Harvey awoke to the unpleasant feeling of being suffocated.
Opening his eyes, he found the source of his arrested inhalations to be his very own aggravating feline, who had apparently decided that the most optimal place to sleep was atop Harvey's chest.
He pushed the cat off with an irritated and relieving shrug, gasping a quiet mouthful of air into his lungs and swatting angrily at a cloud of floating hair that threatened to clog his airway. Beside him Mike stirred.
Harvey froze, not wanting to wake the sleeping man. Mike had come home from somewhere late last night, too tired to explain what had gone horribly wrong this time, and had been tossing in his sleep since his head had hit the pillow. Holding his breath, Harvey slipped out from under the covers, untangling himself from Mike's grasp, and swung his legs over the side of the bed.
He gave Mike's sleeping form one last longing look, wishing uselessly that he hadn't been so rudely awakened, before deciding to give up and resume work on his current aggravating casework.
A quick step off the bed, however, ended with a pained high-pitched yelp and a very much overpriced mass of carpet fibers shoving themselves into Harvey's nose.
It seems the dog had also been bent on killing Harvey, he'd just been far sneakier about it.
"Harvey?" a sleepy voice asked from the comfort of the fluffy bed.
"Shit," Harvey cursed under his breath. He really hadn't wanted to wake Mike. "Shh, go back to sleep, Mike."
There was no reply other than the sound of rustling bed sheets. With a grunt, Harvey heaved himself off the floor, avoided the well-aimed dart of dog tongue aimed at his face, nearly stepped on the cat's tail and managed to make it into the living room without further injury to himself or the animals.
With a sigh, Harvey approached his refrigerator and withdrew the orange juice. He grabbed his large pile of folders and legal pads and settled himself on the sofa. Mike would yell at him for drinking out of the carton were he awake. Harvey envied him.
After about an hour, he realized that his orange juice was empty, and that it was still nowhere near daybreak. He set the folder he'd been holding in front of him down only to discover that he'd been mindlessly petting the cat that had apparently been nestled in his lap for the past hour. He'd had quite enough of this (and so had his designer silk pajamas), and with a much ruder shove than he'd given in the bedroom, removed the cat from his lap, only (of course) to find that the dog had been sleeping on his foot.
The result of his attempt to stand was a crash loud enough to wake the neighbors three floors down, and Harvey hoped that Mike would prove a deep sleeper.
He was wrong.
"Harvey?" Mike asked from the doorway to the bedroom.
Harvey had been in the process of untangling himself from the lamp chord's stranglehold and the clutches of his coffee table when Mike called him. He watched helplessly as the dog rushed to Mike, jumping on him and nearly knocking him off his feet.
Harvey rolled his eyes and found his evil cat sitting atop the sofa, staring at him with mocking eyes.
"What are you looking at?" he asked it in a low growl.
"What's going on?" Mike asked, now bracing himself against the door frame and rubbing his sleep encrusted eyes.
"Nothing. Go back to bed." Harvey gave up on untangling the lamp and simply stood, the chord still wrapped impossibly around his shoulders.
"Are you okay?"
"Why wouldn't I be okay?" Harvey asked, hoping he sounded mildly offended.
Mike stared at him suspiciously.
"These damned things are driving me crazy," he huffed out finally. Maybe Mike could force them to go to sleep. He had that weird power after all. "Why did I let you keep them, again?"
Mike blinked and crossed his arms. He looked amused to say the least. "Harvey, they're your pets."
"Oh. Yeah." He'd almost forgotten. The animals had taken to Mike from day one, so he'd managed to somehow forget that they weren't actually Mike's pets. "Well, technically, I never asked for this one," and he pointed in annoyance at the hazardous canine snuffling innocently at the lamp that was still affixed to Harvey's appendages.
Mike's amusement turned to anger. "Are you trying to hurt me, or just Oscar?"
Harvey blinked. He really wasn't in the mood for this. "Look, I'm sorry. Just…I can't sleep and these things are like walking death traps! First they loved each other, then they were trying to kill each other, and now they're just trying to kill me!"
"Somehow I feel you wanted to use the word 'assassinate'." Mike's smirk was back.
Harvey let out a grin. "I plead the fifth. Anyway, isn't there anything you can do with your purported abilities?"
"So you believe in them, now."
"No, I believe in you."
There was a silence that stretched on for a painful amount of time. Finally, Mike smiled. "That's not what I—" Harvey hastily amended.
"Too late," Mike interrupted in a yell that Harvey could only describe as triumphant.
"Fine," he growled back. "Can you just…"
"Already did. C'mon, let's go back to sleep."
Harvey let out a relieved sigh and made to follow Mike into the bedroom.
A hand pressed against his chest stopped him though, and Harvey gave Mike a questioning look.
"I was talking to the lamp," Mike said, wide grin on his face.
Harvey looked at Stuart, who was still gazing knowingly at him from the couch, and began extricating himself from the clutches of the lamp chord. "Do you see what I have to put up with?"
Mike laughed and pulled them both into the room.
It was requested that I write more of these little stories. Thanks to 85ouch for suggesting this scenario. I hope this is what you lovely readers wanted! Enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
This wasn't exactly what Harvey had had in mind when Mike suggested picnicking in the park.
Harvey struggled to maintain his own pace as he was intermittently turned around, tugged on, nearly tripped, or forced to a sudden halt. Apparently a pleasant walk was too much to ask for.
Oscar, the cause of Harvey's current predicament, was merrily sniffing some suspicious flowers off to the right, and Harvey found himself scanning ahead for any future locations of trouble. There was a derelict trash can about ten feet to his front left, and after that there were some kids playing with a kite. With a stubborn futility, Harvey tugged roughly on the leash in his hand. Oscar buried his face further into the petaled monsters.
Somewhere in the park was Mike, though it had been quite some time since Harvey had last seen him. By his own watch, it must have been at least five minutes. Is that all? he thought miserably. He was sure the battery must be failing.
He scanned the distant crowds of New Yorkers that huddled by the food carts. Mike had departed ways with him to retrieve some hot dogs. Before Harvey knew it, he was left holding Oscar's leash all by himself in the middle of the busy park.
He was taken quite suddenly out of his thoughts as his hand was nearly ripped from the rest of his person. Oscar had at last spotted the trash can.
Stumbling to a halt, Harvey peered inside, a hand covering his nose to prevent inhaling any odors, only to find the can empty. Oscar didn't seem to mind at all and was busily sniffing around the base of the can and lapping up delicious flecks of escaped garbage. Harvey rolled his eyes and checked his watch. Now it had been six minutes in Hell.
With a grumble and a sharp tug on the leash, he pulled Oscar from the disgusting garbage receptacle and continued on his route, following the path he normally took for his morning jog.
He made it ten whole steps before he was being spun around so the canine could double back. He wasn't sure what could possibly be taking Mike so long. Unless he was doing this on purpose.
"I'm so killing you for this, Mike," he muttered aloud.
Oscar eyed him suspiciously.
"Don't blame me. This is all your fault," he accused.
The dog stared back at him, as if he was daring him to prove it.
Harvey tugged on the leash juvenilely. "Don't look at me like that. Who's the real prisoner here?"
Oscar gave him a look and then resumed walking.
"That's what I thought."
As the seconds ticked by with agonizing slowness, Harvey decided that Mike had been planning this. It was some sort of test to see if Harvey was capable of properly caring for his pets. Harvey took the opportunity to feel insulted. After all, when he'd first been forced to accept ownership of Oscar, he had walked the beast daily with all pleasantness. In fact, in those days, Oscar had been fairly well-behaved. But that was before the Great Pet War and the untimely demise of his Star Trek collection. And who knew what Mike was telling them with his so-called psychic powers (Harvey did sort of believe they existed now, but he wasn't about to admit it).
He resumed his scan of the crowds for the familiar blond head laden with delicious processed meat in a bun, but came up empty. The crowds were so thick it was like trying to find Waldo amongst a sea of Waldo lookalikes. Harvey had never liked those puzzles.
Oscar gave a whine and Harvey shushed him absentmindedly. It was nice day, and instead of lying on the grass with his boyfriend and eating artery-clogging snacks he was attempting to remain in one upright piece without abandoning his dog.
The whine came again and Harvey had about a second to glare at Oscar before he was barreled over by a pack of Great Danes.
Harvey regained his feet with much difficulty to find himself soaked in dog slobber and without a leash. He froze in a moment of slight panic. Oscar was probably just standing there. He was a smart dog. Surely he wouldn't have run off.
Harvey took a quick look around to find there was no four-legged creature that possibly resembled the mutt in the near vicinity. Mike was going to kill him.
"Oh my God, I'm so sorry! Are you alright?"
Harvey looked to find a rather strikingly attractive man gazing at him in concern. In his hands were three leashes and he was struggling to restrain the massive dogs, now drooling on Harvey's favorite running shoes.
"My dog. Where did he go?" Harvey asked, panic presenting as calm anger on his face.
The stranger smiled nervously at him. "I didn't see. I really am sorry."
"Are—Are you sure you're okay?" The guy looked particularly frightened for some reason.
Harvey wasn't paying attention anymore, though. He needed to find Oscar. He decided to pick a random direction and hope he found him. The Great Danes pushed him on with their wet noses and a few last licks of his closest hand.
He looked everywhere, but the dog was nowhere to be found.
"Harvey!" Mike's voice called cheerfully from behind him somewhere.
He froze, attempting not to wince. Surely Mike had already noticed that Oscar wasn't with him. He tried to find an excuse, but his ability to bullshit had never really worked on Mike in the first place. And he couldn't think of anything that didn't involve alien abductions or something equally as implausible.
He decided to try anger. That usually distracted most people. "Where the hell were you? How long does it take to get hot dogs?"
Mike frowned endearingly at him. "Well, there were some minor setbacks to my original wait-in-line strategy, so I had to improvise. Forgive me for taking an extra minute or two in securing our lunch and oh my God you lost our dog!" Mike's expression morphed into fury and Harvey tried to squash down the guilt he felt rising in him.
"I didn't lose him. I was attacked," he tried.
"Yes, I can see that," Mike said sarcastically as he eyed Harvey's slobber-drenched clothes. "It's a wonder you escaped with your life."
"Well, why don't you just call him with your superpowers?"
"It doesn't work like that, Harvey! I'm not a telephone!"
"Well then you're not helping, are you?"
"Oh, suddenly it's my fault now?" Mike asked, eyes glinting dangerously.
"Well if you hadn't taken forever getting food then we wouldn't be in this mess!"
"I hate you so much right now," Mike said quietly. He started to turn away.
"Mike?" Harvey asked softly when the man didn't move. His back was still to him, and Harvey hoped he wasn't crying.
"You were here the whole time, weren't you?" Mike asked and then stepped aside to reveal Oscar, staring up at them and wagging his stub of a tail like he hadn't a care in the world.
"Did you really get pummeled by three Great Danes?" Mike asked disbelievingly.
"What? You can't tell?" Harvey asked and gestured to his ruined clothing.
Mike let out a little laugh. It was the best sound in the world. "Here," and he handed the hot dog to Harvey. "Maybe this one you can keep better track of."
"Ha ha." Harvey took a big bite of his delicious treat. "So, where was he? I assume he'll corroborate my story that he ran off due to no fault of my own."
"Actually, he thought you were being attacked, so he ran to find me."
Harvey stared at him incredulously.
"So…Here I am!" Mike said.
"Thanks for the help," Harvey answered dryly.
"You're still a jerk, though."
"You were forewarned."
"I think next time we should take Stuart with us. You know, put him in one of those little kitty leashes," Mike said, finally taking a bite of his own hot dog.
"Sure. Just let me know in advance so I can have Donna fill my schedule that day."
"You're right. It would be suicide. You'd get him eaten by a large bird of prey and I'd have to kill you."
"That's if Mr. Whiskers hasn't killed you first. One look at a kitty leash and you'd be dead meat."
"I can go get those Great Danes back here if you'd like."
Harvey smiled as they stood there bantering. Maybe a picnic had been a good idea.
So, if you would still like more animal shenanigans with these two, please let me know. Suggestions for scenarios you would like to see would be most especially welcome!
I meant to have this up sooner. I had the first bit written (better, too) and was in the process of saving it when my computer crashed and I lost everything. It made me so mad, I couldn't return to it. Then, when I did, it wasn't any good.
Thanks to 85ouch for the prompt idea (again). It's not exactly what you suggested, but I hope you like it all the same. Enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Harvey pulled up to the curb where Mike was waiting. Today was supposed to be their sixth date, and their first that didn’t involve dinner, a movie, or a judicious use of alcohol. Mike had pestered Harvey to do something “fun” over the weekend, and Harvey had immediately turned to Donna for ideas.
Together, they had planned a full day of touring New York, from the aquarium (Mike had previously mentioned that fish didn’t affect him like going to the zoo did) to a walk in Central Park to lunch at Harvey’s favorite hot dog stand. It would probably have been exactly what Mike had wanted.
Except—they weren’t going to do any of those things.
“Hi!” Mike said excitedly as he climbed in.
“Hey,” Harvey said as nonchalantly as he could.
“So…what’re we doing?”
“Well, it’s sort of a surprise.” He neglected to mention that the real surprise had been replaced by an emergency trip to the Collier Ranch and Equestrian Center on behalf of Pearson Hardman.
“Okay. Is it far?” he asked energetically.
“Why? Do you have to go to the bathroom?”
“No, I’m good.”
“It’s about two hours, Mike. If you need to go, I’d rather you do it before we leave,” Harvey said, irritated. He was hoping that if he distracted Mike enough, the kid wouldn’t even notice that Harvey was on the clock.
“Wow, that was fast. Are you going to make fun of my job, too? You haven’t fulfilled your daily quota, yet!” Mike said sarcastically.
“Look, we’re going to have a good time today, okay?”
Mike sighed. “Fine. Sorry.”
“We’re going to have fun,” Harvey muttered to himself as he got on the highway.
An hour and forty minutes—and amazingly, no speeding tickets—later, they pulled up outside the ranch house of Charlie Collier. A few of the horses were being ridden in the neighboring arena, and a stable was visible behind it.
“Oh, horses,” Mike smiled nervously.
“You don’t like horses?” Harvey asked grumpily. They’d spent most of the ride in silence, which had only prompted Harvey to drive much faster than he usually did. In return, this seemed to only worsen Mike’s mood.
“Not really. I’m very certain I’ve mentioned this to you several times now.”
“They’re animals. You like animals.” Harvey rubbed his temple where he could feel a headache coming on.
Mike sighed. “You’re right. I’m being a dick. Sorry. It’s obvious you went to a lot of trouble, here. I didn’t mean—I guess I’m still just pissed about our last couple of dates.”
Harvey cringed inside. He’d had to leave early the last few occasions for work. “Mike, I have to tell you—”
“Harvey!” The voice belonged to a rather tall, lean man wearing riding boots, jeans, and a polo. Charlie Collier, if Harvey had to guess.
“Mr. Collier,” Harvey said in mock pleasantry through the open window. He could sense curious apprehension from Mike, beside him.
“You certainly are prompt. I didn’t think you’d be here until later!”
“Wait. Harvey, are we here for work?” Mike asked indignantly.
“Of course not!” Harvey smiled at him, hoping Collier wouldn’t add fuel to the fire.
“So, did Jessica tell you the problem, or should I go get the paperwork?” Collier asked politely, obviously confused about Mike’s presence.
Mike fumed at Harvey for a moment longer before turning abruptly and glaring furiously out the windshield.
Harvey let out a breath and got out of the car. The damage had already been done, no need to keep up the guise. “Why don’t we discuss the paperwork first?”
“Sure thing. Only, do I need to make copies? Jessica didn’t tell me there’d be two of you.”
Harvey glanced back at Mike. “Mr. Collier, this is Mike, my…associate.”
Mike whipped his head back toward Harvey, eyes flashing in fury.
“Very nice to meet you, Mike,” Collier said. “You both should call me Charlie, though. ‘Mr. Collier’ sounds odd when I’m at home.” He looked between them, obviously confused. “Well, shall we get started?”
Harvey nodded and leaned back in the car to address Mike. “This shouldn’t take long. Jessica just needed me to fix some paperwork for him. Why don’t you wander around and then we’ll do something fun.”
Mike didn’t look at all placated and simply sat focused on some invisible point on the windshield.
Harvey ground his teeth in frustration. “Fine. Just sit here then.” He followed Mr. Collier into the house.
By the time Harvey had finished sorting through Collier’s paperwork mayhem, a full two hours had passed. He had worked furiously in the hopes that it would make Mike less prone to hate him, but he realized now it had probably been futile.
Harvey stepped out of the house and headed for the car, where Mike was nowhere to be found. Harvey had almost believed that Mike would still be sitting there, stubbornly staring at the windshield.
He angrily pulled out his phone and dialed Mike’s cell. It rang in the passenger seat.
“Everything okay, Harvey?” Collier asked him.
“I need a favor.”
Mike was lost. Well, he was pretty sure he was anyway. It was hard to think straight with all the chatter in his brain.
The local wildlife had been quiet when he’d entered the neighboring woods, but now he couldn’t get them to shut up. All because he’d asked that crow for directions.
Crows were usually very helpful, but it was hard to talk to them when everyone else wanted a go.
So he was lost. Which was, really, the icing on the cake. Or maybe that was the fact that he hadn’t brought his phone with him.
He ultimately blamed Harvey. He had been genuinely excited for today. Donna had told him that Harvey had really outdone himself this time. But yet again, work got in the way.
It felt like work was all Harvey really cared about. Why would he need Mike at all, when he had Pearson Hardman?
A noise startled him suddenly, a twig breaking somewhere off to his right. He paused in his march, listening for a repeat of the noise. Maybe it was nothing.
He resumed his walk, hoping he was going the right direction. The crow had mentioned that Mike needed to head East, but the sun was blocked by the trees. And for all his knowledge on compasses and finding your direction, he wasn’t very good at actually doing any of it.
Another snap sounded. Mike turned to his right. Maybe it was nothing, but then again, maybe it wasn’t. It could be help. It could be Harvey.
“Harvey?” he said hopefully, despite his residual anger. He was willing to temporarily forgive the man if it got him out of here.
Something was moving toward him. Something big. And it wasn’t Harvey.
Mike backtracked quickly until his back hit the solid form of a tree. He suddenly noticed that the local wildlife that had been filling his head with noise had disappeared.
A third and fourth snap and Mike was staring at a bear. It wasn’t a grizzly, which Mike had seen only once at the zoo, but it wasn’t like the thing was small. He knew black bears were common in New York, had friends who’d encountered their fair share of them. But he’d never been this close to any wild animals before. Even at the zoo, he’d always been a safe distance away, protected by a fence or a ledge. He didn’t much like the change.
“Food?” The bear asked him hopefully.
Mike shook his head, then realized it probably wouldn’t understand that. “No food, sorry,” he told it.
“Smell food,” it said confidently.
Mike attempted to merge into the trunk of the tree at his back as the bear pushed its nose into Mike’s jacket.
“Food!” It yelled triumphantly and began to shove its entire muzzle into Mike’s pocket.
“Wait! I’ll give it to you. Just, back away!”
The bear paused and looked up at him, curious. “More food?”
“Yes,” Mike told it. “More food.”
The bear backed off and sat patiently on its back legs, torso upright as though it and Mike were exchanging calm words about the weather.
Mike unzipped his jacket and tossed it on the ground between them. The bear resumed its quest for food in Mike’s pocket. While it was distracted, he carefully slipped away and started walking back the way he’d come, breaking into a jog only after he’d gone a few yards.
He thought he was safe.
“NO FOOD!” The bear bellowed; the shout was so loud that it nearly split Mike’s head open, and he fell to his knees clutching his ears and shaking with the pain of it.
He could feel the bear coming for him, tracking him. It would be here soon, and it would probably kill him.
The bear emerged behind him. Mike turned to face it and tried to shuffle backwards on the ground. His hands scrabbled for anything heavy to defend himself with. He found a solid-feeling rock and clutched it desperately.
The bear stood at its full height and bellowed at Mike, the sound echoing inside his skull.
And suddenly there was a horse rearing at it, forelegs pawing threateningly at the creature. A thud sounded next to Mike, and he clutched his rock tighter. The bear pawed back at the empty air between itself and the horse, then, amazingly enough, retreated.
A grunt of pain and the rustling of leaves drew Mike’s attention back to his side. The source of the noise stood at its full height and began a slow step towards him. Mike raised his rock, fear and adrenaline coursing through him.
“Mike.” A voice said, though Mike wasn’t sure it was real. His head was still clouded from the pain of the bear’s angry roars. “Mike, it’s me. I know I probably deserve it, but I’d still prefer to not get hit by a rock.”
Mike’s grip on the rock slipped, and with a shake he realized the new creature was familiar. “Harvey?” He let the boulder thud to the ground.
Harvey bent down and reached for him, slowing, but not stopping, when Mike flinched away from him. Warm arms secured themselves around him and he felt a shuddering breath leave him. Harvey had saved him from the bear.
Mike nodded shakily and held back the tears he felt forming. He was still mad at Harvey; he didn’t want to cry in front of him.
“C’mon, let’s get back. I really don’t want to get lost out here.”
Mike nodded again and let Harvey help him to his feet; he felt numb and dizzy.
“Now, where’s that horse?”
“Right here, boss,” Mike heard the horse say. It trotted through the trees lazily. “Is he okay?”
Mike blinked at the creature as it gave Harvey a look.
“He fell off when I rushed the bear,” it explained.
Mike started laughing, and Harvey gave him a concerned look. Mike allowed himself to be guided over to the saddle and helped up after Harvey mounted. “Alright, this way.” He nudged the horse forward. But it shook its long neck and turned to the left. Harvey frowned.
“That’s where the bear went,” the horse muttered amusedly. Mike swore it rolled its eyes.
“I think he knows the way home, Harvey,” Mike said quietly.
Harvey opened his mouth to retort, but then stopped himself. Mike hoped it was because he trusted Mike’s judgment, and not because he too was hopelessly lost.
“Okay, then. Let’s go, Dusty.”
“Okie dokie, boss.”
Harvey helped Mike off the horse once they’d made it back to the ranch. The kid was sneezing halfway back and now his eyes looked red and puffy. He still looked shell-shocked, too, though he supposed most people would after facing down a bear.
“Thanks for the help, Charlie,” he said and handed the reigns to Collier.
The man smiled and peered over at Mike. “Is he going to be okay?”
Harvey watched as Mike stroked Dusty’s nose while wiping at his own. “I hope so. It’s not him I’m worried about.”
“Trouble in paradise?” Collier asked with a knowing smile.
Harvey blinked at him.
“Of course, I meant in the workplace. As your associate, you two must be quite close.”
If Harvey didn’t know better, he’d have sworn the man was winking at him. “Exactly. Let us know if you need any more legal help, Charlie. I’ll have Jessica call you to make sure we got everything.”
“Thank you again, Harvey. Have a nice drive home.”
“I doubt it,” Harvey muttered under his breath as he gave the man a smile.
Mike patted Dusty on the neck one last time before the thing was led away by some stable hands. “You look like you’re having an allergic reaction,” Harvey said concernedly to him.
Mike sent him a glare. He must still be mad, Harvey thought. “I am. I told you I didn’t like horses.”
“You looked like you liked that one well enough.”
“He saved my life. And he knocked you on your ass.”
“I leaped off to make sure you hadn’t been eaten,” Harvey corrected.
Mike snickered. “Keep telling yourself that, Harvey.”
“I intend to.”
Mike stopped before getting in the car, and Harvey gazed at him from across the roof. “Why did you bring me here?”
Harvey sighed. He had wanted to have this conversation in the privacy of the car, not out where everyone could see. “I didn’t plan on it. I had a different day planned, actually. But Jessica told me this was an emergency.”
“And you thought lying to me was better than just telling me the truth?”
“I was hoping I could make it into a fun day anyway.”
“Well, let’s see, I got lost in the woods, developed a migraine from the local wildlife talking at me, and was almost mauled by a bear.”
“Don’t forget the allergic reaction,” Harvey added wryly.
“Do you not want me?”
Harvey laughed humorlessly. Then he realized by Mike’s worried expression that he was serious. “Of course I want you. I wouldn’t have bothered to lie to you if I didn’t want you.”
“I’m going to pretend for a minute that that make’s sense. What’s more important to you, Harvey? Me? Or your work?”
Harvey scoffed. He wasn’t prepared to answer this question. He didn’t know the answer. “This is our sixth date and you’re already asking me that?”
“Yes. I’m asking.”
Harvey stuffed his hands into his pockets sullenly. “Fine. You.”
“Are you sure? You don’t sound sure.”
“Is this a joke to you?”
“Then act like it. How am I supposed to believe that you care about me at all when you do shit like this? Why does work outrank me? It’s not like I take up all that much of your time. Why, when you introduce me to people, do I become someone you work with? Are you embarrassed by me? Because if that’s what you think of me, then I’m not sure I want to be with you.”
“Don’t be so dramatic. I’m not embarrassed by you nor have I ever been, except for when you wear that T-shirt, anyway. I still go out with you. I introduced you that way because I wasn’t sure if it would offend the client, and at that moment in time, I was sure it would offend you. And work doesn’t outrank you.”
“Yes it does. Maybe the other stuff is true, but that’s a lie and you know it. This isn’t a relationship, Harvey. I’m just another one of your trophies. One of your records that you like to listen to you until you find something better to do.”
“It sure feels like it.”
Harvey watched Mike in silence. He could see tears pooling in his eyes, a combination of fear, anger, sorrow, and allergies. The guilt pooled in Harvey’s gut, weighing him down.
“You’re my boyfriend,” he said firmly.
Mike looked up at him, a thin veil of hope on his face.
“I don’t have relationships, Mike.”
Mike stared at him, calculating something in that fantastical brain of his.
“I want you.”
“Okay,” Mike said slowly. He got in the car and buckled his seat belt.
Harvey took a deep, steadying breath and climbed in the driver’s seat. “So…want to find out what the original surprise was?”
Mike shook his head. “Let’s do it some other day.”
“Oh. Okay,” Harvey said, his false cheer shattering. He keyed the ignition and put the car in drive.
“I want burgers,” Mike said.
“Burgers?” Harvey asked.
“Really badly.” There was something in that look, something Harvey recognized as a good sign.
“I know just the hole in the wall,” Harvey said with a smile.
So, this was my first time writing from Mike's perspective in this story. What did you guys think?
Special thanks to trialanderror12 for giving me the idea for this chapter. I know its not exactly what you had in mind, but I hope you still like it!
Also, thanks to Tam Is My Father for being my eternal unwilling beta. You rock.
Anyways, there's some more Mike's POV in this one for all of you that enjoyed it in the last chapter!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Mike removed the towel from his forearm with a hiss. The angry red scratch marks on his flesh were worse than he'd dealt with in a while, and they stung and bit at his nerves. As he peeled the towel from his flesh, the threads sticking to the occasional glob of congealing blood, he could tell they were deep cuts, not likely to be easily ignored. With a sigh, he tugged his sleeve down and tossed his towel in the sink.
His day had not been going well.
First, he had taken the neighbor's dogs for a walk, and while they were nice creatures, they weren't very well behaved. They'd wrapped the leash around a light post and Mike had narrowly avoided breaking his nose. His cheek had taken the brunt of the damage and now sported an angry blue and yellow bruise.
The second incident of the day was when he was climbing down the third-floor stairs (where his neighbor lived) to his own residence. A rather impolite cat had streaked past him and made him lose his footing. He managed to not break his neck from the fall, but he did twist his wrist slightly in the process.
The third attack, and the one responsible for his vicious scratches, was actually on the job. A man had called in for help with his falcon, who wasn't being agreeable lately. It turned out that the bird was upset that her usual diet had been altered, and after Mike explained that her owner, Fred, had done it for health reasons, she seemed much more amiable. Mike was happy too, until the bird decided to thank him by landing on his unprotected arm from a high-speed dive.
Suffice it to say that Mike was no longer in a happy mindset, was slightly woozy from blood loss (of which there was a surprising amount), and looked like he'd lost a fight with a lamp post. So it was with a sour expression that he met Harvey outside his apartment.
It was their eleventh and a half date (Mike counted the horse fiasco as only half a date), and Harvey had promised to take him somewhere fun. Mike was wary of surprises after the last one ended so terribly, but was willing to give Harvey an eleventh chance. After all, he'd made Harvey choose him over his work. It was the least Mike could do to make time for him.
"Mike," Harvey said, stepping out of a sporty vehicle that Mike neither recognized nor wanted to know the price of.
"Harvey," Mike replied with a forced smile, tugging his sleeve down over the scratches.
"Ready to go?" Harvey asked and pointed to his car.
"I guess. Where are we going?"
"It's a surprise."
Mike eyed him nervously.
"I promise this one was planned and has nothing to do with work." Harvey looked sincere enough. Mike nodded at him.
They rode in relative silence, one of Harvey's mixes playing on the speakers, until they pulled up to the aquarium.
"The aquarium?" Mike asked curiously.
"Donna said you'd approve," Harvey defended.
"I do. I just didn't think…I mean…"
"I was going to take you here the first time, actually," Harvey admitted in what Mike guessed was the emotionally-stunted-Harvey version of shame.
"You like aquariums?" Mike asked disbelievingly.
"I love fish."
"Yeah," Mike snorted. "To eat."
"Can't they hear you? You don't want to incite a rebellion, do you?"
Harvey grabbed Mike's elbow and steered him towards the entryway. They passed a sign that read: Jellyfish Exhibit Grand Opening
"Ooh! Jellyfish!" Mike exclaimed excitedly. "I love jellyfish!"
"Most people do, Mike," Harvey rolled his eyes. "And what pray tell, do jellyfish talk about?"
Mike gave him a look like Harvey had just asked the dumbest question on the planet. "They don't talk, Harvey. They're jellyfish."
"But they're animals…"
"And they don't have brains."
"How do you know these things?" he asked incredulously.
"Everybody knows that."
"Sure, Mike. Let's go check them out."
Mike practically ran ahead of Harvey to where the exhibit was indicated, leaving Harvey to chuckle at the happiness Mike seemed to have found. He had been worried when he'd gone to pick him up that Mike was in a bad mood.
Harvey had assumed that the bruise on Mike's face had come from work. He doubted anyone wanted to punch Mike. (Actually, Harvey could think of several reasons that people might want to punch him). But the kid had been looking annoyed and irritable since Harvey had pulled up to his apartment building that afternoon. He kept making faces and tugging irritably at his sleeve when he thought Harvey wasn't looking.
"Harvey! They have a touching station!" Mike called giddily from somewhere ahead.
"Mike, we talked about this. That's not allowed in public."
Mike gave him an adorably indignant frown before grabbing his hand and pulling them towards the raised pools.
"Here, touch this one," Mike said and plunged Harvey's hand into the cold water.
The starfish didn't look particularly annoyed at Harvey prodding it, but he still hastily removed his hand as soon as Mike's attention had wandered.
"Did you know, you can cut a starfish in half and there'll be two starfish instead of one?" a preteen between them asked Harvey. The girl was holding one of the purple starfish, gazing at it interestedly and peering shyly up at Harvey.
Harvey flashed her his charming smile, hoping the girl would run off soon. He hated kids. "Really?"
She smiled back, holding out the starfish in Harvey's direction. Mike shot a glare at her back that made Harvey want to snicker.
"Everyone knows that," Mike sneered at the kid.
"Bet you didn't," the kid sneered back, turning from Harvey to glare at Mike.
"Bet you don't know how old that starfish is," Mike challenged, pointing at the purple star in the kid's hand.
"So? You don't either."
"He says he's nine, and you're suffocating him," Mike answered in a rush, eyes widening at the last phrase before he ripped the starfish from the kid's hands and replaced it in the pool.
"You suck!" the brat screamed at Mike.
Harvey rolled his eyes and decided to finally intervene. "Get lost, kid."
"Jerk," the kid said and ran off to her mother across the room.
"And you think I'm the difficult one," Harvey muttered under his breath.
"What? That kid was killing the starfish!"
"Mmhmm. Do I need to repeat the fight you had with a little girl?"
Mike shuffled his feet guiltily. "Okay, so maybe I overreacted. But…she was trying to impress you and…"
"Mike. You can talk to animals. You can memorize anything from sight. You're at an aquarium with me, of all people. You already impress me."
Mike's cheeks pinked a bit before he spun abruptly on his heel and strode further down the exhibit.
Harvey watched him go, somewhat flustered (though not visibly, of course) by Mike's response. The stupid kid was just too adorable. Harvey remembered suddenly the first time they met, when he'd almost kissed him just before pushing him rudely out the door. What if he'd never seen Mike again? What if he'd been rude to him that first time and that had been it? Harvey didn't want to imagine it, and in a way, that was what scared him most.
Mike was feeling slightly ashamed of his earlier outburst, but mostly, he was just exhausted. He was having a fun time, but he just wasn't sure how much longer he could keep up the façade of energy.
He wandered over to the next area, leaving Harvey behind with his thoughts, and found a large pool of water about waist high. He peered in curiously, but all he saw in the dim lighting was his reflection.
Mike peered at his own image, frowning at how tired he appeared.
"Hey, sexy." The voice startled Mike from his thoughts, and he looked around to find its source. It was a deeper pitch than he was used to, and he didn't see anyone nearby it might belong to. Harvey was nowhere in sight, either, so it couldn't be him.
He didn't hear the faint movement of still water rippling beneath him, as the voice called again, almost in his ear, "So, angel face, come here often?"
Mike turned, getting rather annoyed at whoever was playing this trick on him. He didn't appreciate creepy pick-up lines, especially from invisible sources.
Then he realized, of course it wasn't invisible, it was just in his head!
Unfortunately, this realization coincided with a tentacle arm snaking itself around Mike's wrist. Mike let out a startled shriek as he finally spotted the large octopus in the tank before him.
"Care to dance, sugar?" the octopus asked silkily.
"Oh, God, I can't believe I'm being hit on by an octopus," Mike said dejectedly as he gave his arm an experimental tug. The fleshy arm wrapped tighter around him. "Harvey!"
The man wandered over at a slightly faster pace than normal at Mike's distressed tone. "What?"
"Um, a little help?"
Harvey followed Mike's gaze down to spy the arm handcuffing Mike's wrist and stared blankly at it. "Should I leave you two alone?"
"Please don't joke about this," Mike begged.
"You're welcome to my tank, baby, any time," the cephalopod offered. Mike shivered at the suggestiveness of its tone, and the octopus reached another arm out to caress Mike's forearm.
Harvey's face was an interesting mix of emotions, but the primary one seemed to be disgust. "What's it saying to you?" Harvey asked curiously.
"It's hitting on me. Can you please rescue me now?" Mike asked, shutting his eyes in embarrassment.
"I'm not sure…" Harvey muttered.
"How can you be not sure?" Mike hissed angrily.
Harvey pointed at the tank, where the octopus had begun climbing from and was now mostly out of the water and inching closer to Mike's person.
"Ahhhh!" Mike yelled frantically, waving his wrist now in an effort to remove the long arms.
"Calm down," Harvey yelled at him.
"Calm down? Calm down? Are you crazy? I'm being arm-raped by a creature with suction cups and no skeleton! Forget calm! Help me!" Mike glared at Harvey and grabbed a fistful of his shirt.
Harvey grabbed Mike's free wrist to remove the threat to his clothing, and gave it a tug, pulling Mike away from the tank with the wandering octopus. Mike let out a small, sharp cry of pain.
"What's wrong with your wrist?" Harvey asked concernedly.
"It's being eaten by—"
"Your other wrist, Mike."
"Is this really the time to be talking about this?" the blond glared at him.
"For God's sake," Harvey exclaimed and began tugging at the tentacle arms stuck to Mike's.
"Well…that was a nightmare," Mike muttered grouchily, staring at the red round marks on his wrist and arm.
"Why is it that whenever I take you places, your powers seem to do more harm than good?"
Mike glared at him. "I don't know. Because the universe is conspiring against me?"
"More like it's conspiring against me," Harvey said with an amused chuckle.
"You're not redeeming yourself, you know."
"And what would I be redeeming myself for, exactly?"
"For not rescuing me earlier."
Harvey just rolled his eyes.
Mike had only gotten away after Harvey had pried the arms loose. The grabby octopus had sadly slunk back into its tank after that, telling Mike that he and his friend could come back any time they wanted.
Harvey had truthfully found the entire thing to be rather entertaining, but he knew better than to tell Mike that.
Harvey sat down beside him on the bench tiredly. They always managed to get into some sort of trouble on their outings. This was why Harvey preferred to either take Mike to dinner or just stay home.
Mike's head flopped onto Harvey's shoulder suddenly, and Harvey peered over at him, a warm feeling spreading through his chest.
"You okay?" Harvey asked softly.
Mike mumbled incoherently.
"This is nice," Mike said into Harvey's shoulder.
"The part where you were molested by a sea creature or the part where you fought with a teenybopper?"
"No. This. With you."
"Oh," Harvey managed. "You're sure?"
Harvey didn't say anything, but leaned his head so it was atop Mike's. "Should I bother asking about your wrist?"
Mike studied his reddened tentacle free arm. "I'm going to have a fun time explaining these to Donna," he said with a soft laugh.
"Don't you dare," Harvey warned. That was all he needed, for his fiery assistant to come after him for getting Mike injured on a date again. She was still mad at him for the whole bear thing. "And I was talking about your other wrist."
"Oh," Mike said. "It's just sore. Got tripped by a cat this morning."
"It wasn't a black cat, was it?"
"Are you superstitious, Harvey?" Mike laughed.
"No, but maybe you should be. Maybe you could change your new lucky number to eight."
Mike gave him a harsh stare, then straightened and pulled back the sleeve he'd been tugging down all day. There were angry scratch marks deep into the flesh of Mike's arm, and the skin was puffy.
"How the hell did you get these? Did you even put anything on them?" Harvey exclaimed, grabbing Mike's arm and studying it more closely.
"Ouch! Careful! No, I didn't have time or supplies. And band aids don't really fit over them."
"Mike, how did you get them? It must have been some cat."
"A falcon, actually."
Harvey blinked at Mike, momentarily at a rare loss for words. "You're joking."
Mike smirked. "It was nice until it decided to land on my arm. Obviously, I wasn't wearing gloves or anything, so it kind of hurt."
"Well, you should probably get it looked at."
"I'll do it later."
Harvey stood and eyed him, making a mental note to take Mike to the hospital next to bandage his wound. "Fine. Did you want to see anything else in the aquarium?"
Mike nodded, but didn't make any move to rise.
"Or did you just want to sit here for awhile until you fall asleep?"
"The second one," Mike said wearily.
Harvey chuckled. "C'mon. We can always come back another day when you aren't about to pass out." He tugged Mike up onto his feet as he made a mental note to ask Donna to refund those Swim with the Dolphins tickets he'd bought.
"Thanks, Harvey. You know, for this," Mike said and waved an arm at their surroundings. "I had fun."
"Me too, Mike. Are you sure you don't want to say goodbye to your eight-armed friend?"
"That's really okay," Mike frowned.
"C'mon. I'm hungry. Want to grab dinner?"
"Yes. I'm starving."
"Seafood," Mike nodded.
"See," Harvey laughed as they made their way out, "I told you I love fish."
Hope you enjoyed that one! Prompts/scenarios still being accepted, so if you have an idea you'd like to see, I'm compiling a list. I promise I'll try to write a scene just for you, so don't be shy! .