinking about his SAT scores, released later that day, and because Mike wants to buy him a present.

He finds what he’s looking for in a stack of records selling for a dollar each, and chats with the woman selling them for awhile before weaving his way through the crowd to find Harvey.

He’s having a heated argument about the Yankees versus the Rex Sox with a middle-aged couple, and Mike has to cough pointedly to gain Harvey’s attention.

Harvey utterly fails to look chastised, and in fact turns back around to deliver one last verbal smack-down about the quality of the Sox’s pitching before he finally lets Mike lead him away.

Once they’re sitting together on a bench looking out at the water in Battery Park, Mike hands Harvey the record he purchased for him.

Harvey makes a face. “I don’t even like Blues.”

Mike just smiles. “Not yet, but you will.”

June 2011, Harvey is 34, Mike is 24

{Harvey}

He spends the next week ducking in and out of the office, terrified of leaving Mike alone, and needing every one of his spare minutes to give Mike a crash course in his falsified credentials and new life.

“I’d prefer to send you to Harvard myself and let you learn the place properly, but we’re in a bit of a time crunch and you can’t fly anyway.”

“I can’t?” Mike asks, the same trusting but vaguely bewildered look he always gets on his face when Harvey knows more about him than Mike know about himself.

Harvey nods. “You can’t. It heightens your Chrono-impairment, and disappearing in the middle of a full airplane tends to alarm people, or so I’d imagine. It’s not safe, and anyway, I’m not ready to let you that far out of my sight just yet.”

Mike grins at him a little dopily and says, “Aww, Harvey, don’t you trust me?” but the sad fact is, Harvey doesn’t, not yet.

Harvey trusts the Mike he knows from his own past implicitly, but this Mike hasn’t earned that trust yet. More than that, he’s not ready to be trusted, certainly not ready for the responsibility that would come with it, and not for the first time, Harvey reminds himself to be patient.

“All in due time, Mike,” he says bracingly, and Mike rolls his eyes but keeps smiling.

{Mike}

Harvey tells him he has a week to learn everything there is to know about being a Harvard graduate, but Mike’s pretty sure that number isn’t accounting for such things as sleeping and eating and moving his old stuff out of his apartment, and he tells Harvey so.

“Well, first of all, there’s no need to go back to that rattrap you call an apartment.” Harvey says, looking unimpressed.

Mike musters the energy to be offended. “What are you talking about - you’ve never even been to my apartment and besides there are lots of things from there that I--”

Harvey holds up a hand and Mike shuts up.

“Up till you met me, you were a college dropout with a weed addiction and no prospects living alone in New York City. I don’t need to have been there to know your ‘apartment’ is a rattrap. Actually, that’s probably putting it generously. And I know there isn’t anything in your apartment worth going back for because you’re the one who told me so.”

“Yeah, when did I do that?”

“1996. You helped me move into my first college dorm and when I complained about it you told me all about the crappy apartment you lived in before you met me. And then you told me about how you left it all behind when you met me, because it isn’t the stuff in a place that matters, it’s the people, and then I called you a girl and we made out for an hour.”

Mike laughs. “We just made out?”

Harvey sighs. “We share a very chaste existence for the first few years of our relationship.”

Mike looks at Harvey, and then down at himself. “Is it because I have weird knees?” he asks, with faux concern.

Harvey grins, shaking his head. “That’s an interesting new theory, but I’m pretty sure that’s not it.”

“Then why?”

Harvey shrugs. “A combination of stuff. For a long time it was just your twenty-four-year-old self popping up everywhere, and you weren’t really up for seducing a cocky seventeen-year-old at that point.”

Mike laughs shakily, he doesn’t feel particularly up to seducing Harvey at any age, certainly not that one. “Yeah, that sounds about right.”

Harvey smiles reassuringly. “Not that it would have taken much effort on your part, of course. But by the time you knew me well enough in your own present, you’d developed a complex.”

“I’m sorry, a complex?” Mike sputters, outraged on his own behalf.

“A morality complex,” Harvey explains in a way Mike guesses is meant to convey that this is the worst possible kind. “You kept insisting that you were too old, or I was too young, whatever combination of our ages worked best in your cockblocking interests.”

Mike pinches the bridge of his nose and attempts to sort through the mix of admiration and resentment in Harvey’s tone, and strives to entirely ignore the leer tugging at his grin.

“I’m sorry?” he tries eventually, giving up understanding Harvey as a bad job.

Harvey just laughs. “It happened when it happened. And after it did I kind of didn’t mind the wait anymore, so I guess you did all right.”

Something about the way Harvey smiles at him makes it easy for Mike to believe that it’s true.

November 1995, Harvey is 18, Mike is 29

{Harvey}

It’s Harvey’s birthday, and his friends throw him a house-party he endures for three hours, pretending to get drunk and accepting slurred well-wishes and declining three somewhat less slurred propositions.

He faces considerable resistance when he finally does leave, but Harvey ignores the catcalls and boos of his friends and teammates, their protests falling off him like water, because the truth is, Harvey doesn’t care that it’s his birthday.

Today is something far more special than that. It’s a Mike day, the last one for months, and Harvey is planning to make the most of it.

---

Mike’s waiting for him when Harvey finally gets to the park, reading the book Harvey left for him along with his clothes and a packet of Ritz crackers.

When he kisses Harvey hello, Mike’s lips are salty.

Harvey manages to keep Mike kissing him for a good 10 minutes before Mike finally withdraws, laughing a little.

“It’s my birthday,” Harvey points out, not that he cares about the date, not actually, but he’s not above using whatever tactics are at his disposal to try and get what he wants from Mike. He’d feel bad about it, but Harvey’s gotten the impression that it’s one of the things Mike loves about him.

“I know,” Mike says, but stays where he is.

Harvey sighs. “So what are you giving me, then, if it’s not the merciful end to my tragic virginity?”

Mike laughs. “I know for a fact that you’ve slept with at least three girls.”

Harvey rolls his eyes. “Those were girls and that was before. I’m talking about my Mike virginity.” Nine months long and counting. An appalling showing, if you asked Harvey.

Mike adopts an insultingly insincere look of remorse and pats Harvey on the back condescendingly. “There there.”

“I hate you.”

Mike grins. “You adore me.”

Sad, but true.

He kicks Mike’s leg with his foot. “What do I get?”

Mike shrugs. “Harvey, you know I can’t actually bring anything back with me, right?”

Harvey waves an unconcerned hand. “I don’t want stuff, I don’t care about that.” Stuff he can get just fine on his own.

“So what do you care about?”

Harvey thinks it should be pretty obvious, but he says anyway, “You.”

Mike smiles. “Can’t have me yet.”

“Fine, fine, we’ve established that. Something else then. The truth.”

Mike raises his eyebrows. “I tell you the truth already.”

“Sometimes you do, but most of the time you don’t tell me anything at all.”

Mike looks away from him for a long time, clearly debating, but finally he looks back at Harvey and says, “Fine. One question. Whatever it is, I’ll tell you the truth.”

Harvey thinks about all the different things he could ask, the secrets of his future he could pry from Mike, but in the end, he settles for the one most vain and leading. It’s his birthday, after all.

“What am I like when I’m older? The truth, now, Mike.”

A second after he says it Harvey is overtaken by a moment of blind panic, wondering if he’s not going to like the answer, but then Mike is laughing, and shaking his head, and it’s not mocking, it’s rueful and full of love.

He takes Harvey’s face in his hands and says simply, “You’re amazing.”

July 2011, Harvey is 34, Mike is 24

{Mike}

They’re in Harvey’s office, taking a break from legal strategy to discuss Harvey’s other favorite topic, lecturing Mike on the importance of reassuming his time traveling role for the better of, well, Harvey.

“Just so I’m clear, what you’re basically saying is that you need me to travel back in time so I can teach you how to become... you?”

Harvey nods approvingly. “That’s right.”

Mike rubs ineffectually at the grit behind his tired eyes, willing the world to make more sense when he reopens them.

It doesn’t.

He’s still sitting across from the boldest and strangest and most inspiring man he’s ever met, case files strewn between them, and Harvey is still looking at him like Mike actually has something to teach him.

“How do I even do that?” he asks, painfully aware that his voice is dangerously close to being plaintive.

Harvey just smiles, unconcerned as ever, and says, “You’ll figure it out.”

March 1995, Harvey is 18

He gets used to it, gets used to Mike, easier than he thinks most other people would. He gets used to counting on Mike even quicker, and that’s the strangest part for Harvey. Trusting Mike. Expecting him to be there when Harvey needs him.

Because it’s not like Mike even has a say in the matter, Harvey knows that, but still the timing of his visits always seems like they’ve been designed with Harvey in mind, somehow. Mike always manages to turn up exactly when Harvey needs him, when he’s feeling lost or frustrated or lonely. And so, even though he tells himself it’s stupid, even though he knows there’s no date promising Mike’s arrival, it still hurts when Mike isn’t there to comfort him the day he injures his shoulder, the day he finds out he’ll be watching his team play the state championship from the bench.

It hurts worse when he has to watch them win without him, and Harvey spends the whole night sitting in the park, waiting, even though he knows Mike isn’t going to come.

July 2011, Harvey is 34, Mike is 24

{Harvey}

Mike doesn’t even know how to file a patent, and for a beat, Harvey is too stunned to say anything. He keeps forgetting that this isn’t his Mike, the one who always had the answers, the one who taught Harvey everything he knows. This is a Mike who thinks he knows everything and actually knows nothing, who can do anything but trust himself, and in that moment Harvey is so bereft, missing his own Mike so fiercely, that he just snaps at Mike to figure it out, and disappears behind the boardroom doors.

{Mike}

Falling in love with Harvey is easy. It’s feeling worthy of him that’s giving Mike trouble.

 

May 1995, Harvey is 18, Mike is 33

{Mike}

“What do I do? For a living?”

Mike looks at Harvey carefully. At eighteen he sleeps and breathes baseball, and he acts like his shoulder is going to fix itself any minute now.

“You’re an attorney,” Mike says quietly, expecting Harvey to be upset, knowing it’s his still dream to play pro ball one day.

But Harvey just grins, spreads out more comfortably on his back and says with satisfaction, “Like you.”

July 2011, 2011, Harvey is 34, Mike is 24

{Mike}

Harvey is different at the office, he has to be. He’s more brusque, more impatient, and only smiles at Mike when no one else is looking.

Still, Mike sometimes finds Harvey’s office self a lot easier to deal with than the Harvey who comes out when they’re at home. In the privacy of his - their - apartment, all of Harvey’s hard edges soften, not quite to nothing, but close. At home, all of Harvey’s attention is on Mike, all the time. At home, Mike has almost two decades worth of history to contend with and live up to.

In the office when he screws up, it’s just the job. It doesn’t make Harvey’s disappointment and anger any more palatable, but at least the resulting guilt tends to go away faster. At least in the office, Mike can learn from his mistakes, can find loopholes and precedents others have missed, can make it up to Harvey.

When Mike screws up at home, when he falls inevitably short of the confident and collected man Harvey loves, there’s nothing Mike can do but wait, and hope that eventually time will do his work for him.

June 1995, Harvey is 18, Mike is 31

{Mike}

He and Harvey are sitting on a blanket spread out on the grass, down at a more populated end of the park than the secluded corner they typically frequent, sharing decent food for once and drinking a truly terrible bottle of wine, because this is a celebration.

Harvey has graduated, has gotten into Columbia with a full academic scholarship Mike forced him to study enough to earn, and he’s flush with his success, red-cheeked and beaming even without the wine.

He’s dangerously gorgeous, like this, and Mike has to remind himself that there are rules, and sleeping with the not-so-recent jail-bait when he’s on the other side of his twenties himself is at the top of the list, well, right under telling Harvey about his future any more than he can help or more than what Harvey can cleverly pry and deduce out of him, anyway.

Harvey takes a long sip of wine, fully aware of Mike’s eyes on him, and infuriatingly aware of the effect watching his red stained lips wrapped around the neck of the bottle is having on Mike.

Harvey’s taunted him about it endlessly in their shared future, but Mike’s given up trying to help it. He adores Harvey, worships him more than a little, and he’s never been able to stop that from showing on his face whenever he looks at Harvey. Other than being guilty of crimes against humanity — namely, for consistently inflating what was already a sizable ego from the impressionable age of seventeen onwards --- Mike tries to tell himself he has nothing to be sorry for.

“Are you going to do something about that look on your face, or am I celebrating by myself tonight when I get home?” Harvey asks, the drawl in his voice making it sound for all the world as though he’s completely uninterested in Mike’s answer, one way or another.

Mike smiles a little to himself, glad that he’s had enough years of experience to know better than to be taken in by Harvey’s performance. When he first met Harvey, in his own time, he’d been easily fooled by Harvey’s indifferent act, by his impenetrable cool.

Not anymore.

Slyly, Mike reaches across the blanket, touching Harvey as much as possible, even grazing the zipper of his jeans with his elbow as he reaches for the bag of grapes beside Harvey, smirking at the sharp intake of breath and the dazed expression on Harvey’s face when Mike finally moves out of his personal space.

“You’re a cocktease,” Harvey informs him, cheerfully, and not for the first time.

Mike grins, and says, “Take it up with your future self. You’re the one who gets red-faced with jealousy whenever you think of me back here with your younger self.”

Harvey just shakes his head, exhibiting his usual disgust. “That just makes no sense to me. Why would I want to inflict myself with a case of perpetual blue balls? Where’s the justice?”

Mike laughs and offers him a quick, conciliatory kiss on his cheek. “Life’s tough, babe. You get used to it.”

Harvey’s eyes darken, but he smiles, young and as close as he’ll ever be to carefree and says, “I guess I’ll just have to get tougher.”

August 2011, Harvey is 34, Mike is 24

{Harvey}

It’s strange being responsible for Mike. Only it’s not. He’s been taking care of Mike since he was seventeen. Maybe what’s strange is actually feeling like he knows how.

{Mike}

In August, Mike wins his first case and lands the firm fifteen new clients with one fell swoop, and Harvey takes him out to dinner to celebrate.

In the last few weeks, Mike’s finally started to feel a little at home in this time, in this life with Harvey, even though he still routinely feels like he doesn’t deserve it, and consistently feels as though he’s just on the edge of screwing it all up.

Harvey hasn’t brought up Mike’s time traveling, or lack thereof, for 11 days, and so far he’s been stonewalling Louis about the company drug test policy and letting Mike get away with smoking up every night after he gets home from work, however late that is.

Still, Mike knows they can’t go on like this forever, and tonight, flush with his victory and entranced by the sweet, simple happiness on Harvey’s face, Mike lets recklessness get the better of him, reaching out to take Harvey’s hand and saying, “I think I’m ready.”

The happiness on Harvey’s face before is nothing compared to what’s on his face now. It’s like Harvey’s mask is finally cracked all the way open, and he’s staring at Mike like this is their real reunion, like this is the moment he’s been waiting for all the years they’ve been apart.

Harvey squeezes Mike’s hand and says, “Okay.”

---

Nothing happens, at first. Mike stops smoking up, and keeps going about his life, and nothing else changes, except maybe Harvey.

He walks with even more swagger in his step, he’s quicker with the compliments and more patient about Mike’s mistakes, he laughs more easily, he touches Mike more.

They’re still flirting with the edges of anything like a physical relationship, but its more or less understood that they’ll eventually have one. Nevermind what they’ve already gotten up to in Harvey’s past, there’s only so much self-control a person can have, and Mike’s is tested daily by Harvey’s general existence.

Sexual frustration aside, it’s a good life, better than anything Mike could have ever hoped for, and even his Grammy sees it when he comes to visit her.

He tells her about Harvey, talks awkwardly around the drugs, but she knows anyway, and he’s gratified by the pride in her face when he conveys that he’s stopped.

Still, for all that he’s making both Harvey and his Grammy proud, Mike has little else to show for his abstinence.

He asks Harvey about it, finally, after two solid weeks of sobriety are met with nothing but a steady stream of his admittedly very pleasant present.

“Is it... I don’t know, you, or something?” he posits, chewing on the end a ballpoint pen he’d been using to proof briefs.

Harvey smiles, accepting credit where credit is apparently due. “More or less. Like I told you, I help you stay calm, help you want to stay grounded.”

And yeah, that makes sense. Mike can’t really think of anywhere else he’d rather be than here and now, with his Harvey, even if he’d allegedly be going back to be with another one.

“Okay, but eventually I have to go, right? Meet your younger self and teach you all about how to be the self-satisfied egoist we know today?”

Harvey just keeps smiling, full of promise that everything will work out, and Mike shakes his head, but, as ever, chooses to believe him.

September 1996, Harvey is 19, Mike is 28

{Harvey}

Harvey’s tongue is down Mike’s throat and his hand is half-way down Mike’s pants when Mike pulls back, like he always does.

Harvey accepts it, like he always does, all the while panting and looking at Mike resentfully. “I’m nineteen goddamn years old, for christ’s sake. How long are you going to pull this too-young routine?”

Mike’s face gets pinched and apologetic and he presses a firm, swift kiss to Harvey’s down-turned lips.

“It’s got nothing to do with that, I’m sorry. It’s not,” he laughs weakly, “you. It’s me.”

“Seriously?”

Mike sighs, and rolls onto his side, putting his hand on Harvey’s waist. “Seriously. I wish I could, believe me. But this isn’t how it happens.”

“How can you be so sure?” Harvey asks suspiciously.

Reluctantly, Mike admits, “Because it’s already happened, for me, your first time, that is, and it’s, it’s not this. I’m sorry, Harvey.”

Harvey closes his eyes and turns onto his back, lying with this hands folded behind his head.

He lets out one more frustrated sigh and then in lieu of saying good-night, kisses Mike’s left temple and whispers, “I hate you, Mike.”

Mike closes his eyes, and waits until he thinks Harvey’s asleep before saying, “Sometimes I wish you could.”

October 2011, Harvey is 34, Mike is 24

They’re in the apartment, arguing about what to do about the reluctant witness in their current case, and Mike’s head is pounding, has been for the last hour or so, when suddenly he feels a familiar lurch in his gut and then his vision blurs, and he’s falling, falling away from Harvey and out of his own time.

As Mike feels the last bits of himself slipping away, his only conscious thought is Harvey, Harvey, Harvey.

July 1994, Harvey is 17, Mike is 24

{Mike}

He comes to and there Harvey is, waiting for him just like he’d told Mike he would be. Waiting and ready to wrap Mike up in warm clothes and strong arms, and Mike can’t help how he looks at him, can’t help babbling thanks and praise, and it makes Harvey’s shoulders straighten and his chest puffs up, a charmingly surprised grin forming on his face.

Harvey takes him to a deli a couple blocks from the park, and watches with an indulgent smile on his face while Mike wolfs down a clubhouse sandwich and a vanilla milkshake without pausing to take a breath.

Once he’s demolished the food in front of him, Mike sags back against the booth they’re sharing, a blissful expression on his face.

“God, I forgot how hungry traveling makes me.”

Harvey raises an eyebrow. “First time in awhile?”

Mike nods, briefly wondering how much he’s allowed to tell Harvey, and then just deciding, well, fuck it.

“Yeah, actually. First time in about five years.”

Harvey raises both eyebrows this time.

“I didn’t know you could just stop, like that. Last time you visited, you gave me the impression it’s not something you can really control.”

Mike shrugs. “I can’t, not really, but there are things I can do that suppress that part of my brain, the traveling part.”

“Things like what?”

Mike shifts uncomfortably. Harvey’s looking at him with so much guileless appreciation and respect, he’s loathe to say anything to ruin it.

“Stupid things,” he admits eventually.

Harvey seems to accept this, and maybe one of the other, later versions of Mike who’s already visited him has set down some ground-rules about talking about the future, or something, which is a good idea, actually, and Mike makes a note to do that sometime in his own future.

“But you’re not going to do them anymore, right?” Harvey asks, and vulnerability is a bizarre look on him, at least it seems that way to Mike, and he finds himself willing to do just about anything he can to make the look on Harvey’s face go away.

He hadn’t really believed he could do this, that he could be the person Harvey remembered and do all the things Harvey told him he would, hadn’t been able to trust himself not to fuck it all up, not until he looks into Harvey’s eyes and makes a promise he means to keep, “No. I’m not going to do them anymore.”

October 2011, Harvey is 34, Mike is 24

{Harvey}

Waiting for Mike to come back, that first time, is one of the hardest things Harvey’s ever done.

He’s promised Mike over and over that it’ll be okay, he’s made Mike believe because he had to, but even though he remembers Mike’s first time like it was yesterday, Harvey still paces the condo like a caged animal, wanting to shout and break things, but remaining silent, patient, trying to remember how to breathe.

{Mike}

When he comes crashing back into 2011, Harvey is there too, waiting for him again, ready to catch Mike before he falls to the ground.

{Harvey}

It takes Mike a long time to wake up, long enough to get Harvey worried again, long enough that he’s pissed when Mike finally opens his eyes.

Mike smiles blearily, giving Harvey a little wave, and it just sets Harvey off.

“Happy?” he snaps, taking a morbid satisfaction in the way Mike’s face instantly crumbles. He pushes the guilt away, pacing the length of his bedroom.

“I was,” Mike says uncertainly, sitting up in Harvey’s bed, swamped by blankets and pillows. “It worked, just like you said. I got there and... you were there! Only younger and,” Mike coughs, “nicer.”

Harvey stops pacing at this, pressing his palm to his forehead and taking a deep breath.

Nicer. Right.

“I’m sorry. I got worried.”

He watches Mike’s face, registers the surprise there, and resolves to do better at communicating his feelings. Or whatever the kids are calling it these days.

“But I thought you knew it was going to work out?”

Harvey sighs. “I did. But, as it turns out, knowing something is going to happen and finally living it are two very different things.”

Mike laughs. “Tell me about it.”

{Mike}

He starts traveling all the time, sometimes twice or three times a day, popping out of his present and into Harvey’s past, turning up for his high school graduation, his mother’s death, his little brother’s first date, and a dozen study dates and idle conversations in between.

He misses his own Harvey while he’s away, misses the job and the life he’s finally starting to feel apart of, but whenever he’s ready to go back, Harvey is always there waiting for him.

February 2012, Harvey is 35, Mike is 24

{Harvey}

It bothers him more than he expected, Mike leaving. He’s surprised by how much, actually. Even though Harvey knows Mike’s safe, even though he knows Mike’s with his younger self, it still bothers him.

He misses Mike, is the thing, and missing Mike is something he’s already learned to hate more than anything, so maybe it’s not that surprising after all.

{Mike}

Mike loves being in the past with Harvey. It’s another in a long line of incredible gifts Harvey has given him, and still ranks well below Harvey himself, but traveling again, learning how to master the greatest dangers and actually use his condition for something good, is nothing short of incredible. It’s freeing in a way Mike never though possible, in a way he never hoped for himself.

When he travels back to Harvey’s past, Mike isn’t a screw-up or a burn-out, he’s no one’s obligation or their burden. In the past with Harvey, Mike’s a magician, a confidante, a hero and a friend. He’s needed and loved, and whenever he travels to Harvey, it’s hard for Mike to remember there was a reason he stopped doing this in the first place.

May 2012, Harvey is 35, Mike is 24

{Mike}

His and Harvey’s relationship is the office’s worst-kept secret, but Mike doesn’t mind the stares he gets or the snide comments. He’d rather people think he didn’t deserve to get the job because he’s banging a senior partner than because he doesn’t even have the credentials.

August 1996 (Mike is 25 and 7)

{Mike}

The first time he travels back to the crash and not to Harvey, Mike spends the whole time puking and freezing in ditch water, until his sluggish, half-numb mind reminds him he’s not helpless anymore, and he closes his eyes and concentrates on Harvey.

June 2012, Harvey is 35, Mike is 25

{Harvey}

Ten minutes in the past can be a day in the present, although usually the time syncs up better than that.

This time, Mike’s only been gone for a few minutes, but Harvey is restless and worried anyway, even more unsettled by Mike’s absence than normal. Still, he does the usual things to pass the time. He gathers up the pile of Mike’s clothes that’s lying on the kitchen floor, turns off the coffee maker Mike started but didn’t get the chance to actually put any water in. He calls Donna and tells her he’ll be working from home today and makes sure she’ll run interference with Louis if he comes asking after Mike.

He washes the dishes to have something to do with his hands, then sits down on the couch with a stack of research a foot high, and tries not to think about how much of his life has been spent waiting for Mike.

---

He’s halfway to a breakthrough on the case he and Mike are supposed to be working on together when Mike finally reappears, splayed out on the living room floor, gasping and shaking.

Harvey rushes to him, pulling Mike’s disturbingly limp body against his, alarm quickly graduating to panic when he feels how cold Mike is.

Cursing, Harvey hauls Mike up off the floor and carries him, damsel in distress style, to their bed. Mike is half-awake, mumbling nonsense occasionally intercut with Harvey’s name, and Harvey moves on autopilot, dressing Mike and rubbing his feet, trying to increase the circulation.

He tears himself away from Mike long enough to put on a pot of tea and microwave a heating pad, and then he’s back to watching over Mike with a fiercely protective glare.

It takes thirteen excruciating minutes for Mike to finally open his eyes and look back at Harvey with recognition, but when he does, he smiles.

“I found you,” Mike says, voice thick with exhaustion and relief.

Harvey smiles back, and smooths the hair off Mike’s forehead.

“Sooner or later, you always do.”

{Mike}

He vaguely remembers coming to in their apartment, and gets flashes of Harvey’s face, first furious with worry and then reluctantly tender, but still, Mike is ready for it when the first thing Harvey does after he wakes up is start yelling.

Mike settles back down in bed and lets Harvey get it out of his system, sitting quietly while Harvey rants for a good hour about full disclosure and safety and never letting Mike out of his sight again.

When he’s finally run out of steam, Mike looks at Harvey hopefully and asks, “Can I have some toast and honey?”

For a second, Mike thinks Harvey’s going to start yelling again, but the anger has drained out of him, and Mike knows that all that’s left in Harvey now is gratitude that Mike’s back. Mike is usually above exploiting the rare bouts of Harvey’s emotional vulnerability that come after he’s been traveling, but Mike just spent four hours in a ditch watching his parents die and seeing his seven-year-old self get cut out of the burning wreckage of their family sedan, so Mike figures he’s entitled.

Even without knowing the full details, Harvey seems to agree, because he disappears and comes back five minutes later with a plate of toast and a cup of tea.

“God, I love you,” Mike says rapturously, half addressing the toast, and is surprised to see Harvey’s hands shaking as he passes Mike the food.

Mike looks up at Harvey curiously, munching on a bite of toast, confused by the stunned expression on Harvey’s face.

“What?” Mike demands when the silence continues to stretch between them.

Harvey snaps himself out of it, returning his face to its trademark superior half-smile.

Undeterred, Mike sits up straighter in bed and says again, “Harvey, what?”

Harvey sighs and sits down on the bed beside Mike.

“It’s the first time you’ve said it. In this time, anyway.” Now that he’s been backed into a corner, Harvey says all this defiantly, a challenge in his eyes daring Mike to take it back.

Instead, Mike just chuckles weakly and asks, “Wasn’t it obvious?”

He’s shocked when Harvey shakes his head.

Discomfited, Mike scrambles closer, grabbing blindly for Harvey’s hand. “Harvey, come on. You must know that I - I mean - all those times I traveled back to you from this time period, surely you knew even then how I felt about you.”

“That’s then. This is now. Just because,” Harvey sighs. “Just because you love me then, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to love me now. I’m not the same person I was then.”

Now it’s Mike’s turn to shock Harvey, because he just smiles and says, “Yeah, you are.”

Harvey blinks at him and Mike raises their still joined hands, kissing Harvey’s knuckles.

“You dress better and you don't have nineties hair, I’ll grant you that, but pretty much everything else is the same. You’re still stubborn and arrogant, but only because you have good reason to be. You’re still secretly sweet and furiously protective. You’re still impossible and indomitable and Harvey, then and now. And I love you, then and now.”

Harvey nods, a little stiffly, and then immediately gets up and goes to make Mike another stack of toast.

As declarations go, Mike’s seen better, but he’s learned Harvey well enough to know he speaks louder with his actions than his words, and Mike is more than happy to read between Harvey’s carefully drawn lines.

August 1997, Harvey is 21

{Harvey}

He barely sleeps anymore, subsists on coffee and ramen, and except for missing Mike like a phantom limb, Harvey’s life is pretty much perfect.

June 2012, Harvey is 35, Mike is 25

{Harvey}

When he kisses Mike for the first time in their shared present, it’s like coming home, like everything he’s been waiting for, and it’s hard to remember that it’s Mike first time, that this isn’t for just him, and when Mike doesn’t kiss like Harvey remembers he pulls away sharper than he means too, leaving Mike staring at him, open mouthed.

“I do something wrong?” Mike asks shakily, a lopsided smile on his face.

Harvey shakes his head, and moves closer to Mike slowly.

“No, I did.”

Mike opens his mouth to protest, but Harvey cuts him off with another kiss, this time reveling in the strangeness of it, the way Mike even seems to taste different.

Mike makes a pleased sound at the back of his throat when Harvey grazes his bottom lip with his teeth and Harvey pulls their bodies closer, flush and electrifying, and dedicates himself to learning everything there is to know about kissing this Mike.

{Mike}

When they finally start to fall into a physical relationship, mostly chaste kisses and sleeping without two feet of space between them in Harvey’s bed to start, Mike’s glad for the months of waiting, for the way Harvey continues to take it slow, even though it occasionally feels like he’s doing it out of some kind of complex revenge strategy designed to make Mike drown from jerking off too much in Harvey’s Olympic-sized shower.

It’s backwards, this like every other part of their relationship, because Mike’s kissed Harvey in his past long before he’s done it in his own present, but Mike likes it that way, likes that he's catching up with Harvey somehow by doing it that way, living through Harvey’s memories before making new ones.

January 1, 1998, Harvey is 21, Mike is 25

{Harvey}

He goes to the New Year’s Eve party at the Harvard Club because it’s what’s expected, and he dances and schmoozes because that’s what it takes to get ahead, and Mike’s always told Harvey he doesn’t care about much more than he cares about winning. Aside from Mike, that is.

So he goes to the party, for himself, and for Mike, even though Mike’s not there, even though there are only a half dozen dates left on his list, even though Mike’s been coming less and less often, his visits dwindling down to little more than the occasional ten minute blitz, where he’ll wrap himself around Harvey and murmur apologies and then disappear right out from under Harvey’s arms.

Harvey gets drunk at the party, but not too drunk, and stays to an appropriate hour past the countdown, when the rest of his classmates are too drunk to notice Harvey slipping away.

He walks back to his dorm, wondering if he can sober up enough to start doing the reading for the upcoming term.

Mike’d want him to, Harvey knows, because Mike is always pushing him not to slack off just because he’s brilliant. It’s a problem Mike says they have in common, but Mike isn’t here right now.

Except, as soon as Harvey stumbles into his room, there Mike is, curled up asleep on Harvey’s bed, looking like he’s been here for awhile.

Harvey shakes his head, trying to determine if Mike is an alcohol-and longing-induced hallucination and he holds his breath, listening for the sounds of Mike’s own shallow breathing, standing transfixed for a long time, watching the rise and fall of Mike’s shoulders.

He doesn’t understand what’s going on; there was no date telling him Mike’d be here, and he can only guess that Mike’s still retained his lock-picking skills, because Harvey definitely didn’t leave his door open for him.

Still, he’s ridiculously happy to see Mike, the hurt and anger over Mike’s protracted absence and the confusion over why he’s unexpectedly here now easily surpassed by that happiness.

He walks over to the bed, shaking Mike gently, and Mike opens his eyes slowly, smiling at Harvey uncertainly. It’s been awhile since Harvey’s seen him this young, longer since he can remember Mike looking uncertain about anything.

“Hey,” he says, voice rough from sleep, and Harvey runs his thumb against Mike’s jaw, his hand covering half of Mike’s face.

He wants to ask Mike what he’s doing here, why he’s here when the list never said he’d be, but he also wants to kiss Mike, is the thing. He wants to kiss Mike like he always wants to kiss Mike, and so when Mike opens his arms to him, Harvey doesn’t ask questions, he just moves. His fingers grasp frantically at the buttons of Mike’s shirt, not letting the surprise slow him down when Mike doesn’t tell him to stop, Harvey’s hungry, desperate mouth knocking against Mike’s. For once, Mike just rolls with it, kissing Harvey back just as desperately, with just as much raw, unpracticed need, and he doesn’t say, “Not now, Harvey," or “Not yet.”

This time Mike wraps himself around Harvey like he’s been waiting as long as Harvey has, and for a second Harvey feels like he going to break apart, he wants Mike so much, but something about Mike’s shared intensity tempers them both, and their bodies start to move together in a slow, inevitable rhythm, until Harvey’s whole world shrinks down to this moment in time, until he can’t tell anymore where Mike ends and he begins.

---

When he wakes up, it’s morning, and Mike’s still lying in bed beside him, hair mussed and propped up on an elbow, watching Harvey.

“Hi,” Mike says, sounding shy, and Harvey feels instantly more at ease.

He leans over to kiss Mike, smiling against Mike’s lips when he deepens the kiss.

When they finally break apart, Harvey adopts a cocky expression by rote and asks, “Was it good for you?”

Mike erupts in a flurry of raucous laughter and Harvey is offended for a half-second before he joins in, realizing it’s not his comment that has Mike rolling around on the bed, realizing it’s just the joy of the moment, the infectious, endless delight of being together.

{Mike}

When he wakes up still in Harvey’s dorm room, Mike feels a pull in his chest like it’s time to go back, and he knows he wasn’t even supposed to come here at all, there’s no date for it, no reason for him to stay, except there’s Harvey, asleep beside him, and Mike can’t imagine loving Harvey more than he does in this moment.

---

They go out for breakfast after Harvey wakes up, and Mike soaks up this rare glimpse into Harvey’s Harvard life.

Harvey gets admiring waves from at least four different groups of people as they stride across campus, one of his professors stops him to chat for five minutes about some argument he proposed in a recent class, and when Harvey slides into a back booth in the diner he leads them to, the waitress gives him a warm smile and says, “The usual?”

Harvey nods. “Make that two.”

She nods with apparent approval, and whisks away, leaving Harvey and Mike alone.

Mike folds his hands in front of him on the table and wonders how to break it to Harvey that he’s not the only one who had a first time last night.

He hadn’t meant for it to happen, is the thing. He really hadn’t. He’d been having a perfectly good day, finding Harvey what he needed to close their latest client, bantering with more success than usual with Donna, even managing to have an interaction with Jessica that was somewhere approaching not awkward, and he’d just. He’d been so happy he’d wanted to see Harvey, but his Harvey was away in a meeting all afternoon, and he’d had a business dinner scheduled after that, and Mike had still been sulking over these facts when he woke up on the floor of a dorm room he didn’t recognize.

When he’d realized he was in Harvey’s law school dorm, he’d attempted to use the time productively at first, taking a long walk around the campus and trying to acquaint himself with the feel of the place so he could have a conversation about Harvard in winter the next time he spoke to Louis, but behaving himself had gotten old pretty fast, and Mike’d let himself back into Harvey’s room, rifling through his stuff and ignoring the part of his brain that was telling him he was acting like a stalker.

He figured Harvey wouldn’t mind, anyway. Finding out stuff about each other in the most backwards, messed up ways possible was what made them great.

Or something.

Anyway, he just kind of kept... not leaving, even though he knew his Harvey was waiting for him somewhere in 2012, and he’d gotten so relaxed he fell asleep for awhile, not waking until Harvey stumbled in half drunk.

He’d looked so young, so lonely, and so confused and bleakly grateful to see Mike there that Mike hadn’t been able to do anything but open his arms and catch Harvey when he fell into them, hadn’t been able to do anything but kiss him back and not care that he’d never quite done this before. Even when he realized somewhere in the middle that Harvey hadn’t either, none of it had mattered.

But now, on the other end of it, with Harvey sneaking shy, nervous glances at Mike when he thinks Mike isn’t looking, it seems to matter again.

“Harvey,” he begins, voice carefully lowered. “About last night.”

Harvey leans away from him a little, a guarded look on his face, and Mike flaps his hands, frustrated that his ineptitude is giving Harvey the wrong idea.

“It’s not - I’m not saying I regret it or that it wasn’t any good, it was...” right is the only word Mike can think of, but he can’t quite make himself say it. “I just, I think you have the wrong idea, maybe. About me.”

Still hiding behind an impassive mask Mike’s only used to seeing on Harvey’s future self, he says, “Okay. So what’s the right idea?”

Mike blushes and ducks his head, and in the end just blurts, “It was my first time, too!”

Harvey raises his eyebrows in shock.

“With you, I mean,” Mike adds lamely.

Harvey stares at him piercingly, and waves two fingers between them. “But I thought, in our future, you and I...?”

“We are, we are!” Mike insists, not wanting to give Harvey that to worry about on top of everything else. “We are,” he says a third time, trying to regulate his voice. “We just. We’re going slow. Over there.”

“Why?”

Mike laughs awkwardly. “Um, I think it might be payback, a little bit. I guess maybe you wanted some retribution for spending the majority of your college years in chastity.”

Harvey grins, like Mike’s just given him a brilliant idea, and Mike pretty much wants to kick himself.

“Or at least that’s the reason now,” he finishes, shaking his head.

The grin falls off Harvey’s face, turning into something more serious, more tender, and Mike reaches out without thinking about it, meeting Harvey’s hands and holding on tight.

“Even if it did mean a serious case of sexual frustration for both of us,” he says, “I’m glad it happened this way.”

Harvey nods, his smile making Mike’s heart beat faster, and says, “Me too.”

July 2012, Harvey is 35, Mike is 25

{Harvey}

Mike’s gone when Harvey goes looking for him in the office, and there’s a pile of clothes on his desk chair that Harvey gathers up surreptitiously, checking over his shoulder to make sure no one notices.

Luckily, what few remaining associates are still at work are too busy hating their lives to notice Harvey, and he exits the office without incident.

He waits at home, wondering idly where in time Mike is, missing him like he always does, but trying not to let it get to him.

He falls asleep at some point, right on the couch, and when he wakes up, midday sun is flooding the condo and Mike is standing over him with a knowing smile.

Harvey rubs at his eyes and tries to sit up, but Mike just shakes his head, pushing Harvey back down on the couch and climbing on top of him.

Mike grinds down against him a little, and for a minute Harvey is too god damn turned on to think, but then he grabs Mike by the wrists and looks him in the eye.

“When were you?” he asks suspiciously, and Mike responds by grinning triumphantly.

Harvey laughs, placing the date by Mike’s look alone, and draws him down sharply into a kiss.

“My turn.”

September 2012, Harvey is 35, Mike is 25

{Harvey}

The first year passes so quickly it makes Harvey’s head spin. It’s been a year of learning for both of them, and most of the time he still doesn’t know which end is up. Mike is growing into himself, becoming closer to the man Harvey remembers, but he finds himself falling equally in love with this Mike, his imperfections; youthful arrogance, insecurities and all.

Even so, it’s still hard to remember, sometimes, that there are huge gaps in their history, that’s there’s still so much that only Harvey knows, that only he can trust in. It’s hard to remember that Mike is still struggling everyday, that he’s fighting the image of his future self the same way Harvey’s competing with his past one.

October 2012, Harvey is 35, Mike is 25

{Mike}

Mike’s head is pounding and his eyes hurt from reading all night, and when Harvey storms over to his cubicle to berate Mike for the fiftieth thing he’s done wrong today alone, Mike loses it.

He gets out of his seat, opens his mouth, ready to yell, but that’s when his stomach twists and the world spins and blurs, and then Harvey, along with the rest of Pearson Hardmen, is gone.

March 2000, Harvey is 24, Mike is 25

{Mike}

He wakes up in a field and considers staying there, possibly forever, when a shadow crosses his face and Mike opens his eyes to see Harvey looming over him.

He looks older - older than Mike’s used to seeing him in the past, anyway. He’s wearing a suit. Nothing as nice as what Harvey wears now, but still better than what Mike showed up in for his ‘interview’ when they first met.

Harvey frowns disapprovingly by way of hello, and offers Mike a set of clothes and then a hand getting up.

Dressed but still dazed, Mike leans a little against Harvey as they walk.

“This doesn’t look like the usual place.”

“It’s not,” Harvey replies shortly, quickening their pace.

As usual, Mike struggles to keep up.

---

Twenty minutes later they’re seated at the table in a small but stylish apartment. Mike’s never been here, and the way Harvey’s looking at him, he doubts any future versions of himself have been either.

“When are you coming from?” Harvey asks, and it would sound casual, except for the way his hands are white around the glass of scotch he’s holding.

Mike runs a hand through his hair.

“2012. October. When is this?”

“March 2001.”

Mike does a mental check of the dates on the list he gave to a 17-year-old Harvey, and realizes it’s been over a year since they last saw each other, in Harvey’s time. He feels a pang of guilt, but then he realizes something else, and his eyes widen.

“You’re about to take the Bar!”

A proud smile flickers across Harvey’ face, but he quickly represses it. This is Harvey half-grown up, no longer the young and easily awed teenager, but not quite the hardened, untouchable litigator, either.

Mike reaches out, testing the boundaries, and Harvey takes his hand willingly, squeezing it tight. Mike smiles. Harvey smiles back.

“Are you going to tell me how I do?” Harvey asks, his smile all teeth, now.

Mike laughs. “No.”

Harvey pouts. “A hint?”

“No.”

Harvey rolls his eyes. “What good are you, then?”

It doesn’t sting, not like it might if the Harvey from his present had said it. With this Harvey, with any past Harvey, Mike still has the upper-hand.

So he smiles, almost coy, and runs his nails up the pulse of Harvey’s forearm.

“I can think of a few things.”

---

Harvey sails through the Bar exam as brilliantly and effortlessly as he does everything else, and Mike decides to stay and help him celebrate. The celebration stretches out a week before Mike’s conscience finally gets the better of him.

He leaves Harvey fucked out and happy, too relaxed to even protest when Mike kisses him one last time and says goodbye.

October 2012, Harvey is 35, Mike is 25

{Mike}

When he gets back, he comes to in their apartment, not the office, for which Mike is deeply grateful. He once turned up naked in the copy room, and had to convince Rachel it was a rookie associate hazing ritual when she found him there, hiding behind a towering stack of printer paper.

The look on Harvey’s face when he spots Mike, however, is enough to make Mike wish he were anywhere else, even if it was in the middle of a Pearson Hardman shareholders meeting.

In a flash, he reviews their long string of disagreements the week before, and the realization that Harvey probably knew all along that he was going to disappear hits Mike sharply and all at once.

“Jesus. Harvey, you can’t be mad at me for stuff I haven’t even done yet.”

Harvey just scoffs. “I can’t?”

Mike holds his ground for half a minute, but starts to quail a little when the glare remains firmly planted on Harvey’s face.

It’s also occurring to him, only now, that he disappeared for a week in the middle of a high profile case, and that Harvey likely spent the entire last week putting out fires and covering Mike’s ass. As usual.

He sighs and looks at the floor when he says, “I’m sorry, Harvey.”

Harvey makes an unimpressed noise and kneels down beside him, his eyes warming just for a second when Mike can’t help beaming at him gratefully over the pair of sweatpants and the worn Harvard law t-shirt Harvey hands him. Mike’s hoping he’ll have a lifetime to get used to wearing Harvey’s clothing, but he’s pretty sure this outfit will always be his favorite.

“I really am sorry,” he tries again, when Harvey helps him up off the floor and turns around like they’re done for the day.

Harvey’s shoulders rise and fall in a heavy sigh, but he turns back to look at Mike.

“It was one of the best weeks of my life. Passing the Bar, having you there with me. I felt like nothing could touch me, like the world was mine, the battle already fought and won. It never occurred to me that somewhere in my future I’d also be having one of the worst weeks of my life.”

Mike feels guilt flood him again, and he bites at his lip, thinking of the days spent in bed fucking and laughing, thinking of Harvey working nonstop in another time.

“I’m sorry about the case. I’ll make it up to you.”

Harvey snorts, so automatic and genuine that it makes Mike look up.

“I can’t care about the case, Mike,” he says, adding as much spite to Mike’s name as he can, but something warm blooms in Mike’s chest despite Harvey’s tone.

“You missed me.”

Harvey rolls his eyes, and for a second Mike thinks he’s going to deny it, but instead Harvey snaps, “Of course I fucking missed you. That’s what I’ve been doing most of my life, isn’t it? Missing you. Waiting for you to come back, wondering where and when you are, scared for you, hating being away from you.”

At the shocked look on Mike’s face, Harvey shakes his head in disgust, but Mike’s finally getting that that part might not actually be directed at him.

Harvey strides over to Mike, putting his hands on Mike’s face.

“I love you, here and now, and always. If I’m not doing my job at showing you that, you’ve gotta tell me. I can’t have you disappearing like that on me again, even if I did know it was coming this time. I. I just found you again, Mike, just got you back. I don’t want to share you.”

“Not even with yourself?”

Harvey laughs. “Especially not with myself.”

November 2006, Harvey is 29, Mike is 19

{Harvey}

Harvey spends his 29th birthday alone, drinking a bottle of scotch he can finally afford and missing Mike.

It’s been five years, now, five years since he woke up to Mike lying in bed beside him, a tender, sad smile on his face.

Five years since Mike kissed him and said, “I’m going to be gone for awhile, Harvey,” and Harvey finally accepted that there wasn’t going to be a second list, another batch of dates stretching beyond that last one marked in red ink.

Now, five years later, missing Mike is part of Harvey’s daily routine, more familiar and ever-present than breathing. It’s not like it was before, when he always knew another date was coming, even if there were months between Mike’s visits. It’s not like when he was a kid who could drop everything whenever Mike appeared.

He’s a successful lawyer now, just like Mike said he’d be. He’s rapidly becoming Pearson Hardman’s most valuable asset, just like Mike’d told him he’d be, all those years ago when he first pushed Harvey to take the job in their mail-room when he was floundering and fresh out of undergrad.

He’s got everything Mike promised Harvey he would, from the fast cars to the expensive suits, never mind the fear and respect of most of his peers, but the success means nothing without Mike there to see it, and Mike never once mentioned that part.

{Mike}

He sits in the Dean’s office and listens to his future swirl down the drain, a dull roar starting up in his ears right around the time he hears “expelled for academic misconduct,” and all Mike can think about is how disappointed his Grammy is going to be in him.

He closes his eyes, for once wishing to travel, wanting to be ripped from this time and taken somewhere else.

But when he opens his eyes, nothing’s changed, not for Mike, and he leaves the Dean’s office soon after, numbly walking with no real destination in mind until he realizes his phone is buzzing in his pocket.

He answers, and it’s Trevor, and Mike wants to be angry at him, wants to hate him, but Trevor’s voice is soft and wheedling, and when he says, “Come over and I’ll get you so high you’ll forget your own name,” Mike smiles and says, “Sounds good to me.”

January 2013, Harvey is 36, Mike is 25 and 48

{Harvey}

He’s half-asleep, having a rare lie-in and listening to the sound of Mike showering in the next room when a strange man walks into his bedroom wearing one of Harvey’s suits and no socks or shoes.

He startles, already trying to remember where he keeps his nearest bat when the man holds up his hands and smiles, and the smile is one Harvey’d recognize anywhere.

“Mike?” he asks, voice faint with surprise.

Mike grins, and walks over to the bed, sitting down beside him and punching him lightly on the shoulder.

“Hey, don’t freak out, but,” he clears his throat meaningfully, “I come from the future.” He makes his voice all deep and theatrical, and Harvey smacks him before he can think better of it.

Mike just laughs, and Harvey watches in fascination as the many laugh lines on his face crinkle along with the sound.

“You’re older,” he says stupidly, and Mike shakes his head, chuckling more.

“I am. And I bring tidings of comfort and joy,” he says, grinning and far too pleased with himself.

Harvey automatically rolls his eyes. “Glad to see the years haven’t matured you.”

“I figured you would be. But seriously though. I’m here to, you know. Put the word out.”

“The word?”

Mike grins and raises his arms. “I’m not dead!”

Harvey releases a breath he’s been holding since 2001, the last time he saw any of Mike’s future selves.

A second later, he narrows his eyes. “Are you high?”

Mike laughs. “No, just skipping my meds.”

Harvey’s eyes widen, and he runs a hand through his hair. “There’s a cure?”

Mike shrugs. “There’s a treatment. Gets discovered in 2019. I’m one of the test subjects, which pisses you off, but it shouldn’t, because I’ve clearly just told you about it working out in advance.”

“You’re forgetting that our spousal agreement stipulates that I’m allowed to be mad at you for any time travel-related shenanigans, no matter what your level of foreknowledge was,” Harvey says airily, making Mike shake his head in mock solemnity.

“Right, of course. How silly of me.”

Harvey reaches out at that, the childish need to touch Mike and prove he’s real coming back stronger than it has since the beginning, and Mike just smiles at him, letting Harvey do whatever he wants.

Once he’s done his silent examination, Harvey leans away, not knowing what to say. It’s strange to be younger than Mike again, after all this time.

He hears the water turn off, signaling the end of his own Mike’s shower, and the other Mike smiles at him wanly.

“I’ll be seeing you, Harvey,” he says, and Harvey opens his mouth to respond, but before he can, Mike is gone.

A second later, his own 25-year-old Mike is wandering into the bedroom, toweling his hair.

“Who were you talking to?” he asks.

Harvey shrugs. “You’ll find out in about 20 years.”

Mike just blinks at him in confusion for a second, and he starts to grin, getting it, and launches himself at Harvey, all thoughts of drying off and getting dressed abandoned.

{Mike}

He knows it probably says a lot about him that he’s more excited to learn that no future version of himself breaks his promise to Harvey by starting smoking weed again than he is about the whole not dying in his mid-thirties part, but Mike is pretty much okay with that.

June 2013, Harvey is 36, Mike is 26

{Harvey}

He’s alone in the office, fighting off the anxiety of not knowing when in time Mike is and trying unsuccessfully to concentrate on the the due diligence for the Hoffman merger, when Mike struts into his office sporting a swollen lip and a smug expression.

This does not bode well.

“I got to second base today,” Mike announces triumphantly, and then waits like he’s actually expecting congratulations.

As dryly as is physically possible, Harvey responds, “Good for you.”

“You have a mean right hook, by the way,” Mike adds, somehow looking equally smug about that.

In a flash, Harvey remembers. He’d been eighteen, furious and more than that, terrified, because Mike had been gone for months. And sure, he hadn’t missed any dates, but Harvey’d let the fear get the better of him anyway, gripped by the thought that maybe Mike would never come back. The thought that maybe that one, fleeting kiss was going to be all he got, and then Mike had returned, smiling at him like it was nothing, and Harvey had just lashed out, before he could think or stop himself.

He’d been such an asshole at eighteen, but in his defense, he’s also an asshole now.

“Should I apologize?”

Mike grins, swollen lip and all. There’s blood in his teeth. Harvey makes a note to send him to the bathroom as soon as their conversation is finished.

“Nah, you made it up to me.”

Harvey grits his teeth at that. Even now, he hates hearing about Mike spending time with his younger self, especially that kind of time, no matter how backwards the logic is, no matter how necessary he knows those days with Mike were to him back then.

Mike flashes him a quick smile in apology. Mike knows his traveling gets to Harvey, even though Harvey was the one who encouraged him to kick the drugs and let nature take its course in the first place. Even after two years of having Mike, here and now.

Harvey smiles back, just for a second, and then he barks, “Get yourself cleaned up. I can’t have my associate looking like he just lost a fight to a high-schooler... oh wait!”

Mike is already waving his hands dismissively and rolling his eyes before Harvey finishes his taunt, but he figures, hey, there’ll always be another one.

They’ve got time.

 

Epilogue

Winter 2015, Harvey is 38, Mike is 28

{Harvey}

Mike wakes up gasping, and Harvey is sucked back into awareness in the same breath, turning instantly onto his side, rubbing Mike’s stomach soothingly and pulling him closer.

“When?” he asks, once Mike’s recovered enough to speak.

Mike makes a stuttering, chocked laugh into Harvey’s skin and says, “94, I guess. I didn’t stick around long enough to ask.”

Harvey’s too practiced at keeping a poker face to let his eyes widen, but it’s a close thing. He knows what that means. “The first time, then?”

Mike nods helplessly. “You could have warned me I came off as a complete lunatic, you know. Might have been nice.”

Harvey laughs, still remembering the horrific blouse like it was yesterday. “But where’s the fun in that?”

He feels Mike frown, and pulls him away by the shoulders, forcing eye contact. It takes a few seconds of concentrated staring, but eventually Mike breaks, smiling.

Still, he pokes Harvey reprovingly in the shoulder, saying, “I just, I would have liked to make a good impression, okay?”

Harvey shakes his head, leaning down to press a kiss to Mike’s forehead. “You did, babe, you did.”