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When it comes down to it, Mike has no real fighting skills. He is at a disadvantage from the beginning, so when Trevor sends him flying into an iron beam – which sends a sharp, reverberating shock through his skull and a moment of blackness – he doesn’t stand much of a chance of recovering and coming out on top. There is blood flooding his mouth from where his teeth pierced his lip and when he tries to throw a punch, he ends up tumbling into the couch. Trevor slams a fist into his stomach with a grunt and when Mike falls down, he can’t pull himself back up.

This is the first real fight he’s been in, and he hurts a lot more than he’d anticipated. Trevors may only be half an inch taller, but he makes time to go to the gym instead of working 14 hours days. A kick to his stomach makes Mike shudder and yelp, waves of pain throbbing through his abdomen. Trevor’s never been this furious with him before.

‘You look at Jenny and not at me. You think I don’t see it? I’m the one who puts up with your crap. I’m the one who listens to you whine. You’re fucking pathetic without me. But you look at her?’

Mike can’t reply, because the strange distance in his head seems to be growing larger. A few drops of blood fall from his mouth onto the floor, then he is being jerked upwards by Trevor. His friend has a hold on the back of his shirt and suit, using it to drag Mike up onto the ultra modern, minimalistic couch. Mike always hated that couch.

‘Get off me,’ Mike spits, twisting away despite the nausea and pain pulsing though him, ‘I’ll go, just get off.’

‘You’re just going to leave?’ says Trevor in return, slamming Mike’s face into the couch, cutting off his breath, ‘you think you can just leave me? I’ve been cleaning up your messes since school.’

Still squirming, Mike is disconcerted by how hard it is to move under Trevor’s angry grip. There is a knee in the middle of his back, holding him against the couch, and the forceful hand is his hair is still making it difficult to draw a real breath against the rough material of the couch. His arms don’t seem to be working right.

‘You owe me! You owe me.’

It may be the lack of oxygen, or colliding sharply with a metal pole minutes before, but Mike doesn’t know what to say. Trevor sounds frayed, hysterical, and has probably taken something. His grip on Mike’s arms is brutal and Mike is whimpering, because the pain is awful and he just wants it to stop.

‘You left me. Fuck, Jenny doesn’t know us. Jenny doesn’t get….fuck. Mike, you don’t get to leave me. Ever.’

Mike only begins to really struggle again when Trevor reaches under him and clumsily undoes his belt. This is new and he knows it’s wrong. He knows, even if his brain isn’t using the right words, that he needs to stop Trevor. He needs to get away.

‘Trev, please, no no…stop. Stop it. Now.’

It’s not like this is completely new territory. They get high and kiss sometimes; there was the odd dry-hump in college. Now and then, when Mike is stoned beyond rational thought, Trevor will manoeuvre him into blowjob. Mike’s never really cared.

This is different. He can feel that Trevor isn’t really with it; the hands pulling down his pants are sweaty and shaking. The forearm now pressing into the back of his neck isn’t budging and God, Mike is beginning to get so scared that he’ll choke on the blood still seeping from his lip.

‘T-Trev, stt-’

‘Shut the fuck up, Mike, okay? You owe me this… I’ve looked out for you and you hit on my girlfriend…. You leave me. You never even look at me.’

Trevor’s voice is hoarse and made barely audibly under his ragged breaths. Mike still twists and tries to buck him off - even when Trevor has shoved down Mike’s briefs and Mike knows that he can’t get away. He hates that he’s giving all his strength to trying to escape, but it’s like Trevor doesn’t even notice.

‘Get off me!’

Mike knows what’s coming, but he still can’t think of the word. He’s fucking terrified, his frantic heart seems to fill is whole chest. His breathing is uneven. He still can’t believe this could be happening.

He waits for someone to interrupt. For Trevor to come to his senses, for anything. He can’t let this happen. No.

Please, God, Trev. Like isn’t you, man, fuck. I know you. Think, please. Think about what-’

He’s cut off by the raw, guttural scream that flies out of him when Trevor pushes inside him. He’s only used spit for lubrication and it has done a poor job. For a minutes Mike can’t speak. He can’t form words or thoughts or anything. It hurts. It’s wrong and God, it hurts, tearing inside him. He needs it to stop.

Eventually, his mouth unfreezes.

‘Oh no, no. Fuck, stopstopstop, please, stop-’

Trevor has his own string of words that he mutters, a tangled mess of ‘Mike, God, Mike’ and ‘you never get you leave, you’re mine, fuck’.

Penetrating a tense and dry Mike makes it hard for Trevor to get any sort of rhythm. It’s awkward, loud and the glaring lights are dancing in Mike’s watery eyes. He can see the door from the position Trevor is holding his head. Every moment is pain. He’s never felt anything like it, it is making tears leak from his eyes and his thighs are shaking uncontrollable. His arms are still numb, but every thrust seems to split something new inside him. He can’t detach himself. It just hurts too much. He stares at the door and his messenger bag lying against the wall.

Mike realises he’s close to losing consciousness when black, empty ants begin to crawl around his vision. And then he has to close his eyes, because everything is spinning and he’ll throw up otherwise. All he can really focus on is the pain and then the strangled, pathetic sob that escapes him when a sudden movement causes the pain to flare into new agony.

Then nothing. Trevor stands up and the removal of his weight leaves Mike feeling unsteady and confused. The only thing he can hear is his own pained, heavy breathing. It takes him almost twenty seconds to remember that he needs to leave and that process begins with getting up. There is an unpleasant sensation as the dried blood connecting his face to the couch material is broken and his numb arms are like dead weights when he tries to stand up. The sharp, still burning pain inside him seems to get worse when he moves. There is wetness too, a warm wetness sliding between his arse and down his shaking thighs.

Trevor has gone somewhere, but Mike barely notices. He doesn’t think about anything, except that he has to get out. He survived it. It’s over. And he needs to get out.

--

Mike’s alarm doesn’t get the opportunity to wake him up on Thursday morning. He’s been waiting for it to go off for the last ten minutes after giving up on sleep five hours before. He’d drifted into dreams and flashes of pain that resembled a fever more than sleep. Curled up on his side, Mike reaches out with one hand to turn off his alarm.

He can’t get up. He has to; Harvey is counting on him, but getting off his bed just seems impossible. If he gets up, he’ll have to think about eating something, when his busted lip feels heavy and delicate. He’ll have to go the bathroom, when the mere extending of his leg causes twinges of pain all over his body. He’ll have to look around his room, where almost everything has some memory of Trevor and by extension, the night before…

All these thoughts are accompanied by a pulsing pressure headache that is slamming into his brain and leaving his ears ringing.

Mike is a smart guy. He knows he has a pretty bad concussion. Except he can’t remember how he got it.

He can clearly follow his memories of going to see Trevor and then everything is disturbingly blank, until the shatteringly sharp memory of Trevor on top of him. Holding him down. Inside him.

Mike lets out an instinctual whimper. He hates not knowing how that happened. How could he say that he hadn’t wanted it? God, he hadn’t, but he couldn’t remember. It’s like his mind is letting him down and Mike isn’t used to the sensation.

The first phone call from Harvey, two and a half minutes after Mike was meant to meet him, goes unanswered. Mike listens to it ring out and is torn between guilt and relief when it eventually stops.

The guilt wins three minutes after that, when it rings a second time. He can’t ignore Harvey again. Mike takes half second to find some focus, determined to sound normal when he answers.

‘Hey, Harvey, what’s up?’

His voice is raw, flat. Harvey doesn’t respond for a moment and Mike curses himself.

‘Mike. You’re not here.’

The sharp disapproval makes Mike feel worse than all his current injuries.

‘No, I, um. No. I’m coming. I’ll be there soon.’

His voice is less strange now, he hopes Harvey won’t ask any more questions. Mike doesn’t know if he can keep it together that long.

‘Get here. Now.’

The line goes dead and Mike’s whole body sags. He knows that there isn’t any excuse, sans death, which Harvey will accept at this point. The board meeting they’re meant to be crashing is in 45 minutes.

Mike gets out of bed. With his apartment empty, he doesn’t bother trying to hold back the moans of pain as he pulls off his clothes from the night before and gingerly moves towards the shower. He purposely doesn’t look at his clothes, or his body, before getting under the water. He’s never been good with blood.

Under the water and the jarring bathroom light, it doesn’t look as bad as Mike feels. Sure, his stomach is bruised to hell, but no one is going to see that. He’s sprained his wrist, somehow, but that doesn’t look bad. And while he can feel the full extent of the damage Trev has done, that’s even less visible than the bruising.

However, when he turns his head towards the spray, Mike yelps as the water slaps against his swollen lip. Ouch, fuck. Did Trevor punch him? Is that what happened? Mike fights against the empty space in his memory, but it’s useless.

Getting out of the hot shower, Mike can almost walk normally. He’s sore, but he can force his movements to appear unaffected. He’s feeling a little more hopeful until he looks in the mirror…

Fuck. His face is a mess.

Not just the lip, which is ugly and uneven, but bruises painting his temple and jaw. He looks like he got into a fight and lost. Badly.

‘Shit,’ Mike whispers to himself, patting the bruises experimentally. He hadn’t even noticed until now how stiff his jaw was. Without a girlfriend or time to by make-up, there isn’t much he can do.

Resigned, Mike dresses as quickly as he can. He grabs the best suit he owns, as though that’ll detract from everything else, and uses his left hand – the one not attached to a sprained wrist – to do his hair. Another look in the mirror isn’t promising. If anything, the grotesquely expensive suit only highlights the damage to his face. It’s staring at his reflection, with twenty-eight minutes until the board meeting, that Mike first feels a ripple of panic in his chest. The bathroom light is stinging his eyes and the headache, which for a few minutes had been dimmed by adrenaline, is now back throbbing behind his eyes.

He knows that his brain still isn’t working right. Buttoning his shirt took double the time it should and not matter how hard he focuses, he can’t piece together the right route to get across town and meet Harvey. Whenever he tries to focus, all he gets is fog.

He can’t be a lawyer today. Harvey is going to want answers Mike can’t give, even if he wanted to. ‘I can’t remember’ has never been a good defence.

Despite the anxiety twisting inside him, Mike walks over to the bed to pick up his wallet and phone. He doesn’t have a choice, except to try and get through his. Hiding in bed isn’t an option any more.

His phone has recorded a missed call. Harvey must be getting impatient, thinks Mike, until the name ‘Trevor’ appears on his display.

Trevor. Trevor. The phone is still gripped in his hand as he barely makes it to the toilet and vomits, wetness on his cheeks and pain stabbing inside his head.

He lets out a long, miserable breath. Then Mike gets up, washes out his mouth and goes to meet Harvey. He doesn’t dwell on why he’s suddenly so desperate to see his boss, why somewhere, inside the fog, his brain knows he’ll be safe as long as Harvey is there.

---

Mike takes a cab across the city. It’s a combination of distrust in his own ability to find the meeting place and the knowledge that he’s too distracted to ride his bike around safely.

He spends the entire ride tapping his foot in agitation, running over answers to the questions he knows Harvey is going to ask. The man is so uncanny in his ability to read people, Mike is concerned the words ‘recently assaulted’ will be metaphorically flashing on his forehead. He can’t lie to Harvey. Except, he also can’t stand in front of Harvey Specter and explain what he let Trevor do to him. Mike is disgusted by it, by himself, and Harvey has never been anything but Mike’s toughest critic. Mike can’t explain that Trevor did that, not to Harvey.

He’s decided on risking a half-truth about a fight and the concussion when the cab driver turns to him.

‘Hey, buddy, we’re here. You alright?’

Even the cab driver can tell Mike’s not quite with it. He mumbles his thanks and passes the guy some money. He makes the mistake of pushing open the taxi door with his right hand and hisses at the unwelcome jolt of pain.

Harvey is standing on the curb waiting for him. They have seven minutes to get inside. Dominic is waiting around the corner and Mike is nervous, because he’s trying to remember the exact wording of the by-law they’re exploiting and he can’t.

Harvey runs his eyes over Mike and turns away before Mike has a chance to begin with an apology.

‘Is this a joke?’

Mike frowns, rubbing his hair distractedly, ‘Look, I’m s-’

‘I can’t take you to a meeting looking like that. I want them to be listening to how I’m going to fix their company, not staring at you and wondering what drunken frat house I found you at.’

Harvey says all this while staring down that the papers in his hand. Mike stares at Harvey, completely stunned, his eyes wide and uncomprehending. He hadn’t factored his into his theoretical confrontation with Harvey. He hadn’t thought about the fact that Harvey just wouldn’t care that he had so clearly been beaten up.

Mike tries again, because he’s been killing himself over this case and it’s going to give it up without a fight. ‘Dominic is expecting-’

‘I’m sure he’ll get recover from the shattering disappointment of your absence. Now go back the office and try to stay out of sight. You look awful.’

With that final sharp rebuke, Harvey turns and walks away. Mike stares after him and feels a physical compulsion to run after him, grab him and yell ‘can’t you fucking see that I’m not okay?’

He doesn’t give into the urge. Instead, he begins the short walk back the office, punctuating every step with a new thought about how much pain he’s in, how much Harvey is a dick and God, how could Trevor have done this to him?

By the time he steps out of the lift inside the office, Mike has lost any composure he’d gained since getting out of bed. He wants to turn around and leave again, because every stare from a co-worker feels like a test that he’s failed. He keeps reminding himself that they can’t know; there is no way they can know. Except, every time he thinks that, he revisits the memory of what they can’t know and feels a little sicker.

He shuffles through the corridors, staring at straight ahead, wincing whenever someone gets too close. The pain in his abdomen, and inside him, seems to have begun pulsing again as his heart-rate climbs. It’s beginning to become clear to Mike that Trevor has taken more from him than some dignity and a night’s sleep. Trevor. He stops walking as a wave of sharp anxiety hits him, followed by another, deeper clench on dread.

Is this what a panic attack feels like? The headache, the dizziness, the feeling that if he doesn’t get out of this building-

‘Ross? Hello? You alright?’

Mike blinks at Louis. He hadn’t noticed him standing right next to him. Mike wants to shrink away.

‘Okay, you don’t look right. Jesus, what happened to your face? Come on, let’s go and sit down.’

The honest concern Louis is showing him is enough for Mike to let himself be lead from the hallway and into Louis’s large office. At the sight of the large, empty space and the sky outside, Mike manages to let out a long breath. That leads to the strange sensation of everything falling away.

---

When Harvey gets back to the office, he is furious and isn’t bothering to hide it. Not only has Stentzen just beaten him at his own game, but Harvey had to go through it all without Mike there. He has no regrets about sending his associate away – there is no way a face that badly bruised could go unnoticed – and now he has every intention of telling Mike exactly how much trouble he is in for showing up like that in the first place. Then he’ll send the kid home for the day with an icepack.

It isn’t that Harvey doesn’t understand that sometimes you can’t avoid getting into fights. Some drunken idiot takes a dislike to you and you can’t stop him laying into you. Harvey had shown up with a black eye when he was an associate. He’d shown up with a lot worse than that at law school.

It is the timing that pisses him off. Mike shouldn’t have been anywhere a bar - or anywhere except his bed - last night, when he knew that they had this case on.

Harvey stalks past Mike’s empty desk and to his office. Donna isn’t at her desk either. He wants to yell at someone, tell them to find Mike and drag him here.

After a few minutes of stewing, Harvey is considering going down to the filing room when Jessica appears in the doorway to his office. Harvey does his best to appear composed and relaxed. In his head, he’s building up a strong defence of his actions; drawing up examples of why having Stenezen in charge of the company is a disastrous idea. He isn’t prepared for Jessica’s casual request.

‘Let me know when you have an update from Mike at the hospital.’

Harvey does an elegant job of masking his confusion and annoyance. He leans casually against his desk. Harvey doesn’t know any clients that are in the hospital, but it could have been a sudden thing. It must have been urgent for Jessica to send Mike without his permission.

‘I told Mike to stay at the office. It seems he went over my head. What client is he with?’

Jessica stares at him for long enough that it is uncomfortable. Harvey stares back, not moving even as Jessica closes the door to his office and comes to stand directly in front of him. When she speaks, her tone is icy.

‘Harvey, I know we both play the ‘Harvey Specter is a heartless bastard’ game, but I do expect you to at least try and remember you’re a human being. You’re also a senior partner at this firm. You have a responsibility for the people I place in your care. You have a responsibility for their physical and mental health. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you fail at something so utterly.’

Harvey can’t respond as Jessica lays down her words with cold, paced anger.

‘Mike Ross is at the hospital because he collapsed within five minutes of coming in today. I was there when they took him to the ambulance. I saw a beaten up, scared kid and you must have seen it, too, when you told him to come to the office. I think you’ve been playing the heartless bastard game a bit too long.’

She turns and walks away, the tight emotion in her frame appearing barely controlled. When the door closes behind her, Harvey raises a hand to his face and closes his eyes. Oh.

--

Harvey manages to clear three hours from his afternoon and goes straight to the hospital. For the entire journey, he is analysing every second of his meeting with Mike that afternoon. He must grudging admit that, yes, his associate did look quite close to collapsing. Harvey only saw him for thirty seconds, though, and he had a job to do. The job always comes first.

Harvey frowns. He isn't enjoying the self-doubt that Jessica's words have left him with. Self-doubt was something he eradicated from himself a long time ago.

When he reaches the unfamiliar hospital, he has to take a moment to plan his attack. As much as Harvey would never admit to being one of those people who hates hospitals, he can admit that such people have a point. Everyone around you is sick or worried; the staff are overworked and despairingly jaded and, despite being sterile, the whole place manages to look dirty. Nobody wants to be here. Harvey can feel the general air of misery seeping into him.

He shrugs it off and walks up the admissions nurse.

'Hello. I'm here to see Mike Ross. Could you direct me?'

She doesn't seem impressed by his suit and his most charming smile. She barely glances up from the screen in front of her and Harvey wonders if she's actively ignoring him until finally she speaks.

'Ross...he's in ER hasn't been admitted yet. Brought in unconscious, with...oh.'

Now she looks at Harvey and the spark of caring that drove her into this profession is suddenly evident in her gentle tone.

'You should go straight through to the ER. Doctor Keatch will want to speak with you. Are you family?'

'I'm as close as he's got,' replies Harvey smoothly, not letting his unease at her raw concern show, 'which way is it?'

He walks into the winding corridors, glaringly out of place as harried-looking doctors and pale patients wander past him. He follows the signs to the Emergency Department and approaches the first person he sees who looks like a doctor.

'I'm looking for Mike Ross.'

He is distractedly directed to the third cubicle along. Nondescript curtains shield the interior from view and Harvey is just deciding how best to attempt a knock against the fabric when a short, round woman gestures at him. Harvey walks over to her.

'You're here for Mike?'

'Yes. Harvey Specter. Are you Doctor Keatch?'

'Yes. Are you his...brother?'

Harvey takes in the way she's staring at him. She is young and tired, obviously worried about Mike. Harvey is confident she doesn't venture much into the corporate word, or met men like him. He takes a calculated risk.

'No, I'm his lawyer. Harvey Specter. Mike doesn't have any family expect an infirm grandmother. You can tell me anything relevant. I'll be looking after him.'

She shouldn't tell him anything. It's against almost every medical guideline. But she will, because Harvey is giving her his best 'trust me, I'm a lawyer' smile and - doctor or not - she's a young woman and he's Harvey Specter. It's not fair, really.

'Okay. Okay, yes. Mike came in unconscious, but woke up about half an hour ago. He has a concussion that is presenting with memory loss and some other delayed symptoms, but I'm pretty confident he'll be okay now that he's resting and we've got him on fluids. As for his other injuries, he'll be sore for a few days, but they're not serious. I put a few stitches in his lip, just to be safe. He'll need painkillers for the bruising on his abdomen and he's lucky, the impact was close to his liver. The damage could have been worse.'

Harvey listens to everything the doctor says without reaction. He doesn't show that every new injury listed is an additional failure in his observations skills. Clearly Mike took a bad beating. Harvey should probably report this doctor to an ethics broad or something.

'And Harvey, as for the sexual assault, I'm afraid the rape kit came back positive. We wouldn't have even thought of it, except that the nurses noticed some bruises on his hips that are very common in rape victims. Mike confirmed it when I asked to perform an internal examination.'

The doctor sounds distressed. Harvey knows he's staring at her blankly. His heart is beginning to beat faster and faster. She's still talking.

'Physically, he'll be okay. Some pain killers and a couple of stitches. I don't have to tell you, I'm sure, that this is a very serious psychological trauma. He's going to need a strong support network to help him recover. Also, I've left the pamphlet for an HIV clinic with Mike's admission form. We're going to keep him here for a few more hours, to monitor the concussion.'

She's continues talking and Harvey is still motionless. He barely blinks when a nurse pulls her away. Harvey stands by the wall in the badly lit ER, his brain tripping over the same sentence over and over.

Mike was sexually assaulted.

No, it doesn't sound right. His brain stumbles and tries again.

Someone assaulted Mike. Some man hurt Mike. A man raped Mike.

Harvey can't quite digest it. It's still jarring, wrong.

A man raped Mike and I didn't stop them.

That generates a response and Harvey smacks the wall fiercely with an open palm. His chest has a strange tightness coiling through it and Harvey grits his teeth.

He doesn't know exactly what to do. Except, that's never stopped him plunging in, so he straightens his back and heads towards Mike's cubicle. He's the best damn closer in the city and there is nothing he can't fix. Even this.

--

Harvey steps into Mike's cubicle with confidence drawn from determination. He stands by the entrance, carefully running his eyes over the figure on the bed. Mike is wearing his suit pants and shirt; his coat and tie are sitting folded on a seat next to him and a baby blue blanket is tangled at his feet. He appears exhausted and when he looks over at Harvey blearily in surprise, the usual sharp wit is absent from his eyes.

They stare at each other for a few seconds and then Mike lets gaze slide away to settle on the cubicle wall.

Harvey stands, taking in the situation and the uncomfortable position of him looming over Mike in the bed. He pulls over a seat and sits down. He studies Mike's face unwaveringly, not allowing himself another mistake like the one this morning.

'I talked to the doctor. She explained what happened. All of it.'

A visible shudder runs through Mike and he turns his body away a little more. Harvey was expecting that. Mike continues to stare at the wall.

'We're going to get the guy, Mike. I'll get one of the firm’s criminal lawyers onto it. They're the best. Well, not as good as me, but they'll have to do.'

From the next cubicle is the sound of someone pulling back the curtains and greeting the occupant. Harvey barely pauses.

'I just need to know who we're sending them after. You don't have to say it. Statistically speaking, it's someone you know. Family, except that doesn't apply to you, so a friend. Probably a junkie, although I shouldn't stereotype.' Harvey pauses, then, studying Mike’s reactions. 'We'll get Trevor for this.'

He waits expectantly for Mike to make a comment about him being a show off. Mike stays silent, so Harvey continues.

'If you worried about him busting you on not being a lawyer, I'm sure we can hold the drug dealing over him and make him keep quiet. He'll go down. I'll make sure of it.'

It's beginning to disconcert Harvey, the way Mike is lying there, not responding. He just blinks at the wall. Harvey is trying to help him and Mike is giving him nothing.

'Hopefully they will have managed to get some DNA samples. Do you still have the clothes you were wearing yesterday? Are they in your apartment? They will be important. Do you rem-'

'Fuck off,' breathes Mike, eyes suddenly snapping to Harvey's face. They are glistening brightly. 'Get out. Now.'

'Mike,' says Harvey, frowning. He tries to control himself, but he can't help his words sounding a little condescending. 'Calm down, Mike. We're going to work this out.'

'No, we're not,' Mike says, turning and sitting up as much as the IV in his arm will allow. 'Did it ever occur to you, Harvey,' - Mike throws his name at him like an insult, a broken promise - 'that you can't make this better. You can't just turn up and fix me.'

Mike glares at Harvey, eyes set and jaw tight. His bruises seem jarringly obvious in this light. He's suddenly seems so full of hurt and fury that Harvey is thrown off balance.

Eventually, Mike drops his gaze again and his voice dips into tiredness.

'Seriously, man, just get the hell out.'

Harvey goes. He gets up and walks out of the cubicle, pacing his steps so it doesn't look like he's running away.

--

Back in the office, Harvey stares out his window. He only came back to the building because he doesn’t know anywhere else to go during working hours and isn’t in the mood for an adventure. He has no idea if his apartment even exists at 2pm on a Thursday.

Harvey keeps staring out the window, but he has long since stopped taking in the details of the skyline. He’s trying to mentally catalogue every mistake he’s made today. He’s trying to understand the situation that seems to have blown out completely beyond his control. He’s trying to understand Mike Ross and how he can do this right.

Harvey has realised that Mike doesn’t need a lawyer. Hell, he’s a damn good lawyer himself. Mike doesn’t want Harvey Specter, with all his connections and reputation, to turn up and straighten out the problem. He doesn’t need Harvey to do the thinking for him.

Mike needs a support network. The problem, though, is that Harvey just isn’t sure he can give Mike that. He honestly doesn't remember how to be that for someone.

Mike was attacked by his best friend. Overpowered. Hit on the head and held down... and raped by his best friend.

The thought still doesn't flow easily through his mind. It makes Harvey lips twitch as he suppresses a grimace and he has to make himself think about it. He won't hide from this.

Harvey can still feel the weight of Mike’s disappointment in him. It’s like a sunken pressure in his chest and he can’t bear to have that guilt inside him for another hour, let alone a longer stretch of time. It is a failure Harvey refuses to be resigned to.

As he rests his head against the glass and stares at the sky, Harvey reminds himself that he was once a boy who would let his little brother sleep in his bed, because he was afraid of the dark. He always trusted Harvey to help him. Harvey reminds himself what that felt like.

‘Donna, get me Mike’s address.’

Donna once again proves her immeasurable worth by giving him the piece of paper and saying nothing. The weight in Harvey’s chest shifts, filling him with intent. He needs to see Mike.

For the whole journey across town he sits silent and tight-lipped. Even though he is going to do this - be there for Mike, do this right - Harvey is anxious. There is a real difference between smiling playfully when Mike shows up for work and sitting down with the man, looking at him in the eye and saying, ‘so, please, tell me about the worst day of your life’. Except, thinks Harvey, it probably isn’t the worst day of Mike’s life. No doubt he has had a few to choose from.

By the time he’s knocking on the door to Mike’s apartment, he’s tense and agitated, but still determined. The usually bottomless reserves of composure he draws from seem unavailable.

Mike opens the door with mild hesitation, looking ruffled in a pair of boxers and a red t-shirt. When he sees Harvey standing there, there is a moment of sickening hope evident on his face. Harvey guesses that, even after all his spectacular failures today, a naïve part of Mike still instinctively hopes Harvey can turn up and save the day.

Harvey wishes he could, but the look quickly disappears from Mike’s face. He is once again desolate; now appearing more resigned than he did in the hospital. He looks at Harvey with a questioning expression.

‘Hi,’ says Harvey in a quiet tone, making it clear he hasn’t come to continue their earlier confrontation. 'Can I come in?'

Seemingly too exhausted to decide whether it is sensible to let Harvey inside or not, Mike merely sighs and turns, walking back into his apartment. The open door leaves the choice in Harvey’s hands; he doesn’t hesitate to step in and close it behind him.

The place is messy, but not unpleasant. Harvey follows Mike across the studio and watches as he lies back down on the bed. He resting on his side, slightly curled, facing the window. He doesn’t look at Harvey, as though hoping the Harvey will simply leave if he stays silent for long enough.

Instead, Harvey stares at him and thinks about his little brother being afraid of the dark. Then he takes off his suit coat, kicks off his shoes and goes to join Mike on the bed.

He moves over the mattress until he’s sitting with his back against the headboard, legs stretched out adjacent to Mike’s back. There is half a metre of sheet between them, but it’s close enough that Harvey can look down on the profile of Mike’s face. The bruises are hidden against the mattress and Mike is frowning.

‘You’re going to be taking a week off,’ says Harvey flatly, ‘I’m not going you a choice. Use the time to read War and Peace or something.’

He lets the sentence hang between them. Then Mike speaks, his voice quiet and indignant.

‘Are you kidding? I read that years ago.’

Harvey chuckles. ‘Of course you did, wonder boy. Get stuck into some Rushdie then.’

Glancing up from the edge of Mike’s face, Harvey quickly takes in the view from Mike’s window. It could be worse. There's a tree. He looks back down and continues in a gentle, but firm tone.

‘When you come back to work, I’m going to give you the name of a counsellor. And I’m going to ask you, once a week, if you’ve gone to see him. You’re going to say yes. I’ll never ask you anything else about it.’

From the little he can see, Mike’s expression is shifting from vacant into sceptical. Harvey likes the change.

‘I’m not going to keep reminding about this. But if it all gets too much, or if something triggers you, or anything like that, I’m your guy. I’m the guy you tell.’

Mike sighs quietly, closing his eyes.

‘Still trying to fix me, Harvey?’ he asks, exasperation not masking his bitterness.

‘No,’ counters Harvey, ‘no, I can’t fix you. Because you’re not broken. It’ll take more than this to break you.’

The statement makes Mike open his eyes suddenly, although he is still turned towards the window. Harvey continues to study his profile, trying to pick out anything he’s failed to say.

‘You’re just a little bruised, that’s all.’

That’s the end of the words Harvey has planned. He waits for Mike to speak, ready to listen. Ready to get yelled at, although at this point it seems unlikely. If Mike needs to tell him about what is feels like to have your best friend shatter every trusting instinct inside you, Harvey will listen. If Mike has to shed some tears and explain about the fear ashamed to admit to, Harvey will hear him out. Harvey will have no idea what to say and he’s dreading it already, but he will sit on this bed and let Mike talk.

‘I’ve been thinking about my parents a bit today,’ begins Mike eventually. His voice is soft and conversational. ‘You know, only a bit, because they’ve been dead for ages now. But I was thinking about them, because I guess when things like this happen, you’re meant to run back to your parents. I think that’s what most people would do. Go home and let them help you. I was imagining what that would be like. In my head, my Mum just looks at me and she knows. She knows everything and I don’t have to explain it. There’s no long, hard conversation. I don’t have to hide it. She just knows and hugs me and tells me everything will be okay and I believe her.’

Harvey swallows and has to look away from Mike’s face, because he is doing that thing where his eyes are too bright and stop looking like any single colour.

Mike’s next sentence sounds different, forced; as though he knows it’s a stupid thing to say, but is unable to keep the words inside.

‘I think I was hoping you’d be like that this morning.’

Harvey feels more uncomfortable than he can ever remember being. The distance between himself and Mike seems suddenly filled with too many thick emotions that he can’t digest.

Almost unthinkingly, he reaches out rests a hand on Mike side, his palm covering the warm t-shirt over the smaller man's ribs. The fact that Mike doesn’t flinch or move away demonstrates a type of trust that Harvey is unable to adequately describe.

Under his hand, he can feel the slight shudders passing through Mike’s body. Harvey suspects that, even in their current position, Mike is desperate to impress him, if only by not letting himself cry.

They sit silently for a while, Harvey watching Mike take slow, deliberate breaths. The light is shining through a few unturned tufts of Mike’s hair.

‘Did I mention I’m going to kick Trevor’s Goddamn ass? Maybe hit him with my car.’

Mike lets out a half chuckle. Harvey smirks.

'Actually, no, I like that car.'

They silence settles again for a few seconds, but Mike’s mouth is upturned in a smile.

‘It’s really not funny. I should sic Louis on him. Do you think your dirt bag ex-best friend would like to be Louis’s pony?’

Again, Mike laughs a little, turning his face into mattress

‘We shouldn’t dismiss Louis, Mike. I’ve heard it said that he is fantastic in the bedroom. No, wait, it was his fake wife who told me that. Probably not a reliable witness.’

Harvey keeps talking obnoxiously in a low voice, smiling even as Mike’s responses flag and he closes his eyes again.

He watches the sharp curve of Mike’s face in the afternoon light and finally feels the twisted tightness in his chest dissolve. Silently, he allows the thumb of the hand he still has resting on Mike to stroke the worn t-shirt material. Just once, brushing over the fabric, so he can feel the warm, breathing body underneath.

‘You can go to sleep,’ says Harvey smoothly, calmly, ‘I’ll be here when you wake up.’

Mike doesn’t reply. As ever, he didn’t wait for permission. Harvey smiles ruefully and rests his head back against the wall, eyes closed. That’s okay. He’s not going anywhere.