If there was one thing that Edith Ross regretted about the way she raised her grandson, it was that she had failed to make him street smart. Much to her horror, Mike was far too soft even in the presence of danger. She had been meaning to put him to a test without scaring him too much but hadn’t got an opportunity… until an hour ago.
Mike had forgotten about their dinner, so she had decided to see if his defending ability had gotten any better ever since he had started to live alone. She was still responsible for his education, and living in a big city like New York while making enemies in court screamed for learning a proper response when presented with a threat. So she had sat on the couch in his apartment after leaving the door open and turning off the lights, waiting for him to get home.
‘It was unbearable…’ She reminisced about the incident as she put away the Bible in the drawer of her nightstand. She had been thanking Mike’s guardian angel for looking after him. It was a miracle that her grandson had been safe (minus the whole Trevor business) for a year on his own. The intimidating words that had left his mouth when he had finally got home had been “Hello…? I am armed~ with a… with a big gun~”.
Edith had to cringe again as she thought about his tone. The words were bad enough but the tone had been worse. She was confident than even an eleven year old girl could have done better than that. She had scolded him to at least say it with a little authority and had advised him to turn on the lights first so that he wouldn’t get attacked blind.
Mike had told her that anyone who saw his place would know that there was nothing of monetary value and would leave with disappointment immediately, but she hadn’t wanted to hear about it. Everything had upset her; his complete lack of self-defense skills, his friendly voice towards the attacker, and the fact that he didn’t own anything of value despite his claims of making so much money.
She wanted Mike to be safe and happy. She wanted him to spend some money on himself instead of saving up for surgeries and expensive treatments that she might need in the future. She would feel so much better if he bought things that would benefit him; for instance, a proper house. But whenever she told him to move to a safer neighborhood and a better apartment, Mike smiled and told her that he would rather save up to move her to a better facility. It drove her crazy but he wouldn’t budge. Luckily for her, she had the perfect solution in mind: Harvey Specter.
Edith picked up the phone and called her grandson’s boyfriend. The boys had been going out for about eight months now, and she had met Harvey several times at the nursing home and at Mike’s apartment. Hoping that it wasn’t too late to call, she waited for him to pick up the phone.
“What’s wrong, Edith? Should I call an ambulance?...”
Edith knitted her brows. Why did he sound breathless? “I’m sorry, Harvey. I didn’t mean to interrupt your workout. I’m fine.”
“Don’t worry about it. I wasn’t working out.”
“Then is my grandson over there?”
“No, he’s not. Why?”
She instantly got suspicious. “Listen, young man. I’ve grown very fond of you, but if I ever find out that you cheated on Michael and broke his heart…”
“I’m not cheating on him. He was on the phone with me.”
“On the phone? Oh… then I’m even sorrier. Should I call back later?”
Harvey laughed. He couldn’t wait to see Mike’s face when he told him about this. “It’s all right. What can I help you with?”
“I need to talk to you about what happened today at Mike’s. Did he tell you?”
“That he forgot you were supposed to have dinner together? Yes, he told me. And, he feels pretty bad about it, which was why I was trying to cheer him up.”
It was Edith’s turn to laugh. Unlike her grandson, Harvey wasn’t shy. “I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about how he failed my security test.”
Then she proceeded to describe the minutiae of the shameful incident; how Mike had taken a few steps inside the dark apartment with no weapon in hand, how he had sounded anything but intimidating, and how his strongest move had been jumping out of his skin while making the files fly all over the place. “Someone’s going to think I raised a pussy, Harvey. This matter needs to be handled.”
Harvey was shocked that his boyfriend had acted so recklessly. He had thought that the kid would be more careful than that. Hadn’t he lived his whole life in this city? How could he walk into a potentially dangerous situation with no plan whatsoever? What was Mike going to do if he got injured? Or worse? He didn’t even want to think about it.
“What would you like me to do?” He could fully understand her concern.
“I want you to convince him to move. And, to get a gun or learn how to defend himself. Just please teach him how to be safe. He wouldn’t listen to me.”
“With all due respect, Edith, if he’s not listening to you, I doubt he’ll listen to me. I’ve already tried to talk him out of that neighborhood but he didn’t want to hear it.”
“But didn’t you tell me you were the best closer in the city? Or do I have to tell the doctor that my hearing’s starting to fail?”
Harvey smiled. “I think you should tell the doctor that you’re healthy enough to persuade a lawyer who’s been practicing the law for fifteen years. I’ll talk to Mike in the morning.”
So that was the first piece of business that Harvey dealt with the next morning.
“Mike, come take a seat.”
“What did I do this time?” Mike sat on the couch across his boss. He had just come in to work so it couldn’t have been anything he had done today.
Harvey found it endearing that his puppy could tell his mood with such ease. Even when he had a poker face on, Mike had learned to see right through it. “Why didn’t you tell me your Grammy scared the crap out of you yesterday?”
“How do you know about that?”
“A little bird told me.”
“You got a little bird? I think that’s called cheating, Harvey. You already have a puppy.”
“Why is everyone accusing me of cheating?”
“Who is everyone?”
“You and Edith.”
“Grammy? Why would she think you’re cheating on me?”
“Because I was catching my breath when she called me.” Harvey got ready to enjoy the expression on his associate’s face.
“What? She called you? When?” Then the realization hit Mike like a thunderbolt. “Oh my god, was it her who cut off our fun time? Please tell me she didn’t know we were having phone sex. You didn’t tell her, did you?” Mike looked at Harvey with pleading eyes.
“I treat her with honesty, Mike. I told her the truth.” Harvey grinned widely.
“The truth?” Mike panicked. “You really told her we were trading dirty descriptions of what we were going to do to each other if we were trapped in a large fridge and our only chance of survival was to rely on each other’s body temperature? Oh god…” He shoved his crimson face in his hands. This was an absolute nightmare.
“Relax, puppy. She doesn’t know you have a survival sex fantasy. I merely implied we were having an interesting discussion over the phone. And, shouldn’t you be more concerned about why she called me? Apparently she hasn’t told you about it.” Harvey wanted to tease him some more but Mike’s security issue deserved more of his attention.
“You’re right.” Mike sat up straight. “I should ask why she called you instead of me at that time of the night. What did she want from you? Please tell me she didn’t get rid of that nurse who kept annoying her and asked you to defend her in court.”
Harvey snorted. Some imagination he had. “She wanted me to help you move in with me.”
It was the panacea for all of Mike’s problems. There would be no need for him to learn martial art or get a gun or waste his savings on a new apartment. He knew that Mike hated all three of them, and he thought that he could endure having him around more often for the sake of the old lady.
“Uh, wait a second. Who’s moving to where?” Mike felt like he was getting bombed consecutively.
“Mike, I understand it must be difficult to keep up with ten languages but in English, the expression ‘move in’ means…”
“I know what moving in means, Harvey. I just don’t know when you asked and when I said yes.”
Harvey noticed the change in Mike’s voice and expression but it wasn’t anything that he hadn’t expected. “That’s going to happen right now. Mike, would you like to move in with me? I can keep you safe.” He offered one of his best smiles that he knew Mike couldn’t resist.
Harvey bravely took the hit to his ego. Perhaps he should have called back last night and finish his role in the large fridge. “You’re supposed to say yes, puppy. Let’s try it again.”
“Harvey, I understand it must be difficult to keep up with two languages but in English, the expression ‘no’ means no! How many times do I have to tell you I don’t want to move? I’d really appreciate it if you could respect that.”
Harvey watched his associate get up from the couch and storm out of his office. Mike was far more upset than usual. Was it too early to ask him to move in with him? Didn’t he understand that eight months were eight years in Harvey Specter time? Or did he enjoy living in that dangerous apartment so much? But what possible sentimental value could it have? He had only lived there for a year! He had to find out and fix the problem before Mike’s luck ran out or his grandmother deemed him unfit to be her grandson’s boyfriend.
So that was why he invited himself over at Mike’s apartment that evening. Mike had been distant the whole day and there wasn’t much he could do about it at work. But outside the four walls of Pearson-Hardman, it was a different story. He could capture Mike’s attention and tear down his wall in many different ways.
“Mike, open up. It’s me.” Harvey knocked on the door. They had exchanged spare keys to their places a few weeks ago but he didn’t want to use his key unless it was an emergency.
Much to his surprise and relief, Mike meekly did as he was told. The door opened and Mike even offered him a small smile. “Come in. What are you doing here?”
“Let me get something straight first. Are you still mad at me or not?” Harvey locked the door behind him. He would usually figure it out himself but for all he knew, they could get attacked while having this conversation.
“I’m not mad at you unless you came here to change my mind. I know you were just trying to look out for me and I can appreciate that. I may have overreacted so I have no right to be mad at you.”
Mike gave his boyfriend a hug and a quick kiss. Even a day had been too long without showing him some affection. His love for Harvey came naturally and it had been exhausting to try to fight it all day. Besides, Harvey was wearing faded dark jeans, under his grey shirt, which rendered him powerless. His legs and crotch looked amazing, and Mike felt a strong urge to get trapped in a large fridge with him again.
“Let me know when you’re done ogling so we can talk.” Harvey even turned around to give him a splendid view of his ass.
Mike knew that he should tear his eyes off since Harvey wanted to talk. He was dressed to kill and yet he wanted to talk. That could only mean one thing; he had come here to try to change his mind.
‘Perhaps I can distract him. He must’ve had a hard day too.’ Mike approached Harvey and swung his arms around his waist. Harvey was warm and perfect in his arms, making a contented sigh leave his lips. Mike placed sweet kisses on the back of his boyfriend’s neck and ran his hands up and down his chest.
“Mike, in English, the expression ‘ogling’ doesn’t involve hands and lips. You’re supposed to use your eyes only.”
“Oh, will you stop with that English expression thing already?”
“But I like getting under your skin.”
“You mean, under my clothes.”
Harvey turned around and let their lips crash. He had missed kissing Mike all day. He had gotten addicted to kissing him to the point that he simply couldn’t go through a day without getting his daily dose of kisses. But the moment he felt Mike’s hands slide under his shirt, he had to pull back.
“Already out of breath? You’re getting old.” Mike teased as he took off his red T-shirt. It looked like Harvey was on to him so he had to act fast.
“Put it back on, Mike. I know what you’re doing.” Harvey sat on the couch as he reminded himself that his top priority was to get Mike to talk about his reluctance to move. There had to be another reason than money issues since moving in with him wouldn’t cost him a thing. It wasn’t like he was going to collect rent from his own boyfriend.
“What did you say? You want me to take off my pants too? You got it.”
“Mike! Stop right there.”
Mike ignored Harvey’s order and was out of his jeans in record time. “You sound angry, Harvey. Am I going to get punished? Is it spanking night tonight?” He flashed him an innocent smile that he knew Harvey couldn’t resist.
“No.” Harvey wasn’t having any of it. “Look, there are two ways to do this. One, you come here right now, we talk, and then we get back inside that fridge of yours. Two, I spank you hard until you’re willing to talk and you end up with a sore ass and teary eyes. So what’s it going to be?”
Mike was almost tempted to choose the second option but Harvey looked serious. And, more importantly, he looked worried. If there was one thing that he hated to see on Harvey’s face other than disappointment, it was concern. So he sighed and walked over to the couch before flopping down right next to his boyfriend.
“Smart boy.” Harvey rewarded him with a kiss on the head and flung his left arm around Mike’s shoulders.
“You look disappointed you didn’t get to spank me hard.” Mike remarked with a cheeky grin.
“You have no idea. My world is crumbling.”
Harvey’s exaggerated sigh had Mike giggling. He felt stupid and mildly aroused sitting in his boxers when Harvey was fully clothed beside him.
“So are you going to tell me why you don’t want to leave this place? I need to know the reason so I can fix it.”
Mike shifted and laid his head on Harvey’s lap. “Promise me you won’t mock or laugh at my reason.”
“That’s impossible. I always mock and laugh at you.” Harvey stroked his puppy’s hair.
“You’re the one that’s impossible. You know that?”
“But you enjoy tough challenges. You’re another me, remember?”
“Yes, I do.” Mike smiled. He liked it when Harvey emphasized that he was another version of him. It made him feel closer to Harvey and he considered it as the highest form of praise that could come from his mentor who was usually stingy with compliments.
He thought about the day when Harvey had told him that he was proud of him. It had happened a few months ago. He had been so overwhelmed with joy that he had to go on the rooftop and tell the whole world that he had made Harvey Specter proud. The repairman who had been fixing the ventilator on the roof had looked at him with sympathetic eyes as if working as a lawyer had driven him insane, but it hadn’t mattered. Even though he had found out later that Harvey had only said it because he hadn’t been able to fire him, that didn’t mean he hadn’t meant it. And, that was what had mattered to him the most.
“Harvey, I love that you asked me to move in with you. Let me make that part clear.” Mike started off gently as he looked up into his boyfriend’s eyes. “But I care about this place too much to leave. I have memories in here, Harvey, memories with you. That’s why I can’t leave.”
“Memories?” Harvey failed to understand the problem. “But we can build new ones at my place, Mike. Or do you want to move to a completely new apartment with me? Is that what you want? In any case, you can’t stay here. It’s too dangerous and I know you don’t want to keep a gun or learn how to punch and kick people.”
Mike smiled at how Harvey seemed to be doing his best to convince him without barking or bossing him around. If it had been a few months ago, Harvey would have showed up with a moving van and a dozen people who could pack his things and move them into Harvey’s condo in a matter of an hour.
Mike turned his head to the left to nuzzle Harvey’s abs. He would have to elaborate and try to help Harvey understand. They had learned how to communicate better with each other, and this would be a good test to see if they could resolve the problem without fighting and hurting each other’s feelings.
“See these stains over here?” He turned to his right and pointed at several ring-shaped stains that were on top of one another on the coffee table. “I got them when you first came over to spend the night with me. I was so nervous that I kept drinking my iced tea every two seconds.”
“I remember.” Harvey chuckled. “I thought you weren’t going to get hard because you were too freaked out.”
“Hahaha, I was more worried that I wouldn’t last long enough.”
“And, you didn’t.”
“What? Are we talking about the same night here? Because I clearly remember we both lasted fourteen minutes.”
“How do you know it was fourteen minutes? Do you have an internal clock down there?”
Mike snorted. “That’s ridiculous. I checked my wristwatch. Anyway that’s the story about these stains. Now take a look at those grease marks on the wall above the gas range. I got them when I was making breakfast for you the next morning. I was going to get them off but I’m glad I got lazy. Now it makes me smile every time I see them. I have many other memories like these, you see.”
That was when Harvey remembered how Mike had once mentioned that they wouldn’t have met if it hadn’t been for his friend Trevor. If Mike could be so generous to that miserable anchor just because he had served as a matchmaker, he could certainly be reluctant to let go of the apartment that was filled with memories of them.
“If these are what’s stopping you, we can always take them to my place. Or take pictures of them and put them in an album.” Harvey patted Mike’s bare chest.
“But you’re not getting it. You’re so neat and everything’s so perfect at your place. We wouldn’t be making any new memories this way even if I took these with me.”
Harvey playfully tugged at Mike’s ear. “My place isn’t perfect, you sentimental puppy, not without you.”
Mike couldn’t help the broad grin that made his facial muscles ache. “Now who’s being sentimental?”
“Must you ruin the mood like that? Couldn’t you just let out one of your ‘aww’s and thank me with a kiss?”
“Fine. Aww!” Mike chuckled and pulled Harvey down for a kiss. It was great that they were acting mature enough to share a peaceful kiss in the middle of the discussion. They had come so far.
“My back hurts.” Harvey’s complaint put an early end to the kiss.
“Must you ruin the mood like that?”
“Hey, if I hurt my back, how do you expect me to save you from freezing to death?”
“Fine. I suppose survival is more important.” Mike licked his lips to enjoy the lingering taste of his boyfriend.
“I’m glad you brought up that point. Survival is more important. You’re a little puppy living alone in the big, scary city.” Harvey explained in a rhythmic tone as if he was talking to a child. “What happens when the big, bad wolf comes and gets you?”
“Harvey, I’m aware of the dangers of living in a big city.”
“Really? Because I don’t think you do, Mike.” Harvey became more serious. “Do you love me?”
Mike let out a surprised laugh. “Of course I do. I tell you every day!”
“And, you love your grandmother.”
“Of course!” Mike sat up and faced his boyfriend.
“Then you should know that if something happens to you, you’ll be destroying two people’s lives. All because you wanted to keep a few things that remind you of some memories. By the way, if you end up dead, there will be no memories, no nothing for you anymore. People get killed or critically injured in New York every day, and yet everyone thinks it’s not going to happen to them. When you’re fighting for your life, I won’t be there to help you. You’ll be going down alone. So let me ask you again. Do you love me?”
Mike used his vivid imagination to picture himself lying on the floor of his apartment after getting attacked by a muscular burglar. He would be taking his last breath, his life flashing in front of his eyes and the last images would be full of the most precious thing that he had; Harvey. He imagined Harvey and Grammy looking devastated at his funeral. Grammy was sobbing into her handkerchief while Harvey was banging his coffin with his fist, ordering him to breathe and jump out. No, devastation wasn’t a good look on either of them.
“Hey, if you want to go down the sentimental road, then what about me? All my memories with you are stashed inside you. You’re my walking stain.” Harvey pushed his boyfriend back down on his lap.
“Stain? Couldn’t you choose something more romantic?”
“I thought we were having this conversation because you liked stains.” Harvey grinned while Mike glared at him.
“You really think this place is so dangerous that I have to move? Or are you just using it as an excuse to ogle me whenever you want?”
Harvey caressed Mike’s forehead with his thumb and tortured his back to lay a kiss on it. “Let’s just say that I like to be the best in everything I do and if you’re dead, I might rank second-best in ogling. I wouldn’t feel so motivated to ogle anyone else.”
Mike wanted to jump off the couch and run up to the rooftop to tell the whole world how romantic his boyfriend was. But Harvey’s lap was too warm to leave so he settled for picturing himself doing so in his mind. “Ask me again.”
“Ask you what?”
“Ask me if I love you.”
Harvey could smell victory in the air. It was only going to get stronger once he closed the case. “Do you love me, Mike?”
Mike held Harvey’s left hand with both of his and nodded firmly. “Yes, Harvey. I love you.”
Four months later…
Mike yawned again as he rode up the elevator to Harvey’s condo. Harvey had gone home early while he had stayed another hour at the office to double check if everything was in order for tomorrow’s meeting with the client. He was exhausted. All he could think about was eating fried chicken, cuddled up against his boyfriend on the warm, plush couch.
‘Hmm… mhmm…” The elevator opened and he started to hum one of the songs that he and Harvey had danced to the other night. It was one of those old pop songs that made you miss the 1960s even when you hadn’t been born then. They had been invited to a client’s party and had had a great time dancing in each other’s arms.
‘Another great memory with him.’ Mike smiled as he walked down the hallway. He would get to see the handsome face any moment now. Love made people so silly. He had seen Harvey just an hour and a half ago but he already missed him.
‘I wonder what he’s do…’ Mike stood dead in his tracks and stopped breathing. The door to the condo was slightly open.
‘Oh, no! Harvey!’ He fished around in his messenger bag and pulled out the taser gun. It had been the compromise for getting a real gun. He cautiously padded across the rest of the hallway as he called the doorman on his phone. After quickly whispering about the situation, he lowered himself and peered into the dark condo.
Harvey had told him numerous times that he should turn around and get to safety if the door was suspiciously open, but he couldn’t leave without knowing that Harvey was safe. He thought about calling Harvey’s phone to check if he was inside but if he was hiding, he didn’t want to give up Harvey’s location to the burglars.
‘But I don’t see anyone!’ Even when his eyes got a little used to the darkness, he couldn’t see or hear anyone moving. He could see that the ‘Horns of the tortured unicorn’ in the hallway were missing so something had definitely happened. Then his imagination came up with a horrible theory; perhaps the burglars had already left and Harvey was knocked out somewhere on the floor.
‘I have to go in!’ Mike strained his ears once more but he still couldn’t hear anything at all. He didn’t think that hostile forces would be so quiet if they were busy stealing or attacking Harvey, but he couldn’t be sure. The condo was quite spacious and they could be in the bedroom. So he held up his messenger bag like a shield before sliding into the condo. He only had to hang on until the doorman showed up with a lethal weapon.
Mike rushed through the hallway on tiptoe and hid behind the kitchen island. He thought about turning the lights on but he didn’t want to draw attention to himself until he got a clearer picture of what was going on. That was when he heard footsteps inside the bedroom.
‘Oh my god! Someone’s really in there!’ Mike tried not to shake as he listened intently. The footsteps were getting closer. The man was leaving the bedroom and coming out to the living room. It seemed like there was only one man, but why did his footsteps sound familiar? Was the burglar someone he knew? Where was Harvey?
Mike braced himself with the taser gun clutched in his hand in case the man spotted him on his way out. But the man stopped after a few steps and turned on the lights.
“Mike, how many times do I have to tell you not to come in when it’s not safe?”
‘Harvey…?’ Mike gasped. He poked his head out from his hiding spot and made sure that Harvey wasn’t at gunpoint before standing up. Harvey looked unharmed and pissed off.
“I thought you were lying unconscious on the floor! I was coming to save you! Don’t tell me this was some kind of a test! Wait. It’s good if it was just a test…”
Mike instinctively turned around and pointed the taser gun at the person who had appeared in the doorway.
“Don’t shoot! Freddie’s chicken!” The delivery boy held up the chicken box with a frightened look on his face.
“Oh, sorry!” Mike gave him an apologetic smile and lowered his weapon. Then he watched Harvey give the scared boy a generous tip and lock the door.
“He knocked, Mike. I don’t think burglars know manners like that.”
“Better safe than sorry!” Mike took the chicken and moved to the couch. Now that the danger was averted, he was back to his starving self.
“Well, look at you. I think your survival rate just went up 15 percent.”
Mike beamed as he opened the box. Harvey looked proud of him. “So how high is it now?”
“But you just said it went… Are you telling me it was zero before?”
“Good to know you can do simple math, Mike. I think you deserve that greasy chicken.”
“You mean tasty.”
“No, I mean greasy.”
Mike was about to strike back when he remembered that he had asked for the doorman’s help. “Hey, I need to call Kevin and tell him we don’t need him or the police anymore.”
“Don’t worry about it. He knows it was just a drill.”
“Well, then I guess I can concentrate on my chicken.” Mike dived into the box as Harvey sank into the couch right next to him.
“I was so scared, Harvey.” Mike confessed between bites. “When I saw those horns gone, I was so scared you might’ve been hurt.”
Harvey felt bad that he had scared him like that, but at least he could deliver some good news to Mike’s grandmother. His entry plan still needed work but he was making progress. He kissed his boyfriend’s temple and threw his arm around his shoulders. The puppy needed some comfort. “So you really came in to save me?”
Mike nodded as his mouth was currently unavailable. The chicken tasted exceptional tonight.
“I think I’m a little impressed.” Harvey pressed a kiss to Mike’s plump cheek.
Mike swallowed the chicken and gave his boyfriend a reassuring smile. “A puppy never leaves his master behind.”
“Is that right?”
“Then I think it’s time for us to get abducted in Siberia. You’ll have to save me with your body temperature or I’m afraid we’re not going to make it.”
“Hahaha, okay.” Mike laughed, feeling the tension leave his body.
“Once you save me, I’ll have to thank you for saving my life. So you better eat up if you want to last fourteen minutes twice.”
Mike nodded fiercely as he carried on with his chicken conquest. Perhaps he could cut out a small piece of the box after he was done with it. He could put it in his scrapbook and let it join his other memories. “Can I kiss you with tasty lips?”
“You mean greasy.”
“No, I mean tasty.” Mike gave him a foxy smile.
“Why don’t you let me be the judge of that?” Harvey smiled back and leaned in for a kiss. His place was now perfect with his tasty puppy in it.