Mike manages to hide it for about three months – that she’s afraid of cars.
Not the jump scare, goosebumps sort of afraid, since her life isn’t fucking Christine, but a realer, more visceral fear. She feels cold whenever she has to get in a car. Her stomach sinks. She has the sense that she’s going to puke even though she’s not nauseous, a clammy panicked something clawing its way up her throat. It’s been this way since she was eleven, so she’s pretty good at covering it up – everyone’s got to get in a car at some point, too drunk to bike or taking a friend to the hospital, whatever – but then a taxi hits Ray while she’s with Harvey in the back seat, and for a split second, white-knuckled on the door and Harvey’s arm, eyes wide and all the blood draining out of her face, Harvey glances over at her, then double-takes, frowning, and she meets her boss’ eyes dead-on and she knows he knows.
Luckily, there’s enough going on that demands more immediate attention, so Harvey doesn’t have the time to interrogate her right then and there. It’s a near thing – she can see him hesitating for a second, like he’s wondering if he has time to get to the bottom of this before he orders her to get in a cab and go babysit their client, and Mike almost has a nervous breakdown trying to force herself to climb through the cab’s back door once she’s flagged it down – but she makes it out okay. She cranks the window as far down as it will go, snaps at the cabbie that his seats smell like moldy hotdog when he gives her shit, and breathes fresh air until she stops feeling like something big and important inside of her is trying to slither out of her control.
The problem is, of course, that when Mike was eleven her family was driving through the Meyerbrook tunnel upstate when it collapsed and trapped her in a half-crushed car with her parents’ bodies for six days. But Harvey doesn’t know that, and he’s never fucking going to.
“What the hell was that?” Harvey demands, when they’re back at the office.
“It wasn’t my fault!” Mike protests, thinking he means the client. Actually – knowing that he doesn’t mean the client, but choosing to act like she thinks he does anyways. “All I did was talk to her about my grandmother, I didn’t know she’d take that and turn it into I need to step back and take more time with my grandkids even though I’m barely old enough to join AARP – ”
Fix it, Harvey should snap at her – or, alternatively, You’ve done enough already – but instead he stands up, shucks his suit jacket, undoes his cuff link, and folds his sleeve back far enough that she can see the livid marks her fingers left on his forearm.
“Not that, Mike,” Harvey says. “This.”
Mike stands tensely on the other side of his desk and feels a few things at once. Feverish nausea, that this thing she’s spent so long keeping hidden from absolutely everyone on the planet is suddenly in the crosshairs of Harvey’s very cutting, very effective scrutiny. A hankering for weed so strong it’s almost a physical sensation, like an itch right under her sternum, pulling her shoulders tight. The sudden urge to turn around and just fucking run. The conflicting urge, equally potent, to tell him absolutely everything, because, like he tells their clients, he’s the one you tell.
For a long minute, she can’t tear her eyes away from Harvey’s arm. At the evidence of her, left over on Harvey’s body. She knows it’s not like that, obviously, but still – it makes something hot and possessive roar to life in her stomach, along with the fear and the dread and the strange, desperate hope.
“Sorry,” she says abruptly, when she realizes she’s been quiet for too long – that Harvey’s expression is starting to shift from irritated to worried. “Sorry, I just…”
She should come up with a joke, she knows. A good, classic joke, something that would fit in what she’s heard the other associates call “The Mike-and-Harvey Show.” Travis Bickle something-something.
Before she can figure out what it should be, Harvey says, soft like he gets when he’s confused, “It’s like you’ve never been in a fender-bender before.”
Mike opens her mouth, and can’t think of a lie.
She sees the moment that it hits him – that he suddenly recalls that morsel of information from what he knows of her pre-Pearson-Hardman history. My parents died when I was eleven, she’d told him, back in that first meet-cute-cum-interview, when she was explaining about Grammy and the 25k and why she’d been sprinting through the halls of an upscale hotel with her shoes in one hand and a briefcase full of weed in the other. Car crash.
“Shit,” Harvey says, emphatic. “That’s – shit. Forget I asked.”
It’s weird to hear him rattled, but Mike’s so grateful for the out that she could cry, so she just nods and flees the room while he’s rolling down his sleeve, and when he comes down to the bullpen later that afternoon to find her and smolder angrily about her unauthorized outing to talk to their client a second time, neither of them mentions anything about it. Mike stares at his arm, hidden under two layers of six thousand dollar suit while he walks away, and absolutely does not think about whether he’d ever let her mark up the rest of him.
Mike understands that, while she was trapped down under the mound of rocks and dirt that had once been Meyerbrook tunnel, some hot young upstart from a podunk DA’s office argued the press into submission with threats of Reckless Endangerment and Obstruction of Justice and Punches to the Face and other such charges and got them to put a moratorium on publishing any of the trapped victims’ names. Which is why she, along with the twelve other people they pulled from the rubble nearly a week after the collapse, has remained anonymous for the last eighteen years. There were no flashbulbs going off as the rescue workers pulled her from the recovery cage, no media clamoring at the hospital, just quiet offers of reparations from the construction agency that all the families were too shell-shocked to do anything but accept even though the remuneration was way too low, and her Gram sitting red-eyed by her ICU bed, her grip strong on Mike’s hand.
The headlines read 13 MOTORISTS RESCUED FROM COLLAPSED MEYERBROOK TUNNEL, and the copy below mentioned also that twenty-nine had died but said it in a way that made it seem like that wasn’t so bad a number, all things considered. A year or so later one of the bereaved widows sued the state agency that had handled the rescue and a couple years after that there was a class action against the construction company that Mike as a freshman in high school declined to join, but neither suit got off the ground and in the end the whole thing went away quietly. Mike made sure it went away quietly in her soul, too. She stopped sleeping and started sneaking over to Trevor’s mom’s apartment to smoke and watch old Audrey Hepburn movies and fool around, because sometimes he let her stay over and she had less nightmares when she could hear him snoring or feel him breathing next to her in bed. He didn’t know what had happened, other than that her parents had died and that it had been a car crash, because she never told him. She didn’t have the words. Even if she had, she wouldn’t have used them, because things didn’t go away quietly when you said them out loud, and because there were just some things you couldn’t tell other people – like that she knew what a dead body smelled like, and how she knew it.
The weed helped with that, too.
Her mom had been studying to be a lawyer. There were a bunch of legal books piled up in the back seat – it was her mom’s car, technically, though her dad had been driving, and her mom had always been a little bit of a slob, which was lucky because it meant the car was littered with granola bars and half-empty water bottles. Mike took the food and the textbooks and a flashlight she found in the glove box and climbed through the insert in the back seat to curl up in the trunk. She’d had a good memory, before that, her dad taught math at a high school and he used to quiz her by shouting things like Name four Gaussian primes! down the hall from his office when she wanted more time in front of the TV and her mom was arguing that she shouldn’t get it because it was like candy for the brain – but after six days she could glance at a page for thirty seconds and remember everything on it. If she ever let herself think about it, which she doesn’t, she might think it was some sort of survival mechanism, some effect of the trauma, but really she’d need to talk to a professional to get a more solid diagnosis, and Mike is not going to fucking therapy. She likes her brain how it is.
New York is one of the best cities on earth for people who hate cars. The subway system is extensive if not always totally functional, she can bike everywhere the trains don’t go, and no one bats an eye at a pedestrian sprinting in a tight pantsuit with her heels in her hands because she’s running late for work. Mike had it good – she had it so, so good for such a long time, and then she had to go and sell her soul to a car nut. Commit fraud with a car nut. Fall in love with a car nut. However you want to put it.
Either way – Harvey pulls up in front of Pearson Hardman’s building in a two-seater Corvette glistening hot rod red, and Mike feels the purr of the engine vibrating her heart in her chest. Her heart, which is suddenly beating way too fast, and not just because of how Harvey Specter looks in a tux.
“Really, Harvey?” she says as she yanks open the door, trying to cover up how much she suddenly does not want to get in the car. “I know most guys need flashy cars as phallic substitutes, but René’s assistant has told me you don’t need help in that department.”
“Insulting me by complimenting the size of my dick.” Harvey sounds impressed. “I have to say, that’s a new one. What’s next – my Old Hollywood good looks? My rapier wit?”
“Oh my God,” Mike says, feigning awe, “so you admit it. You are trying to look like Humphrey Bogart.”
“Trying,” Harvey huffs, putting the car in drive. “Please. I’m succeeding.”
He pulls out into traffic without signalling, and Mike lets herself sink back into the plush leather seat, closing her eyes. They’re on their way to some fundraiser; normally associates don’t have to go to these sorts of things – or don’t get invited, as Donna likes to put it – but tonight Harvey’s got plans to schmooze and salvage his relationship with a client he’s barely had any contact with since he foisted her case off on Mike, and he wants her there as back up. They review while he drives, and Mike keeps her eyes closed while she answers his questions, trying to focus on the smooth-whiskey cadence of his voice and the clean manly smell of his cologne and not the fact that at any second the road could collapse out from underneath them and send them plunging into one of New York’s many abandoned subway tunnels. Harvey’s got a CD in, blues, the same sort of stuff Ray normally plays for him. Ray’s car is still in the shop, which Mike assumes is why Harvey’s driving, and she wonders vaguely if she’d feel any better with Ray behind the wheel, since he’s a professional, or if there are really just no good choices. She trusts Harvey more than anyone else on earth, and still here she is, barely holding herself together enough to tell him that their client, Sharon Wiest, is refusing to accept a very good offer to sell her company even though she’s on the verge of having to declare bankruptcy, that the board is trying to oust her because of it, that Mike’s been trying all week to convince her it’s in her interest financially to just take the buyout – “hey,” she realizes Harvey’s saying. “Mike, slow down, we’re here.”
“Shit.” Mike blinks, sitting up fast. “My bad. Game face on, sorry.” She scrubs her hands over her face, forgetting for a second that Rachel spent fifteen minutes back at the office making Mike sit on a sink in the ladies’ room while she did her makeup, then has to run a thumb under each eye to make sure her mascara isn’t smudged.
Harvey tilts her a chiding look, then reaches over and fixes her himself. His hand is big enough that he can sort of take command of her whole head, and his palm is very warm. Mike could swear his eyes are locked on her mouth.
“You okay, rookie?” Harvey asks.
“Yeah,” Mike says. It’s true enough now. “Yeah, just tired. Spaced out for a second. I’m fine.”
Harvey’s thumb presses the corner of her mouth. “Good,” he says.
The valet opens the door.
Harvey climbs out. Mike stays in the car for another second, panicking about the fact that she almost just gave into the urge to suck his thumb, then tells herself forcefully to get it together and climbs out of the car after him. He didn’t wait. She has to jog to catch him.
“No more spacing out,” Harvey tells her in the elevator, on the long ride to the roof. “I need you functioning at a hundred percent. If we don’t convince Sharon to sell before the board meets on Monday, she’ll get fired, her company will go under, and we’ll lose six million a year in billable hours.”
“Yeah.” Mike tugs her skirt back into place from the jogging, feeling defensive. “Got it.”
Mike is attracted to Harvey, obviously. She hasn’t met a lot of women who know Harvey and aren’t attracted to him, the only exceptions she’s aware of being Jessica and Grammy – who, after demanding pictures of Mike’s new boss, had declared he looked like a bit of an ass. Mike had been too busy laughing to defend Harvey’s honor – Grammy wasn’t all wrong, after all. He did look a little full of himself, but he was the sort of handsome that only came from a combination of good genes and impeccable grooming, so privately Mike thought he’d earned the right. At least in that department.
If it were just sheer animal attraction, Mike could handle it. She’s twenty-nine, she’s been attracted to people before and not gone crazy over it. No, the problem – the reason she very nearly turned her head and took Harvey’s finger into her mouth to show him how good she could really be – is that for most of Mike’s life her brain hasn’t really had anyone to talk to. Trevor’s her best friend, yeah, but for him her mind has always been a sideshow, something they can use at bars to pick up girls for threesomes, and Grammy’s the best family anyone could ever ask for, and she’s proud of Mike now in a way that almost hurts, but she doesn’t understand her. Emotionally, yes, her heart, yes, but not her head. Mike’s been all alone in there for so long that talking to Harvey, that first day in the Harvard interviews – it was like a revelation. He’s a goddamn revelation.
And on top of all that, he looks like James fucking Bond.
Mike hangs around with Sharon Wiest long enough to make the hand off to Harvey, then gets to work running interference on Louis until he spots a woman at the bar he thinks is making eyes at him (she’s not) and scurries off to capitalize (he won’t), at which point she juggles three champagne glasses from the tray of a passing waiter and decamps to an unoccupied corner.
“So,” a male voice says behind her – only seconds after her escape, she’s got to find out what they’re feeding predatory fuckboys these days to make them so fast – “how much is Harvey paying for you?”
Mike straightens with three champagne glasses in one hand, turning to look at Mr. Tall, Blond and Douchey. She doesn’t recognize him, so he’s probably not a client, which means she can be blonde and douchey right back. “Wow,” she says, flat. “I’ve never been mistaken for a prostitute before. Somehow it doesn’t feel as flattering as I thought it would.”
The guy raises his eyebrows in disbelief and gives her a once over.
Mike fights the urge to cross her arms over her chest. She didn’t go to many swanky cocktail parties before Harvey hired her, so aside from the suits René tailored for her, her wardrobe is slim pickings – the only dress she had that Jenny thought would be even remotely appropriate for this event doesn’t leave much to the imagination. It’s black and knee-length, but it’s tight. The neckline plunges. And she guesses it’s a little trashier than she thought, or else Tall, Blond and Douchey wouldn’t be confusing her with Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.
“Come on,” he wheedles, in a You can tell me, I’m cool kind of way. “Whatever he’s paying, I’ll double it. I owe him for screwing me on a real estate deal a while back.”
Mike casts a forlorn glance across the rooftop party, to where Harvey is still schmoozing with Sharon Wiest, his back half-turned to her. She’s not getting a rescue from this one, so she sighs and chugs one flute of champagne and puts the other two in Tall, Blond and Douchey’s hands so he doesn’t have one to grab her with while she walks away.
“I am not Harvey’s prostitute,” she reiterates. “I’m his associate. Asshole.”
Harvey seems to have Sharon firmly in hand, charming it up with the smile and the whole Trust me, it’s my job to take care of you thing that he only uses on women, so Mike figures it’s safe to take her leave. Her phone vibrates while she’s in the elevator, and when she gets it out of her clutch, she sees it’s Trevor. Her heart doesn’t sink, but it does do a complicated little backflip. Trevor is the last person she wants to have calling her at – she checks the time – eleven at night, but for the longest time he was the first person she went to with everything at every hour of the day, and that instinct, bone deep, to trust him implicitly and always come when he calls, is at war with her logical mind, which tells her not to answer.
She answers. “What do you want, Trevor?”
“Harsh,” Trevor says. “You gotta stop assuming that every time I call you it’s something bad, Mikey.”
“Trevor,” Mike says, stepping out into the deserted lobby. “I am so not in the mood. Whatever it is, just tell me.” I’m the guy you tell, she thinks privately.
“Fine,” Trevor says. “Fine, I need your help. I need you to bail me out.”
Mike snorts. “Remind me again what I need to stop assuming? That every time you call me it’s – what was it, again? Something bad?”
“Mike,” Trevor whines.
“Yeah, yeah,” Mike says, fond in spite of herself. “Where are you? Which precinct?”
She chooses to believe that Trevor didn’t know he was sending her to try and sell drugs to undercover police that day, but to be honest she’s not sure. He never would’ve done something like that when they were in college, or even after they got kicked out, for those first few years when it was just the two of them in a two-bedroom loft in a shitty walk-up in Bed-Stuy. But then he met Jenny, and they went from getting high and fucking almost every night to Trevor presenting her adamantly as My roommate, just a friend, and a few months later Trevor started acting as a go-between for the dealer down the street because his face tats scared the yuppie students at NYU and Columbia, and it just kept getting bigger and bigger and Trevor just kept getting farther and farther away, until they lived on opposite sides of Brooklyn and saw each other once a week, if that, and Mike was making barely enough money as a bike messenger to keep herself and Gram afloat, and then Trevor – who she went to for help, because she’d gone to Trevor for help with everything for as long as she could remember – told her he’d get her the 25k she needed to move Grammy into full-time care if she delivered a briefcase of weed to some buyers at a hotel. The Trevor she knew, who’d sat up all night with her doing the voices for Psycho with the TV muted just because she couldn’t sleep, who’d let her beat the shit out of him when he got them both kicked out of Columbia and held her and said I’m sorry, I’m sorry over and over while she did – that Trevor wouldn’t ever have sent her knowingly to get arrested. But Mike’s smart, and she trusts Harvey the way people trust their own hands, so she knows that the Trevor she knew died a long time ago.
Still, she’s invested too much time in this idiot to leave him to rot in prison.
“Thank you,” Trevor says emphatically, the minute they’re outside the precinct, Mike shivering in the cool September air. “I mean it, Mikey, you saved my life. I’m gonna pay you back, I swear.”
“You can start by giving me your jacket,” Mike grouches, as a gust of wind hits her.
Trevor snorts, but he hands it over. Mike tugs it closed around her neck like a cloak. It’s warm from his body, which is sort of nice, but it smells all wrong, because it smells like Trevor instead of Harvey.
“We should get a drink,” Trevor says, as they start for the closest subway stop. He doesn’t know the whole of it, or even the half of it, but he knows Mike doesn’t like cars. “I’m buying. I’ve got forty bucks in my wallet – maybe not enough for bail, but definitely enough for a few rounds of drinks.”
“I don’t think so,” Mike says. “I’ve got work early.”
“Come on.” Trevor jostles her with his shoulder, a move so familiar it hurts. “I’m a changed man, Mikey, I swear. I’ve been scared straight.”
“You were in prison for like forty-five minutes.”
“Scared straight,” Trevor swears, crossing his heart. “One drink, man, come on. I’ll even fuck you after.”
The wording would suck if she were an old girlfriend, but she’s not. She’s just Mike, and this is how it always used to go. Comfortably high, fingers and toes buzzing, brain mercifully quiet, Trevor rolling his head limply on the back of the couch to look at her, saying, I’ll fuck you if you want, like it was such a goddamn hardship.
Sure, Mike usually said back then, but now she stops on the deserted street corner and sighs. “Trevor – ”
“Don’t say no,” Trevor implores, trying to do puppy dog eyes even though he’s always been shit at it. “I was in there for a long time, Mikey, those other guys in the holding cell were starting to look real good. It’s been so long since I’ve known the touch of a woman – ”
“Forty-five minutes,” Mike shoots back, but she’s smiling. She can’t help it.
It’s a good thing her phone rings, because she’s seriously starting to think about taking Trevor home and comforting him with her body, which is – not a good idea, for reasons she’s having trouble recalling.
“Hey Harvey,” she answers.
“Where are you?” Harvey demands.
Trevor’s making hopeful eyebrows at her from the top step of the subway entrance, backing away slowly, hands in his pockets. He’s going to fall down the fucking stairs.
“I went home,” Mike lies. “You seemed like you had things handled.”
“Get your ass into the office now.”
“So you didn’t have it handled?” Mike infers.
Harvey hangs up.
“No,” Trevor whines, reading the look on Mike’s face. “Just one drink!”
Mike makes a No can do face.
“Fine.” Trevor jabs a finger at her as they descend into the subway. “But I’m paying you back later.”
“With more than forty dollars and a fuck,” Mike instructs.
“With more than forty dollars and a fuck,” Trevor agrees, amicable.
It’s almost one by the time Mike gets to Pearson Hardman, so the only people here are her, Harvey, and the janitorial staff. Mike always thinks it feels like being underwater, to be this high above the city at night, in the hermetically peaceful office, the windows liquid black, a vacuum cleaner somewhere on the floor the only noise. Her footsteps are muffled by the carpet, even in these heels. She catches a glimpse of her own reflection in the glass wall of an office and feels almost startled by it, like a nocturnal animal startled by headlights – sandy hair a mess from the wind, Rachel’s careful mascara smeared under her eyes, Trevor’s jacket so big on her it doesn’t look like she’s wearing anything underneath it. Tall, Blond and Douchey was right. She really does look like a floozy.
“Mike!” Harvey barks from the end of the hallway.
Mike rolls her eyes. “Don’t get your panties in a bunch, I’m coming!”
Harvey glowers, disappearing into his office. Mike joins him a moment later, kicking her heels off inside the door and gaping at the the absolute mountain of paperwork that has somehow accumulated on his coffee table in the four hours since they left the office. “What’s going on?”
“Sharon would rather declare bankruptcy than sell, and the board would rather vote her out than let her declare bankruptcy,” Harvey says. “We knew that. What we didn’t know was why.”
“I assumed it was pride,” Mike says, picking up the closest stack of papers to her. “She built her company from the ground up, she didn’t want to see it scrapped for parts, even if it cost her.”
“That’s what I thought, too,” Harvey says, “until I found out tonight that Oliver Lazar is her ex-husband.”
Mike’s eyebrows shoot up. “Oliver Lazar of Lazar Solutions, the people that want to buy Sharon’s company?”
“The very same.” Harvey’s eyes are smug. “So, now we know that it’s not just Sharon not wanting to sell.”
“It’s Sharon not wanting to sell to her ex,” Mike finishes.
“Exactly. Now all we have to do is find her another buyer, and convince them to make an offer before the board meeting on Monday.”
“It was a miracle that Lazar was making an offer at all,” Mike points out. Not that she enjoys being the bearer of bad news, but – “Sharon’s company isn’t worth anything near what they were offering. If I had to guess, I’d say the bid was based on Sharon and Oliver’s history. He’s trying to get back at her – ”
“Yeah,” Harvey says. “But Lazar’s a smart man, normally. Which means his competitors have got to be asking themselves why he’d want to acquire a consultancy firm on the brink of bankruptcy. That gives us the start of a sales pitch, at least.”
Mike pushes her hands through her hair, scraping her nails over her scalp to get rid of her exhaustion. The file in her lap is a dossier on one of Lazar’s lead competitors – that’s what all the paper on Harvey’s coffee table is. “We’re going to be here a while, aren’t we?”
Harvey smiles, soft and teasing. “Depends how fast you read, rookie.”
This is what Mike loves most about working with Harvey, being with him – whenever they’re together, it feels like they’re building something. Like they’re two con men in a ballroom full of marks, eyes meeting through a sea of glitterati bodies, the only people who know what’s really going on. They work through half the table by dawn, mainlining good coffee from the espresso maker in the partners’ kitchen, the roast that Donna hides in her desk just for Harvey, Mike’s arms jittery with caffeine; it’s quiet unless one of them has an idea, What if – ? quickly shot down by one or both, but it’s a companionable quiet, the kind you could sleep in. Harvey takes off his jacket and takes off his bow tie and rolls up his sleeves, cuff links discarded in a bowl on his desk. The imprint of her fingers on his forearm is turning yellowy-green, the bruise fading. Mike glances up for a second and stares, like her eyes are stuck. He stops with his back to her, pacing paused to read, and she makes herself look back down at the file in her hands.
Last night she had a dream about the recovery cage, the reinforced metal elevator that the rescue crews had lowered down the long thin borehole to get to her – she was inside it, rattling around in the dark for what felt like hours, convinced she would get stuck halfway up in this tiny capsule with her knees pulled up to her chest and hard metal pressed uncomfortably against her spine, and she’d wanted desperately for her dad to come and rescue her. Except he’s been dead so long that he’s sort of a nebulous concept in her mind, now, like safety and confidence and unconditional love, the security of a man’s strong arms around her, aftershave and cologne, and in the dream they’d dragged her up under a clear blue sky and Mike clambered out of the cage and the man waiting for her was Harvey.
“Mike,” Harvey says now, in the office.
Mike looks up. Harvey’s staring at her like he’s been doing it for a while now, something about his gaze heavy and settled. “Whose jacket is that?” he says.
Mike swallows. She knows what that look in his eye means. She doesn’t want to know what it means. She does. She needs proof.
“Trevor’s,” she tells him.
Something shifts behind Harvey’s face. “I told you to cut him loose.”
“I did,” she says honestly. “He called me tonight, he needed someone to bail him out of prison. I couldn’t say no – I’m all he’s got.”
“Let me get this straight,” Harvey says, in a tone that means he already has it perfectly straight, he just wants to say it out loud so they can fight about it, “you left the function where you were supposed to be working, for me, because you had to bail your shithead dealer friend out of prison – ”
“Actually, I was already leaving,” Mike snaps. She gets to her feet, because if Harvey wants to yell instead of admitting he has some weird caveman thing about her, then he can damn well do it to her face. “Some asshole thought I was your hooker, he tried to buy me off you. Trevor called when I was in the elevator.”
Harvey looks like he’s been hit. Harvey when he’s been hit doesn’t look the same as a normal man when he’s been hit – instead of shocked and hurt, he looks fucking mad.
“Who was it?” he demands.
“Who – what?” Mike’s thrown. She expected more shit about Trevor. “The asshole? I don’t know, I didn’t stop to ask for a name. Six foot, blond, dumb goatee, said you screwed him on some real estate thing. I figured he was full of shit.”
“Obviously he was full of shit,” Harvey mutters, but it’s just an aside. His eyes are still on her. Normally they’re too dark to see much color, but right now the sun is just coming up, angelic pink light spearing through the cityscape outside the window, and she can see the brown in them. It feels intimate.
“Harvey,” she says faintly.
“Take that fucking jacket off,” Harvey orders.
A light comes on in the hall.
“You owe me one million dollars for coming in this early,” Donna announces, circling her desk with a tray of coffees in her hand, expertly shucking her coat, her purse, and what must be a fresh suit for Harvey all without setting it down. “I swear it’s some sort of OSHA viol – O-kay…” She stops in the door, blinking at them wide-eyed, clearly reading the weird energy in the room. “Am I interrupting something?”
“No,” Harvey says, before Mike can come up with anything. He sounds mad, but it’s at himself now, not Trevor or Tall, Blond and Douchey or even her. “Mike, go get changed. We’ve got a meeting with Sharon at eight, you can’t show up looking like that.”
Looking like what, Mike’s tempted to demand, but she doesn’t really want to know the answer. There’s a suit in that garment bag for her, too – she figures Donna must’ve broken into her apartment, but when Mike asks she just says, Please, I’m Donna, which could mean any number of things up to and including B&E, which isn’t reassuring. Whatever, Mike’s too tired to really care. She takes the suit and has a sink-shower in the deserted ladies’ room, emerging as fresh-faced as she’s ever going to be only to run straight into Harvey.
He’s choreographed it – he catches her around the waist, backs her around a corner out of sight of the elevators, and guides her firmly against the wall. For a second they just stand there, forehead-to-forehead, and then Mike huffs and starts to say something – Come on, Harvey, you’re burning daylight – but before she can get any words out, he presses forward and kisses her.
Harvey’s a pushy kisser. Mike’s not really surprised, but she is gasping when he pulls back.
“Cut him loose,” Harvey says, voice low between their faces. He steps back and straightens his lapels, shoots his cuffs. “Don’t make me say it again.”
His eyes drop once to her chest once, heated, and then he’s walking away, the picture of composure.
Mike’s got half a mind to call Trevor right then to meet up for drinks, but she doesn’t actually want to see him – she just wants to piss Harvey off – and anyway it’s five in the morning so Trevor’s probably passed out face-first and drooling on his couch. Instead she goes to find somewhere to do some passing out and drooling of her own, since there’s no way in hell she’s going back to Harvey’s office now that she knows what his mouth feels like pressed to her mouth; she doesn’t trust herself anywhere within grabbing range.
That’s where Rachel finds her three hours later – passed out under the table in the copy room with a thick dossier weighing down her chest, mouth open and drool on her face. Rachel, because she likes Mike but only in a secret flirty way where she pretends she doesn’t, kicks her in the foot to wake her, and Mike nearly slams her head on the table with how fast she sits up. “I’m up! I’m awake!”
Rachel crosses her arms and gives her a bemused smile. “It’s eight o’clock,” she says.
“Eight o’clock,” Mike echoes, not computing. “Right, sure, and that means…”
“You’re late,” Rachel supplies, taking pity on her. “Sharon Wiest is waiting in the conference room.”
“Fuck,” Mike says, scrambling to her feet. “Fuck, I’ve gotta go, Harvey’s gonna kill me.”
“Is that a men’s shirt?” Rachel asks, while Mike’s scrambling around gathering up papers.
Mike stops, genuinely startled by the question. She just assumed this suit was one of hers, she was half asleep when she put it on and still running Lazar’s competitors’ financials in her mind so she wasn’t really paying attention, but now that she looks she sees that it isn’t. The jacket is a women’s cut, and the skirt fits, but the shirt she’s wearing is baggy and almost familiar-looking. “Uh,” she says wisely.
Rachel looks delighted. “Mike. Whose shirt is that?”
The people in this office, honestly – total gossip hounds.
“Mine,” Mike lies, hurrying past her to the door. “Gotta go, bye!”
On the way up to the conference room, Mike checks her sleeves surreptitiously in the elevator, sneaking her shirt cuffs out from under her jacket. Sure enough, there’s a familiar monogram stitched in barely-there silver thread: H.S.
She’s wearing Harvey’s shirt, and what’s more that dress she was wearing last night didn’t leave any room for a bra and Donna didn’t bring her one, so her nipples are brushing fabric that has touched, in the past, Harvey’s bare chest. It’s a good thing the elevator arrives when it does, because Mike’s starting to feel hot around the collar, and it’s a good thing she’s running late, because it gives her an excuse to brush past Louis when he tries to waylay her in the hall.
Harvey glances over when she slips into the conference room, and the irritation at her lateness that should be on his face isn’t there – instead his expression is a perfectly blank mask, which is alarming until Mike realizes that he must be trying to shut down whatever he’s feeling that made him kiss her outside the bathroom.
Fine. He wants to not talk about it and carry on like nothing happened – two can play at that game.
Sharon still doesn’t want to sell – she gets defensive when they bring up her ex and becomes even more set in her position – but they manage to convince her to give them until Monday to figure something out, and extract a promise that if they find an equal offer to Lazar’s, she’ll at least consider it. As they exit the conference room Harvey tells Mike it’s up to her to find something, since he’s got to meet Ray in court to teach that upstart taxi driver a thing or two about red lights and manners, which means Mike has to tromp alone back to Harvey’s office and sit on his stupid leather couch and look at his stupid desk that looks like a desk where a president would sit to negotiate the release of American hostages or some shit and try to ignore the fact that she’s wearing his shirt and it sort of smells like him.
Donna pokes her head in after a few minutes to ask, “Did it work?”
Mike scrubs a hand over her face. “Yeah, Sharon agreed to give us until Monday – ”
“Not the client,” Donna says, rolling her eyes. “The shirt. Did it work?”
Mike blinks at her, and remembers abruptly: Harvey’s eyes dropping to her chest, heated. She’d thought he was looking at her boobs, but now she realizes he was looking at his own shirt, the fucking caveman.
Donna smiles at her silence, smug. “It’s okay, no need to thank me.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Mike decides, turning back to her work.
“Sure, Jan,” Donna says.
Two days later, Ray’s car is out of the shop and Mike stands paralyzed on the curb for long enough that Harvey sticks his head out of the back seat to say, “What are you waiting for, a signed invitation? We don’t have all day.”
Mike’s grateful he’s brusque. It makes it a dare, getting in the car with him – a fuck you that she has to rise to, instead of something she’s allowed to coddle herself through. And if Harvey notices that she keeps her hands clenched in fists for the whole drive to Sharon’s board meeting, her body wound so tight she’s probably giving herself a hernia, he’s kind enough – or dedicated enough to pretending not to care – not to mention it.
She does eventually go out for drinks with Trevor, but not because she’s trying to piss off Harvey – just because Trevor won’t stop fucking calling, and also because he owes her 30k for bail. Instead of paying her back, Trevor plays the “I forgot my wallet” card, makes her shell out for the check, then steals one of her shiny new business cards out of her wallet – forcing her to confess that she’s working as a lawyer in the process – then pretends it’s his so he can use it to try and pick up girls. They don’t seem like the sort of girls who’d be interested in Mike as a third wheel, so she leaves him to it and goes back to the bar for a parting shot of vodka, since she’s paying anyway. She closes out her tab, tells the bartender not to let Trevor reopen it, and heads for the door without Trevor even noticing she’s going – but not before she clocks the two shady guys hanging out back by the wall of wine, one of them murmuring menacingly on his phone, both of them watching Trevor like hawks. She hesitates for a second on the threshold, coat in her hands, debating whether she should go back to try and – intervene? warn Trevor somehow? – then decides she’s too tired to make it her problem, especially if Trevor’s going to ditch her to go home with some other girl, and slips out into the chilly night air, not even thinking about the fact that Trevor’s waving around her business card like it’s his job.
Halfway home, swaying in a half-empty subway car with late-night stragglers in business suits and the first wave of nocturnal club rats heading out for the evening, Mike realizes that home is not actually where she wants to be right now – she had to rip the batteries out of her vibrator in frustration last night because she couldn’t get off without fucking thinking about Harvey, and she refuses to think about her boss while she masturbates – so she gets out her phone and calls Rachel. She might not be Rachel’s favorite person in the world, but she subscribes to a weird sort of girl code that Mike’s never encountered before – probably because its natural reservoir is in private all girls’ schools on the Upper East Side – so when Mike calls complaining of boy troubles (true) because Trevor ditched her (partially true), Rachel agrees to meet her at a bar near the office.
They spend a good half hour mainlining appletinis and complaining about Kyle and his borderline workplace sexual harassment – he’s started doing this thing where he leans in really close over all the female associates’ and paralegals’ shoulders to look at what they’re working on, and they’ve started doing this thing where they elbow him in the stomach and pretend they didn’t see him there – and it’s not until Rachel looks over at Mike, one unimpressed eyebrow arched, and informs her flatly, “You’re staring at my boobs,” that Mike realizes she’s staring at Rachel’s boobs.
“Fuck, sorry,” Mike says, shaking herself. “Appletinis make me horny.”
Rachel laughs. It’s the slightly nervous laugh of a girl who’s never been hit on by another girl before and can’t decide if she likes it. But she says, squaring her shoulders like she’s being brave, “Don’t apologize.”
It’s Mike’s turn to raise her eyebrows. “Yeah?” she asks.
Rachel’s flushed, eyes downcast, hand darting up nervously to tuck her hair behind her ear. “Yeah,” she says.
Mike’s never been good at making female friends. In her experience, women want to talk about things that men couldn’t give two shits about, like her feelings and her secrets and her hopes and dreams, and because Mike’s got a black box inside her that she doesn’t even like to think about, let alone touch and open and invite anyone to look inside, it makes that sort of thing difficult. Plus, now she also has the whole not really a lawyer thing to contend with, which is a whole extra layer, so she’s already anticipating the day when Rachel figures out that she’s giving more of herself to the friendship than Mike is and cuts her loose. Mike knows there’s not anything she can do to evade that eventuality, when it arrives – she can’t come clean, not when that would put Harvey on the line too – but she can do this. She’s really, really good at this. This being making Rachel come three times on her fingers while her chest heaves and her eyebrows do that beggy upside-down V thing that girls’ eyebrows do when they’re horny and desperate, her perfect manicured fingernails digging into Mike’s trapezius, gasping, “Oh God, oh fuck, Mike – ”
Some people don’t appreciate being outlets for a fledgling experimental phase, but Mike’s never really minded. She’s never looking for anything more than sex – as much as she likes Rachel as a friend, it’s sort of a relief to know that in the morning this is just something they’re going to be awkward about for a few days and then forget, because Mike’s heart is already claimed and accounted for. It’s nice, though, to get off without thinking about Harvey at all, and even nicer that once Rachel’s had a couple orgasms she stops being shy about the fact that Mike’s a girl. Rachel kisses wet and open-eyed with a lot of smiling, playful tongue, and she’s got a whole drawer full of expensive sex toys that she knows exactly how to use, and by the end of it all Mike is so sweaty and wrung-out and satisfied that she doesn’t even care that they’ve only got two hours left to sleep before they have to get up and go to work. She wakes to an unfamiliar alarm clock and Rachel standing in the doorway with two mugs of coffee and a nervous expression, like she thinks Mike is going to pop out of bed and start planning their wedding or something – Mike snorts and drops her head in the pillows and tells her, “Relax, Rach, we can blame it on the appletinis,” and doesn’t feel anything but amused when Rachel blurts, “Oh thank God.”
Mike rolls into Harvey’s office at half past eight with preliminary term sheets for the sale of Sharon Wiest’s firm to one of Lazar’s competitors, proofed and highlighted and ready to go.
Harvey stops her with a hand on her arm on her way back out the door. His eyes are locked on her neck. He sweeps her hair away from her collar, and Mike realizes with a lurch that he’s looking at the half-moon marks Rachel’s nails left on her trap. A muscle jumps in his jaw.
“Trevor?” he asks darkly.
Mike smiles. “Rachel,” she corrects, just to see if his head will explode.
It doesn’t, but it’s still very gratifying to watch him almost swallow his tongue.
Harvey’s wrong-footed for the rest of the day, a second late with the quips and frowning at nothing while they shuffle around between client meetings. Mike figures he can’t decide whether to be jealous or turned on, a condition that seems very painful for him but which she feels no need to ameliorate. Donna makes significant What the fuck did you do, You broke him eyes at Mike every time she walks past her desk, but Mike stays tight-lipped. If Donna wants the truth she’s going to have to beat it out of Rachel – Mike’s never seen Harvey flustered before, and she’s enjoying it too much to let Donna fix it.
Of course, because Mike’s luck is nothing if not spectacularly shitty, it’s not even a full day before the two shady guys who were surveilling Trevor at the bar the other night show up at Pearson Hardman. She recognizes them standing at the reception desk at the same time that they recognize her coming around the corner with a file in her hands, and she turns and walks fast in the other direction, seeing them follow her in her peripheral vision. She skids into an elevator, Louis already inside, and the doors are an inch from closing when one of the shady guys sticks his hand through to stop them. They get on. Mike stares dead ahead, not looking at them, breathing tight and even, and steps out of her heels. Louis is completely oblivious.
The doors open to the building lobby. Mike walks calmly but quickly around the corner, the floor cold through her sheer tights, then breaks into a sprint as soon as Louis is out of sight. The shady guys speed up behind her.
Mike really wishes she hadn’t worn a skirt today, but at this point it’s too late to stop and change into pants. She runs flat-out for two blocks before she comes to a cop buying a hotdog at a cart, then slows down and tries to control her breathing so it doesn’t look like she was running from anything while she walks up to him. “Hi,” she says, playing tourist, “’scuse me, could you point me towards Central Park?”
The cop – beautifully, idiotically oblivious to the fact that she’s not wearing shoes – leans in and starts pointing out streets for her just as the shady guys are coming around the corner. Mike points herself, pretending to need clarification, and watches Shady One and Shady Two pull up short, thinking that she and the cop are pointing to them. The cop gets his hotdog and starts to walk off, and mercifully he does it in their direction – they turn and melt into the crowd, fleeing, and Mike folds forward in shaky full-body relief, hands on her knees.
“Hey, lady,” says the man at the hotdog cart, “you alright? You want a hotdog?”
Mike squeezes her eyes closed and tries to breathe.
She’s got plans to lock down like Fort Knox back at the office and beat answers out of Trevor with a shoe, but naturally Harvey takes one look at her and knows something’s wrong. It’s only partly his daunting ability to read every microscopic expression that passes over her face – mostly, it’s because she tore the feet of her tights to shit running on the sidewalk and they ripped all the way up her calves and she had to take them off. It wouldn’t take a genius to notice the switch, so it makes sense that it only takes Harvey about three seconds.
“You were wearing tights before,” he says, frowning at her while she walks into his office. “And those aren’t your shoes, those are Donna’s shoes.”
It’s true – Mike’s shoes disappeared somewhere between her mad sprint down the block and returning winded and limping to the elevator, and it’s only because Donna’s feeling merciful and benevolent today that she’s managed to drum up a replacement pair.
“I, um,” Mike starts, then realizes she doesn’t really have a good lie to explain away missing tights and missing shoes. The tights alone, she could imply some midday fornication in the copy room, but the shoes? She doesn’t think Harvey’s going to buy that Rachel’s into foot stuff.
“I had to run from some guys,” she admits, in the absence of any better ideas. “On the street.”
Harvey’s face darkens, but in an entirely different way from when she told him she was wearing Trevor’s jacket. “Who,” he demands.
“I don’t know,” Mike says honestly. “I think they’re after Trevor. They probably wanted to shake me down for cash, or use me to…” shake Trevor down for cash, she doesn’t finish, because pointing out that two guys just tried to kidnap her out of their offices to leverage her shithead dealer friend probably isn’t going to endear him to Harvey any more than he already is. “It’s fine,” she says instead. “They were slow runners.”
Harvey drags a hand over his face, and when he reemerges he looks resolved. “You’re not leaving this building without me,” he decides, “and you’ll stay with me tonight.”
“Okay, Frank Farmer,” Mike says. “What, are you gonna show me your Japanese sword collection?”
Harvey looks unimpressed. “They might be able to figure out where you live,” he points out, “but whoever they are, they won’t know to look for you at mine.”
Mike has seen Harvey with a lot of women, so as much as he’s guilty of being a womanizer, she knows that he also has an old-school chivalrous streak a mile wide. If she were a man, she might not be getting this offer, but she’s a woman and he looks at her as his responsibility and so there’s not a chance in hell he’s going to leave her alone tonight, no matter if he has to sleep outside her door to do it. Or more realistically, hire someone else to sleep outside her door – Harvey doesn’t seem like the sleeping-on-the-floor type.
“Okay,” Mike says, instead of making him fight her on it.
Some tension goes out of his shoulders, like he thought he was going to have to kidnap her himself to get her to do it. “Good,” he says with finality, and then – “I can’t believe you remember Kevin Costner’s name from The Bodyguard. You really are a girl.”
“Oh, please.” Mike’s lips twitch in a smile. “You understood the reference. You’re guilty, too.”
She’s left an angry voicemail on Trevor’s phone already, demanding he call her and tell her what the everloving fuck is going on, but she doesn’t have any chance to investigate further than that before they catch another case. And then they spend the rest of the day running up and down Wall Street, trying to figure out whether the woman suing their clients for wrongful termination is guilty of insider trading, digging through trash bags of crumpled red trade sheets in the deserted conference room back at Pearson Hardman until the sun comes up and Mike realizes at the same time – like the sun's coming out in her head, too – that the second-in-command at their client’s company is hiding illegal insider trades under the SEC’s $10 million flag by sending his underlings trade sheets that recommend they only buy $9 million at a time. After that it’s like speeding downhill on a rollercoaster, everything falling rapidly into place, and they cover their clients’ asses in terms of criminal liability and manage to get a wrongfully-accused woman out of prison at the same time, and so it’s not until thirty-six hours or so after her run-in with Shady One and Shady Two that Mike actually has to face the prospect of going home. She half thinks Harvey will have forgotten, that he’ll bid her goodnight and slide into Ray’s car and leave her to look over her shoulder while she bikes and trains all the way back to Brooklyn, but of course he doesn’t.
“Car,” he orders, pointing, and Mike’s too relieved to feel the usual cold lurch of fear she does when she climbs in a motor vehicle. Harvey slides in across from her, all navy three-piece suit and pomaded hair and bergamot cologne, and as Ray pulls away from the curb, something behind Mike’s sternum loosens and melts away, going quiet for what feels like the first time in years.
She turns her head to watch Harvey while they drive, exhausted and vulnerable enough to allow herself an indulgence she normally wouldn’t. Harvey doesn’t notice, or if he does, he doesn’t turn from the glowing phone in his hands. Lights from outside glide over his face like liquid. It devastates her just to look at him sometimes, especially now. Whenever she closes her eyes she remembers how his hands felt on her waist, and also how he watched her that very first day they met, back in that hotel room while she rambled through an explanation of how she’d come to be carrying a briefcase full of pot into a Harvard interview, her heart racing feverishly – like he was impressed and amused and disapproving and delighted in equal measure. What Mike had wanted then was to never let him out of her sight, because when she talked he understood what she wasn’t even saying. What she wants now is to unbuckle and climb across the back seat into his lap, and kiss his upper lip and let him hold her and tell him everything, everything.
“Let me ask you something,” Harvey says, not looking up.
Mike makes an assenting noise, not looking away.
“The McKernon Motors case. When I introduced you to Dominic Barone. You seemed like you knew a lot about cars, about engines.”
“Is there a question in there?” Mike teases.
Harvey does look at her then – to let her know that he knows she knows what the question is, and that he knows she’s been staring at him, too.
Mike swallows. “I learned,” she admits. “When you hired me.”
“Because I like cars,” Harvey infers.
“Because you like cars,” Mike agrees, smiling briefly. “I thought it might help me not get fired.”
She can see that he’s got the other questions on the tip of his tongue – the pertinent ones, about why eighteen years later she still hasn’t gotten over one little car accident, however traumatic, and why there’s still something she’s hiding from him about it – because Mike knows that Harvey knows there’s more to it than what’s on the surface, even if he’s been kind enough to leave it alone. But he doesn’t ask.
Instead he says, voice fond like he thinks it’s adorable she thinks otherwise, “I’m never going to fire you.”
Mike's breath catches. “You shouldn’t have told me that," she says after a second, when she's recovered. "Now I know I can do whatever I want.”
“I’m not afraid of what you want,” Harvey says, voice low.
She holds his gaze. “What do you want, Harvey?” she asks, feeling daring.
Harvey lets his eyes drag down her body, her rumpled skirt suit, his stare like a physical touch. When he makes it back to her eyes, taking his sweet time, he doesn’t look hungry – he looks like someone who’s already eaten his fill, warm and languid, pantherlike. It’s almost enough to make Mike forget they’re in a car. “I want to know why you slept with Rachel,” he tells her.
“It wasn’t about you,” Mike answers, knee-jerk. It’s partially true – Mike has a weakness for gorgeous, intelligent and mean women, which Rachel definitely is – and partially a lie, because everything Mike does nowadays is at least a little bit about Harvey, just by virtue of how huge he is in her life. “What, you think just because you kissed me once you’ve got ownership? This isn’t kindergarten, you can’t lick something and call it yours.”
“There’s an idea,” Harvey says.
Mike catches his meaning, and swallows. She feels her knees fall open an inch without any input from her brain, and watches Harvey notice. His pupils dilate. He shifts like his pants just got tight.
They keep their hands off each other in the car out of deference to Ray, who’s currently working very studiously to avoid looking in the rearview mirror, but Mike expects that as soon as they’re in the elevator Harvey’s going to pounce. Her stomach falls a little when she realizes she’s wrong – at least until she spots his expression in the mirrored wall, the corners of his mouth turning up like they always do when he’s teasing her, testing her in a harmless way about the blues or Lauren Bacall’s lines from The Big Sleep or some piece of office-politics trivia he thinks is more important than it is; then Mike huffs and smiles herself, facing forward, content to let Harvey give himself blue balls trying to teach her restraint or whatever until he snaps and breaks first. He doesn’t last long – Mike goes past him into his dark, cool apartment with an offhand comment about beer and baseball and only makes it to the fridge before she feels his warmth at her back, his chest pressed to her shoulders while he wraps his arms around her waist and buries his face in her neck, mouthing at her skin.
“Harvey,” she says, struggling to control her voice, “if you don’t fuck me right now, I might spontaneously combust in your kitchen.”
She feels his laugh against her back. “Patience, grasshopper,” he tells her.
Mike twists around and kisses him hard. She’s been watching him and seeing directly into his soul for months now without being able to touch – she’s not in the mood for patience.
Harvey kisses sort of like he learned how from Code-era movies, close-mouthed and patient until Mike’s lips are throbbing, raw, bruised. She steps out of her shoes, making Harvey crane his neck down to reach her, then lets him hoist her onto the counter, shoving her skirt up around her waist and helping her wriggle out of her tights at the same time. Mike’s heart is beating like a drum in her ears, her skin hot, like all her blood is rushing to the surface. The marble counter is cold against her ass.
“Harvey,” she says, whining a little, and Harvey slides two fingers past her panties and straight into her cunt like he’s giving her something to soothe her, his other hand going to the back of her head to pull her in and mouth wetly at her cheek. Mike fists her hands in his lapels and digs her heels into his ass and tries not to come just from looking at him – Harvey’s natural state is all poise and glamor and absolute certainty, so to see him like this, breathing hard, his suit in disarray, hair a molded mess from her hands, eyes flicking to hers like he’s checking to see if she’s okay with this, as if she could ever not be okay with Harvey Specter getting her off – it’s like a gut punch. A hit to her blind side. She rakes her fingers through his hair, thumb smoothing over the bone of his temple, and feels herself spasm around his fingers as their eyes meet.
“The things you do to me,” he murmurs, dropping his gaze to her mouth. His thumb touches her clit in passing, hard and then gone, making her gasp. “The things I want from you – you have no idea, Mike. No fucking idea.”
Mike sticks her fingers in his mouth to shut him up, then tilts forward and replaces them with her tongue again. Harvey’s thumb is back where she wants it, easy and unhurried even though her knees are clamped down on his sides hard enough that it must hurt. There’s no sound in the apartment but the dull rumble of the aircon and the obscene wet noise of his fingers, and Mike’s toes curl, sheer tights slipping over the silky fabric of Harvey’s slacks. She wants to sink forward and sit in his palm. She wants to arch her spine and lay back on the counter. She wants everything at once, like she always does when she’s about to come.
“You don’t stop soon, we’re going to have to cut to fireworks,” she moves away to warn him, still close enough that she can feel his lips brush hers when she talks.
“Don’t worry, Grace Kelly,” he teases, sounding delighted by the reference. “I’m good for more than one ride.”
This is Harvey, Mike thinks deliriously. Harvey, Harvey, Harvey, and comes hard on his fingers.
Whenever Mike’s allowed herself to think about Harvey and sex, she’s mostly imagined: Clooney and Lopez in Out of Sight, Bruce Wayne and Bond girls, clandestine choreographed encounters in anonymous hotel rooms, gorgeous Italian and Russian and other such intimidatingly foreign supermodels peeling him carefully out of tuxedos with price tags that would make Mike’s eyes water – neat, elegant encounters that left the women as puddles of goo and Harvey cooly unaffected, lighting a cigar on the balcony and looking appraisingly out at the city while his partners recovered.
She’s gratified to discover that she was completely, totally wrong. In her experience, there’s no dignity and no pride when it comes to good sex, and the sex that she and Harvey have is very, very good. By the end, Harvey is face-down on the mess they made of his bed, all but knocked out by his orgasm.
Mike rolls over to tuck herself against his side, his arm coming around to hold her instinctively while he rumbles a wordless greeting, and follows him into a heavy, sweaty sleep.
She’s woken some time later by a pressing need to pee, and slips out from under Harvey’s arm to escape to his bathroom, which has a lot of chrome and mirrors looks like it belongs in the penthouse suite at the fucking Ritz. She realizes while she’s splashing water on her face that her mouth is dry as the Sahara, so before going back to bed she pads out to the kitchen, goosebumps tingling on her skin at the exposed sensation of walking naked in front of panoramic windows, and gets herself a glass of water. While she’s there she checks her phone and feels her stomach drop – twelve missed calls from Trevor. Hands shaking, she calls him back.
It's not Trevor who answers. It’s Shady One, and he wants 50,000 dollars.
“Don’t give it to them, Mikey! ” she hears Trevor shout, somewhere in the background, and then his kidnappers hang up. Mike listens to the dial tone for a long minute, then puts her phone face-down on the counter.
“Mike,” Harvey says softly, from the hallway.
Mike looks over. His voice is rough with sleep, his hair a mess. She realizes she’s shaking. Harvey comes across the kitchen and wraps her in his arms, murmuring worriedly, “What is it? Whatever it is, kid, just tell me.”
Harvey refuses to tell her what sly pseudo-legal negotiation tactics he uses to get Trevor away from Shady One and Shady Two, and to make matters worse he forces her to wait outside in the car while he does it. Ray does his best to make small talk about the Mets, but it’s six in the morning and Mike’s douchebag ex-best friend just pulled her away from the bed of the man she’s in love with because he had to go and get himself mixed up with people who use guns to get their point across, which is probably going to be enough to get her fired and exiled from Harvey’s good graces, so Mike’s not really in the mood to talk about baseball. Anyway, she and Harvey never got around to watching the game.
There’s a contained, dangerous fury on Harvey’s face as he escorts Trevor out of the building and into the car, and no one talks on the way to the bus station. Trevor thinks about it a few times, getting so far as to open his mouth, but Mike glares him silent before he can utter a word.
In line for his Greyhound bus to Billings, Montana, once Mike has made it abundantly clear that she does not want to see hide nor hair of him west of the Mississippi for at least the next six months, she lets Trevor pull her into a bracing hug, going up on her toes to hook her chin over his shoulder while she lets herself be smooshed.
It’s the same hug he’s always given her, back when they were dumb high school kids and when they were even dumber college students, and it makes her remember that they’re family. That they used to be, at least. All of a sudden it hurts that he’s going to be leaving.
Even just a year ago, Trevor leaving New York would’ve meant that Mike was pretty much all alone in the world, except for her Gram. She has to remind herself that that’s not true anymore – she has Harvey now, theoretically. Assuming this latest Trevor resurgence isn’t enough to make him renege on everything he said last night.
“Your boss looks like he wants to beat me with a baseball bat,” Trevor whispers in her ear.
Mike snorts and makes herself pull away, eyes stinging. “Better get out of here, then, before he finds one.”
She watches Trevor until he disappears onto the bus, half because she loves him and half because she doesn’t actually trust him to leave, then turns and heads back to Harvey, leaning against the hood of Ray’s car with his arms crossed and a disapproving look on his face.
“He said he thought you probably wanted to beat him with a baseball bat,” she tells Harvey, because she knows it will make him grin like he won something, the posturing fuck.
And she’s right – it does. Relaxes him too, like it reminds him she’s still here with him – not on a bus to Billings.
“Get in the car, rookie,” he says, opening the door. “We’ve got work to do.”
There’s a version of Harvey that Mike thinks only she and Donna ever get to see. Harvey fresh out of bed, bleary in a t-shirt and boxers, boiling the water for his french press. Harvey hunched in a circle of light from his desk lamp in the middle of the night, worry tight in the corners of his mouth. Harvey in jeans and a light jacket, only ever in civvies when they step out to do something borderline illegal in service of a client, like he doesn’t want to be recognized by the uniform, possibly because René has a clause in all his contracts that forbids the people he makes suits for from wearing them in commission of a crime. Harvey yelling at a baseball game at home on his couch, where he doesn’t have to be too-cool and suave and unimpeachable, slumped in bed after a thorough and vigorous fuck with one knee bent up and his cock soft between his legs and the orange cherry of a cigarette burning in the shadow of his face. What the world sees, what Harvey is ninety-nine percent of the time, is a very skilled method performance of the character Harvey Specter, Mr. Tough But Fair, the best closer the city has ever seen, who has Michael Jordan on speed dial and only cares about winning and thinks feelings don’t matter and only ever loved his father in the clean simple way that cowboys love their fathers in old west movies, with claps on the shoulder and with adages about shooting to kill or not shooting at all and without ever actually saying the word. Mike knows that the way Harvey loved his dad was messier and more complicated than that, because he tells her about it curled around her in bed with his wet face pressed to her bare stomach, and when he can’t talk anymore she slides down in the sheets so they’re eye to eye in the dark. She can feel him waiting for her to say something, and she realizes like a kick in the ribs that he’s expecting this to be an eye for an eye – expecting her to confess something to him in trade – but the one thing she has left to tell him she can’t, so instead she kisses the tears away from his eyes and then holds his head tight between her hands and kisses his mouth over and over until he loosens against her and lets it go.
To a certain degree, Mike Ross is a performance, too. It’s hard to keep it up when the lights are out, when they curl together in bed like two parentheses, soft warm bodies in the dark, but the consequences of telling him are too huge. When Mike thinks about it, it feels like standing on the edge of a yawning canyon, too deep to see the bottom, knowing she has to take a step forward and not knowing where the edge is. Like this awful thing she’s carried around for so long is a toothpick stuck in a brick wall, and if she pulls it out the whole structure’s going to come tumbling down, and Mike will have nothing and no one and her brain will unravel and she’ll try to put herself together with drugs and alcohol and pain but it won’t be enough and she’ll just – cease. Disappear.
“You know,” Mike says conversationally, “you should really get a new desk.”
Harvey looks up from the hotel merger paperwork he’s reading, an amused look curving around the pen in his mouth. “Oh?” he asks. “And why’s that?”
Mike leans forward and hits the button on his phone to turn off Donna’s intercom. “Because if I got under this one, people could see me from the hall.”
Harvey looks half delighted and half like he wants to eat her alive.
Mike’s not really under any delusions that they’re managing to keep this from Donna – she’s got a key to Harvey’s apartment, and sooner or later they’re going to sleep through an alarm and she’s going to stride in and find them in flagrante delicto – but she figures they can at least be subtle about it at work. She covered up the hickeys on her neck with concealer this morning, because whenever they fuck slow Harvey just settles in and sucks like he’s a cross between a horny teenager and a vampire and they fucked slow last night, so she thinks they’re off to a pretty good start. She even bullied him into the bathroom so she could cover up the one she left on his throat, and his starched collar hasn’t rubbed the makeup off yet.
“Don’t you have work to do?” Harvey asks, bemused.
“Fake work,” Mike argues.
“I’ve got money riding on this,” Harvey reminds her. “A cool 10k that says you wipe the floor with Louis’ minion. If that’s not an honest day’s work I don’t know what is.”
“I can’t believe you’d rather win a bet with Louis than get a blowjob,” Mike tells him seriously. “You’re sick, truly. Perverted. There’s something wrong with you.”
Grinning, Harvey bats her hand away from the intercom.
Outside the glass, Donna’s watching them like the cat that got the canary.
“Uh oh,” Harvey says. “You think she has a bug?”
Mike snaps closed her mock trial binder. “No idea. Best of luck.”
“Hey,” Harvey protests.
“I’ve got to wipe the floor with Kyle,” Mike reminds him.
Harvey settles back with a proud expression. “Damn straight. Kick his ass.”
“I expect to be cut in,” Mike says as she leaves. “Fifty percent.”
“Thirty,” Harvey counters.
“Not a chance!”
Forty, she emails him from her cubicle, and he doesn’t reply, which she figures means she won.
Beating Kyle at what appears to be the most serious mock trial ever isn’t just a professional point of pride; it’s a personal one, too. Kyle Durant is a plague on the women of Pearson Hardman, which luckily enough means that none of them are willing to stand in and act as his witnesses or his client, leaving Kyle with Harold doing a high woman’s voice like he’s a twelve-year-old playing Juliet in the school play and an older woman who introduces herself as Kyle’s aunt and won’t stop pinching his cheeks. Louis’ plan to embarrass Harvey’s protégée with his ten-time mock trial national special boy or whatever the fuck is all set to backfire spectacularly – until Mike gets before Judge Jessica to present their settlement agreement and Kyle backs out, the lying piece of shit. Now she’s stuck counter-suing for defamation, and the man who’s supposed to be the Mr. Miyagi to her Daniel-san is OOO with no indication when he’ll be back.
She’s in the library buried under books of defamation case law when Harvey calls. “I need you to bring me some files on the hotel merger,” he says, before she can even get a word out.
“What?” she says. “Harvey, I’ve got mock trial – ”
“Mike,” he cuts her off. Something in his voice makes her brain stand up and go Danger! Danger! “Bring me the files. Room 1412. Yesterday.”
“Sir yes sir,” Mike says, only half-sarcastic, and hangs up.
Harvey failed to specify which files he actually wants, so Mike staggers through the lobby of the hotel trying to see around two banker’s boxes, puts them down in the elevator, and has a hell of a time picking them back up again once she gets to the fourteenth floor, trying to keep the doors open with her foot at the same time. She gets the boxes up just as the doors start to close, and she’s planning to throw herself bodily through them like they’re blast doors closing on an exploding spaceship, but luckily some benevolent soul sticks her hand in and stops them before she can.
“Thank you,” Mike says emphatically, escaping into the safety of the hallway. “God, you’re a lifesaver.”
“Most people prefer the term ‘bloodsucker,’” says what is hands-down one of the top ten most beautiful women Mike has ever seen, watching her with a bemused little smile. “You must be Harvey’s new associate.”
Mike manages to shift the boxes to one arm so she can shake the woman’s hand. “Mike Ross.”
“Dana Scott,” the woman returns, along with a firm country club handshake. “I’m opposing counsel.”
“I thought there wasn’t supposed to be opposing counsel in a merger,” Mike points out, because she has a bad habit of being contrary in front of Renaissance sculptures slumming it in M&A. “Just two, copacetic, cooperative counsels.”
“Did you really just use the word copacetic?” Dana says incredulously. “Jesus, this makes a lot of sense. I bet he looked like a kid on Christmas morning when he found you.”
“When he – What?”
“Down the hall to the left,” Dana tells her, turning to hit the button and call the elevator again. “Room 1412. Call me when you’re done – I’ll be in the bar.”
She puts a business card on top of Mike’s stack, and steps into the elevator.
Mike stands in the empty hall for a second, bewildered, then shakes it off and hurries away. She has to knock by kicking the door until Harvey opens it, which he does with an irritated You’re late sort of look and absolutely no gratitude for the fact that she just schlepped two heavy boxes across the isle of Manhattan for him.
“You didn’t say which files you wanted,” she says, while he takes the boxes out of her arms and tosses them on the floor next to the desk the way people toss trash bags.
“None of them,” Harvey says, then hoists her onto the entryway table and kisses her.
"So that's how it's gonna be," Mike says when they part, breathless.
"That's how it's gonna be," Harvey agrees, grinning, and lifts her so she can wrap her legs around his waist while he walks back into the bedroom.
Harvey’s body is warm and solid under his suit, a heavy weight as he follows her onto the mattress and settles between her legs. Mike loves him so much just looking at him that it feels like it should break her in half. He’s working on the buttons of her shirt, putting his mouth impatiently on all his favorite places as he exposes more and more skin, and he unzips her pants and works them down over her hips, climbing off for a second while he gets them over her feet and pushes them onto the floor, eyes never leaving her face, and Mike shimmies out of her panties and drags him back with greedy hands, saying urgently, “Come on come on come on – ”
The only item of clothing Harvey’s lost is his suit jacket – he’s still in his vest and shirtsleeves and his fucking wingtips while he gets his cock out, not even fully hard yet, and pushes into her. He groans in a way that should be deeply unsexy, and Mike’s pretty much screwed because the fact that it’s unsexy is sexy to her, like he’s lost the presence of mind to put on a show. His hips buck into her like he can’t help it, belt buckle cold against her ass, muttering, “Jesus, Mike,” and Mike smiles breathlessly and digs her heels into his ass and quips, “Put your back into it, old man,” just so he’ll give her that look like he can’t decide whether to laugh or be peeved. He does, though, and wonderfully, fucking himself to full hardness and then getting a hand on her hip, splayed out over the hinge of her thigh to tilt her for a better angle, going at her so hard that sweat breaks out on his neck and they have to pause and shift so they’re perpendicular on the bed just in case anyone’s listening in the suite next door. Mike loses muscle control in her legs and speech control in her brain and moans, “Oh God I love – ” before she realizes what she’s saying, Harvey’s eyes going wide and vulnerable for a second before she does a U-turn and finishes, “how you feel, how you smell, fuck, Harvey,” and at the sound of his name his fingers dig into her hip hard enough to hurt and all his weight drops into the cradle of her pelvis and he comes.
It's messy, for a nooner. Harvey slides down her body and puts his fingers where his cock just was and stares at her like he’s sort of astonished and also incredibly proud of his own work, watching his fingers move in and out of her body, frictionless with his come, while she spasms around him. “You like that, rookie?” he asks, teasing.
“Fuck you,” Mike shoots back, but it’s weak because she can’t breathe. "God, Harvey, please."
Harvey’s eyes darken. Without breaking her gaze, he sinks forward and puts his mouth on her.
Mike comes so fast it’s sort of scary, swearing and clawing at the sheets.
Harvey sits on the edge of the bed while she recovers, zipping his pants and shooting his cuffs, awful smug for someone with his own come on his chin. When Mike manages to sit up, she rubs it off with her thumb.
“This is some sort of Pavlovian thing, right?” she asks, curious. “Dana’s your ex so she gets your engine running, but you didn’t want to…”
Cheat, she doesn’t say, because they haven’t had that conversation yet, even though she thinks they don’t really have to.
“Get back to work,” Harvey says, instead of answering. “You’ve got 4,000 dollars to win.”
Mike stumbles out of bed and smiles like an idiot while she hops around on one foot getting back into her pants. $4,000 is forty percent, and she figures that’s as good of an admission as she’s ever going to get.
She tucks her panties in Harvey’s pocket on the way out.
Mike’s still riding high on the euphoria of having not only wiped the floor with Kyle but also won a cool 4k off of Louis when Donna stops her in the hall and says she has a message for her.
“You don’t take my messages,” Mike says, suddenly off balance. “You only take Harvey’s messages.”
The expression on Donna’s face is unreadable. Not bad, but not good either. Reserved. “Scottie didn’t have your number,” she says, handing Mike a slip of paper. "She wants you to meet her at the Harvard Club."
“Scottie,” Mike echoes, taking it. “Dana Scott? I thought the merger was over, why would she want to meet me?”
Donna gives her another unreadable look and walks away.
Bewildered, mind racing, Mike grabs her things from her cubicle and goes down to the Harvard Club, where she has to name drop Harvey to get in, since she doesn’t have a student ID – which, what kind of thirty-year-old still carries their student ID? The place is very Harvard, and not in a good way. Mike feels just stepping through the door like she’s suddenly become part of a secret society of nepotism babies, the sort of person who spends her Thursday nights sipping Old Fashioneds and eating huge expensive steaks in smoky mahogany rooms; Harvey probably spends a lot of time here.
She finds Dana – Scottie, apparently – at the bar with a delicate martini glass dangling from her fingers, posture perfect even though it’s eight o’clock at night. She’s the sort of woman who looks like she belongs here, classic and couture, and Mike feels wildly out of place as she slides in next to her.
“Can I give you some friendly advice?” Scottie says, when they’ve dispensed with the pleasantries.
Mike sits up a little straighter, nervous. “Sure.”
“I’ve known Harvey for a long time.” Scottie spears the olive from her martini but doesn’t eat it, only swirls it around in the gin, contemplative. “So trust me when I tell you that he loves an intellectual challenge, he loves a physical challenge – but you give him an emotional challenge and he’s going to run for the hills.”
Mike’s whole body goes cold. “Yeah,” she hears herself say.
“Then again,” Scottie continues, as if Mike hasn’t spoken – which functionally she hasn’t – “I always thought he was one of those guys who couldn’t see women as partners. Who couldn’t have deeper relationships with them, no matter how much he loved them. Couldn’t let himself open up.”
Mike thinks: I’m not afraid of what you want. Thinks: Harvey’s face against her stomach in the dark.
“So,” Scottie’s eyes are on her, sharp and assessing, “maybe I’m wrong.”
Three days ago Mike woke silently from a nightmare in Harvey’s bed and slipped out into the cool underwater air of his apartment in nothing but one of his old Harvard t-shirts and walked around the living room for a while looking at the city and trying not to puke, poking idly in cabinets and closets not because she was hunting for anything but because it calmed her down to feel like she was walking around inside his life in the dark. Soft, well-used baseball mitt, austere rack of winter coats, a pair of waders she couldn’t ever imagine him wearing unless a client summoned him to go fishing in the sticks – a black and white print of a classic car, shoved in the back of the closet, exactly the right size to fit in that weird empty space on his living room wall. Mike stood with her hand on the closet door staring at it, and couldn’t ever remember seeing it before, which meant he’d taken it down before he ever brought her home. And it was ridiculous, because she looked at cars all day every day, you couldn’t really avoid them in New York fucking City, but Harvey had taken this print down off the wall and put it in the closet – maybe just because he’d decided he didn’t like it, Mike thought reasonably, but even as she thought it she knew it wasn’t true, that he’d taken it down because he wanted her to be able to walk around in his home without bumping into anything, and it hit her so hard that her knees felt weak. The nightmare that had woken her was an awful sick overwhelming one that she’d never had before, in that half-crushed car at the bottom of the rubble with Harvey instead of her parents dead in the front seat, and she hadn’t climbed into the back to get away from it all like she had in reality – she’d climbed forward banging her knees on the console and shook him and screamed and cried until it felt like her chest was caving in, thinking frantically like a rat scurrying around in the dark that when the rescuers came down with the recovery cage she would have to hide or pretend to be dead so they wouldn’t take her back to the surface, because there was no use going back to the surface when Harvey was down here. She woke up and she was shaking and it took her a minute to remember where she was, that it was Harvey in bed next to her, and she was too distressed to reach over and wake him the way when she was sick sometimes she couldn’t stand to have anything touch her skin, so she got up and started walking and now here she is staring at a black and white print of a car, even more terrified than she was in the dream. The general consensus seems to be that Harvey’s the one who hurts people, but Mike knows that Harvey couldn’t hurt her if he tried – not in any way that matters. It would be too much like hurting himself. No – if one of them is going to drop a bomb on this relationship, it’s going to be her.
A week after Scottie, Harvey’s old boss from the DA’s office comes under investigation by the Attorney General, and Mike finds herself frozen in her tracks, staring across the office at Alexandra Leeds, the same woman who eighteen years ago got the press to put a moratorium on publishing the Meyerbrook tunnel victims’ names.
Mike owes this woman her life, in a not-insignificant way. But she’s also one of the only people on earth who can look at Mike and know, so before Alexandra Leeds can look her way Mike makes a tactical retreat to the bullpen.
Harvey seems determined to fend of the AUSA’s advances without her help, Jessica stepping in to represent him while he fights tooth and nail to keep from testifying against his mentor, which is fine by Mike, who takes the opportunity to throw herself into her work like a TV police detective going through a messy divorce. Louis has decided to see the sister vs. sister inheritance settlement they’re supposed to be cooperating on as some sort of metaphor for his and Harvey’s rivalry, which theoretically makes Jessica the parent and literally makes Mike want to tear her hair out in frustration, but at least it’s a good distraction.
Even as little as she sees him, Mike can tell that Harvey’s distraught, that he’s torn up over the realization that Cameron Dennis might have suppressed evidence back when Harvey worked for him at the DA, but she doesn’t know how to help him and his staunch refusal to let her anywhere near the case gives her a pretty good excuse not to. She feels guilty for taking the out, but she still takes it.
And it works beautifully – right up until she runs into Harvey and Alexandra Leeds crossing the plaza in front of Pearson Hardman.
Harvey’s spotted her, so there’s nothing she can do short of literally turning tail and running, which she has just enough pride not to do. She smiles tightly as she walks over to them, and before she can figure out a way to stop him Harvey’s introducing her – “Alexandra, this is my associate, Mike Ross. Mike, AUSA Alexandra Leeds.”
They shake hands, and Mike can see the faint spark of recognition in Alexandra’s eyes. “A girl named Mike,” she muses. “Not something you see every day.”
“Not something you see every day, maybe,” Harvey jokes. “Me, on the other hand, I can’t seem to get rid of her.”
The joke lands like a brick. Mike laughs nervously to try and cover it up, but he notices. Of course he does. “Am I missing something here?” he asks. “Do you two know each other?”
“No,” Mike says firmly, at the same moment she watches suspicion solidify to realization in Alexandra’s eyes.
“Meyerbrook,” she says wonderingly, with a hint of pity. “Mike Ross. I remember your name. God, that was so long ago – you must’ve been a kid.”
Mike can feel Harvey’s eyes boring into the side of her face, and she knows he must be able to see exactly how much she’s falling to pieces right now, but she can’t bring herself to look at him.
“It was nice to meet you, AUSA Leeds,” she says on autopilot. “You’ll have to excuse me – I’m late for a meeting,” then turns and walks back across the plaza the way she came, ignoring the fact that she was on her way into the building, not thinking at all about where she’s going, just that she has to get away.
She hears Harvey’s voice behind her, calling after her, and doesn’t stop to look whether he’s following her, whether he’s running after her like they’re in a movie, making an abrupt decisive turn and descending with a crowd of pedestrians into the subway, swiping her metro card without any input from her brain and getting on the first train she comes to without registering which one it is, or what line she’s on, or the fact that her hands are shaking so badly she drops her metro card and has to find tremulous words to thank a stranger who picks it up for her. She collapses onto an empty seat. Her phone vibrates in her purse, and she ignores it.
The train stops, and starts, and stops and starts, and people get on and get off while Mike feels her phone buzz against her thigh and stares unseeing at the floor in front of her, jostled around with the motion of the tracks. She could never make any sense of the fact that she could ride around in subway tunnels just fine but she was afraid of cars, but it doesn’t really matter now.
It’s over, she thinks. It’s over, it’s all over, and doesn’t even know what she’s thinking about.
An announcement comes on for a stop she knows – the stop for Gram’s nursing home.
Mike gets up, and gets off the train.
“Oh, Mike,” Grammy says, as soon as she sees her. “Oh, sweetheart, get over here.”
Mike’s already crying when she sits down on the edge of the bed, letting her grandmother take her into her arms and hold her like she’s eleven years old. I’m sorry, she thinks she says, though she doesn’t know for what – sorry she hasn’t been around much lately and now she’s just showing up because she needs to be held, sorry she’s such a mess of a human being, sorry she’s a liar and a fuck-up and a cheat and now a fraudster who could really actually go to jail for a lot of years if she ever got found out – but Grammy just pets her hair and shushes her and says, “Young lady, I haven’t seen you cry since the first Bush administration. It’s about goddamn time,” so Mike laughs wetly and stops apologizing and weeps.
When she’s done, she takes the tissue Grammy gives her and blots at the stinging mess of mascara in her eyes while Gram tucks her hair behind her ears. “I had a rough morning,” she croaks.
“I can see that,” Gram says – sardonic, but not unkind. “Why don’t you tell me about it?”
Mike takes a deep breath, feeling the air fill her lungs the way it hasn’t in a long time, and tells her. She tells her about working for Harvey and falling in love with Harvey and falling into bed with him, about Harvey pouring his heart out to her and not being able to give him that in return, because she’s never told anyone about the tunnel, about feeling like she’s finally found the one person in the whole world who’s got the capacity to understand her and the constant, low-grade terror that she’s going to lose him, because she’s got this history inside her that’s dark and nauseating and unlovable and if he ever sees it he’s never going to look at her the same way. He can’t know, not if she wants to keep him, except he’s smart and this morning Alexandra Leeds said Meyerbrook and it doesn’t take a genius to put it together, so he knows, and it’s over. It’s all over.
“Are you done?” Grammy asks, when Mike pauses for breath.
Mike blinks, startled. “Am I – what?”
“Mike, sweetie.” Grammy puts her cool, frail hands on Mike’s cheeks, fixing her with a stern expression. “I know you’re some kind of genius, but sometimes you can be an enormous idiot.”
Mike’s too shocked to laugh. “What?” she says again.
“You’re scared because you think if you tell him it’s going to hurt him, and he’s going to blame you for it.” Mike drops her eyes, ashamed because it’s true, but Gram squeezes her to make her look back up, smiling softly. “Now, I don’t know this man, because you haven’t had the good manners to bring him to meet me yet, but if he loves you, which I think he does, he’s not going to leave just because he finds out being with you can hurt. Love is supposed to hurt. As long as being apart would hurt more, you have to let it.”
“Let it hurt?” Mike echoes skeptically. “That’s the wisdom you’re choosing to impart?”
Grammy laughs. “Hey, missy, when you’re eighty-nine you can make your own choices about wisdom. Until then, you’ll just have to take what you’re given.”
Mike smiles, feeling like she’s learning how to do it all over again, and takes one last hug for the road.
Let it hurt, she thinks while she walks out the front doors and onto the sidewalk, over and over like a mantra – like she’s trying to psych herself up for something. Let it hurt, let it hurt, let it hurt. She’s spent so much of the last eighteen years groping for anesthetization that it’s sort of frightening to conceptualize.
Let it hurt.
The air outside is cold, and it feels like waking up.
Harvey’s waiting for her in front of Ray’s double-parked car, pacing and glowering at the world, and Mike stops dead ten feet away feeling like she’s been hit over the head with a clue-by-four.
“Harvey,” she says.
He looks over. His eyes are red-ringed, but the rest of him is all barely-contained fury. “What the hell was that?” he demands – and his voice is sharp but Mike knows him well enough to now to know it’s mostly fear, that when Harvey feels like he’s losing control he just grabs on even more viciously than before. “You ran away from me.”
Mike opens her mouth, not sure how to say it, and just ends up with, “Meyerbrook. I didn’t want to…”
“What,” Harvey says, impatient, stalking closer, “you think this is news to me? You think I didn’t know?”
Mike stares. She can’t do anything except stare. Harvey’s saying something about his investigator Vanessa and doing deep, deep background on her before he even thought about hiring her to be a pretend lawyer, stepping into her space, warmth and cologne and his comforting size, his hands on her elbows, face close and voice low, saying how it took him two hours to read the damn article, 13 MOTORISTS RESCUED FROM COLLAPSED MEYERBROOK TUNNEL, because he’d only met her once but he kept thinking of how she smiled when she thought she was winning, when she thought she was one up on him, and it made him have to get up and walk around his apartment until he felt calm enough to sit and read again, how he knows that he was a grade A idiot and that he put his foot in his mouth after the thing with Ray’s fender-bender but that doesn’t mean she has to run away from him instead of talking about it – and Mike looks at his brown-black eyes and reaches out to press her thumb to her favorite mole on his face and thinks of clear blue skies, as wide as the world.
“You knew,” she says, astonished. Absolutely gobsmacked.
Harvey searches her face, reading her, and she watches him realize what she means – what she was worried about. He softens, sliding a hand up the back of her neck, under her hair, holding her head. “Yeah, kid. I knew.”
Mike balls her hands in tight fists on his lapels, and wishes very hard: Come on, Harvey. Dare me.
And like he can read her mind, Harvey presses a kiss to the side of her forehead, once, bracing, then steps back and opens the rear passenger door. “Come on, rookie,” he says, eyes heavy and intent. “We’ve got work to do.”
Mike takes a slow, shaky breath, never breaking his gaze, like she’s drawing strength just by looking at him.
Then she gets in the car.
A month later, Harvey stands in front of Jessica and tells her, “She goes, I go” – and that night, looking like he’s gone ten rounds with Jesus in a desperate attempt avoid having a come to Jesus moment, shell-shocked and defiant in their kitchen, he tells Mike, “I love you.”
Mike gapes at him for a minute, truly unable to believe that he’s left the door wide open for her to step in as the Han Solo to his Princess Leia, then smiles and says, “I know.”