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Jessica calls him into her office at the end of the day. 

When he arrives, she’s digging through paper work, the corners of her mouth set in a frown. Harvey sighs and pushes the glass door all the way open.

“You wanted to see me?” Sitting down, he stretches his legs out in front of him and allows his arms to rest on the back of the couch.

She doesn’t bother looking up, still rummaging as she replies, “Yeah, Christenson is swamped with the Giambrone case.”

Harvey raises an eyebrow. “Okay. Do you need me to take it over or—.“

Finding whatever she was looking for, she picks up the phone and starts dialing. While she does this, she tells him, “No. He just needs some help for a little while.”

He leans forwards at this, appalled.  “There’s no way you’re saying you want me to be his lapdog.”

It’s silent for a moment, and when Harvey’s about to snap at her, she starts talking into the phone. He gets up and walks over to the window, waiting for her to be done. He doesn’t have time for this; he has dinner reservations in thirty minutes.

When she’s finally off the phone, he turns back to her.  “Jessica.”

She rolls her eyes and sits back in her office chair. “No, you’re not playing second to Christenson on the case.”

Harvey nods, satisfied.

“I’m reassigning Mike Ross to him. From what I’ve seen, Mike’s shown himself to be smart and capable,” She puts a hand up to stop whatever Harvey’s about to say. “You’ve done a good job mentoring him so far. I want to see how he works with other attorneys.”

Harvey can feel his face screwing up in what must be an unattractive expression so he quickly relaxes and says, “Why? I’m the most successful closer in the firm. If he’s working well under me, why does anyone else matter?”

Tilting her head, the right corner of her mouth quirks upwards. “You never did like sharing your toys.”

“It’s not like I don’t earn them,” He gets up. “Find another associate, I need mine.”

As he opens the door, Jessica tells him, “You have no major cases right now and Ross can benefit from gaining more experience. I’m not asking, I’m telling you. He’s working with Christenson starting Monday.”

Harvey clenches his jaw, replying to her with a stilted, “Fine.”

“Pass this along when you’re at dinner with him. Thank you.”

If he wrenches the door open a little harder than usual, no one says anything.

-

Monday morning, Mike’s at Harvey's side, looking amused as they enter the building.

“Admit it.”

“Admit what?” Harvey murmurs as he looks down at his phone.

Passing security, they head for the elevators. Mike’s buttoning up his suit jacket as he looks over and says, “You’re going to miss me. You’ll be bereft of my company for whoever knows how long.”

Harvey presses the elevator button and waits. He can feel Mike looking at him, thinking he can’t function without him there. Harvey flicks a glance over to Mike and says, “It’s not going to be that long. And besides,” they both step into the elevator when the doors open, “maybe now I can get things done quicker without always having to explain my every move.”

Mike nods. “Of course,” and he sounds very serious for a second. It doesn’t last very long because he continues with, “That’ll just leave you more time to walk the halls all by yourself, head ducked down and shoulders hunched with devastation, wondering when you’ll get me back.” He smiles wide and bright when Harvey looks at him.

Harvey raises an eyebrow and when he only gets a lazy shrug in return, he says dryly, “I did fine without you here before, I think I can manage.” and walks out of the elevator and onto his floor. He strides ahead of Mike’s slow paced walk. Donna is already there, answering calls because apparently Harvey never gets a moments rest (not like he’d really like one, anyways).

“Morning, Donna. Any new cases?”

Donna looks at him speculatively when she says, “No that was just your mother.”

Harvey wrinkles his nose a little and walks into his office, leaving his door open to continue the conversation. As he walks to his desk to put down his briefcase, he asks, “What did she want?”

 “A son who wants to actually talk to his mother but seeing as she doesn’t have one, she says she guesses she’ll stick with you. And she maybe asked if you were seeing anyone seriously.”

He stops mid movement to his coffee that Donna laid on his desk just minutes before he got in.

“Really?”

“She wants ‘grandbabies’, Harvey.”

He sees her smirk through the glass walls of the office and frowns. “Donna.”

“I told her no.”

Before he could say anymore, Mike’s at Donna’s desk, holding a box of his things. He’s talking to her quietly and at something he says, Donna makes a surprised face before directing a look at Harvey. Harvey shakes his head at her and she narrows her eyes.

God, this can’t be good.

Mike walks to the office opening and leans against the doorway. He sighs exaggeratedly and fixes big eyes at Harvey.

“It’s going to be okay. We’ll get through this. I’ll come back for you.”

Harvey can’t help but be amused. He smiles reluctantly and shakes his head, reaching down to grab his coffee.

“Get out of here. Go slum it over at Christenson’s office.”

Mike starts walking out backwards and thrusts one arm out, his fingers making a grabby motion. “I’ll come back for yooooou.

Sitting down, Harvey lets out a breath of laughter and gets to work.

-

Harvey doesn’t see Mike for the first two days. He thinks he might see him out of the corner of his eye a few times here and there but he doesn’t look any further. Donna doesn’t need anything more to annoy him about.

But only three hours after Mike goes to set up over at Christenson’s, Louis stops to check with Donna before stalking in. He’s seems to have learned his lesson about trying to come and go as he pleases.

Harvey rolls his eyes to himself but doesn’t glance up to see Louis standing in front of his desk, running a finger along the edge of it.

“What do you want, Louis?”

Louis smirks and leans over a bit to see what Harvey’s working on before prodding, “I see little Mike Ross’ cubicle is empty.”

Harvey looks up at this, irritated, “Why do you care so much about my associate? Go and terrorize your own.”

Louis’ curls. “Think if I call him up and offer him a position under me he’ll accept? God knows you weren’t mentoring him like he deserved.”

“Think you can handle his answer? I mean, your wife is already sleeping with me. Can you really handle more embarrassment?” and before Louis can get his hackles up Harvey raises his hand and continued, “Yes, I know you don’t actually have a wife.”

“I’m being serious Harvey. The kid was smart and a good addition to Pearson and Hardman. You work at the same firm as I do—“

“Yeah, where I was promoted to Senior Partner over you.”

The smirk is knocked right off Louis’ face but he continues talking. “—and we have to think about the future. The other associates are good but we need something different.”

Harvey sighs. One of the very few redeeming qualities of Louis is his loyalty to Jessica. Which means he won’t get Louis off his back until he tells him what’s going on. Harvey scribbles some notes in a folder while telling Louis, “Mike came in a few hours ago.”

Louis looks over his shoulder and looks past the glass walls to where Mike would usually be working, his headphones in and ignoring everyone around him except when Donna, the pretty paralegal or Harvey would come over. His desk looks bare, the usual obscene amounts of paperwork are no longer covering every inch of the desk, instead put neatly away in folders and packed away. The computer is logged off and his chair tucked in.

“Okay,” and Louis turns back around to face Harvey. “Did you send him out for a case?”

Harvey drops the file he’s been looking through for the past hour and clicks on the intercom to talk to Donna. “Hey, call ahead to Ms. Reese, I’m going to need to talk to her within the hour about her grandfather’s bequest,” After he disconnects, Harvey gets up from his desk to swing his suit jacket back on. Louis doesn’t let the issue go.

“You never answered my question.”

Harvey straightens his cuffs and groans, “Christ, Louis. Jessica assigned him to that junior partner Christenson for the week. Are you done trying to learn every detail of my life?”

Louis makes a face and leans closer to Harvey, voice pitched low as if he was trying to commiserate with him. “Christenson? His case rate is like, three percent below mine,” He looks around like he’s expecting someone to be listening in on them (someone other than Donna). “Mike’s not even my associate and I’m insulted.”

“As much as I enjoy bonding with you, I have to get some actual work done. Maybe if you didn’t gossip so much you wouldn’t constantly be three steps behind me,” Harvey makes for the door but stops when he notices he’s the only one leaving. He makes his ‘well, come on’ face he usually uses on Mike to get him moving. “Don’t you have something to fail at? I don’t like you in my office alone.”

Louis lets out a flat, “Ha, ha,” before responding with, “Well at least I know why you’re more taciturn than usual.” as he moves out of the room.

-

The case about the will is finished up by Wednesday. It leaves him with nothing much to do until Jessica’s standing in front of him. Apparently there’s some high profile merger needing handling. Jessica explains that she just needs him to familiarize himself with the case, finish up the financials and drive it home.  She’s been working on this for a few months now but some client back from when Hardman was still around has called for her help and it’s taking priority.

“So you’re basically giving me your leftovers.”

The corners of Jessica’s eyes crinkle as she smiles. “If that’s how you choose to look at it, sure,” She hands him the case information and goes to leave only to linger by his door for a moment. She glances at the bullpen once before announcing, “I want you to pick someone else to mentor while Mike is with Christenson.”

“Wait a second,” And Harvey pushes his chair away from his desk, leaning back. He lets his annoyance and disbelief bleed into his tone. “You force me to pick an associate, I find one not completely useless, and then you take him away from me to give me someone else?”

She gives him a brief nod and replies, “Yes,” before turning out of his office.

He’s Harvey Specter so he doesn’t splutter, but it’s a close thing. “Jessica!”

She doesn’t turn around at his call, her black hair swinging slightly as she walks away. “By tomorrow, Harvey. Or I’ll pick for you.”

Harvey brings a hand up to rub at his forehead and avoid Donna’s sympathetic gaze. He should have known Jessica would try something like this. She’s never content to just let things go.

Deciding to just get it over with, Harvey pushes himself off his chair and walks out his office. He stops by Donna’s little control center that masks as a office desk and surveys the room. A few are sitting at their desks, working, but more interestingly there’s a group of associates near Mike’s empty cubicle. They’re standing somewhat close together with their heads ducked low. The dark haired one, George or something is talking but when his gaze wanders over to where Harvey’s standing, he straightens up a bit and shuts up. The rest of them sees what’s going on and tries to discreetly disperse. Harvey doesn’t like to make things easy on anyone though.

He strolls over to them and smirks when they start to fidget. Mike doesn’t do that as much anymore so he has to get his kicks when he can. He looks over each one of them; his expression disinterested and stops on George. “You,” The kid’s eyes widen slightly in surprise but he smiles cockily and Christ, Harvey’s going to have fun beating that out of him.

George steps forward a little, away from the group. “What can I do for you, Mr. Specter?”

Harvey purses his lips a little and tells the rest of the peanut gallery to go back to their desks. After they’ve settled back where they’re supposed to be, Harvey tells the kid what’s going on. “I’m picking you to be my associate for however long I need you,” and when George’s ego starts to get too big about this Harvey decides to tack on, “Basically until Mike comes back,” just to knock him down a bit.

It has the desired effect because the kid subconsciously sneers a little at Mike’s abandoned work station. He seems to regroup though and says, “Whatever you need, Mr. Specter.”

Harvey smiles patronizingly. ”We’ll see,” and at this he heads back for his office. “For now finish up whatever you were doing for Louis then check in with Donna. She’ll have whatever I need you to go through.” He stops by Donna on his way and she’s still watching George when he gets there.

“You know his name is Gregory, right?” She smirks a little while scheduling in one of his many appointments he has for this week.

“Did you hear me say the wrong name?”

Donna snorts (something she claims she does not do). “You did that thing you do. You know, when you’re not sure of their name so you avoid it because god forbid you don’t know something.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

She stops typing long enough to lean towards him and say, “Harvey, I’ve been your assistant since you were the ADA. Try lying to someone else,” She goes back to work and tells him, “Your one o’clock should be here soon.”

 

True to her word, his appointment shows not too long after. He gets up from his desk to shake Mr. Courier’s hand and they exchange pleasantries.  While Donna excuses herself after offering the usual beverage, Harvey settles into the meeting.

During the appointment, in his peripheral he sees Gregory talking to Donna and probably getting short, coolly detached answers. Gregory looks a little bewildered. Donna doesn’t particularly like or care about any of the associates except for Mike.

Sometime later Harvey sees him walk quickly by. Mike looks a little harried but smiles and nods at Harvey nonetheless when he sees Harvey looking back. He gives Mike a small fraction of his attention as he speaks to his client. He’s talking about perhaps considering floating easement when Mike sees that pretty paralegal and makes a bee-line for her. He distractedly notes that they’re standing shoulder to shoulder and Harvey ignores it for the moment to listen to his client’s questions. It’s harder than it should be.

When the meeting is finally over, Mike is nowhere to be found and the pretty paralegal is gone from her office, either at lunch or with Mike somewhere. Whatever, he can’t think about Mike right now. He needs to make sure Gregory isn’t fucking everything up.

-

The next few days go by well enough.

The merger keeps him busy and his temp proves to not be completely useless. It’s been a little over a week since Mike started for Christenson and Harvey hasn’t seen him since that one time outside his office. Donna likes to keep him updated through texts since Harvey spends most of his days in out-of-office meetings lately. The fact that she has eyes and ears all over the firm doesn’t surprise him in the least. He’s gotten a few dozen messages throughout the last three days, saying things like,

9:27 a.m. Mike Ross seen at the copier room for seven minutes with Rachel Zane.

or

7:03 to 7:45 Mike Ross and Harold Jakowski drank coffee together in the break room.

Harvey scrolls by them with a brief glance, knowing if anything actually important happened Donna wouldn’t take the time to just write it out in a text. And if he stops to read through the noon to three p.m. ones to make sure Mike ate lunch, no one has to know (except Donna but Harvey’s given up trying to keep things from her, it never works out well for anyone).

Jessica came by once or twice during one of the few times he was in to tell him everything is going smoothly, that Christenson and Mike are making a good team. Louis even tried to give him some platitudes that Harvey rejects before they even come out of his mouth because it’s Louis and Harvey doesn’t listen to Louis. It feels like everyone is walking on eggshells around him and he doesn’t know why. Well, he knows why but it doesn’t make any sense. So Mike’s working for someone else. Life goes on and Harvey keeps working.

Today starts off differently, setting the tone for the rest of the day. Harvey gets up earlier this morning. His sleep has been off the last few nights, waking up usually twice during the night, feeling restless. But Monday night is by far the worst. He’s able to fall asleep fine but wakes up every other hour and by the time six o’clock rolls around, he’s tired but ready to get out of bed.

While he showers, he briefly entertains the idea of taking a sleeping pill next time but discards the thought as quickly as it came. They tend to stay in his system throughout the next day, leaving him tired and cranky. As he finishes washing his hair and soaping up, he drags a slick hand over his cock and works it up and down. It’s more out of habit than necessity. He closes his eyes and goes through the motions, not imagining anyone in particular. It takes him a little longer than usual to get hard, the lack of sleep probably getting to him. When he finally comes, it’s to blonde hair and blue eyes and Harvey’s bracing himself against the shower wall, breathing hard.

He turns up the cold water and sticks his head under the spray for a little while.

His shower doesn’t do much for his mood (except make him vaguely uncomfortable) so he plays some jazz to distract himself while he’s getting dressed and styling his hair. It works well enough and he’s not feeling nearly as out of sorts as he was when he woke up.

The coffee this morning is particularly good and he’s almost feeling normal as he gets to work only to share an elevator with Christenson. Just before the door shuts a hand appears to stop it and Harvey lets out a breath of annoyance before schooling his features. He busies himself with his phone and looks up only when Christenson greets him, warmth creeping into his tone. Harvey doesn’t let it show but it throws him off guard for a second. He returns the ‘hello’ nonetheless and looks back down to his messages.

They exit the elevator on the same floor and walk together until they get to Harvey’s office. On the way, Christenson feels the need to talk.

He adjusts the long strap on his messenger bag (not too unlike the one Mike has, only more expensive looking) while telling Harvey, “I have to say, I can’t begin to tell you how useful Mike’s been these last few days. He’s smart but the way he thinks sometimes,” He shakes his head. “I can definitely tell you had a lot of influence on him. He’s going to make a great lawyer.”

Harvey sips his coffee before asking, “Does he care personally for the client, go above what’s needed concerning interaction?”

Christenson nods, a sharp movement. There’s a look on his face, like he approves of it.

“Then that’s all him. I don’t talk to my clients more than what’s necessary to win the case. Emotion clouds your judgment,” They stop when they reach Harvey’s office. Donna stands to hand him the last of calls he has to return from yesterday. He scans the paper and Christenson excuses himself and tells them both to have a good day before turning around to leave. Harvey stops him before he gets too far, telling him to, “Take care of my associate,” then looks up from the call list. “Alright?” And he knows he sounds expecting, if not a little threatening.

Christenson responds with a genuine, “Of course.”

And that’s that. Christenson leaves to his own office and Harvey gets ready to start his day. Of course, his day doesn’t start until Donna’s gotten to bother him.

“Well,” and she tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. “That was interesting.”

Harvey looks at her, unamused, but it does little to dampen her mirth. She’s still pressing her lips together in a thin line, trying not to laugh when Gregory walks up. Harvey sighs and gestures for the kid to follow him. They both go into his office and Harvey places his coffee down before looking for a business card. When he finds it, he hands it over to Gregory. “Don’t bother sitting down. Go and pick up the contract. Don’t do anything else; don’t talk to anyone about anything else. Do not pass ‘Go’; do not collect two hundred dollars.”

Gregory pockets the card and huffs a laugh. “I think I can handle picking up some paper.”

“You’d be surprised,” he responds flatly. “What are you waiting for? Go or I’m going to start billing you for wasting my time.”

The junior associate retreats quickly enough and Donna catches Harvey’s eye after Gregory leaves. He doesn’t bother flicking on the intercom, just raises his voice a little. “I swear to god, Donna.”

She presses one hand to cover her smile and uses her other to wave him off.

Christ.

| * |

Gregory shows up at his office forty five minutes later, contract in hand and a smirk on his face. He waves the papers around a little. “I have your contract and it’s all in one piece.”

“Fantastic,” Harvey finishes signing a check. “You proved you’re capable of at least being a messenger boy. Your parents must be proud.”

Gregory just hands him the contract and steps back. ”Do you need anything else?”

Harvey flicks through the corporation merger contract before going to read the first page. “Yeah, finish those boxes of reading I gave you yesterday. I need you to go through and note inconsistencies or anything suspicious concerning the accountants’ monthly reports for the time LaQueire has been CEO.”

This would usually be the time where if it was Mike here, Harvey would just tell him to bring his work and sit on the couch. They’d probably read in comfortable silence (except for the times when Mike would break out in terrible impersonations and Harvey would have to tell him to <i>shut up</i> or if he was in a good mood, sometimes he would fire back with his own). Instead, Harvey sends Gregory back to his own cubicle and starts reading.

It’s too quiet for the rest of the day.

-

It doesn’t happen often but on Thursday, Harvey is left with nothing much to do until Gregory finishes up with his task. He usually has meetings booked almost back to back but nothing is on the schedule until later today. So when two o’clock rolls around, he’s free to leave for lunch.

He doesn’t really think about what he’s doing before walking out of his office, ignoring Gregory asking if he needs him.

Donna looks up from her computer and asks as he passes her desk, “Where are you headed?”

He tosses a, “Lunch,” over his shoulder and keeps walking, sticking his hands in his pockets. He ignores her knowing, ‘You’re going the wrong way,’ and turns left. The office he’s headed to is smaller than his but still has a view. He glances into the office and finds what he’s looking for.

Mike and Christenson are sitting next to each other on the couch, heads bent over paper work. Walking to the door way, Harvey raps a knuckle against the glass and walks in, not waiting for an invitation. They both look up at the noise, startled. There are coffee cups and old take out littered around them. 

He directs at Christenson, “I’m going to borrow Mike here for a hour,” then gestures to the hallway, waiting for Mike to jump up. When it doesn’t happen immediately, Harvey raises his eyebrows, waiting. He mentally makes a note to yell at Jessica for undoing all his work.

Alexander Christenson is probably the fourth most successful lawyer in the firm after Jessica, Harvey himself, and Louis. He often works hard and long hours. He’s very dedicated to getting the job done and this time it results in an exhausted looking Mike who has the beginning of dark circles under his eyes. He also may be leaning into Christenson on the couch, not paying attention to personal boundaries but instead to what looks like an affidavit.

Christenson looks at Harvey for a long moment but doesn’t protest. He instead rubs the palms of his hands into his eyes then stands up. “Come on, Mike,” and wraps a hand around Mike’s bicep, pulling him up. “I think we both need a break.”

Mike goes along easily and yawns so wide Harvey can help but quip “Trying to suck all the air out of the room?”

Running a hand over his face, he replies, “Thought it might stop you from harassing me.”

Harvey smiles. “Going to have to try harder than that.”

Mike turns around to snatch up his discarded suit jacket and musters up enough energy to wave a hand at Christenson. “I’ll see you in an hour. Want me to pick you up anything, Alex?”

Harvey sighs and looks at his watch.

The phone starts ringing and Christenson hangs his head, picking up the call only to hold a hand over the mouth piece, “I’ll send out for something, thank you for asking, though.” and he sits down in his office chair.

Harvey takes a step forward and taps Mike’s shoulder. “Come on, we have to go.”

Mike follows Harvey out and picks up his pace a little, trying to keep up. “So what did you need me for?” and he sounds like he’s trying to keep the exhaustion out of his tone.

Noticing how he’s having a little bit of a hard time keeping up with the brisk pace he set, Harvey slows down. He tells Mike where they’re having lunch and smiles smugly to himself when he hears Mike groan.

“Oh, god. Food,” and he drags out the word. “I can’t remember a time where I had something other than Chinese takeout. Or slept.”

 “Christenson riding you pretty hard?”

Mike makes a noise of assent. “Yeah but it’s worth it. We’re starting to make some leeway. Plus it’s always nice to talk with someone who thinks skinny ties are awesome.”

“I never particularly liked meeting people with bad taste.”

Mike gives him a light shove and they walk pass Harvey’s office. He catches the smirk Donna makes when she sees who he’s walking with. Ignoring that for now, Harvey leads Mike to the elevator.

“You’re also not going to be at one hundred percent if you don’t stop every now and then.”

They both step in and Mike’s body makes a small thunk noise when he collapses against the wall. He lolls his head over at Harvey, eyes tired but he’s smiling bright.

“Aw, it’s almost like you care about me.”

Harvey purses his lips and watches the numbers at the top of the elevator tick down. “The lack of sleep is making you delusional.”

“Your face is delusional.”

Harvey looks back at Mike, whose eyes are now closed. “Thank you for proving my point.”

“No problem,” Mike mutters, “can’t let you be wrong all the time.”

Pinching the bridge of his nose, Harvey presses another button on the elevator, not getting off when they finally hit the main floor. He waits for the doors to close again and suddenly they’re going back up.

“Forget something?”

“No.”

Harvey can tell Mike’s confused but doesn’t explain himself. When the doors open for a second time, he gets out and wraps his hand around Mike’s elbow, pulling him out with him. Mike wakes up a little more and they walk back to Harvey’s office. He leads Mike in and tells him to lie down on the couch. He gets a shrug in return and Harvey pulls the blinds down in his office before walking over to Donna.

“Order me something from Morton’s, my usual order and something you think Mike would eat. I need it here in forty five minutes.”

Donna starts dialing. “Oh, and nothing for me? I see how it is.”

“You always get whatever you want when I order out,” Donna doesn’t retort because it is true, “Anyways, I’m letting Mike sleep for a few minutes in the office. Unless it’s important, tell whoever calls that I’ll get back to them.”

Harvey walks back in and closes the door before Donna could stop gaping at that. He looks at Mike who’s sprawled out, eyelids heavy.

“I ordered out. Take a nap; I’ll wake you up when the food comes.” He goes to his desk and sits down, cracking open a file.

Mike rubs his cheek against the fabric of the couch and slurs, “You’re s’nice.”

Harvey doesn’t respond and starts reading.

He gets an e-mail five minutes into reading the case file.

 

There’s something going on with you.

Donna Paulsen ✆  to Harvey Specter   Show details   July 3

I placed the order; it should get here in 45 mins.

Are you going to hand feed it to him?

 

Reply     Forward     Chat

 

Harvey clicks on ‘Chat’ and types out a quick reply.

Harvey: You’re fired.

Donna: That lost it's meaning the twentieth time you said it.

Harvey: Leave me alone. I have work to do.

Donna: You spelt, ‘creepily watching people while they sleep’ wrong.

 

Harvey pointedly turns off the computer and turns in his office chair, facing the view of New York as he gets down to work.

 

He’s been standing over Mike for the last five minutes, hands shoved in his pockets and head tilted. His associate is still curled up on the couch, mouth open and snoring slightly. It seems Mike’s never quiet, conscious or not. Giving a small sigh, Harvey steps forwards and says, “Mike.”

Donna made her way downstairs to grab their ordered food a few minutes ago; she should be coming back any second.

When there’s no response, he tries again, louder this time. “Ross, wake up.”

Mike stirs a little at the sound of his voice but does nothing other than trying to burrow his head further into the couch corner and away from the noise.

Donna comes walking in just as Harvey makes a quiet sound of frustration. She places the food on the table and walks over. She looks unimpressed, something she’s been doing for the last few days.

“You said you were going to get him up when I left to grab the food.”

Harvey continues squinting at Mike, like if he does it long enough, it’ll get Mike up. “It’s harder than you think. I’m beginning to think he’s slipped into a coma.”

She rolls her eyes at this. The amount of insubordinance happening right now is starting to make his teeth set on edge.

He’s about to snap something at her but she leans forwards suddenly, her hands resting lightly on Mike’s arms. She’s pitched forwards close enough that her bottom lip is just grazing the shell of Mike’s ear. And before he knows it, his arm is reaching out, ready to pull her back and tell her, enough, and take your lunch, and I’ve got this. But she pays him little to no notice and instead starts yelling.

“MIKE! Mike, wake up!” and accompanies it with some shaking. It stops as abruptly as it begins, though. Harvey lightly pushes her away, telling her to stop trying to give his associate Shaken Baby Syndrome. Harvey doing so saves her from getting a broken nose because Mike jerks up right just a split second later and falls off the couch.

He’s now sitting near their feet, with a hand clutching his chest. “I think I’m dying,” and his eyes are wide and scared.

Donna smiles and shrugs. “Harvey had a hard time trying to will you awake. But that was after the staring.”

Mike looks between both of them. “There— there was staring?”

As Harvey strides over to the table and grabs Donna’s food, he says (pretty much to distract), “Mike’s suppose to anticipate what I need. I shouldn’t have to wake him up. He should just sense I want him conscious and open his eyes.”

Donna laughs but Mike looks at him incredulously. “What?”

Harvey walks back to her then tilts his head towards the door, a silent order. She recognizes it easily enough and puts the blinds back up before taking her leave.

“Come on,” and Harvey moves to his desk, ready to dig into his food. Mike gets up a few seconds later, straightening his suit out and running a hand through his bed head. It doesn’t do much, making him unstylishly rumpled. His eyes still look bleary when he sits across from Harvey, picking up his piece of pizza that is decidedly not from Morton’s but some small, cheap restaurant he’s seen on his way to work a few times.

Mike’s expression does a complete 180 degree change when he bites into the crust. He looks at Harvey with wide eyes and his mouth is still full of bread and cheese and grease when he proclaims, “I love you so much right now.”

Harvey grimaces at the show of chewed up food he’s getting from Mike and says, “Close your mouth when you’re eating,” but lets a quick smile slide by his mouth when he cuts into his steak, his eyes looking downwards. “How are you doing with Christenson?”

It’s a perfectly reasonable question.

Mike makes a show of swallowing before he talks and answers, “Really good. Alex is great at explaining and gives me whatever work he thinks I can handle,” He smiles and shakes his head. “He’s also funny in a painfully dorkish way. There are strangely a lot of math jokes happening in that office.”

Harvey nods his head in (what he hopes looks like) disinterest when he hears the clear fondness Mike has Christenson. He stabs at his lunch a little viciously while Mike chews happily on. When he looks up again, Donna catches his eye as well as the guy who she’s talking with. Donna nods her head towards the office and gives Harvey an apologetic look. He’s not sure what for until the man turns around. Christenson hits his knuckle against the door and waits for Harvey to beckon him in.

Christenson waves a hand at that. “Sorry to disturb your lunch,” he says apologetically. But when he speaks again, his words are only directed to Mike. “I think I found a break,” He sounds happier about this than Harvey would if he were in his shoes. It doesn’t seem professional.

Mike jumps up at this, though, as if Christenson’s energy is contagious. “Yeah, of course!” And he grabs a couple of napkins Donna left on the desk, quickly wiping his hands.

Harvey watches him walk out of his office with Christenson. As they get out into the hallway, they’re walking close together. Christenson’s making big gestures with his hands and Mike’s nodding along, smiling when everything just clicks in place for him. When they’re far enough down the hallway that they’re out of sight from Harvey’s glass walls, he leans back into his chair and pushes his food away.

Donna’s already coming in the office, sitting herself down where Mike was moments ago. Her Caesar Salad is in her lap, fork moving lettuce around to find another piece of chicken when she says faux casually, “You know, you always told me you never slept while you were an associate.”

Harvey eyes her warily. “Donna.”

She shrugs, suddenly smiling when she finds what she was looking for. “I’m just saying.”

“Don’t.”

“It’s sweet that you’re looking after him even when he’s not working for you. Or is it because he’s not working with you right now?”

Harvey rolls his eyes and picks up his phone. “It’s not a big deal. I’m just looking out for the firm. Giambrone is a big client; everyone involved should be firing on all cylinders.”

Donna raises an eyebrow. “And you don’t think Alex will watch out for him even after you told him to? Or you can’t, god forbid, trust Mike to take care of himself?”

“Do you see what Mike wears to work?” Harvey can tell she’s about to try and make him have what no doubt will be a painful conversation so he quickly pins her with a look. “Not everything has to be a big deal. I’m just protecting the firm by looking out for its investments.” He picks up his phone, telling her, ‘Listen, I have things to take care of now,” and starts dialing pointedly.

Donna rises from the chair and grabs the garbage from the desk as she sasses, “You had enough time to close down your office and watch Mike sleep for a while.”

With herculean effort, he says nothing back. Someone from LaQueire’s office called while Harvey was eating lunch, needing to pass on some message to him. Someone picks up the phone just as Donna leaves, closing the door behind her.

 

“Why is everyone suddenly so incompetent?”

Harvey’s standing in front of Gregory’s cubicle, looking down at him. He shouldn’t need to hold their hands and walk them through how to be a lawyer. Not when he’s only asking for paperwork.

Gregory looks up, shoulders tense and eyes wide when he sees Harvey. The pads of his fingers are covered in highlighter marks that are visible when he holds his hands up.  “I’m sorry; I thought they gave me everything. I just have a hundred pages left. I’ll have it for you as soon as possible.”

Harvey upper lip quirks up in annoyance. “You had this assignment three days now. As soon as possible would have been hours ago. What have you been doing all this time? Mike Ross would have had it on my desk yesterday,” Gregory grits his teeth at this but doesn’t say anything.

“Get it done,” he says as he turns from the cubicle. “Maybe I should be nicer to Louis. I didn’t realize how useless his associates were.”

Harvey strides back to his office, hands stuffed into the pockets of his trousers. Donna raises an eyebrow at him when he comes into sight but says nothing. Her cell phone goes off; the bright display screen catches his eye.

“Why is Mike texting you?”


Donna says nothing for a few moments, still typing on her computer.

Harvey tilts his head. “Donna?”

She puts a finger up to silence him. She clicks her mouse twice then turns away from her desktop. Donna picks up her cell and opens the message. As she reads she starts to smile then lets out an amused scoff. When she’s done typing out response, she lays her phone back down and gives her attention to Harvey.

“I’m sorry what were you saying?”

“What’s going on with Ross?”

Donna turns back and says, “Nothing. I just asked him to keep me updated on how the case was going.”

“Oh,” and he makes a conscious effort to keep his voice almost flat. “What’d he say?”

Donna shrugs like was no big deal. “Just that Alex was ‘ruthless’ in the cross examination and he’d tell me more when he gets back. He sounded excited about it.”

“How does one sound excited via text message?”

Donna lets him glance at her cell phone screen. “There was an unnecessary amount of caps lock and exclamation points.”

Harvey doesn’t really have anything to say about this. He’s unsurprised that Mike has the phone etiquette of a fourteen year old girl.

She glances at the time on her monitor and says, “He’ll probably be here in fifteen minutes. Try not to wait with bated breath, that’s just embarrassing.”

Harvey grins at her. "I'm sorry, did you just say you wanted me to loan you out to Louis the next time he asks?"

"That is disproportional response," Donna glares. "I will make your life hell if you try that on me."

"Nothing is worse than having to work for Louis."

Donna turns back to her computer and resumes her typing. Her tone is sugary sweet when she responds with, "Just try me and I think you'll be unpleasantly surprised."

Harvey’s not particularly keen to figure out which one of them is right so he wanders back into his office. He walks to his shelves and starts fingering through his record collection, not really looking for anything in particular. He rolls his eyes at the gag gift Mike bought him for his birthday a few months ago (a vinyl of Bob Marley) and gives up after he finishes going through the first box. For once being reduced to doing paperwork until Gregory gets his ass in gear and finishes his workload, he plucks his fountain pen up and sits down.

It’s been a few months since he’s even had any to do. Mike excels at it and since he’s a lowly associate (and sometimes just needs busywork to keep his mind occupied), he ends up doing most if not all of it. It’s a perk of being a senior partner and if there is the slightest chance it might keep Mike out of trouble, well. Harvey will gladly throw any and all forms in his direction. The next one might be a restraining order to keep that Trevor kid away from him.

He’s handing a few things to Donna for filing when Mike pops in his line of vision. Christenson is on his right and the pretty paralegal is in front of them. Christenson is explaining something, grinning, dimples and all. Mike interrupts him every few moments, adding in commentary and laughing. The pretty paralegal lays a hand on Mike’s shoulder briefly and says something to the both of them. She smiles before ducking away, turning to go to her own office.

“You know, if you’re going to keep up with this staring thing you’ve had going for the past few days, you should probably be less conspicuous about it.”

Harvey turns back towards her. “You know from experience, right? Was that Andrew or Hank who followed you around everywhere? It was Andrew, wasn’t it? Hank was the one that went to meet your parents without you knowing after a week of dating.”

Donna shrugs, unaffected. “Maybe we can rent you some stalking documentaries. Take some notes.”

He doesn’t get to reply because Mike and Christenson are now in hearing distance. Mike stops at Donna’s desk while Christenson nods to him and keeps walking. Most likely towards Jessica to fill her in which means Mike has a few spare minutes. He turns at the last second and looks to Mike.

“Get out of here by nine, alright?” Christenson points at him threateningly, his expression mockingly stern. “I want you rested for tomorrow,” He doesn’t wait for an answer before walking into Jessica’s office, closing the door behind him.

Harvey watches Mike watch Christenson greet Jessica. He looks pleased when it looks like she’s congratulating him, offering a seat (that he takes) and a drink (which he looks to decline).

Donna smirks when Mike turns his attention to them says hello. “Looks like the prey wandered in too far,” and ignores Mike’s confused ‘what’s as she gets up to take a coffee break.

They look at each other for a moment before Harvey shakes his head and goes into his office. He sits on the couch and isn’t surprised to see that Mike followed him in. He sits on the left side and leans back, letting out a small groan. Harvey chuckles, amused and maybe a little fond.

“Can’t handle working for someone else?”

Mike lets out a breath of air and sinks a little further into the couch. “Don’t even.”

There’s a knock on the door that pulls his attention from Mike. It’s Gregory and he steps further in when he gets a nod from Harvey.

Gregory stops for a second when he sees Mike but eventually decides to just ignore him and lay some papers covered in yellow marks and post-it notes on the table. “Everything’s finished. I called to make sure no other boxes were missed and everything is accounted for.”

Mike’s quiet while Harvey glances through the notes. “Do whatever work Louis has for you while I read through this.”

After he leaves for his work station Mike turns his whole body around and Harvey’s met with wide eyes.

“What?”

Mike makes a small movement with his head and hands like he’s in disbelief. “I leave for a few days and you already replace me?” When Harvey opens his mouth to answer Mike tacks on, “With Greg?”

“What? Are you worried I might like him better?”

“No,” and there isn’t a lie in Mike’s face. “But seriously. Him?”

Harvey picks up Gregory’s work from his lap. Christ, that kid’s handwriting is atrocious. “There’s a consolidation merger going on and Jessica asked me to grace some other lucky associate with my presence while you’re off on your assignment.”

“And how’s that working out for you?”

Harvey grabs a pen and makes a small question mark next to one of the notes. He should probably tell Louis to make the associates go to some penmanship classes. “Well, for one, I can at least read your handwriting. His is verging on hieroglyphics.”

 “And to think you used to have problems because my letters used to be ‘too slanted’.”

Harvey stops reading to give him a look. “Why are you using past-tense? People shouldn’t be writing in italics all the time.”

Mike mutters something that sounds like, “Bubble letters,” but refuses to explain any further than, “Ask Donna.”

It’s quiet for a while, the only sounds heard are pen scratching paper and low murmuring from the junior associates’ bullpen. He’s a little startled then when Mike levers himself off the couch suddenly and cards a hand through his hair. Not like that ever helps it, nothing short of a long appointment with Harvey’s hairdresser would.

“I gotta go back over and prepare for the last meeting tomorrow,” He looks longingly back to Harvey’s couch and heaves a sigh. “The furniture just isn’t the same.”

Mike’s a few feet out the door when Harvey grumbles out, “I bet that’s not the only difference.”

-

The screw up with the financials seemed to have put Gregory in his place.

Yesterday after clearing up a few unintelligible margin notes, Gregory spent the rest of the day on the phone, clearing up any irregularities with the company’s accountants and briefing Harvey before being passed off to Louis. He went without any fuss or agitation (unlike Mike) and was still working when Harvey left for home.

Louis looked strangely disappointed when he got no fight from Harvey about his temp associate, only a distracted “Sure,” with an accompanying dismissive hand movement. Donna was back by then from her break, practically nudging Louis out the room and before handing Harvey some coffee.

“One more day,” was all she said before leaving, heading to her phone to pick up a call. Harvey can’t tell if she was reassuring him or herself.

 

Gregory was there when he arrived in the morning. Harvey can’t tell off the bat if he pulled an all-nighter or not. He’s in a different suit and doesn’t have the tell-tale scruff (like Mike did) or crease patterns on the side of this face from accidently falling asleep once or twice (again, like Mike). He’s sitting at his workplace, eyes intent on the screen in front of him.

As Harvey walks over to him, he can also see there are three large, empty coffee cups on his desk along with a banana peel that’s more brown than yellow at this point. So far, signs point to yes.

“Well, I see I don’t have to tell you to change your suit and shave.”

Gregory looks up at this, blinking once or twice. His eyes look a little bleary. It was definitely an all-nighter.

He finally speaks, sounding like he’s holding off an impressive yawn. “I went home about two hours ago to shower and change,” While he was talking, his eyes drifted back to his computer, his brow furrowing for a second.

“Good. Alright, be ready for the signing at one. If you’re not done with whatever you’re working on for Louis by then,” and Harvey catches an almost imperceptible rise of Gregory’s shoulders, like he was tensing for something, “just hand it off to someone else if it’s time sensitive.”

“Okay,” he replies. “No problem.”

 

Harvey opens his office to Adriene Elise around twelve thirty. She plays twenty questions with him about the merger, quizzing him about the contract and generally being a slightly annoying but well informed client. She’s merging her company with her husband’s, a deal which was made almost a year ago. Her father, LaQuiere, was supposed to be overseeing the transition but died from a heart attack three months ago, pushing Adriene to the CEO seat.

“Mrs. Elise, everything has been checked out. You and Jessica hashed out the contract with your husband and his team to both of your satisfactions. Records on both sides have been gone through with a fine tooth comb. I can assure you that everything has been taken care of.”

She lets out a breath of air at that and nods. “I just want to make sure it goes smoothly. My father thought that joining us together would guarantee the survival of our company. It’s been in the family for hundreds of years. I don’t want to be the one to ruin it.”

Harvey walks over to the small bar and pours two drinks, handing one off to her. “Drink this. Maybe it’ll help with the nerves.”

She takes it gratefully and downs it, her eyes closing at the taste.

“Did it work?”

She smiles and confides, “Either it does or I end up space-y during the meeting.”

Harvey groans.

Adriene laughs him off and says, “I’ll be fine. I’m not that much of a lightweight. Besides, it’s Elijah. He’ll understand.”

He’s putting the glasses back when he notices Mike and Christenson walking past his office, on their way to court. Mike looks over and doesn’t try to say anything, just gives him thumbs up before heading to the elevator, laughing when Harvey basically screw faces him in return. Adriene seems to have caught the whole thing because she’s looking between him and (what’s now the back of) Mike with interest.

“Who was that?”

He waves a hand at the question. “Just my junior associate.”

Adriene tilts her head slightly but enough that she has to bring a hand up to brush bangs from her eyes. “That wasn’t the young man who met me in the lounge.”

“No, it wasn’t. You met Gregory. He’s being loaned to me until Mike finishes up a case.”

“Ah, I see,” and she smiles before sitting all the way back into her chair. “So he’s not working for you right now.”

Harvey narrows his eyes at her, wondering the reasoning behind her questions. “No. Not until tomorrow.”

Donna’s voice comes over the intercom. “Harvey, Mr. Elise and his lawyer just arrived at the check-in desk.”

He acknowledges that he heard her and as he stands up, Adriene does the same and straightens out the line of her suit, brushing out unseen wrinkles. He walks around his desk and stops at the glass door. He pauses in opening it to ask, “You ready?”

When Harvey gets a definitive, “Yes,” in return, he holds the door open for her and they make their way to the conference room. Gregory slides behind them when they’re just a breath away and follows them in, placing the contracts on the table and taking a step back.

“You’re not going to nod off on me, are you?”

Adriene laughs and makes him a promise. “I won’t if this doesn’t last longer than thirty minutes. If we go over and I do fall asleep it’ll be because it’s a survival instinct.”

Harvey’s still grinning when Donna shows Adriene’s husband and lawyer in. Everyone exchanges handshakes and names except Elijah and Adriene who give each other a quick kiss. Harvey only remembers the kid’s still behind him when Mr. Elise (‘please, it’s Elijah’) steps closer to shake Gregory’s hand.

Harvey gestures for everyone to sit down. “Shall we get started?”

 

Thankfully for Adriene, they wrap up just short of a half an hour.

They’re picking up papers and putting coats on when she says, “You were really toeing the line there, Harvey. Three more minutes and you would have regretted it.”

Elijah’s straightening his collar when he asks, “Regret what?”

“Me sleeping. You know how much I hate meetings,” She walks over to him and bats his hands down, reaching up to fix it herself. Elijah rolls his eyes but lets her fuss to her heart’s content. “Merde. Your tie is all twisted in the back.”

Elijah ignores the last comment and tells Harvey, “You’re lucky then because her snoring is horrific,” winking at him when Adriene makes an indignant noise.

“Okay, I’ve had enough out of you,” and she finishes with fixing his collar and tie only to tighten the latter too much in retaliation to her husband’s comment.

Elijah gasps out, “Alright, alright. No choking when we’re not in the privacy of our bedroom.”

As amusing as he finds this, Harvey takes that moment to butt in, “I’m only your lawyer in corporate means. I’m not defending you if you kill Elijah right now.”

Adriene scoffs, tossing a look over her shoulder to Harvey. “Like I’d leave any witnesses.”

“This was an unfortunate turn in conversation, I must say,” Elijah looks down to his watch and swears. “Sweetheart we have to go; we’re going to be late to that lunch date with the investors.” He takes her hand and with one last handshake and thank you for Harvey, they leave the conference room.

 

A few hours later, Jessica comes into his office, poking around his scotch and pouring herself some. She sits in a chair across from him, legs crossed and looking content. “You’re looking pleased with yourself.”

Jessica grins and takes a sip. “What’s there not to be happy about? I took care of Miles, you closed the merger and Christenson won his case. And it was all done without any incidents. There was no killing anyone with an allergy,” and if Harvey mumbles something about a close call with a tie, Jessica ignores it. “Or me needing to threaten anyone with disbarment. It’s been a good two weeks. A quiet two weeks.”

“I get it. You’re happy about not having newly grown grey streaks.”

“Harvey, I really don’t think you want to go there.” She finishes her scotch and pushes a coaster over to set her glass on. “Also, stop charging the firm for your hair dye. It doesn’t work that way and I think you can afford a thirty dollar box from the corner store.”

Whoa. “I don’t even know what to address first. Let’s start with; what makes you think I buy anything hair related from a generic store? I go to professional, who can be trusted, and they cost a significant amount more than thirty dollars. Second, it’s a work related stress.”

Jessica purses her lips like she’s trying not to laugh. “You didn’t used to be this whiny. Is having an associate too much responsibility for you?”

He sighs.

“I can permanently assign Mr. Ross to Alex if you’d like. Or fire him. And you can just roam through New York as free as the wind.”

Harvey stares at her maybe a little bit longer than called for. “You’re in a weird mood right now.”

“Was that a no for the Mike Ross thing?”

“Yeah, no. Tell Christenson I want my associate back. I almost got him trained just right,” He starts moving around to close up. The laptop’s shutting down with two quick clicks of the mouse pad and he gets up to shrug his jacket back on. Jessica is still sitting there when he looks back to her. “…Are you planning on staying here for the night?”

“Funny,” and she uncrosses her legs to stand. With those stilettos she’s just a hair taller and it <i>bothers</i> him for no real reason. So much so he’s honestly really close to finding dress shoes with a little bit of a heel. Probably not though. Mike would notice in an instant and the shitstorm of ridicule that would follow gives Harvey a headache just thinking about it. He’s knocked out of his thoughts by Jessica talking. Still talking, apparently. “—and you are not listening to me right now are you?”

“Of course I was.”

 “Good. Then drop your briefcase off with Ray and come with me.”

Harvey flexes his jaw, mouth working soundlessly then just decides to go with it. “Alright,” He watches her leave and then goes out to where Donna’s standing, putting folders away and grabbing her purse.

“You want me to tell you what she said, don’t you?”

“I deserve some sort of upside for the constant invasion of my privacy.”

Donna informs him, “You and Jessica are meeting Mr. and Mrs. Elise for drinks. I guess Adriene called Jessica two hours ago and practically demanded it,” She turn on the automatic voicemail feature for her office phone and pushes in her chair.

“I thought that was going to be way more terrible than it actually was,” Harvey admits.

“Like what?”

He gestures to the elevator and they start walking. “A pro-bono case, maybe? Hardman coming back? Or, I don’t know-- .”

Donna interrupts with, “Mike being lent to every junior and senior partner and it’s months before you get him back and you cry pools of tears because you’re secretly a giant hormonal woman deep down in your soul who just wants love?”

Harvey spots Gregory and waves him over. While he’s waiting he says, “Are you drawing from personal experience?”

“Oh, shut up. You have feelings. Real human feelings, I’ve seen it.”

“Donna,” he warns. He knows what she’s referring to.

She puts a hand on his arm. “You just have to show someone else.”

“Harvey?”

Gregory’s behind him right now but they keep their eyes on each other. “Maybe,” he tells her.

She watches him for a second longer before letting out a soft, “Okay,” and lets it go. She pushes the down button and the elevator opens. As the doors close, they say good night to each other.

“Harvey?” and Gregory sounds more expectant than before.

He doesn’t turn around, just presses the elevator button and waits. Gregory doesn’t move from where he’s standing. When the doors open again, he just asks, “You were just about to leave, weren’t you?” When he gets an affirmative, he tells Gregory to come with him and they both step into the elevator. “How did you get to work today?”

Gregory looks confused. “The subway.”

When they get to the main floor, past the security point and to outside, Ray steps away from the car to greet him.

“Hey, Ray. I’m going to have you hold onto my briefcase until after you drop him,” and he gestures to Gregory, “--off and have you swing back around and wait by the bar that’s three blocks away. You know the one.”

Ray takes the briefcase from his hand and says, “You got it, Harvey,” and stores it in the passenger seat before opening the door behind it, waiting for the kid to slip in.

“Go ahead.”

Gregory looks like he doesn’t quite comprehend what’s going on but gets in and says, “Thank you,” anyways.

The limo pulls away from the curb a moment later and heads down the street. He’s still standing there, waiting when there’s a voice behind him, a few inches away from his ear.

“That was heartwarming, really.”

Harvey just stops himself from looking startled. “What is wrong with you today?”

“Come on,” and she pulls on his arm until he starts walking of his own volition. They weave their way through the New York crowd and get to the bar in good time. Jessica spots Adriene and Elijah almost instantly and leads the way. They’re in conversation with someone when Harvey gets to the table. Jessica stopped to talking to a waiter, so Harvey approaches the table by himself. Upon closer inspection it’s Christenson they’re talking to and Mike suddenly appears. His suit jacket is nowhere to be seen and his sleeves are rolled up, tie loosened. He’s holding a glass of beer, one he was no doubt carded for. He looks so young sometimes, especially now when he’s smiling, loose limbed and relaxed.

Adriene notices him and tells him to take a seat. Her hair is down from the bun it was in the last time he saw her, hair in loose curls, falling just past her shoulders. She’s wearing a dark purple dress and Elijah’s wearing the same outfit from before, a grey and pinstriped suit. Harvey sits next to her and gets a smile in return.

“I saw your associate and Alexander here while we were waiting. I figured they must have some stories about you so I asked them to keep us company.”

Straight faced, Harvey turns to Mike and says, “If you’ve said anything I’m firing you.”

Mike puts his hands up, his elbow knocking against the table. “They were all mostly, if not completely, flattering,” Harvey looks at him suspiciously. “Like, for instance, I told them about when you paid my rookie dinner bill.”

“That wasn’t a big deal.”

Elijah laughs. “Mike said it was a few thousand dollars. If I didn’t know any better I’d say you were trying to woo him.”

Mike makes a noise like he’s entertained by that line of thought. “I’m sure my virtue is safe,” at the same time Adriene, who’s curled towards Elijah, tucked into his side, says, “Don’t presume you do, love,” Her voice so faint only Harvey and her husband could hear.

“Well,” Elijah lets out, and he sounds considering. Harvey’s caught off guard but remains composed, doesn’t give any indication he’s heard what she said. The line of conversation is put to a stop as Jessica appears, a waiter trailing behind her with a tray of drinks. 

As glasses are passed around, Jessica inserts herself between Harvey and Mike. Her glass is raised as she speaks about budding relationships and what a successful future they all have in store. Mike’s eyes are on her the entire time until the end when they all clink flutes together. His eyes are soft and bright. His body is reaching across the table more than necessary for him and Harvey to both to knock glasses together.

Harvey raises an eyebrow at it and Mike smirks. “I just assumed that since Harvey Specter doesn’t ‘slide over’ he also doesn’t lean.”

“Such things are below me,” he agrees. “It’s nice to know you’re catching on.”

“I’m told I have a good memory,” Mike wiggles his eyebrows ridiculously and settles back. “Are you ready for my return tomorrow? Or are you keeping Gregory forever and I’m being shipped off to Louis?”

Christenson butts in, “I got your back, Mike. If Harvey doesn’t want you anymore I’ll take you.”

“Thanks, Alex,” and Mike pats his shoulder.

 Harvey clears his throat a little and takes a second to be smug about the fact that he immediately gets Mike’s attention. Maybe things haven’t gotten all screwed up. “I have Linda tomorrow and I’m making you meet with her.”

“As in ‘I-make-snickerdoodles-every-time-i-see-my-favorite-associate-Mike’ Linda? That one?”

He looks Mike over and remarks, “She’s not the only one who thinks you’re too skinny.”

“I’m sorry,” Jessica says, not sounding sorry at all. She never does. “Do you want me to move out of the way so you can sit next to Mike?”

Harvey can see Mike grimace out of the corner of his eye. He’s still not comfortable with Jessica recognizing he exists. “Are you mad because I’m not paying enough attention to you?”

Jessica sighs, long suffering like, and crosses her arms. “I suppose I can’t be too mad. You were separated from your puppy for two weeks.”

Mike interjects like he can’t quite help himself. “I thought that was just an analogy. We all know I’m not a literal puppy, right?”

Harvey and Jessica shoot him a look and he retreats, getting up. It’s busier than normal so the staff is hard to flag down. Elijah asks him to bring a bottle of something stronger to drink and Mike heads off, probably grateful for an actual reason to get away for a moment.

Elijah and Christenson are engrossed in conversation that from what Harvey can pick up is about the NHL draft. Adriene is tracing a manicured finger over the top of her flute, periodically correcting her husband’s pronunciation of hockey players’ names. She catches his eye and points to the bar.

“You might want to save Mr. Ross. He’s being sized up by a pretty… impressive young lady a few seats down.”

Sure enough when Harvey follows Adriene’s direction he sees a redhead sliding off her stool and tossing her hair over her shoulder, Mike right in her sights.

Jessica glances over and agrees, “Adriene’s right. She looks like she could eat the kid for breakfast,” When he just sits there, torn between letting Mike do whatever he wants and doing what <i>he</i> wants, Jessica makes the decision for him. “I thought you were looking out for the company’s investments? Go.”

Harvey purses his lips but gets up anyways. The woman, probably around four years younger than Harvey himself but six years older than Mike, has almost boxed Mike in. She has a hand lying gently on his forearm, her breasts pressing against him as she leans in to whisper something in his ear. Whatever’s being said causes Mike’s eyebrows to shoot up.

“Hey, Rookie,” and Mike instantly tries to distance himself from her but can’t unless he wants to either manhandle the redhead out of his way or climb over to the other side with the bartender. Harvey appreciates Mike not doing either. “What’s taking so long?”

Mike uses the hand that’s holding a bottle of liquor to point to the girl next to him, his mouth opening and closing quickly. He’s not sure if he’s in trouble or what exactly to say.

Harvey rolls his eyes and takes the bottle from him, admonishing, “Hasn’t anyone told you it’s not polite to point?” The redhead is looking at him now and is still trying to tuck herself into Mike’s side. “Sorry…” and he tapers off, waiting for her to give him her name.

“I’m Mindy.”

Harvey smiles and he doesn’t take care to make it particularly nice. “Right, of course. Sorry, Mindy, but I have to take Mike here back to our table.”

Mindy puts an inch of space between her and Mike to look Harvey up and down. “Are you sure you can’t let him go a little early?” and extends an arm to touch Harvey’s tie, running her fingers down it suggestively. She bites her lip before adding, “Maybe you could join us?”

His forehead creases and mouth turns down before he can think to stop it. He plucks his tie from her grasp and lays it flat against his stomach. Reaching around, Harvey grabs Mike’s elbow and pulls him from behind her. “Not interested.”

Mike utters an apology when he knocks into Mindy’s arm but doesn’t spare her a second glance when he walks ahead of Harvey to the table. “Oh my god,” Mike is always so eloquent. He pulls himself together though by the time Harvey’s handing the bottle over to Elijah. “Hey, where’s Alex?”

Adriene fills him in, “You missed him being whisked away by his partner.”

“Tom was here? Man,” and at Harvey’s questioning look Mike explains, “He brought dinner around to the office a few times me and Alex were working late.”

Jessica is looking at him like she’s expecting some sort of reaction and he doesn’t really have one for her.

As an hour passes by Elijah and Adriene beg off, saying they have a busy day ahead of them and should probably go to bed. They say their goodbyes, Adriene kissing everyone on the cheek while Elijah shakes their hand. Jessica leaves soon after, settling the tab. She pulls Harvey to the side as she puts her credit card back into her wallet.

“I’ve known you for years now so don’t bother denying what I say.”

Harvey inwardly groans and prepares himself for whatever speech Jessica has planned.

She just breathes for a second, eyes flickering to something behind him before starting. “If you’re worried about firm policy, while it’s not ideal, you have my okay to pursue a relationship with Mike Ross,” She knows him well enough that she can tell he wants to butt in. “Stop,” Jessica waits for Harvey to close his mouth. “As long you file with HR immediately tomorrow morning I will allow this to happen.”

Harvey can bullshit with the best of them when he’s caught unaware but in this instance? He honestly doesn’t know what to say. “Jessica.”

Her face hardens suddenly as she says, “Keep it out of the office. If there’s any evidence of favoritism because you’re screwing him, he’ll be reassigned to the mailroom so fast your head will spin and you’ll be demoted.”

He can’t keep silent for that. “Who do you think I am? I would never—“

“I know, Harvey. But it had to be said. Listen, the last time you looked at someone like you do that kid? That was six years ago. And he’s nothing like Scotty.”

There’s no doubt about that. Harvey doesn’t want someone completely malleable to him but Scotty argued constantly and often for no reason. Not content with quiet and she always needed to be right. That was okay when they were younger, just starting out. He thought she was feisty and intelligent. And Scotty is but it came more and more clear that she just saw him as worthy adversary and someone attractive to have sex with. She wanted to get him under her thumb, if just barely. Mike, on the other hand, challenges Harvey when necessary. He’s passionate and eager to show his point but he also steps back, goes quiet and listens. He thinks about what Harvey’s saying, takes that information, that point of view and fits it in like it’s a new piece of a puzzle. Scotty usually was just waiting for her turn to talk, completely disregarding anything he had to say.

“I don’t know about this,” Harvey looks over his shoulder to Mike, making sure he hadn’t left or somehow overheard everything. “He’s ten years younger than me. He doesn’t,” it’s strangely hard to get the words out, “feel the same way.”

A man walks over to tell Jessica her car’s arrived. She thanks and dismisses him before saying one last thing to Harvey. “Talk to Mike about it. I think you’ll find you might not know everything,” and with that, she leaves.

He stands there for minute, trying to decide what to do. Hearing someone moving right behind him, he turns to see Mike.

“Planning something?” His speech is just a little off and it’s the only thing that shows Harvey he’s buzzed.

“How can you tell?”

Mike shrugs and the movement is sloppy. “You’re hands are in your pockets and you get these two small lines on your forehead when you’re problem solving,” at Harvey’s silence, he continues, “Is this a ‘where did I leave my blackberry’ or ‘I can’t remember a specific detail that could lead to solving a case’ type situation. I mean, I can help with either but I just need to know what I’m working with.”

“How exactly would you be able to help me with a case problem if you’ve been working with Christenson for the past two weeks?”

“Uh,” Mike stalls and closes his eyes, running his fingers through the back of his hair one, two, three times before deciding just to say it. “I may have read through the case files early in the mornings when no one was in yet.”

Harvey’s mouth slowly quirks up, eyes crinkling. “And why is that?”

Mike stares at him balefully.

“You’re a pretend lawyer, Mike. Use your words.”

He actually sticks his tongue out at Harvey before confessing, “It was just in case you needed some help. I know, you’re Harvey Specter and you never need help ever and twenty lashes in the town center for besmirching your good name by assuming you would but it’s fine and it only took me a few hours every day even though once I almost got caught by Louis and stop laughing you asshole.”

“Christ,” This kid sometimes. “Come on, I’ll take you to your shitty apartment.”

Sure enough Ray’s leaning against the car, waiting, when they get outside. Harvey’s suddenly worried about Mike being distracted enough to get hit by a car while trying to get in on the other side (because who fucking knows with this kid) so he slides over to the huge shock of Mike and Ray (even though Ray hides it much better).

Mike looks to Ray and says, “Did that really just happen? I’m not imagining this, right? No one roofied my drink or anything?”

Ray blinks a few times and when nothing seems to have changed he answers, “Apparently not unless they got me too.”

“Yeah, that’s just what we need. A serial date rapist.”

They must be able to tell he’s getting increasingly irritated so Mike gets in cautiously, keeping an eye on Harvey the entire time. Ray closes the door and walks around to his own. Harvey tells him they’re stopping at Mike’s before sliding the partition up. He grips the seat on his left side where Mike can’t see. It’s for a split second and then he let goes, moving into his normal position.

He lays an arm on the back of the seat and stretches a leg out.  Harvey rubs his palm on his knee because he’s actually fucking <i>nervous</i>. He’s nervous that this skinny, blonde kid who’s ten years younger than him, who sometimes drives him insane with his naivety, is going to reject him.  He’s a kid who made a few bad choices that turned his life around for the worse. He’s also someone who took control back, someone who’s intelligent and ambitious and passionate and loyal. Mike’s all these other things he can’t describe and not perfect by any means.

But Harvey wants him. He wants him more than he’s wanted anything in a long time.

“Mike, I need to talk to you about something.”

Mike picks his head up from where it was resting against the window. “Okay,” and he’s frowning a little. “Is everything okay? You sound serious.”

“It’s nothing like that,” Harvey’s quick to assure him. “Everything’s fine. This is more of a… personal nature.”

Mike relaxes a little bit but stays upright, focusing completely on him.

“I need you to understand something first, okay? I want whatever is said to be the truth. No matter what happens in this car, we will go into work tomorrow and we’re not going to treat each other any different. If it turns out you’re now uncomfortable working under me,” God, he hopes that doesn’t happen. “I can talk to Jessica and get you reassigned to Christenson or someone else. I hope this won’t change anything though,” Harvey stops pointedly for a reaction and Mike blinks.

“Yeah,” and he shakes his head like he’s trying to clear it. “Yeah of course. You’re kind of freaking me out though.”

Harvey’s mouth flattens to a thin line. “ I’m not trying to.”

“Okay,” and Mike’s voice is kind, like feels he really needs to reassure Harvey that he knows. He knows and everything is fine. At least it is for now.

Here we go.

“I’ve been made more aware of certain feelings towards you during the last few weeks,” Harvey doesn’t keep complete eye contact for more than a few moments, his eyes slip down Mike’s face to his hands where they’re twitching in small movements. He brings his eyes back up to Mike’s when he tells him, “I like you. And if you’re interested, I want to take you on a date.”

Mike’s mouth is making a small ‘O’ shape. He tips forwards suddenly, bringing a hand out to stop himself from face-planting. He’s an inch closer than before and looks at Harvey like he doesn’t believe what he’s seeing. “You want to date me. And see each other in a non-work related setting.”

“Those were both declarative sentences.”

“I know,” He offers, “I thought by saying it like that it might help me get my head around it.”

Harvey might smile at that. “And how’s that working out for you?”

“I’m getting there.”

A quick glance to his cell phone tells him it’s almost midnight. “Well I’d like to be in bed by one so if you could hurry it up a little…”

Mike instantly throws out, “It doesn’t matter how slow you go as long as you don’t stop.”

“Jesus Christ, of all the people in the world,” he stops when Mike starts laughing. It’s the kind where you don’t make any noise but your chest is heaving and it feels like it’ll never stop. It’s infectious and Harvey grins, grins even wider when Mike lifts his face up, red and teary eyed. He sniffs wetly and Harvey finds himself simultaneously endeared and disgusted.

“This has been a good night,” Mike rubs his hands over his face and wipes away a few tear tracks. “Harvey,” and the way it’s said makes his stomach drop. “Hey, no, don’t. Stop assuming you know what I’m going to say,” Mike lays against the backseat and rests his head a few inches away from Harvey’s fingers. “I haven’t let myself think about. Us. I never thought being together was a possibility.”

Harvey decides to be brave and reaches forwards those few inches, his fingers moving through unruly blonde hair. Mike doesn’t pull away or show any sign of discomfort, if anything he leans into the touch and this is it. Harvey could actually have this. “So how do you feel now? Now that it is?”

“I feel like we could be good together. And if I don’t try I know I’m going to regret it.”

Harvey’s fingers tighten around his hair in response and Mike’s eyes go to half mast. He loosens his grip and scratches the scalp in apology. “If we’re doing this, I want to do it right. Jessica’s already given her approval, so to speak. Other than filling out some quick forms for HR and acting like we normally do in the office, we should be fine. We don’t have to tell anyone else until we’re comfortable.”

“Sounds good,” and the car rolls to a stop. “I don’t really want to deal with the other associates about this.”

He watches Mike try and wake up enough to go up to his apartment. The offer to come back to his is on the tip of Harvey’s tongue but he pushes it back. It’s too soon. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Mike nods sleepily before opening the car door, one foot out when he changes his mind, surprising Harvey. Mike slips a hand around his neck, moving it upwards until it’s cradling the back of his head, holding it still while he slots his mouth against Harvey’s. Mike’s mouth is soft and dry and he when moves, it’s completely unhurried.

They pull away only when the need for air is starting to build. Mike’s mouth is red and tender looking and there’s a blush high on his cheeks. Harvey can only assume his looks the same.

“See you tomorrow.”