Louis has taken to humming the Harvard song every time he comes near Mike's cubicle. The song itself is not a problem, because by now Mike could sing it backwards in his sleep (although probably not very well). The problem is that Louis is clearly still suspecting something.
Harvey shrugs it off as usual and sends him away with a mountain of papers to work his magic on. Mike wishes he could just stop worrying about Louis, because this is likely to drive him insane. On the other hand, it's not paranoia if they're really out to get you.
The diploma Lola got him is great and he would totally cuddle it in bed and frame it and hang it on his wall if it didn't feel a little dirty. His name in the Harvard alumni database makes him feel warm in his special place. But. He can't help but think that it's not enough. That someone's going to dig deeper. And now that he faked that much, he's kind of on a road of no return. He might as well go all the way.
Alas, his brilliance doesn't extend to computer wizardry. Fortunately, he's not the only genius he knows.
Getting out of the office for lunch is almost impossible for a lowly associate, but Mike's pretty good at the impossible. He has to be back at one (which actually means a quarter to one) to go meet a client with Harvey, but he has enough time for his own appointment.
Mike slips out of the building and goes to a cafe two streets away. He barely has time to make an order before a hand comes down on his shoulder and spins him around. The next thing he knows, he's crushed in an enthusiastic hug.
"Mike, my man!" says the hugger, patting him on his back with rather more force than necessary. "Long time no see. Looking sharp!"
"Yeah," Mike responds weakly, trying to catch his breath. He smiles as soon as he's released from the embrace. "Thanks so much for coming to see me, Alec."
"Sure, man. Just let me get a coffee, I'm still half-asleep."
Mike remembers the time when he could afford to be half-asleep at noon with a certain amount of longing. He goes to find them a table in a secluded corner. Hardison joins him after a few minutes, holding a plastic cup filled mostly with whipped cream.
"You want to catch up first, or straight to business?"
"I... kind of have to be back at work soon. Sorry."
Alec waves a hand. "No problem. I managed to get two weeks of vacation, so we'll have time for that later. What do you need?"
"I need a hacker," says Mike.
The other man smiles widely and sprawls back in his chair. "Then you're lucky. You've got the best there is."
Mike explains the situation over his cup of coffee and then goes to get another one. When he comes back, Alec has a small laptop on the table and he's typing furiously. He gestures for Mike to sit close to him.
A few clicks later his page on the alumni website comes up. A fuzzy feeling bubbles inside Mike. He almost asks Hardison to take a screencap, but that might be a little weird.
Alec hums approvingly. "Seems legit. But..." He resumes typing. The screen is filled with code scrolling faster than Mike can follow. Finally there's a table. The hacker types in Mike's name and clucks his tongue. "Yep, just as I thought. You're in their alumni database, but there's no record of you actually being a student at Harvard. So if someone from the outside tries to look you up, it's all okay. But if the school wanted to verify that..."
Mike sighs. "I'm screwed."
"I wouldn't say that." Alec slaps his back. "We just need to feed them your imaginary course records."
"You can do that?"
Hardison scoffs. "Puh-lease. I can make them think you're the heir of their founder, but that might be overkill. We need to make you good, but not so good that people would remember you, right? That's a little tricky, so you'll have to tell me what I'm supposed to put in there."
Mike wants to hug him. Then he remembers that, unlike some people, Alec's not opposed to warm fuzzy feelings and displays of affection, so he does exactly that.
Then he looks at his watch. "Shit, I have to go. Harvey's gonna leave me here if I'm late. Same time tomorrow?"
They part ways near Pearson Hardman, where Hardison hails a cab and pulls Mike into a goodbye half-hug. Harvey's waiting in front of the office. "You're late," he says in greeting.
"No, I'm not! I'm thirteen minutes early."
Harvey just raises an eyebrow and asks: "Lunch date?"
Mike wishes he didn't feel the need to explain himself. "I wouldn't have to go on lunch dates, but my evenings are full thanks to you."
"As they should be," Harvey says calmly. Then he shakes his head and reaches for Mike's tie, which ended up a little twisted, probably due to all the hugging. "I didn't think you still have to be told to look presentable for clients."
"I know that," he mutters. "But seriously, I wouldn't mind leaving the office before ten once or twice. My old friend's in town and I barely have time to catch up with him."
"Considering your taste in friends, that may be a good thing."
Now that's just unfair. "Alec's not Trevor. He's not the kind to get in trouble. Well, at least not the kind to get me in trouble."
"I hope so. You manage to get in trouble perfectly well on your own. Now, are you finally ready to go?"
Mike nods and gets in the car.