Harvey had never been a particularly tactile person.
He had never had a reason to be. Keeping a physical distance worked in well with his policy about not caring about people, so apart from the obligatory handshake or maybe a simple touch when the occasion called for it he was happy existing in his own bubble of personal space.
At least, until one Mike Ross came crashing into his life.
Somehow Mike managed to impress Harvey, made him want to help him out of the mediocre life he found himself trapped in. He invaded Harvey's well organised life like a tornado, turning everything upside down without Harvey's consent.
There was always something about the way they worked together. To say Mike had no concept of personal space would be an understatement, but the truly weird thing was that not only did Harvey not really care, in fact he barely even noticed. Because it felt natural, like a gravitational pull, when Mike grabbed at his arm to get his attention or he pushed Mike away with his hands to his chest because he needed to stop Mike from doing something stupid.
Over time things began to escalate, but in a completely subtle way, to the point where it became the most natural thing in the world to bump shoulders when Mike had done a good job or guide Mike into the car with a hand to his back or place a hand to the back of Mike's neck and squeeze reassuringly when he was stressed out.
Harvey wouldn't have even noticed his own peculiar behaviour, let alone thought something was wrong with it, had it not been for an anonymous internal envelope left on his desk. He pulled the paper out with a mixture of curiosity and annoyance and scanned the memo on discrimination in the workplace. Once it was read he put it straight in the bin; he might not have been the most genial person in the world, but he was fair and transparent and he thought that if that memo was sent out to everyone to disguise the fact it was only meant for one person, then that person would be Louis.
Only, later that day, Mike was in his office, sitting on the chaise he had practically claimed as his own, and when Harvey put a hand to his shoulder Mike flinched. It was subtle, an automatic reaction, and Harvey attributed it to surprise since he couldn’t see the moment coming. But when, two days later, Harvey placed a hand gently on Mike's arm Mike stepped out of his touch, out of his reach. He avoided Harvey's gaze, mumbled something unintelligible and walked away. And then, the next week, when Mike was standing at Donna's cubicle and Harvey joined him, standing close enough that the length of his arm rested against Mike's, he could feel Mike tense in response. So he left them there, went back into his office and closed the door behind him.
He watched Mike and Donna chatting amiably as he rolled it around in his mind until two things became unfailingly clear. One, for some reason, Harvey touched Mike more than he touched any other human being on this planet. Two, he had unknowingly been sexually harassing Mike for days, weeks, months.
It was the only thing that made sense, the only thing to explain how Mike flinched and fled from his touch. It made Mike feel awkward and uncomfortable, and he didn't feel comfortable enough to tell Harvey so (didn't trust him enough, because Harvey had broken the trust that, though never outright acknowledged, was so important to both of them).
He felt sick, wanted to crawl out of his skin, wanted to sue himself on Mike's behalf. But in lieu of all that, he instead sent a silent apology to his associate and vowed to never touch Mike again.
Mike felt like his life began the day he met Harvey Specter.
Yes, he had friends and family and a life beforehand, but the day he met Harvey was the day he began walking the path that was going to turn him into the man he wanted to be, one that made his Grammy's sacrifices worth it, one that made him comfortable and happy in his own skin.
There was something about Harvey that drew Mike in, against his will and better judgement. It was like there was an ungovernable force between them, one that made him want to be near Harvey, one that calmed him when they were within arms reach. It wasn't something he thought about on a conscious level, wasn't something he could rationalise or explain. It was what it was and Mike was content with that.
He didn't notice the physical presence of Harvey until it was taken away.
Something had changed and he didn't know why or how but something was different and he didn’t like it. Harvey was treating him well enough, wasn't yelling or ignoring or any of the negative emotions Mike had experienced in his year with Harvey. But there weren't any indulgent smiles, no joking comments, no teasing about his lack of fashion sense or his messed up love life. If Mike had to define it he would say that Harvey was keeping his distance, in both the literal and figurative sense.
But Harvey didn't bring it up, and Mike decided to follow his lead, even if he was falling apart. Because the truth was, sometimes Harvey was the only thing that kept him grounded, focused, when everything else was seemingly falling apart. His touch calmed him, made him forget for a minute that Grammy had taken a turn for the worse, made him stop running through the math in his head for all her medical costs, made him breathe a little easier.
Maybe Harvey had figured it out, the way he always seemed to know everything. But Trevor had cleaned up, gotten his life back on track, and he was Mike's oldest friend so he couldn't not pick up the phone when he called, he couldn’t not answer the door when he knocked on it. But Mike knew what Harvey thought about Trevor and felt guilty, not about letting Trevor back into this life but the keeping it secret part, even though he wasn't technically breaking any promises.
Perhaps Harvey had realised what Mike himself had only just figured out. He was relying too much on Harvey, needed more than Harvey could give. It saddened him, wrenched at his insides. He felt the pang of loss deep inside, but didn't know what to do or how to get it back. So he let things be, followed Harvey's lead in this as he had in everything else, and remained silent.
Harvey had been accused of many things in his life, each with varying elements of truth. But the one thing he had never been accused of was having an addictive personality.
If there was one thing Harvey believed in above all else it was control. He believed in being the master of his domain, the captain of his ship, and he carefully managed every aspect of his life, from what work he did to where he lived to who he loved.
That control slipped slightly when he let Mike into the interview room and into his life and tied their fates together. But in the time since they had met he found that though he could no more control Mike than he could control the weather, he at least trusted him enough to be almost okay with the loss of order and authority in his own life.
Harvey had never been addicted to anything before but if he had he imagined that this was what withdrawal felt like. He felt listless and skittish. There were times he couldn’t sit still, hands fidgeting or leg shaking.
He didn't have the presence of mind to work out where this had come from. Nothing in his life had changed; there had been no loss of possessions, no change in personnel at work, and the few people he had contact with in a non-professional capacity were all alive and well. His work had been going well, which was the most important thing, so whenever his hands got twitchy he did his best to ignore it, picked up a nearby pen to occupy his fingers or crossed his arms to keep them in place.
Donna almost mentioned it once, but one look from Harvey cut her off mid-sentence and she said no more about it. But she is Donna so of course she would get her message across in other ways, but Harvey ignored the looks she sent in his direction (which he could only categorize as pitying).
The second thing on the list of Harvey's core beliefs was denial as a coping mechanism. Which is why he only realised after weeks upon weeks of feeling like he was crawling out of his skin what it was he was suffering withdrawal from. He might not have realised at all had it not been for the small moment he witnessed between Mike and his pro bono client. His client was upset and Mike gently rested his hand upon hers in a touch of reassurance and comfort. Harvey stood on the other side of the glass wall, witnessing something that should not have made him think or feel anything, but all he knew in that moment was that that was it. The missing piece to the puzzle. He felt something like a punch to the gut. He wouldn’t go so far as to categorise it as jealousy, more like grief for the loss of something he didn't realise he needed.
Harvey walked back to the office in a daze. He didn't know how to process it. It was one thing to keep a respectful distance so as to not make his subordinate uncomfortable with unwanted advances, it was another thing entirely to miss the act itself, to realise that he missed the act of harassing someone he liked and respected.
He wondered what the hell was wrong with him.
Mike couldn’t sleep.
He wanted to blame it on the Red Bull he drank as though his life depended on it. And he did, for a long time. It was the only rational reason to explain why the most he could manage was two or three hours a night.
So he would go for walks or read over the work he brought home or pace the length of his apartment as he stressed about Grammy. Once or twice he reached for his cell with every intention of calling Trevor and getting him to come over so they could get high. But he stopped himself each time, breathing deep as he sat in the corner of his couch. He might be far gone, but he couldn’t betray Harvey again, not like that.
Though he doubted Harvey would even care at this point. Because his boss had turned what used to be keeping his distance to flat out ignoring him and going out of his way to avoid Mike. Anger burned inside him whenever he thought about it, and his fingers reached for the phone again, thinking about getting high just to spite Harvey.
But he couldn’t do it. He couldn't betray the new Mike he had become, the man he had grown into, but more than that, he could never do anything that would provoke Harvey into looking at him with disgust or disappointment, even if he would just be grateful for Harvey looking at him at all.
So he went into work and got through his day the best that he could. Each day blurred into the next, a never-ending circle of paperwork and meetings and his brain felt like it was going to explode. He felt like he was floating through life and he needed something warm and solid to pull him down, keep him settled and in place, and he thought about the time Harvey called Trevor an anchor and to be honest at that moment nothing sounded better than to be pulled down by someone. Only, if Mike was completely honest with himself, he didn't want that someone to be Trevor anymore. He wanted it to be Harvey.
Which was ridiculous, because Harvey had never felt further away, not even when they first met and were tentative in their new working relationship, not even when Mike would joke with Harvey about how he totally cared about him and Harvey would smirk as he denied every word.
He remembered a time when they were close, or at least as close as anyone could get to Harvey. He recalled a time when they would talk and joke and touch and everything felt natural and right. He didn’t know what happened, how they lost it, all he knew was that he wanted it back. He would do anything to go back to how it used to be. Or better yet, he would do anything to move forward, get past this and back on track.
He didn't know exactly what it would take, but he knew a good place to start. And this time, the sacrifice, though still difficult, felt worth it.
There was a banging on Harvey's door. It was past midnight, and a moment of panic rushed through him at the late night intrusion. But then logic took over and he realised that his doorman wouldn’t have let just anyone up at that time of night, which sent a whole new wave of panic through him because the only logical conclusion was that something was very wrong.
He put down his book and padded over to the door. He really should have looked through the peephole before opening the door, but he didn't, so when he saw Mike on the other side, looking wired and desperate he felt an entirely new type of panic wash over him.
Mike didn't even wait to be invited, just barged in and started rambling.
Harvey leaned back against the closed door, grateful for the distance between them as Mike had moved into the centre of the room as he talked. Harvey couldn’t keep up; there was something about his grandmother and that idiot Trevor and Mike was apologising for something and wanting something back…
Something pounded hard in Harvey's chest. It was too much, having Mike here, being this close, and he couldn’t grasp what Mike was going on about but he understood enough to realise that Mike blamed himself for what had happened between them. And before he knew it he was moving forward, wrapping his fingers around Mike's wrist, keeping him in place.
Mike looked up at the touch of his hand, felt the breath go from his body for a moment before the pressure of Harvey's fingers became the life-force he didn’t know he needed. They stood together in the middle of the room, silent, just the pressure of Harvey's fingers on his wrist and the feeling of being able to breathe freely between them.
Harvey finally let go, sat down on the couch and indicated for Mike to join him. It would be disingenuous to say the whole truth came out, but the most important parts did. Mike assured Harvey he didn't feel harassed, by any definition of the word, in fact he had come to realise that he needed that touch from him. Harvey told Mike he had no idea Trevor was back in his life, and the guilt he felt about it was completely unnecessary, though he would admit to feeling something akin to pride at Mike letting him go again, this time for good.
At one point during the discussion Mike had placed a hand gently on Harvey's knee. Harvey felt the weight of it on him, and it was such a small thing, but the physical presence of Mike, something that was taken for granted for so long before it was taken away was more calming than it had any right to be.
Much later, when they had finally exhausted their words until all that was left was the small space between them, Mike commented about heading home. But Harvey wasn't ready to let even a piece of this go, not when he had just gotten it back. He wanted more, needed to catch up on lost time. But it was late and Mike was exhausted (from the stress of everything, and Harvey hated how his apparently unnecessary need to distance himself from Mike caused that) and they could both use some rest. So Harvey stood, tilted his head and trusted that Mike would follow.
Mike would have made some crack about how massive the bed was or he would have made some awe inspired noise at the view but he was beyond exhausted, all the tension he had been carrying around had been wrung from his body, and all he had the energy and inclination to do was kick off his shoes and collapse face first onto the bed.
Harvey sat tentatively on the other side of the bed, and Mike realised Harvey wasn't sure if this was allowed. He spared a few seconds to wonder how he could even doubt it given everything that had happened thus far, but his mind couldn’t concentrate any more after that so he reached over and tugged on Harvey's arm, pulling him down to the bed. The last thing Mike saw before he closed his eyes was the indulgent smile he had been missing so much. And then he felt the gentle touch of Harvey running his fingers through his hair, and with a soft smile and a free heart Mike drifted off to sleep.