Mike swallowed hard against the panic choking him. He pressed it down as he watched Harvey turn, their eyes catching. He saw something on Harvey's face that threatened to unleash all hell in Mike's mind, but then Harvey was looking away and heading back to his office.
He watched him go, trying to work out how he could sort this out, but if Harvey had failed...
He glanced to his side, about to say something to Rachel, but all he found was empty air. He frowned slightly, momentarily distracted before pulling himself back to the matter at hand. His mind wandered slowly back to the immediate problem, turning over options and possibile actions sluggishly. It took him a couple of minutes, but he thought he'd formed a reasonable plan of action.
Barely a moment after he decided what he should do, Mike found himself being stopped in his tracks. A vice like grip sealed around his arm, just above his elbow. His head whipped around instinctively, about to make some cutting remark – only to find himself barely a foot away from Jessica. She watched him pointedly, waited for him to gather his wits again, then let go. She crooked a finger and turned on her heel, heading to her office.
Heading away from Harvey.
Mike paused for a beat before following her, a little reluctant. Jessica might be at the point where she was comfortable being anything but furious when in his presence, but that didn't mean he wanted to be in a room alone with her. He bit back a sigh and closed the door to the office behind him. Jessica was leaning back against her desk, hands gripping the surface on either side of her. Mike stayed where he was, a hand lingering on the door handle behind his back.
She watched him for a long moment. Mike looked back, trying not to let his utter discomfort show. With Donna gone and Harvey broken, she could quickly and quietly take Mike out of the equation, right there, right then.
“Mike.” He snapped from his slowly spiralling thoughts of impending doom and saw Jessica properly. She looked tired; her expression was lax and weary, her whole being deflated a little. Panic stuck in his throat again. He'd now seen the same look of defeat on the two strongest, most intelligent people he knew, and he'd seen them both in a matter of minutes.
“I was going to...” He jabbed a thumb over his shoulder, but trailed off as he saw Jessica shake her head slowly.
“No. You need to give him time right now,” she paused slightly, her mouth twisting in something of grimace, “but you shouldn't let him be alone tonight. He's going to need you, whether he knows it or not.”
Mike stared at her for a moment. A thousand things were rushing through his mind, but each new thought knocked the previous one out of place before he could work it out. Most of them were something to do with how the hell Jessica knew what was going on between Harvey and himself. And she wasn't guessing, her expression was completely self-assured.
He settled on reminding himself that Jessica had known Harvey the longest of anyone, that she was one of the city's top lawyers and that she had a particular talent for reading people without letting them know. After everything that had happened with Mike and his severe lack of qualifications had gone unknown for so long, it stood to reason that she'd paid extra attention to Harvey lately.
“I'll have Ray text you when he leaves.” She said, almost as if she was finishing a business meeting, and Mike just nodded again. A long silence stretched out as he tried to work out how to phrase the question biting away at the back of his mind.
“I know it's a dumb thing to ask,” he frowned slightly and Jessica's jaw clenched, pre-empting his question – but he carried on anyway, “but is there anyway she can come back?”
Jessica was silent for a long time, holding his gaze until dropping away at the last moment. “I really don't know.”
Mike turned back to the door and felt a finality settle over him, quelling the panic and leaving behind a numbing blanket of resignation. After a moment or two, he nodded and gripped the door handle properly, swinging it open and leaving the office.
He went straight to his desk and gathered his things. All his work was done and on Harvey's desk already, and there had been nothing for Louis that couldn't wait until he got in the next morning. Suppressing a sigh, he shouldered his bag and trudged towards the elevators. In the thick fog of his mind, he started to pull together a plan for the next few hours.
They were all he could visualise at the moment. Even the next morning was too much of a stretch right now.
Louis didn't know what to do with himself. All he could manage right now was sitting at his desk, pointedly looking at the wall. He really, really didn't want to start crying again. He hadn't cried for years, but after the vet's... and now, alone in his office, surrounded by the proof of his loneliness and useless cat things, he didn't know what to do.
His mind kept straying, the blank white patch of painted nothing providing endless triggers to memories he wasn't ready to entertain yet. He thought about work and he remembered the times Bruno had fallen asleep on his files. He thought about home and all he could feel was helplessness. He thought about the places in between and he was flooded with the image of Bruno lying somewhere cold and strange and alone.
Louis bit down hard on the inside of his cheek and looked sharply from the wall. He had to get a grip on himself. This was getting ridiculous. If Harvey ever saw him in a state like this, he'd have a field day. Harvey, with his office of perfected style and opulence, the endlessly 'cool' record collection, the signed basketballs. He suspected Harvey's home was much the same. It reflected him, after all, and Harvey was very much about appearances. When Louis looked around his own office, he saw a work environment, crafted for the lawyer he needed to be. Louis' home was gentler, a little less clinical. It was calmer and, until today, far more comfortable than the firm.
But now his condo was just a series of silent, empty rooms scattered with defunct, pointless objects.
His hand found the small, plexiglass box with the tennis ball and he clutched at it, the corner digging sharply into his palm. He wondered again where Rachel had got it from, knew he could track it down, but didn't want to ruin it. For once, he wanted to believe that it had been a genuine act of kindness.
The memory of running into Rachel that afternoon came back to him, completely unwanted and he felt a well of sadness rising in his chest again. He was about to raise a hand to his face when a movement from the door caught his eye.
He froze as Harvey let himself in, saying nothing and barely making eye contact as he handed over a couple of files. Louis tried to bolster himself a little as he reached out and took them, but the more he looked at Harvey, the more he realised something was wrong. This wasn't acting, it wasn't mockery... no, something serious had happened.
For maybe the first time, he felt a pang of empathy for him, all too aware that he himself was in a similar state. He wondered if someone close to Harvey had died or was ill. He wanted to ask, but he didn't trust his voice after such a long time silent – and he suspected Harvey wouldn't even answer.
Harvey's eyes flicked over his shoulder and Louis saw a pained look cross his face as he sucked in a breath. When Harvey looked back, he met his stare. He knew he was being analysed, but for the most part, he just wanted Harvey to go before he made even more of a fool of himself.
“I'm really sorry, Louis.” He said finally, quietly, pausing for only a moment before turning on his heel and leaving. Louis stared after him, not altogether sure how he should react.
After a long moment, he sighed and got to his feet, resolutely packing away Bruno's things into a bag. It was late, he was exhausted and all he really wanted to do was sleep until this whole, crappy day was over and done with.
Mike jabbed the 'off' button on the TV remote control and let his head flop back on the couch. He glanced at the clock on the microwave and sighed, running a hand across his face before hauling himself to his feet. It was ten minutes to midnight. Ray had text him about an hour ago and Harvey had had more than enough time to stew in whatever hell he was putting himself through.
He got to his feet, snagging his keys and wallet from the coffee table. He called for a cab as he set about finding his shoes and a jacket. He pulled himself into some semblance of order and left, the cab already waiting outside the building for him. The ride to Harvey's building was remarkably hassle free. They were pulled up outside and Mike was paying the driver within twenty minutes. He saluted the doorman on duty and made his way to the elevators. As the car moved up, he tried to work out what he could say to make any of this better. He couldn't, he knew that, but what else was he supposed to do?
He and Harvey had something that was almost exclusively physical. At least, he assumed they did or rather, he assumed Harvey did – and that was the most important opinion for the moment. There was only so much he could do as an associate with dubious 'friend' status. He rubbed his eyes again and took a deep breath as the elevator slid to a stop and he stepped out onto the landing. He headed to the only door and knocked on it. He waited a couple of minutes before knocking again, this time a little louder. When he got no reply, he pulled out his phone and rang Harvey. It went through to voicemail, but Mike pounded again, leaning his forehead against the wood and waiting.
A minute or so later, he heard shuffling and the slide of locks and he straightened up in time to see Harvey swing the door open and glare at him. He looked exhausted; hair mussed from running his fingers through it too many times, dressed in a t-shirt and pyjama shorts, eyes a little red, face peppered with five o'clock shadow and expression weary. Mike had a sudden need to hug him, to hold him until everything was right again – but that was childish. Instead, he met Harvey's glare before pushing past and into the condo. The door shut behind him with a little more force than was necessary and Mike stood still as Harvey brushed past and proceeded to ignore him.
Mike edged towards the end of the corridor and watched Harvey finish up washing out a couple of mugs. He leant against the wall, arms folded. Harvey set them to one side and turned away, heading around the other end of the breakfast counter and moving through the lounge area, tidying a little as he went. Without a word, he moved into the bedroom, shutting off the lights and leaving Mike with only the glow from the bedside lamp that was on in the next room. He moved a little further into the condo, listening for whatever Harvey was doing. He heard the sound of running water, then shuffling and creaking.
All was still for a long few minutes. The only sign that Harvey was still awake was the light. Harvey couldn't sleep if the light was on, not even after a day like this one. It was one of those things that Mike secretly found endearing.
Eventually, Mike stifled a sigh and crossed over to the bedroom. He stood in the doorway and glanced at Harvey, feeling his heart break a little. He was sitting up in bed, his hands pressed to his face. He looked so small against the expanse of bed clothes and the dark wood headboard.
Mike kicked off his shoes, stripping out of his jacket and jeans before folding them neatly on the chair that sat neatly in the corner of the room. He walked slowly across the room, climbing onto the bed and sitting cross legged in front of Harvey. He could hear and see slow, steady breaths, the evidence of Harvey's eternal quest for control. He edged closer until their knees were pressed together, Harvey making no sign that he'd felt anything. Mike leaned forwards, moving his hands to lay over Harvey's.
He sucked in a breath at the contact and eased his hands out, pressing them over the top of Mike's and holding them in place as his breath shuddered back out out. They stayed there for a long time, Mike wanting to say something, Harvey just focussing on breathing evenly. He'd never seen Harvey cry, and he very much doubted that today would change that. Reddened eyes and gruff, surly remarks, sure, but never tears. He desperately hoped he'd be around if they ever did come, just so Harvey wasn't alone. It would be a bad day for everyone when that happened.
He shifted then, moving onto his knees and pressing closer, settling himself in Harvey's lap.
Harvey's hands slid down to grasp his wrists, holding them in place. Mike leaned down and pressed a kiss to Harvey's hair, closing his eyes and just breathing in the smell of him. He felt the grip on his wrists disappear, hands moving down and round his ribs, palms coming to a halt placed flat against his back. He moved his own hands, wrapping them around Harvey's neck and holding him close.
He could feel Harvey's nose pressed to his throat, could feel the even breathing against his skin and in his chest. Wrapped around each other, all that mattered was the then and there. Mike had the vague feeling of crossing a boundary he wouldn't be able to step back over, but that was something he could analyse later.
“I know it's not okay right now,” he said finally, eyes opening and fingers running through the soft hair at the base of Harvey's skull, “but it will be. We'll make this right.”
Harvey didn't reply for a long moment, but when he did it was with a silent, slow nod and a long sigh. He loosened his grip a little and pulled back, looking up to search Mike's face. Mike stared back, hands moving to frame Harvey's jaw, thumbs stroking absently across his cheeks. Harvey nodded again and leaned up, catching Mike's lips in a slow, desperate kiss that told him just how much Harvey wanted to believe him. Mike pressed them closer together and took control, kissing him back until he felt Harvey's breath stuttering. He broke away, both of them panting a little, and he stared Harvey down.
“We'll make this right.” He said again, his fingers tightening their grip slightly.
“Okay.” Harvey replied gently. He let go and Mike clambered up and off the bed, aware of Harvey watching him intently.
With as much purpose as he could muster, he went through to the en suite and brushed his teeth with a spare toothbrush. He rinsed his mouth out and went back to the bedroom a minute or so later, Harvey still sitting up and watching his progress across the room. Mike climbed back over him and wriggled himself under the sheets in the middle of the bed, pre-empting where Harvey would lie down. Harvey watched him for a moment before sliding down too, reaching back and turning off the lamp blindly. Mike pulled the covers up over them and curled closer, wrapping a leg around Harvey's.
He waited for Harvey to settle, letting himself be pulled and manoeuvred until Harvey was holding him completely. Mike pillowed his head on Harvey's arm, forehead pressed to his chest as Harvey curled around him. He wanted to wait for Harvey to fall asleep, to make sure he was safely out of it, but it was too warm and he felt too safe. Mike drifted asleep to the sound of Harvey's breathing and the steady rhythm of his heart beat. He wondered, a little absently, whether he'd managed to make any difference at all.
In the morning, when he woke up still wrapped in Harvey arms, Harvey sleeping calmly next to him, he marked it as a win, no matter how small.