It was the same dream, a distorted version of memory and reality. The sound of tires screeching, the loud bang of the impact mingled with that of shattering glass. The redness of his father's blood on the windscreen a stark contrast to the white snow outside; his mother's still figure in the front passenger seat. As smart as Mike Ross was, he was still only eleven and had no idea what to do beyond getting out of his seat belt and screaming for help. It felt like he'd been screaming for hours, but no one came.
"Mike, wake up!"
The shout jolted Mike up from his sleep, the dream – memory – faded back into the distant past even as he rubbed his eyes. It had been a while since he'd had the dream; it didn't make it any less disconcerting.
"What time is it?" he asked sleepily, shaking off the lingering sense of fear and sadness. As far as Mike could tell, it was still dark outside.
"Four twenty." Joanna Wilcox, or Jo, the petite red haired night duty nurse answered. She was in her mid-40s but could pass for ten years younger. "I know your shift doesn't start till six, but there's been a five car pile up and Davidson is calling for all hands on deck."
Mike shook his head in an attempt to clear the last visage of sleep from his mind. "Right. I'll be right there. Just need to go splash some water on my face."
"ETA in ten minutes, and you know how Davidson gets if you're late," Jo warned before she disappeared through the door, leaving him in the semi-dark room.
Eight and a half minutes later, Mike was as refreshed and alert as he was going to get on three hours of sleep when he joined the rest of the night shift near the entrance, waiting for the first ambulance to turn up.
"Dr Ross, nice of you to finally join us," Dr James Davidson, the attending physician and a thorn in Mike's side for the last four years, greeted him dryly.
The loud wail of the ambulance siren stopped Mike from responding as the first crash victim was wheeled through the emergency room entrance. A paramedic was on top of the victim performing chest compressions.
"He's in V-fib!" a second paramedic reported while his colleague continued CPR. "Crashed four minutes ago, 1 milligram Epi administered two minutes ago, BP 60 over 40."
"I got it!" Mike called out and dived into the foray of what he was sure was going to be another sixteen hour day. Such as is the life of a Chief Resident at NewYork Presbyterian Hospital emergency department.
* * *
Another 90 minutes to the end of his shift, and Mike was thankful that the ER was finally quiet for the night. After the insanity of the last few days, the slow night gave him time to catch up with all the paperwork that had been piling up. It was times like this that made him wonder why he had agreed to take on the role as Chief Resident.
"I'm fine!" Mike heard the irritated male voice coming through the entrance just as he was finishing up with Mrs Jenkin's file.
"You can never be too careful with things like that. Let the doctors have a look and they can decide," another voice said as they approached the admissions counter.
Mike looked up from where he was sitting behind Jo to see a white male in a three piece suit that looked like it costs more than Mike's monthly pay, being dragged to the counter by a smartly dressed dark skinned man.
"Can I help you?" Jo asked, clearly amused by the scene in front of her. Probably glad for the distraction given how slow things were. She had resorted to playing Angry Birds on her iPhone over an hour ago when she finished all her tasks.
"No – " Suit Guy replied.
"Yes," The other man said, speaking over Suit Guy. "We were in a bit of a car accident. Got hit from behind and Mr Specter might've hit his head on the back of my seat."
"I'm fine!" Suit Guy, Mr Specter, Mike presumed, protested.
"Harvey, you almost fell over because you were dizzy."
"He's right," Jo addressed Mr Specter. "You can never be too careful with head injuries, especially if you were feeling dizzy after the event. Fill out these forms and a doctor will be with you in a few minutes." Jo handed the pair the usual medical and insurance forms and they wandered off to the waiting area to complete them. Mike could still hear the faint protests from Mr Specter.
"Mike? You want this?" Jo turned to ask him since he was the closest to her.
"Sure, I'm pretty much done with the charts anyway and have another," he looked at his watch. "Seventy minutes to kill. Send them through to exam room one when you're done. I'll be right there after I dump these files on Davidson's desk."
Five minutes later, Mike walked into examination room one in the middle of what sounded like a negotiation.
"Those are my terms, Harvey. Stay and get things checked out or I call Donna."
"That's unfair advantage, Ray."
"Mr Harvey Specter?" Mike said as he walked in, a clipboard in his hands with Mr Specter's basic details. Lawyer by trade, which would explain the expensive suit; no known allergies, not on any drugs other than the occasional over the counter pain killers, no previous complex medical history apart from a bad shoulder from a previous sports injury.
"Yeah, that's me," Suit Guy replied. He was seated in one of the chairs and stood up as Mike entered.
"I'm Dr Mike Ross," he introduced himself before turning to the other man in the room. "Sir, I'm afraid I have to ask you to wait outside while I examine Mr Specter. Privacy law and all that."
"Yeah, sure. Just make sure he doesn't run away. Donna would have my head on a platter otherwise."
"I'll make sure he's where he's supposed to be," Mike replied with an amused grin. Whoever this Donna person was, Mike liked her already. "Right, I heard that you've had a bit of an accident and hit your head?" Mike turned his attention back to Mr Specter once his friend left the room.
"It was nothing. We were just pulling into traffic, I was in the middle of putting on my seat belt when we were hit from the back. I was in the back seat and I may have head butted the driver's seat. When I got out of the car, I got a bit dizzy and Ray got paranoid. I feel fine."
"I'll be the judge of that Mr Specter. If you can take off your jacket and hop on to the bed over there we can get started."
"If it means I can get out of here quicker," Mr Specter did as he was told although he didn't look too happy about it. Mike grabbed the equipment he needed from the bench to examine his patient. "And dear god, are you even old enough to be practicing medicine? You look like a kid."
"Ah, 'but I'm also a genius. If you have a problem with that, I can get you an older doctor who's not as smart as me'," Mike replied.
"Doogie Howser? Really?" Mr Specter raised his eyebrows, his earlier annoyance turning into amusement. Mike was surprised that the man even recognised the quote, none of his patients ever did.
"Hey, he was only 14 when he qualified. I'm definitely older than that!" Mike protested.
Mr Specter gave him a once over, and smirked. "Not by much."
"That's it. No candy for you," Mike said, chuckling as he took Mr Specter's blood pressure. "If it makes you feel any better, on top of being a genius, I'm also the Chief Resident. I know what I'm doing," Mike reassured. It wasn't the first time his ability as a doctor was called into question because he looked younger than he was, and it probably won't be the last. Mike had long since learned not to take it personally. "Can't help if I've got good genes."
"'There's no gene for fate,'" Mr Specter said, sounding a little... mischievous. For some reason, Mike had the feeling that Mr Specter didn't get that many chance to be playful.
"You were fated to be dragged in here by your friend on this particular lovely night? And Gattaca? Really?" Mike replied, in exactly the same tone as Mr Specter used before and he couldn't help noticing how Mr Specter's face lit up when he laughed.
In the end, Mike's diagnosis was mild concussion and whiplash. Just to be on the safe side, he also ordered a head CT, which came back normal.
By the time he deemed Mr Specter (or Harvey as he insisted to be called because Mike calling him "Mr Specter" made him feel old) fit to be discharged, it was fourty-five minutes past the end of his shift, but Mike was actually a little disappointed to see Harvey go. It wasn't everyday he meet someone who could, not only keep up with his random obscure movie and TV references, but gave back to Mike as good as he got. It was the most fun he'd had treating a patient that Mike could remember.
* * *
The funeral was a simple affair; they couldn't afford anything more elaborate, not with the insurance company's payment pending and his mother still recovering from the injuries sustained in the accident and unable to return to work. Grammy had moved in with them to help with taking care of Mike while his mother recovered.
Of course, at that time Mike didn't quite understand how dire their financial situation was. They had relied on his parents' savings and Grammy's retirement funds, eventually Grammy went back to working part-time when their savings were on the verge of running out and there was still no sign of the insurance money. Mum eventually recovered enough to return to part-time teaching for additional income.
"I don't understand why it's taking this long." Mike remembers the conversation at their kitchen table between his mum, Grammy and their lawyer vividly. "The other driver was drunk, we weren't at fault."
"I understand your frustration, Mrs Ross. But the other party's insurance is arguing that they're not liable while your insurance company is saying that the other driver's at fault and they should be responsible for the payout." Mr Andrews explained, and Mike could tell he sounded frustrated, though he wasn't sure if the frustration was targeted at the insurance company or at his mum.
"I wish you and your family haven't been caught in the middle of this. What I'm trying to do now is to get your insurance company to pay out the policy to you, then bring a case against the other party in court. There really is no need for this to drag out for as long as it has for you."
"Can you do that?" Grammy asked. "As you are aware, we are near the end of our ropes here Mr Andrews."
"I'll do my best," Mr Andrews replied solemnly. "I can promise you that."
The next time Mike saw Mr Andrews again was two months later, his mum was crying and hugging Mr Andrews on the steps to their front door.
"Thank you," his mum had said to Mr Andrews. "Thank you for everything."
"Just doing my job, Mrs Ross." Mr Andrews had replied, hugging his mum back awkwardly.
It wasn't until he was older that Mike realised if Mr Andrews hadn't gotten them the payout when he did, they would've lost their home.
* * *
"Someone's got a secret admirer!" Jo called out to Mike teasingly the moment he got to work the next night.
"This came for you half an hour ago," Jo pointed at a beautifully gift wrapped box sitting to the side of the admissions counter, next to a pile of charts where Mike usually camped out when he needed somewhere to do his paperwork.
Mike frowned in confusion at the package. "Who sent it?" he asked Jo as he took off his bicycle helmet.
"No idea," Jo shrugged. "A courier delivered it. As far as I can tell, there's no card attached to it."
Of course Jo had snooped.
Tearing off the gift wrapped, Mike found himself face to face with a Star Trek DVD box set, the original series with all the movies included. A plain white card that nonetheless felt expensive, was stuck between The Wrath of Khan and The Search for Spock. It simply read: "Do not mock Kirk, he's the man."
Mike let out a startled laugh at the note. The card was unsigned, but it couldn't be anyone else other than Harvey Specter who had sent it.
"Well, who sent it?" Jo asked, curious.
"A grateful patient," Mike answered, and held the card above his head to stop the barely 5'2" Jo from snatching it out of his hands. "Privacy means absolutely nothing to you, does it?"
"Only if you're a patient," Jo said. "And you're obviously not a patient, so spill!"
Mike briefly considered letting Jo read the perfectly innocent card but decided that it might be more entertaining to see what her imagination could come up with. So instead, he merely smirked at her. "Nothing to spill, Jo. Like I said, just a gift from a grateful patient."
A paramedic appearing at the admissions desk stopped Jo from pestering Mike further. Saved by the EMT, Mike grabbed the DVDs and his helmet and headed towards the staff room, hoping that his locker was big enough for him to stash the box set.
The nature of the hospital, or rather, the ER staff's grapevine, meant that everyone in the department knew about his 'secret admirer' within the hour. Even Julie Kim, the least gossip prone third year resident had asked him about it.
"Mark told me they were sex videos, is it true?" Julie asked as they were examining an x-ray of an ankle, looking for signs of fracture.
"What?! No! Where the hell did he get that from?"
"Jason the security guard?! Oh god, this thing has definitely taken a life of its own." While the wild speculations his colleagues had came up with had been entertaining in a 'where the hell did they get that from?!' and 'OMGWTF?!?!?!' sort of way, they really weren't doing much for his reputation in general. "I should've turned it into a social experiment and written a paper on it. The Effects of Workplace Gossip on Productivity and Staff Morale or something. At least I'd get a publication out of this whole thing."
"So, not sex videos?"
"No! Jesus! They're Star Trek DVDs!"
"Star Trek," Julie actually sounded disappointed that it wasn't anything untoward.
Mike resisted the urge to bang his head against the wall. "Can we get back to the x-ray, please? We have a patient who is in considerable pain and waiting for our diagnosis."
* * *
The incident and Mr Harvey Specter - Attorney at Law, would've been relegated to an amusing anecdote if it weren't for the fact that Mike quite literally bumped into Harvey a month later at his local coffee shop The Snail In The Bottle, or simply The Snail as the locals referred to it. It was lucky that Mike had gone there for the doughnuts and not the coffee because he wasn't sure he could've afforded the dry cleaning bill otherwise.
"Ah, Dr Howser, fancy meeting you here." Harvey said when they regained their balance. He looked at the overturned box of doughnuts on the ground. "I thought doctors were supposed to eat healthy?"
Mike looked forlornly at the doughnuts then back at Harvey. "I was going to take advantage of my youthful and extraordinarily high metabolic rate until you came along and ruined my plan, old man."
"Who are you calling old?" Harvey protested. "Come on, spring chicken, I'll buy you more," he steered Mike back into the coffee shop just as one of the waiters came out with a broom to clean up the mess they created.
"You better, considering how you just... murdered my doughnuts."
"Murder? Don't you think that's a little harsh?" Harvey said with a grin.
"Fine, negligent homicide then. Either way, you killed them. Doughnut murderer," Mike accused.
"Negligent homicide? Don't tell me you're also a lawyer?"
"No, that's you," Mike quipped.
Harvey looked surprised for a moment before realisation dawned. "Insurance forms."
"Not working today?" Harvey asked as they stood in line, waiting to give their orders.
"After my insane schedule last month and god knows how many night shifts? God, no. I have the next three days off. I was just going to pig out and watch crap TV for the day. What are you doing here though? Not exactly your part of town."
"Just finished a meeting at a client's office around the corner. I missed lunch, thought I'd grab something and go through some paperwork while I eat instead of heading back to the office," Harvey replied. "Besides, as a lawyer, I felt duty bound to check this place out purely based on its name."
"It figures," Mike laughed.
They got to the front of the short queue and Harvey ordered a toasted ham and cheese sandwich with black coffee. Mike repeated his order of a dozen mixed doughnuts to take away and added a latte. "For emotional trauma, dude," he said, noticing Harvey's amused look at his additional order.
"Don't call me dude."
"At least I stopped calling you a doughnut murderer."
"Fair point. Grab us a table will you?" Harvey asked as he paid, and Mike found them a table at a quieter back corner of the coffee shop as they waited for their order. "So, how's your head?"
"It's fine. Other than the mild headache I had for about a day or two. Pretty much what you said would happen." Harvey shrugged.
"Good, that's good. Oh, and I've been meaning to send you a thank you note, for the DVDs. Not that I've had time to watch them yet or do anything other than work and more work."
"Didn't you say you had the next three days off? Good time to brush up on your classical television education. It's definitely better than the crap they have on daytime TV. And here's your damages for emotional trauma," Harvey said as their drinks arrived.
"And it's going to be a tasty one," Mike grinned, dumping about four teaspoons full of sugar into his latte much to Harvey's horror.
"Now who's causing emotional trauma. That much sugar in a latte should be illegal."
"Ah, but counselor, the key words are 'should be', which means it's not and I can add as much sugar as I please."
"You really should've been a lawyer," Harvey replied with a chuckle.
"I could have. Passed the LSAT with a scholarship to Harvard and all that. Decided medicine was a better option." Mike shrugged, sipping his coffee. "I did pass the Bar though, so technically, I could practice law if I want to."
"You passed the Bar," Harvey looked like he wasn't sure how to deal with that random piece of information. "Why did you even take the Bar?"
"Summer break before I started my internship, I got bored. A friend bet me $500 that I couldn't do it without going to law school."
"You took the Bar exam because you were bored," Harvey looked at him disbelievingly.
"Don't forget the $500," Mike grinned.
"You weren't kidding about being a genius were you?"
It was over three hours before they parted ways with each other's cell phone numbers. Harvey didn't manage to get any work done, and Mike ended up with only half the doughnuts he originally started out with in an effort to convince Harvey that The Snail had the best doughnuts in Manhattan.
Mike wasn't sure what it was about Harvey, but talking to him was easy. Even when Harvey was a patient, the banter between them was unlike anything Mike had experienced with anyone except the ex-best friend he'd known since kindergarten.
Mike's cell beeped with an incoming message alert just as he stepped into his apartment two blocks away from the coffee shop. He fished the phone out form his back pocket and smiled at the message.
I think my gym should send you a thank you note. These are the best doughnuts I've ever had.
Mike merely replied with: Told you. ;-)
* * *
"Someone's incredibly cheerful today," Grammy greeted Mike with a hug.
"It's my second day off work, what's not to be cheerful about?" Mike replied, settling down in the other armchair in the room not occupied by his grandmother. "Aaaand, I have tomorrow off as well."
"Oh, three days in a row, that's rare," Grammy said, pouring them both a cup of tea.
"Yeah, well, after all the night shifts that I've been pulling, I deserve it."
Grammy had been in care for just over 18 months, and Mike would visit at least once a week, more often if his schedule allowed, but he had barely been able to make it in twice in the last month thanks to the insane amount of work Davidson piled on him. It basically meant that whenever Mike was not at the hospital, he was too busy passing out in his bed before the cycle repeated.
Mike was in the middle of losing spectacularly to his grandmother in a game of poker when his cell phone beeped.
Oh God, he's like an over eager labrador puppy with no mind of his own. I'm not sure if that's better or worse than your standard Harvard drone.
Mike couldn't help laughing at the description of Harvey's new Associate. Quickly, he typed out a reply: You hired him. No sympathy.
"Care to share?" Grammy asked, looking at Mike curiously.
"It's just Harvey complaining about his associate."
"Harvey? That patient who sent you the DVDs? I didn't realised you were corresponding with him."
"I wasn't. But we literally bumped into each other at The Snail yesterday and spent the afternoon talking."
"Just talking?" Grammy was giving him a rather sly grin.
"Grammy! He's a friend!"
"If you say so, Michael."
"Look, he just made senior partner at Pearson Hardman a couple months ago, and was forced to hire a new associate. He's just been complaining about how hopeless said associate is, that's all."
"If you say so, Michael," Grammy repeated, which only made Mike groan at the insinuation.
His phone beeped again: Don't remind me.
"Never seen you so happy receiving a text from any of your other friends." Mike glared at his grandmother. "I'm just saying. Oh, by the way, straight flush. Pay up, kiddo."
Mike spent the rest of the afternoon keeping his grandmother entertained with the various shenanigans of his colleagues at the ER, and some of the more outlandish characters that walked through the their doors.
"You really seemed quite taken with this Harvey," his grandmother said just as Mike was about to leave.
"Grams, haven't we been through this already?" Mike groaned.
"I'm serious, Michael. I'd like to see you settle down before I die."
"He's a friend, and he's nine years older than me," Mike protested. "Also, you're going to live to be a hundred and ten, so that's another 30 years or so. Plenty of time."
"Your grandfather was 15 years older than me, and your father was eight years older than your mum. Older men have their uses."
"Like what?" Mike realised his mistake as soon as the words slipped from his lips. The devilish grin he got from his grandmother only confirmed it.
"You know, better stamina in bed for one, and – "
"Oh my god, I'm not having this conversation with you!" Mike knew he sounded like a horrified teenager being confronted with having 'The Talk' with their parents, instead of a fully qualified medical doctor that he was, but he honestly do not want to find out what else his grandmother was going to say.
"I'm going to find Dr Myer and talk about uh... doctorly things, go home and then bleach my brain in an attempt to forget that conversation ever happened." Mike grabbed his messenger bag and fled. He swore he could still hear his grandmother's laugh all the way down the hall even behind Dr Myer's closed office doors.
Edith Ross was an evil, evil woman, and Mike knew he wouldn't have it any other way.
* * *
Mike was in his senior year at Princeton when his mum got sick, breast cancer. Mike didn't even know about it until after she went into remission. His mum and Grammy both decided to keep him in the dark so he wouldn't get distracted from his studies. When Mike found out at Thanksgiving that year, he had thrown a fit worthy of a five-year old brat and had sulked for two days when they forbid him to transfer to a college closer to home.
"Mike, you have less than a year before you graduate. Princeton's been good for you and I'm fine," Mum had said. "I'm already back at work and the doctor's prognosis is positive. We caught it in time."
"Listen to your mother, Michael," Grammy had added. "It's not as though she's going to be alone, I'm still around, or do you think I'm completely useless?"
"No Grammy, of course not. It's just – "
"It's settled then," Grammy interrupted. "You finish your degree at Princeton and decide where you want to go for law school. I know you've been talking about Harvard Law since you were in middle school, and with a 179 on your LSAT, I don't see how they could reject you."
"Yeah," Mike mumbled, deciding against announcing the fact that he had received an early admission and a full scholarship from Harvard Law. There was no way he was moving all the way to Massachusetts.
For the next few months, Mike read everything he could get his hands on about breast cancer and cancer in general. He spoke to faculty members from the medical school at Princeton, and when he had time, sat in on various seminars that were even remotely related to cancer and cancer treatment.
By the time March rolled around, Mike had somehow ended up with a MCAT score of 43, recommendation letters from professors he hadn't even officially studied under, and a full scholarship to any medical school in the country.
Mike had agonised over his decision for weeks. Ever since he had witnessed his mum hugging Mr Andrews, he had wanted to become a lawyer. Harvard Law had been his dream since he was 13 and he hadn't even considered any other options until Professor Inman's comments to him just before Christmas break.
"Michael," they were in the professor's office going through yet another study Mike had unearthed in his quest to understand everything about cancer. "Have you ever considered medicine as a profession?"
Mike had blinked at Professor Inman in surprise. "Uh... no, not really. I've always wanted to be a lawyer."
"One of my son-in-laws is a lawyer. An asshole and a shark in suit," the professor scoffed. "Listen to me Michael, in over 30 years of teaching and practicing medicine, I have not met anyone as uniquely suited to medicine as you are."
"Do you think I'd spend the day before Christmas Eve in my office with just any students when I could be home feeding the grandkids sugar and watching their parents suffer? Technically, you aren't even my student. Think about it, Michael. I'll be more than happy to write you a recommendation letter."
So Mike thought about it. He knew he had taken enough science in his haphazard choice of subjects to satisfy medical school requirements and his 3.9 GPA so far was competitive enough and he could probably end up with a 4.0 if he put any effort into it in his last semester. But unlike the LSAT, which he had researched and prepped to death for in his freshman year, he had no idea how the MCAT worked or whether he would even be able to pass it.
Then Mike decided that all the thinking was making his head hurt, and he might as well just sit the damn test and see how that goes. If he flunked, he wouldn't have to think about it any further. So he borrowed a couple of MCAT prep textbooks from the library just before the university shut for the holidays and spent New Year's Eve reading through them.
Of course, given his history with standardised tests, Mike should've known there was no way he would flunk the MCAT. In the end, it was the Harvard Law School tour that clinched it. Professor Inman was right, even the students were a bunch of arrogant assholes and baby sharks in badly tailored suits.
Till the day he die, Mike would never forget the look of utter surprise on his mum and Grammy's face when he announced he was going to the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University.
* * *
The next few months passed in a bit of a blur, though Mike knew if he tried he could probably recall everything, but his brain was too tired to bother. Harvey continued to send him random text messages about his work (he was awesome and kicked ass all the time), the people he worked with (all of them idiots except for Jessica, his boss, and Donna, his PA who basically ran his life and might also be some sort of goddess, Mike wasn't too clear on that), the cars at the car club (all awesome and for the first time, made Mike tempted to drive), and other things that caught his attention. On one memorable occasion not long after their accidental meeting at The Snail, Harvey actually bemoaned about the fact that a woman (Sasha) he had picked up at a bar didn't even recognised a reference to the Godfather.
How could you NOT recognised the Godfather? It's THE GODFATHER for crying out loud!!!
Mike's reply was simply: ROTFLMAO!
Mike returned the favour with tales of Jacob the homeless drunk (resulting in Harvey calling him a bleeding heart for all the times Mike let Jacob sleep in the waiting area), the unfairness of Dr Davidson and his propensity to leave stacks of paperwork for Mike to go through (Harvey had compared him to a Junior Partner at Pearson Hardman, Louis Litt which made Mike think that there must be a Davidson in every workplace), and the various antics that health professionals get up to in order to keep themselves sane (which impressed Harvey and convinced him that all health professionals were crazy underneath their professional facade).
With Harvey's busy schedule and Mike's insane one, they managed to meet up about once a month, usually at The Snail where Harvey would get his custard doughnut fix (after blaming Mike for getting him hooked) and they would just continue where they left off in their text messages.
Harvey didn't really revealed much about his personal life other than brief mentions of a younger brother who was somewhere in Africa or China doing god knows what, and estranged parents who Harvey hadn’t spoken to for almost 20 years. And in return, Mike told him about growing up with two incredibly strong women, and how he ended up in medicine instead of law.
"Your professor was right," Harvey had said. "You're too much of a bleeding heart to get far in corporate law. Not unless you learn to not care, but you wouldn't be you if you didn't care."
"Why Harvey, didn't know you noticed," Mike quipped.
"Eventually, you'd end up working for some legal clinic doing legal aid and pro-bono work," Harvey continued.
"And what's wrong with that?"
"You will never get the opportunity to shine, be the best you can be, and that, would be a crime." Mike had been surprised by the intensity and the utter conviction in Harvey's tone. "'You are fully capable of deciding your own destiny. The question you face is: which path will you choose?'" That is until Harvey went and demonstrated just how big a geek he really was by quoting Star Trek.
As the weeks went by, Mike found himself looking forward to his meetings with Harvey. Mike wasn't sure when it was exactly that Harvey had worked himself into Mike's life to the extent that his first instinct whenever something happened (good or bad), was to tell Harvey. Lying in bed one night after visiting his grandmother, Mike realised that he really didn't mind.
Their fifth meeting was for Sunday brunch in early November. Mike walked into The Snail and spotted Harvey at their usual table near the back and immediately stopped in his tracks. Harvey, dressed in a pair of jeans and a dark blue sweater, was engrossed with whatever he was reading in the Sunday Times. It was the most casual Mike had ever seen Harvey. Logically, he knew that Harvey probably didn't wear his suits 24/7, but the sudden sight of a casual looking Harvey nevertheless caught him by surprise.
Mike managed to convince his feet to move and he made it to their table before Harvey could notice his momentary lapse.
"I was starting to wonder if you wore anything other than suits," Mike said as he sat opposite Harvey, his usual cup of latte was already on the table, still steaming.
"You think about what I wear?" Harvey asked as he put the paper away.
Mike almost choked on his coffee at Harvey's almost flirtatious tone and grin. "Um... I plead the Fifth?"
"Dangerous territory, doctor. Inferences can often be drawn from one's lack of response," the grin was still there, and Mike had never been more grateful when the waitress appeared with their food. "Hope you don't mind me ordering for you," Harvey said. "Figured I couldn't go wrong with the Full Spartan's Steel Breakfast."
Leaning back in his chair, Mike considered the man before him, bemused. "You are one cocky bastard, aren't you?" He didn't wait for Harvey to reply, digging into his eggs. "Guess one can never say no to Lord Denning."
The pleasure he felt at hearing Harvey's small chuckle made Mike wonder whether his Grammy might be right.
* * *
"Harvey, what are we doing?"
"Having afternoon tea without the tea?"
It was their sixth meeting at The Snail and the weather had finally got cold enough that Mike still had his scarf on despite the heater in the coffee shop.
Mike rolled his eyes at Harvey. "You know what I'm talking about."
Harvey set his mug of coffee down on the table with an unreadable expression, which only served to put Mike on edge.
"Donna's been thinking that I made you up."
"What does that have to do with anything?" Mike asked in confusion.
Harvey did not reply immediately, it looked as though he was collecting his thoughts, formulating an argument or hopefully, an explanation. Ever since their last meeting, with the not quite flirting and not quite date like way Harvey was acting, Mike had been at a bit of a loss. Their daily text messages continued, but neither of them ever picked up the phone and called the other or did things normal people do when they're dating.
It really didn't help that every time Mike mentioned Harvey's name to his grandmother she would just give him a knowing look. Whatever it was, this thing he had with Harvey was... comfortable. He had somehow turned into Mike's best friend and if Mike was reading Harvey's signals right and he wanted to move things up to the next level, Mike was more than happy to follow. To be honest, he had been thinking about making a move himself if Harvey didn't do something soon.
"I don't generally talk about my personal life at work," Harvey finally said.
"That's because you don't have one," Mike replied before the real meaning of Harvey's statement registered. "Wait, I'm your personal life?"
"Hang on a minute, I thought you said Donna ran your life?" Mike may have passed the Bar, but he had never been trained in the lawyerly art of double speak and this entire conversation was making him more confused than ever.
When Harvey looked like he was going to say some more, Mike held up a hand to stop him. "Just answer this question, because so far, your emotionally constipated double talk and suppositions are giving me a headache."
It was time to switch to a tactic Mike was more familiar with: straight to the source of the problem, that was how doctors operated. "Are we dating?"
Given the brief flash of shock that crossed Harvey's expression, Mike concluded that Harvey wasn't expecting the question to be quite so direct.
"Yes," Harvey finally answered, looking more serious than Mike had ever seen him.
"Okay, good. Glad we cleared that up," Mike drained the last bit of his latte before something else occurred to him and he frowned. "How long exactly have we been dating?"
Harvey's laugh was unexpected.
"I'm serious!" Mike protested. "It's not funny!"
"Michael Ross, you are something else," was all Harvey had to say about the matter.
* * *
The cancer came back. Mike was only two weeks into his first year residency at NYP's emergency department when his mum started chemotherapy. The fact that New York's best breast cancer treatment facilities were in the same building where Mike work was both a blessing and a curse. While it meant he didn't have to run all over the city to take care of his mum, it also meant everyone he worked with knew all about his mother's condition. There were days where all Mike wanted to do was to yell at everyone to stop looking at him in pity.
While Mike checked up on his mum and took care of her as best as he could when she was in the hospital, it fell on Grammy to do all the care at home since Mike's 80-hour workweek barely afforded him time to sleep and trips back to the family home in Queens were rarely possible.
It was another two months before they discovered that chemo wasn't working, and the cancer had spread to the bones. Despite Dr Ellis's reassurances and discussions of treatment options, Mike knew the literature and the stats. The rate the secondary cancer had metastasized and the clear onset of the symptoms meant that they were dealing with an aggressive manifestation with a low survival rate. Mike was more terrified than he had been when he was eleven and trapped in a mangled car.
For six months, Mike spent every spare minute he had researching any new development in cancer treatment and generally harassing Dr Ellis. They tried everything including an experimental treatment that Mike had heard about from the hospital grapevine, but nothing worked.
"Mike, please," his mother had begged, after the last unsuccessful round of radio therapy, a shadow of her former vibrant self. She had lost so much weight that Mike was afraid she'd break whenever he hugged her.
"Mum, you can't give up! I spoke to Dr Ellis about this – "
"Michael, enough," his mother said and Mike shut up. She only ever called him Michael when she meant business. "I just want to go home, Michael."
Mike nodded, not trusting himself to speak and signed all the forms that needed to be signed to get his mother discharged. Mike was off work for two days before his mother told him to stop hovering and go back to work and save some lives.
You can't save me remained unsaid, but Mike heard it anyway.
When Mike's mother was wheeled through the door at NYP's ER exactly two weeks later with respiratory distress, accompanied by paramedics and his Grammy, Mike was in the middle of his shift. He spent the next three days camped by his mother's bedside in the ICU and even Davidson had left him alone.
"I have no regrets, Michael." She could barely speak by the third day, her breath wheezing as her lungs slowly shut down. The morphine had stopped working and she had been in considerable pain since. It broke Mike's heart that there was absolutely nothing he could do to help. What use was he as a doctor when he couldn't even help his own mother?
"I should've died that night with your father," Mike had to lean all the way down to hear her. "But instead, I got to see you grow up and become a man, a doctor," she gasps, struggling for breath, a weak smile tugging at her lips. "Take care of your Grammy for me?"
"I will, I promise I will," Mike choked back a sob, not wanting to let his mother see him cry. "I love you, mum."
"Love you and I'm so proud of you," she managed before slipping into unconsciousness.
Lillian Ross passed away two hours later and Mike's world shattered for the second time.
* * *
Still on morning shift until Xmas? Do you have a tux?
Mike received the message from Harvey at 12:27am just after he got home from an afternoon shift that turned into an afternoon plus half a night shift thanks to some dodgy shrimp at a downtown Italian place, the venue for a wedding reception with over a hundred guests.
Yes & no. Why?
Since Harvey's confirmation of their dating status four days ago, nothing much has changed between them. Harvey was still busy with his caseload and Mike's schedule was still as insane as ever.
Pearson Hardman annual Xmas dinner. Friday night 2 wks from now. Black tie. Want you there with me.
That is other than the mind-blowing kiss they shared just before they parted company at The Snail's front entrance.
Are you telling me or asking me?
That instant spark and recognition, it was like nothing Mike had ever experienced. Like everything else with Harvey, they just clicked. It almost didn't feel like a first kiss, but something they've been doing their whole lives.
You're so much work. Be my +1?
When he looked at Harvey after the kiss, it was clear that the other man was equally affected by the unexpected intensity of such a simple act.
But I'm worth it. ;-) Ok, but I'm still going to be on call for the night. Now tell me where one goes to get a tux.
Mike would've liked to continue kissing Harvey, but he was running late for work and they definitely did not have enough time to be starting anything.
It'll just emphasize how indispensable you are if you get called away halfway through. ;-) Still finishing at 6 tomorrow? I'll pick you up after work.
Mike changed into his sleepwear, an old t-shirt and boxers and flung himself down onto his bed.
Ok. Going to bed to pass out now. Night.
Sweet dreams & I'll see you tomorrow.
Mike was still smiling when he drifted off to sleep.
If anyone at the ER noticed how cheerful Mike was the next day, they didn't say a word, at least not to Mike directly. It was as close to a perfect shift as Mike ever had, with a constant, but not torrential stream of patients, all with non-life threatening injuries or illnesses which allowed him the luxury of actually spending some time talking to his patients instead of rushing them through like a factory production line. He even had a great teaching session with the interns and junior residents on duty when a patient was brought in with a rather tricky diagnosis of scaphoid fracture.
Despite the good day, Mike was still somewhat amazed that he managed to leave on time (it was 6:16pm, but anything within an hour of his scheduled time off was on time in Mike's book).
"Doctor Ross?" A vaguely familiar voice called out to him. Mike turned and found Harvey's chauffeur, Ray, waiting for him near the visitor's entrance.
"Ray, right? Hi." Mike greeted the other man. "And please call me Mike."
"Of course. Harvey's still stuck in a client meeting, but he should be finishing up soon. He told me to come pick you up first and we'll swing by his office on the way."
Soon, they were pulling out into Manhattan's rush hour traffic and Ray put on some jazzy tune that Mike didn't recognise.
"Does he do this often? Get you to pick up his dates?" Mike asked jokingly as they hit the first red light down the block.
"No, not really. For one, Harvey doesn't date. At least not until now."
"I don't think it's my place to say anything if he hasn’t mentioned it to you," Ray replied carefully.
"Fair point," Mike conceded. It really wasn't his intention to get Ray to tell him things about Harvey and he mentally smacked himself for even putting Ray in that position. "So, tell me what's an average day like in the life of a New York City chauffeur?"
By the time they arrived at the Pearson Hardman building twenty-five minutes later, Mike was laughing heartily over Ray's story of the shopping antics of a nameless socialite he once had the pleasure of driving.
"What's so funny?" Harvey asked the moment he got into the car, placing a quick chase kiss on Mike's lips before buckling up his seat belt.
"Ask Ray to tell you about it next time you have a bad day, guaranteed to cheer you right up," Mike replied, still fighting to suppress his giggles. "So hot shot, where exactly are we going?" Mike asked as soon as Harvey settled down.
"We are going to see Réne."
"That... tells me absolutely nothing."
"Your..." Mike paused. "You have a tailor," he finally managed, sounding a little like Sean Bean referring to the cave trolls in the first Lord of the Rings movie. Peripherally, he noticed Ray raising the privacy screen and silently thanked the man for his discretion. "And how many months' salary do I have to part with to afford this tux?"
"Don't worry about it, my treat."
"Harvey, I can afford it," they haven't really talked about it but Mike knew Harvey, as a senior partner of a top city law firm, made a shit load more money than he did even though Mike was quite comfortable financially. The lack of student loan debt and his mother's life insurance policy made sure of that. The idea of having Harvey pay for anything more than the occasional meal (which Mike was more than capable of and have reciprocated) didn't sit well with him at this point in their relationship.
Harvey must have picked up on his unease because he immediately added, "I'm dragging you to the function to keep me company and to fend off the sexual predators who tend to make an appearance after a few drinks. Only fair that I pay for it. Consider it an early Christmas gift. Besides, it's not completely altruistic, I've been dying to see you in something other than scrubs or jeans and t-shirt, and I enjoy spending money on people I care about."
"So..." Mike started, his worry slightly abated. "You mean you're not going to put me up in a great condo?" he teased, knowing Harvey would get the reference.
"Did you just imply that I'd have to pay for sex?" Harvey asked, frowning, but Mike could see the smile tugging at the corner of his lips.
"Yes, of course I did, because everything is about you," Mike rolled his eyes, but he couldn't help the slight hint of fondness from slipping into voice. "You do realised you still haven't answered my question."
"Just exactly how long have we been dating? I mean, if you're going to be showing me off at an official function in front of your colleagues, I kinda want to be able to answer something as simple as that," Mike explained.
"Right," Mike's curiosity was peaked when something that looked suspiciously like embarrassment crossed Harvey's features. "Um... six months?"
"Six months?!" Mike was a lot louder than he intended in the confines of the car. Then the dates clicked in his head. "Since that first time you asked me to meet you at The Snail?! That was our first date?!"
Harvey at least had the decency to look slightly sheepish, which in Mike's opinion only made him look more adorable. "I can't believe you've been secretly dating me for six months without telling me."
Harvey shrugged. "I wasn't sure how you'd take it if I asked you out. Figured I'd test the water first, and go from there."
"You never stuck me as the hesitant type."
"Normally, no, but ...you're different, Mike," Harvey's voice had gone slightly soft at the end. "And I didn't want to risk scaring you off."
Mike reached out and grasp Harvey's hand in his. Harvey looked down to their joined hands in surprise before glancing up at Mike again.
"I don't scare easily."
* * *
Mike was a genius; he had passed the New York Bar Exam without ever going to law school and he was a doctor, Chief Resident even, at one of the top Emergency Departments in the country. He saves lives for a living for god's sake, a bowtie should be something he could easily handle.
Doctor Michael Ross would not be defeated by a mere piece of cloth, he thought.
"Fuck!" he swore, finally giving up on the offending piece of neckwear half an hour later, wondering if he could get away with turning up in a normal suit instead. Or just forgo the bowtie, since in Mike's opinion, the tux looked good enough to carry its own weight without the tie.
His doorbell chose to buzz at that moment and Mike swore again, knowing it was Harvey and he was officially late.
Mike rushed out of the bathroom towards the intercom. "Harvey?"
"Why aren't you down here yet?"
"You better come up. Need your help. Top floor." Mike said, pushing the button to unlock the front security door.
There was a knock on his apartment door a minute later. Mike opened the door and stared. While Mike could appreciate the sight of Harvey in a three-piece suit, he was somewhat used to that given the man hardly wore anything else whenever they see each other. Harvey in a tux though, it was sophistication and sexiness personified and he had to resist the urge to run his hands down Harvey's lapels and – .
"You're not dressed," Harvey's comment finally snapped Mike out of his stupor.
"I am mostly dressed," Mike countered, stepping aside to let Harvey into his apartment.
"How do you afford this place on a resident's salary?" Harvey asked, giving Mike a quick kiss in greeting even as he took in the fireplace in the living room, the polished floorboards and tasteful modern furnishings.
"Chief Resident," Mike corrected. "And no student debt. Though I think I might've offended the gods of bowties or something because for the life of me, I cannot get this thing to stay on straight," Mike tugged frustratingly at the half done bowtie even as he wandered back into the bathroom, Harvey on his heels. "I'd give you the two cent tour of the place, but I have a feeling that we're a bit short on time."
"The tour can wait. Turn around," Harvey said from behind Mike. "How can you live to be 30 without knowing how to tie a bowtie?" Harvey asked as he made quick work of the mess Mike had made.
"You're lucky I can manage a full Windsor. It's not as though I'm constantly being invited to black tie events."
In what seemed to be less than a minute to Mike, Harvey had managed a perfect bowtie. "You have got to teach me to do that," Mike commented as they stepped out of the bathroom, impressed.
"Later. Get your coat or we'll really be late."
The Pearson Hardman annual Christmas dinner was held at the Four Seasons Hotel this year. All employees were invited along with quite a few of the firm's top billable clients. Mike was glad he hadn't followed through with the suits idea or he would've stuck out like a sore thumb. The ballroom looked more like the venue for the Oscars instead of a private Christmas function.
"Wow," Mike was aware he was sounding like some country hick, but the fanciest party he ever went to was the Department Head's daughter's wedding two years ago at the Peninsular and a normal suit had been sufficient then. The groom had been the only one in a tux.
"Come on, I'll introduce you to – "
"Harvey, there you are!"
"Donna," Harvey finished just as a stunning red head in a striking royal blue evening gown came up towards them, a flute of bubbly in her hand.
"You're Donna?" Mike gaped. "Harvey never mentioned that you're also gorgeous."
"Charming, and you are?" She gave Mike a rather scary smile, and Mike finally understood why Harvey and Ray were hesitant to cross her.
Donna's eyes widened, clearly recognising his name. "You're Mike Ross? Is that your real name or are you an actor he hired for the evening and told you to say your name's Mike Ross?"
"Hey!" Harvey protested. "Leave my date alone and go harass Harold. Actually, strike that, don't harass Harold. He's just end up embarrassing me and the firm, mostly me, if he gets any more harassed."
"You're his date?! " Donna's voice wasn't loud, but she was clearly shocked at Harvey's divulgence. She turned her attention back to Harvey. "Right, I don't care who you are, but what have you done with my boss?"
"Donna," Harvey grabbed her by her shoulders, looking at her straight in the eyes. "Mike Ross does exists, and this is him. Believe it." Donna nodded mutely. "Now, go stop Harold from committing career suicide and dragging me down with him."
"Fine, I'll go rescue your labrador puppy, but don't for a moment think that this discussion is over," Donna warned before flicking her hair back in style and walking off to presumably get Harold out of trouble.
"Okay, she's scary," Mike said once Donna was out of earshot.
For the rest of the night, Harvey introduced Mike as "My date, Doctor Michael Ross, he's a Chief Resident at NYP," or a variant thereof. Harvey also had his hand on Mike's lower back most of the time so there was no mistake that Mike was with him. While Mike was usually not comfortable flaunting his qualifications around, he could tell Harvey was trying to make the point that Mike was his own man and not merely the 'young pretty thing' that everyone had assumed he was the moment he set foot in the ballroom with Harvey. So Mike didn't say anything, just shook hands, made small talk and put a few names to faces.
"Oh wow. He really does look like a labrador puppy," Mike had commented after meeting Harold.
"I think I must've suffered a moment of temporary insanity to have hired him."
"And now you've gotten too attached to fire him? Knew you were a softy on the inside," Mike teased.
"Bite your tongue! I have a reputation to maintain, especially in this room."
"Don't worry, your secret's safe with me."
Louis Litt was as much of an ass as Harvey said he was. The man had outright called Mike a prostitute even before introductions were made, and once he learned that Mike was a doctor, proceed to tell him everything about his medical problems and allergies. Mike felt like having a shower just after five minutes with Louis Litt, and considering his work, that was saying something.
Harvey's clients were suitably impressed, while the rest of the firm seemed rather surprised at Mike's existence. Mike wasn't sure if it was due to his gender or the fact that Harvey was actually dating someone. One thing was for certain; Harvey was surrounded by women who are equally beautiful and terrifying. Mike was sure his conversation with Jessica Pearson was more akin to a cross examination of a hostile witness than an actual conversation. It made him wished that he wasn't on call for the night and could down a few flutes of the champaign.
By the time they finished the main course and the standard speeches that came with every corporate function, Mike was actually getting tired of the attention. It was like being the fresh meat in a shark's tank. For the sake of not embarrassing himself and Harvey, he put up with it. When his cell phone let out a loud and annoying screech in the middle of dessert, signaling a message from work, Mike was almost glad.
911. MCI. ETA 25.
"Sorry, I need to make a call to the hospital. If you'd excuse me," Mike excused himself from the table and made his way to a quiet corner and hitting the speed dial for work. "It's Mike, what's going on?"
"Passenger train derailment." Jo answered. "Casualty probably in the hundreds and we'll be getting the large bulk of it. EMT on site said it's bad, Mike."
"Right, you know what to do. Get triage set up and make sure everything's ready to go. I'm at the Four Seasons, it'll probably take me over half an hour to get there with traffic."
"Paul's gathering the troops as we speak," Jo replied, referring to his fellow Chief Resident, Dr Paul Lim. "But I don't think he's handled anything like this before. He was out of town the last time we had a major MCI on this scale."
"Go help him. I'll be there as soon as I can," Mike disconnected the call and quickly made his way back to their table. "I've got to go," Mike said, leaning down to speak quietly to Harvey so as to not interrupt the other conversations going on around the table. "Major train derailment and they're predicting casualties by the hundreds."
"Get Ray to drive you."
"Yeah. I'll text you when I'm done," Mike said, giving Harvey a quick kiss on the lips.
"Call me. Even if it's three in the morning," Harvey replied.
"It's probably going to be three in the afternoon, but the sentiment is noted."
Mike straightened up and quickly made his excuses to Jessica and the rest of the guests at the table he was speaking to earlier before making a hasty exit.
* * *
Lillian Ross's will was simple. The house went to Grammy, its mortgage having been paid off years ago, and the life insurance payout went to Mike; the rest of her personal assets including her retirement funds through the Teacher's Union were left to Mike and Grammy equally. What Mike hadn't expected was just exactly how much the insurance policy was worth.
"How much?" Mike found himself asking Mr Andrews Junior, who took over the management of the suburban law firm from his father a few years ago.
"One point five million dollars," the lawyer repeated. "Your mother took up the policy though her union not long after the death of your father. She didn't want to risk leaving you and your grandmother with nothing in case anything happened. You didn't know?"
"No, I didn't. Grammy," Mike turned to his grandmother. "You knew?"
"Of course," Grammy confirmed. "Your mother and I discussed it back then. Didn't expect her to leave me the house though. Told her to leave everything to you, not as though you were going to kick me out once you inherit the place."
One week after the start of his second year residency, Mike decided that the shoe box he was renting three blocks away from the hospital was just too depressing and bought a reasonably sized two bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side for just over $550,000.
Just because he could.
Mike wasn't sure what he was going to do with the remaining million he had, so it sat in a high interest savings account until he had the time and/or energy to figure it out.
"Well, it's definitely nicer than your last place. You can't even swing a cat in that hole in a wall," Grammy had said as she walked into the apartment. "The fire place would come in handy in winter. All you need is some furniture."
"There's a second bedroom."
"I'm not moving in with you, Mike. You're a young doctor living in one of the most exciting cities in the world, you don't want an old lady, what's the term? Cramping your style?"
"Grammy, you're not going to 'cramp my style'."
"Yes, you would need to have style to begin with," his grandmother teased. "Though I have been thinking about maybe moving to a retirement village, be around people my own age. The house's a bit too big for just myself."
"What are you going to do with the house then?" Mike asked, frowning as he leaned back against the kitchen counter.
"You remember Mrs Kuan from the grocery store?" Mike nodded. Mrs Kuan and her husband ran a general grocery store near where Mike grew up. They always had the sweetest cherries during summer. "Her daughter and son-in-law are expecting their first child and they're looking for a place to settle down."
"Renting, for now. They're willing to pay a fair market price, and it'll be close enough to Mrs Kuan for her to lend a hand when the baby arrives. The rental income and my pension would be more than enough to pay for the retirement home. That house was meant to be the home for a family, not an old lady."
"You've had it all planned haven't you?" Mike asked, not sure why he was surprised.
"I was just waiting for the right family to come along," Grammy grinned. "Now, while I have you for the rest of the day, let's go buy you some furniture. God knows you'd be happy sleeping on a mattress on the floor if I leave you to it."
Mike was never so glad for his grandmother's foresight when seven months later, she suffered a mild stroke at the retirement village. If she had still been living alone at home, it would probably have been hours, if not days before anyone realised anything was wrong. It was something Mike didn't even want to think about.
* * *
While it wasn't quite the 3pm Mike had predicted, it was still close to lunch by the time the last of the patients from the train derailment was transferred to the relevant in-patient care department. Mike collapsed onto a chair behind the admissions counter and stared blankly at the ceiling, willing his brain to slow down.
"You all right?"
Mike blinked and looked away from the ceiling to find Paul perched at the edge of the admissions desk.
"I think so?"
Paul snorted. "You should go home. Hell, I should go home. We should both go home. Home is good. Not quite sure if I can make it though."
"You know you're not making much sense, right?"
"God, I'm so tired."
"I had a full morning shift before I got called in. You don't get to complain."
"That's why you should go home."
"Not sure if I can make it," Mike replied, echoing Paul's earlier words. "I'd take a cab, but I might fall asleep in it and end up getting mugged then murdered in my sleep."
"Call someone to pick you up then."
Mike blinked. "Huh. You just reminded me. I do have to call someone," he reluctantly got up to his feet, and Paul immediately stole the chair and slumped into it. "Good job, by the way," Mike added.
"Thanks. I think everyone did a good job."
"Go tell them that. I'm gonna go change and try not to pass out before I get home."
Once he was in the relative privacy of the locker room, he rang Harvey's number. The phone was picked up on the first ring.
"Hey. You asked me to call, I'm calling."
"You sound exhausted."
"You have no idea how tempted I am to just find an empty examination room and fall asleep right here in the hospital."
"If you can hold off passing out for another twenty minutes, go take a shower or something, I'll pick you up."
"You don't have to. I mean, you're all the way across town and – "
"Hey," Harvey interrupted. "I want to."
And there was nothing Mike could say except "Okay."
* * *
"Are you sure you want to come? I mean, you probably have stuff you do on Christmas day and I don't want to – " Harvey's lips on his effectively cut Mike's speech short. "Right, ok. Message received."
It was late Christmas morning and they were still in bed at Mike's apartment, snuggled under a cocoon of pillows and warm duvet. Mike wasn't due to meet Grammy for Christmas lunch at the nursing home until 12:30pm, which meant they had at least another couple of hours before they had to leave. Harvey, being fully aware of the fact, was taking advantage of the time by picking up from where they left off earlier in the morning, hands exploring every inch of Mike's naked body while he continued to kiss Mike, rolling him on to his back in the process.
"Love kissing you," Harvey murmured as they broke apart for breath.
"God, you're distracting," Mike said, remembering that he still had to give Harvey his Christmas gift. "I got you something for Christmas. Was going to give it to you earlier before someone distracted me."
"What can I say," Harvey said, bending down to explore Mike's collarbone with his lips and tongue. "Six months worth of sex to make up for. Plus interest."
Mike couldn't help the shudder that ran through his whole body when Harvey started to lick on a particularly sensitive spot.
"Harveeeey, stop distracting me!" Mike laughed, pushing the other man off him.
Harvey let out a dramatic sigh. "The romance is gone."
"Aw, but we'll always have Paris."
Mike twisted around in the bed and reached towards the bottom drawer of his bedside table, pulling out the small box, elegantly wrapped in a dark red gift wrap with a emerald green satin bow to complete the seasonal look. Compared to the god knows how many thousand dollar tux that Harvey got him, his gift was nowhere near as extravagant, but he had a feeling Harvey would get more use out of them than Mike would the tux, that is, if he liked it.
"Merry Christmas," Mike said as he passed the box to Harvey, suddenly feeling anxious.
Harvey propped himself up on the pillow and carefully peel the wrapping off to reveal a jewelry box. Mike kept his eyes on Harvey, wanting to see his reaction and he wasn't disappointed. There was the initial confusion, and then a smile slowly formed as he finally worked out what they were.
"Snail cufflinks?" Harvey asked, turning to look at Mike.
Mike nodded his confirmation. "Custom made. I know they're a bit abstract, but I thought that was the beauty of it."
Harvey picked one of the cufflink out of the box to examine it more closely. It was a simple design, white gold with a small white diamond at the centre of a spiral that ended in a tail, as though someone had taken to draw a spiral instead of an O in the letter Q.
"They're beautiful," Harvey replied, carefully putting the cufflink back into the box and setting it aside on the bedside table on his side of the bed before turning back to pull Mike into another brain meltingly hot kiss. "Thank you."
They ended up almost late for Christmas lunch with Grammy, who had loved Harvey on sight, especially after opening Harvey's Christmas gift to her; a warm and luxurious dressing gown.
"You never told me he was this handsome and thoughtful," his grandmother commented right after introductions were made and Mike was treated to the rare sight of a somewhat flustered Harvey Specter.
Grammy's gift to Mike and Harvey was a pair of matching dark blue scarves, beautifully hand knitted. Mike's gift to his grandmother was simple, a framed photo of himself and Harvey at the Pearson Hardman Christmas function.
If Mike had any doubt about whether his grandmother knew what he and Harvey had been up to before lunch, it was eradicated when she casually said, "Told you older men had their uses," and winked at him.
"Anything I should know?" Harvey asked, somewhat confused by their exchange.
"No, nothing you should know. At all. Ever!" Mike said quickly before his grandmother could say anything more on the topic. "As a matter of fact, this conversation never took place."
They spent the rest of the afternoon at the nursing home with Mike's grandmother trying her best to embarrass her only grandson in front of his partner with various tales of Mike's childhood escapade. It was close to dinnertime when they were finally ready to leave.
"I'll go get the car, you say your goodbyes," Harvey said to Mike and then to Grammy. "Edith, it was a real pleasure meeting you."
"The pleasure is all mine, Harvey," Grammy replied, drawing a startled Harvey into a hug. "And I expect to see more of you soon."
"Yes, ma'am." Harvey replied obediently before disappearing through the door with a final "Happy Christmas," and leaving Mike alone with his grandmother.
"So?" Mike asked, standing before his grandmother who was still seated in her armchair.
"You've managed to hook yourself a shark there, Michael."
"What's with the fishing metaphor?" Mike asked, somewhat confused.
"I didn't live to be 85 by falling for every charmer I meet. That said it's obvious that he's head over heels for you and if everything I've seen and heard for the last few months is any indication, he's been good for you. Nice to see that he's good to you as well."
"Come on Grammy, you should give me more credit than that," Mike paused, considering his next question. Seeing Harvey with Grammy had made him wonder. "You think mum and dad would've liked Harvey?"
"Your dad and Harvey would probably get along like a house on fire. Financial analyst and corporate lawyer, practically the same breed. Your mother would probably be wary at first, but Harvey wouldn't have any problems winning her over, especially not with the way he treats you."
"Thanks, Grammy." Mike bend down to give his grandmother a hug.
"You're welcome. Better get going. You don't want to make him wait another six months." Grammy teased, returning Mike's hug.
Mike laughed. "I won't. Happy Christmas Grams."
"Happy Christmas, Michael."
The evening air was fresh and crisps when Mike walked out of the nursing home, eyes scanning the street. He smiled as he spotted Harvey in his car, waiting for him across the road and had a feeling that it was going to grow into a familiar sight.
"Happy Christmas, Michael," Mike muttered to himself, echoing his grandmother's word as he made his way towards his future.