Anallagmatic, An`al*lag*mat"ic\, a. [Gr. 'an priv. + ? a change.] (Math.) Not changed in form by inversion.
When he was a kid, Harvey couldn't get through a single visit with his grandfather without the man quipping 'The more things change, the more they stay the same' at least once. It's a stupid thing to say. He'd thought that when he was five, when he was fifteen, when he was twenty-five, and even now that he's, well, maturer. The more things change, the more they change, simple as that.
But no, during every single flipping visit without fail the old man would slowly shake his head, run a hand over the sparse remains of his hair, exhale loudly through his nose, and say, "The more things change, the more they stay the same."
In college he'd dated a brilliant, beautiful girl in the law program who he'd been convinced he was going to marry. Then he'd made the mistake of mentioning his distaste for that particular phrase and she'd spent the next hour and a half using every technique they'd learned during the last few months to dissect every reason why he was missing the point of it.
The relationship didn't last too long after that.
Harvey really hates that expression.
Here and now it goes like this...
There's a big case coming up, the kind that keeps even Harvey in the office for hours after he would normally be gone--Harvey obviously doesn't get emotionally involved or anything, but for the right price he can be persuaded to fake it--which means he doesn't actually get the call about his grandfather. He doesn't even get the message until a couple of days after the fact. His land line might as well be a piece of 'ironic' modern art for all the use it gets, so he doesn't blame himself for overlooking the blinking 'missed message' light on his relic of an answering machine at first.
The lawyer's voice is thin and tinny through the crappy little speaker and the only coherent thought Harvey can manage to fully form in response is, 'Huh, are things different enough for you now, you old bastard?'
And then he starts drinking. He's a firm believer in tradition in cases like this. Doesn't matter that he's never liked the man; protocol dictates that he raise a glass to his memory. Or, you know, ten.
Harvey isn't certain how much he's had to drink by the time Mike shows up at his door, loaded down with a stack of folders that look about as steady in his arms as Harvey feels. The best he can figure, the answer is 'a lot'. That makes him annoyed, because he likes to be more precise than that, and he scowls at Mike without really planning to.
"Why yes, I would be oh so pleased to come in," Mike says with a sardonic little twist of his lips as he shoulders his way past Harvey; it's a move that never would have worked if Harvey had been sober and his scowl darkens a shade more. "It's not like these files that you absolutely couldn't wait until morning to review are ridiculously heavy or anything."
In a perfect world, Mike would drop the files on the nearest flat surface and go. Sadly, this is a world where Donna refuses to marry him so that he can take advantage of her obviously supernatural organizational skills in all aspects of his life and the Star Wars prequels exist. Any world with Jar Jar Binks in it is automatically stricken from the list of potential perfect worlds.
Harvey tilts his head and wonders what Mike would look like with long, floppy ears.
It's possible that Harvey's a little drunk.
Mike's forehead scrunches up in the way that means he's concerned and he takes a step closer to Harvey, only hesitating for a blink before lightly touching his fingertips to the back of Harvey's wrist where his shirt cuff has ridden up a little.
"Are you okay?" Mike asks in that impossibly earnest way that makes him such a big hit with wayward witnesses and little old ladies.
The touch is featherlight, barely there at all, but it feels like it's searing into his skin and Harvey can't stop himself from closing his eyes and leaning into it.
"My grandfather died," he blurts out, eyes snapping open at Mike's sharp gasp. Belatedly he remembers how close Mike is to his own grandmother and vaguely waves a dismissive hand. "No, no, it's fine. He was awful. Old and crotchety and always talking in cliches."
Harvey gives Mike a considering once over. "He probably would have loved you."
"Okay," Mike says slowly. His eyes scan over the living room, no doubt taking in the water glass Harvey had opted for instead of a tumbler and the mostly empty bottle of previously unopened twelve year old scotch sitting next to it. "I'm thinking it'd probably be best to get you to bed."
Harvey straightens, because that's the kind of thinking he can get behind, and turns the slow, wicked smile that always gets him at least a phone number--and on one memorable occasion a quicky in the coat closet at the governor's mansion--on Mike. He says, "Only if you plan on coming with me," and then snorts out a laugh that ruins the entire effect, because, ha!, coming.
Okay, scratch that. It's possible that Harvey's very drunk.
Mike's eyebrows shoot up and he firmly takes hold of one of Harvey's elbows and starts steering him back toward his bedroom. "In retrospect, I definitely should have assumed you'd be a horny drunk."
"Not a horny drunk," Harvey protests as Mike pushes him down to sit on his bed, then kneels to untie and slip off his shoes. Mike's ridiculous hair is right there and Harvey is carding his fingers through it before he even realizes he's started to move. Mike glances up through his eyelashes and frowns.
"I'm not a horny drunk," Harvey reiterates firmly, and then, because it suddenly seems unbearably important, he lets his hand slide down to cup Mike's cheek and says, "The more things change, the more they stay the same."
Mike pulls away slowly. Things start to go kind of fuzzy after that and the last things Harvey remembers before sinking down into the soft warmth of his Egyptian cotton sheets and a deep sleep is muttering, " Everything's always changing. Wonder if there's a world that's changed so much that I don't want you this much," and the faint ghosting of what feels like lips across his forehead.
Elsewhere, under different circumstances, it's possible it goes more like this...
The photographer the magazine sent over looks too young to be taking pictures with anything other than his camera phone. His jeans are too loose to be fashionable. His soft, worn shirt has completely bypassed the trendy vintage area and headed into old territory with a short side trip to raggedy town. His hair needs a cut, one arm of his glasses is being held on with scotch tape, and there are flip flops on his feet.
Harvey already seriously questions his taste level.
Mike--and isn't that just the kind of name that practically requires membership in a frat that spends most of its time perfecting its beer pong moves--fiddles with Harvey's blinds, then bounces around the room a bit, squatting down on his heels and then popping up onto the balls of his feet. Harvey lasts all of five minutes before snapping, "What are you doing?"
"Getting a feel for the space," Mike replies. He doesn't even spare Harvey a glance. "The light in here is amazing."
Harvey shrugs and leans back against his desk. "One of many benefits that come with having a corner office."
Mike's eyes suddenly cut back toward him, his gaze laser sharp in a way it hasn't been all morning. "Don't move," he says almost brusquely and darts over to the couch to grab a big, bulky camera. "You move from that position and I'll get that lovely assistant of yours to come in here and cut you."
From her desk outside his office, where she obviously has nothing better to do than sit around and eavesdrop, Donna calls, "He brought me coffee. Don't think I won't do it."
"Traitor," Harvey yells back at her. He can feel the radiation of her smugness all the way in here like the kiss of the sun against his face.
Not that he isn't loving all of this or anything, but Harvey grimaces at Mike and asks, "How much longer is this going to take? Some of us actually have important things to do."
"It'll take as long as it takes to make you look gorgeous. Since I'm brilliant and you're more than halfway there already, I'm sure you'll be back to your very important life in no time. Now quit your bitching and give us a cocky smile." Mike waggles his eyebrows and smiles at him a little from behind the lens of his camera, barely more than a subtle shift of his lips, and Harvey falls in love on the spot.
In another possibility, this happens...
It's the last fucking straw, Harvey thinks as he stalks out of his office, the bottle in his hand clutched almost tightly enough to crack the plastic. This is it, the day he finally snaps and kills Mike. He wonders who'll win the office pool for the date.
Mike's in Rachel's office, happily chatting away about something or other over plates of sushi, but Harvey can tell the instant he notices Harvey's footsteps by the way his head immediately snaps up and swivels in his direction.
"Out," Harvey says to Rachel without bothering to look away from Mike.
She doesn't protest, just gathers her things and gets the hell out of there. He's always thought she was a smart one. Good to see his instincts proven right.
Not like Mike. Mike has lousy instincts if the way he's smirking is any indication. Harvey tosses the bottle at him and glowers.
"You think this is funny?"
Mike shrugs and carefully places the bottle of cheap, glittery lotion on Rachel's desk before pushing easily to his feet. "Sounds like you could stand to develop a better sense of humor."
It takes less than a handful of steps to trap Mike between his body and the wall. This close up, it's impossible to tune out the sweet thump thump thump of Mike's pulse and Harvey presses a hand over his neck so that he can feel it flutter under his fingertips.
"There is nothing funny about fucking sparkling. You want to try answering that question again?" His tongue feels thick in his mouth and his incisors are definitely sharper than they were a few minutes ago. Shit. Shit.
It's been too damn long since he fed properly.
Some of what he's thinking must filter through into his expression, because Mike whines high in his throat and tips his head back a little further; it's the closest he can come to actually rolling over onto his back without Harvey releasing him.
"Dangerous," Harvey mutters, bowing his head to brush his lips over the thin skin under Mike's chin. He drags his nose along the line of his jaw back to behind Mike's ear and inhales deeply. "Dangerous and an HR nightmare."
Mike's clutching at his biceps, fingers digging in almost hard enough to hurt, definitely too tight for Harvey to pull away, and he does a full body wriggle that presses his erection right up against Harvey's thigh, which at least answers one of the questions zipping through Harvey's mind.
"Oh fuck, yes," Mike moans when Harvey uses his hips to pin him harder against the wall. "If you wear the lotion, I'll let you call me Jacob."
Harvey leans back just enough so that he can arch an incredulous eyebrow at Mike, and Mike is grinning so wide it has to hurt. If he was in his other form, Harvey is completely convinced his tail would be wagging. Harvey rolls his eyes, nips at Mike's lower lip, and says, "Maybe next time."
More than once, I'm embarrassed to say, it goes a little something like this...
Harvey sidles up to the guy sitting by himself and props his hip against the bar.
"I'm Harvey," he says; if his lips are almost touching the other man's ear, it's only so that he'll be able to hear him over the pounding of the bass line.
The guy looks up and his lips slowly curve into a smile as he gives Harvey a blatant once over. He turns on his stool until he can lean comfortably back against the bar, a thin strip of his stomach peeking out from under the hem of his tight shirt when he arches his back a little. It could be a simple stretch or maybe a move to show off the long, lean line of his torso.
Harvey doesn't particularly care.
"Mike," the guy says with an almost mocking jerk of a wave. Mike's smile turns dirty at the edges when he asks, "You wanna get out ofhere?"
"Sounds good," says Harvey. Mike's already hopped down off his stool and Harvey's hand automatically lands at the small of his back, slipping down to settle at the uppermost swell of his ass, as he guides him through the crowd.
Then there's the time it goes like this...
Dimly, as if watching himself from a great distance, Harvey registers that his hands are shaking. He tells himself it's anger, not distress, but the excuse falls flat even in his own mind.
"You can't just do things like that," he insists, a plaintive note slipping uninvited into his voice. "Do you want to get caught? Is that it? Because if you're doing this deliberately, then do it somewhere else where I won't get caught up in your stupidity and end up being dragged down with you."
Mike lifts his hands in the space between them, palms out in a silent gesture of surrender. Harvey can see him, but he looks blurry, like the view through a heat haze.
"Look, it was just a bit of fun, okay? I didn't know the answer and I didn't want any of those assholes to win. Louis would have given us both shit about it for ages. Nobody noticed, so no harm, no foul. It's all good, Harvey." Mike's too close, close enough that Harvey can smell the beginnings of a singe on his clothing. Every hair on his body is probably curling back in on itself to escape the heat.
"You can't keep taking stupid risks," Harvey says. He can feel the flames trying to lick their way out from his fingertips and he balls his hands into fists to keep them from escaping. "If they find out, then the best case scenario is that they'll kill you quickly. And you know what happens in those labs if you aren't so lucky."
"Just me," Mike asks. He shuffles even closer and one of his raised hands skims down the front of Harvey's tie in an absent smoothing gesture that's anything but casual. "All these terrible things and you're only worried about me in these scenarios? I didn't know you were so self sacrificing."
Harvey knows it's going to happen a half second before he actually sees Mike's eyes narrow in concentration. He's been practicing and slowly getting better, but that isn't enough to for him to errect any of the mental barriers that Mike has taught him. Knowing Mike, he probably knows a few loopholes to get past them anyway.
Almost immediately, Mike's eyes go wide and his fingers stutter and curl at the knot of Harvey's tie. "Oh," he says on an exhale, his expression softening into something like wonder. Then again, "Oh. I didn't know."
"You weren't ever meant to," Harvey says, his voice as brittle as dried tinder.
"Harvey," Mike says quietly. "I'd burn the city to the ground to save you too."
But back in the here and now...
When Harvey blinks awake, there's a glass of water and a couple of pills sitting on his night stand with a post-it next to them that reads 'Eat me! Drink me! (And follow the white rabbit if you feel the urge.)' in Mike's barely legible scrawl. A quick scan of the room and he sees the print out of a picture of a white rabbit taped to his en suite door.
The pills are a nice, but unnecessary gesture; Harvey's hangovers are few and far between and luck is on his side this morning. Still, he grabs the water and gulps it down as he swings his legs off the bed and stands. He needs to piss, but there's something that smells suspiciously like coffee and bacon wafting from the direction of the kitchen and he hesitates for a moment before following the note's advice and heading into the bathroom to take care of business and splash water on his face.
Once he's up and moving, yesterday's clothes feel too tight and constraining, the expensive fabric slightly sticky against his skin, and he sheds them in favor of a butter soft pair of jeans and a henley. He approaches casual clothes like some people do junk food, a treat made all that much better by not indulging every day. But it's a Saturday, so he doesn't feel even a trace of guilt about abandoning his beautiful suits for worn cotton.
A spare blanket is bunched up on opposite end of the couch from a small stack of throw pillows and a pair of shoes is tucked under a chair with a dress shirt tossed carelessly over its armrest.
Out in the kitchen, Mike's progressed from bacon to flipping pancakes. His feet are bare and his thin undershirt does little to hide the almost delicate line of his spine when he bends. It's much easier to squash the urge to step up behind him and slide his arms around his waist than it would have been last night.
He hadn't kept his steps deliberately light or anything, but Mike still starts with a little jump when Harvey clears his throat.
"Morning, sunshine," Mike says, recovering from his surprise easily enough. There's still something wary in the set of his mouth, though, and Harvey pretends not to see it in favor of snagging a strip of crispy bacon. Hangover or not, speaking still feels like too much to handle; he nods instead of answering.
"So, about last night," Mike continues as he moves the frying pan onto a cool burner and turns to face Harvey fully. His fingers twitch against his wrinkled slack and the pink tip of his tongue slips out to wet his lips. Harvey tries to project an air of casual disregard and very carefully doesn't move.
"What about it?" His voice cracks, hoarse and smoky and borderline fucked out. Mike's tongue darts back out for another swipe.
"The way I see it, we have two options." He pauses and Harvey nods for him to go on. He bounces a little on the balls of his feet before saying, "One, we pretend that nothing ever happened. People say and do shit when they've been drinking and it doesn't have to mean anything. No harm, no foul, right?"
Harvey nods and grabs another piece of bacon. "And option two?"
"Two," Mike says, taking a slow, very deliberate step forward. "With two, you tell me right now before I do anything if I'm wrong about this, because I would really rather this not be the thing that gets me fired."
Harvey swallows thickly. Option one is tempting, clearly the safe, smart choice, but...
He takes a step that feels like an uncontrolled free fall and says, "You're not wrong."
Mike smiles, his entire face lighting up with it.
"Cool," Mike says and closes the distance between them to pull Harvey into a kiss. Just like that Harvey's entire world reorders itself and slots back together in a way that feels completely different and impossibly familiar all at once.