Getting it Right
Harvey doesn't remember much from his time in the hospital.
Oh, he remembers everything once they moved him from the ICU into a private room just fine. He remembers each of the six agonizing days until the doctors agreed to release him in brutal detail – and that includes moments he'd much rather forget if only he could, like the removal of certain tubes from parts of his body he's not comfortable letting anyone but himself and Mike touch. Those are moments he'd pay to have permanently removed from his memory, thank you very much. But he remembers them in vivid detail, just like the rest of his hospital stay.
Harvey has never dealt well with boredom, and being laid up in the hospital with nothing to do for the entire day was the epitome of boredom. So yeah, it's safe to say that he remembers every damn second of that.
What he doesn't remember about his hospital stay is the time he spent in the ICU. He knows about it, of course. He knows that he spent five days in an induced coma, and two more days in the ICU during which he was still more asleep than awake. He doesn't remember much about those days, though. He thinks he remembers some things, fleeting impressions, more the sense memory of something rather than anything tangible, but Harvey himself is not one hundred percent sure if those memories are real or something his brain is making up to fill in the blanks.
One thing he is sure about though is Mike. He knows Mike was there nearly the entire time he was in the ICU. He thinks he remembers it, too. He remembers voices, the sensation of someone else in the room with him, the feeling of hands on him, of a different kind of touch than the painful poking and prodding that marked every doctor's examination. He's certain Mike was there. Not because both Donna and Doctor Walker later on told him that Mike didn't leave the hospital just once while he was there. He simply knows it's the truth, even if his first tangible memories are of Mike, exhausted and rugged yet at the same time wired on caffeine, feeding him ice chips after he woke up in the ICU.
He doesn't remember the attack that brought him to the hospital, either. He remembers that he had a lead on the elusive witness whose testimony he needed for the pro bono Jessica had dumped on him. The last thing he remembers is getting into a cab to Queens, then…nothing until he woke up in the hospital. It's not exactly helpful for the ongoing police investigation, but no matter how much Harvey wracks his brain, he can't unearth anything else.
Of course he's not content with the idea that the person who stabbed him is still out there somewhere and not behind bars for what they did, but he finds that he's far more concerned with how the people around him are dealing with this. Especially Mike. Always Mike.
Harvey is missing nearly an entire week in his memory, and the exhaustion that was radiating off of Mike once Harvey was coherent enough to notice spoke a very clear language of what those days must have been like. He put Mike through a lot. It's not something he's done deliberately, of course, but still Harvey has the feeling he isn't ever going to be able to make up for it.
He's trying, though. He's been out of the hospital for nearly a week now, and he's following doctor's orders to the letter and is taking it easy, no matter that the boredom is threatening to drive him out of his mind. But Mike's fretting enough as it is, and Harvey really is doing his best not to give him any additional reason to worry, no matter that he's slowly but surely going insane from having nothing to do.
What Mike doesn't understand is that Harvey just needs to go back to work. He needs to ease himself back into his usual rhythm, then this whole convalescence business is going to be over before they know it. But Mike doesn't understand, and apparently neither does the prepubescent boy-wonder fate threw at him as his doctor. Harvey is on sick leave for another week, and doctor-patient confidentiality doesn't seem to count for shit anymore these days because Jessica knows about it and already called Harvey to tell him that if he shows up just an hour before he's supposed to be back, she'll personally throw him out.
So he's pretty much banned to the condo for the foreseeable future, and the powers that be at Pearson Hardman – which would be Jessica, again – think they're doing him an additional favor by going easy on Mike. Which isn't a bad thing, not at all. Harvey definitely isn't complaining one bit. It's simply hilarious that they think they are being subtle about it in any way.
Mike has been back to work for three days now, and on the very first day back he was told that there were no active cases for him to work on – which is a lie if Harvey has ever heard one, because he knows for sure that at a firm like Pearson Hardman there's always work that can be pawned off, especially to someone with Mike's skill set. Instead, Louis has him proofing briefs for two large mergers that are scheduled for next month. It's thousands upon thousands of pages of paperwork, and Mike hadn't fully settled to get started on them when Louis – Louis of all people – told him that since the mergers weren't scheduled for weeks, he might as well work on them from home.
Really, subtle works differently.
Not that Harvey complains about having Mike home. If he already has to be stuck here, it's good to know that he's not alone. But maybe a break would have done Mike good. For nearly three weeks, the kid has done nothing but worry and fret, and now Jessica and Louis have given him the perfect opportunity to keep right at it.
Still, it means a break in Harvey's boredom, and it gives him ample opportunity to indulge in one of his favorite pastimes – watching Mike. Watching Mike while he's working is something there's never enough time for while they're at the office, but it's something Harvey could do for hours.
There's always this look of complete concentration on his face as he proofs briefs, eyes scanning the pages at a speed that should be impossible for a human to achieve. Harvey loves the frown-lines that appear whenever Mike stumbles across something that piques his interest, and that frown almost always precludes either the use of the highlighter pen or the grab for one of the reference works Mike has strewn all around himself to check a fact. It's far more entertaining than anything that's on TV during the day, and Harvey finds himself cursing the fact that Mike is such a quick reader, because it means that the time he can spend Mike-watching is limited since he gets things done so fast.
He's done for today already, which means that instead of poring over the briefs at the large dining table directly in Harvey's line of sight, Mike is on the sofa with him now, the TV is on and Mike is mindlessly flipping through the channels. Harvey really has to check if one of Mike's previous jobs had him working as a contortionist, because it seems unfathomable how he managed to wrap them around each other as closely as humanly possible while at the same time he avoided putting any kind of pressure on Harvey's injured side.
Mike is settled between Harvey's legs, with Harvey's right arm pulled firmly around his ribcage, their intertwined fingers resting on Mike's sternum, rising and falling gently in time with his breaths. Mike's head is resting against Harvey's chest, deliberately shifted to the right so that he avoids all contact with the still tender area around the stitches on Harvey's left side. Harvey's right leg is loosely slung over Mike's thigh, and though by all rights the position looks uncomfortable even from Harvey's perspective, it's actually the exact opposite. The painkillers Harvey is still floating on might play a part in it, but he's comfortable like this. So comfortable that he could just close his eyes and drift off to sleep if he wanted to, but he wants to savor this moment for a little longer.
He can almost pretend that it's just a lazy Sunday afternoon on which they have nothing to do and nowhere to be. Almost. Harvey knows that things aren't back to normal quite yet. He also knows that it'll be some time yet before he's back to his full strength. He has lost quite a bit of weight, and lying around in a hospital bed for close to two weeks has not done his muscle tone or strength any favors, either. His clothes feel uncomfortably loose, he tires easily, and small things like climbing stairs leave him unusually winded, but the doctors say they're content with the progress he's making, so he has to believe that this is just a temporary issue.
He's a bit more worried about Mike than about himself, anyway.
Mike might pretend that everything is all right again now that Harvey is out of the hospital, but Harvey can read the subtle signs, and he knows better. Mike is more clingy than he's ever been before, and he's been a tactile person to begin with. But now he seems to struggle with the constant urge to be with Harvey, to touch and reassure himself that he's there. Harvey indulges him – it's not really a sacrifice at all – but while he enjoys the proximity he also knows that there's deeper underlying issues at work here. The fear of losing someone else has been deeply ingrained in Mike ever since the death of his parents, and in the light of that nearly losing Harvey has hit him a lot harder than it would have, anyway. A lot harder than he wants to admit, too, at least with words.
Some life-affirming sex might help Mike let go of some of his worries about how something horrible is going to happen to Harvey the second he lets him out of his sight. Not that Harvey is someone who believes that sex is the solution to every problem. He doesn't, but then again it doesn't hurt.
Only, right now it kinda does. Breathing heavily hurts, moving around too much hurts, and in Harvey's experience sex usually implies a combination of both of these things. He's gotten better, but if he's completely honest with himself, he's not quite there yet. He could take a higher dosage of painkillers, of course, but somehow he has the feeling that falling asleep with a loopy grin on his face halfway through the sex would be a bit counterproductive as far as its life-affirming, positive component is concerned.
Also, before they go anywhere near that, there's some other issues they need to get out of the way first. For one, before anything other than sleeping happens in their bed, they'll need to go out and buy condoms.
Harvey has been through three units of blood during his surgery, and while he's incredibly grateful that someone with the right blood type actually sat down and donated blood that they could pump into him while he was bleeding out, he's not going to take any chances. He knows that the hospital runs tests on all units of blood before they administer them to someone, but he's not going to take a risk – no matter how minimal – with Mike's health. So until enough time has passed for a conclusive blood test, they're going to use protection, and that's that. They've been there before, after all, so it's not completely unknown territory.
The problem isn't that they can't agree on who's going to do a quick run to the drugstore, though. Neither is it about Harvey's injuries, really. No, the problem is that Mike is almost too careful with him. And Harvey gets it, he really does. He gets that what happened to him scared Mike, and that he needs to relearn that Harvey is not going to break, or vanish, or drop dead if Mike touches him wrongly or leaves him out of his sight for any length of time. And that's going to take some time to sink in.
But no matter how long it takes, Harvey is going to give Mike the reassurance that he's not going anywhere. He's in this for the long haul, and lying here on the sofa with nothing more urgent to do than holding Mike against him as tightly as possible only affirms that conviction.
He's got the ring to prove it, too.
It was a relief to find it still there amongst his personal effects, to know that it didn't vanish in the pandemonium of the attack on him and his subsequent transport to the hospital. He's been almost paranoid about keeping it within reach ever since. It's as much for reassurance as it is for the worry that if he leaves it lying around somewhere, Mike is inevitably going to find it and figure it all out before Harvey can actually work up the nerve to ask the question attached to the ring.
Of course, the idea that Mike is eventually going to see the ring – and hopefully wear it – is part of the plan. He just needs to get there. What he doesn't need is Donna constantly raising reproachful eyebrows at him. It started back in the hospital already, during the one day when the exhaustion had caught up with Mike and he had been gone from his bedside for an entire afternoon and night. Harvey hadn't been fully awake or coherent yet at that time, but he still remembers how Donna appeared at his bedside, hands on her hips and her eyebrows raised, telling him in no uncertain terms that Mike hadn't left the hospital once after Harvey was brought there, and that he'd be the most stupid man on the face of the earth if he let Mike slip through his fingers ever again. Harvey is not entirely sure if his memory isn't playing tricks on him or if it really happened, but he thinks she also threatened that if he didn't go ahead and propose soon, she was going to do it for him.
Harvey wouldn't put it past her, either. Admittedly, Donna has been helpful in this whole endeavor so far. From the moment she replaced his first tentative bookmarks on jewelry websites with her own, she's been in on the plan. And in hindsight it's been a good thing that she couldn't keep her nose out of his business, because by now Harvey has to agree that his initial proposal ideas might have been a little over the top.
Still, it's not helping that whenever she drops by now, she immediately gets right in his face with that determined eyebrow action of hers, as if to wordlessly ask him if he managed to scrounge up the courage yet.
Just for the record, it's not a question of courage.
It's a question of getting it right.
Harvey is someone who learns from his mistakes, though he never goes around and broadcasts that he makes mistakes in the first place. But yes, he knows now that turning this proposal into a big show isn't what Mike would want. But unfortunately, the realization of how to not propose to Mike doesn't come with an instruction manual of how to best go about it instead. He's simply…well, he isn't stuck. He just hit a temporary roadblock on his mission to get Mike to marry him.
He's still working on it, and Donna putting pressure on him is not helping. He'll get there eventually. Soon. Soon-ish. He just needs to figure out a way to do it right. He's only going to do this once, after all, and after the past couple of weeks Mike has earned that much at least. Mike has earned that he does it right.
Mike starts to shift in his arms, but Harvey is so lost in his thoughts that he doesn't pay any real mind to it. He just shifts along with the movement, his body automatically realigning along with Mike's movement. He simply assumes that he wants to shift into a more comfortable position, so he completely misses it at first when Mike's voice asks a soft question. He blinks when a hand runs softly down his chest, and finds that Mike is leaning up on one elbow, looking at him from blue eyes that seem amused, though there's a small underlying trace of worry in his gaze that he can't hide entirely. When he notices that Harvey is looking at him, a smile steals across his face.
"Hey. You seemed pretty far away just now."
Harvey smiles and brings up a hand to tangle his fingers in Mike's short hair.
Yeah, about what? About the hospital, about Mike and him, about sex, about proposing – nothing he can really put into any form of coherent sentence.
"Nothing. Just drifting all over the place. What did you say?"
"I was asking if you're hungry. We could order dinner."
Harvey thinks about it for a moment, but he's not really hungry yet, and he's far too comfortable like this.
"Later. I don't want to move."
Mike frowns a little at him. "Are you tired?"
"A little. I just…I'm comfortable."
The frown is replaced by a smile as Mike curls up closer against his side. "Okay. Let's eat later."
He picks up the remote and turns off the TV, and even though the volume had been turned on low, the sudden silence feels like blessed relief. There's only the sound of fabric rustling as Mike manages another feat of contortionism and shifts yet another impossible bit closer. If possible, the shift makes it even more comfortable. Mike's body is a warm weight against his side, and Harvey feels content in that loose-limbed way that makes his body feel almost weightless against the cushions. It's almost as if he's floating on the good stuff again like he was in the hospital while he was still in the ICU. He knows that his current dosage of pain meds is nowhere near high enough to cause this content floating feeling, though, so Harvey is ready and willing to attribute it all to Mike.
He's comfortably drowsy, but not quite tired enough to close his eyes and go to sleep. It feels like he's done nothing but sleep for the past weeks, and he's fed up with wasting the days away. It's rare that Mike and him get these quiet moments with one another with nothing more urgent taking up their time, and he's going to make the most of it.
Mike nuzzles against him with a small, content sound, and it suddenly hits Harvey how right this feels. There's noting fancy about this moment, nothing overly romantic, but still it feels like the most perfect moment Harvey can remember in a long time. It's just Mike and him, lounging around in their oldest but most comfortable clothes. He can't help but thinking that maybe this is just the kind of right moment he's been waiting for.
It's a ridiculous thought, of course. Donna might have convinced him that Mike won't appreciate an extravagant proposal, but this is about as low-key as it gets. It's below low-key, so far below that Harvey can't immediately think of a word to properly describe it. They're rumpled from lying on the couch all afternoon, Mike in jeans and an old gray t-shirt, and Harvey in an age-old Yankees shirt and a pair of worn sweatpants. It's the only clothes that won't slide off his hips from all the weight he's lost, and just the thought that he even considers proposing in sweatpants is ridiculous, really. His mother would have a fit if she knew what he was thinking right now – though in all honesty that's not exactly a thought that's going to deter him from anything. In fact, the thought that his mother is going to hate something has always been more of a motivator than a hindrance to him.
He's not going to think about the Wicked Witch of the East Coast, though, not when Mike is curled up against him as close as humanly possible, the fingers of one hand interlaced with Harvey's, his breaths coming in warm and even puffs against Harvey's chest. This is perfect, he realizes. Just Mike an him, no walls, no pretences, no distractions. Just them.
Right there, at this moment, Harvey can't imagine anything that could possibly feel more right than this.
It takes a moment for Mike to react and raise his head from his position on Harvey's chest. His blue eyes are bright and alert when he looks up, and Harvey feels something clench almost painfully in his gut as the completely unguarded look Mike levels at him before his lips pull up into a smile.
There's a moment of silence following his words. A second or two maybe, not more, but it's enough to send Harvey's thoughts racing. Stupid, how could he have been so stupid to just blurt it out. Maybe Mike wouldn't want this to turn into a big show, but he has earned more effort than this. Hell, he has earned some effort at the very least, a nice dinner, or some sort of discernible attempt at romance on Harvey's part. Hell, he should have gone down to his knees after all and screw the pain in his injured side, or at the very least should have managed to wrap the proposal up into a full sentence befitting the mature adult that he is. But now it's out and there's no taking it back, not ever, and Harvey is pretty damn sure he just screwed up the best thing in his life, and God, Donna is going to kill him…
Harvey's frantic thoughts tumble to an abrupt stop, but it takes a moment for his brain to catch up with what he just heard.
Yes. Mike said yes, and he doesn't look disappointed, or let down. If anything, there's an underlying note of amusement in his gaze as he looks right into Harvey's eyes. Amusement, and fondness, that's all right there in Mike's eyes, and he looks happy. Happy and in love, and not let down in any way, and Harvey feels the corners of his lips tug up in a smile that mirrors Mike's own.
Mike laughs, loud and happy, and he shifts himself up on the sofa until his face is hovering just a few inches above his own.
"Yes." The word sounds like another laugh, and Harvey can't help but wrap his arms around him and bury his hands in the soft fabric of Mike's shirt. "Yes, I'll marry you."
Harvey can't quite believe it, and some distant part of his brain is convinced that his is a big misunderstanding and that Mike can't possibly be this happy about this impromptu and completely unprepared proposal. But he is, and when he leans down and Harvey feels warm and soft lips press against his own, tongue sliding gently along the seam of his lips, does he let himself believe that this is really happening.
Mike said yes.
He can't keep the laughter that's bubbling up inside and laughs into the kiss, laughs and then pulls Mike infinitely closer as he responds to the kiss for real, sliding his tongue's against Mike's even as his fingers move underneath the worn fabric of Mike's shirt, fingertips brushing against the warm skin of his back.
They kiss until they're completely out of breath, until Harvey has to pull away because his panted breaths are sending a stinging pain down his entire left side, but still he doesn't want to let go. He never wants to let go, and that feeling is so foreign to him, so unknown, yet at the same time it has been sneaking up on him for so long now that Harvey isn't really surprised. The solution is simple, really. He's never going to let Mike go again, then he'll never need to worry about the question why the mere thought of a life without the other man makes him feel hollow and empty.
Mike is looking at him again, eyes wide and searching Harvey's face as if he knows that there's pain Harvey's trying to hide from him. He smiles back up at him in what he hopes is a reassuring way.
"I have a ring for you, too, but it's still in the bedroom."
Mike smiles and runs his fingers through Harvey's mussed hair. "There'll be time for that later. Right now I just…" There's an almost dreamy smile on his face that makes Harvey lean up for another kiss, quicker than the last one but no less passionate. The smile never leaves Mike's face throughout, and he lets his head drop to Harvey's chest with another disbelieving laugh.
There's something in his voice that Harvey can't quite define, but it doesn't sound unhappy, and for now that is enough.
"Glad to hear that you understood what you just agreed to."
Mike curls up close against him for a moment, and when he raises his head again it's obvious that he's trying to keep his amusement contained.
"You proposed. In sweatpants." He shakes his head, and when he leans in for another kiss Harvey can feel the smile against his lips. Harvey wants to protest, but Mike is kissing him and that means he has more important things keeping him occupied. He can't suppress the urge completely, though, so when they break apart after a long moment, he holds Mike's head close by the back of his neck and waits until the other man meets his eyes.
"It was a spur of the moment decision," he says, and he doesn't like how defensive his own voice sounds.
Mike just looks at him for a few seconds, and the look in his eyes is the one that always makes Harvey feel a little weak in the knees. Sometimes, Mike looks at him as if there's something Harvey doesn't see, as if Harvey is something special and Mike should be grateful for him, when it really is the other way around. But he loves watching Mike during those moments of wide-eyed wonder, loves that little smile that plays around the corners of Mike's mouth when he's looking at Harvey like he's just been made privy to a closely guarded secret. He doesn't fully understand what those moments are about, at least not on an intellectual level, but that doesn't really matter. He has the rest of his life to figure it, after all.
"It was just right."
The thing about Mike is that he can't lie for shit. There's not a deceptive bone in his body, so when Mike says those words with not a hint of mocking in them, Harvey knows that it's the truth. He thinks he has never loved Mike more than right now, at this moment.
They settle back into the couch again, exchanging lazy kisses and touches while Harvey tries to figure out if this feels any different now – if he feels any different. A little lighter maybe, now that the question is finally out in the open, but not really any different. It's still them, still Mike and Harvey.
It's good that way, too, even if Mike's smile is getting wider and wider in between the slow and lazy kisses, until it's no longer a content and happy smile but an amused grin. Harvey draws back a little and cocks an eyebrow at Mike.
"What's so funny?"
Mike shakes his head, but the grin on his face grows even wider.
"Nothing. It's just…proposing while lying around on the couch in the oldest clothes you can find. I like that. Not everyone could pull it off, either."
He lets his head drop onto Harvey's chest, face hidden in the folds of the soft, old Yankees shirt Harvey's wearing, and his shoulders start to shake in barely concealed mirth. Harvey's not quite sure what to make of that, and he doesn't like feeling left in the dark like this.
"Not that I don't appreciate the occasional hilarity, but what the hell is so funny all of a sudden?"
Mike is almost howling with laughter now, his whole body shaking against Harvey's as he visibly tries to get himself back under control.
"It's nothing. Really. I'm just grateful, you know? A lesser man might have been tempted to go…a little overboard with a proposal. Turn it into a spectacle, you know?"
Harvey tries his best to look affronted.
"A spectacle? Me? Never."
"I know. You'd never do something as crazy as…I don't know…make it a public event."
Harvey's throat feels a little dry. "Of course not."
"Like propose on a video screen during the halftime of a basketball game."
"Or buy expensive ad space in the New York Times."
Mike's shoulders are shaking with barely suppressed laughter again. There's no way this is just a coincidence, but Mike simply cannot know. It's not possible that Mike knows what he's been contemplating weeks ago.
"Though I imagine a proposal during a hot air balloon ride is an interesting concept, especially if the one being proposed to has this little issue with heights."
While Mike is trying to hold back the howls of mirth, things suddenly fall into place.
"Donna is fired."
Mike laughs again, loud and bright and no longer trying to hold it back, and he doesn't laugh like that nearly often enough. Seeing it is nearly enough to forgive Donna that breach of confidentiality, and since it probably happened while he was in a coma, firing her might seem a little drastic. He's going to give her a stern talking to, that's what he'll do. Maybe revoke her privilege to listen in on all conversations in his office for a week or two. That should teach her.
"Come on, Harvey. She totally saved your ass. God, you should see your face right now!"
A proven way to shut Mike up in any and all situations is to kiss him. So Harvey does.
Harvey does propose properly later that night, once they manage to extract themselves from the sofa and he has a chance to finally get the ring out of the drawer of his bedside table. He takes the ring and goes to his knees in front of Mike, ignoring the twinge in his left side from the movement as well as Mike's scolding look. He's only going to do this once in his life, and he's going to do it properly, discomfort be damned. He can take a little pain. So he goes down to one knee, takes Mike's hand in his, addresses Mike by his full name, and asks the question properly this time, the way generations of men have proposed before.
Michael James Ross, will you marry me?
It's a bit easier this time, slightly less terrifying, because this time he's almost sure what Mike's answer is going to be.
He's still wearing the sweatpants the second time around, and he makes Mike swear never to tell a living soul about that. No living soul, but especially not Donna. He'd never hear the end of that.
Of course Donna finds out. One week later Harvey is finally – blissfully – back to work, things are slowly but surely getting back to normal, and by the time the first lunch hour of his first day back at work rolls around, Donna already knows that he proposed in sweatpants. It shouldn't surprise Harvey, really, because Donna has this weird psychic power – not to mention that Mike is secretly petrified of her, which might be the more likely explanation as to how she finds out. But Harvey stands above these things, and whenever he sees Mike walk by his office, files in his hand and the light reflecting of the ring on his finger, all Donna's teasing about proper proposal attire suddenly seems a lot less scathing.
He even keeps his composure the next day, when she puts a large box on his desk with a wink and the remark that his wedding tux has just been delivered, and he opens the box to find a shiny purple tracksuit lying inside. He grins at her and puts the box under his desk, and once Donna goes back to her desk he writes Louis an e-Mail in which he tells him that the next time Norma is on holiday, Donna will be at Louis' beck and call while Harvey is going to handle the temp.
That'll teach her, and it's so going to be worth whatever she's going to come up with in retaliation.
Besides, Harvey is not worried about anything right now, not even about Donna's possible revenge on him. There's a knock on his office door and he looks up to see Mike come into the room, a stack of files in his hands and the smile on his face so bright it makes something in Harvey's chest do a little flip.
There's nothing Harvey needs to be worrying about.
He got it right.