It took a long time for Rachel to actually knock on the door.
She'd made the decision, admittedly on a few glasses of wine the previous evening, but even in the sober light of the morning's hangover it had seemed like...time. Like everything was falling into place. Mike and Jenny had been over for a while, at least long enough that any reasonable person would be ready to bounce back. And not so short a time that he'd still be hung up on Jenny, at least she hoped.
So it was a good time. They'd worked out their issues, Jenny was out of the picture, and...and Mike was kind. Rachel wasn't sure if she wanted a relationship with Mike, but she knew he was kind.
And yes, okay, now it was Saturday night, but the odds of Michael Ross, workaholic and serial monogamist, having a woman over on a Saturday night were, she felt, fairly low. The worst that could happen -- well, the absolute worst would be Mike gently rejecting her, which would sting but no risk, no gain. Otherwise the worst that could happen was that Mike would be out somewhere, and she'd knock on his door and he wouldn't answer.
That was the theory.
In practice, after shaving her legs and doing her nails, washing her hair and curling it, putting on just the right amount of makeup to be inviting and not so much it would get in the way of sexy makeouts on Mike's couch -- after putting on her sexiest underwear and a Saturday Night kind of dress, she went to Mike's apartment building, slipped through the front door behind a guy carrying his groceries in, and suffered a two-storey climb in high heels to Mike's apartment.
Where she thought she'd catch her breath for a minute.
And then make sure her hair was okay.
And double-check her dress wasn't wrinkled.
And then just...stare at the door in apprehension for a while.
She was being ridiculous. She'd been over this. Mike wasn't cruel; he might not be interested but he wouldn't be mean about it. And he'd seemed interested before. Interested enough to kiss her back when he was still going out with Jenny. So he was probably still interested, and if he was, then the happy outcome of this risk was that she blew Mike's eerily effective mind.
Emboldened, she knocked. And then tried to pretend someone at the end of the hallway wasn't eyeing her like she might be a call girl. Mike really needed to get a new apartment.
No answer; she knocked a second time, just to be sure, and as she was lowering her arm the door opened. Rachel prepared to pose stunningly --
"Jesus, that was fast, are you in the building or some -- thing..."
The man who answered the door was not Mike Ross. He also wasn't wearing any clothing. He was...shirtless, very shirtless, and wet, hair curling and dripping onto his olive-tanned shoulders, a towel knotted around his toned waist the only thing preserving his decency. He had a wallet in one hand -- to pay for food delivery, she realized -- and a tattoo on his left pec, of the word VERITAS in deep black.
"Well," the man said, and Rachel knew that voice. She looked up from the tattoo into Harvey Specter's face.
"You're not the sushi I ordered," Harvey observed.
"I -- sorry, I'm -- I -- " Rachel stammered. Harvey tossed the wallet on a table inside the apartment and straightened slightly, leaning with one arm against the doorjamb. "I came to -- "
" -- see Mike?" Harvey asked, as confident as if he were standing in the middle of Pearson Hardman in one of his ridiculously expensive three-piece suits that always reminded her of her dad. "He's asleep. But I don't think you're here to talk business," he added, eyes raking down her low-cut dress, the snug fit of it over her hips, her torturously high heels.
Humiliation washed over her like a wave. There was Harvey Specter, calm, relaxed, cheerful, standing all but naked in Mike's doorway, having apparently ordered them a late meal after what was clearly a very successful date.
"Then again, neither am I," he added thoughtfully.
"How long?" she blurted.
Harvey rubbed his forehead. "About two weeks, not that it's your business," he said, but his tone was gentle.
"Oh," she answered, uncertain how to make her excuses, how to run away and hide from this -- not that she could, because she worked with Harvey, and with Mike, and if Harvey...Harvey wasn't nice, not like Mike was --
"Hey," Harvey said, and lifted his chin a little. On instinct, she lifted hers as well. "Take it from someone ten years older than you who has a lot more experience in pulling stupid stunts for sex. This is not nearly as humiliating as it could have been."
"Plenty humiliating as it is," she murmured.
"It's not exactly my finest moment either," he pointed out.
"Better not let Mike hear you say that," she heard herself say. Harvey smiled, not the kind of smile he made at work but a real smile, one that wrinkled the corners of his eyes.
"I think we both know that's not what I meant," he said. "But you can see how this would look to, say -- "
"I won't tell, if that's what you're worried about," she said.
"It wasn't, but thank you."
"Please don't tell Mike about this?"
He looked genuinely surprised. "Can you imagine how that conversation would go?"
She laughed a little. "No. I guess not." She looked up at him again. "You care about him?"
Harvey glanced over his shoulder.
"Don't tell Mike about that," he said.
"My lips are sealed, but I think the secret's out," she said. "Sorry, Harvey. I'll, um -- "
"Go, yes, that would probably be best..." Harvey trailed off as Mike's voice, sleepy and curious, drifted out. Harvey?
"Thank you," Rachel mouthed at Harvey, who nodded and waved her off, closing the door. She could hear his voice inside, a low, soothing rumble.
On her way down, she passed a guy with a delivery bag, apparently headed up to Mike's apartment. She pointed him left down the hallway and he nodded in thanks.
Outside, she turned to look up at where Mike's window would be, glowing yellow in the blue darkness.
Well, Harvey got there first. Fair enough.
"Who was that?" Mike asked, sitting up in bed as Harvey settled crosslegged in the middle of the duvet. He was wearing hastily-donned boxers, a bag of food in one hand.
"Sushi guy," Harvey said, digging a plastic box out of the bag and popping it open, chopsticks already clasped deftly in his other hand. "You promised me this place didn't suck so I have a certain basic level of expectation as regards their namasake."
"I thought I heard you talking to someone else," Mike said, rubbing his hair into some kind of order. "Did you get me -- "
"Yes, pleb, I got you a Philly roll and some tempura," Harvey replied, passing him a styrofoam box with vents in the lid. Mike opened it and crunched into a bit of fried sweet potato. "Here, try this," Harvey added, offering him a piece of otoroh on rice. Mike accepted it from his chopsticks, smiling.
"You're my favorite," he told Harvey.
"Naturally," Harvey answered.
"So there wasn't anyone else at the door?" Mike asked.
"Nobody to worry about," Harvey replied. He helped himself to the other piece of otoroh sashimi, watching thoughtfully as Mike worked his way through his Philly roll.
"Hey," he said finally. "You get that this isn't me fucking around, right?"
Mike looked up at him, brows drawn together. "Sorry?"
"This. Us. Isn't a one-night stand."
"Well, no, it's an eleven-night stand, at this point," Mike said. Harvey narrowed his eyes, and Mike grinned. "Yes, Harvey, I get that in your own emotionally stunted way you're trying to establish that this is an actual relationship. You realize that means you're going to have to put work into it, right?"
"Mike -- "
"Because frankly I wonder if you shouldn't have Donna work that into your calendar -- "
"I'm just saying, you're a busy man," Mike finished, offering him a piece of tempura shrimp. Harvey took it somewhat sulkily.
"I'd like to establish...exclusive, monogamous rights, that's all," he said, gesturing with his free hand.
"We're sleeping together, Harvey, not signing a merger," Mike said.
"Well, asking if we're going steady lacks panache."
Mike laughed. "The party of the first part, afterwards to be identified as Mike Ross, hereby engages and determines to offer exclusive romantic, sexual, and all other common rights pertaning to standardized romantic relationships, to be itemized at a later date, to the party of the second part, afterwards to be identified as Harvey Specter, with the understanding of mutual and equally binding return of said sentiments, until such time as there shall be drawn up a formal notice of mutual exclusivity in perpetua, or until such time as an agreement to dissolve said sentiments may be reached."
"You're leaving yourself wide open with that clause about common rights," Harvey remarked.
"How about this: I'm not going to take booty calls from Rachel Zane," Mike said.
Harvey looked down. "You heard."
"Yeah. I'm not gonna tell Rachel that, but this apartment is about the size of a pizza box, it's a little hard not to." Mike grinned at him. "She peep your tatt?"
"I didn't notice, I was busy being confronted by her breasts."
"They were pretty aggressive."
"Well, now I'm sorry I missed it," Mike said. "Listen, that was decent, what you said. For anyone, let alone you. I'm very proud of your ability to pretend not to be smug."
"It was a challenge," Harvey informed him solemnly.
"Because you're tapping this ass," Mike said, beaming.
"Selling yourself a little high there, are't you?" Harvey asked. "It was what any red-blooded man would feel when confronted by a woman who wants to fuck his boyfriend and found out it's too late."
"I'm not selling myself at all," Mike replied. "Admit it, I'm a catch."
"Harvard-educated -- "
"Successful, ambitious associate with a top firm -- "
"I think we need to work out how you define success."
"A sharp dresser with exquisite taste in boyfriends -- "
"I'll grant you the latter."
"And all yours," Mike finished, setting his empty takeout cartons aside. Harvey accepted this as the cue it was, setting his own mostly-eaten meal next to Mike's empties and crawling up the bed, forcing Mike to ease back. He propped himself over Mike on his elbows.
"Better be," he said, quietly, kissing him.
"Promise," Mike replied.
"Good, because I'm not putting up with this terrible apartment for nothing."
Mike laughed. "Though it might be kind of fun to see you and Rachel fighting over me."
"Not gonna happen."
Harvey looked down at him. "She could see what this was. She knows better than to try and go up against me when I've made up my mind. What I want, I get, and I don't let go."
Mike smiled up at him. "Fair enough," he said, and pulled Harvey down for another kiss.