Further notes: this song
I knew your friendship
Because you were always there
When I needed your comfort.
Harvey’s first impression of Mike had not been a favourable one; his thoughts flitted between ‘stoner’, ‘waster’ and ‘boring’. Marian had gone on and on about the man-child so much that Harvey couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed.
“He’s going to be fantastic one day,” she’d told him in bed late one night, with such awe that Harvey had been a little jealous.
But meeting the kid? No. He’s not jealous at all because, really? Mike Ross, although attractive in a charmingly boyish way, was nothing compared to Harvey Specter. He was the antithesis of Harvey Specter.
Perhaps that’s why they get on so well.
At the time, though, Harvey had been smug as he’d sat across the table from him, sipping on his wine while Mike chugged from a bottle of beer (and yes, Harvey’d made the barb about Mike being old enough to drink). Harvey’s only just starting to put together the Harvey Specter veneer after fucking around for a while in the Associates pool before he’d gone to Jessica and all but promised her his unborn children as sacrifice, if she would get him out of there. He’s found a tailor, who he can’t really afford right now; he’s found an apartment he’s almost willing to sell a kidney for; he’s got the girl, who’s got a ring on her finger. He’s pretty much got it all and anything he’s not already got, he’s in the process of getting. And Mike is... Well. Mike is.
“So what do you do, Mike?” Harvey asked, and Marian had elbowed him in the ribs at his tone. He turned to her, smiling, and she’d rolled her eyes but ultimately let him away with it.
“I’m doing my PhD.”
Harvey shifts his mental list around a little, adding ‘intelligent’ to it. Marian had said he was a genius but Harvey’s known her long enough to know she’s easily impressed and her words hadn’t really... stuck.
“Really. On what?”
Mike frowned across at him, though Harvey could see the a hint of a smile tickling the edges of his lips. It’s a curious expression, one that Harvey has come to realise in the years since that he rather enjoys.
“Language and rhetoric in the US legal system.”
‘Intelligent’ bumps up the list.
Mike smirked and nodded, his slightly too long hair falling across his face. The man beside him (clearly a date, how Harvey had missed that he’ll never know) reached out and tucked it back behind the ear it came loose from and Harvey heard Marian sigh beside him. He turned to her curiously, but she’d been staring at Mike and... Nial? Possibly Nial, maybe Daniel (Harvey hadn’t been paying attention).
“I think so.”
The second time Harvey met Mike had been a surprise. An accident? Harvey had been walking into Madison Square Gardens with a client (the perks of being Jessica Pearson’s latest project, granted his first opportunity to schmooze a client before he’s even made partner and he’ll admit that he had been a little nervous) when he’d been accosted by a young gentleman (that’s the language he’s using because he’s not sure what language he would use to describe the way Mike had practically wrestled him into a handshake/hug type situation).
Bewildered, Harvey had managed a nod and a quick glance to his client to see him looking surprised and perhaps a little concerned.
“Mike, yeah.” He managed to pull himself from the strange handholding and gestured towards the other man, “this is Addison Dickens.”
Harvey watched, aghast, as Mike pulled Addison into a handshake, which the other man had no opportunity not to return.
“You own Bricolage, right? Well done, man, I heard you guys were expanding overseas.”
Addison had turned to look at Harvey then, just as Harvey had been looking at Mike in utter astonishment, the words on the list in his head ping ponging around until ‘surprising’ made it’s way to the top.
“One of your colleagues?”
“No,” Harvey murmured, shaking himself. “He works with my fiancee-”
“No, I don’t. She’s my PhD supervisor. What a woman. Anyway, I’ve got to go. I’ve got like a forty mile bike ride to my side of the city so it was nice seeing you again Harvey. Tell Marian I’ll see her next week when she’s feeling better.” Harvey nodded dumbly, feeling like he’d been caught in the middle of a whirlwind. “Addison Dickens, a pleasure to meet you. Thank you for letting me talk at you. Bye.”
And then Mike was gone. Both men stared after him for a goo few seconds before Addison turned to him, his eyebrows somewhere near his hairline.
“What just happened?”
Harvey let out a small laugh and shrugged, ushering Addison towards the doors.
“I have no idea.”
The third time they meet, it had (thankfully) been a little more sedate. At another one of Marian’s dinners that Harvey had been forced to attend, Mike was there with Nial (for definite this time) and he’d had a hair cut. He looks older with it like that and when he queried it, Marian told him that Mike is “actually twenty four, not sixteen” like Harvey had (in the privacy of their own home) joked.
Somehow they’d both ended up on the balcony, drinks in hand. Mike was looking out over the city, the sun setting somewhere to the left of them turning the westward windows to mirrors that reflect the city back at itself.
“Scary, isn’t it?”
Harvey jumped slightly at Mike’s voice, not realising Mike had heard his entrance (exit, perhaps, from the stuffy apartment behind them). He tilted his head, resting his shoulder against the wall, still behind Mike.
“What?” Mike jerked his head to the view in front of them, to the city sprawling beneath them, dwarfing them from above. Harvey pushed off from the wall, coming to stand beside him at the railing. He mirrored Mike’s pose, his head tilted to the left slightly so he could see Mike from the corner of his eye. “Not really.”
Mike turned his head then, and Harvey couldn’t stop the smile that grabbed the edges of his lips.
“You don’t feel the magnitude of it, of knowing that you’re only one of millions and millions of people?”
Harvey smirked, shaking his head, lowering it between his arms, tilting back onto his feels as he stretched his back.
“No. But then, I’m not predisposed to the existentialist crap you artsy people get smothered with.”
Mike laughed then, the sound soft and low and warm.
“Of the artsy people who get smothered in existentialist crap.”
Harvey wanted to ask what he was, then. What he meant by that but he didn’t. Instead, he just nodded in a non-derisive manner and murmured a quiet, “Okay.”
It seemed to be enough for Mike, who straightened, downed the rest of his beer and turned to head back inside. From the doorway he called Harvey’s name.
Harvey wanted to ask ‘for what?’ but when he turned back to the city, darkness descending from above, he realised he didn’t need to.
I knew what was important to you
Because you were always
So honest with me.
Mike, from the moment he met Harvey, knew that that was it. His life, up until that point, had been shapeless, formless and he’d known he’d been waiting for something - he just had no idea what that something was.
Until he’d met Harvey.
Marian Turner-soon-to-be-Specter is the woman Mike would want to spend the rest of his life with, if he was straight. She’s smart, funny, gorgeous, quick, caring, strong... The list goes on and it goes on only to show how perfect she is for Harvey.
But Mike is also perfect for Harvey, just in a different way.
Nial is the person that Mike could spend the rest of his life with. Nial should be everything he’d ever wanted; he’s smart, funny, gorgeous, caring, absolutely amazing in bed and he’s absolutely perfect for who Mike was. When he was eighteen.
And that wasn’t to say that Mike is a different person when he’s twenty four than when he’s eighteen. Except that he is. A little.
Enough that Nial, who should be a perfect fit for him, isn’t.
Mike met Nial through Jenny. She’d gone off to college while Mike had gone off to work three jobs to help support his grandmother and his increasing dependence on Trevor’s stash of weed. She’d been gone for a month or two before she invited them both over. It’s the first night (so they say) that they fuck, and it’s the first night Mike meets Nial (he’d been set up, he knows, but he doesn’t mind because Nial is gorgeous. And gorgeous.)
They hadn’t gotten together straight away. Mike really hadn’t needed any extra complications in his life, not with work and Trevor and Gram but the more time he spent with Nial, the more he came to realise that Nial wasn’t a complication. He just... fit. He was someone Mike could spend time with to get away from it all, someone Mike could take home to his Gram who wouldn’t completely offend her, someone who Mike slowly found himself loving.
Nial had been the one to convince Mike to go to college, even though he’d assured Nial he would no doubt drop out. Nial had been the one who, when he found out about Mike and Trevor’s stupid plan, had thrown an fit and demanded Mike stop. Nial was Mike’s voice of sanity when he had felt like his life was starting to spiral out of control. He’d been there when Mike had gotten kicked out of his apartment, he’d been there when Trevor had been a complete dick and tried to set him up on a drug run, he’d been there when Mike had needed him. And Mike loved him for it.
He really, really did.
And all of this was fine. Mike’s life was going where he wanted it to (because he’s good at ignoring things he doesn’t want to know about), finally, slowly.
And then Harvey.
And it wasn’t Harvey’s fault. Not entirely. All he’d done was shown to up to a departmental dinner party, been himself and filled all of the empty spaces in Mike’s head with colour and noise and peace and... all he’d done was raise an eyebrow and be smug and so entirely heterosexual it was almost offensive.
The thing is though. The thing is. Mike actually likes Harvey. He’s actually kind of sweet under the smug exterior and Mike melts every time Harvey smiles, especially when Harvey smiles at Marian because it’s just so full of love that Mike feels secondarily adored just from the intensity of it.
At the first dinner after the first time Mike had met Harvey, they had their first of many legendary back and forths. Mike was more than holding his own, and Mike could see that Harvey was suitably impressed. After their meeting on the balcony, they had found their way back around the dining table when Harvey had overheard Marian and Mike discussing his thesis.
“How can you do a thesis on the law when you’ve never actually studied the law?”
Mike raised an eyebrow, tilted his head slightly and smirked at Harvey.
“Really?” He could hear the scepticism in Harvey’s voice but Mike just shrugged and nodded. “Kid, you’re like what - twelve?”
Harvey rolled his eyes and shook his head at Marian with an amused smirk on his lips. Mike could practically hear that ‘this kid, huh’ that passed between them and he bristled slightly.
“Why aren’t you a lawyer then?” Harvey asked and Mike shrugged. It’s a question he’d asked himself many times before but never quite found an answer to.
“Not my life plan.”
“Why study law then?”
Mike laughed then.
“Why study business and not become a business man? Why study chemistry and not become a chemist?”
Harvey frowned and Mike could see the thoughts flitting through his mind, from ‘this kid’ to ‘why would anyone not want to be a lawyer’. Mike didn’t have an answer to that last one, because there’s a part of him that still does.
“Did you take the bar?”
Mike shook his head, turned his head slightly to look for Nial.
“He’s not a client, Harvey. Stop pushing,” Marian interrupted but Mike waved her away.
“It’s fine. I just didn’t.”
“No one studies law and doesn’t take the Bar. Did you fail?” Mike rolls his eyes but shakes his head. “What then?” Mike shrugged again, feeling far too amused by the conversation, considering that when anyone else asked him these things he usually stormed out of the room without answering. “You afraid you might fail?”
“Right,” Harvey smirked with a nod and turned away.
Mike took it for the dare it so clearly was.
He took the Bar. He passed with colours so flying, they could be their own nebula in the galaxy one over.
It’s a dick move but Mike googled Harvey Specter, Google mapped Pearson Hardman and turned up one Thursday afternoon with the print out of his Bar exam results.
There was a gorgeous red head behind the desk in front of the office he had been directed. Gorgeous, but terrifying. She refuses to let Mike see Harvey which, fair enough, he doesn’t have an appointment and Harvey wasn’t even in yet. He decided to wait, sitting down on one of the plush armchairs facing Gorgeous Red Head. Every now and again she would look up and stare at him with such a disconcertingly cold stare that Mike shivered. He didn’t leave though.
Half an hour later, Harvey had walked up the corridor, straight passed Mike and into his office. It was only when he came back out to speak to Gorgeous Red Head that he spotted Mike. He frowned, and Mike smiled, pushing himself up from the chair and sauntering back over to the desk.
“Mike, what are you doing here?”
Mike held up the sheet of his paper in his hand, waving it in front of Harvey. He glanced at the folded sheet briefly, before looking back to Mike’s face with his eyebrow raised. Mike rolled his eyes, thrust the paper at him and laughed slightly at the scandalised look on Harvey’s face as the paper touched his bespoke suit.
“Dude, take the paper.”
“You know this kid?”
Harvey took the paper, glared at Mike and turned to Gorgeous Red Head as he unfolded it.
“No.” Mike snorted, smiled at Gorgeous Red Head and turned back to Harvey. Harvey who was frozen, staring at the sheet of paper in front of him.
“You took the Bar?” Mike nodded. “Why?”
He snorted again, rolled his eyes.
“Some asshole bet me I couldn’t pass.”
Harvey looked up at that, his eyebrow raised but Mike could see the smile that was threatening the edges of his lips.
“This is impossible, you know that right?” Harvey said waving the paper in front of Mike’s nose. “If you’re going to cheat, aim lower.”
Mike tilted his head, smirked.
Mike tapped the side of his head.
“Good memory.” He winked at Harvey, tipped an imaginary hat at Gorgeous Red Head and walked away.
He was working on his thesis a few days when Marian pinged him on Google chat.
marion: u in dept?
me: downstairs, why?
marion: pop up for a min?
me: ten mins?
marion: see you soon.
In Marion’s office, Mike sat in the ridiculously uncomfortable chair she never got around to replacing, while she pottered about the tea pot that Mike had laughed at when he first saw it; since then he’s tasted the brew that the mighty tea pot can make and he dare not laugh at it again lest it take umbrage to him.
“How you getting on?”
She laughed slightly, handing him an old chipped China cup.
“Not really. Just... not in the mood, right now. Nial’s being... Nial.” Marian winced at him slightly, the gesture sympathetic but Mike hated it. He shook his head and waved her away. “What’s up, doc?”
She rolled her eyes at him, a gesture that Mike had recognised on Harvey, too. He wondered who claimed it first.
“Harvey asked me to ask you if you would go see him at his office.”
Mike stilled, feeling the blood drain from his face.
“Why? Oh my God he’s suing me isn’t he? I only called him an asshole!”
Marian laughed, loudly and long and Mike squinted at her, feeling the panic sizzling away under his skin because jesus christ, Harvey wanted to see him in his office. He’s known that was a dick move with the Bar exam, but it was supposed to be funny. Oh fuck fuck-
“Trust me, if Harvey was suing you you’d already be penniless and kidney-less. He didn’t say why.”
“So he just asked you to ask me to go to his office?”
“Well, it was more a case of ‘tell Mike I want to see him in my office at three tomorrow’.” Marian smiled at what Mike could only imagine was a look of sheer bloody panic. “Don’t worry.” There was a strange pause, where Mike was sure he should have said something though he wasn’t sure what. “If you two are going to keep arranging illicit lunch time liaisons, perhaps you should swap numbers? It is declasse to involve the injured party.”
He was in Harvey’s office, much to the annoyance of Gorgeous Red Head (Donna, her name turned out to be) but apparently she was under strict instruction not to let Mike wander around Pearson Hardman on his own. Mike wanted to be offended, maybe even was a little, but he shrugged it off quickly when he saw the view from Harvey’s corner office floor to ceiling windows.
“Enjoying the magnitude?” Mike spun around at Harvey’s voice, letting himself be ushered to a chair on the opposite side of the desk. He sank into it, groaning as he felt the leather suck him in, cradling his body. “Seriously?”
“You need to tell the doc to get one of these for me in her office.”
Harvey quirked an eyebrow.
“Spend a lot of time there, do you?”
“Enough to know which surfaces can handle me.”
Harvey’s eyebrow shifted slightly, less amused and Mike would have cringed and apologised but Harvey smirked.
“If I didn’t know you were as gay as Dale Winton you’d be counting your teeth as you picked them off the floor.”
There was a pause, during which they’d stared at each other impassively before Mike cracked, frowning as he grinned.
“Really?” Mike shrugged and Harvey shook his head. “And you call yourself a homosexual,” he said with an exaggerated eye roll.
Harvey frowned and eye rolled again.
“Whatever.” Harvey shifted then, reaching down to one of the drawers on his desk and Mike watched as he pulled a folded up sheet of paper out. He waved it in front of Mike before letting it drop to the table between them. Mike watched it, stared at it until Harvey moved into Mike’s line of sight. “Do you know what that is, Mike?”
“My Bar exam results.”
“Yes. Do you know what else it is? Proof that you’re an idiot.” Mike jerked his head up then and scowled across at Harvey, who didn’t look amused. “That,” he said and pointed to the sheet of paper, “is the best test result the State of New Jersey has ever seen.” Mike stared across at him, nonplussed. “And you’re doing a PhD in language?”
“Your fiancee has a PhD in language.”
“We’re not talking about my fiancee. We’re talking about you.” He picked up the paper again, unfolded it and looked at it for a few long seconds. “How is this even possible?”
“I have a good memory.”
Harvey glared balefully across the table at him.
“That’s more than a good memory. A good memory means you’d get a decent score. A good memory doesn’t account for your college test results. A good memory doesn’t account for the fact that you won every debate championship at Harvard law school, which, by the way, you finished in two years.”
There’s a question in there, so Mike shrugs again, forces a smile.
“I like to read.” Harvey simply raised an eyebrow. “You saw my test scores. I got the impression they had sold me to the biology and psychology departments just to see what the human body and mind was capable of doing. I did it. It wasn’t difficult.”
“It wasn’t difficult?” Harvey’s clearly aghast at that, and Mike chuckled slightly at the look of utter astonishment on the other man’s face. “I’m above average intelligence - way above it, actually - but I struggled doing my JD at Harvard law and you, from the look of it, could have finished it even quicker if they’d have let you and you say it wasn’t difficult. Are you even human? Should I be looking out for Spock to come and reclaim you?”
Mike snorted at that, the laughter light and free and honest.
“Star Trek, really?”
“Shut up.” But the tone is light, the smile almost visible. “But seriously, Mike.” Harvey takes a breath. “I showed this to Jessica Pearson. I called around, did a little digging, showed her what I found. She’s impressed. Although I think she’s more impressed that I’m impressed by you but that’s besides the point. I talked to her and she’s willing to take you on as an associate for a year, working with me. And if it turns out you’re actually as good as the papers say you are, she’s willing to put you on the Partner Track within a year.”
Mike stared at Harvey. He’s not entirely sure what he should be feeling, but it was probably not the absolute bone shattering fear that rattled him from the inside out.
“I can’t,” he says automatically and Harvey stares at him as though he’s another species entirely. “I... can’t. My thesis-”
“Your thesis? Really? You could have finished it months ago. You’re stalling, though I don’t know why. It’s time to grow up, Mike, make a choice that’s right for you.” Harvey stopped there, took a breath and Mike watched as he tried to reconstruct the Harvey Specter veneer that had become such a symbol for him in the short time since he’d been made Junior Partner (super fast tracked from Mike had read). “I don’t even want to know how you ended up doing a PhD.”
And that moment, right there, is the one that Mike will point to in years to come. Right there. And he will say that it was at that moment that he knew, without a doubt, that Harvey Specter was going to change his life forever.
“If I hadn’t,” Mike said after a few long moments of heavy silence, “I would never have met you.”
Harvey looked up at him then, almost from under his lashes. Mike held his gaze for a moment, perhaps too long, and Mike can feel something pressing against his chest, pushing in from the outside, quietly filling all the spaces he hadn’t really acknowledged were there.
“Think about it.”
When Mike went home that night, he told Nial about his meeting with Harvey.
“The doc’s man?” Mike nodded and Nial grunted. “What you going to do?” Mike shrugged, leaned back against the worktop and sipped from the bottle of water Nial passed him.
“I don’t know.”
Nial looked at him from the corner of his eye from his place in front of the stove and quirked a smile that Mike felt in his stomach.
“Yeah, you do.”
Mike stared at him for a beat, then looked down.
“I don’t know.”
Nial came over to him, wrapped him up in his arms and swayed them both from side to side in time to the slow blues beat pulsing around the kitchen.
He didn’t see Marian for almost a week after that. When he went to her office, she was flicking through a magazine (Bride) and listening to a song that was vaguely familiar to Mike.
“Quite an odd choice for a wedding song,” he said by way of introduction and she dropped the magazine as she jumped a good few inches.
“You gave me a fright.”
“Sorry.” He jerked his head at the stereo in the corner and she reached over to lower it. “Florence and the Machine... Your wedding is going to be rad.” She smiled, and Mike pretended not to notice how tight it was. “Your man’s trying to poach me.”
That drew a laugh from her.
“He told me.” She sighed, pushed herself back so she could put her feet on the desk. Mike sank down into the hideously uncomfortable chair and mirrored her pose. She quirked an eyebrow at him but Mike simply smirked. “He’s impatient to hear your answer.” Mike shrugged. “What’s Nial saying about it?”
“Not much, really.”
“He must be feeling a little...” Mike frowned across at her. “Betrayed, maybe?” Mike really frowned at her. “It was him that pushed to do this. You’re only a few months into it and you’re already giving up.”
“I’m not giving up!”
“I’m not saying you are, I’m just saying that it might come across that way to him.”
Mike scoffed, pulling his arms across his chest.
“I went to school for him in the first place.” And there was venom in that sentence that Mike wishes he hadn’t unleashed because now it was out there and he couldn’t take it back, not without polluting himself with the poison of it. He glared at the air around him, accusing it.
He didn’t know how long they sat there for, only that it was long enough for the album playing to swing back around to track four.
“This song...” Mike looked up at her, watching her as she fiddled with the pleat in her skirt. “Harvey’s impatient. When he wants something, he gets it. Always.” She closed her eyes, tilted her head back and let out an airy laugh. “He proposed to me six years ago.”
She glanced down her nose at Mike, her eyebrow tilt significant. Mike couldn’t miss her meaning.
“Maybe he’s waiting for you to make the next move,” he said but even he didn’t truly believe it.
“He’s certainly waiting for something.”
He stayed for a few minutes longer, then hauled himself to his feet, his mind feeling a little less clogged. He was halfway out the door when he stopped, turned back and nodded to the stereo.
“That song, what’s it called?”
She grabbed the CD cover from her desk and flipped it over, skimming the titles.
“Never Let Me Go.”
Mike nodded, and left.
I knew your pain
Because you trusted me enough
To share your past with me.
“Does this thing have an expiry date?” Mike asked one day, over the phone. Harvey had just been getting ready to leave for court when his mobile had rung and Mike’s name had flashed up on screen, surprising him. “Can I have to the end of the academic year?”
Harvey paused, cradling the phone between his ear and shoulder as he slid files into his briefcase. Mike sounded younger on the phone, though Harvey wasn’t sure why he noticed that.
“It seems stupid to have spent five months doing this and not even get my MPhil out of it, and they won’t give me a colloquium until May.”
Harvey sighed slightly, dropping his shoulders.
“I don’t really have time to talk about this right now. Meet me at Greenhouse 36 at seven and we’ll talk about it.”
“Midtown... Isn’t that a bit down town for you?” Harvey could hear the smirk in Mike’s voice and he rolled his eyes, knowing Mike couldn’t see him. “Your eye rolls are audible, Harvey. You need to work on that.”
He was smiling until he made it to court.
Mike had been right that Greenhouse 36 was a little more down market than Harvey was used to but Donna had taken him there one evening while they’d still been at the DA’s office, the night before he’d asked Marian to marry him. She’d been surprised, though when Harvey questioned why, she’d given no explanation and told him she was happy for him.
Being there with Mike was interesting. Mike didn’t look at the menu but ordered correctly anyway and when Harvey queried it, Mike had told him he’d looked it up online.
“Good memory, right.”
“You’re rolling your eyes on the inside Harvey. You need a new signature move.”
Harvey had to fight not to roll his eyes and Mike smirked at him.
“Okay, rookie,” Harvey said once their drinks had been delivered and Mike ducked his head. “What’s going on in that head of yours?”
Mike sighed and Harvey settled back into his chair, ready to listen.
“I just think it’s stupid to throw away the work I've already done.”
Harvey quirked a brow.
“You think that, or Nial and Marian think that?”
Mike sighed again, looking across at Harvey.
“Both?” He sipped from his drink (water, because apparently his gram had drawn a promise from him not to drink and ride, to which Harvey had snorted). “If you’d asked me this six months ago - hell even three months ago, I’d have bitten your hand off for the chance. But... things have changed.”
Mike smiled, a little tightly.
“I don’t know, it just seemed like the right thing to say.”
“What do you want, Mike?”
They were silent for a long time, right through their starters and while it was awkward as all hell, Harvey refrained from speaking, refrained from pushing. He wasn’t sure why, because that’s what he did but for this, with Mike, it didn’t seem like the right thing.
“All through college, all I wanted was to be a lawyer. Then my gram got sick and Trevor came up with this stupid idea to cheat on tests. Nial found out, went a little crazy and made me promise to stop, that we’d work something else out. It was the right choice. When I wanted to drop out and get three jobs again, Nial kept me going, made me apply to Harvard, made me do all the stupid debate championships, pushed me to be the best I could be.”
“You didn’t take the Bar, though.”
Mike shook his head.
“No.” Mike laughed a little. “That’s when Nial stopped pushing. I didn’t know what to do, he decided to pull back and let me decide what I wanted to do. And then one night, I was talking to Trevor and Jenny about debate championships, Nial made a comment about how that would make a good research topic and... then I was doing a PhD, and the Bar question was never brought up again.”
Harvey smiled, tried to lighten to the mood, “Until some asshole bet you that you couldn’t pass.”
Mike smirked, though there was a flush to his cheeks that made him look incredibly young. Harvey shifted slightly, suddenly more than a little uncomfortable.
They were silent again, and the waiter cleared their table. Harvey ushered him away when he brought over the dessert menu with a discreet hand gesture.
“Listen,” he said after a few long minutes. What he was about do was uncomfortable on so many levels but he also knew that Mike needed to hear it. “I’ve known Marian since I was fourteen years old. She moved in to the house next door to ours and that was it. When she started applying to colleges, I started applying for jobs. We broke up for about a year when she moved to college and I moved into the city. I was a fuck up. Drink, coke, you name it. I ended up getting a job in the mail room at Pearson Hardman, gave some lip to Jessica Pearson and next thing you know my ass is being kicked back into gear, someone’s given me an incentive and I’m at college getting ready to be the best damn closer this city’s seen. When I got to Harvard, Marian was there, keeping me on the straight and narrow.” He shrugged. “So I get where you’re coming from when it comes to trusting Nial’s judgement because without Marian and Jessica, I’d never be here. But neither Jessica nor Marian ever tried to hold me back. What he’s doing, whether you want to see it that way or not, is holding you back.”
Mike was staring at him, and Harvey felt something unravel in him under that look and he shifted in his seat, reached out to fiddle with the glass in front of him.
“He is. Why didn’t he push you to take the Bar? Why push you to do law and then not push you to become a lawyer? The fact that you didn’t blow me off straight away shows me that you want this, but that you’re afraid.” Harvey shifted forward, settling his elbows on the table. “He pushed you to do what he wanted you to do, but when it came to what you wanted to do? He let you down.”
“He’s not a bad guy, Harvey. Don’t make him out to be.”
“Maybe he’s not. But he’s not good for you, right now.”
And Harvey didn’t even know where this speech was coming from, didn’t know why he was so vehement to get Mike to agree to come and work with him. All he knew was that with Mike at his side, he could do anything. They would be a force to be reckoned with.
At the time, Harvey hadn’t been aware just how true that was.
“I’m buying in as Senior Partner in August. At that point, I’ll need an Associate. You’ve got six months.”
The following six months were strange. Harvey had been snowed under at work and he hadn’t expected to hear from Mike until maybe July, or maybe just in passing at parties Marian dragged him to.
In the six months following that meeting, Mike becomes a semi-permanent fixture in Harvey’s life.
It started with a text the week following their meeting with one simple sentence;
vigorous reading of The Wasteland
leads to broken chair in the doc’s office
- beware, we’re coming for yours.
Harvey had laughed, startling Donna who had swivelled in her chair outside his office and raised an eyebrow. He shook his head, went to type out a reply when another came in from Marian;
mike think i dont know his destruction
of my chair was intentional. dont let
him fool you. tho he does make the
prettiest sounds when under duress.
Harvey wondered what alternate reality he’d stepped into before closing both messages and opening a reply to both of them;
don’t need to know details of your sordid
book club meetings. busy and important
work being done here. you kids have fun
- i hear ikea’s lovely at this time of year.
He met Mike for lunch in late March.
“What are you reading?” Mike held up the book cover, hiding his face behind it and Harvey noted the title Never Let Me Go by an author who’s name Harvey was not even going to pretend he could pronounce. When Mike didn’t lower the book even after Harvey sat down (Greenhouse 36 again, this was the start of a habit), Harvey hooked his finger over the top of the spine and pulled it down. Mike resisted, then eventually relented and Harvey could see his eyes were swollen and red, his cheeks streaked with the shiny remainder of tears. “Are you crying?” He asked incredulously.
Harvey rolled his eyes and grabbed the book from Mike, reading the blurb on the back.
“Why are you reading this?” He asked in disdain as he tossed the book back onto the table between them. Mike picked it up gently, cradling it in his arms for a moment before placing it back in his bag (and God, Harvey groaned, he was going to break the kid from the bag if he was going to be his associate).
“I’m delivering a class this semester on dystopias.” Harvey frowned at him, bewildered and Mike shrugged. “Nothing better to do.”
“Could be working with me,” he murmured and for some reason, he couldn’t look at Mike when he said it.
“Not yet, Harvey,” Mike said to him once he looked up. Harvey had to fight to ignore the little bubble of something that floated through him at that.
“Dude, you’ve got the rhythm of a steel pole in the wind,” Mike had crowed one evening at dinner, the mirthful tears in his eyes renewing at Harvey’s exasperation.
“Don’t call me-”
“What was that!?”
Harvey didn’t dignify that with a response.
(In the months leading up to his wedding, he does take Mike’s advice and invests in dancing lessons. From Mike. It’s interesting, to say the least.)
“We gonna drink until we die!”
“I think you’re almost there,” Harvey replied.
“I’m hanging up, Mike.”
Harvey hung up.
“What’s the point in drunk dialling if you don’t even answer your phone? Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike answer your phone. Mike answer your phone. Mike. Mike. Mike. Fine.”
“You and Mike seem to be getting on well,” Marian said one night in bed, her voice quiet in the darkness. Harvey turned his head to look at her, attempting to search her face in the near blackness.
“He’s a bright kid.”
Marian laughed, the sound more a huff of breath than anything else and Harvey wasn’t sure what to make of the sound.
“Can I tell you something?” Marian asked and Harvey shifted onto his side, sliding his hand across her stomach to rest on her hip. She turned to him and he nodded, smiling as his fingers tapped out a rhythmic tattoo against her skin. “I’m a little jealous.”
She laughed, turned her head back so she was facing the ceiling.
“You’ve never taken to someone like you’ve taken to him. Not since you were fourteen, anyway.”
Harvey stared at her, and he could feel something unsettling in him, shifting slightly at her words and he didn’t like it.
“He’s a good kid,” Harvey said, the only thing he knew to say. Marian nodded. “Don’t be jealous,” he murmured, sliding closer to her, wrapping his body around hers.
After the conversation with Marian, Harvey didn’t speak to Mike for a month. He ignored the first few texts Mike sent, deleted the voicemail that was left at four thirty one Saturday morning and grinned at the apology that followed twelve hours later.
Marian’s words had prompted him to think about Mike, about Harvey’s reaction to him. And it was odd, really because he hadn’t thought twice about letting Mike stay in his life. It should have been weird, having lunch with his fiancee’s student but to Harvey, he was just Mike and that wasn’t weird. Which was weird.
When he did see Mike again in June, and he felt that little bubble shift and settle again, he acknowledged it this time. Acknowledged how his whole body shifted, how his mind settled, how all the corners of his mind filled up - not with noise, or colour, or vibrancy but with quiet, with space, with ease. How Mike just fit.
And that was bad, especially because Mike was trying to hold himself together, especially because when Harvey’d got the message from Mike he hadn’t been able to resist ringing him back straight away;
“What do you mean, he’s gone?”
Mike’s voice, when he’d replied, had been void of everything and it sent chills down Harvey’s spine.
“He left me.”
“Where are you?”
“No. I can’t see- I just needed to hear your voice. I mean, I just needed to talk to someone.” There was a pause, during which Harvey fought with words and lost. “Fuck.”
Mike hung up.
Mike started work at Pearson Hardman three days after Harvey was promoted to Senior Partner. They’ve been working together for a little over two months when Marian starts pushing Harvey to get married. It’s around that time that Harvey started to notice that Mike and Marian don’t speak much any more.
He chalked it up to them not having time.
Harvey saw Mike pretty much every day after he started working at the firm. At time, Harvey wondered if Mike had moved into his cubicle in the Associates Den and when he’d questioned him about it, Mike had replied simply;
“The apartment’s too quiet.”
“I saw Nial the other day,” Mike said to him over lunch one day and Harvey looks up. Mike looked tired - exhausted actually, and Harvey felt a pang at that.
“Oh?” He said instead, sipping from his cup of coffee.
“Yeah.” Harvey looked over the table to him, to Mike’s utterly lost expression. He didn’t say anything, didn’t know how to, what was acceptable. If he wanted to. Mike used his fork to push the food about, not eating, and Harvey took a moment to notice just how thin Mike actually is. “Do you think- No, never mind.”
Harvey’s not one for deep and meaningful conversation but for Mike, he’d make an exception. Only because he didn’t think Mike had anyone other than Nial (who’s gone) and Jenny (who’d introduced him to Nial) and Trevor (who’s an insensitive prick, if Harvey did say so himself).
Harvey tried to smirk, felt it fall flat but continued anyway, “And that’s different, how?”
It drew a smile, at least. A small victory.
“Mike...” He didn’t know what else to say, really.
“Do you... do you think you love someone, just to get you ready for loving someone else?”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know.” He shifted in his seat, letting his fork drop to his plate. “Just something Nial said. Forget it.”
“If that’s what you want.”
Mike looked up at him then, his expression unfathomable, which was strange because Mike had such an elaborately expressive face.
“Marian text me to tell me you guys had set a date for the wedding?” Harvey was thrown momentarily by the question and it took him longer than it should to nod. Mike smiled, covered Harvey’s wrist with his hand and squeezed. “Congratulations, man.”
Harvey frowned across at Mike, who smiled a little, looked away.
“Mike... are you in love with my fiancee?”
Mike cackled a laugh at that, and Harvey was glad to see the smile.
“Of course I am. Who wouldn’t be?”
Harvey grinned, a little brittle, and turned back to his lunch.
What Harvey doesn’t know is that the day before Mike takes his colloquium, the following conversation takes place:
“I cheated on Harvey.”
Mike looks up from where he’s working at the other side of her desk.
“When?” He asks and Marian looks him straight in the face, even if she doesn’t meet his eyes.
“A few times. College. Once after I got the job here. Not for a few years.”
“Does he know?”
“For all that Harvey reads people, he’s blind when it comes to me. Because he wouldn’t do that to me, he can’t imagine that I would do it to him.” Mike frowns “He doesn’t know. He won’t. And he will never cheat on me.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
Marian watches him for a moment, shrugs.
“Just letting you know.”
Mike makes sure Harvey never does find out about it, even after everything falls apart.
Song used in this chapter: Johnny Ace - Never Let Me Go.
I knew your heart
Because I saw right into it
And felt it a part of my own.
“Do you think it’s possible to be non-romantically in love with someone?”
Jenny looked up from the pot she was stirring on the stove at Mike’s words.
“I think it’s possible to non-romantically love someone. Not be in non-romantic love.” Mike sighed, scraping his hands down his face. “I’m assuming we’re not talking about Nial?”
“What makes you say that?”
“You’ve been with Nial for six years, Mike; not once in that time have you ever come to me about stuff like this.” She shrugged. “And Nial’s been talking to me.”
Mike stared at her at that.
“What’s he saying?”
Jenny shook her head.
“He just asked me if you’d said anything to me about seeing someone else and I told him no of course not Nial, Mike would never do that.” She glared at him. “Was I lying?”
Mike shook his head.
“No.” He sighed again, stretched his back and cracked his neck. “I’m not seeing someone. The only reason I’m not is that he’s engaged.” He frowned, looked off to the side and shook his head with a laugh. “And straight.”
Jenny turned the stove off, moved over to the couch and sat down beside him.
“Mike...” He looked to her, and Jenny held his gaze for a moment before turning away. “Is this your professor’s man?” Mike closed his eyes, nodded. Jenny sighed. “I’ve never once seen you this... enamoured by someone. Not even Nial.” She reached out, took his hand in hers. “Do you think that maybe it’s just a crush?”
Mike shrugged, pushed up from the couch and disentangled their hands to run his fingers through his hair.
“I don’t know. I thought it was. But Jenny...” He trailed off, looked up to the ceiling. “When I see him, everything just goes flat and settles down and I’m not even aware that anything needs settling until it happens.” He groaned, dropping back to the couch, clawing at his face with his fingers. “It’s stupid.”
“It’s not stupid.” She took a breath, covered Mike’s hand with her own. “That’s how I feel with you.” Mike snapped his head up to look at her, incredulous. “Don’t look at me like that. I love Trevor, I’m in love with Trevor. But he lights up my whole life, we fight and argue and sometimes we hate each other but I love him. When I see you, I feel at peace, at ease. I love you, and if I didn’t love Trevor as much as I do and you weren’t gay I think we’d be very good together.” She reached out, stroked her hand down his face. “But I also know that we won’t ever be like that, and I take from it what I get and let Nial have the rest.”
Mike stared at her for a long moment, then let out a small laugh.
“Oh, Jenny. Why aren’t you a man?” They both laughed at that, a little forced and Mike settled back against the couch. “I’m not sure what I’m supposed to take from that; I don’t love Nial like that.”
“Do you love Nial at all?”
“Are you in love with Nial?”
“I was.” He sighed again, turned to look at her. “Everything’s changing, Jenny. I don’t think I’m ready for it.”
She smiled, leaned over to kiss his forehead and Mike smiled up at her, feeling something shift inside of him, resettle, and he nodded.
“You’ve only known Harvey for a couple of months; give it until the deadline he set you and then decide if you still want to be with Nial. But I warn you Mike, that way lies heart ache.”
He grinned at her, even as he felt it breaking apart at the edges.
“I think with Nial, all ways lie heart ache.”
Jenny stroked his hair once, patted his cheek and then returned to the stove; “Give it time, Mike.”
Saturday was gram day. He let Nial drive them to gram’s favourite cafe around the block from the care home and they had a pleasant afternoon drinking tea and eating cake and Mike made himself forget about any and all things Harvey. Gram absolutely schooled them at a quick game of poker and he and Nial ribbed each other about who was the worst player out of them both. When he escorted gram back to her room, with Nial waiting out in the car, she turned to him and smiled, the turn of her lips a little sad.
“That boy loves you, Michael. Do the right thing and let him go.” Mike stared at her, feeling like the bottom of his stomach had fallen out through his body. “I know you, Michael. He was good for you when you were eighteen - I daren’t think of where you’d be if you’d never met him. But some things just run their course.”
Mike didn’t want to believe it.
He met Harvey for lunch several days later (Greenhouse 36 again - Mike had been surprised by how much he had liked it that first time, and Harvey always paid so Mike made a point of ordering the most elaborately expensive thing on the menu) for the first time since he’d acknowledged out loud that he had a bit of a thing for the man. All through lunch he’d been convinced that Harvey would know, that he would pick up on some leftover echo of the words Mike and Jenny had spoken to one another, but if he did, Harvey didn’t comment on it.
Mike was grateful. A little.
“Marian said you’re doing well with the class.” Mike nodded. “Don’t you get mistaken for one of the students, rather than the teacher?”
“Ha, ha,” Mike replied as he stuffed rocket into his mouth. “I enjoy it. Not sure I could spend the rest of my working days doing it, though.”
“You’ve made a choice then?” Harvey asked, perking up. Mike smiled slightly.
“Ninety per cent of the way. I’m still going to wait until the last minute.”
“Why do I get the feeling that that’s going to be a theme with you?”
Mike just grinned and kept on eating.
Mike was aware that Marian had picked up a vibe (probably from the drunk dials to Harvey that he indulged in every other weekend, possibly from the way he got a little starry eyed when she talked about him, Mike wasn’t sure) so when she told him she’d cheated on Harvey (multiple times!) he felt like she’d handed him a smoking gun.
But Mike wouldn’t ever tell Harvey that.
He’s not that much of a dick.
Instead, he focuses on being the best friend to Harvey that he can be. Or, at least, as much as Harvey lets him because the man is very difficult to draw out of his shell but once he’s out... It’s glorious (and Mike might be a little drunk, and he might be trying to forget that Nial has been surreptitiously packing his life into cardboard boxes. Mike has been doing his best to ignore the spare bedroom, ignore the emptying shelves around him. He’s been doing well, so far.).
When Harvey stopped returning Mike’s texts, Mike had figured that was it. Harvey had figured out that Mike was maybe a little in love with him and was cutting all ties. Which was fine. It stung a little, but it was fine.
And if he felt a little bereft (more than a little, really) at Harvey’s absence, then that was his choice.
But that’s when Nial decided to leave; a month into Harvey’s absence and Mike is sitting on the steps outside of their apartment trying to hold himself together when he found his fingers typing out a text to Harvey.
And when Harvey called, his voice all concern and a little panicked, Mike had cracked, fractured and the tears started to fall.
Harvey wouldn’t let him start working with him until he’d bought some decent suits. He’d gone out to the department store, sent a few picture messages to the man himself for approval (or, as it turned out, disapproval) before he’d been text the address of Harvey’s tailor and told to put the cost of five new suits on Harvey’s corporate card (he’d be paying it back, with interest, of course).
Mike grinned when he turned up to work that first Tuesday and Harvey nodded his approval at the Blue Suit of Wonder (as Mike had taken to calling it in his head).
As far as Mike was concerned, his feelings for Harvey were a bit of an open secret. To him, it felt like everyone knew but no one spoke about it out of courtesy to either Harvey, Mike or Marian.
He met Nial for dinner to discuss the sale of their apartment (it was Nial’s really, but Mike had put a lot into it in the last two years, too).
“I wish I could be angry with you,” Nial said at the end of dinner, as they waited for the cheque.
“The fact you have to ask is almost offensive, Mike.” Mike frowned. “I loved you, but it wasn’t enough for you. I wasn’t enough for you.”
“I loved you, Nial. I-”
“I’m not saying you didn’t. I’m saying that when it came down to it, that wasn’t enough. I always knew I was more invested than you were; I wanted to be with you. You were with me because you could be.” Nial shrugged. “In the end, seeing you the way you are with Harvey-”
“Seeing you this way made me realise that, in a way, you had to be with me. If you hadn’t, you wouldn’t have been able to love Harvey the way that you do. I was... I was your preparation. For him.” Mike couldn’t speak, could barely breathe past the sudden tumour in his throat. “Goodbye, Mike.”
It took six months of working at the firm but the first time Mike saw Harvey and Marian’s place, he’d been surprised by how utterly domestic it was. In his mind, he had envisaged some kind of bachelor pad, with white formica tables and black marble flooring, with bright cold lighting and harsh steel fixtures (which was patently ridiculous but Mike had taken to sometimes actively forgetting Marian’s existence in Harvey’s life). In reality, the place was the exact opposite. It was modern and fashionable, sure, but there was also a wide fireplace with a real fire; the armchairs were plush and deep (and black velvet. Odd.); the kitchen was well lived in and everything just screamed perfection.
Marian was out of town at a conference at UCLA (Mike would admit to being a little jealous at that) and Harvey forced an appointment with Saturday night divisional play-offs on Mike, and some beer. (To everyone’s surprise, the Giants trampled all over Green Bay and Mike had winced, saying goodbye to a good chunk of his salary at that. Damn Tom Keller.).
Winter was in full swing in New York, and Christmas had been particularly difficult for Mike, having woken up alone for the first time in his life. He’d spent the morning on the phone to Trevor and Jenny, sent a text to Nial and Harvey then spent the afternoon at the care home with his gram cheering on Green Bay (useless, useless).
Now, outside the full-length windows of Harvey’s apartment, snow was falling thick and fast, the air sparkling as the super-sub-zero temperatures turned all moisture in the air to ice and Mike watched as tiny shards of crystallised water danced in the wind, while Harvey pottered about at his record collection.
“When you die,” Mike murmured, somewhat out of the blue, and Harvey turned away from his perusal of the shelves of dusty records with an amused eyebrow, “can I have your Star Trek videos?”
Harvey snorted and turned back to the wall.
“I’ll need to negotiate with my actual kids, and decide which of you would take better care of them.”
Mike glanced over at him then, shutting down that side of him that panged and rattled at Harvey’s words, instead choosing to quirk an eyebrow and settle deeper into the couch.
“I can’t imagine you with kids.” Harvey made a noise in the back of his throat and Mike fell silent for a few moments while Harvey pulled a record on. “Is that something you want? Kids, house in the ‘burbs?”
Harvey didn’t answer straight away, the quiet hiss of the pin on the record the only sound in the room.
“It’s not something I don’t want,” he replied eventually.
Mike didn’t open his eyes, and the quiet strains of the Righteous Brothers floated through the apartment.
“My mom and dad used to dance around our kitchen to this song. It’s one of the only memories I have of them,” he whispered quietly, sometime halfway through and he could practically feel Harvey startle.
“I’m sorry, I can change it if you want.”
“No,” Mike replied, opening his eyes to smile up at Harvey who was standing in the middle of the room. “It’s good.” He quirked a smile. “Speaking of dancing...” Harvey rolled his eyes and dropped onto the armchair in front of the fire, half-glaring across at Mike. “I hope you’ve been practicing for your big day.”
Harvey rolled his eyes.
“I’ve been to weddings before; I’ve seen how the first dance goes. How hard can it be, really?” Mike huffed out a laugh, rose and made his way over to the record collection. “By all means,” Harvey drawled as Mike skimmed across the titles near where Harvey’d drawn the Righteous Brothers from (he knew Harvey had a system, but it was one Mike couldn’t fathom), “help yourself, Michael.”
He’d clearly hit on Harvey’s most romantic collection and he pulled out sleeve after sleeve of oldies (Julio Iglesias, Andy Williams, Willie Nelson…) until he hit on one he couldn’t helping smiling at. Once he’d settled the record on the turntable (carefully returning Righteous Brothers to their sleeve, but not the shelf), he held his hand out to Harvey.
Harvey raised his eyebrow and shook his head.
Mike waggled his fingers.
“Come on. I’m not having you embarrass yourself at your own wedding.” Harvey didn’t budge. Mike waggled his fingers again. “I’ve wanted to teach someone to dance ever since I was twelve years old and my gram taught me.” He leaned down, grabbed Harvey’s hand in his and pulled. “Come on.”
Harvey resisted for a moment longer before relenting with a put upon sigh.
“This is ridiculous, you should know that.” Mike left him standing in the middle of the room while he went back to the turntable, settling the needle. He grinned when he turned back and saw Harvey’s carefully disguised shuffle of uncertainty. “Interesting choice,” he said when Mike stepped up to him, settling their arms in a loose waltz grip, their fingers gripping onto one another.
“Johnny Ace. Gram loves this song.” Mike stepped closer, drawing Harvey in. He was surprised by how Harvey let himself be moved, the way that they settled together into a slow swaying rhythm. Harvey shifted his grip around Mike’s waist, twisted his hips slightly and Mike breathed out against his neck and closed his eyes, resisting the urge to rest his head against Harvey’s neck. They stood in the middle of the room, gently swaying their hips to the rhythm, while Mike’s heart lurched in his chest every time Harvey’s arm around his waist moved.
Mike couldn’t remember ever feeling quite this… empty.
“See, I knew it wouldn’t be difficult,” Harvey murmured quietly, his breath warm and moist as it swam over Mike’s cheek, down his neck and Mike tried to hide his shiver, tried to pretend that this was fine and utterly platonic and fine.
Instead, he huffed out a laugh, and guided Harvey around the room in a slow waltz.
“Standing and swaying isn’t dancing, Harvey, no matter how nice it is.”
If his voice was thicker than it should have been, neither of them commented on it.
They were halfway round the living room when the song ended but when Mike went to pull back Harvey pulled him in tighter for a moment, his fingers tightening around Mike’s and Mike turned his head slightly, felt his lips skim the side of Harvey’s face and when did they get so close? He stayed there for a moment, unsure if he could pull away, sure that he had to. Mike could feel the palpable shift in the mood, could feel them poised and he knew that if he shifted just so that would be it; knew that if he breathed out, his breath would bathe over Harvey’s face and neck and ear; knew that if he licked his lips he’d taste Harvey’s skin...
In the end, it was Harvey who broke the moment (of course it was, Mike could never have done it himself) by clearing his throat quietly and stepping back.
“I think I got it,” he murmured and if his voice was thicker than it should have been, Mike stored it in his mind but didn’t comment on it.
Mike forced a laugh, pulled out of Harvey’s grip fully and turned back to the turntable.
“Just make sure you don’t stand on her dress and you’ll be fine.”
Harvey huffed and Mike glanced at him over his shoulder, saw Harvey pull his hand through his hair. He met his eyes, held them for a moment before turning back to returning the record to its sleeve.
“Harvey’s brother called to ask me to set up Harvey’s stag night,” Donna announced to Mike over the wall of his cubicle.
“I don’t have time to deal with this, so I’m handing it off to you. Run it passed me first before you book anything. We’ll use Harvey's card so don’t worry about the price. Have fun.”
Mike watched her walk away and groaned.
“I’m surprised, puppy,” Donna commented when Mike tried to slide passed her into Harvey’s office.
“Your choice for Harvey’s stag night. The Box? Not what I was expecting.”
Mike paused, turned to her from his position just outside Harvey’s office (the man was on the phone, clearly oblivious to their conversation even though he turned towards Mike at his half-entrance).
Donna shook her head.
“The opposite.” Mike grinned. “Although I changed the reservation from fifteen to twenty-six and got us a discount but well done for not going for the usual strip club routine.”
Mike rolled his eyes at her corrections but kept his grin up none the less and pointed to himself.
“Gay. Wouldn’t be caught dead in a strip club.” He pointed to Harvey. “Not gay. Wouldn’t be caught dead in a strip club.” Pointed back to himself. “Gay. Loves a show.” Back to Harvey. “Not gay. Loves something different.”
Donna tried to hide her grin while she pointed at herself.
“Woman. Interest piqued.”
“You’re coming?” Mike asked, a little shocked, but not surprised - not really. Donna stared at him. “Of course you are.” He pointed towards Harvey’s office. “Can I go in now?”
She narrowed her eyes at him before nodding once, succinctly.
“Oh and rookie?” She piped up just as Mike got to the door. He turned back to see her Evil Donna Grin. “Those Louboutins you ordered? Hot.”
The Box was more of a freak show than a burlesque show. Mike had been once with a gang of drag queens and from what could remember, it had been one of the best nights of his life. He was aware that it might not be to everyone’s tastes (and by everyone, he meant the friends of his own that he’d invited and those that Donna added to the list because Harvey? Didn’t really do friends.) but everyone seemed to be having a good time (the champagne and shots helped with that).
And Harvey seemed to be enjoying Mike’s shoes more than Mike was.
“You’re wearing a suit,” he said for the fiftieth time since they’d all met at Viva, “and glittery high heels!” He laughed, loudly, and bent over (almost falling out of his chair) to stroke Mike’s shoes. Mike rolled his eyes, pulled Harvey back into a sitting position before pulling his shoe off and giving it to Harvey. “No! It needs to be on your foot for it to be funny!” He held it up to his face. “Jesus. Look at the size of this thing. Your feet are huge.”
“So’s your ego,” Mike grumbled and downed his flute of champagne.
“He’s funny, too,” Paul butted in, leaning over Mike, and Harvey turned to him while Mike rescued his shoe. “Your own pet half-drag queen, Harvey. You should be proud.”
“I am,” Harvey muttered, sliding across the leather couch to plaster himself to Mike’s side. Mike laughed again, pushing against Harvey’s head where it butted against his chin. “I am, you know,” Harvey continued, quietly, suddenly serious.
Mike looked down at his slumped body, taking in the crooked tie, the loosened shirt buttons, the mussed up hair and couldn’t resist dropping a quick kiss to Harvey’s forehead.
He threw his arm over Harvey’s shoulder, holding him there against his side and pointedly ignored the stares that the move gained him.
Notes: Possible trigger warnings - talk at the end of this chapter of serious illness (cancer).
Notes2.0: Thanks to cazzblade for editing the pic of Harvey's wedding suit (grey, with red tie).
I knew your honour
Because you let me go
When I fell in love with you.
When Harvey woke up the morning after his stag night, he was eternally grateful for the fact that stag nights no longer happened the night before the wedding. Initially this was because he was hungover to hell but a quick assessment of his body and surroundings only proved supportive of his gratitude.
For one, he had no idea where he was. For two, Mike was crashed out at the bottom of the bed, sideways, his torso pinning Harvey’s legs to the bed. For a third, he was itchy. Like itchy in a way that could only prove to never be good.
He pushed himself up on to his elbows and glared down at the pillow case, his vision swimming. When he tried to turn over, Mike groaned and rolled and Harvey watched as he teetered on the edge of the bed before falling over, his groan lengthening as he hit the floor with a dull thud.
Harvey chuckled, then froze as his brain jolted in protest.
“Ow,” he moaned, pushing at his temples with his fingers.
“That’s an accurate assessment, yes.”
Harvey groaned again.
“How can you be so articulate?”
Mike’s head popped up from the end of the bed, his hair standing on end and looking distinctly… pink. Harvey closed his eyes but when he opened them again, Mike’s hair was still pink.
“Harvey…” Mike ventured and when Harvey glanced down to Mike’s face he could see utter terror laced with amusement warring across his features and Harvey looked down at himself, to the shirt that was littered with signatures (Tom Ford, the shirt was Tom Ford), to the plastic rings on his fingers. “Can you wait until I leave before you look in the mirror?”
Harvey closed his eyes, took a breath and counted back from ten.
Harvey pushed himself to his knees, crawled to the end of the bed where there was a mirror above the vanity. He stilled when he caught sight of his reflection, thinking for a moment that he had gone prematurely grey but no. When he touched his hair it was lacquer hard and his hand came away covered in a fine shimmering of dust. No. A fine shimmering of glitter.
“Michael,” he squeezed out through his clenched teeth. “Why do I have glitter hairspray in my hair?”
He sought Mike’s eyes in the mirror, caught him trying to disguise his laughter with his arm and Harvey snorted, tried to keep glaring but Mike cracked up, flopping backwards onto the floor and practically rolled about the floor laughing.
“You…! You’re hair! It was all over the place and you…!” Mike managed between gasps and Harvey had the vaguest recollection of his bangs falling over his forehead, of scraping them back from his face and then demanding something be done about it. And Mike. Mike with a can of glitter hairspray, emptying the whole lot onto Harvey’s hair ‘just to make sure it stays’.
“I am going to kill you,” he said calmly before launching himself off the bed, but Mike was already off running to the other room. “Don’t you dare even think about running out of here, Mike! You’re naked!” (He wasn’t, he had boxers on but he might as well have been for how tight the black cotton was over his… package. Not that Harvey noticed. Of course not.).
When they’d worn themselves out (after Mike had had to double over at the waist for fear of retching all over the very plush carpet), they settled onto the couch.
“Where are we?” Mike asked, glancing out the window at the view. “I’m assuming we’re still in New York?”
Harvey grunted, though he smiled through it.
“Unless you went Hangover on me then yeah, we’re still in New York.” He looked around the room, noted the ‘keep quiet’ tag on the door. “Hotel on Rivington.” Harvey scrubbed a hand down his face. “Christ.”
“I have a vague recollection of a pool.”
The words brought an image up in his mind, of Mike in a deep black tub, shampoo suds in his hair as he pretended to front-crawl from one end of the five foot bath tub to the other.
“That wasn’t a pool, that was the bath tub.”
Mike frowned, his lips tilted up in an amused smile and Harvey laughed at Mike’s “Oh.” There was a pause then. “Dude.” Harvey glared at him from the corner of his eye. “Did you wash my hair?”
Harvey snorted, shook his head. “Keep dreaming, puppy.” Mike frowned over at him then shrugged, leaned his head back against the couch and promptly fell asleep.
And if Harvey had the vague (or not so vague, let’s be honest here) memory of his fingers in Mike’s hair, he kept that well and truly to himself.
Harvey let Mike sleep for a few hours, and he himself dozed on and off well into the late afternoon. When he woke, he ordered food and had Mike ring Donna while he himself went and had a long, hot shower. When he got out, wrapped in a rich blue bathrobe, Mike had plates of food spread out in front of him and was doing his best to inhale a month’s worth of calories in one sitting.
When Donna got there, she looked a little worse for wear (not that Harvey would ever, ever tell her that) and while she spoke of annoyance, she had turned up anyway.
“Marian called me to ask if I knew where you boys had gotten to; it was embarrassing for me admit to her that I had no idea,” Donna said to him once Mike had grabbed his change of clothes from her (brand new, in their bags, it had been easier (apparently) for Donna to buy them both new stuff on the way and couldn’t they have done that themselves?) and left to have a shower of his own.
“I don’t even have my phone.”
Donna fished it out of her hand bag and handed it to him.
“I confiscated it when you started drunk-dialling Mike’s shoes.” Harvey frowned, looked over his shoulder before he caught himself and turned back to her, eyebrow quirked. “Yeah, exactly.” Harvey shook his head, sank back further into the couch and let himself drift for a moment, the food settling nicely in his stomach and the hangover finally beginning to fade slightly. “You boys looked happy last night,” Donna commented, hesitating slightly before the ‘happy’ but Harvey didn’t comment. Instead, he opened his eyes and quirked an eyebrow at her, even though he knew where this was going. Part of him wanted to have this conversation, while the other part preferred to live in ignorance. “Finally getting with the program, are we?”
“What are you talking about?”
“What do you think I’m talking about?”
Harvey turned his head slightly, listening for the sound of the shower. He could hear (faintly) the splash of water as it cascaded off of Mike’s body and- He shifted in his seat, glanced over to Donna who tried valiantly to hide her smirk.
“I’m screwed, aren’t I?”
Donna smiled, and Harvey could see there was more than a little sadness to the tilt of her lips.
“Oh, future husband,” Marian said when Harvey got back to their apartment later that night, pausing in her reading to look over her shoulder to the kitchen, “perhaps we should call the police, there’s a stranger in our home…”
Harvey grinned sheepishly and dropped the bag with his ruined shirt and pants (who knows where his jacket got to) by the door.
“Sorry,” he murmured as he leaned down to kiss her cheek. She grinned up at him and shook her head.
“Did you have fun?”
“Yeah,” he nodded, using his bigger body to shove her over and sank down in the armchair beside her. She hooked her legs up and over his thighs and Harvey held her to him. “Mike wore heels.”
She laughed quietly, tucked her head against his shoulder and he stroked her hair, fiddling with the long strands.
“Yeah, I know. You sent me about a dozen pictures of them.”
Harvey chuckled, ducked his head and pressed a kiss to her temple.
She stretched slightly, opening her book up against his chest and he held her there against him, and stared off across the Manhattan skyline.
A couple of days before the wedding, Harvey directed everyone to Donna, who directed everyone to leave a message. One such message was from his brother, letting him know that he would be in town the day before the wedding with their father and that they would be staying at Harvey’s condo with a bottle of the finest Scotch and a run through of the speeches.
He mentioned this to Mike, who had grinned up at him.
“I don’t know.”
“You’ll be fine.”
The day before the wedding, Harvey bade farewell to Marian (who was staying at a hotel downtown that Harvey was not allowed to know the name of) with a kiss and a smile. He wasn’t really sure what he was supposed to be doing, other than ‘relaxing’, as Jessica had told him as she’d given him the day off (Harvey had been prepared to work right up until they chucked him out of the office, if it would have taken his mind off it).
He text Mike a few times (had barely resisted the urge to demand Mike’s presence in the condo right now because what Harvey wouldn’t do for a slice of the peace and calm that Mike’s presence always brought with it), checking in but they’d gone unanswered until lunch time and Harvey could imagine Mike, scribbling away on sheets and sheets of paper at his desk in the bullpen. He wouldn’t be there for much longer, a month or two tops, and it was a thought that filled him with the dual condition of trepidation and pride. Mike was a good lawyer – better, even than Harvey at times, and didn’t that pain him to admit – and Harvey felt no compunctions about letting him loose on the firm but he would miss working with the kid. With Mike – who was no longer a ‘kid’ to Harvey. He’d grown up so much in the time Harvey had known him (Christ, two years almost. Wasn’t that something?) and he’d flourished in an environment that suited him.
Paul and their father arrived around three, in the middle of a movie on cable that Harvey was only half paying attention to (watching it for the sole fact that he’d seen Mike reading the book with the same title). The first half hour was painful, having not seen his father for nearly two years but once the whiskey (yes, even at four in the afternoon) started to swim in his father’s veins, the afternoon got easier to bear.
“We ordering in?” Paul asked (no speeches yet, Harvey didn’t imagine they would ever get around to it, really, too busy reminiscing) and Harvey glanced at his watch noting that it was nearly seven. “When’s your boy getting here?”
Harvey frowned and shrugged.
“I thought he’d be here already.”
“Michael Ross”, he answers when his phone rings, reaching for his mouse to turn the volume of his computer down.
“Mike, it’s Paul Specter.”
“Oh, hi,” he manages, and shifts the pages in front of him around on his desk. “What can I do for you?”
“Harvey asked me to call to see where you are,” he continues and Mike picks his head up at that, glancing in the direction Harvey normally enters the bullpen from even though he knows he’s not there.
“At the office.”
He hears a muffled conversation, Harvey voice in the background and – why isn’t Harvey calling Mike himself? Mike rolls his eyes, imagines Harvey bossing his younger brother around.
“Why?” Paul asks into the mouthpiece, though Mike had already heard Harvey ask the same question in the background.
“Just going over the Gavins-Fabb merger before heading home.”
There’s a strange pause on the line before Paul relays this information to Harvey. Mike can hear Harvey’s confused “what?” before his voice is louder, directly in Mike’s ear; “What’s wrong with the Gavins-Fabb merger?”
“What? Nothing. I’m just going over it to make sure it’s all right before I present it on Monday.”
“We went over it yesterday. Just get over here. Talk to Paul about what you want for dinner, I need to go rescue my laptop from my dad.”
Mike starts to protest that Harvey doesn’t need to invite him, that he’s quite fine just staying here then going home and drinking himself into a stupor while listening to more Kenny Rogers than is good for the soul before going to face Harvey getting married in the morning. Would prefer it, actually.
“You heard the man. He said you were shit at time but two hours is cutting it a bit, don’t you think? Now, we’re ordering from some shitty-“ there’s a shouted protest in the background and Paul huffs, ”organic greenhouse place in midtown. What do you want? Harvey said you’d know without needing to see the menu.”
“What?” Mike’s never felt so out of the loop in a conversation in his entire life. “I wasn’t invited…” And he’s so confused because he’s pretty sure he would remember Harvey inviting him to spend the night before his wedding with him.
“Well the way he’s been checking his watch and muttering your name under his breath for the past two and a half hours would say otherwise.” There’s another strange pause and Mike breathes into it, unsure what else to do. “My brother’s an idiot,” Paul mutters and Mike stills, slightly, at the tone. “Just get over here as quick as you can. Text your order to Harvey’s phone.”
Mike drops his phone and thuds his head against his desk.
No amount of Kenny Rogers is going to get him through this night.
Hours after Mike’s arrival, Harvey cornered him in the kitchen.
“It didn’t occur to me that you’d think you weren’t invited, I’m sorry.”
“An apology, from Harvey Specter?”
Harvey sighed, reached out to rest one hand on the work top next to Mike but found Mike’s waist instead. He fingered the fabric of his shirt, noting the quality with an approving nod and a small smirk before flattening his palm against the curve there, looking back up to Mike’s eyes. He couldn’t help but notice how close they were, how wide Mike’s eyes were. How blue.
“I’m being serious,” Harvey rebutted, his voice low and gravelly and – why was it doing that? “You’re my… Mike.”
Harvey looked down again, away from those eyes that now looked terrified, hopeful, agonised. All things Harvey felt himself, but couldn’t admit. Wouldn’t. His fingers tightened, shifted and he could see Mike’s chest rise and fall, rise and fall and he knew that if he leaned forward, bent his knees, let his head rest on that chest he’d hear frantic breaths, hear a raging heartbeat. His other hand closed around Mike’s wrist, seeking out his pulse and yep, there it was. Frantic.
“Hey, Harv- Oh.”
Harvey felt Mike startle, felt him draw himself back from Harvey which – when had he leaned forward? When had Harvey started pulling him in? Fuck, what was he doing?
Mike made a strange noise, slid out from between the worktop and Harvey’s immobile body and fled. Harvey held his breath for a moment before falling forward, hands slapping against the worktop and his head hanging low.
He felt Paul behind him, shifting uneasily from foot to foot.
“Harvey what did I just see?”
Harvey shook his head; “I don’t know.”
Paul was silent for a long while, during which Harvey tried to sober up, tried to come to his senses.
“Harvey are you-“
“No.” He took a breath, turned to Paul. “I’ve never nor will I ever cheat on Marian.”
“Because what I just saw-“ Harvey looked to the doorway, to where he could see Mike trying to unlatch the door to the balcony (he’d had difficulty with it last time, too, and Harvey tried to fight the smile – he really did – but it broke out anyway, small and fond and affectionate). “And that-“ Paul pointed at his face and Harvey screwed it up into a glare, “what it is that?” Harvey groaned, scrubbed his face with his hands. “Is it cold feet?”
Harvey laughed and shook his head.
Paul eyed him, and Harvey could taste the lie in his mouth, hated that it was there because it shouldn’t be there – these f- this thing shouldn’t be there at all.
“If you’re sure…” Harvey nodded, forced himself not to look out to Mike on the balcony. Paul sighed, gripped Harvey’s elbow and forced eye contact, quirked an eyebrow at whatever he saw there. “Only you would meet someone… like Mike when you have someone like Marian.”
Mike tried to leave a few times during the final hours of the night; when Paul and his dad fell asleep, and when Harvey had been dozing. Each time, Harvey would wake, ask him to stay and they’d talk for a little while until Harvey fell asleep again.
Harvey wasn’t sleeping, merely drifting, when he felt Mike step up to him, some part of his legs brushing against Harvey’s.
“Harvey,” he whispered, far too quietly and Harvey had to fight the urge to open his eyes, had to fight the urge to twitch against Mike’s hand on his cheek, fought the automatic tensing of his body when he felt Mike’s lips skim against his cheek, his forehead, his nose. Harvey heard him take a breath, felt him shift slightly and he wondered if Mike would do it, if he would be able to talk himself into doing what he knew Mike was thinking of doing. It took a few moments, but Mike pulled back, stroked his fingers over Harvey’s hair and left.
At the city hall (neither he nor Marian were particularly religious, and a church wedding just seemed like too much for either of them) things went off without a hitch. Marian was resplendent in her flowing ivory dress that was all lace and silk and perfection. He didn’t cry (not really, anyway), though Donna did (not that he’d ever use it against her) and Mike grinned at them both from his place in the second row.
The reception was a much bigger affair than the wedding itself had been. It had to be, apparently. Everyone Harvey ever remembered seeing in his entire life was there – aunts, uncles, long lost cousins, clients he’d signed when he was senior associate, clients he’d signed a month before. He felt like he was on parade, on show, being congratulated again and again, over and over. In a way it was nice. In a way it was annoying as hell.
He drank enough that when it came to his first dance he didn’t mess it up. He laughed and smiled, grinned down at his wife and answered her when she asked if he was happy;
“How could I not be?”
He touched his lips to hers and spun them around a little, grinning against her as the room erupted in applause. They stayed up for another few dances, moving from side to side, watching their friends and family joining them, grinning and laughing at happy.
“Mind if I cut in?”
Harvey looked up from where he’d been concentrating on making sure Grace didn’t fall off his shoes, making sure she didn't completely ruin his suit.
“By all means,” Harvey murmured with a smile as he stepped back but was taken by surprise when Mike grabbed his wrist, apologised to Grace and dragged Harvey a little deeper into the mix of dancers as the first jazzy strains of a familiar tune filled the room. He smiled, shifted his grip in Mike’s.
“Not quite Johnny Ace but it’s a good version,” Mike said with a grin.
“Hmm,” Harvey murmured, smiling across at him, noting the careful distance between them, ignoring the stares they were drawing.
They danced in silence until the chorus, when Mike looked back up to him.
“You didn’t do too badly earlier, I think you only stood on her dress once,” he said with a small smile and Harvey mirrored it. Mike ducked his head, shook it slightly then spun them, laughing slightly. “Who taught you to dance?”
Harvey grinned, too.
“You did.” He snorted when Mike chuckled, pressing against him for a second or two. “Sherlock Holmes, really? Because this right here isn’t homoerotic enough?”
“Well you are usually dressed up tight as a stiff upper class Victorian-man so if the shoe fits.”
“Sherlock Holmes isn’t a stiff upper class Victorian-man,” Harvey retorted and Mike raised an eyebrow.
“No, but Watson pretends to be, which is close enough.” They danced the next chorus in silence and Harvey wanted to rest his head against Mike, wanted to close his eyes but – No. Just no. “You did good today, Harvey. You’re both very, very lucky.”
Harvey smiled, wanted to say something about the night before but knew that if he did – if he voiced it… Neither of them could come back from that.
“You’re a good person, Mike,” he ended up saying instead, the words trite but heartfelt. “You deserve better than you’ve had so far.” Better than Nial, he didn’t say. Better than me.
Mike seemed to hear it though because he closed his eyes, shook his head and the smile was slow, sad. The song ended, and another started. It wasn’t until the slightly more upbeat rhythm started up that Mike pulled back.
“I’m going to head out; I hope you don’t mind but I’ve commandeered one of the waiters for the evening. I’m sure you won’t miss him, he wasn’t doing much anyway.” Harvey snorted, let Mike walk them out of the crowd. “Have a good night, Harvey.”
Harvey watched him say his goodbyes (a quick kiss and half-hug to Marian, too) and leave with the (admittedly quite attractive) waiter.
His thoughts were interrupted (thankfully) by Donna sliding her hand into his and murmuring “My turn” before drawing him back out onto the dance floor.
By the time they get back from their honeymoon, Mike’s been promoted. He’s got a new office, new clients, a new apartment and a new set of suits. All of which he’d picked out without sending a single text to Harvey. He’s a little proud, a little out of sorts by the turn of events.
He goes with proud, though.
The first time Mike came into work with a hickey and a sheepish smile, Harvey had laughed for a good five minutes. The next few times though, he has to give Mike a talking to about image (again!). When it keeps happening, he begins to worry.
He questioned him about it one night, both of them working on a joint case and Mike had replied with a sharp, blunt “finding something better, right?”
Harvey didn’t bring it up again and Mike, if he got any more hickeys, hid them better.
Six months after Mike’s promotion, Jessica came to see Harvey.
“You told me the kid was ready for the adult table.”
Harvey looked up at her, frowning.
“Do you know where he is?” Harvey shook his head slowly. “Neither does anyone here. Find him. Talk to him, or I will and he will not enjoy the things I have to say to him if it comes to that.”
Jessica left and Harvey dropped his head into his hands. “Jesus, Mike.” He reached for his phone, dialled Mike’s cell and did it again every three minutes until Mike eventually answered half an hour later. “Where are you?” He barked, every ounce of irritation showing in his tone.
“Christ, Harvey, a little lower.”
“Michael. Where are you?”
There’s a groan and he imagined Mike rolling over, scratching at his face. Then there was another voice, further away and Harvey sighed, his irritation shifting to anger.
There was a long pause, muffled sounds of movement and Harvey hoped to God Mike wasn’t having his morning wood tended to while on the phone to Harvey.
Harvey stilled, pulled his lips between his teeth and counted backwards from ten.
“There’s no MGM Grand in New York.”
“How did you end up in Vegas? Vegas Mike.”
“I’m assuming I got a flight.”
“Sorry. I’m sorry. Fuck.” There was more noise, muffled conversation and Harvey tried to keep his breathing calm, his anger in check but the more he thought about it, the more he heard Mike talking with someone on the other line the angrier he became. “Harvey-“
“Get on the next flight back to New York, I’ll deal with Jessica.”
“We’ll talk about this when you get back. Until then, I’ll talk to Jessica. Just… get on a flight and don’t do anything stupid.”
“Like get married?” Harvey actively ignored the bitterness of the tone, the scathing sarcasm designed to cut. “Fuck. Sorry. I didn’t mean-“
“I’m not talking about this with you on the phone, Mike. Email Donna your flight details, don’t call me until you’re back and you’ve had a serious think about what you’re doing with your life right now.”
He hung up.
When he got home that night, Marian was in the kitchen and he wrapped her in his arms.
“What’s wrong?” She asked, rubbing her hands up and down his back. “Did the puppy pee the floor?”
“No. He chewed through the foundations of the house.”
She pulled back from him, looked up at him with a raised eyebrow. “That bad?”
He nodded, then shook his head to clear it. “I don’t want to talk about it. I’ve only just managed to calm down.” He shrugged out of her loose embrace, unbuttoned his jacket and removed it, undid his cufflinks and rolled his sleeves up to his elbows. “I can handle him being an idiot, but I can’t handle him forcing me to lie for him.”
“So don’t.” Harvey looked at her balefully and she shrugged again. “You vouched for him, Harvey. Taught him all you know. If he chooses to mess that up then that’s his choice.” She laughed, a little bitterly. “He’s like a teenager throwing a tantrum.”
Harvey tilted his head at that.
“What do you mean?”
She laughed at him, disbelievingly and turned back to the stove, stirring the pot of soup.
“Haven’t you noticed that he’s been like this since we got married?” Harvey blinked. “I don’t think it’s a secret that the kid’s crazy about you Harvey. You chose me, now he’s having his tantrum.”
Harvey couldn’t quite believe what he was hearing. He shook his head, leaned back against the island in the middle of the room and watched her.
“I don’t think that’s it, at all.”
“Then what do you think it is? I also notice that you don’t deny that he’s infatuated with you.”
Harvey swallowed, crossed his arms over his chest.
“We’ve talked about it.”
Marian stilled, for an instant, then resumed stirring.
“Of course you have.” She shook her head and Harvey could sense the anger rolling off of her. “You didn’t think to tell me about it?”
“What did you want me to say?” Harvey waited for a response but there was none. “He’s my closest friend, apart from you.” Harvey shifted, rolled his shoulders to try and ease some of the tension there. “Would you feel like this if he wasn’t gay?”
She shrugged, and Harvey was coming to hate that gesture.
“When it comes to you and Mike, I don’t think it would matter if he was gay or not.” She turned to him and Harvey could see some of the anger drain from her. “There’s something there, Harvey. You two are too thick as thieves for what you have to be mere friendship. And that’s fine. It’s fine. But I know that he is gay and that he does think of you in a sexual way.” She reached out, tucked her hands under his arms, against his stomach and Harvey closed his eyes at her touch. “And I know that you’re just as crazy about him, and that’s difficult for me to deal with but I am dealing with it, I do.” She bullied her way into his arms and he let out a breath as he wound his arms around her shoulders. “But he can’t act like this. You need to talk to him.”
“I can’t. If I talk to him now, I will kill him.”
“Then wait until you’re both a bit calmer and deal with it like you have been until now.” She laughed through her nose then shook her head. “Well, until Mike went a little off the rails.”
Harvey tightened his grip.
“I think he’s just... lonely.”
And Harvey hated that, hated that Mike felt like that, hated that he was the cause of it.
“Then that’s something he’s going to have to deal with, Harvey. You can’t fight all of his battles for him. Especially ones like this.”
“Where’s this all coming from, Mike?”
Mike laughed, a little hysterically, two days later.
“Honestly? I don’t know.” He leaned forward on his couch, framing his face with his fingers and looked up to Harvey through the gap. “I tried to do the right thing and take a step back, tried to let you get on with your life without me… messing everything up and I just…” He shrugged. “I don’t know.” Harvey swallowed, the lump in his throat sudden and thick. “I didn’t realise how alone I actually am until I tried not to be alone. All I have is you, gram, Jenny and Trevor; you’re married, Jenny and Trevor are practically married and gram’s dying and soon I won’t even have her. The worst part is that I didn’t even realise.”
“A fish doesn’t know it’s in water until you drain the river.”
Mike looked up at that and Harvey could see the tears, unshed and thick, in his eyes.
“Hence the one night stands?”
“Yeah.” He shrugged. “Not all of them were but do you have any idea how difficult it is trying to be with someone and know that you’re not ever going to put everything into it? With Nial I didn’t know what I was missing, just that there was something and I could pretend that everything was fine. Now… Now I know and… No one would ever really understand that there’s this… This.” He gestured between them and Harvey swallowed again, shifted in his seat. “Not that I’m saying- Not that. Fuck.”
“It’s fine,” Harvey murmured. “I know.” He took a breath. “That night-“ and he didn’t clarify which night, knew that that would be enough to conjure the image of Harvey cornering Mike in his kitchen the night before his wedding, “Paul said that only I could find someone like you when I already had someone like Marian. I know that if I’d never met Marian, if I’d met you first…”
“You’re not helping, Harvey. That makes it worse.” Mike laughed, but it was a wet sound, thick and clogged with tears. “I didn’t think it could get any worse than knowing that there might be something on your end. I knew but I didn’t know, and that’s why I could step back and let you go… It was the right thing to do, for you.”
“I’m sorry, Mike.”
Mike swiped at his face.
“Don’t apologise, Harvey. Don’t.”
They’re silent for a very long time after that. When Harvey could speak again, the sun had already set and the room was dark and shadowy.
“Do you think we can get past this?” He asked and Mike looked up at him.
“I think I just need a little time.” Harvey felt something in him go cold at that, heavy and leaden in his gut but he nodded anyway. “I think, once I grow a pair, we’ll be fine.”
“Good.” Harvey nodded to himself. “I kind of like having you in my life, you know, so maybe you could consult me before you decide to remove yourself from it in the future?” Mike grinned, laughed and if it was a little hollow neither of them commented on it. “Do you mind if I stay?”
Mike looked up at him, smiled and shook his head.
“I even have the original series on DVD.”
He sent a text to Marian letting her know that he was going to stay with Mike for the night. She replied quickly and Harvey could practically hear her smugness emanating from the text;
Be good. And if not
please record. Not
enough gay porn in
the world. X
He showed it to Mike, who looked scandalised and that only made him laugh even louder.
Weeks passed and things were strange, but getting better. He had lunch with Mike at (of course) Greenhouse 36 before court (where he won, of course) and things were nowhere near as strained as they had been.
“How you doing?” He asked Mike over dessert and Mike smiled, nodded.
“Good.” Harvey set his spoon down. “I’ve missed you.”
Mike snorted, but couldn’t hide his smile.
“I’ve got cancer.”
The world around Harvey stopped and fell away at her words and he turned to her slowly, blinking.
“What?” He managed, though his voice cracked at the end. Marian nodded, dislodging the tears she’d clearly been trying to hold back since he stepped foot in the door five minutes before.
“It’s everywhere.” Harvey couldn’t move. Couldn’t breathe. “They’ve given me a couple of months, max.”
“No.” But Marian nodded and Harvey couldn’t stop shaking his head, couldn’t stop the tears that both of them were shedding. “No.”
She was in his arms before she’d even finished his name and they were on the floor seconds later, clutching at one another and all Harvey could hear, all Harvey could think was “No, no, no…”
Notes: Possible trigger warnings - talk at the end of this chapter of serious illness (cancer). Serious angst. Character death.
I knew your fears
Because you helped me
To see that mines were the same.
The week after Harvey’s wedding turned out to be the longest and most difficult of Mike’s life. Walking out of the reception (at the glorious Lighthouse, of course) had been both heart breaking and a blessing; leaving Harvey was always difficult, and made especially more so by how utterly devastating he looked in his custom-made-flown-in-from-England suit but once Mike was on the pier with Max (the hot, lazy (though not lazy in bed – good god, Mike had been aching for days after that) waiter), he’d been able to breathe for the first time in what felt like days. He’d managed to ignore the curious stare of Paul Specter, the almost pitying ones from Donna and the happy exuberance on Harvey and Marian’s face.
Waking up in a random bed had been weird, the not knowing if you should stay or go. As he’d been slipping out of bed, Max had grabbed him around the waist and dragged him down and they’d had very slow, very sensual (fucking hot) morning sex followed by late morning sex and early afternoon sex before Mike had left. He hadn’t left his number.
He’d gone straight to Jenny and Trevor’s, still in his suit from the day before and they’d whistled and laughed at the necklace of hickies he had been wearing, they gave him a change of clothes, sat him down and fed and watered him.
When Trevor went to pick up the pizza, Jenny cornered Mike on the couch.
“How was the wedding?”
Mike swallowed, averted his eyes from her stare and shook his head.
“It was very beautiful.” He gestured towards his bag. “I have pictures.”
Jenny tilted her head, her eyebrow rising up her forehead.
“Maybe later but that’s not what I mean and you know it.” She paused for a moment and Mike closed his eyes, nodded. “Are you okay?”
Mike licked his lips, ducked his head and nodded, once.
He ignored Jenny’s continued stare, let the silence drag out. Jenny caved first.
“You going to see him again?” Mike looked up at that, frowning. “Your jeweller,” she said with a laugh, gesturing to her neck. Mike felt the blush spread across his cheeks but he refused to lift his hand to his neck, refused to give her that satisfaction.
“No,” he replied, shaking his head.
“I think you should.”
“I don’t like seeing you alone, Mike.” She reached out, stroked her palm down his arm. “It doesn’t suit you.”
Mike sighed, dropped his head onto the back of the sofa and stared at the ceiling. The truth was, the sex had been fantastic, and Max was a great guy. But Mike could tell in the hours he spent with him that it just… It wouldn’t be enough. In the short few minutes Mike had spent pinned between Harvey’s worktop and Harvey’s body, Mike had been ruined for anyone else and while he hadn’t consciously compared Max and Harvey, Mike knew that Max just… wasn’t Harvey. He’d felt more in those few minutes of non-sexual contact with Harvey than he had in the eighteen hours of rampant sexual activity he’d conducted with Max. And it was ridiculous, because Harvey was married and nothing was going to happen, except – as Jenny had predicted – heart ache and loneliness.
God, he was such a fucking drama queen.
“Being alone’s easier than being with someone and wanting someone else. At least this way the only person I have to lie to is myself.”
“And Harvey. And the doc.”
“I’ve never hid how I feel from Harvey.” He groaned, scrubbed at his eyes. “Fuck.”
“Just remember,” Jenny said a long few minutes later when they could hear the sounds of Trevor’s return in the hallway, “he’s the one that got married, not you. Go have some fun.”
He visited gram the following day, got schooled at poker and backgammon and eventually had to be kicked out of the nursing home by the nurses at the end of the day.
He helped gram into bed before leaving, though, ending the day with a long drawn out hug that Mike just melted into.
“Such sadness,” gram murmured into his ear, stroking her fingers through his hair. He sighed, pressed his face further into her shoulder. “It doesn’t suit you, Mike.” She drew back, patted his cheek and held her hand there for a moment. “Where’s my boy gone?”
When Mike got home that night, he cried for two hours.
At work on Monday, Jessica called him into her office.
“A gift,” she said to him when he seated himself in the chair opposite her desk. “Though it’s sort of a wedding gift for Harvey, too.” She slid a folder across the table to him and Mike reached out, opened it up and stared at the page in front of him, his mouth hanging open slightly. “Harvey told me you were good, Michael, and that alone impressed me. Your work here over the past year has been extraordinary and I think you are going to be a fantastic lawyer. You’ve already established your name amongst a number of clients who have asked and or agreed to be your client when you move on from the associate pool.” Mike looked up at her. “Which will happen as soon as you’ve read the contract and signed it.”
“Does Harvey know?” He managed to ask, his grip on the folder so tight that the edges started to crumple in his fist.
“We’ve talked about it, and he agreed that you’re ready. He just didn’t know it would be so soon.”
Mike laughed, looked back down to the paper (kept re-reading the figure of his new salary, holy smokes, he could buy a house with that, the signing bonus more than enough for a sizable down payment).
“It all seems a little cloak and dagger, waiting until he’s out of the country, don’t you think?”
Jessica smiled at him, indulgent and Mike preened slightly under it.
“This way I don’t get to see him pout about losing his favourite toy.” She gestured to the folder. “Have a read, come see me if there’s anything you don’t like and we’ll negotiate.” Mike nodded, jumped to his feet when Jessica rose. She held her hand out to him and Mike stared at it for far too long before lurching forward and grabbing hold of her, shaking vehemently. “Well done, Mr Ross.”
He had the papers back on her desk by the end of day.
By the weekend, he’d picked out a new apartment a few blocks over from Harvey’s (closer to the firm that way), part furnished it and been for a fitting at Rene’s (who had smiled indulgently and went to work in a flurry. Mike may have made an innumerable dent in his new salary at Rene’s but the finished result was something he could not dispute.). He may have stopped in at Saks and bought a new pair of Dior’s, for his ‘bog-footed girlfriend’, too.
He spoke with the people at the nursing home and, after a small donation, he got to take gram to his new apartment for the weekend, a nurse visiting twice a day to check in on her and doze out her prescription.
She beamed the whole time she was there, moving around from room to room, touching all his things (old and new), tutting at the mess he made when making dinner, fell asleep in front of the fire before Mike helped her to bed.
“I’m so proud of you, Michael. So proud.”
Mike smiled through the lump in his throat.
The night after Harvey’s first day back from his honeymoon (his gorgeous tan only highlighting the gold band on his ring finger) Mike went out and got absolutely hammered. He took a guy home, let himself be fucked and asked the guy to leave half an hour later.
This becomes a recurring series of events.
Harvey noticed. Of course he did. At first he laughed it off, joked around with Mike about high collars and concealer but Harvey’s laughs eventually died down and to become, instead, short lectures about image and professionalism and discreteness.
“If you want to fuck around, fine. But leave it out there,” he said with a wide gesture towards the windows. “In here, you’re Michael Ross Senior Associate.”
And then he woke up in Vegas, covered in gold paint and glitter with Harvey quietly seething down the phone.
“I’m not talking about this with you on the phone, Mike. Email Donna your flight details, don’t call me until you’re back and you’ve had a serious think about what you’re doing with your life right now.”
Harvey hung up and Mike dropped his phone and his head to the pillow.
“Mad Men-esque sex on legs?” Mike lifted his head, raised an eyebrow. “Sweetie, all you did last night was show me pictures of your ‘hot boss’ at some fancy to-do.” He (what was his name?) said with a shrug. “Much prettier than the tag along you brought with you.”
This, Mike thought, was so fucked.
Donna took his calls, only because Harvey needed to know when Mike would be back. She instructed him not to come into the firm until the end of the week, which Mike took as the slap on the wrist it was. He text Harvey to let him know he was back, he was safe. The texts went unanswered, which he expected, but it still stung.
In his new apartment – too open, too spacious – he wandered around aimlessly for a while, stopping to watch the weather channel every now and again (he lost the remote two days after he got cable installed, hadn’t looked for it since) and claw at his hair with agitated fingers.
He wasn’t good at being alone.
Aida Ross died in her sleep, when Mike was out at a Pearson-Hardman Charity event, standing in for Harvey. He took the call from the care home in the bathroom, where the noise was dimmer and when Nurse Kady said the words to him quietly, gently, his knees hit the floor.
“I didn’t realise she was so sick.”
Kady was quiet for a few moments, and Mike realised he’d sobbed the words out around a thick clog in his chest.
“The doctor’s are still… They’re saying it was a blood clot in the brain.”
“Okay.” He wasn’t even sure what he meant by that. Okay? Okay? What part of this was okay?
“If you want to come down in the morning when the manager is on shift, we can make arrangements then.”
There was a long silence, during which Mike didn’t cry.
“I’ll see you in the morning, Mike.” Mike nodded, and heard Kady swallow. “I’m sorry for your loss.”
Mike nodded again, closed his eyes and two fat tears leaked over his eyelashes and dropped down his cheeks. He felt hollow.
He sounded hollow.
He listened to the dial tone for an entirely too long time, tried to conjure up the rage, the pain, the grief that he had been so sure he would feel at the loss of his gram. Instead, there was a quiet emptiness, round about where his heart should be.
When he managed to pull himself up off the bathroom floor, he called Trevor.
“Mike, it’s two in the morning.”
He told Jessica, when he caught her on her way out the door. She had hesitated, looked like she wanted to say something but simply nodded and gripped his elbow.
“Take the time, we’ll spread your work out and get in touch if we need you.” She squeezed his elbow and Mike looked down to where her fingers were resting against him, firm. It was a strange sight. “You’ll be okay.”
He nodded, and let her guide him out of the front door and into the back of her car.
He tried to call Harvey in the morning, on the way to the care home but got only his voicemail. He didn’t leave a message.
Trevor and Jenny met him outside the care home, Trevor’s hug warm and crushing, Jenny’s hand in his cool and grounding.
In the back of the taxi on the way back to his apartment, with Trevor and Jenny quietly going over the sheets of paper with instructions on what to do next, Mike let himself cry.
Donna called around lunch time.
“Jessica said you’re off for a family emergency. Is it Harvey and Marian?”
Mike frowned but shook his head, both in a negation of her question and to try and clear it after his too short nap.
“What? No.” He swallowed, looked to where Jenny and Trevor were watching him from the kitchen. “My grandmother died last night.”
“Oh.” It wasn’t even a word really, more of an exhalation of breath and, under any other circumstances, he’d gloat about rendering Donna speechless. “Are you…”
“Not really. Jenny and Trevor are here helping me sort out arrangements and stuff.” He paused, but Donna didn’t speak and he took a breath. “If you see Harvey… can you tell him? I tried calling him this morning but it went straight to voicemail. I don’t think I can…”
There was an even longer pause, that was suddenly awkward, but Mike couldn’t even begin to try and disseminate it.
“I’ll… I’ll let him know, when I see him.”
“Thanks, Donna.” He swallowed again at her murmured acknowledgement. “Thanks for checking up on me,” he said and tried to infuse it with his usual cheer.
“Don’t get used to it, puppy.” There was another pause. “Let me know the details, and I’ll be there.”
“You don’t have to-“
Mike smiled, tried to hold back a fresh batch of tears.
“Sure thing. See you soon, Mike.”
Donna was at the funeral. Harvey wasn’t.
Mike hadn’t heard from him in nearly a fortnight and when he asked Donna, she had looked shifty (to say the least) and informed him that it was for Harvey to explain.
Mike’s too drained to try and sort through the plethora of emotions that run through him at that.
Harvey’s absence was conspicuous in that no one talked about it. His cases were shared out amongst the other partners quietly, some finding their way across Mike’s desk when the clients asked for him specifically. No one talked about Harvey – not even the clients, as though a memo had gone round everyone except Mike and the other Associates telling them that Harvey Specter’s absence was not something to be discussed -; no one called him for help on his cases (mostly because his phone went straight to voicemail, and that almost enough to give Mike an aneurism), instead finding Mike for any required clarification. More than once, Mike found himself sitting late at night in Harvey’s office, which sat cold and empty on the corner, watching the sun setting behind the Manhattan skyline when the loneliness of his own apartment got too much and he forgot for a moment that he couldn’t visit gram at the care home. Sometimes he walked around the room, skimming his fingers over the records, over Harvey’s desk, over the pen that lay neatly at the side of his work mat.
Despite the cleaners still working the room over twice a week, everything was covered in a fine layer of dust.
Mike tried to corner Donna, who had been looking a little lost with so little work to do now that her boss was officially ‘on leave’ – and had been for nearly three months. She shook her head, gripped his elbow.
“Should I go round?” He asked when she seemed to struggle with words but she shook her head again, more vehemently.
“No.” She seemed to think. “No.” Mike nodded and pulled away. He was halfway down the corridor when Donna gripped his arm again, having rushed to catch up with him. “Mike it’s not my place to say anything. Just know that… when the time comes, Harvey’s going to need to you.”
Mike frowned, felt something clench in his gut, hard and cold all at once. Donna raised her eyebrow and nodded once and left.
Mike fished his phone from his desk, pulled up Marian’s name, debated for a minute before sending a quick text.
He got to the condo and walked straight in as he’d been instructed but stopped just through the door.
“Mike?” The voice was frailer in person it had sounded on the phone and Mike took a breath, bit his lip. “Come through to the bedroom.” He did, and he stopped again, couldn’t help but stare. “I know, right?”
Mike bit out a laugh that was more breath than anything else and moved closer to the bed.
“Hey,” he managed, from a few feet away and Marian rolled her eyes and patted the bed. “Are you sure it’s…”
“Yeah.” Mike sat, gingerly, on the farthest part of the bed from Marian and while she looked like she wanted to protest the distance, she let him be. “I’m sorry Harvey’s such an idiot.”
Mike smirked – or tried to, at least, too busy taking in the depleted frame of his revered former professor, his friend. He catalogued her features, drawn, wan and grey; her hair that was more thin wisps than actual hair; eyes sunken and dull; skin paper thin.
“Where is he?”
She laughed, the sound a thin rasp.
“Picking up some more pain meds; it’s the only thing he leaves for.” She smiled but it slipped off her face quickly, her hand – dry and clammy at the same time – reached out to cover Mike’s. “He doesn’t want… He wants to do this his own way, and that includes shutting everyone out.”
Mike nodded and huffed.
“That sounds like Harvey.”
“I have to say I don’t revel in you – or anyone – seeing me like this.” Mike moved to protest but she shook her head. “But I wanted to talk to you – to ask you something. Two things, actually.” Mike felt hit eyes heat up, his throat close around a lump. “Harvey’s stubborn, and I don’t have long left.” Mike blinked back tears and Marian smiled, fondly, sadly. “He doesn’t deal with this stuff well. When his mom died, he didn’t talk to anyone about it for nearly a year. He’s already shut everyone out, I hate to think what he’ll be like once… After.” Mike tried to choke back the sob, as did Marian. Neither succeeded.
“Please don’t let him destroy himself.” Mike nodded, twisted his hand under hers and gripped her fingers as tight as he dared. She smiled at him, soft and fond and wet. It killed a part of him, that smile. “Take care of him.” Mike squeezed, blinked until the gathered tears scattered. “Love him.”
“Of course.” His voice was a rasp and Marian pulled him down, pulled him into a hug. He ducked his head against her shoulder, let her hold him for a few long moments while they both tried to fight off the inevitable tears. “Of course.”
He pulled back, thumbed away the silver track marks on her face, shushed the new tears that fell, stayed with her until Harvey arrived, cold and stoic in the doorway.
Mike pressed his lips to her forehead, felt her fingers press against his jaw line and temples.
“Take care of yourself, Michael.” Mike choked out a laugh, watery and bereft. “Thank you.”
Mike passed Harvey in the doorway, but didn’t speak. Couldn’t. Wouldn’t even know where to start.
“When she was- the day before she was admitted to the unit, she made me read a book to her. I’d read it before; she’d seen the movie. Watching her there, like that- dying in front of me… And knowing that I’d have to do this. Stand up here and-“ he takes a breath, his throat clogs and he doesn’t want to keep going, doesn’t think he can. “She told me that the movie ended different – just a little and that I should watch it. I couldn’t.” He takes a breath again, stares at the pages in front of him but they’re blurry and he can’t see them and- “I watched it last night. And I knew- all I want to say is this: over the past three months – now -, I imagine that this is all a dream. That I’ll wake up, that Marian will be lying in the bed beside me. Nothing more than that, just that she’s there. I don’t let myself imagine anything more than that. I can’t. I make myself remember that I was lucky to have had the time with her that I did. Wishing that the end is different doesn’t change the reality. We all die – we all lose someone. We all feel like we never had enough time.” He chokes, sobs and the tears are running down his face, dripping from his chin. He looks up, the room a blurry outline of black and white and golden sunlight. “Marian didn’t have enough time; none of us had enough time with her.” He closes his eyes. “I’m just happy to have had any time with her at all.”