When Harvey called, Mike answered the phone on the third ring with a curt, breathless "Hello?"
"Did I call at a bad time?" Harvey asked, a hint of sarcasm in his voice. "Or were you running for the phone?"
"Harvey! My favorite. Can you give me one minute?"
"In your own time," Harvey said.
"Thanks. Stay on the line," Mike said, and Harvey heard rustling noises, then the sound of running, heavy breaths, and finally Mike came back on. "Sorry about that. You know how I always say my stock in trade is unfaithful spouses? Unfaithful spouse just caught me filming him with his mistress, who apparently didn't know he was married. He was chasing me, she was chasing him, it was a whole big -- "
"Don't care," Harvey interrupted, though Mike's rambling monologues on the seamier side of life could be fascinating, so he generally listened for a while before cutting him off.
"I know," Mike said, his voice leveling off, breathing less audible and humor creeping into his tone. "Anyway, I lost him. So what can I do for my favorite lawyer?"
"I need a meet."
"Yeah, and I need an invisibility cloak," Mike sighed, but he continued anyway. "When?"
"Tonight, if possible."
"Fortunately my evening just got very free. I'm not doing the news-stand thing again though, I haven't had dinner yet."
"The usual place? Half an hour?"
"Wanna tell me what this is about?"
"You're the detective. Figure it out. Bring your jammer," Harvey said, and hung up.
He was, in fact, already at the Usual Place, exercising his privilege as a big-tipping regular by making use of the phone in the kitchen manager's office. He closed the door behind him, nodded to the sous-chef, avoided someone running past with a platter of steaks, and slipped out into the dining room.
The man who'd followed him from Pearson Hardman's offices to the restaurant was sitting at a table with a view of the entire room, ostensibly reading his menu.
Harvey returned to his booth and ordered a glass of wine, a plate of foie gras on toast points as an appetizer, and the Duck a l'Orange, which would take half an hour to arrive, much like Mike.
Mike did, in fact, arrive thirty seconds ahead of the entree, tossing a backpack into the booth before sliding in. He popped the last toast point in his mouth and managed a garbled "Right on time," with a (fortunately closed-mouth) grin. The duck was brought out before Harvey could reply and the waiter, seeing Mike, produced a second plate after a subtle nod from Harvey. Mike dished himself half the duck and a huge spoonful of potatoes Dauphinoise.
"Has anyone ever told you your table manners could best be described as absentee?" Harvey asked.
"Sue me, I'm hungry," Mike said. "I'm jamming us, nobody can hear. Dig in."
Harvey took a small bite of his half of the duck, pointedly. Mike swallowed and rolled his eyes.
"What's the problem?" he asked, shoveling another bite of potatoes into his mouth. "You need research? Need someone tailed?"
"The reverse," Harvey said. "There's a man sitting on the other side of the room who's been nursing a glass of water since I arrived."
Mike casually leaned out of the booth, twisted around, and flagged down a waiter, ordering a glass of house red.
"Yep, I see him," he said, turning back and continuing to eat. "He's not armed."
"He's been following me since I left home this morning," Harvey said.
"When did you pick him up?"
"My driver picked up his car. I got a look at his face before I walked in. Every time I've gone out he's followed me."
Mike gestured with his fork for Harvey to stop talking. He finished chewing, swallowed, and nodded his thanks at the waiter who brought him his wine.
"I searched you on the way over," he said, sipping the wine. "Jesus, this is good duck. Anyway, as far as I, Lexis Nexis, and Google are concerned, you have three open cases that might merit a tail. Man, you make a lot of enemies too. I'm surprised it took this long. You know who set it up, or you want me to dig it out?"
"I want you to help me shake him on the way home, and then I want you to sweep my condo for bugs," Harvey said.
"Seriously?" Mike laughed. "Harvey, the odds of someone bugging your condo are pretty astronomical, unless it's the FBI. You haven't pissed off the FBI lately, have you? Because I take hazard pay for fucking with G-men, they're bastards. And there's really no point in shaking a tail when all you're doing is going home. Unless you want him to think you're not. In which case I need more information, because I hate playing with only half a deck. Also you should kiss me."
"Excuse me?" Harvey asked, tilting an eyebrow.
"Feed me a piece of duck and then kiss me," Mike said. "Watch how our friend reacts."
Harvey considered it for a second, then scooped up a piece of duck, offering it to Mike, who took it delicately off his fork. Mike swallowed, a smear of orange sauce on his lip, and Harvey leaned in, kissing him, eyes watching his stalker under half-lowered lids.
"He looks perturbed," he said, leaning back and giving Mike his most charming smile.
"Man, you're good at that," Mike said. "You should come work for me."
"You can't afford me."
"Touche. Anyway that means he's off his game and we can play bribe-a-waiter. You good to go? Good," Mike said, off Harvey's nod. He subtly signaled for the waiter who'd brought him the wine.
"Anything I can get for you gentlemen?" he asked, beaming.
"You know the guy who's been drinking tap water all night?" Mike asked.
"Yes, sir," the waiter said, with the kind of total impassivity that indicated the entire waitstaff knew him and knew he was being a cheapskate.
"There's fifty bucks each in it for you and two of your friends if you can dump a tray of food on him and keep his sightline blocked until we're gone," Mike said. He nodded at Harvey, who gave him a narrow look but took out his wallet and produced three fifties. "Dinner too, Harvey, we're bolting."
Harvey sighed and produced another hundred.
"Did you drive, or take the town car?" Mike asked, as the waiter tucked the cash into his palm.
"Car club. I have it for the night."
"It's a car club, Mike, they're all flashy," Harvey said.
"God, you're an amateur. Give him your valet ticket. Tell the valet to have his car waiting," Mike told the waiter, who nodded.
"Have a good night," the waiter said, looking sly, and walked briskly off.
Five minutes later, there was a thunderous crash and a yelp.
"That's our cue," Mike said, grabbing Harvey's wrist. "I'm driving."
Mike drove like a maniac, but Harvey had implicit faith in his abilities; he'd seen Mike's reflexes in action before, and once Mike was satisfied they weren't being followed, he slowed the black '74 Corvette to a more sedate pace.
"So, you want to explain to me what this is about?" he asked, heading unerringly for Harvey's high-rise. He'd only been there once, but Harvey knew Mike had an eerily good memory.
"One of our clients, Eric Drew -- "
"Seriously, his name is Eric Drew?" Mike asked, hanging a sharp left. "Never trust a man with two first names."
"Thank you for that piece of homespun PI advice," Harvey replied. "He's suing over a piece of land by the docks. He says he owns it and wants to develop it. Someone else is currently running a shipping company out of it."
"This didn't come up in Lexis Nexis," Mike said.
"No, it wouldn't, but let's talk about those three cases later," Harvey replied. "He's suing the owner of the shipping company, John Boccacho."
"Johnny Three-Guns?" Mike demanded, stopping at a red light and turning to Harvey. "I thought you said you were the best closer in the city."
"So how did you not talk some doucheface with two first names out of suing a Mafia capo?"
"I was told in no uncertain terms to make sure Eric Drew didn't take his business elsewhere," Harvey replied. "He brings in about eight million a year for the firm."
The light turned green; horns blew. Mike eased the car forward, fingers clenched on the wheel.
"You think they've got a hit on you?" Mike asked finally.
"You tell me."
"Your tail was unarmed. They don't think you're a physical threat. Probably they want to know what you're getting up to," Mike said, after a pause for reflection. "They're doing recon. If they think Eric Drew is going through with it, they might knock you off to teach him a lesson. Or they might go straight for him."
"He has a round-the-clock bodyguard."
"That makes you an easy target, then. Who is this guy, anyway?"
"Real estate speculator."
Mike pulled into Harvey's parking garage. "I should have guessed that. Either that or lawyer," he added, grinning at Harvey as he turned off the engine. "So why the fun-and-games ditching him just to go home? You'll have him or someone else at your building again tomorrow."
"I don't want them to know I know yet," Harvey said. "It gives me a distinct upper hand."
"You must have really interesting personal relationships," Mike said dryly, following him as he swiped his access card, entered the garage elevator lobby, and got into one of the waiting elevators.
"Personal relationships are for the weak," Harvey informed him.
"Winning, not caring," Mike murmured. "Gotcha."
"You still have your jammer on?"
Mike produced the little black box from a pocket, waggling it. "I'll have to turn it off when I sweep your place, though. When we get inside, I'll shut the jammer down. Turn the television on and go about your nightly routine. Once I know you're clear of cameras, I'll do the sweep. Ignore me until I give the signal."
Harvey left Mike to his weird little technological rituals; he turned the television on, set it to CNN, and poured himself a drink, relaxing on the sofa. After five or six minutes spent standing by the doorway with one of the mysterious devices from his backpack, Mike started creeping around the condo, waving a foot-long antenna in front of him, eyes fixed on the iPhone it was plugged into.
Mike being quiet was an unusual occurrence, and something Harvey felt he probably ought to savor, but it was too weird. Instead he watched Mike work.
After about an hour, Mike took off his jacket and tossed it lightly onto a chair, rolling up the sleeves of the shirt he was wearing underneath. Harvey eyed the shoulder-holster he wore, always something of an unsettling sight. Mike seemed to oscillate between seasoned professional and complete goofball, and Harvey was never sure which one was the act. The gun under his left arm always reminded him that Mike, despite his young face and cheap suits and ridiculous skinny ties, did a very dangerous job.
Finally, after sweeping both levels of the condo, squirming around under the stairs that led up to the bedroom, and digging around in the circuit-box of the elevator, Mike walked into the living room, dusted himself off, and announced, "You're clean. Though I have to say, you own more shoes than I think is sane."
"You went in my closet?" Harvey asked. "Why would they bug my closet?"
"I'm very thorough. Also I wanted to rummage in your drawers and find out where you keep your valuables," Mike said. Harvey glared. "Okay, okay, relax, I'm kidding. I wanted to make sure none of your suits were carrying bugs. They can do that now, you know. God bless the Cold War, I guess." He sat on the arm of the chair, hands clasped loosely between his knees, his gun a dull smear of darkness under his arm. "Look, not to sound like I'm trying to rustle up business for myself, but Johnny Three-Guns is a serious issue, Harvey. I think you should let me do some digging at least. Find out what he's planning to do about you. Or to you," he added darkly.
"Officially I'm going to pay you to find out anything we can use against him in the lawsuit," Harvey said.
"Ugh, that means I'm on Eric Drew's retainer now too," Mike groaned. "Great."
"Calm down, drama queen," Harvey said. "You work for me."
"I'm expensing my cab ride home."
"Take the 'vette," Harvey said carelessly. "You can pick me up in the morning, help me shake the tail again."
"I'm not your personal chaeuffer, you know," Mike complained, but Harvey just smirked. "Fine. I'll have a report for you tomorrow morning. Eight?"
"That's indecent," Mike said, shrugging into his jacket.
"Don't be late," Harvey told him.
Mike supposed most people didn't grow up wanting to be a private detective, at least not after the age of about ten or so.
He hadn't, either. He knew it was a tough job. He'd spent his childhood listening to Gram tell him stories about her father, who had been a Pinkerton back in the twenties and thirties; she'd married a lifelong beat cop, and their son, Mike's dad, had been an NYPD detective by the time he died. Mike had thought he'd go one better and become a lawyer, work for the DA's office, put bad guys away with words instead of a gun.
Then he'd been kicked out of school.
After about a year of dicking around, smoking pot with Trevor and doing shady shit for the cash, he'd had to help Gram pack up to go into the care home, and he'd come across her father's Pinkerton badge. He'd rubbed a thumb across the tarnished copper, wondering what his great-grandfather would make of him.
Probably not much.
But it had given him an idea, opening up at least a few avenues in what he'd thought was the dead end of his life. He knew enough about the business to make it work, he thought -- he didn't want to be a cop, but he could still be a detective. And his dad still had buddies on the force who offered him a hand, loaned him cash to get set up, hooked him up with his first few clients. He'd drifted slowly but purposefully away from Trevor and Jenny, the late nights and unstable hours a good excuse, and now...
Well, now he had a job that pulled in the money to keep his grandmother in the fancy private home, with enough left over to pay the rent on his shitty studio and keep him, if not always well fed, at least off the brink of starvation.
Coming home to his place after being in Harvey's -- regardless of the fact that he'd come home in a Corvette -- was kind of a let-down. Harvey had a sweet condo and an amazing view. He paid well, and was one of Mike's more regular, low-stress clients, but Mike couldn't help a little twinge of envy. He liked his job, but...well, that could have been him, if he hadn't been a moron who let Trevor talk him into selling that math test.
Mike pulled his chair up to his kitchen table, opened his laptop, and started doing the preliminary research for the report he'd promised Harvey in the morning. He liked research, and it was easy to get lost in it, to lose track of ti...
He woke to the blare of his alarm, informing him that it was six in the morning. Mike sat bolt upright, then groaned and wiped some drool off his laptop. Some night he was going to get a full eight hours in his actual bed, but apparently last night had not been it. Now he had half an hour to wash, dress, and present himself at Harvey's high-rise.
When he ran outside twenty minutes later the Corvette was, fortunately, untouched -- Mike had left his business card under the windshield wiper, and the local 'jack artists knew better than to mess with him.
Harvey was standing outside his building when Mike pulled up, and as he braked Harvey raised a hand, shaking the watch on his wrist and mouthing "Late!" at him. It was six thirty-two.
"I'm not holding your door for you," Mike called from inside the car. He popped the lock and Harvey climbed in, looking well-assembled as usual. "Sleep well, darling?"
"Like a log, dearest," Harvey replied, while Mike pulled back out into traffic. "Got my report?"
"Glovebox. Keep quiet, I'm scanning for our tail."
Harvey was silent and still, the only noise the rustle of paper as he read Mike's preliminary information. It wasn't much -- some news stories about Johnny Three-Guns, a few about Eric "two first names" Drew, and paperwork Harvey had probably already seen about their respective claims on the land (and the warehouse on top of it) that was in dispute. He'd slipped a conflict-resolution pamphlet in the back, and when Harvey got to it, he snorted.
"I don't think John Boccacho is into trust-building exercises," he said, closing the folder.
"His idea of a trust fall happens at the edge of a pier," Mike agreed. "This is an old-school Godfather bad-guy."
"Why do they call him Three Guns?"
Mike smiled. He'd found their tail and was working on lulling him into a false sense of security. Fortunately he had Manhattan memorized, and he kept current on construction zones.
"He always has a backup plan. You pull two guns, he's got three, get it?" he asked, affecting a gangsterish accent. "That's how he's survived this long. He doesn't really belong in the twenty-first century, but he knows how to plan. That's why he's studying you now."
"Any idea what he'd hope to accomplish by killing me?"
Mike shrugged. "If it were me, I'd think it'd scare off anyone else who wants to take the case."
Harvey made an interested, thoughtful sound.
"Get ready to hang on tight," Mike added. "Try not to freak out."
He could see Harvey, out of the corner of his eye, open his mouth to answer when Mike suddenly pulled left. He veered across a lane of parallel traffic and two lanes of oncoming traffic, into the driveway of a construction zone. Men in hard hats scattered ahead of the Corvette and horns blew behind them as Mike swung hard left again, bypassing a couple of backhoes, and burst back out onto the street, heading in the opposite direction. In the rearview mirror he saw the distant image of their tail trying desperately to flip a U-turn in the middle of rush hour traffic.
Mike had to admit, he did love his job.
Harvey, in the seat next to him, looked unruffled.
"You know, it's not often I stare speeding death in the face before lunch," he remarked.
"You're handling it pretty well," Mike assured him.
"I have very good health insurance."
Mike took a circuitous route to Harvey's office building, but he didn't catch anyone else tailing them. He dropped Harvey off at the loading dock, just in case, with the assurance that he'd get the Corvette back to the car club and send Harvey anything else he picked up that could help them.
When he pulled the Corvette into the car club's garage, a tall, attractive blonde woman stepped out, studied him, and said, "Harvey, you've changed."
"Mr. Specter sends his regrets," Mike said, placing the keys in her hand. "It's a beautiful car."
"Thank you," she replied. "Are you an enthusiast?"
"Not especially, but I can appreciate good handling," he added. She swiped a finger over the side-mirror, drawing a line in the dust they'd picked up at the construction site.
"It's not really an off-road vehicle," she said.
"Coulda fooled me," he replied with a smile. She smiled back. "Do I need to sign it in or anything?"
"We'll take it from here. Bob!" she called. "Cleanup on the 'vette."
"You got it," Bob's voice echoed back.
"Thank you, Mr....?" she prompted.
"Rosenbaum," Mike said. He never gave his real name if he could help it. "Mitchell Rosenbaum. Nice to meet you," he added, doffed an imaginary hat, and went on his way. He had a lot of snitches to talk to if he wanted to get a crash course in Johnny Three-Guns' business operation.
There were a lot of things Harvey could have (should have) done about the people following him. He could have told Jessica, who probably would have decided Harvey's life was more important than Eric Drew's account with the firm, but he hadn't made Senior Partner by whining to Jessica whenever things got hard. He could have told the police he was being followed, but that would probably have made him look kind of crazy, and if they did believe him it would still have escalated things out of his control. Harvey liked having things firmly in his control.
So he'd gone to Mike, because Mike not only fell firmly under Harvey's control -- at least, most of the time -- but could do things and go places the police couldn't. In theory he was out there now, doing whatever it was he did to ferret out information Harvey needed. He'd never asked, and Mike wisely didn't volunteer details. He just delivered the goods. Harvey could respect a man who got the job done.
Donna always accused him of dramatic posing when he stood in front of the big glass windows in his office, but the truth was it helped him get his head in order. The cityscape by now was familiar to him, something to fix his eyes on while he thought.
"Harvey, reception says the consigliere is here to see you," Donna said over the intercom. Harvey smiled.
"Tell them to keep him waiting for ten minutes, then send him in," he said.
"Should I push your meeting with Ms. Sanyal back?"
"No, but keep an ear on the conversation. You'll know when to break in," Harvey said.
"Yes I will," Donna agreed smugly.
He spent the ten minutes with his record collection, which was always soothing; he'd just decided on Albert King when Donna showed Boccacho's lawyer into the room. He turned, hand outstretched, and almost missed a beat.
"David," he said, putting on a grin. "Fancy meeting you here."
"Fancy indeed," David Peterson replied, gripping his hand and matching his grin. Fake, fake, but Harvey hadn't known it would be David, who'd graduated sixth just behind him at Harvard. "Nice digs."
"I do all right," Harvey replied, waving him into a chair and settling on the couch. It threw him -- he'd expected some ambulance-chasing low-life, and he certainly hadn't pegged David as someone who would represent the mob. "So you're working for John Boccacho?"
"Pays the bills," David said, his smile turning sharp and bright. "And you're working for Eric Drew. Small world."
"So it seems. You still with Linda?"
"Got our first kid on the way," David boasted.
"That's a hell of a thing. So...?" Harvey settled back, unbuttoning his jacket. "I wish I could say this was unexpected. It's definitely unscheduled."
"Yeah, I can tell you're really busy," David said, eyes drifting to the records on the shelf. He opened his briefcase and took out a folder, holding it out. "I come bearing an offering."
"Settlement?" Harvey asked, leaving him hanging with the folder.
"For a start," David agreed.
"Drew's not interested in settlements," Harvey said, but he took the folder anyway. He opened it, scanning the offer letter. "And definitely not this settlement."
"Boccacho's been maintaining upkeep on the warehouse and making improvements."
"The property's worth a fortune in the right hands, and we both know it, just like we both know your client can do better. This is a tenth of what Drew stands to make developing it -- after construction."
"In this market? Be realistic, Harvey."
"Sorry, the settlement's a fantasy to start with," Harvey said, tossing it into David's briefcase. "I can't build anything on that. Neither can my client."
David sighed and pulled a thin envelope out of the top of the briefcase. "He's prepared to go to this," he said, passing it over. Harvey unfolded the letter inside.
It was higher, almost high enough to tempt Drew, he thought. But if Boccacho was willing to go that high, he might bid up.
"Look, Drew wants the land. This is just proof to me that Boccacho knows he doesn't own the warehouse he's been keeping up," Harvey said.
"That's only half the deal," David replied, and folded his hands together, fingers flexing over his knuckles. "The other half of the deal concerns you. I told Boccacho you're a hard dealer and when you go to court, you win. I've also told him you're the best closer in New York."
"Flattery's cheap," Harvey said.
"He's willing to offer you incentive to take the second offer to Drew and close him on it. Come on, Harvey, we both know you can," David said, when Harvey started to shake his head. "Boccacho's got business going on, he has dealings and he's...got some modifications made to the warehouse."
"Secret rooms and prohibition tunnels?" Harvey guessed. David gave him a vaguely guilty look.
"He's offering half a mil on top of the settlement, to you personally, if you can sell Drew on the deal. Tax-free," David added lightly.
Harvey rested his elbow on the arm of the couch, chin on his closed fist. "David, what the hell are you doing working for this guy?"
"Come on, Harvey, don't tell me some of your clients aren't the least bit shady," David protested.
"Hey, I cross a couple of lines now and then, but not that one," Harvey said. "You're working for the mob. For a guy who pulls peoples' fingers off when they don't pay up. What happened?"
"Not all of us had Jessica Pearson looking out for us. It's tough out there, Harvey. Boccacho's a good employer."
"Yeah, till you screw up and find yourself in the river."
"It's not like that." David said, and then swallowed. "For me."
"Who is it like that for?" Harvey asked, tensing.
David looked down, then back at him. "Boccacho's a piece of work. I know that, you think I'm an idiot? I want this whole thing settled out of court. Give him what he wants and he'll reward you. Or...to put it another way, give him what he wants and he won't punish you."
"First of all, I'm not going to take a bribe to sell a client on a bad deal, not only because it'd put me under Boccacho's thumb where somehow he's already got you," Harvey said. "Second, you can tell Boccacho I don't like being followed and I don't like being threatened. Third, if he puts a hurt on me, there are three lawyers in this firm lined up to take my place." A lie, but if Mike's speculation was right, it might tip the balance in his favor. "I still have friends in the DA's office. Boccacho doesn't want to screw with me, David."
"Do you seriously want me to repeat that you threatened John Boccacho?" David asked.
"It's not a threat. It's just a fact."
Harvey, Donna's voice rang out over the intercom. He was going to have to buy her lunch for that perfectly-timed interruption. Ms. Sanyal is here.
"I'm afraid I can't keep her waiting," Harvey said, standing. David closed the briefcase and stood too, straightening his cuffs unnecessarily.
"Take the offer to Drew, at least," he said.
"I'm going to recommend he decline," Harvey said. "Good to see you again, David."
"Watch your back, Harvey," David warned. He ignored Harvey's outstretched hand, hurrying out past Donna, who gave Harvey a wide-eyed Wow through the glass.
"Is Sanyal actually here?" he asked the air.
No, but it sounded like things were getting heated. Did good? she asked.
"Did good," he replied, picking up his desk phone. "Get me Mike on the line."
"Ross Investigations, no lawyer too big," Mike answered.
"How's the digging going?" Harvey asked.
"Not well. Boccacho's slick."
"Here's a toehold for you," Harvey said. "David Peterson. Harvard Law '98. He's a lawyer working for Boccacho."
Mike whistled. "Good toehold. I'll look into it."
"He just offered me half a million dollars to sell Drew on a bad deal."
"Hell, Harvey, for that kind of money -- "
"I don't take bribes."
"Of course not," Mike said easily. "Let's do a meet."
"Tomorrow. Not the usual place. There's a bar near your office, I'll text you the address. Worried about your tail?"
"Mildly," Harvey said.
"Professionally speaking, I advise you to work late and catch a ride home with one of the security guards. I'll set it up, I know a guy."
"I'm amazed," Harvey deadpanned.
"Well, I'm amazing. See you tomorrow," Mike said, and hung up just as Donna, on the other side of the glass, stood to welcome Ms. Sanyal and show her in.
Around eight o'clock, one of the building's security officers showed up at Harvey's office to take him home; if they were followed, Harvey didn't notice. The next morning, Harvey met Ray outside the building's loading dock, though they did pick up a maroon coupe that followed them until the barrier of the office building's parking garage cut him off. Ray, unnecessarily to Harvey's mind, walked him to the garage elevator and through the lobby, only leaving his side once Harvey had passed lobby security.
He didn't like the claustrophobic sensation that people were watching him, or that others were watching out for him. He didn't like feeling that he couldn't go where he pleased when he pleased. But Donna, perhaps intentionally, perhaps at random, had scheduled him an entire day of meetings at the office. Just when he was thinking about going to get a hot dog from the cart outside the building for lunch, a delivery man showed up with sandwiches for both of them.
"You're handling me," he said, as Donna passed him a paper-wrapped sandwich. "Don't think I haven't noticed."
"You're having delusions," she told him cheerfully, and tossed him a bag of chips. "Eat up, WitSec."
He did manage to duck out while she was running some files down to the copy room, or else she probably would have insisted on escorting him to the meeting with Mike. It wasn't that he didn't enjoy Donna's company, but showing up to a semi-professional meeting with a fierce redheaded bodyguard wasn't his idea of proper.
Besides, it felt good to be outside with nobody watching, even if he'd had to leave through the janitorial office on the side of the building.
A block from Pearson Hardman, Mike fell into step with him, on his left, between him and the street.
"Donna called," he said, by way of explanation. Harvey rolled his eyes. "She also told me Boccacho threatened you, which you neglected to mention."
"I'm a big dog, I can growl back," Harvey told him.
"What am I, a puppy?" Mike asked. "There's a reason Drew wanders around the city with a bodyguard."
They stopped at a Don't Walk signal; Harvey could see the bar down the block, the sign already lit, lightbulbs in it flickering.
"Boccacho sent a lawyer to threaten me. I feel distinctly unthreatened."
"So, what, you're waiting for some guy with no last name to show up at your condo with a bat?" Mike asked, crossing when the signal changed.
"It won't come to that. He's got something hidden in the warehouse. He'll bid higher to keep it," Harvey said. "This is the dance. You make a move, they make a move."
"You don't dance with career criminals much," Mike replied. "They tend to have two left feet. You make a move, they break your toes."
"He's still waiting to hear back from me," Harvey said. "I'm taking the offer to Drew tomorrow as a form -- "
At first he wasn't sure what was happening. One second he'd been in the middle of a word, and the next he was falling, landing hard on his elbows, Mike flailing on top of him. He thought Mike had tripped, but then he heard the noise -- two soft whistles, almost like birdsong, and an echoing pair of dull thuds. Brick dust rained down on him. Mike had a hand on his head, body pinning him to the ground.
"Stay down," Mike said harshly in his ear, and Harvey realized what the whistles were: bullets fired from a silenced gun. "Stay there, I need to -- "
He felt Mike's weight shift as he rolled off.
"They're turning around," he said, pulling Harvey up, not to stand but sideways, into a crouch behind a parked car. "Still think Boccacho's not playing seriously?"
"Fire back!" Harvey ordered. "You have a gun!"
"This is a crowded street!" Mike replied. People were passing, staring at them as if they were crazy -- it was amazing what would escape the notice of a New Yorker at rush hour. "If we run we can make it into the bar."
"No," Harvey said, even as Mike tried to hustle him forward.
"Are you nuts? Harvey, they're trying to shoot you!"
"Three guns, right?" Harvey said. "He'll have someone in the bar."
Mike paused, stared at him, and then nodded. "You're probably right. Okay, this way," he added, and tugged Harvey back, back from the oncoming car and the bar entrance, into the curving embrace of a florist's sidewalk display. "Cover your ears," Mike continued, digging a small cone-shaped device out of his ever-present bag. "This is going to get loud."
Harvey put his hands over his ears as Mike plugged the cone into his phone and tapped a few commands on the screen. He still wasn't prepared for the sheer wall of noise that hit him -- the shrill wail of a police siren right next to his ear.
The dark car -- windows rolled down, shadowy figures inside -- had been prowling back along the street, but when the siren went it sped up. Harvey, peering through some rather nice bouquets of sunflowers, saw a man emerge from the bar, look both ways hastily, and hurry down the street.
Mike pulled him into the florist's shop, cutting the siren, and ducked under the counter, much to the surprise of the stunned cashier.
"Works like a charm," he announced, as they hurried through the back of the shop, around giant cold-storage boxes filled with flowers and through a door that led into some kind of back hallway. With an eerily unerring sense of direction, Mike guided him down the hall, through another door, into the lobby of a hotel, and out to the cab stand in front of it. He pushed Harvey into the back, climbed into the front with the driver, who glared at him, and gave him an address somewhere across town.
"We could go back to my condo," Harvey said, pretending he wasn't breathless and shaking a little from the adrenaline.
"They'll have someone there," Mike said, twisting in the seat to talk to him through the hatch. "They don't know where we are, now. We can go anywhere."
Harvey stifled the urge to tell Mike he wanted to go home, that he was covered in dust and his heart was beating a mile a minute. This was why he paid Mike, after all.
Mike deliberately picked a bar on the other side of Manhattan, to give Harvey time to calm down. He could see Harvey rigidly containing panic in the back seat; it was a natural reaction.
He wasn't feeling precisely calm himself, either. There had been two bullets, the first one slightly lower than the other and the second one angled back. The second had been meant for Harvey, but the first had been intended to drop Mike so they'd have a clear shot. Boccacho couldn't know who he was yet -- Mike covered his tracks well -- but now they knew his face. They'd have seen him protecting Harvey, and they'd know he was involved. He made a mental note to tell the receptionist at Gram's care home to warn their security people. It was a long shot that Boccacho would be able to find out who he was, and even longer that they'd be able to find out about Gram, but people were always willing to talk for cash.
In the backseat, Harvey was wiping his scraped and bloody hands on a handkerchief, using the edge of it to flick red dust off his shoulders. Mike paid half-attention to that, still scanning the traffic around them to make sure they weren't being followed. He stifled a smile when Harvey began inspecting the elbows of his suit, plucking disgustedly at the loose threads caused by the fall. He hadn't freaked out, which counted for a lot in Mike's book -- he'd kept his head, pulled them back from the bar, and done what he was told when Mike took over.
"How did they know where I'd be?" Harvey asked, still plucking at his scraped-up jacket.
"How'd you leave the building?"
"They know you've been dodging them, they probably had guys at every door they could find," Mike said. "No need to follow, just call the gun car."
The cabdriver gave him a wary look.
"We're cool, they're not following us," Mike assured him, and palmed him a twenty.
By the time they walked into their new bar, Mike was feeling settled and confident, and Harvey looked at least back to his usual self, the personality that Mike secretly thought of as Striding Around Owning Epic Shit.
"Come on, we'll fix you up," Mike said, leading Harvey past the elegant bar and swanky seating areas to the bathroom. He maneuvered Harvey to lean against the sink-counter, then wetted a paper towel and rubbed some soap into it, scrubbing the shallow scrapes on Harvey's palms. "Sorry I got a little rough."
"Beats a bullet," Harvey said, hands still, turned palm-up while Mike cleaned them. He had nice hands -- smooth, blunt-fingered, more workmanlike than Mike would expect from a high-priced lawyer. "Your ear's bloody."
"Debris," Mike said, folding the paper towel over and wiping dried blood away from the nick in his ear. He knew, because with his memory he couldn't help knowing, that it was where the second bullet had narrowly missed him as they went down. "Do you feel disoriented or lightheaded?"
Harvey shook his head. "I feel like I need a stiff drink."
"Go get yourself one, I think you earned it," Mike said, drying Harvey's hands carefully. "Order me a Coke, I'll join you in a second. Don't worry, I'll have eyes on you," he added, when Harvey frowned. "I need to make some calls."
Harvey tested the palm of his left hand with the fingers of his right, prodding gently to gauge how sore they were as he walked out. Mike followed, standing in the hall, shifting back and forth between watching Harvey and scanning the room.
He made three calls. The first was to Mrs. Thorpe, on the ground floor of his building -- there was a Mrs. Thorpe in every community, a retiree who knew everyone's business, an old dude who liked watching from the window or a woman who sat on the step and talked to everyone who came by.
"Oh, it's exciting!" she said, when he warned her to watch for men casing the building or dark cars circling the block. "I'll put Janie's kids on it, they're sharp-eyed little nippers. What do I do if the bad guys show up?"
"Get the kids inside and call me, and then play stupid if they try to talk to you," Mike said.
"Aye aye, Mr. Detective!"
The second call was to Gram's care home, and the man on the front desk promised to put the word around discreetly to security.
The third was to Harvey's building, to ask the doorman about extra security. Turned out the high rise had a basement access shaft from the next building over, if Mr. Specter didn't mind ducking a little. Mike assured him that he wouldn't, and hung up.
"All quiet on the western front," he announced, seating himself at the bar next to Harvey, who was nursing what looked like a scotch. "I've made arrangements so that you can sleep in your own bed tonight, and I can sleep on your couch."
"That's presuming a lot," Harvey said.
"Not really. I know you have a couch."
"You don't know you're permitted to sleep on it."
Mike gave him a wide smile. "You can accept my proposal for round-the-clock bodyguarding, or you can fire me."
Harvey glanced at him, and he saw the sweep of his eyes over his body, a professional appraisal. He knew what he looked like, slim to the point of scrawny, but he'd been a wrestler in high school and he was in training at a dojo. He could take on anyone up to about twice his weight, and after that...well, that was what the gun was for.
"Your building doesn't have a dress code," he said, deliberately misinterpreting Harvey's gaze.
"You'd do all right if they did," Harvey allowed. "Rumpled looks good on you."
"What, this old thing?" Mike asked, laughing. "So do you want my report or not?"
Harvey gestured dismissively for him to continue.
"So our story begins with David Peterson," Mike said, sipping his Coke. "Sixth in his class at Harvard, behind one Harvey Specter, like you thought I wouldn't catch that."
"You knew I knew. Anyway, Peterson's a promising junior partner at a firm specializing in criminal defense. Racked up a lot of gambling debts that mysteriously went away around the time he started going to Gambler's Anonymous meetings and left his firm to become -- "
" -- John Boccacho's personal attorney," Harvey finished for him.
"That's the size of it. It's easy to draw the inferences: Boccacho paid off his gambling debts and now he owns him. I'll say this, he clearly got him clean. But that puts him in for life, because even if he pays off what he owes Boccacho for buying his debts, he can be blackmailed. And no legit firm is going to hire a mob lawyer."
"Some lines you shouldn't cross," Harvey murmured.
"No argument here," Mike agreed. "Now where it gets interesting is that Peterson's not just an emissary or the guy you call when one of your guys gets busted by the police. There's no paper trail, but according to hearsay he set up a huge construction project down by the docks about eight years ago."
"I knew Boccacho was renovating that place," Harvey said.
"Not exactly," Mike replied, and let it hang there for dramatic effect before adding, "I think he built it."
"Buildings don't just appear in Manhattan," Harvey said.
"They do if you don't zone or officially hire the labor," Mike replied. "There's no residents in the area to complain about the noise. I think Boccacho picked a parcel of land that was already in dispute, quietly put up a building so he could prove possession, and used Peterson to do his dirty work. Plus he has a custom-built shelter for whatever it is he's getting up to down there."
"Nothing we can put before a judge, though."
"Nothing yet," Mike said. "I'm not done with Johnny Three-Guns. But right now, my primary concern is keeping you alive. So the question is, what are you going to do?"
Harvey gestured at the bartender, who poured him another scotch. "Drew gets back from Vancouver tomorrow. We're meeting at nine; I'm supposed to present Boccacho's offer. I can withdraw from the case, but that probably means losing Drew's account."
"Might not matter. You gave a crimelord lip, Harvey. They don't forgive easily."
"I'm less worried about him than I am about my boss's reaction to losing a multimillion-dollar client."
"What's he going to say to the offer?"
Harvey rubbed his face. "I can tell him not to take it. Or...his instinct is going to be to keep fighting, but I can close him on the idea of taking it if I come at him from the right angle. He takes the offer, I think this whole thing goes away. He doesn't..." he shrugged.
"My instinct for self-preservation, which is going to have to talk for both of us since yours is clearly lacking, says you should sell him the deal, get it done, and walk away," Mike said. "On the other hand, Boccacho's a dick and I want to see him go down."
"I'm not interested in taking him down," Harvey said. "I'm interested in making my client happy and keeping myself alive."
"I think you're going to have to pick one," Mike ventured.
Harvey shot back the rest of his drink in a single swallow.
"But maybe not until tomorrow," Mike added, sensing he should probably get them out of the bar. "Come on. I have an alternate route into your place that should be really fun."