Jessica is as good as she says she is. But so is Mike, and when the back-and-forth is over he's regurgitated several of the finer points of little-known Supreme Court cases as well as the precise arrangement of bric-a-brac on her office shelves. She's duly impressed, but for Mike it's like flicking through a Rolodex, no more stressful than looking up a book in the library, and that leaves the other half of his brain available to wander.
And wonder. And doubt.
When he leaves the office, he feels sick to his stomach. Stupid, he knows. He should be relieved. Jessica’s letting him stay. Harvey fought for him to stay. But that’s the part that aches, the part he can’t quite reconcile with what he knows about himself, and what he knows about Harvey and the whole universe.
Harvey fought for him. Harvey doesn’t fight for anything that he doesn’t need for himself. That’s not bad, that’s just who he is. Mike likes that, he admires it, but he doesn’t understand why he falls under the category of things Harvey is willing to stick his neck out for. And the way Jessica grudgingly accepted him tells Mike that Harvey stuck his neck out damn far.
Which you’d think would make Mike feel good. But it doesn’t. Not at all.
He walks through the lobby, nods good night to the security guard, and when the revolving door ushers him through into the cold night air, he takes a deep gulp of it. It calms him, and he closes his eyes so the streetlights bleed illumination in through his eyelids, letting his pulse settle.
“Well. You look like you’re still in one piece."
Mike starts. The voice, cocoa-rich and tinged with velvet, runs over him like a warm breeze. He didn’t think he’d hear it again tonight. When Harvey wasn’t in the office, Mike assumed Jessica had sent him home.
“You’re still here," Mike says, his eyes opening to find Harvey moving into his light, blocking out the glare of the streetlamps. His timing and his moves are both seamless, and Mike doesn’t have to blink to acclimate himself. Harvey fits into his vision.
“Did you think I’d wait ‘til morning to find out how it went?" Harvey’s close, and this close Mike can feel or tell something unusual about him. The way he’s holding himself is tense, off-balance. Like he’s uneasy. Was he that worried?
Harvey doesn’t give him the time to ponder it. “So, tell me. Which did you get, the lady or the tiger?"
“A little of both," Mike says with a laugh. “If anything, more of the latter."
“That’s good." Harvey’s eyes dart upward as though trying to see Jessica through the plate-glass windows twenty stories up. “That’s what I thought."
“She knows everything now," Mike says. “What I did, how I got you to hire me--"
Harvey interrupts him with a pointed finger. “Let’s get one thing straight. You didn’t get me to do anything. I decided to hire you."
Mike considers pushing back, then decides to let it go. He licks his lips and presses them together. “Right. Anyway, whatever you did, Harvey, thank you."
“Just protecting my own interests," Harvey says carelessly, shifting in his stance as though impatient.
It’s exactly what Mike expects him to say, precisely how he expects him to say it, but Mike twitches. “You don’t have to say it that quickly."
“What? It’s true."
“Really?" Mike wants to make it sound teasing, but he’s too exhausted and he’s been through too much and it just comes out irritable. “I don’t know, Harvey. Would it kill you to act for a second like, maybe, you actually cared what happened to me?"
“What are you talking about?" Easy, cavalier, again exactly the way Mike expects it. It pisses him off.
“Look, I get that you did something for me in there, and I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth." Warning bells are flashing in his mind, but his mouth can't be stopped. "I’d just like to think that maybe, for a moment there, you were actually nervous."
Harvey glares at him. “Think what you want," he says, and folds his arms over his chest. His teeth are sinking into his lower lip, almost unnoticeably, but hard. Mike stares a minute and then sighs.
He walks toward the bike rack. “See you tomorrow, Harvey." His footsteps echo on the concrete of the empty sidewalk that sprawls in front of the building.
He kneels to undo the bike lock, and turns the key just as he hears the word “terrified."
Muffled, from several paces away, but undoubtedly there, and undoubtedly that single, melodramatic word.
“Terrified," Harvey says. “I was terrified."
Mike stands up. The bike lock clatters to the sidewalk.
Harvey's standing in the same place, still minutely tense. He half-smiles as he says it, like he’s amused at his own foolishness. “I tried to fire you and I couldn’t. I tried three times. And you know something?" The fingers on one hand twitch, but he makes no other movement. “The third time I thought I had to, because I couldn’t afford to have someone around that I couldn’t fire."
At once Mike’s embarrassed. He walks forward, hands out, placating. “OK. That’s enough, Harvey. I get it."
Harvey shakes his head. “So I thought I’d have Jessica do it. Get you out of the picture. But I couldn’t do that, either. Because as it turns out, not having you around... is even scarier than having you around."
His lips are starting to twitch. Mike doesn’t know what to make of Harvey like this, with all the tension in his body starting to loosen into something shaky and unlike anything Harvey would ever admit to being. “I-- I’m here," Mike says. “OK? My job is safe, for now. So, no worries, right?"
The name comes out in a single breath, a huff. It freezes Mike in place. Eyes wide, lips parted, he stares as Harvey steps closer, raises his hands.
“You can tell me not to do this." Panic roots Mike to the spot. Harvey's so close now, and his hands keep rising, like he’s going to grab Mike’s hands -- no, they're too high, maybe his arms, no, his shoulders -- and Mike’s going taut all over, anticipating something violent, something awful.
One hand comes down on top of his head, then digs fingers into his scalp and drags down and back. The other slides over his cheek. “You can tell me not to do this," Harvey says again. His eyes are wild.
“Do--" And Mike gets it now, though he can’t quite verbalize what it is he’s getting -- beyond oh God, really, that? “Do you want me to tell you not to do this?"
Fingers cinch at the base of his neck. Mike swallows hard. “Harvey?"
“Mike," Harvey breathes. His exhalation touches Mike’s mouth. “You are..."
Harvey never says what Mike is. His mouth comes down on Mike’s before the words can escape his lips.
A rush of shock and heat runs down to the tips of Mike’s toes. He’s an electric current, crackling and sparking at the touch of Harvey’s mouth and the obscene heat of his hands, and he can’t do a thing to stop it. He wavers, unsteady on his feet, and when his hands come up to catch on Harvey’s arms it’s just to keep his balance. Oh, God, what is this? he keeps thinking. What the hell is this? As though it’s anything but what it is, anything but that word, the one that’s daring to come to a fore inside him, a, a kiss...
A kiss like the one Rachel gave him, like the ones he’s shared with Jenny, one of those? But it’s a completely different animal. It’s not pleasant and liquid and warm. It’s not chaste and tentative. It’s a single bolt of heat, it’s stone and lightning, and there’s not a place in his body he can’t feel it. How can this be just a kiss? It’s a seal, it’s a brand. He’s going to wear this on his heart forever.
No. Not that. He’s seeing inside Harvey right now, and Harvey’s the one with the seal on his heart.
He breaks away, pushes Harvey’s face from his.
“Are you-- do you?" he asks. Neither of them are much good at finishing sentences right now.
“If it helps," Harvey says, “I don’t want to."
“But you do." Now they’re both shaking, and somehow Mike’s hands have crept up to Harvey’s shoulders and are holding them fast. “I--"
“Just-- don’t tell anyone," Harvey entreats.
Mike nods hastily. “I won’t."
Harvey sighs. His eyes bore into Mike’s, deep. Under their pressure, Mike can feel his own eyes drooping closed, his mouth drifting up toward Harvey’s again, natural as anything.
And then Harvey shouts at the top of his lungs.
Mike stops, gasps. Harvey’s looking over his shoulder, behind him. Mike only whirls in time to see a thief kicking away and speeding off on his bike.
He starts running, screams after it. “Hey! That’s my bike! Damn it! I’m-- I’m gonna sue you!"
But there’s no way he can outrun a bike. His limbs flail as he motors to a stop, flushed and tired and pissed off. “Shit!" he shouts into the city night. The sound echoes off bricks and glass and dies. Mike ruffles his fingers through his hair and hangs his head, turning to walk, defeated, back to where Harvey stands.
Harvey’s recovered himself in the distraction, and his smile is that smugly magnanimous thing Mike’s used to. “Guess you’ll need a ride home," he says, as pleased as if he’d been the one to snatch Mike’s bicycle from under his nose.
“Yeah, I’ll grab a cab," Mike says, turning toward the street.
He doesn’t make it far. Harvey’s hands come down on his shoulders, and at once he’s pulled back, leaning against the strong frame of Harvey’s body. Expensive fabrics rustle against his own worn jacket.
“Come home with me," Harvey murmurs, his lips against Mike’s ear. Mike gulps hard, and his body’s doing that electric thing again. He shudders, and, unthinking, pushes back against Harvey’s body, lengthening the contact in a way that makes Harvey groan.
It’s too much, too sexual, and Mike shakes his head, even though he can’t bring himself to pull away. “Harvey, no," he says. The words come out harder than he intended them. Harvey lets go, pulls back, silent. Mike turns to look at him.
And he can see it there, in the taut line of Harvey’s body, in his ashen face. Harvey really is terrified.
Mike’s heart twinges hard enough to make him wince. He steels himself and takes Harvey’s hand. “I’m really good at falling into bed with people," he says. “Hasn’t worked out for me yet. Baby steps, Harvey. Just this once. I--" He laughs. “I’m pretty fucking scared of losing you, too."
It’s enough to give Harvey the will to pull away. He composes himself and saunters to the curb. “I’ll call you a cab," he says.
“We could share one," Mike offers.
Harvey looks at him like he’s just proposed a Satanic ritual.
Mike shrugs, grinning. “It was just a thought."
Still, when the cab pulls over, Harvey grips Mike’s arm. Mike looks at him, curls his fingers around Harvey’s elbow, and nods. “I’ll see you tomorrow." It’s a promise.
His heart doesn’t start to really hammer until he’s in the cab, pulling away. Harvey’s face reflects at an angle in the window for a moment before it disappears, and it’s a stranger’s face, worn with concern and caring. Or maybe it’s just the odd distortion of the glass, but it gets Mike worrying. Tomorrow, when he gets to work, will anything have changed? Will Harvey be his usual, unflappable self? Or will the world suddenly be able to tell Harvey’s secret -- that he, like any other human being, can get scared?