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when our stars collide

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When Mike unlocks the front door and flips the sign in the window from closed to open, he thinks it's just going to be another ordinary Tuesday. Traditionally it's the quietest day of the week: on Monday people are still buying the books they heard about over the weekend, and towards the end of the work week people are buying books to start reading over their weekends.

Nobody really buys books on a Tuesday.

As such it's the day he usually allocates to either working on the business side of things (payroll and insurance and utilities and marketing and all the boring paperwork that comes along with owning and running a business in New York) or starting on one of the new books that's arrived. That’s one of the things Mike loves best about his job: reading isn’t just something he does for fun. He’s practically paid for it, because the more he reads, the more he’s able to recommend (or not, as the case may be) certain books.

And recommending books is something Mike prides himself on. Whether it’s an innate ability or something he learned from his grandmother he can’t say, but many of his regular customers became that way because Mike recommended something they loved and they came back for more. It's certainly not easy to maintain this type of business in this day and age, what with the prevalence of online shopping and digital downloads, and this is one of the reasons that his bookshop still opens every day when he’s seen countless others close down around him.

A few people come and go throughout the morning: one of the neighborhood regulars, a couple of tourists (based off their accents and attire), a businesswoman here to pick up an order for her boss. Nothing too out of the ordinary.

And then ordinary becomes a thing of the past, because the bell above the door makes that familiar chime (he probably needs to upgrade it to an electronic buzzer, but he feels like the bell suits the aesthetic of the shop so much more) to indicate someone has entered the store and he looks up from his book to be greeted with the sight of Harvey Specter walking in the door.

How Mike manages to not start or stare, he has no idea. He somehow just nods politely, as he does to every customer who walks in the door, watching as Harvey nods back and heads into the stacks.

Mike has lived in New York all his life, so he's not unaccustomed to seeing famous people in real life. He once stood in line at a coffee shop behind Hugh Jackman. He saw Matt Damon at a restaurant once. One time he got into a cab that Anne Hathaway was exiting. He doesn't really get star struck. Except now apparently. Harvey Specter just walked into his shop and Mike's body is reacting, heart beating hard in his chest, breathing becoming more difficult.

Thankfully Mike is distracted from his minor freak out by someone attempting to rob him (and isn't that a thought Mike never imagined he would have). He can see a kid in the back of the store trying to steal a book through the monitors on his desk. Heaving out a deep sigh he puts his book aside and gets up, heading to the back of the shop. He has to pass by Harvey as he does so (he gives the man a polite smile and absolutely doesn't freak out when their bodies touch as he squeezes past), and he makes it to the back of the shop to find the thief still putting books into his way-too-thick-for-this-time-of-year jacket.

"Don't," Mike says.

The teen turns, his face all polite innocence. "Don't what?"

Mike rolls his eyes. "I know what you did. You know what you did. Put everything back right now and I won't call the cops."

He seems to be hesitating, so Mike pulls his cell out of his pocket and starts dialing. The kid rushes to pull out all the books, so Mike puts his phone away.

"Okay, out," Mike says, and he trails behind him to make sure he actually leaves.

Only the kid gets halfway down the aisle where Harvey is standing and he stops, blurting, "Dude, you're Harvey Specter."

"Don't call me dude," Harvey replies, seemingly without forethought, before he looks up from a book and schools his face into polite neutrality.

"I love your movies," the kid gushes. "Selfie?" he asks, getting out his phone in anticipation.

Harvey politely shakes his head. The kid falters slightly, but clearly doesn’t know how to give up, so asks, "Autograph?"

Clearly deciding the quickest and easiest option was to give in, Harvey nods. The kid finds a scrap of paper to hand over, and after Harvey pats down his pockets and comes up empty, Mike hands over a pen. Harvey smiles at him as he accepts it.

Harvey scribbles something on the paper, obviously an actual message since it's taking way too long to be just him signing his name, before handing the paper over. The kid takes the paper with an excited grin, a grin that quickly falters when he reads Harvey's message. He looks up at Harvey, who nods solemnly, and the kid, well, there's no other word for it. He flees.

Harvey chuckles at his retreating form, and Mike can't help but ask in awed wonder, "What did you write?"

"Never come back into this bookshop again, because if you do I know some lawyers who can make your life a living hell."

Mike bursts out laughing. "Seriously?"

Harvey shrugs, a small smile gracing his lips. "Hopefully it works."

"Thanks. I'm Mike, by the way," he says, holding out his hand.

"Harvey," Harvey replies, like Mike doesn't already know, and he shakes Mike's hand.

"Is there anything I can help you with today, Harvey?" Mike asks, trying to remain professional and indifferent and not act like he's talking to one of the most well respected and highest paid actors in film today.

"I think I'll take this one," he says, handing Mike the book he'd been looking at.

Mike glances down to the hardback in his hands. Years of Clouds. His heart sinks. "Uh, are you absolutely set on this one?"

Harvey raises an inquisitive brow at him. "Why?"

"It's just, this book is, well…" When Mike trails off uncertainly Harvey makes a go-on motion. "Crap," Mike finishes. "This book is crap."

"Is that so?" Harvey asks, and for some reason he looks amused by Mike's opinion.

"Yeah, it really is. If you're looking for a similar theme I'd recommend Time May Change or Heir to a Treasonous Title."

"That's okay, I'll take this one."

"Yeah, of course," Mike says, heading back the counter. With his back to Harvey his face falls as he internally chastises himself for being such an idiot. "Totally your choice, man. I mean, it's not the worst book I've ever read, so there's that."

They've made it back to the counter, and Mike starts processing the transaction as Harvey pulls out his wallet. "Oh? And what was the worst book you've ever read?"

"50 Shades of Grey," Mike replies without even thinking. He looks up at Harvey, worried he's crossed some line, to find Harvey smirking at him. Mike grins sheepishly in reply.

Harvey hands him a twenty dollar note and Mike sorts out his change and receipt and bags the book, handing everything over with a smile.

"Good to meet you, Mike," Harvey says.

"You too," Mike replies as Harvey walks out the door.

Once alone, Mike collapses into a chair. Did that just happen? Did Harvey Specter really just walk into his bookshop?

When his employee and best friend, Jenny, walks into the shop two hours later Mike is still in a daze. She looks at him like she knows something is up and he says, "You are never going to believe who was in the shop this morning…"

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

If you had asked Mike earlier that morning if he ever expected to see Harvey again the answer would be are you fucking kidding me no way is Harvey ever coming back here nope nuh uh not happening. Because Harvey's brief appearance in Mike's shop was days ago and there haven't been any sightings of Harvey anywhere (not that he was looking online every day or anything), so for all Mike knew he wasn't even in New York any more.

So he’d fully expected to never see Harvey again. He had resigned himself to the fact that meeting Harvey was going to be a story he told at parties and on dates, and probably half the people he told wouldn’t believe him anyway. But that was fine, maybe even better than fine, because it was just something for Mike and no one could take it away from him.

He's stacking books in the back of the shop when a voice that has no right to be this familiar says, "You were right."

Mike whips around to see Harvey standing there smiling at him, all casual and gorgeous in his dark blue jeans and white Henley. "Harvey," he says, completely surprised.

"That book was fucking terrible."

Mike chuckles, sliding the last of the books in his hands onto shelf before turning back to face Harvey. "Well you can't say you weren't warned," Mike grins. "It's so pretentious. I mean … ‘the hubris of nobility is dreadfully revolutionary in its foresight’. What the hell does that even mean? I had to force myself to read that thing all the way through."

Harvey's just looking at him, awed and maybe slightly confused. "When did you read it?" he asks, and it sounds like a test.

"Uh, a couple of years ago. Why?"

"You remember a line from a book you don't like that you read a couple of years ago?"

"Um, I have a really good memory?" Mike tries, an unintentional question. Of course he knows why he remembers it, but his eidetic memory isn't something he tells everyone about. Because people who know tend to abuse it, and as much as he’s intrigued by Harvey, he's not ready to tell him yet.

Harvey nods, and whether he believes Mike or not he can't tell. "Fair enough. Anyway, I was hoping maybe you could recommend something better to read."

"Of course," Mike says, moving out of the tiny travel corner he was stocking and heading to the literature section. "Something in the same vein as what you just read or completely different?"

"I don't mind, as long as it's good."

"Okay, well…" Mike scans the shelves, pulling some of his favorite books from the shelves as he goes. They trail up and down a few aisles, Harvey a silent presence behind him the whole time, and in the end he has five books in his hands. "These are all really good ones, if you see something you like."

"I do," Harvey says, but his eyes aren't on the books. They're on Mike, and Mike tries not to flush with embarrassment (which he has no need to feel, because obviously it doesn't mean anything, it's not like Harvey is flirting with him or anything…).

Mike smiles shyly and turns his attention back to the pile of books in his hands. "This one is kinda intense but well worth the effort, or this one will have you literally laughing out loud, or this one-"

"I'll take them all."

Mike looks up, shocked. "Seriously?"

Harvey nods.

"Just how bored are you?" Mike asks before he really thinks about it.

Harvey chuckles, the sound so much warmer than it's ever sounded on screen. "Not bored, just enjoying my down time."

"Well if you're spending all your down time reading I can't really judge," Mike says with a grin. He leads the way back to the counter at the front of the store and starts processing the transaction. "So what else do you have planned for your down time?" Mike asks. Small talk is part of the job in a store like this.

"That's an excellent question," Harvey says. "I was actually hoping you might help me out with that."

"Me?" Mike would like to say that the word doesn't come out in a high-pitched squawk, but that would be a lie.

"I was wondering if you would like to go out to dinner with me tonight."

Mike, because his brain is finally adjusting to being in Harvey's presence, stops himself from blurting the first thing that comes to mind, which in this case is: is that a trick question? Instead he takes a moment to actually stop and think about it. Which, granted, doesn't take too long, but he lets Harvey's question settle in the space between them as he puts the books into a bag. He wants to ask Harvey if he's serious, he wants to ask if he heard Harvey correctly, he wants to question why Harvey even wants to see him again.

"Yes," is what actually ends up coming out of Mike's mouth, and he knows it's the right answer the moment he says it.

Harvey lights up (how is it that Harvey Specter, who is almost always at the top of any "beautiful people" list, is lighting up just because Mike has said yes to dinner? - it makes no rational sense) and takes one of the business cards Mike keeps on the counter, writing his cell number on the back of it.

He hands it over, along with his credit card to pay for the books, and Mike accepts both with a shy smile. Mike feels awkward as he goes through the motions of processing the credit card payment, too overwhelmed by the fact that Harvey just asked him out, and when Mike hands over the device for Harvey to key in his pin Harvey says, "You're cute when you blush."

Which, of course, just makes Mike blush even more.

"You should give me your number," Harvey says as he hands back the device, "in case you chicken out and don't call me."

Mike laughs, somehow feeling the nerves melting away. "Here," he says, grabbing one of his cards and scribbling his personal cell number onto the back before putting it in the bag with Harvey's books. "But you won't need it." Mike hands over the bag. "I'll call you."

Harvey grins. "I'll hold you to that."

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

Mike arrives at the restaurant right at eight, walking into the building and feeling immediately underdressed and out of place. He's wearing his best clothes, and he still feels like he looks like a homeless beggar compared to all the designer clothes and sparkling jewelry he can see around the room.

He glances around the room and sees Harvey waiting at the bar. He's only taken one step forward when Harvey finds Mike, and Harvey grins, slipping off the chair and heading across the room to meet him. Harvey is wearing a white shirt with a matching dress pants and vest combination in a dark material, and Mike feels all sorts of inadequate.

"Hi," Mike says, nervous.

"Hey yourself," Harvey returns with a warm smile.

A host has appeared from nowhere, interrupting with a short cough, and Mike very reluctantly turns his gaze away from Harvey's pretty much flawless face. The host is, unsurprisingly, also dressed better than Mike. He really should've listened to Jenny when she suggested he go shopping for his date (she doesn't know who the date is with though, because the whole thing was too surreal for him to say the words to her, she was just lamenting his general lack of nice date clothes).

"Mr. Specter? Your table is ready."

"Lead the way," Harvey replies, and the host gives a curt nod before leading them into the restaurant.

Harvey waves an arm, and Mike follows the host, Harvey trailing behind. The feeling of being a stranger in a strange land returns at full force, making Mike's stomach turn. They are led to a table in the back corner of the room, which thankfully hides them from view from most of the room.

Once they’re seated and the host is done gushing about giving them whatever they need before silently slipping away, Mike says, "Nice place."

There must've been an underlying note of skepticism in his voice, because Harvey says, "It's not as pretentious as it looks. And to be honest, at this place you pay just as much for the privacy as for the food."

Mike nods. "Money well spent then."

Harvey smiles softly. "Indeed."

Suddenly there is someone standing by their table asking if they would like to order drinks (seriously, do they only hire ninjas at this place?) so Harvey asks Mike what he would like. Mike honestly doesn't mind, so Harvey orders them a bottle of wine and they're alone again.

The silence lingers for a moment and it suddenly hits Mike like a ton of bricks. He is sitting at the same table as Harvey Specter. How many of his movies has Mike seen? Ten? Fifteen? People like Harvey shouldn't exist in real life and Mike feels like he's breaking some unwritten rule just by being in the same room as him and why is it suddenly so warm in here?

"Are you okay?" Harvey asks with clear concern.

Mike takes a deep breath and opens his mouth with no forethought to what he was going to say, leading to him babbling almost incoherently, "I don't know if I should admit that I watch all your movies and really love your work because if I do I might come off as a crazy fanboy - which I'm not, by the way - but if I don't then it's like a lie and for some reason I really just can't lie to you but it's weird right, me kinda knowing who you are even though I really don't know anything about you and I just don’t-"

"Mike, breathe," Harvey says, his tone seemingly aiming for light but coming out way too sincere.

So Mike does, and now it's not nerves but embarrassment he feels and oh God they haven't even ordered yet how has he fucked this up already?

"It's okay," Harvey says soothingly, and there's something about the way he says it that makes Mike believe him. And then Mike realizes: this is just how Harvey's life must be all the time - people knowing who he is - and he's used to it. It's not strange to him, it's just how it is. So if it doesn't bother him, it shouldn't bother Mike.

Mike takes a few moments to just breathe, steady and even, and then Harvey asks, "Better?"

Mike nods.

"Look, if this is too weird, we can just tap out right now if you want," Harvey says, though he sounds slightly hesitant about it.

"No," Mike says urgently, and Harvey the smug bastard just smirks at him.

"So, tell me," Harvey says, leaning forward on the table slightly. "Which of my movies is your favorite?" he asks teasingly.

Mike laughs, loud and genuine, and Harvey's smile widens. "Not telling. Somehow I think your ego will be just fine without me stroking it further."

Harvey laughs, and they are still sitting there laughing together when the ninja from before is back, pouring them both a glass of red wine. They disappear just as quickly and quietly as they arrived, and Harvey picks up the glass and says, "Cheers."

"Cheers," Mike says, tapping his glass against Harvey's and taking a sip.

Things are sufficiently more relaxed after that. It's surprisingly easy to talk to Harvey. It's as if admitting that he knew who Harvey was took away the whole star struck thing, and they could just talk and get to know each other as two normal people would. Over the course of the three course meal - which despite Mike's initial reservations is actually quite delicious - he gets to learn quite a lot about Harvey. He finds out that baseball is his favorite sport, and that he follows the Yankees. This of course leads to a twenty minute debate on the Yankees versus the Mets and to be honest, Mike's not sure who wins the argument. He learns that Harvey claims to be open to all types of music, but after a few pertinent questions he admits that jazz is his favorite genre. He learns that Harvey has a brother he adores, that he's lived in New York his whole life, and that he has one of the quickest wits Mike has ever seen.

In return, Mike tells Harvey about his shop, that it was owned by his grandparents and passed on to him, that it makes most of its money through the rare and first edition books they sell. He tells Harvey about the network of contacts his Grammy made not only in New York but all over the country, so when people want to sell their books they call Ross Bookshop first. He tells Harvey about what his favorite subjects in high school were and the things he loves about living in Brooklyn and the trouble he caused his Grammy when he was a kid (and Harvey, unlike most people, doesn't ask the obvious question - where were his parents? - and that just endears him to Mike even more).

The conversation is interesting and amusing but it's decidedly polite, like they are barely scratching the surface of who the other person is.

"So, how did you get into acting?" Mike asks as their dessert plates are cleared away. It's actually the first time since Mike's minor freak out at the beginning of the evening that Harvey's job has been bought up, despite Harvey's interest in Mike's own work. Though he assumes Harvey is probably pretty sick of talking about his work, it's also intrinsic to who Harvey is, and Mike wants to know Harvey. He wants to know all of him.

"Well, the official story is that I joined a drama club at college and kind of fell into it that way."

"And the unofficial story?"

Harvey smiles. "The unofficial story is one you can have on our third or fourth date."

Mike can't help it, a wide grin spreading over his face. Not only was it just confirmed that this is an actual date (he had hoped it was, but until now the word had never been mentioned) but Harvey is already planning more. "I look forward to it."

They settle the bill - Harvey pays, and though Mike protests, in truth he doesn't protest too hard. And because being a world famous movie star is vaguely akin to being a super-secret agent, they leave the restaurant via a back entrance. They exit into a quiet street, and there's a black sedan waiting there. A man in a dark suit slides out of the driver's seat and opens the back door.

"Mike, this is Ray."

Mike holds out his hand and Ray shakes it with a warm smile.

"Come on," Harvey says, walking to the car door, "we'll drop you home."

"You don't have to. It's miles out of your way."

"We don't mind, do we Ray?"

"Not at all," Ray replies genially, and they both seem so genuine that Mike agrees.

It's quiet at first, Ray driving them towards Brooklyn, the city lights occasionally streaking across Harvey's face. Harvey is looking out the window, seemingly content, and Mike likes the way that looks on him. There's something about Harvey, something that just pulls Mike in, makes him want to find out more, to be by his side, and it's scary and overwhelming and Mike is already picturing their inevitable demise because there's no way he'll be allowed to have this, even though he wants it with every fiber of his being.

Harvey must sense Mike's stare, because he turns to face him. "I had a good time," Mike says, voice low, trying to cover up the whole staring thing.

Harvey smiles, and it's unlike any of the smiles Mike has yet seen. It's soft and genuine and Mike can feel butterflies in his stomach. "Me too."

Harvey just keeps looking at him, and it's too much, Mike is suddenly nervous, so he says, "To be honest I wasn't sure when I saw that menu but I have to admit that-"

Mike makes a small noise of surprise when Harvey's lips press into his, but it doesn't take too long to melt into the embrace. Their mouths move together, slow, and Mike pulls back, looks at Harvey through hazy eyes. Harvey isn't smiling, just looking intently at Mike, like he's half exhilarated and half terrified. Mike surges forward, capturing Harvey's lips with his own. He can feel Harvey's hand, warm and sure as it cradles his face, keeping him close, as if there was any danger of Mike pulling away any time this century. Mike doesn't hesitate to deepen the kiss, and this time it's Harvey's turn to make a noise of surprise. But it's a happy one if the way Harvey edges closer to him is any indication.

They spend the majority of the car ride to Brooklyn making out in the back seat, a perfect end to a perfect evening.

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

Mike wakes up not entirely convinced last night wasn't just some amazing dream conjured up by an overactive mind.

But it must've been real, the memories too vivid to be anything but. He can remember the press of Harvey's mouth against his own, the softness of Harvey's suit under his hands when he trailed fingers down Harvey's chest, the look of happiness on Harvey's face when Mike started climbing out of the car but turned back for one last quick kiss before getting out of the car for good.

It was real.

He goes through the motions, eating breakfast and getting ready for the day. He heads into the shop to see Jenny already there, and she says good morning as she hands over a coffee. Mike takes it with a grateful smile and slides into the chair beside her.

Saturdays are by far their busiest day, and it's easier than he thought it would be, getting his mind off Harvey and onto the task of selling books and answering questions and trying to track down a Capote for a client. As such, when his cell rings just before lunch he doesn't even look at the caller ID when he answers with, "Hello?"

"Hey," Harvey says, his voice warm and soft even through the phone connection.

Mike grins. "Hey, how are you?"

"Good. You?"

"Yeah, good. Busy."

"Well I know you're working so I won't keep you. Just wanted to see if you were free for dinner tonight?"

"Absolutely."

"Great. How about we stay in this time? Grab a bite to eat, watch a movie… I'll text you my address. Say, seven-ish?"

Mike swallows. The invitation to Harvey's home was definitely unexpected, and Mike can't help the multitude of directions his mind is spinning.

"Mike, you still there?"

"Yeah, I'm here. Sounds good."

"Good. I'll see you tonight."

"Bye, Harvey."

When Mike hangs up the phone it's to see Jenny looking at him with a curious – no, an excited – look on her face. "Harvey?" she asks. "Not Harvey Specter?"

Mike immediately hushes her, even though there isn't anyone else at the counter.

"Oh my God why didn't you tell me?" Jenny demands in a loud whisper, smacking his arm.

"Because I wasn't convinced it wasn't a massive cosmic joke," Mike says light-heartedly, even though part of him actually means it. "But Jen, you can't tell anyone."

"Tell anyone what? Oh my God are you actually dating?"

"Jenny," Mike implores, looking around to make sure no one has heard. He steps closer to her. "I don't know. Maybe?"

"How did this even happen?"

"He came back into the store yesterday because the book he bought was terrible, just like I told him it would be."

"Yes, yes, you are a book guru. Get to the good stuff."

"And he asked me out to dinner. End of story."

"No, Mike, not end of story. Give me details."

Mike grins, shaking his head. "Those are all the details you get."

"Seriously? You are the worst," Jenny gripes, but she doesn't push the matter either, so he thinks that she gets it.

"Love you too," he replies. She sticks out her tongue in response.

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

When Mike announces himself to the doorman in Harvey's building he's directed to the elevator banks and told, "Mr. Specter is expecting you. Use the elevator at the end of the hallway."

Slightly confused, Mike does as he's told, walking down the hall, passing elevators on his left and right until he gets to the end, to the single elevator that directly faces him. The call button doesn't have an up arrow, it just says 'P'. Mike hits the button, the doors opening straight away.

The elevator only has an option for the Penthouse, and Mike expects the elevator to open up to a hallway outside Harvey's apartment. What he doesn't expect is for the elevator to ascend and open in the middle of Harvey's apartment (well, okay, the corner of the living room, but still).

Dazed, Mike steps directly into the apartment and after a quick look around, he can see Harvey cooking in the kitchen. When Harvey had said they'd grab a bite to eat he'd imagined take out on the couch, not Harvey wearing an apron and preparing dinner for them.

Mike realizes then that falling for Harvey is going to be all too easy.

Harvey looks up and notices Mike standing there. He smiles warmly, says, "Come on in, make yourself at home."

Mike leaves his shoes by the door (okay, elevator, and it's still weird no matter how much he thinks about it) and wanders further into the apartment. He can't help but look around, wide-eyed, taking in all the details. The apartment is without a doubt the biggest one he has ever seen in his life. It's clean and modern, though a little too clinical for Mike's taste, music is playing from … somewhere, and almost every wall has a piece of art on it.

"Nice place," Mike tells him.

"Thanks."

"How long have you been here?"

"About five years."

Mike finds himself gravitating to the windows. It's still light enough to see the view of Central Park before him, and Mike just stands there, staring. It's beautiful. Harvey gets to wake up to this view every day. He wonders what that must be like, to live in a penthouse in the sky and look down on the city below.

He must've stood there for a long time, just staring out the window, because the next thing Mike knows Harvey is standing beside him, two bowls of steaming stir-fry in hand. He hands one over to Mike with a smile.

"Nice view, huh?"

"How do you ever tear yourself away from it?" Mike asks, not even joking.

Harvey chuckles. "When I first moved in I would spend hours staring out this window. I'd move a chair over here and just sit and read and then inevitably get distracted by the view. It's basically why I bought this place."

"It's amazing," Mike says, voice low with awe.

Harvey lets him admire the view for a few more moments before saying, "Come on, let's eat."

Even though Mike had noticed that the table had been set when he walked into the apartment, Harvey leads them to the couch, putting his bowl on the dark wooden coffee table. Mike sits down on the couch as Harvey walks to the kitchen, asking, "Can I get you a drink?"

"Just water's fine. Thanks."

Harvey comes back with two glasses of water and some cutlery, putting the drinks on the coffee table and handing Mike a fork. Mike takes it with a smile of thanks before taking a bite of the stir fry.

He lets out a moan of appreciation. "Oh my god this is so good."

Harvey chuckles. "Thank you."

"Do you cook a lot?"

Harvey shrugs. "When I'm home, yes. I like to cook, even if there is something slightly depressing about cooking for one."

"What about when you're not at home?"

"Well, if I'm at work I'm usually on set anywhere between twelve and eighteen hours a day. I'll either eat at craft services or the production occasionally hires a chef for me."

"You're kidding," Mike exclaims.

Harvey just shrugs, taking another bite to eat. "It's a perk of the job, what can I say?"

"So, tell me, exactly how many staff members do you have?" Mike asks, settling back into the couch.

"Not many, just four."

"Four," Mike deadpans.

"Well, there's Donna, my assistant. Jessica, my agent. Louis, who is my lawyer. And you met Ray. That's it."

"That's it, huh? Wow, how do you survive with so few people catering to your every whim," Mike teases, gratified when Harvey takes it in the spirit it was intended and laughs.

"If it makes you feel any better I know people with way more staff than that. They have housekeepers and chefs and hairdressers and tailors and nannies… I'm relatively low maintenance you know."

Mike chuckles. "I'm sure you are."

"So," Harvey asks around a bite of food, and Mike knows he's gone when he finds the fact that Harvey can't wait until he's finished eating to keep talking endearing instead of annoying, "how was your day?"

"Good. Busy. Saturdays usually are. Someone else came in looking for Years of Clouds today but this time they actually listened to me when I told them not to bother."

Harvey laughs. "In my defense it was well reviewed in the Times."

"And believe me, if that idiot actually knew what he was talking about it would make my job so much easier."

Harvey looks at him a moment, considering. "Have you ever thought about that? Reviewing books, that is. I mean, it's obviously something you enjoy…"

"I love reading. Always have. And I will do anything I can to encourage other people to read good books. But I love my shop, and I can do that there. I'm not sure I could ever leave it."

"It must mean a great deal to you," Harvey says, and Mike thinks he hears an underlying question about why it means so much.

Mike nods, basically stalling for time as he considers how much to tell Harvey. This is only their second date, it should be too soon. But the truth is, as much as he wants to know Harvey he also wants Harvey to know him too, and he doesn't feel like he normally feels when the subject of his upbringing is raised, where he feels like he needs to explain himself, to justify why he is the way he is. It doesn't feel like that at all. It feels natural, to tell Harvey this, to tell him everything.

"My parents died when I was ten. Car crash. My Grammy raised me. My grandfather passed away when I was a kid, I barely remember him, so it was just me and Grammy. The shop was hers and I grew up there; it's my home. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to leave it."

Harvey doesn’t say anything, he just reaches over and squeezes Mike's wrist. Mike understands, and he's grateful that Harvey hasn't offered words of sympathy or platitude. He's heard them all before anyway, and they don't really mean anything. Harvey is the first person who realizes that sometimes no words are necessary, that a touch of comfort means so much more, and Mike can't help but think that maybe that means something.

"So, how was your day?" Mike asks, a not so subtle change in subject.

"Well," Harvey says, withdrawing his hand from Mike's skin. He misses it immediately. "I spent a few hours in the gym this morning, had a working lunch with Jessica, did some shopping this afternoon, read a bit more of The Ninth Window. Nothing too exciting I'm afraid."

"What was your meeting about?"

"Just the usual. We're in final negotiations for a new project, so we had to debrief on that. She's always being sent scripts for me, so we went through what some of the better ones were. Had some scheduling things we needed to work out for next year."

"But that's still six months away."

"Welcome to my life," Harvey says with a wry smile. "I think the most I've ever booked something in advance was two and a half years."

"You're kidding? That's … actually that's kinda crazy."

"Yeah," Harvey chuckles ruefully in agreement. "If I'm honest it's the thing I hate most about my job. I like life like this -" Harvey raises a hand up, moves it in a horizontal fashion "- and that's what I get from the actual work. Reading an amazing script for the first time, researching, being on set, inhabiting another character, getting to be someone else… there's nothing else like it. But then all the scheduling and press and all that other shit is this…" He moves his hand in a horizontal movement again, only this time his hand is so low it's practically in his lap.

Harvey drops his hand and looks away, uncertain.

"Is something wrong?" Mike asks, nervous.

"It's just," Harvey clears his throat but doesn't look back at Mike, "I've never told that to anyone before."

A warm feeling explodes in Mike's chest. He smiles, because how can he not, and he reaches over and squeezes Harvey's thigh. That finally gets his attention, and Harvey turns back to him. "Your secret's safe with me," he promises.

Harvey smiles then, finally, and before Mike realizes what's happening Harvey leans in and kisses him. It's soft and chaste but before Harvey can move away again Mike reaches out and wraps his fingers around Harvey's bicep, keeping him in place as he deepens the kiss.

It's easy like nothing in his life has ever been. While Mike wasn't exactly a man about town in any sense of the term, he's had some pretty amazing kisses before. But this, kissing Harvey, it feels effortless and overwhelming and so fucking right.

"Wait," Harvey says, pulling back and leaving Mike hanging. "We need to talk."

"Talk?" Mike replies hesitantly.

"If we do this Mike, then we need to keep our relationship secret, at least for the moment. If that's going to be a problem then you need to tell me now."

Mike lets out a sigh of relief. He was half convinced Harvey was about to tell him they couldn't do this at all. Mike takes the empty bowl from Harvey's hands, placing both his and Harvey's bowl on the coffee table. He inches closer to Harvey on the couch, lifting a hand and brushing his fingers through the hair above Harvey's ear. "You think I care if the world knows we're together? Because let me tell you, I really don't. I like you, Harvey. I just want to be with you. Whether it's behind closed doors or for the world to see, I don’t care."

"Are you sure?" Harvey asks, the words low but intent, like he's desperate for Mike to be certain about this.

And Mike is. He's never been surer of anything in his life. So instead of answering he kisses Harvey, pours all the certainty he feels into the embrace. And Harvey must get it, because he responds in kind, pushing Mike down onto the couch and falling easily between his legs as he kisses Mike, tongue plunging into his mouth and making Mike groan.

And then Harvey's gone, Mike gasping for air as Harvey pushes up his t-shirt so he can press his mouth to Mike's stomach. Mike can't breathe, stomach tightening in anticipation beneath Harvey's tongue as Harvey's deft fingers undo his jeans, pushing them down his legs. Mike's legs flail slightly as he kicks them off, Harvey pressed back against the couch to give him room and watching on with a chuckle.

Once they are finally gone Mike pulls Harvey back down, kissing him. He doesn't want to waste any more of his life not kissing Harvey, because when he and Harvey kiss it's like he's never done this with anyone before. Everything is new and exciting and it feels like no one in the world has done this, that they are the only people who get to experience such perfection. Mike unbuttons Harvey's jeans, and Harvey seems to be even more impatient than Mike, because he not only divests himself of his jeans but his briefs too.

When Harvey moves back on top of Mike, their mouths meeting eagerly, Mike wraps his arms around him, slides a leg over his hip, pressing him closer. Harvey moves his body in gentle waves, the friction making Mike shiver.

Harvey mouth slides down Mike's neck and he murmurs, "You feel so good." Mike can't reply, his mind cannot even form coherent thought, all he can do is hold on to Harvey that much tighter.

Harvey's movements quicken, Mike meeting his thrusts, and he's never felt more turned on in his life. With closed eyes he can hear Harvey's ragged breaths, can feel their chests where they press together. He moans in delight at the feel of their cocks sliding together with just a thin cotton layer separating them, urging Harvey on, desperate for more.

"We should move this to the bedroom," Harvey says, moving away from Mike, but Mike immediately follows, saying, "No, no don't go," and pressing Harvey into a sitting position before throwing a leg over him, straddling Harvey's lap. He kisses Harvey, one arm wrapped around his shoulders, and starts grinding against him. "I want you to fuck me right here," Mike says against Harvey's lips, earning him a groan and deep kiss in reply.

When they finally come up for air Harvey presses his forehead to Mike's and says in a hoarse voice, "As much as I'd love that I don't exactly have what we need right here."

"On the contrary..." He kisses Harvey's lips briefly then slides off Harvey's lap and picks up his jeans from the floor. He gives Harvey a shy smile as he rifles through the pockets. After he pulls the condom and sachet of lube from his wallet he quickly shucks off his boxer briefs before crawling back onto Harvey's lap. Harvey's t-shirt disappeared during the brief interlude and after he hands Harvey the lube Mike runs his fingertips down Harvey's chest and stomach, slowly exploring.

Mike's breath hitches at the first touch of Harvey's fingers on him, and he would swear that his heart actually skips a few beats when Harvey slowly pushes in. Harvey kisses him, pressing soft kisses on his mouth and chin and neck. Mike is lost to the sensation for a moment, reveling in Harvey's assured touch, noises for which he can claim no responsibility escaping parted lips.

After he makes it through the initial rush and his mind clears he doesn't waste any time getting his own hands on Harvey, wrapping a hand around his cock. He pumps steadily, making Harvey groan, and Mike can't help but to sneak a look down, watch the head of Harvey's cock as it continually peeks in and out of Mike's fist. It's a fucking amazing sight, and he wants it in him right now. So he reluctantly withdraws his hand so he can get the condom packet open.

"Fuck yes," Harvey sighs as Mike rolls it down, clearly as ready for this as Mike is.

Mike shifts up onto his knees, allowing Harvey to slide down the couch ever so slightly. Mike reaches behind him to take Harvey in hand, and is just about to sink down when he catches a glimpse of Harvey's face. His expression is open, wondrous, and Mike stills for a moment. He feels an overwhelming sense of calmness, of knowing that he's safe and wanted. His whole life he's never felt anything like it. He places a hand on Harvey's cheek, thumb brushing over the arch, and he leans forward and kisses Harvey, a very simple pressing of lips that he hopes will convey everything he can never say.

He ends up breaking their kiss with a contented gasp when he lowers himself down. It's amazing, feeling so full and connected, and he starts moving straight away, desperate for friction. Harvey leans forward to kiss him, and Mike returns the embrace eagerly.

He can feel Harvey's hands on his hips, fingertips pressing into his skin as their bodies move in rhythm together. And as their movements hasten in speed Harvey's hand wanders under his t-shirt, gliding up his spine, so his palm can press flat into his back, urging Mike closer. Mike is more than happy to oblige. The slight change in angle is delicious, and Mike stretches his movements out longer, slower, earning a frustrated noise from Harvey.

"Something wrong?" Mike asks cheekily, and then he stops moving entirely.

Harvey groans. "You fucker," he says, but he's smiling around the words.

Mike laughs, leaning forward and kissing him. Harvey starts moving against him, and Mike doesn't hold out long, soon meeting his thrusts.

"Come on." Harvey's voice is low and urgent in Mike's ear. "Come on, Mike."

"You want more?" Mike asks, teasingly.

"I want everything," Harvey replies. Mike knows it's probably the lack of brain to mouth filter that comes with sex making him say it, but he doesn't care. Because right now, he completely agrees.

With a newfound zeal, Mike's movements become swift and urgent. Both arms move to grip the back of the couch, bracketing Harvey between them. Their bodies rock urgently against each other and when Mike tries to kiss Harvey their movements make it near impossible. Instead he presses their faces together so he can feel Harvey's ragged breath on his cheek, he notes the feel of Harvey's fingers pressing into his skin, he loves the way his cock rubs against Harvey's stomach, he's besieged by the feeling of Harvey moving inside him, deeper and deeper.

"Harvey," Mike says, the only word his brain is capable of forming at this particular moment. He feels completely wrecked.

"I love the way you say my name," Harvey tells him. The words sound like a confession, and Mike needs to get his mouth on Harvey, so he does, pressing a quick kiss on his jaw.

Mike can feel Harvey's fingers wrap around his cock, moving in rhythm to their bodies. It feels fucking incredible, and the touch keeps Mike tethered when he is in danger of floating away.

"Harvey," Mike says again. He keeps saying it until he can't say any more, until his throat seizes and his body goes taut as he spills between them.

Harvey grips him tight, Mike's orgasm triggering his own, and they both remain there together, sharing ragged breaths and clutching desperately at each other.

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

When Mike wakes up it doesn't take him too long to realize he's not at home. The bed is far too large and luxurious for one, there's pure white light streaming in through the floor to ceiling windows for another, but the big giveaway is Harvey, lying beside him, his palm flat on Mike's chest and thumb idling back and forth. Mike smiles, warm, content, stretching his body. Harvey leans over and kisses him, sleepy soft, and murmurs against his mouth, "You're still here."

"Of course," Mike replies easily, retuning the kiss, but then he pulls back, panicking. "Unless you'd rather-"

"No, no, that's not what I meant." Harvey settles comfortably in the bed beside him, seemingly considering his next words carefully. "It's just, with most people they get what they want – a night with a world famous actor – and then they leave. Which is fine," Harvey hastily adds, in reaction to Mike's fallen face, "because that's what I wanted too."

"What, a night with a world famous actor?" Mike asks with a grin.

Harvey chuckles. He shifts closer in the bed to Mike, runs a hand through his hair. "No, just, no commitment. At least, that's normally what I want. But when I woke up this morning I didn't open my eyes, because I was worried that when I did that you'd be gone."

Mike runs his fingertips lightly up and down Harvey's arms. "To be honest, until you just mentioned it, I completely forgot who you are. I just saw you as the guy I'm crazy about."

Harvey kisses him then, shifting his body so he lies atop Mike. Mike happily makes room for him so Harvey can lie between his legs. The kiss is deep and languorous; all tongue, as if Harvey is trying to devour him. And Mike is more than happy to be his morning snack.

"Do you have to go into work today?" Harvey asks as his hand idles down Mike's stomach, fingers wrapping around his cock.

"No," comes out of Mike's mouth in a strangled gasp. "Jenny's got the shop covered. I've got the whole day free."

"Not anymore," Harvey grins against his mouth.

Harvey's hand is making lazy strokes and Mike can't help but arch into the touch, silently begging for more. He gets his hands on Harvey, fingertips lightly gliding over his back, his sides, through the short hairs at the nape of his neck. Harvey feels so real beneath his fingertips, and Mike has a sudden thought, unbidden, that he wants to wake up like this, always. He drags his mouth from Harvey's, pressing it into his shoulder, peppering open mouthed kisses on his skin, hoping he can keep his mouth distracted so he doesn't spill the secrets in his head.

Harvey shifts his body slightly, arching his midsection up and burying his head in the crook of Mike's neck. He wraps a hand around both of them, making Mike moan. Mike pants into Harvey's ear, clutching at his back as Harvey gets them off in almost no time at all

Harvey's body is a heavy weight on him but Mike just can't stop kissing him. "I never want to leave this bed," Mike says, then immediately regrets it because fuck, could that be more forward?

But Harvey doesn't seem to mind, laughing as his mouth presses soft kisses along his jaw line. "I'm not sure how viable an option that is. But I'm definitely not opposed to spending the day here with you."

"Yeah?" Mike asks, and there's a surprised and hopeful tone to his voice, one that gets Harvey's attention, because Harvey lifts his head and nods before quickly kissing him.

"Awesome," Mike grins. "But I do think I need a shower first."

Ten minutes later finds them making out under Harvey's awesome shower, with an actual waterfall shower head (which Mike didn't believe existed outside of home renovation shows). It doesn't go any further, because Harvey slips out early to get breakfast started, telling Mike to take as long as he wants. So Mike luxuriates in the space and opulence of Harvey's en-suite for a little while, eventually exiting the room with a towel around his hips to see Harvey has left him a pair of pajama pants and t-shirt to change into.

Mike is smiling as he puts the clothes on. The t-shirt is thin, well-worn and comfortable, and knowing that Harvey must've worn this same shirt dozens of times makes his stomach flip. He heads out into the kitchen to see Harvey preparing breakfast, but when Mike offers to help Harvey shoos him away, sending Mike back to bed.

So Mike heads back into the bedroom. He straightens up the sheets on the bed from their ruffled state, and takes his pillow (okay, that's a bit presumptuous, the pillow he’d been using) and sets it at the foot of the bed. He settles himself on top of the sheets, leaning back against the footboard of the bed with outstretched legs crossed at the ankle, just as Harvey comes in, carrying breakfast on a tray.

There are a couple of toasted bagels with various toppings, and a mug of steaming coffee each. Harvey places it on the bed before settling himself against the headboard. Mike immediately goes for the coffee, taking a sip with a grateful smile.

"Not a morning person?" Harvey asks, amused.

"Not particularly. The shop doesn't open until nine, and I live right above it, so sometimes I'm still sleeping until quarter to. What about you? Morning or night person?"

"Both. I kinda have to be. First call can be anywhere from five to seven am, and then some nights I'm working past midnight."

"I could not work those hours," Mike says emphatically.

Harvey chuckles. "You'd be surprised."

"So, what's your favorite breakfast food?" Mike asks, reaching for one of the bagel halves.

"When I'm indulging it's French toast. Most days breakfast for me is something boring like muesli or multigrain toast."

"What's the first thing you remember as a kid?"

"What is this, twenty questions?" Harvey asks, laughing.

"Come on, Harvey, this is the getting to know you stage, it's supposed to be fun," Mike needles, stretching out his foot and playfully poking Harvey in the thigh.

"Is it supposed to feel like a job interview?"

"A job interviewer wouldn't ask you something like what's your favorite sexual position?"

Harvey laughs, the noise echoing happily around the room. Mike can't help but grin in reply.

"I should certainly hope not," Harvey grins. "Okay then, twenty questions it is, let's go."

"And now I can't decide whether I want to know your first childhood memory or favorite sexual position more," Mike smirks.

"Well pick one because next it's my turn to ask a question."

"I suppose I should stick with the childhood memory one."

"Okay, well," Harvey pauses, seemingly thinking about it, "there's this memory I have, sitting on my mom's lap and watching my dad and younger brother splashing about in a swimming pool. I'm not sure if it's real or if it's something I created from seeing an old photograph of the moment, but I like to think it's me actually remembering it."

"What’s your brother's name?" Mike asks, intrigued. As an only child, not to mention an orphan, familial relationships have always fascinated him.

"Marcus. He's two years younger than me."

"Are you guys close? Does he live nearby?"

Harvey smiles, like he has a secret, and simply says, "Yes. To both. Okay, I think it's probably my turn now. How old are you?"

Mike bursts out laughing, grateful he hadn't decided to take a sip of his coffee at that particular moment. "Really? All the questions in the world that you could ask and that's what you go for?"

"What? I don't know your age and I thought I probably should."

Mike is still laughing when he replies, "Twenty-seven."

Harvey looks away for a moment, muttering under his breath, "Jesus, you're young."

"Why? How old are you?"

"Thirty-nine."

"Is that in real years or Hollywood years?" Mike teases.

"Okay, moving on," Harvey says with an eyeroll. "Favorite … outdoor activity."

"Biking," Mike replies easily. "I love it. It's basically my only form of exercise, but it's the quickest way to get around the city, it's green, it's fun. I love cycling through Central Park or Marine Park, exploring the boroughs…"

"Isn't it dangerous?" Harvey asks with concern.

"Everything is dangerous. But I've been doing it for a long time. I'm careful."

"There's no such thing as careful in New York with crazy drivers everywhere," Harvey points out.

Mike smiles. "Awww, are you worried about me?"

Harvey chuckles. "Okay, next question. First concert you ever went to?"

"Live. Trevor and I were sixteen and snuck into one of their gigs. The view was pretty shitty but the music was amazing."

"Trevor?" Harvey asks with a tilt of the head.

"He was my best friend."

"Was?"

"Yeah. I haven't seen him in years."

Harvey gives him a look, like he knows there's a story there and he really wants to ask. Mike distracts him from that possibility by asking, "What about you? What was your first concert?"

"Frank Sinatra at Radio City Music Hall."

Mike's jaw drops. "You're kidding."

Harvey chuckles. "Well, I was only three, so I don't really remember much of it."

"Why were you at a Frank Sinatra concert at three years old?"

"My dad was a musician. He played with everyone, because they all loved him. He was amazing. But he was away a lot, touring. So usually when whatever tour he was on was playing New York my mom would take me to see him play. We watched the whole thing from the wings of the stage. My dad always liked to tell the story about how he could hear me cheering for him after each song and that once Frank left the stage I ran out to him in front of the full auditorium."

"Well I guess that explains the whole acting thing," Mike grins. "Not only was entertainment in the genes but you were clearly never scared of an audience."

Harvey laughs ruefully. "Yes and no. I grew up surrounded by creative people, and my dad always encouraged me and my brother to be creative, but it wasn't something I wanted back then."

"So, if you weren't an actor what would you want to be? Musician?"

Harvey shakes his head. "A baseball player or lawyer."

"Wow, you didn't even stop to think about that one."

"No need to," Harvey shrugs. "I was supposed to be both."

"You're kidding."

"Nope. I played ball in high school, was a damn good player actually. But I got injured senior year, and that was the end of that. I went to college for pre-law, because law school was always my back up. I was at the top of my class by the end of the first year, and then, I met this girl…"

"Oh," Mike laughs. "Do tell."

"Well, let's just say she wouldn't give me the time of day. She was in one of the drama clubs on campus, so I thought I'd join up, see if that would help to win her over."

"And did it?"

"Yes and no. But on the upside, it lead me to my current career."

Mike chuckles. "That's so cool. So does that mean in parallel universes there are versions of you playing professional baseball and being a badass lawyer?"

Harvey smiles. "I like to think so".

Mike can't help but return the smile. "Wait," he realizes, "I thought that was a story I wasn't getting til our fourth date?"

"Well, I guess you're an exception…"

Mike could kiss Harvey if he wasn't so far away. And if the look on Harvey's face is any indication, he's thinking the exact same thing.

"What book would you most like to see turned into a movie?" Harvey asks.

"In Absentia."

"Favorite take-out?"

"Pizza. With cheese in the crust."

Harvey makes an exaggerated gasp. "Heathen."

Mike chuckles. "Hmmm … favorite on screen kiss?"

"Rachel Weisz."

Mike whistles low, impressed. "She is so stunning."

"And the sweetest person you will ever meet in real life."

"So what about off screen?"

"You mean apart from you?" Harvey asks with a smirk.

Mike shoves Harvey playfully with his foot. "Come on, I was being serious."

"So was I."

Mike melts a little bit then and there. "Okay then, yes apart from me."

Harvey makes a show of thinking about it for a good long while, even tapping a finger to his chin in exaggerated contemplation. Finally he says, "It's a toss-up between Dana Scott and Terry Bianchi."

"And who were they?"

"Scottie is the girl I chased into drama club."

"And the guy?"

Harvey smirks. "The lead in the first play the club put on."

"Nice," Mike laughs.

Harvey shrugs. "I was young and stupid."

"And now?"

"Now I'm slightly older and slightly less stupid."

Mike takes a moment to let his eyes linger over Harvey, from his messy bed hair to the crinkles around his eyes and the breadth of his shoulders. "I like you this way," Mike says softly.

"Is that right?" Harvey asks, voice low.

Mike nods. "That reminds me," he grins, leaning forward and crawling up the bed towards Harvey, "I never did get an answer to the favorite sexual position question."

"Well maybe I should just show you," Harvey suggests, meeting Mike in a searing kiss.

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

Mike stays until after dinner, at which point Ray drives him back to Brooklyn (Mike had tried to refuse but Harvey wasn't having it, and Mike couldn't deny it was a nice indulgence). It feels like waking up from a dream, walking into his tiny apartment, and yet Mike can't stop smiling.

He never thought he'd get to have something like this, someone like Harvey. And it's not even the rich and famous thing, because in all honesty those are some of the least interesting things about him. Harvey is smart and quick and intriguing and Mike genuinely can't remember ever feeling this way about anyone before.

Work is a drag. Mondays are usually hit and miss in terms of the amount of customers through the door, and today is more of a miss. He tries to distract himself with reading a new release but it doesn't take too long to pull out his phone and text Harvey. They end up texting all day long, and on a whim Mike invites him over for dinner.

Harvey enters the shop right at five. Mike, sitting at the front desk, grins at him. "Hey."

"Hey yourself," Harvey replies.

There's no one else in the store, so Mike doesn't hesitate to get up from his stool, moving around the counter and kissing Harvey hello. "Come on, let's go."

Mike locks up the store, leading Harvey to the back of the shop and through the staff break room to the door leading up to his apartment. He unlocks the door, heading up the narrow staircase.

"Welcome to my humble abode," Mike says as they reach the top, not at all disingenuous, because in comparison to Harvey's penthouse in the sky Mike's abode is humble.

He can't help but anxiously watch on as Harvey moves into the room, taking in the surroundings. The bulk of the apartment is made up of the one living/dining/kitchen space, and then there are three doors which lead to two tiny bedrooms (Mike's thought about knocking through and making them one large room, but for now they are one bedroom and one spare room he uses for storage) and an even tinier bathroom. It's small and cramped but Mike loves it because this is where he grew up, it's home, but he does worry that to someone like Harvey, who is used to first class everything, that it's going to come across like a hovel.

Harvey still hasn't said anything, is just moving around the room, taking everything in, and the extended silence is just increasing Mike’s anxiety. He needs to say something, so he breaks the quiet with, "It isn't much, but-"

"No," Harvey says, turning away from the Chinese Panda picture on the wall and looking at Mike. "No, it's great. It's warm and lived in. It feels like a home. I'm away so much my apartment has to be kept in a certain way to make it easier when I'm away. But it can feel a little cold and clinical sometimes..."

Mike gets a thrill of satisfaction when he hears Harvey use the exact same word that he himself thought the first time he went to Harvey's place. That feeling quickly turns from satisfaction to anticipation when Harvey crosses the room. He's expecting a kiss to his lips, not for Harvey to duck his head lower and press a soft, open mouthed kiss on his neck, right on his pulse point.

Mike forgets how to breathe.

Harvey keeps tenderizing his skin with kisses and scrapes of teeth. Mike's head tips back, eyes closed, as he gives in to the sensation. His fingers slide over the back of Harvey's neck, squeezing briefly, and then they're kissing, dirty and desperate, like they haven't done it in years. Harvey edges Mike backwards until they hit the door to the spare room and Mike can't help but delight in the feel of his body pressed so firmly between the solid wood of the door and the soft pliancy of Harvey's body.

When air becomes something that’s necessary the kiss ends, Mike slightly light-headed, both of them panting for breath.

"Fuck," Mike breathes, because being with Harvey, kissing him and talking with him and touching him, it makes Mike see stars and hear music and all those other ridiculous clichés that he never believed in. And it's too much, too soon, he shouldn't be feeling this way about someone he's basically only known for three days.

"You okay?" Harvey asks, his voice shaded with concern.

"Yeah, of course," Mike says, smiling brightly and extracting himself from Harvey.

Harvey doesn't look convinced, even when Mike goes to the kitchen and pulls out a couple of beers, putting one in Harvey’s hand. "Are you sure?"

"Absolutely," Mike says, hating how much it feels like a lie. But what's the alternative? Telling Harvey that he's falling hard and fast and it's more incredible and terrifying than he ever imagined? Not a good idea. That kind of declaration would scare anyone off, let alone someone like Harvey, who so far has barely made the commitment to anyone his whole adult life. "Now," Mike continues in an attempt to deflect, "I'm not the best cook in the world so I was thinking pizza and a movie. Thoughts?"

Harvey keeps looking at him like he wants to press the subject but he must decide to let it go, because he smiles and says, "Sounds great."

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

"Mike?"

There's something pulling Mike from the comfort of unconsciousness, a muffled noise tickling at the corner of his mind, dragging him into the waking world when he just wants to stay in the cocoon of his bed. He turns his body away from the noise, bumping into the warm body beside him. He slides an arm across Harvey's stomach, buries into his side.

"Mike."

Mike makes a noise of annoyance, tries to ignore the familiar voice.

"Mike!!"

Mike bolts upright as Jenny bursts into his bedroom. She stands there in the doorway, a grin slowly forming on her face, and Mike looks back and forth between Jenny's widening grin and Harvey's still sleeping form in the bed beside him.

“Oh my God.”

"Not a word," Mike hisses in warning.

"Oh my God," Jenny whispers as loud as she possibly can.

"Get out," he says urgently.

Jenny just grins at him for a moment longer before whispering, "You're late." And then she disappears from sight.

Mike glances nervously at Harvey but he appears to still be dead to the world. Mike lets out a low breath of relief before collapsing back on the bed, close enough to Harvey that he can feel the line of his arm against his own.

"So who was that?" Harvey asks drowsily.

Mike immediately flinches in surprise but it's followed soon after by a feeling of panic sitting low in his stomach. "You heard all that?" Mike asks, clinging to the naive hope that Harvey was just fucking with him.

Harvey opens his eyes, a lazy grin creeping over his face. "Kinda hard not to with all that whispered yelling."

Mike can't help it, laughing lightly. He shifts in the bed so he's half sprawled over Harvey's chest, the older man making a token noise of protest. However he then proceeds to run his fingertips lightly up and down Mike's arm, so Mike figures he doesn't mind too much.

"That was Jenny, my best friend," Mike tells him. "She works in the shop with me, but we've known each other for years. She's pretty much my only family at this point."

"How did you meet?"

Mike chuckles ruefully. "She dated my best friend."

Harvey raises an eyebrow, clearly curious, but Mike decides now is not the time to tell that particular story. So instead he reassures Harvey that, "She won't tell anyone about us."

"You trust her." At Mike's nod, Harvey adds, "I trust you."

Mike kisses him then, sweet and slow.

"So, what are your plans for the day?" Harvey asks.

"Unfortunately I need to work. In fact," he glances over at his bedside table alarm clock, "yup, I'm already late."

"Well, if you’re already late then maybe you should just take the day off, play hooky with me." And to further press the point, Harvey's hand trails tantalizingly down Mike's side, the touch light on his skin.

"Yeah?" Mike grins. "What did you have in mind?"

He fully expects Harvey to come back with a vaguely dirty reply, which is why he's so surprised when Harvey says, "How about we go out, go see a movie?"

Mike's head whips back at a breakneck speed, surprised. "Are you serious right now?"

"Why wouldn't I be?"

"Well ... you know, the whole going out in public together thing."

Harvey shrugs. "I know a guy at AMC Lincoln Square -"

"Of course you do."

"- and he can guarantee we won't be bothered."

Mike grins. "Well okay then." He kisses Harvey quickly before sliding off him, scrounging on the floor near his bed for some clothes, which he quickly shucks on. "I'll just go bribe Jenny into letting me have the day off."

"I thought you were the boss," Harvey points out.

"Technically yes, but trust me, you do not want to get on Jenny's bad side." Mike shudders dramatically to emphasize the point. When he gets up it's to see Harvey lying in the exact same position, a vaguely amused look on his face.

"Feel free to use the shower, or raid the kitchen for food. Or, you know, just stay there if you wanna be lazy."

"Decisions, decisions..."

Mike's grinning as he heads downstairs. Jenny is at the front desk with a customer, so he silently slides in beside her and patiently waits for her to be done. Jenny is all polite professionalism until the moment they are alone, at which point she squeals and grabs Mike's arms and demands details.

Mike laughs, the mood contagious, though he immediately thereafter tries to calm her down.

"Okay, Jenny, breathe," he says soothingly, running his palms down her arms.

"I'll breathe when you tell me about you and Harvey," she exclaims.

Mike glances around, paranoid that there's someone in the store even though he knows there isn't. "Okay, look, yes, Harvey and I are ... seeing each other," Mike finishes lamely, because they haven't actually got around to defining their relationship yet.

"Oh my God," Jenny says yet again, making Mike laugh.

"But seriously Jen, you can't tell anyone. Promise me."

Jenny immediately sobers in response to Mike's plea. "Of course, Mike, come on. You know I won't tell anyone."

"I know," he tells her, giving her a grateful smile and leaning forward to press a kiss to her forehead. "Also, I need a favor."

"Here it comes..." she grins.

"Can you cover for me today?"

"You and Harvey have plans?"

"Maybe," he says, smiling. There are times, admittedly occasional but they are there, that he gets overwhelmed by the idea that he and Harvey found each other, that he gets to have this, that he can be this happy.

Jenny smiles warmly at him. "Of course, Mike. You're here practically every day. Go, have fun."

"You're the best," Mike says before rushing back upstairs.

When Mike gets back inside his apartment he can hear Harvey talking on his cell. He's on the couch in nothing but his briefs and he smiles when he sees Mike there.

"... Just get in touch with him and let him know, find out what the options are. Text me the details. Thanks, Donna."

Harvey hangs up and Mike arches an eyebrow at him.

"She who is never wrong?" Mike asks.

"The very one."

"Everything okay?"

"Absolutely. So," Harvey says, standing. "Breakfast or shower?"

Mike rakes his eyes over Harvey. "Shower."

After a lazy morning at Mike's, eating food and doing the Times crossword and arguing over what movie to see, they eventually head to the movie theater (that is after a quick detour to Harvey's so he can change and "not feel like I'm walk of shame-ing all day." Ray is waiting when they get outside the store, and Mike has got to the point where he no longer objects or questions, he just gets into the backseat of the car).

Jack, of the "I know a guy" persuasion, meets them at the door, greeting Harvey with a warm handshake and smile. They head upstairs to the theaters, and Mike can feel the surprised stares of the patrons around them. Since it's the middle of a Tuesday the theater isn't packed, but it's not completely empty either. He tries not to look at them, just keeps his gaze focused on Harvey and Jack.

Jack walks them straight to the entrance of cinema 8 and with a bright smile tells them to, "Enjoy."

Before they head inside Mike says, "Snacks?"

"Sure."

"You head in, I'll go grab them," Mike says, thinking about Harvey being accosted while waiting in the candy bar line.

Harvey nods, turning and entering the cinema. Mike heads to the candy bar, buying some popcorn, milk duds, and a soda for them both. When he returns to the theater it's to see Harvey sitting in the middle of a completely empty theater.

"So," Mike says as he sits next to Harvey, handing him the drink and popcorn, "this is how you knew we wouldn't be bothered: you bought out the showing."

"Yeah."

And then, with perfect timing, the pre-show advertisements start up.

Mike looks around the theater. He's been to the movies a few times and had the theater to himself, but that was because it was in the middle of the day and the movie had been out for over a month. But this, this is must be what it's like for Harvey all the time. He probably goes from one extreme to the other, sitting in a completely full theater at premieres of his own movies to sitting in entirely empty theaters when he wants to watch something for fun. The dichotomy would completely screw with Mike's mind. He wonders how Harvey can handle it.

"So, is this what your life is like?" he asks tentatively.

Harvey turns to face him. "What do you mean?"

"You know, sitting in empty theaters, leaving restaurants through the kitchen and back alley..."

Harvey doesn't answer straight away. "Not all the time. I mean, I spend a good portion of my hiatus with my family, so it's not really an issue."

"But what do you do with your family? Stay inside all the time?" Mike guesses, correctly given Harvey's expression.

"It's just the nature of the beast. I can go out into the public, and occasionally do, but it's still a risk, every time. I value my privacy, Mike. And I value yours."

"I get it," Mike tells him, because he does. He can't imagine how awful and degrading it must feel, being hounded and photographed every time you stepped out your door. "Still, it just seems..."

"What?"

Mike moves his gaze from Harvey, looking at his hands wringing in his lap, when he murmurs sadly, "Lonely."

Harvey's hand covers his own, and Mike doesn't hesitate to thread their fingers together. "Well, I don't feel lonely right now."

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

Dating Harvey isn't anything like Mike imagined it would be.

Not that it was something he ever gave any thought to before Harvey walked into his bookshop three weeks ago. He wasn't someone to idly day dream about what it would be like to be with their favorite movie star, even as a kid. But once he actually met Harvey, those three days between Harvey's first and second visit, he might have let his imagination wander just a little bit. And when he imagined it, the prevailing thought was about how surreal it would be, being with someone who was known literally the world over.

But it's nothing like that at all. It's not surreal, it's easy. When they are in the same room together, he completely forgets that Harvey is even remotely famous. He doesn't see someone whose last three films opened to eighty million dollar weekends, he just sees a smart and sexy man who is geekier and sillier than he likes to admit. He just sees someone that makes Mike feel like he never has before.

Even the logistics are less arduous than he thought they'd be. During the day when Mike's at work Harvey spends time with his family or works on his research or has meetings with his agent or sessions with his trainer and all the things he needs to do, even during his down time between films. They'll usually text or call during the day, and then they'll meet up in the evening, sometimes at Harvey's and sometimes at Mike's. They'll have dinner and watch a movie or play a game or just stay up all night talking. Sometimes they go out to restaurants that Harvey knows are discreet, but for the most part they stay in, and that suits Mike just fine.

It's almost scary, how well Harvey fits into his life. Mike's never believed in fate or destiny, and he still doesn't, but this is the closest he's ever come. Because everything feels so right, and that can't just be chance, can it?

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

When Mike steps into Harvey's apartment (the glass elevator that opens directly into Harvey's apartment will never get old) it's to see Harvey talking on his cell. Harvey smiles at him, and Mike kicks off his shoes as Harvey heads across the room to him. Harvey says, "Hey," and gives Mike a quick kiss, and then goes back to his conversation.

"No, sorry, Mike's just arrived ... uh huh ... okay, I'll ask, one second." Harvey drops his hand so his cell is too far away to hear and asks Mike, "So, how would you feel if Marcus, Robbie and the kids joined us for dinner?"

Mike just stares at him for a moment, shocked. "You want to introduce me to your brother? Isn't it a bit soon for that?"

"Maybe," Harvey says. "But it doesn't really feel that way, does it?" he continues, uncertain, like he's worried that he's being too presumptuous and gotten ahead of himself.

"No," Mike smiles. "No, it doesn't."

Harvey grins at him, Mike's favorite, the kind that makes his face light up and his eyes crinkle. He kisses Mike again.

"Yes," Harvey says into the phone, "come over. Just give us five, yeah? Okay, see you soon." Harvey hangs up the phone, his smile fading slightly when he looks at Mike. "You okay?"

"Fine," Mike says quickly, a little too quickly given the disbelieving look on Harvey's face. "I'm just nervous."

Harvey reaches over and cups Mike's face, runs his thumb over the arch of his cheek a few times. "Relax. They're going to love you." He kisses Mike then, and somehow Mike can't help but relax.

When they break apart Harvey heads to the kitchen to get them drinks, and Mike follows, parking himself on one of the bar stools at the counter. "So, let's see if I have this right: your brother is two years younger than you, Marcus and Robbie have been married for ten years, and Thomas and Annabelle are four and nearly two, yeah?"

"Ten out of ten," Harvey grins.

"So where do they live, you haven't mentioned that before."

Harvey rubs the back of his neck, suddenly looking nervous. "Well, that's the thing. They actually live in this building."

"You're kidding?" Mike exclaims.

"Well, it's just, I'm not home very much so I liked the idea of them being nearby for when I was home so we could see each other more. And Marcus and Robbie were living in this tiny apartment in Queens with a baby on the way and they are both so great at their jobs but were criminally underpaid, so when an apartment in my building became available I bought it for them. I'd been trying to give Marcus one for years but he'd always refused. I knew with the baby coming that if I actually went ahead and did it, he wouldn't refuse."

Harvey explains it like he feels the need to justify it, like he's worried that Mike will think it's weird. But Mike doesn't really have any family, though he imagines that if he did he'd want to be close to them, so he completely understands. It's not embarrassing, it's endearing.

Mike slides off the stool, heads into the kitchen. He wraps his arms around Harvey's shoulders, feels the light pressure of Harvey's hands on his hips. "That's one of the sweetest things I've ever heard," Mike tells him honestly, and before Harvey has a chance to reply, Mike kisses him.

They've barely have a chance to deepen the embrace before a knock at the door interrupts them. "Jeez, you weren't kidding about those five minutes, huh?" Mike says, amused.

"Just be glad they decided to knock and not barge in like normal," Harvey says as he heads to the front door.

Mike's seen pictures of the extended Specter clan before, but that doesn't prepare him for the whirlwind of activity that occurs when they all enter. Marcus is first, greeting Harvey with a warm hug. Annabelle comes flying in shortly after, attaching herself to Harvey's leg. Harvey laughs, picking her up and kissing her cheek. He slides her onto his hip as he greets Robbie with a kiss on the cheek. Finally it's Thomas coming in last, giving Harvey a simple "Hi" and high five before heading off to the couch, an iPad in hand.

Mike is happy to just stay in the background for as long as possible, which unsurprisingly isn't long. Marcus makes a beeline for him, a wide grin on his face.

"You must be Mike," he says, arm outstretched.

Mike nods, shaking his hand.

Marcus' smile somehow gets even wider. "It's very nice to meet you."

"Likewise," Mike replies, even though his overwhelming feeling right now is anxiety.

Marcus must see this, because he laughs, clapping Mike on the shoulder. "It's okay, we don't bite. Promise."

"Sure, that's what they all say," Mike replies, laughing lightly, but the joke, lame as it is, seems to help. Already he feels more relaxed.

Mike glances over at Harvey. He looks to be engaged in a very serious conversation with Annabelle, nodding along as she babbles at him, her tiny hands on both of his cheeks. It sets his heart aflutter, and it might also conjure scenarios in his mind about what Harvey would be like with their own child: loving and present and affectionate.

He puts those thoughts aside, promising himself to never think them again because wow, that is getting way ahead of himself, when Robbie approaches him.

"Hi, I'm Mike," he says, holding out his hand.

"Robin, but everyone calls me Robbie," she replies, shaking his hand and smiling warmly.

"Nice to meet you."

"And you. I've heard a lot about you."

"Uh oh, should I be worried?"

"Yes, you should," Harvey says with a wink as he joins them. He presses a kiss to Annabelle's hairline and says, "Annabelle, this is my friend Mike. Wanna say hi?"

She buries into Harvey, but does smile at Mike, so he doesn't take it as a total loss. "Hi Annabelle," Mike says, holding out his hand to her, and she reaches out and wraps her small fingers around his thumb.

"She's shy for about the first two minutes but then she'll be fine," Marcus explains, and Mike is so busy looking at Annabelle and pulling faces at her in attempt to get her to laugh that he barely hears.

"I can relate to that," Mike finally says, stepping back.

"So," Harvey says to the room at large as he heads into the kitchen, "what do we feel like for dinner?" He pulls out about a dozen take-out menus from a drawer and tosses them onto the counter. Everyone gathers around the edge of the counter, sorting through the options.

While Mike, Marcus and Robbie are looking at the menus, Harvey places Annabelle on the counter, pulling faces at her and making her laugh. Mike glances up at the noise, his heart swelling at the sight. Robbie soon notices her daughter sitting on the kitchen counter and she admonishes Harvey with a, "Really, Harvey? We've talked about this."

Harvey grins, barely taking his attention away from Annabelle. "Hey, that's the best part about being an uncle - the rules at home don't apply here. Right, Annabelle?"

She nods seriously, her dark curls bouncing with the movement, and Robbie sighs, clearly resigned, sharing an amused look with Mike before returning her attention to the menu options.

"So what do we think?" Marcus asks. "Pizza, Indian, Chinese, Italian…"

"What will the kids eat?" Mike asks.

"Oh they'll eat anything, don't worry about that," Marcus grins.

Mike catches Harvey smiling warmly at him, and he flushes, looking back at the menu in his hand. "Well in that case I vote Chinese," he declares.

"Okay, Chinese it is," Harvey says, and they figure out what they want and call up the restaurant a few blocks away and place the order.

Once dinner is organized Harvey puts Annabelle down on the floor and she scampers off down the hallway. Mike assumes she is off to the playroom Harvey made for when the kids were visiting. The adults get drinks and head over to the living room, making themselves comfortable on the couches, and Annabelle returns with two DVDs in her hands, which she takes straight to Harvey. Harvey looks at Robbie, who just nods.

"So, what's new?" Harvey asks Marcus as he gets the movie set up for the kids. Thomas, seeing Harvey at the TV, slides off the couch and sits on the floor with Annabelle in anticipation.

"Well, our fridge finally gave up the ghost and died yesterday, so that was fun."

"Dude, that sucks," Mike sympathizes.

"Right?" Marcus says, turning to face him. "Having to go buy a new one, organize the delivery, try and save all the food from getting spoiled…"

"Last year I had three appliances die within a fortnight," Mike tells them. Marcus makes a face that is equal parts incredulity and commiseration. "Yeah, it was my dishwasher, my television and my food processor. It's like they know and decide to go out together in a blaze of glory or something."

"So what you're saying is to be prepared for more appliances to go out in sympathy," Robbie says.

Mike nods. "Pretty much, yeah."

"Awesome," she says, falling back into the couch. "Something to look forward to."

"We did see something cool when we went shopping for a new fridge though… " Marcus says, telling them all about an oven they saw and how now Marcus wants to remodel the entire kitchen, which Robbie strenuously objects to, insisting they don't need it. Mike soon learns that Harvey is a terrible enabler, because he suggests changes they could make. They're still talking about it when the food arrives, and Mike doesn't even think, just leaves the three of them arguing (okay not arguing, discussing very heatedly) and answers the door to the delivery guy. He pays for everything and brings the bags into the kitchen, pulling bowls out of the cupboard when everyone heads over to the dining area. Harvey joins him in the kitchen, smiling as he approaches and pressing a quick kiss to Mike's lips. Mike looks at him questioningly but Harvey says nothing, just smiles at him for a moment longer before helping him with everything while Marcus and Robbie get their kids situated at the dining table.

Dinner is wonderful, and not just the food. Marcus and Robbie are so easy-going and likable, and the conversation flows easily. He appreciates that they make an effort to include him but don't sit there bombarding him with questions either. Everything feels quite natural, and Mike imagines that this is how most of their evenings together must be (happy and comfortable and slightly messy with the kids getting food everywhere). It feels like he's managed to slot into their dynamic quite easily, and it's more of a relief than he will ever admit.

When the kids have finished eating Robbie takes them to the bathroom to wash up and Harvey starts cleaning everything up. Mike tries to help, but Harvey waves him away, allowing Mike and Marcus to finish their discussion on the Avengers movies, a discussion that ends in a stalemate when Marcus insists they are brilliant and layered and Mike, despite his best efforts, can't convince him that they’re over-hyped and borderline boring.

Robbie returns, the kids in tow. Mike grins as he watches them trail after her towards the living room. She puts the movie back on for them, sitting and watching it with them when Annabelle won't let her go.

"So, how did you two meet?" Mike asks Marcus.

"At work. We both worked at New York Presbyterian Hospital - it was my first job after graduating college, and I was overwhelmed by everything: figuring out the layout, remembering everyone's names, not to mention actually doing the thing I'd been training for."

"Which was?"

"I got an AAS Degree in Radiologic Technology, and was hired for MRI scans. But yeah, everything was so crazy and the hours were long and I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. This was confirmed when I submitted my first timesheet at the end of the fortnight and I got a call from Payroll saying it was completely wrong. So I went to their offices to fix it and that's where I met Robbie. It was love at first sight."

"Really?" Mike asks, smiling.

"Yup. We were married four months later."

"Holy shit," Mike exclaims, unthinking. He immediately glances around to make sure the kids didn't hear him swearing, but they're too focused on the TV. Robbie, however, is silently chuckling, as is Marcus when Mike turns back to him. "I guess it must've been love at first sight."

Marcus nods. "So," he says, sliding closer to Mike, his voice a low conspiratorial whisper, "what about you and Harvey?"

"What, was it love at first sight?" Mike grins, teasing.

"No, just, how did you two meet?"

Mike's confused. Given that they are at the meeting the family stage he figured Harvey would’ve told Marcus how they met. "You mean he hasn't told you?"

Marcus smirks. He and Harvey don't look terribly alike, but in this moment Mike can tell they’re bothers. Their smirks are pretty much identical. "Of course he did. But I'd like to hear your version."

Mike glances over at Harvey, who is washing the dishes in the sink, looking very intently at his task. He must've heard this entire conversation, they’re too close for him not to, but Mike appreciates that Harvey's trying to give him as much privacy as possible.

"Well," Mike says, "I own a bookshop in Brooklyn. Harvey came in one day, and while he was browsing the stacks some punk-ass kid was trying to steal from me. I kicked him out, but as he was leaving he recognized Harvey and asked for an autograph, and Harvey took the opportunity to put the fear of God into him. Once the kid was gone Harvey chose to buy a truly terrible book-" Mike raises his voice for the last three words, glancing over at Harvey to see him still determinedly looking at the sink, but he's grinning too, "- despite my better recommendations that he buy something actually worthy of the paper it was printed on, and then he left."

"Did you recognize him?" Marcus asks. "I mean, before the kid asked for his autograph, did you recognize him?"

"Of course I did. He's the most beautiful person I've ever seen in real life. Who wouldn't recognize that face?"

As soon as Mike stops talking he realizes exactly what he’s just said, out loud, to his boyfriend's brother. He feels stupid, embarrassed, even though Marcus is smiling, clearly pleased. And when he chances a look over in Harvey's direction it's to find the older man standing there, looking at him, wide-eyed and breathless.

Harvey pulls his hands from the sink, wiping them on a nearby tea-towel. "Mike, can I talk to you in private for a second?" he says, already heading towards the other end of the apartment.

Mike shares a quick look with Marcus but gets up from the table, following Harvey down the hall into his bedroom. Harvey's standing there in the middle of the room, and Mike walks in, confused.

"Hey, is everything-"

Mike's cut off by Harvey kissing him desperately. He walks Mike back until he's pressed against the wall and then Mike's arms are around Harvey and he's meeting the embrace with equal ardor. They kiss until they can't breathe, and even then they part just enough to let oxygen in, foreheads pressed together and hands tangled in clothes or pressed into skin.

"I'm so crazy about you," Harvey whispers, like a confession, and Mike's body shivers with it. He doesn't even get a chance to respond before Harvey is kissing him again, slower this time.

When they finally break apart, Harvey taking a few steps back and Mike feeling dazed, Harvey waves to the wrinkles in Mike's shirt and says, "Sorry about that, I just-"

"Hey, never apologize for a kiss like that," Mike tells him, grinning.

Harvey smiles in return, moving to sit on the bed. Mike walks over, stands between his legs, running his hands through Harvey's hair.

"Your family is awesome," Mike says.

Harvey grins up at him. "Yeah, they are. And I was right, by the way."

"About what?"

"They love you."

Mike chuckles. "You can't know that yet."

"Yes I can. They love you, I can tell."

"Well, come on," Mike says, kissing him quickly before stepping back. "We shouldn't leave them for too long."

They head back down the hallway, hand in hand, and when they make it to the dining area Marcus gives them a once over and grins, asking, "Good talk?"

"Oh yeah," Harvey replies.

"So," Marcus asks as they sit down, "how's the script memorization going?"

"It was going great until they sent me a new version yesterday."

Marcus makes an annoyed face. "That sucks."

"Thankfully it didn't change too much. But that reminds me..."

Harvey heads down the hall and Marcus just smiles at him. Mike returns the smile but it's half-hearted at best. A sinking feeling sits in his chest, but he doesn't have too long to dwell on it because Harvey returns with the script in hand, flicking through the yellow pages, clearly looking for something.

"Here," Harvey says, putting the open script on the table in front of Marcus. Marcus starts reading, a smile slowly forming on his face. He chuckles, sharing a knowing look with Harvey, before flicking back to the beginning of the script to start reading. Mike catches a glimpse of the title. Evanesce.

"So what's it about?" Mike asks Harvey.

"Basically it's a spy thriller where my character takes a recruit under his wing just as he starts to suspect that his long-term mentor might not be all he seems."

"When do you fly out?" Marcus asks absently, eyes still on the script.

"August 20th."

August 20th. That's only seven weeks from now. The sinking feeling in his chest returns at full force. "Fly out?" Mike asks, trying to keep his voice level. "Where to?"

Harvey looks across the table at Mike. He looks pained, like he's finally realized where this conversation is going. "London," he says softly. "I'll be there - training, rehearsing and filming - for nearly six months."

"Six months," Mike repeats numbly. He's known Harvey for three weeks (how has it only been three weeks, it feels like forever) and all too soon Harvey will be packing his bags and leaving for nearly half a year.

They've never really talked about Harvey's work, at least, not like this; not in the specifics, the logistics of him flying all over the world to film, the reality of separation. He doesn't know why, if it was just them trying to pretend like it didn't have an impact on them and their relationship. But it clearly does. Mike knew he was on a break between projects, but it was always an abstract thought. And now Mike is faced with the reality of Harvey going away for six months….

Harvey's looking at him like he wants to say something, but Mike can't have this conversation right now. Nor he can he be on the receiving end of that look. So he stands from the table.

"Mike," Harvey says, but Mike just shakes his head.

"Later," he replies quietly, walking away. He hears Marcus asking Harvey about what's going on in a confused voice but he tunes out the rest.

Robbie and Annabelle are on one couch, so he takes the spare seat next to Thomas, who is playing on his iPad. In need of a distraction and the internal monologue that just keeps repeating Harvey's leaving, Harvey's leaving, Harvey's leaving Mike asks Thomas what he's playing.

"Plants vs Zombies," Thomas says, looking up at him with a wide grin.

"Wow, that sounds fun. How do you play?"

"You wanna play with me?" he asks excitedly.

"Sure, you wanna teach me?"

"Yeah!"

So Thomas starts explaining, his voice going at a million miles an hour. "So the zombies come in here, and I have to stop them, so we put all these plants in the way, and the zombies keep coming and coming, so you need to - oh no the zombies coming!! - you have to stop them getting inside, and -"

"Look out, the zombie's about to get to the house," Mike points out.

Thomas lets out what is basically a squeal and tries to stop the zombie but it's too late, the game is over. He cracks up laughing and Mike can't help joining in.

"Can I have a go?" Mike asks.

"Sure," Thomas says happily, handing the iPad over.

Mike sets up his game, choosing his plant 'weapons' (and letting Thomas choose some too), and he starts playing, the screen almost blocked by Thomas' head as he looks at the screen in Mike's lap. He barely gets half a game in before Thomas starts joining in, planting things everywhere. They take it in turns for a few games, Mike watching Thomas playing a game, Thomas watching Mike play for about one minute before helping Mike play.

When Mike feels a tugging on his pants he looks away from the screen to discover Annabelle standing before him. She puts her arms up and makes grabby hands at him. On instinct he picks her up and settles her in his lap. She immediately leans over to see the screen where it's currently sitting in Thomas' lap. Mike looks over at Robbie, uncertain if this is okay (because let's face it, they just met) but she just smiles warmly at him.

Harvey and Marcus join them soon after, Harvey sitting beside Mike on the couch while Marcus joins Robbie on the other one. Mike watches as Harvey presses a kiss to the top of Annabelle's head, and then Harvey leans over and kisses Mike. It's impossibly tender, no doubt in reaction to their earlier conversation, and Mike smiles against his mouth.

They're going to be okay. How can they not be when he feels so damn content?

Harvey and Marcus seemingly jump right back into their previous conversation, which Mike tunes in and out of. Harvey's arm is stretched along the back of the couch, his fingertips idly gliding up and down the back of Mike's head. Mike alternates his attention between the kids (which basically consists of tossing encouraging statements Thomas' way and nodding along to Annabelle as she talks nonsensically to him) and piping up in the adults' conversation whenever the occasion calls for it.

It's a perfect moment: everyone is in high spirits, the kids are happily playing their game, and then, all too soon, the perfect moment is over as soon as Robbie says to Mike, "You're really good with them. Do you want kids of your own?"

The room basically freezes in shock: Marcus stops talking mid-sentence, Harvey stops stroking Mike's skin, and Mike just sits there, jaw slack, shocked.

At least Robbie looks like she regrets the words as soon as they leave her mouth. She immediately looks apologetically at Mike, saying, "I'm so sorry, that was way too personal. You don't have to answer."

But the thing is, nobody really knows what to do now, everyone stuck in this awkward moment. And Mike, now that it's been posed, all he can do is think about the question.

Having kids was always such an abstract idea to him. He was an only child, an orphan, he really didn't have much frame of reference when it came to children. He'd always thought it was a nice idea, building his own family, but he could never quite picture it before. But now, being with Harvey, seeing Harvey with his niece and nephew, his mind can't help but conjure images of what it would be like to be a father, to create a family with Harvey.

"Yeah," Mike whispers, not even realizing the word has tumbled out of his mouth until Robbie smiles at him. "Yeah, I do."

There's a beat of silence before Marcus breaks the ice (and changes the topic) by asking Thomas if he wants to go out to the park tomorrow, play catch for a bit, and Thomas enthusiastically agrees. Harvey's hand shifts down to cup the back of his neck, and Harvey leans in and whispers in Mike's ear, "Me too."

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

Mike stumbles out of the bedroom much earlier than he'd like to be awake on a Sunday morning. He walks on autopilot over to the kitchen and pours himself a glass of cool water, taking it over to the windows to look out over the city.

No one could ever get tired of this view.

The living room is still a bit of a mess after their visitors last night, so Mike collects all the half empty drinks and bowls of chips and cleans everything up. He moves easily around the area, loading the dishwasher, throwing out the stale food. When he's done he stands in the kitchen, not sure what to do next.

He can see Harvey's script still on the dining table from last night. Curious, he walks over and grabs it, heading to the couch. Not even thinking about if he's breaking some kind of copyright or privacy rule he flops onto the couch and starts reading.

Harvey finds him like that half an hour later, morning summer sun pouring through the window, Mike on his back and three quarters of the way through the script.

"Good morning," Harvey says, lifting Mike's feet and sitting at the end of the couch, putting Mike's feet in his lap.

It takes a moment for Mike to register, he's so engrossed in the script, but he eventually he tears himself away and says, "Good morning." Harvey is smiling at him. He doesn't seem to mind that Mike's reading his script, but still Mike shakes the papers and asks, "Is this okay?"

"Of course."

Mike grins and goes back to reading. Harvey disappears into the kitchen, coming back with a tray of food just as Mike's finishing up.

"Well?" Harvey asks, a slice of toast half way to his mouth.

"Oh my God, I love it," Mike says. Harvey beams at him. "I mean, obviously I haven’t read any scripts before, but it definitely kept me guessing right until the end."

"Did you see it coming?"

"Not at all. And I'm normally pretty good at picking up on clues along the way."

Mike sits up properly, script in his lap, and reaches over to grab a steaming mug of coffee. It's made just the way he likes it, and he smiles over the rim. Harvey returns the smile, but it soon fades, his face becoming somber.

"So are we going to talk about it?" Harvey asks, and Mike knows he isn't talking about the twists and turns in the script.

Mike shakes his head. He'd been awake long after Harvey had fallen asleep beside him last night, Harvey's arm a warm weight across his stomach. Mike had thought about Harvey's absence, about how it could affect them, how they could deal with it. But in the end he got nowhere, because he didn't really have any frame of reference for this. Normally when people left him it was for good. They left and they never came back and it hurt like hell but at least he could grieve and then try to move on. But having Harvey come and go every few months, honestly, Mike wasn't sure he could handle that.

"Let's just cross that bridge when we get to it," Mike says. Is it taking the easy way out? Maybe. But the truth is, as crazy as he is about Harvey, as much as his heart wants to start making plans for the future, this is real life and a lot could happen between now and then. No point worrying about it until he has to.

"Are you sure?" Harvey asks intently.

Mike nods. And because he just wants this conversation to be over, he asks, "So do you really have this whole thing memorized?"

Harvey looks at him for a moment like he knows Mike is deflecting, but thankfully lets it go. "Not the whole thing, and certainly not yet. But when filming starts, yeah, I'll know most of it by heart."

"Let's test you," Mike grins. "What bit do you know best?"

Harvey reaches over and slides the script out of Mike's lap. He flicks to a section about a third of the way through and hands it back to Mike. Mike glances down at the page to see where Harvey has chosen, and waits for Harvey to say his first line.

They run lines for about five minutes. Harvey's delivery is almost perfect the whole time, only missing the occasional word a couple of times, and needing to be prompted once. The words sound different coming out of Harvey's mouth than they did when just reading them on the page, and Mike knows Harvey's going to be brilliant.

When they get to the end of the scene, Mike smiles at Harvey. Harvey returns the smile and says, "Don't think I didn't notice you not looking at the script. You have an eidetic memory, don't you?"

Mike nods slowly, nervous. People's reactions to this are always vastly different. At school he had kids who called him names because they didn't understand how the quiet kid could answer every question he was ever asked. The teachers were kinder about it, but they pushed him in directions he wasn't ready for at that point, trying to get him to do extra classes or go into programs for gifted children when all he wanted to do was play outside like a normal kid. And as he got older, well, it started getting him into trouble.

"Can I ask you something?" Harvey says tentatively.

Mike nods, bracing himself for the inevitable barrage of questions. But Harvey surprises him by saying, "Why haven't you done anything else with your life? Don't get me wrong, I mean no offence; I know how much the shop means to you. But with a mind like yours, you could do anything. Didn't you ever want to do something else?"

"I've thought about it," Mike reluctantly admits. It was something he's never said to anyone, not even Trevor. He and his Grammy, they were all they had for a long time, and when he was a teenager he couldn't bear to tell her that he wasn't sure if the shop was something he wanted, so he never did. "But that shop is my family legacy. It's the only thing I have left of them. It's been a part of me my whole life, I can't give it up. Plus, you clearly have no idea how complicated running a business is these days. Trust me, my brain gets enough of a work out."

"Did you go to college?" Harvey asks. Mike's face falls slightly, and Harvey immediately says, "If you don't want to tell me, you don't have to. It's just; you don't really talk about that time in your life..."

He's right. Mike has told Harvey stories from his childhood and early teenage years, and then again from his twenties, but he's basically skipped over everything between the ages of seventeen and twenty. It wasn't a good time, and Mike isn't proud of what he did. But he thinks Harvey deserves to know the good and the bad. If he's not okay with it, better to find out now than later.

"I did. I went to college to study business, figuring it would be a good idea for when I inevitably took over the shop. Turns out, inevitably came a lot quicker than I anticipated, because towards the end of the first year my Grammy got sick. She had a stroke. I skipped class a lot to help her out, but it wasn't enough. We were struggling in a lot of ways, financially being one of them. I was scared and stupid and when my so-called best friend suggested we sell some tests to make some money I agreed. I was just so desperate, Harvey. Grammy was all I had and she was slipping away and I didn't know what else to do. So, we started selling tests. I charged a fuckload for each one, but people were more than happy to pay an exorbitant price. We even snuck into the offices of other departments to find their curriculum documents so we could sell to students across the college. We got away with it for a few months, but towards the end of the semester we sold a test to someone who turned out to be the Dean's daughter. I was dutifully expelled, and my Grammy died four months later."

Harvey shifts closer to Mike on the couch and puts a comforting hand on his thigh. "I'm sorry, Mike."

"Part of me always thought it was my fault. That her disappointment in me being kicked out exacerbated her illness. I know it's stupid -" Mike says, before Harvey can interject, "but it's just how I felt." Mike shrugs. "So yeah, I had a business to run and a year and a half of college to help me figure out how. I learned all I could on my own, and I think I've done okay. Though sometimes I do wonder if the shop would be doing better if I'd finished school."

"Have you ever thought about going back?"

"Of course I've thought about it. But have you seen how much education costs these days? And after being expelled I'm thinking I wouldn't get another scholarship. I really can’t afford it."

Harvey nods thoughtfully. "So is that why you don't tell people about your eidetic memory? Because you're ashamed of it?"

"I'm not ashamed exactly. It's just ... it's a part of who I am, but it's not the only part. And I have to trust that whoever knows won't abuse it like others have done."

Mike trusts Harvey. He trusts Harvey more than anyone, and finally telling him feels like a relief. Harvey leans over and kisses him, the kiss gentle, like a promise to remain worthy of the trust that's been put in him. Mike cups a hand around Harvey's neck to keep him close as they exchange slow and simple kisses.

Harvey's phone beeps with an incoming message. Harvey groans, reluctantly pulling away. He grabs his phone from the coffee table and opens the message, smiling when he reads it. "Told you," Harvey says with a grin, handing over the phone.

The message is from Marcus: He's a keeper.

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

Harvey walks into Mike's apartment with bags of Thai food in his hand.

"Have I mentioned how stupid living in a walk up is?" he says as he comes in, and Mike just laughs.

"You work out with a trainer three days a week and run five miles every day for the rest of the week. I think you can handle one flight of stairs."

Harvey's smiling as he crosses the room to where Mike's sitting on the couch, so Mike knows he wasn't really serious. He leans down over the back of the couch and kisses Mike hello (Mike decides that upside down kisses are awesome and something to be explored at a later date) before he heads over to the kitchen to start unpacking their dinner.

"So how was your day?" Mike asks.

"Nothing exciting," Harvey replies, telling Mike about his session with his trainer and some scripts he was sent as he dishes up their dinner.

"Any possibilities?" Mike asks, smiling in gratitude as Harvey hands him a bowl of steaming food. Harvey sits beside him on the couch, shaking his head.

"Not really."

"Are you looking for something in particular?"

"No, I'm not looking for a specific genre or anything. Just anything that intrigues me really. But what about you? How was your day?"

"Fine," Mike says dismissively. "Spent most of the day working on the finances, so really nothing terribly interesting."

There's a beat of silence as they keep eating, and then Mike tentatively says, "Do you realize we met a month ago today?"

"Really? You remember that."

Mike taps his temple lightly. "Eidetic memory, of course I did. Why, didn't you?" he asks teasingly.

Harvey smiles. "Well if I didn't then I have no idea what that tub of Chubby Hubby I just put in your freezer is for..."

Mike breaks out into a wide grin. "You bought me my favorite ice cream? Best boyfriend ever," he proclaims, leaning over and kissing Harvey's lips, uncaring that Harvey is in the middle of eating.

"Well, you know, I figured it probably wasn't time yet for a real present since one month of us dating isn't for a few more days, but I wanted to get something to mark the occasion," Harvey says warmly.

"Thank you," Mike smiles. "But, can we not do the whole one month anniversary thing? It feels a bit too middle school for two grown men."

Harvey smiles. "Sure, I'll just cancel the trip to Italy, shall I?"

Mike blanches. "You're kidding."

Harvey cracks up laughing. "Yes, Mike, I'm kidding."

Mike lets out a breath of relief. He knows Harvey, knows that he can be extremely generous with those he cares about, and a gift like that isn't actually out of the realm of possibility. But Mike can't give him anything even remotely in the same category in return. Mike tries not to think about the disparity in their financial situations too often but sometimes, if he's completely honest with himself, he isn't entirely comfortable with just how completely different this aspect of their lives are.

"You okay?" Harvey asks with concern.

"Yeah, of course," Mike says, shaking his thoughts away as best he can. "Wanna watch a movie or something?"

"Sure," Harvey says slowly, like he's placating Mike. "What do you feel like watching?"

"I think you know the answer to that question."

Harvey throws his head back with a groan. "You're not gonna let this go until I give in, are you?"

"Nope," Mike says happily. "Come on, Harvey. Honestly I don't know how you've managed to go this long without seeing them. I know you like to pretend you're this cool movie star guy but let's face it; you're a bigger geek than I am."

Harvey doesn't reply straight away, he seems to be wavering, so Mike pulls out his trump card.

"Consider it an anniversary present to me."

"In case you forgot I was the only one here to actually buy an anniversary present," Harvey points out. "If anything, your present to me should be not making me watch it."

"Pleeease," Mike says beseechingly, hands clasped in a classic begging stance.

"Fine," Harvey says, and Mike excitedly jumps up from the couch and heads over to his blu-ray collection. When he heads back to the couch Harvey is slouched into the corner, eating away.

"You're gonna love it," Mike promises, and Harvey doesn't reply, just nudges his foot against Mike's.

The familiar music starts up and from the moment Galadriel starts recounting the history of the One Ring Mike is swept away. He glances across to Harvey a few times throughout the movie to gauge his reaction, and Harvey is utterly glued to the television screen.

Three and a half hours later - because Mike is not a heathen and he obviously only owns the extended editions - the credits start to roll. Mike looks expectantly at Harvey and the older man reluctantly says, "Fine, you win."

Mike beams, not that Harvey can really see in the low light of the room. "Told you you'd love it. Did you wanna watch the next one?"

"Don't you have work tomorrow?"

Mike shrugs nonchalantly. "Wouldn't be the first time I've stayed up all night binge watching something before going to work."

"Okay," Harvey says, easily won.

Mike swaps out Fellowship of the Ring for The Two Towers, and when the movie starts up he tells Harvey, "I reckon you'd make a kickass Aragorn."

"The only franchise I'm interested in is Star Trek. And besides, I don't think anyone would make a better Aragorn than Viggo Mortensen."

Mike lets this information roll around in his head before he laughs out, "You're a Trekker."

"Hey, Kirk is the man, okay? I'm so excited to be in those films."

Mike raises an eyebrow and Harvey mutters an expletive under his breath. "Okay, so that kinda hasn't been announced yet. Don't tell anyone?"

"Of course not, but Harvey, they're rebooting your favorite show and you’re going to be in the movie. How the hell have you managed to keep that quiet?"

"Par for the course, really. But yeah, I couldn't believe it when I got the call." Harvey's voice is full of quiet wonder, and Mike slides down the couch, links their hands together and rests his head on Harvey's shoulder.

"I'm really happy for you," Mike tells him, and Harvey kisses his head in reply.

They settle back in to watch the movie, and the last thing Mike remembers is Merry and Pippin meeting Treebeard. The next thing he knows he's waking up in bed, alarm clock blaring, Harvey sleeping soundly beside him.

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

There's a constant stream of people coming through the door of his bookshop. Fridays are generally fairly busy, but today has been crazy. He’d been finalizing the acquisition of a first edition of The Edible Woman all morning (with a truly terrifying matriarch on the Upper East Side, who probably earns more money in a week than Mike will ever see in his lifetime) and ever since he got back to the store two hours ago the shop door bell has been continually chiming as people come and go.

Don't get him wrong, he loves it. He helps a gentleman in his seventies find a book for his granddaughter, he discusses The Great Gatsby with a teenager who is reading the book as part of his school's summer reading, and he kicks out a couple who are not that much younger than he is who have spent a good ten minutes making out in the back corner (seriously, don't they have an apartment they can do that in?).

About halfway through the afternoon he has a line of three people at the register, and he tries to process them as quickly as possible. The first two are monosyllabic people who don't even reply to the generic niceties Mike disposes, but the last customer is different. He asks her if she found everything okay and her reply is, "Well, I wouldn't have put the fiction and cooking sections so close together - you do realize you have Thomas Harris' books up against a vegetarian cookbook, right? - but apart from that, yes, everything was sufficient."

Mike chuckles a bit uncertainly. He has no idea who this person is but he can tell she's a force to be reckoned with. "I'll take that under advisement," he says as he rings up her purchases.

"You do that. So ... I heard you get a lot of famous people shopping here."

Mike scoffs. "Where on earth did you hear that?"

"A friend of mine. So, is it true?"

"No," Mike says simply. He figures putting too much emphasis on the word might cause suspicion.

"What, you've never had one famous person in here? I find that hard to believe."

Mike pretends to think about it. "Uh, no, not that I recall."

"Huh, interesting... It's just, my friend swore he saw Harvey Specter in here one day, and he's never normally wrong about these things."

"Harvey Specter?" Mike laughs incredulously. "No, definitely not."

Mike hands over the books and accepts the cash she has in her hand, correct down to the last cent. She's looking at him strangely, and when he processes the payment and looks back up the expression is still there. And then she breaks out into a smile, her whole face lighting up with it, and she says, "Okay, I approve."

Mike is thoroughly confused. Her smile widens even more and she holds out her hand. "Donna Paulsen."

It takes a moment for the shock to wear off enough for Mike to reach out and shake her hand. "You're Harvey's assistant," he says numbly.

"And you are just as cute as he said you were."

"So was this a test?"

"And you passed," she says happily. "Congratulations. I no longer feel the need to investigate every aspect of your life to make sure you're good enough for him."

"Um ... thanks?"

Donna laughs.

"You know, the three of us are having dinner tomorrow night, you couldn't have just waited until then to meet me?"

"But then I wouldn't have been able to test you properly," Donna points out.

"Well, when you put it like that..." Mike grins. He hands her the bag of books (and suddenly the books on surveillance techniques and the history of the CIA make a lot more sense) and she happily accepts them. "I'll see you tomorrow."

"Yes you will," Donna says with a wink before she saunters out of the shop.

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

"Well, that was unexpected," Mike pants against Harvey's chest.

Harvey, chest still rising and falling in quick succession, only makes a noise of assent.

"I mean, I didn't think people actually did this in real life. Movies and books, sure, but I've never heard of anyone actually having kitchen sex in real life. I mean, why would you when presumably if you have a kitchen then you have a bed in the near vicinity. Hell, even a couch. It always seemed implausible that people wouldn't just move to a more comfortable surface."

"How ... are you talking ... so much?"

Mike chuckles. He presses his lips lightly to Harvey's chest, slides a hand down his side. "Benefits of not being old like you, I suppose."

"Not old," Harvey grumbles petulantly, and Mike chuckles against his skin.

"Still, maybe you need to have a word to your trainer, work on your stamina a bit," Mike teases.

"I'll give you stamina," Harvey says, rolling them over and covering Mike's body with his own, pressing Mike into floor and distracting him with a truly filthy kiss. "Challenge accepted," he says against Mike's mouth, before he slowly slides down his body.

Mike's retort is lost in a gasp when Harvey's mouth covers his cock. He makes a mental note to tease Harvey about his stamina more often, and that's the last coherent thought he has.

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

When Mike wakes Harvey is sitting up against the headboard, talking on his cell. He blinks blearily, waiting for his brain to come online, only half listening to Harvey's conversation. He can tell whatever it is he isn't entirely happy. He suspects it's Jessica trying to get him to do something he doesn't want, because there is a lot of grumbling taking place. Mike hears the word no a lot, and a shocked that's in three days, and a Jesus, Jessica, is that really necessary (which at least confirms Mike's suspicions), and then finally, after some last ditch protesting and a long silence in which presumably Jessica gets the last word in, an annoyed, okay, yes, as long as it's Vanessa … Wednesday July 27, 2pm, got it.

"What's up?" Mike asks when Harvey hangs up the phone, putting it back on his bedside table.

"They want to do a cover story on me."

"Who does?"

"Vanity Fair. They're announcing Trek soon, and the next issue comes out the week they are planning the announcement, so Jessica thought it would be a good idea."

"And you don't want to do it?"

"Interviews are invariably either fluff pieces in which less than ten percent of what I say actually ends up in the final interview, the quotes so generic they could be made by anyone, or they’re by someone trying to 'dig deep' and 'expose heretofore unknown truths' who obviously isn't happy when I refuse to pimp out my personal life for their headlines."

Well, fuck. Mike had never really thought about it that way. And if that's the case, he can totally understand Harvey's reluctance.

"That sucks, man." Harvey nods absently. "You really don't enjoy any aspect of your job other than the actual work, do you?"

Harvey seems to think about it. "Not really, no. I didn't get into acting for all this crap. I did it because I found something I loved and wanted to do forever. I never asked for the rest of it."

Mike looks at Harvey, his chest aching for this man beside him. He reaches up and gently runs the back of his fingers across Harvey's cheek. "Come here," Mike says gently, and Harvey falls easily into Mike's open arms.

Their mouths join like two magnets, unable to be anywhere else but together. Harvey's body is a warm and comforting weight where he lies over Mike, and he kisses Mike, slow and with so much reverence that Mike can barely handle it. The sun rises and sets a million times before the kiss finally runs its course, and Harvey presses his forehead to Mike's temple and he runs a thumb along Mike's brow and Mike just wants to stay here forever.

"I'm so glad you came into my shop that day," Mike confesses in a whisper.

Harvey chuckles against Mike's skin. "Would you still have been interested in me if I wasn't ... you know..."

"Of course I would have," Mike replies, urgently, desperate to make sure Harvey knows that it wasn't his fame that attracted Mike. Mike knows Harvey has no issues with self confidence or self worth, but once in a while something slips through, a moment of doubt, and Mike hates every person who ever used Harvey simply to get a notch on their belt.

Harvey lifts his head and looks at Mike earnestly. "Can I tell you something?" Mike nods. "That morning, when I came into your shop and we met, I was meeting a friend at a nearby restaurant and he was running late. I was only really in your shop to kill time while I waited."

Mike laughs unabashedly. "So us meeting was an accident?"

"Maybe it was fate," Harvey suggests with a smile.

"You believe in fate?" Mike asks with a hint of disbelief. Harvey didn't really strike him as the magical, mystical type of guy.

"I didn't used to."

And what can Mike say to that? He kisses along Harvey's jaw line, and because if he doesn't say something silly and teasing he'd end up saying something too heartfelt and real (and he's not ready for that yet), he says to Harvey, "You know, that week between when you first came into my shop and when you came back to ask me out, I thought I'd end up using your visit as a date story."

Harvey grins at him. "Oh really?"

Mike kisses down Harvey's neck in lieu of an answer, keeps his mouth occupied by mouthing across his collarbone.

"Tell me. Tell me the story like you'd tell someone on a first date."

Mike smiles softly. "Maybe on our next date. If you're lucky."

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

This is a terrible idea.

Mike moves around the kitchen, half concentrating on the layers of lasagna he is constructing and half wondering what the hell possessed him to offer to cook Harvey dinner. Mike can't cook. Sure, he can make something basic enough to ensure he's fed and watered on a daily basis. But this talent did not extend to the level of cooking for a significant other - especially when said significant other was a fucking amazing cook (like he was apparently amazing at everything).

But he had made the offhand offer and Harvey had accepted much more enthusiastically than Mike anticipated and so here he is, elbow deep in bolognaise and béchamel sauce. He thinks about his dad, like he always does whenever he makes this, and it's like he's a kid again, his dad whispering in his ear that the trick is to cook it early and then reheat it when you want to eat it - that way it maintains the layers like he was passing on one of the greatest secrets of the universe.

He slides the dish into the oven and sets a timer on his phone before heading downstairs to work.

His day is uneventful in the best possible way, and when the shop closes he heads back upstairs and puts the lasagna back in the oven, letting it heat up as he cleans the apartment. The apartment is always just on this side of shabby, and Mike takes the time to straighten it out more than normal. He doesn't know why he makes the extra effort - it's not like Harvey hasn't been here a dozen times before tonight - but there's something inherently significant about cooking for someone, like it demands the extra effort and romance, so Mike just gives in, irrationally nervous.

Mike places a store-bought garlic bread in the oven and is just finishing a basic green salad when Harvey arrives. Mike feels breathless when he sees Harvey, the older man wearing a black button down shirt and dark blue jeans. On the one hand, they haven't seen each other in a couple of days, so Mike thinks he can be forgiven for forgetting how arresting Harvey is in person. On the other hand, it's only been a couple of days, and Mike went twenty seven years without seeing Harvey and he got along just fine, but now every moment he and Harvey aren't together feels like too long.

It's too soon to be this far gone.

"Smells good," Harvey says in greeting, crossing the room and meeting Mike with a kiss. Mike pulls him back in for more when Harvey tries to move away, and he can feel Harvey smile against his lips before deepening the kiss, pressing Mike into the kitchen counter. Mike comes out of the embrace dazed, and Harvey gives him one last peck before moving out of reach.

There's general small talk while Mike serves everything. He waves away Harvey's offer of help, placing everything on the too small table so there's barely enough room for their plates. Mike cuts up the lasagna - breathing a small sigh of relief when the layers are all in tact - while Harvey puts a small serving of salad on each of their plates. Harvey opens the tin foil wrapping of the garlic bread, letting out a soft moan when the scent hits his nostrils.

"Mmmm … my one weakness," Harvey sighs.

"One weakness? Pretty sure that's not in any way true," Mike jokes.

Harvey grins. "Okay, maybe not, but it's definitely at the top of my list. Just don't tell my trainer about this."

"Promise."

Mike waits anxiously as Harvey tastes his first bite of the steaming lasagna. Harvey grins in approval across the table at Mike and he lets out a breath of relief before starting on his own meal.

"So how was your interview yesterday?"

Harvey shakes his head idly. "It was okay. About as well as can be expected when it's basically someone bombarding you with questions for two hours straight."

"Where was it?"

"At a studio in Chelsea."

Mike makes a face. "That's a bit boring. You should've at least gotten a lunch out of it or something."

"Right? I mean, it's Vanity Fair, at least ply me with food," Harvey chuckles warmly. "But it's actually better this way.  No need to worry about eating and talking at the same time - which sounds relatively simple because it's obviously what you and I are doing right now - but a meal can relax you and make you say things you wouldn't ordinarily say. I've known more than one person who has regretted what they said in an interview because they'd had a drink of something. Plus, the good thing about having it in the studio is it also means you get the photos done with a minimum of fuss."

"I suppose so. So, you think it's going to be okay?"

Harvey shrugs. "Vanessa is one of the better ones. She won't fill the article with fluff and rumors. But still, you never know what angle someone is going to write until you read the final article. I've come out of interviews thinking the article was going to be about one thing only for the writer to make it about something else entirely."

Mike thinks it over. "It's so weird. I mean, the more I think about it the more fucked up the whole thing seems to me. Just because you make movies for a living people think you owe them something and people twist your words and care about your opinions on everything from climate change to the latest socialite's drug scandal. It's so surreal."

"Welcome to my world," Harvey says ruefully.

Mike takes a few silent bites of his dinner. He suddenly feels guilty for every trashy magazine he's ever bought, every gossip article he's read online. Knowing Harvey now, he can see how wrong the media gets it (because they've always painted Harvey as the workaholic asshole, aloof and obsessed with perfection, when in reality he's sweet and generous and nerdy and messy and complicated), and if most of the people in Harvey's industry suffer the same inaccuracies then Mike can completely understand why there are so many attacks on paparazzi and libel lawsuits filed these days.

"This is really good," Harvey says, pointing a fork at his nearly empty plate.

Mike smiles warmly. "Thank you. It was my dad's recipe."

Harvey takes one last bite before putting down his cutlery and sitting back in his chair. "You don't talk about your parents much," he observes.

It's true, Mike supposes with a shrug. But his relationship with his parents is complicated, even more so now that they're gone, which is probably why he doesn't really talk to people about them. "There's not much to say, really. They died when I was eleven."

"But still, they must've been amazing people. They raised you after all."

Mike nods absently in agreement, but doesn't say anything.

"What do you remember about them?" Harvey presses.

"Well, I remember them being madly in love, but as I've gotten older I've questioned if that's the truth or if it's just how I remember them. Maybe they fought all the time when I wasn't in the room and put on a good front for me. I'll never know either way. I remember my dad always telling me how much he loved me in order to make up for the fact he didn't really understand me. I remember my mom having the sweetest smile in the whole world. I remember being angry with them when they left the house the night they died."

"I'm sorry," Harvey says, and it's a sentiment Mike has never known how to deal with, so he says nothing. "Do you miss them?"

"Of course I do. I miss them a lot, and I wonder what my life would be like if they hadn't died. But the truth is I've been without them for longer than I had them now. This might sound awful but in all honestly I miss my Grammy more."

Harvey nods. Mike has spoken at length about his grandmother, and Harvey has remarked more than once that he wishes he could've met her, a sentiment Mike echoes.

"You know, she's been gone for seven years now, and sometimes when something amazing happens I still go to call her to tell her," Mike confesses. He laughs, completely without humor. "Stupid, huh?"

"Not at all. My dad's been gone for five years and I still do the exact same thing."

"Do you think it will ever get easier?"

Harvey takes a few deep breaths before saying, "Not really, no. There is a hole in your life; nothing can ever change that and nothing can ever fill it. But it's not the only thing that matters. And, even more importantly, they wouldn't want it to be."

Mike thinks that this is a really depressing conversation that they've stumbled into, that it's too heavy for what was supposed to be a simple dinner date, but at the same time he can't deny that there's something cathartic about talking about this. He doesn't really know anyone who could relate to him on this, and even though losing one parent as an adult wasn't the same as losing two parents as a child, Harvey isn't a stranger to loss.

"How did your dad die?" Mike asks gently.

"Heart attack. I was filming in South America when it happened, couldn't even make it back for the funeral. I wanted to, desperately, but the livelihoods of hundreds of people would've been affected if I went, and I couldn't do that. And dad wouldn't have wanted me to. He was an artist, he understood about life on the road. I don't think he'd be mad at me for not going. Doesn't mean I don't still regret it though."

"What about your mom? You never talk about her."

Harvey shifts uncomfortably, and Mike doesn't want Harvey to feel anxious about anything, to tell Mike something he's not ready to, so Mike adds, "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to."

"It's not that," Harvey says, shaking his head. "I trust you, Mike. It's just..." He takes a sip of wine before leaning forward in his chair, arms crossed and leaning on the table. "My mother was a groupie, and my dad fell for her. They were married within a month of meeting, and I came along a year later. My dad adored her, but, turns out, she was cheating on him pretty much the whole time they were together. When I was sixteen I walked home and she was there and ... well, I couldn't tell my dad. I couldn't break his heart like that. I told her to stop, but two years later I caught her out again and I told my dad that night. He kicked her out, and we didn't hear from her again until my first big movie came out. I was twenty four and on top of the world, with a movie at number one and directors I'd admired wanting to meet me and the whole world at my feet, and when I came home one day she was sitting on my doorstep. I barely recognized her; she was so out of it. She wanted money, and when I told her I didn't have any she threatened to go to the press about me."

"With what?" Mike can't help but ask.

"With my bisexuality, for one. I told her I didn't care, even though I did, and then she just threatened to make something up and said that people would believe her, because why would a mother lie about her own son. So I gave her as much as I could, because I was scared of everything I wanted slipping through my fingers."

Mike was stunned. "I can't believe your own mother would betray you like that."

"Well, believe it, because she still turns up every few years whenever she runs out of cash and I basically pay her to make her go away. Louis, my lawyer, he's tried to convince me to get a restraining order, or get her to sign a contract that will gag her, but I can't do it. Even if I believed for a second she'd obey either of those things, which I don't, she's still my family. I couldn't do that."

"She's not your family, Harvey. Your dad was your family. Marcus and Robbie and Thomas and Annabelle are your family. The people who love you are your family. Someone who uses you, who doesn't care about you as a person even if they are genetically related to you, that doesn't make them family. You deserve better than that."

"Maybe," Harvey says with a weak smile. "But it's what I've got."

Mike can't believe that there is anyone in Harvey's life who could do that to him, let alone his own mother. Mike rarely feels hatred for anyone - the only notable exception being the man responsible for the accident that killed his parents - but he could hate Harvey's mother for what she's doing to him. He wants to hunt her down and give her a piece of his mind. "Where is she now?"

Harvey shrugs. "Miami, I think. At any rate, it doesn't matter where she is, she'll turn up again eventually. She always does."

"I'm sorry," Mike says, even though it doesn't begin to cover what he's feeling right now. He laughs, and it's only partly in mirth. "This is so not how I hoped this evening would go."

Harvey smiles slowly, his eyes crinkling in that way that Mike loved. "Oh yeah? And how did you think it would go?"

"I don't know. Making you dinner, it's supposed to be more romantic than melancholy conversations about departed family members, right?"

"Well," Harvey says, standing from the table, "if you want romantic..."

Mike watches, confused, as Harvey crosses the room. He pulls his iPhone out of his pocket and slots it easily onto the player against the wall. Mike waits for a few moments until the sound of an unfamiliar song starts filling the room. Harvey doesn't move away, just stands by the stereo as the sounds of a saxophone permeates the space between them. He's never heard this song before but he likes it, and there is definitely something very romantic about it.

Several minutes pass in silent reverence before Mike says, "This is your dad?"

Harvey nods, and Mike loses himself in the music. He's completely swept away by it, the sweeping tones, the urgent rush, all the emotions that bleed through every single note.

"He was amazing," Mike says earnestly, voice barely loud enough to be heard over the music.

Harvey smiles softly at him. He then crosses the room to Mike, and even though Mike has a fairly good idea of where this is going he's still surprised to find Harvey standing before him, a hand outstretched. Mike feels slightly silly, taking Harvey's hand and allowing himself to be led to the center of the room, sliding his arms around Harvey's shoulders. He didn't think people actually did this outside of movies and TV shows - lord knows he's never once slow danced in his living room before - but as they sway gently to the sound of Harvey's father playing gorgeous music, he doesn't care.

"I can't believe what a closet romantic you are," Mike whispers.

Harvey chuckles silently, Mike feeling his chest reverberating against his own. "You wanted a romantic evening; your wish is my command."

Mike buries his face into the side of Harvey's neck, pressing his lips against the skin in a brief kiss. He clings to Harvey, feeling desperate for reasons he doesn't understand, and he can't help but hope, even though he knows it's completely foolish, that Harvey is the answer to all his wishes.

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

"Did you really get to film in the Louvre?"

"That hotel room does not look real, just FYI."

"Okay you need to speak to me in French at some point because fuck that is hot."

"You know, I never got the appeal of Paris until I saw this movie. I used to think Paris was overrated. But when I watched this for the first time I immediately wanted to buy a plane ticket to France."

"Man, I do not understand how every co-star you have does not fall head over heels in love with you when you look at them like that."

"Harvey."

"Harvey..."

The man in question grunts in acknowledgement but doesn't answer him, just as he hasn't responded to any of the comments Mike has made since he began watching Marching against the Horizon. Mike grins, amused at finally get a response from his boyfriend, even if that response was just an annoyed noise, and turns his attention back to the screen.

Mike thought it would be funny to bring over one of Harvey's movies to watch together. He didn't know where Harvey stood on the whole 'actors watching their own movies' thing, and when he plugged his USB into Harvey's TV and queued up the movie Harvey just groaned and said, "Do we have to?"

"Please," Mike had begged, partly because he thought it would be funny to watch it together but mostly because now that he had it queued up he actually really felt like watching it. So Harvey had agreed and lasted a total of five minutes before escaping into one of the novels Mike bought over the other day so he didn't have to keep watching.

Mike had been too engrossed in the movie to stop watching, and had been throwing out random comments and questions ever since, all of which had gone unanswered.

It really is a remarkable film. It's one of Harvey's most beloved films, from critics and the general public alike. Ostensibly it's a romantic drama where Harvey plays an American ex-pat living in Paris who meets the love of his life just days before he’s due to return home but really it's about so much more than that. It's about the fragility of love, the important but transient nature of home, and the fine line between destiny and chance.

It's a bit surreal, seeing a ten years younger Harvey on the screen before him when the current day Harvey is sitting silently beside him. Harvey has been a heartthrob ever since he started acting, and he looks particularly gorgeous in this film. But Mike has to admit that he prefers Harvey as he is now. He's grown into his looks the more he's aged, and Mike can only imagine that in twenty years time he'll still be setting hearts aflame.

But Mike pushes those thoughts away as he settles back into the movie. It's up to one of his favorite scenes, where Harvey's character happens upon his soul mate on the other side of Paris, just hours after they had said that maybe one day they would meet again as they were bidding each other farewell for what they assumed was the last time.

It's perfect, and Mike is enthralled.

At least, that is, until ten minutes later when Harvey and his leading lady start kissing and undressing each other in the low light of a Parisian apartment, and Mike cannot turn off the TV fast enough.

The sudden absence of noise gets Harvey's attention and he looks up from his book. "Something wrong?" he asks, amused.

"No," Mike says defensively, but at Harvey's continued stare he adds, "I'm just suddenly less interested in seeing your character get sexy with the love of his life."

There's a beat before Harvey laughs, "Get sexy?"

"Shut up," Mike grumbles, a small smile softening the words.

Harvey chuckles, putting the book aside. He shifts closer to Mike on the couch, presses his lips to Mike's in a soft kiss, keeps their faces pressed close as he says, "It's not real, you know."

"I know," Mike says petulantly, even rolling his eyes despite the fact that Harvey won't see it. "Doesn't mean I want to see it though."

"Hmmm..." Harvey says against his mouth. "What could we possibly do to get that image out of your head?"

And then Harvey stands, his hands gliding easily down the front of his shirt, un-popping buttons as they go. The last thing Mike sees is him grinning before Harvey's shirt is tossed over his head, blocking the room from sight. Mike chuckles, pulling the material from his head and throwing it beside him on the couch. By the time he locates Harvey he's halfway down the hallway, the jeans he was so recently wearing lying on the floor near the dining table. Mike grins, following Harvey into the bedroom, nearly tripping over Harvey's boxer briefs in his haste.

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

One of the perks of being the owner of the shop is that when it's quieter than normal, like on this particular Saturday afternoon, he can leave Jenny to handle things by herself for a little while and go and run some errands (or, on the very rare occasion, go and take a nap).

So he leaves the shop in Jenny's capable hands and heads down the street, walking the familiar path to the closest supermarket a few blocks away. His fridge is nearly empty, a combination of either never being home (because he's at Harvey's) or cooking for two when he is home (and going through everything twice as fast). He takes his time as he wanders down the aisles, examining each article before he puts it in his basket and considering if it would be something that Harvey would like. It's slightly surreal, factoring Harvey into his grocery shopping when they only met two months ago, but it is what it is, and to be honest, Mike doesn't know any other way to be. He's a feet first kinda guy, always has been, even though it almost always leads to heartbreak.

Trying to shake those thoughts away he gets his shopping done and heads back home. Jenny is just closing up the store when he gets back, and she follows him upstairs to the apartment.

"So are you seeing Harvey tonight?" she asks as Mike puts his groceries away.

"No, he's meeting with a producer friend for dinner."

"And you weren't invited?"

"I was, but I didn't think it was a good idea. And I got the sense he was inviting me just because he thought he should, not because he actually wanted me to be there."

Jenny hums thoughtfully. "Hey, what do you say we go grab a bite to eat?"

Mike grins at her. "Sounds perfect."

They go to a little Italian place a few blocks away. It's been a favorite of Mike's ever since it opened three years ago. If he was ever going to take Harvey out to dinner somewhere, if that was something they could do, then he'd bring him here. But he puts those thoughts aside as they take their seat. Tonight is about him and Jenny. It's been too long since they've hung out like this. Sure, they see each other at work all the time, but there's nothing like going out for a good meal and a good conversation.

They chat idly, easily, going from tangent to tangent in the way only two people who have known each other for so long can. Mike appreciates the relaxed atmosphere, because as much as he enjoys being with Harvey whenever they are out in relative public it's never like this. They supplement their food with generous servings of wine, laughing liberally as they talk about random nothings, and it takes until they are sharing dessert for Jenny to say, "So guess who came into the store this afternoon after you left?"

"Alfredo."

Jenny nods, and Mike grins at her. "You could just give in and go out with him. I know you like him."

"I do," Jenny admits, and that in itself is a step in the right direction because she's never actually acknowledged it out loud before. "But I'm just not sure I'm ready. You know what happened last time..."

Mike does. Intimately. Trevor screwed them both over in completely different ways but they were both scarred by it. They had clung desperately to each other in the aftermath, and it had taken time but Mike has started to heal. Jenny, clearly, still has a way to go.

"I do know. I know that Trevor was awful and he abandoned you. And I know you're scared of it happening again. But Jenny, Alfredo is not Trevor. And you deserve to be happy."

"What, so the only way to be happy is for me to be with a guy? That's not very feminist of you, Mike," Jenny says, but her voice is light, teasing.

"Come on, you know that's not what I mean. I know you can be perfectly content without a man in your life. I also know that you aren't, Jenny. At least, not in the way you deserve to be. Maybe Alfredo will be The One, maybe he won't. But you won't know for sure until you try. Take the leap."

"Like you did with Harvey?"

"Yeah," Mike says softly, averting his eyes. "Like I did with Harvey."

"Tell me about him."

Mike looks at her, confused. It's not like he's never spoken to her about Harvey before. But she looks strangely insistent, so Mike acquiesces. "He's crazy smart. He can be so stubborn about the littlest things. There are some times when I look at him and can't believe he's real, like no one should be allowed to be that gorgeous. He's arrogant and egotistical, but what's worse than that is that he usually has the talents and smarts to back it up. He's exceedingly generous with those he loves. And he treats me better than I probably deserve."

Jenny makes a face at that last statement, but replies with a simple, "He sounds perfect."

"Yeah," Mike says sadly. "Yeah for me, he is."

"Then why don't you sound happy about it?"

Mike looks across the table at his best friend, her face nothing full of nothing but concern and sympathy. He thinks about not saying anything, of not saying what he doesn't even want to admit to himself. She reaches over and puts a hand over his, squeezing reassuringly, and Mike knows that if there is anyone he can trust with this it's Jenny. So he takes a deep breath, but still can't look her in the eye when he confesses, "Because I'm scared that it's too good to be true. Everyone left, Jen. My parents, Grammy, Trevor. What if ... Harvey's leaving soon ... what if he doesn't come back to me? What if he realizes that he's this amazing guy who could have anyone in the world and he doesn't really want to be with a nobody bookshop owner from Brooklyn? What if he leaves too?"

"He won't," Jenny says adamantly, and Mike wishes he could be so sure.

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

There's an easy domesticity to his and Harvey's relationship. Maybe it's been there from the start, but Mike's really only started to notice the last couple of weeks. Because after work each day Mike will go to Harvey's - or Harvey will come to Mike's - and they eat dinner and wash the dishes and collapse onto the couch together and move easily around each other in the bathroom before bed and then again first thing in the morning, and it all just feels so easy, so right. It's hard to believe they've only been together for two months when sometimes it feels like they've been together forever.

Take tonight for example. They had a lovely home cooked meal, Harvey teaching Mike how to make his favorite salmon dish (Mike thinks he did okay for his first time cooking fish, even if it didn't taste as nice as when Harvey made it for him). From there it was cleaning up the kitchen together and then collapsing onto the couch, Mike half on top of Harvey as they chatted idly, TCM playing in the background. After a few hours they moved to the bathroom, showering together (to save water of course) and dressing and readying for bed (Harvey bought Mike some pajamas he could keep here).

Harvey was done before him - a rare occurrence actually - and when Mike wanders into the bedroom it's to find Harvey stripping the bed. He wordlessly steps forward and helps Harvey change the sheets, and Mike wonders if this is the most domestic thing he has ever done in his whole life.

"You know, I figured you'd have a maid or something to do this for you," Mike says with a grin.

"I am capable of looking after myself, you know."

"I know. But I'm not gonna lie, if I had as much money as you I would totally pay someone to clean up my apartment for me."

Harvey chuckles, pulling the sheet taut across the bed and tucking it in. They work in silence until the task is complete, the bed freshly made and Harvey depositing the old sheets into a hamper in the walk-in.

When Harvey returns he looks between Mike and the bed a few times. "We did a good job. Wanna mess it up?" he asks with a grin, closing the gap between them and kissing Mike.

It's so effortless, the way their arms wrap around each other, bodies press together, mouths move in a perfect dance. They break away only to climb onto the newly made bed, meeting lengthways across the mattress, Harvey falling easily in the space between Mike's legs. His hand slips under Mike's t-shirt, fingertips gliding along his ribs. Mike's hands rest on Harvey's back. Harvey feels a lot smaller than when they first met - a result of all his training - but he's still the most real and solid person Mike has had in his arms.

"I like my apartment so much more when you're here," Harvey says, between kisses pressed down Mike's neck. "It feels like home."

Mike can make no other reply than to guide Harvey back up and kiss him deeply. And if, when he winds his arms around Harvey, he clings a little desperately to the older man, well that's no one's business but his own.

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

"Good?"

Mike lets out a noise of contentment as he rolls the burger around in his mouth, and Harvey chuckles, reaching over and stealing a fry from his plate.

"Hey," Mike objects, but too late, for Harvey has already slipped it into his mouth with a smug grin. "Should've gotten the burger," Mike sing-songs, glancing at Harvey's pathetic looking salad.

Harvey shrugs. "Why bother when I can just eat yours?"

Mike can't help but smile indulgently at him before taking another bite of his burger. It's honestly amazing. Out of the grand total of three restaurants he and Harvey go out to, this one is definitely his favorite. The food is one reason. But the main reason he likes it best is because it's the least expensive and pretentious. Granted that still makes it fancier than any restaurant he'd ever been to before he met Harvey, but it's definitely the most casual of the three places they frequent, and he actually really enjoys it here.

The lunch is long and enjoyable. When it's done Mike hands over his credit card and when the waiter disappears he slumps back into the chair and groans, "Really not looking forward to going back out into that heat."

Harvey makes a noise of agreement.

"I think I might grab some ice-cream on the way back or something."

"What're you twelve?" Harvey asks with a chuckle. Mike, in an incredibly mature retort, sticks out his tongue. "I rest my case."

Mike grins at him, placing his hand on Harvey's thigh.

"You know," Harvey says hesitantly, "Emack and Bolio's sounds pretty good about now. And it is only a few blocks from here, if you're interested..."

Mike looks at Harvey for a moment. The waiter returns his credit card and Mike barely notices. Because if he's reading Harvey right then Harvey is suggesting that they go into public. Together. To get ice-cream. It takes a while for him to process the statement because this is not something they do. Ever.

"Are you sure?" Mike asks. Because Mike knows there is a reason they've never just walked down the street together, and there is a genuine possibility that this could blow up in their faces, and he wants to make sure Harvey thinks it's worth the risk.

"I am. But only if you are."

Mike thinks about it for a moment, weighing the pros and cons, but in the end all he can think about is how liberating it will feel to be able to walk down the street with Harvey by his side. "Well," he says with a smile, "I have always wanted to try their Chunk O’Funk."

Harvey's returning smile is blinding.

It's completely surreal, walking down the street with Harvey. It's only four blocks, not far at all in the scheme of things, but it takes less than one block for Mike to feel the difference. Although no one stops them, and he doesn't see anyone taking a photo either, almost every person they pass either stops and stares or does a double take when they notice Harvey. He sees people whisper amongst themselves. Some try and act completely nonchalant about it by completely averting their gaze once they've seen them. But even that feels intrusive, that it's just as bad whether people stare at them or pretend like they don't exist.

"Is it always like this?" Mike asks, as the walk along block number two.

Harvey shrugs. "More or less."

"God, how do you stand it?"

"By picturing everyone in their underwear," Harvey says, completely deadpan, and after a moment of shocked silence Mike cracks up laughing.

"You don't really do that."

"Maybe I do," Harvey insists enigmatically, and Mike actually considers for a moment that he does. This is Harvey after all. For all that they've known each other for two months Mike still feels like he is just scratching the surface.

They talk idly as they make their way to the shop. Entering the store is a cool relief from the summer sun, and thankfully there are only a handful of people inside. They make their way to the display and argue over the merits of different ice-cream flavors while they wait their turn. Finally they order - Mike does end up getting the Chunk O'Funk while Harvey gets the relatively boring mint and oreo ice cream in the less boring marshmallow and oreo cone - and while the teenager who is serving them scoops up the ice-cream the store manager comes out to greet them.

His name is Emilio and he treats Harvey like an old friend, smiling wildly and talking at him. Harvey is polite and engages in the conversation but he doesn't put a massive amount of effort into it either. Emilio doesn't seem to mind, or even notice, because he gushes and when Harvey asks a question about how long he's worked here he tells Harvey about the store and the company and then he asks if it's okay to take a photo to put on their twitter. Harvey assents, though Mike thinks it's slightly grudging. While they take the photo - the act seemingly opening the door to every other person in the store also getting their phone out to take a picture of Harvey - Mike buys some of their home made chocolates to go.

Finally Harvey makes their farewells and they grab their cones and step outside into the warm but less crowded air.

"Okay?" Harvey asks, like Mike was the one who just had to deal with random members of the public accosting him.

"Yeah," Mike says. He doesn't ask Harvey the same, not because he doesn't care but because Harvey has been dealing with this for over a decade and he doesn't want to seem patronizing.

They start walking down the street, Mike licking at his ice-cream, which is completely delicious. It's melting slightly, a combination of the heat outside and the fact that the ice-creams were sitting there in the store for a few minutes while Harvey appeased the masses, and when it slides down over his fingers and Mike licks it off he notices Harvey looking at him with a laser focus.

"We should go," Harvey says, walking to the curb and hailing a cab.

Mike tries to hide his smile as he joins Harvey on the curb, sliding into a taxi when it appears a few seconds later. They're still not alone so Mike doesn't say anything like he so desperately wants to, they just sit in the back seat and eat their ice-creams as they head back to Harvey's place. Mike might eat a little sloppier than usual, ice-cream ringing his mouth and dripping onto his hand and wrist. Harvey looks at him once but then stares straight ahead of him for the rest of the short ride home.

As soon they walk in the door Harvey presses him back against it and kisses him. Mike braces a hand on Harvey's shoulder as Harvey licks into his mouth.

"I'm all sticky," Mike says, as Harvey grabs his hand, tossing the half empty cone into the kitchen (presumably he was aiming for the sink but he missed by a long shot) before sucking Mike's fingers into his mouth. Mike groans, head hitting the door behind him as the paper bag of chocolates in his other hand drops to the floor. Harvey presses open mouthed kisses down the heel of his hand, the inside of his wrist.

"Not yet you're not," Harvey says, his voice rough, and from there they move as one over to the couch, shedding clothes as they go.

This could never get old. Mike could live forever and still get goosebumps from Harvey's hand trailing over his chest, Harvey's mouth pressing into his hip. He could go multiple lifetimes and still feel the same reverence he feels now as he kisses along Harvey's collarbone. It's quick and desperate, hands everywhere, kisses stolen between panting breaths, Mike arching up under Harvey, whole bodies pressed as close as they can. He'll never get tired of the way Harvey says his name, like he's something incredible to Harvey. His body is on fire and only Harvey can grant him release and he does, Mike crying out with half formed words as he comes.

He clutches at Harvey as he comes down from the high, and as soon as any kind of brain function returns he gets his hands on Harvey. Harvey is so responsive, but too soon he tears himself away from Mike's touch. He straddles Mike's body and gets himself off, staring at Mike the whole time. Mike licks his lips, hands spread wide on Harvey's thighs, eyes scanning the tanned length of Harvey's body, Harvey’s cock repeatedly appearing and disappearing into his fist.

"You're so fucking gorgeous," Mike murmurs, and Harvey groans in response. "Come on. Come on, Harvey. Come for me. Make a mess on me, make me yours, come on..."

Mike babbles nonsense, eyes locked with Harvey's, and it doesn't take long, Harvey coming with a near silent moan. He braces himself with his hands on Mike's now damp and sticky chest, breathing deeply. His fingertips slide through their combined fluids and it should be gross but Mike fucking loves it.

He sits up, Harvey easing back slightly to let him, and Mike kisses Harvey deeply. "Fuck," he breathes against Harvey's mouth. "I'm definitely sticky now."

"Yeah you are," Harvey grins, claiming Mike's mouth once more.

They stay there, completely wrapped up in each other, for a few minutes before moving to the bathroom to shower and then cleaning up their debris. They don't bother dressing in anything beyond t-shirts and underwear, lounging on the couch under the air conditioner.

It's a perfect moment of peace and serenity, which is abruptly destroyed the second Donna bursts into Harvey's apartment. Mike sits up at the noise, looking over the back of the couch to see Donna storming into the room, looking a bit out of sorts.

"Well, isn't this cozy?" Donna says, walking in front of where they are sprawled together on the couch and sitting on the coffee table like she owns the place.

"Hi, Donna," Mike says pleasantly, idly glad she didn't decide to rock up unannounced half an hour ago.

"I thought you'd be at work today," she says, her tone pointed for reasons Mike can't work out.

She's right, he should be, it being a Thursday afternoon and all. But after their dinner last weekend Jenny offered to take some extra shifts so he would have more time to spend with Harvey before his departure, and Mike had agreed. He didn't tell Harvey the exact reason why he suddenly had some extra free time, just told him he was giving Jenny some more shifts because she needed the money.

Mike doesn't really feel like explaining all this to Harvey's assistant though, so he says, "I took the afternoon off. Why?"

Donna shrugs. "No reason. Other than my email blowing up because pictures of the two of you are all over the internet."

"What?" Harvey and Mike both exclaim in near perfect unison, sitting up on the couch.

Donna pulls a tablet from her bag and hands it over. It shows an open browser with Harvey's name entered into google and the multiple gossip sites that list articles about him. Harvey chooses one and Mike is greeted with photos of the two of them.

If he's honest it's not like they are particularly incriminating. They aren't holding hands or kissing or anything like that. They're just walking together down Amsterdam, talking and laughing. There are some of them going into the ice-cream shop and then some of them exiting it. They skim through the articles of the different websites; they all list Mike as "an unknown friend" and of the half dozen they browse only one even vaguely hints at them being anything more than friends.

"What the hell were you thinking doing something so stupid, Harvey?"

"I was thinking I wanted ice-cream," he says evenly. "There's nothing stupid about that."

"You need to be more careful. And I think we need to look at doing some kind of damage control."

Harvey scoffs. "Damage control of what? You're overreacting, Donna. Barely anyone is suggesting the true nature of our relationship. Saying something is just going to make it worse."

Donna's face is stern though, and when Mike looks back and forth between them Harvey's expression is pretty similar. He just wants to shrink away, he doesn't want to be here for this, but he remains frozen on the couch.

"But people in the industry are going to see this and wonder. It could hurt you," Donna points out.

"Donna, I might not be ready to tell the world my business when it's still none of their goddamn business, but I won't lie about it either. This is my personal life. You don't get a say in that."

She scoffs. "I used to."

"No, you used to say what you wanted and I let you. No more. You know I care about your opinions about the work, and I know you go above and beyond what you need to do and for that I'm grateful. But this is my life and you need to keep out of it..."

Mike silently slips from the room, heading to Harvey's bedroom. His clothes are all there and he quickly shucks them on. He can't be here for this. He doesn't know how he feels about the photos, it's all too surreal to even wrap his mind around, and he can't think about it and listen to Harvey and Donna arguing over him. It's too much. He needs to get out.

When he gets back to the living room Harvey cuts off mid-sentence when he notices Mike's newly dressed state. "Mike?" he says, voice confused as he stands from the couch.

"I gotta go," Mike says. Harvey heads over to him but Mike steps out of his reach when he gets too close. "I have to get back to work."

"Wait, please," Harvey says, but Mike can't stay here right now. He shakes his head, heading to the door.

Harvey follows him, and when Mike pauses by the door to pick up his shoes he looks back at Harvey and says, "I'll call you later." He doesn't wait for a reply, just opens the door and walks through it.

In the quiet of the hallway Mike lets out a deep breath, leaning back against the door. There's a pause before he can hear Harvey start yelling and Mike just walks away.

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

"Hi," Marcus smiles widely at Mike, stepping aside to let Mike in.

Mike grins in greeting as he steps into Marcus and Robbie's apartment. He looks around in wonder. It's much smaller than Harvey's, much more messy and lived in. In fact, there is almost nothing the same about the two apartments.

"Nice place," Mike says sincerely. The casual and homey ambiance of the room is much more his style than Harvey's modern and clean line apartment.

"Thanks," Marcus replies. "Beer?"

Mike nods, and Marcus goes to grab them a drink from the kitchen. "I ordered the pizza already, hope that's okay."

"Fine," Mike tells him.

Marcus had called him an hour ago, saying that with Robbie and the kids having a "sleepover party" at Robbie's sisters place and with Harvey being off on his photo shoot all day and night (Harvey is a Brand Ambassador and Muse for Tom Ford, and they're photographing the fall/winter campaign today) that they should hang out. Mike was hesitant, but couldn't actually come up with a viable reason to say no, so here he is.

"So," Marcus grins as they situate themselves on the couch, "have you seen this?"

Marcus pushes the September copy of Vanity Fair across the coffee table to him.

"Yes," Mike replies, and he won't admit that he went and bought it yesterday morning when it was released, reading the article right then and there on the street.

It had been surreal, to read an article like that about someone he knew. It was being done in conjunction with the Star Trek announcement, so a good portion of the interview was about his part as Bones and what Star Trek meant to him growing up, the issues it tackled and its relevance today. There are also mentions of his previous work and his life in New York City and his work with Tom Ford.

But the most significant part, at least for Mike, comes at the end of the interview. Even if he wasn't blessed with an eidetic memory he would still be able to recall verbatim the last paragraph of the interview:

Harvey has a reputation for being aloof, standoffish. Really he just has a low tolerance for bullshit. Despite this, when the interview time is coming to an end I can't help but ask one last question, unplanned as it may be. Because I've interviewed Harvey over  a dozen times since his breakout role in Everlasting October and though I would never claim to be his friend, we do have a rapport, and I can't help but notice how much relaxed and open he's been this afternoon compared to all our other meetings. I wonder if there has been some change in his life since last we met. So I take a chance and ask, "Are you happy?" A trite and vague question, I grant you, and not at all professional, but Harvey smiles warmly and says, "More than I've ever been."

Mike had stood in the middle of the sidewalk staring at the article for a good two minutes, and then checked it again when he got home to make sure he hadn't hallucinated the whole thing. He hadn't. It's been a day and a half and he still can't believe it.

"So how're you holding up?" Marcus asks with clear concern.

"Holding up?"

"You know, the photos and everything. I heard things with Donna got pretty heated last week."

Mike thinks back to the scene in Harvey's living room. "Yeah, I guess so."

"I love Donna, don't get me wrong, but I think that conversation was motivated slightly by the green eyed monster, if you get my drift. You should know it wasn't really about you."

Mike nods noncommittally.

"Look, I know it can be an adjustment, having someone in your life who’s, well, stupidly famous. I was able to acclimate slowly, but you've basically been thrown in at the deep end. One of the reasons I asked you over here was I thought you might want to talk to someone about it, someone who’ll understand, who has lived it. Someone who isn't Harvey."

Mike thinks about it for a moment. "I don't know if I can handle it," he confesses in a rush. It's the first time he's allowed himself to admit it, and yet acknowledging it doesn't make him feel better. He feels worse.

"I know you can," Marcus says without hesitation. "I don't think you would've found each other if you couldn't. You're strong, you're more than capable of dealing with all the bullshit this side of Harvey's life brings. It's just about shifting your perspective slightly..."

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

Mike stays home all day. He could probably head downstairs and help Jenny out, but instead he just sits on the couch and broods.

Harvey is leaving in two days.

He doesn't know what to do. He doesn't want to lose Harvey, but he can't see it turning out any other way.

Mike thinks about everything he and Marcus talked about last night. Marcus told him of some of the things he'd experienced over the years, how Harvey has dealt with the bi-product of his career meaning he has said goodbye to things like privacy and relative freedom. Marcus had tried to reassure Mike that it was okay, that it wasn't insurmountable, that it was something that could be acclimated to and it wasn't the be all and end all of everything.

Mike knows he meant well, but he thinks in the end Marcus just made things worse. Because now all Mike can think about is all the ways in which this could destroy everything.

He pulls out his laptop, thinks he might do some Wikipedia surfing to get his mind off things. And it works for a little while, but through a series of link jumping (and a subconscious that can't let this go) he ends up watching a five year old interview with Harvey on Jay Leno.

Mike can't help the faint smile as he watches Harvey on his monitor, smiling and telling funny stories and playing to the crowd. Everyone laps it up, laughing and clapping, Harvey feeding off their energy in a continuous cycle.

That's when Mike finally acknowledges something that he knew all along. Harvey doesn't belong to him. He belongs to the world.

And Mike has to let him go.

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

Mike is already on his way over to Harvey's place when Harvey texts him. Can we talk?

Mike texts back straight away. On my way over. No smiley face, so Harvey is probably already expecting the worst. But then again, given Harvey's original message, the lack of smiling emoticon might not be the flashing red light it would be in any other circumstance.

His heart is pounding in his chest and he feels like he wants to pass out as the rides up in the elevator. He uses the main building one, not Harvey's private elevator, giving him one last moment to attempt to gather his strength before knocking on the door.

Harvey smiles when he opens the door to Mike, but it's the first time since they met that it hasn't seemed quite real. It's the smile Mike sees on screen - a perfect facsimile of the real thing but still not quite the same as the original.

"Hey," Mike says softly, and he steps into the room, briefly presses his lips to Harvey's. He can't help it. This could well be the last time he gets to kiss Harvey, and there's no way he isn't taking that opportunity while he can. He commits the entire thing to memory, the soft press of Harvey's lips against his, Harvey's fingers instinctively resting on his arm, the quiet hush as they slowly withdraw, as though neither of them actually wanted to part.

Mike walks into the apartment and it all looks exactly the same. He doesn't know what exactly he expected, but he thought there would be some evidence of Harvey's impending departure. Instead it looks like nothing is different. It feels like a betrayal, that there is no physical indication of their imminent separation.

Mike sits on the couch and watches as Harvey approaches, wondering if he will join Mike on the couch or sit elsewhere. He doesn't know if he's glad or not when Harvey sits beside him.

"So," Harvey says after they've situated themselves, "want to tell me what's wrong?" Mike must look surprised at Harvey's question, probably more because of the bluntness than anything else, so Harvey adds, "You've been distancing yourself for weeks, Mike. I know something's wrong. What is it?"

Mike takes in a deep breath. He can't look Harvey in the eyes, his gaze focused somewhere in the vicinity of his knees when he says, "I think we should break up."

The silence that follows is deafening. It drags on so long that Mike has to look up to see Harvey's reaction, which was obviously what he was waiting for because only then is it that he replies. "Why?" he asks, voice eerily calm.

"We don't belong together," Mike says, and then quickly adds, "We can't be together," because it sounds better that way.

"Is this because of the paparazzi photos?"

"No. Yes. I-I don't know, it's just..." he waves his hand, like that's supposed to explain everything.

Harvey shifts in his seat slightly. "The fame thing isn't really real, you know," he says hesitantly.

"Of course it is," Mike laughs bitterly. "We can't go out to a movie on a Saturday night or walk down the street hand in hand or go grocery shopping or do anything normal."

"I thought you said you didn't mind that we had to keep our relationship secret," Harvey says, vaguely hurt.

"And I meant it. But to pretend that it doesn't exist and doesn't impact on our relationship and our lives is stupid. If you're not ready to be out I'm not going to force you. I would never do that. But we're fooling ourselves if we think it doesn't make a difference. We don't belong together."

"Prove it," Harvey challenges.

"Prove it?"

"Yes, prove it. Tell me you don't love me."

Mike looks at Harvey, wills the words to come, but they never do. He can't say it. Harvey smiles at him, not quite gloating but near enough, like Mike's silence says it all.

Mike decides he needs a change of tack. So he asks, "How much money did you make last year?"

Harvey sobers. "Why?" he asks, confused.

"This is me proving it, Harvey. How much money did you make last year?"

"Forty-five million."

"How many houses do you own?"

"Three."

"Where?"

"New York, LA and the Hamptons."

"What hangs in your front entryway?"

"Mike..." Harvey says softly, but Mike can't let it go.

"Answer the question, Harvey."

He sighs. "An original painting by Picasso."

Harvey looks deflated, and Mike can completely relate. This isn't easy for him. But he needs Harvey to understand. "I live in a small, shabby apartment in Brooklyn that I've lived in practically my whole life. I own a bookstore that pretty much just makes enough for me to pay my bills. How are we supposed to make this work? We come from two completely different worlds."

"Bullshit," Harvey says, his voice hard. He looks intently at Mike, tinges of anger finally creeping in. "Look, if you don’t want to be with me, fine, just say it. But don't blame it on our lifestyles. None of that shit matters. All that matters is that you make me laugh and you are the most intriguing person I've ever met and you make me happier than I've ever been in my entire goddamn life. And I thought I did the same for you."

"You do," Mike admits softly, because it's the truth and Harvey deserves to know it.

"Then fuck everything else. I want to be with you. I'm in love with you. And I know you love me too."

Mike is silent, too overwhelmed by the power of Harvey's words to form coherent thought, let alone coherent speech. Harvey loves him. He'd hoped that maybe Harvey had felt this way, but he's never said it, and Mike couldn't help thinking that it was just another unobtainable dream.

"Tell me you're in love with me too," Harvey says, and it's the first time Mike has ever heard Harvey sound desperate. Like it's something he needs.

"Of course I am," Mike says. "I love you so much. But that doesn't mean we will make it."

"You're right, it doesn't. All I know is that if we don't try I will regret it for the rest of my life. Please Mike, can't we just try?"

Mike should really say no. It would be painful, true, but at least things in his life would be certain. If he says yes, it could still all fall apart and break his heart even more than if he just walks away now.

But then again, saying no is guaranteed pain - saying yes, there's a chance that they could make it. Maybe they can figure this out and be okay. Some people do spend their whole lives together, and the odds are probably astronomical, but what if they were one of the lucky few. Wasn't it worth the risk?

Mike tries to picture his life without Harvey in it. He thinks about never waking up with Harvey spooned behind him, never laughing in the kitchen as they cook dinner together, never kissing Harvey and feeling like it was what he was put on this earth for...

Harvey is the love of his life. He knows it as surely as he knows his own name. Can he really walk away from this?

Mike's startled by Harvey's touch, thumb swiping across the arch of his cheek and wiping away an errant tear. He wraps long fingers around Harvey's wrist and nods.

Harvey breaks out into a beautiful smile, lips wide and eyes crinkling and Mike kisses him, desperate to feel his touch once more. Harvey meets the embrace ardently, cradling his face in his hands and kissing Mike reverently.

Mike throws his arms around Harvey, buries his face into his shoulder. "Yes," Mike says, squeezing tighter, and Harvey just holds on and doesn't let go.

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

Their separation is, in a word, horrendous.

With the wonders of technology they are able to communicate, stealing phone calls and Skype calls and text message conversations whenever they can. But the time difference doesn't help, and Harvey's days are long, so they quite often go up to a week without talking.

Mike misses him every day. It's a gaping hole in his life, and it's ridiculous because a few months ago this is what his life was like, with no Harvey shaped presence by his side, and he got by just fine. But he knows better now, and he just wants Harvey back.

Mike is working long days too. To stop himself from wallowing in a pit of despair he throws himself into work. He works seven days a week, from open to close, and as a distraction it's not too bad. He reads books and talks to his customers and does anything he can to put off going home to an empty apartment. He eats alone and maybe watches TV for a bit before going to sleep in his too empty bed.

Summer gives way to fall. He goes out with Jenny a few times, and accepts Marcus' invitation to come over for dinner every few weeks. The more time he spends with Marcus, Robbie and the kids the more he adores them. He likes being with them, it feels like it keeps him connected to Harvey even when the man himself is thousands of miles away. But it's still a double-edged sword, with Harvey's absence palpable to everyone in the room (two months after Harvey's departure and Thomas still looks at Mike with confusion when he comes to visit them, asking where Uncle Harvey is). Mike takes snaps of the kids whenever he's there and sends them to Harvey. Harvey loves them all, and then apparently conspires with Marcus because one day Harvey sends him a photo of Mike reading a story to an enraptured Annabelle. Harvey captions the picture my new favorite photo.

Black Friday is the fresh hell it normally is, being one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Thanksgiving to Christmas are the busiest four and a half weeks of the whole year, and even with Jenny they are still run off their feet, so he hires Ellie, the teenage daughter of his neighbor, to help out for a couple of shifts a week while Mike is busy with tracking down first editions people want to buy for Christmas presents or dealing with the admin side of the business. But Mike doesn't mind the hectic and long days, because each one of them brings him that much closer to seeing Harvey again. Harvey has used his not inconsiderable influence to get the week of Christmas to New Year’s off from the shoot (Harvey said something about them shooting second unit scenes or maybe them focusing on shooting with the arch-nemesis of Harvey's character - to be honest Mike pretty much stopped being able to process anything after I'm coming home for a week) so Mike is counting down the days until Christmas Eve when he gets to see Harvey again.

Time moves at an interminable rate. The closer it gets the further away it seems. Part of him wonders how he's going to keep doing this. Harvey is coming back, yes, but it's not the first time he's had an overseas shoot and it certainly won't be the last. He meant what he said to Harvey, he wanted to try and make this work, but being apart was an adjustment that wasn't easy to make, and he wasn't sure how well he would cope with this happening again and again.

Finally the numbers in Mike's mental countdown are down to single digits. Every time he speaks to or texts Harvey he ends the conversation with see you in x days, and then after a few days, to mix things up, he changes the days to however many hours remain.

The night before Harvey's return Mike can barely sleep from excitement. He's already exhausted when he opens the shop with Jenny and Ellie, and the stream of shoppers is constant, but Mike can't be here. He can't be here when Harvey is arriving home today. He's distracted and feels like he's vibrating out of his skin and really, at this point, he's more of a hindrance than a help.

This is Christmas Eve, one of the busiest days of the year and he shouldn't just abandon them. But he can't stay. He pulls Jenny aside quickly and says, "I'm so sorry, Jen, but I need to go."

"It's okay," Jenny says with a warm smile. "I'm surprised you even made it in at all to be honest. Go on."

"I'll make it up to you, I promise. Consider your pay for today doubled. You too," he adds to Ellie when she turns around, intrigued.

"It's fine," Jenny laughs. "Go. Have a merry Christmas."

He gives Jenny a hug. "Merry Christmas, Jen. I love you. And if you need anything while I'm gone this week..." Mike thought he'd have to beg, borrow and steal to get Jenny to cover him for the week between Christmas and New Years so he could spend as much time as possible with Harvey, but in the end she was happy to let him go. Relieved, even. He'd been working insane hours for months and she was just happy he was taking a break.

"I'll call. Promise. Now go."

He gives her one last blinding smile before throwing himself through the crowds of people and heading upstairs. He grabs his pre-packed bag and slips on a coat before heading out into the lightly falling snow to hail a cab. He realizes half way into the city that Harvey's plane isn't due to land for another three hours, and adding on the time it'll take him to clear customs and make it back home Harvey's probably a good five hours away yet. But he can't go back home and wait there by himself as time moves at a glacial pace. He's too antsy and worked up, so he continues on his way to Harvey's building, only when he gets there and into the elevator he pushes the floor button for Marcus and Robbie's apartment instead of Harvey's.

Robbie looks surprised to see him when she opens the door, but she looks down and notices his duffel bag and grins. "Big day, huh?" she teases, stepping aside to let him in.

"Yeah," Mike chuckles. "Sorry to just turn up unannounced, I hope I'm not disturbing you or anything-"

"Not at all," Robbie says. "You know you're always welcome."

Annabelle appears from nowhere and rushes towards Mike with her arms above her head. Mike grins, sweeping her up in one smooth motion and hugging her tight. "Are you excited about tomorrow?" Mike asks, and Annabelle nods her head enthusiastically. She squirms in his arms so he puts her down, and she takes his hand and leads him over to the Christmas tree in the corner of the room, pointing at it with a grin. She's done this the last two times Mike's been over, but he goes along with it, reacting with exaggerated awe and asking if all those presents are for her, still amused by her excited nod.

After a few minutes she scampers off to play and Mike turns back to Robbie. "Can I help you with anything?" he asks, because Marcus and Robbie are hosting Christmas dinner tomorrow so he imagines she could use some help with preparation. Robbie puts him to work in the kitchen with her, and they listen to Christmas music as they prepare some of the desserts for tomorrow.

It doesn't take long for Thomas to come and steal him away. He wants to watch the Ice Age Christmas movie and, apparently sensing that Robbie is busy, he comes to Mike and asks to watch it. Mike glances to Robbie, who nods, so Mike follows Thomas down the hall to his and Annabelle's bedroom. Thomas immediately hands him the DVD, so Mike puts it in and the lies down on the carpet with Thomas and Annabelle when Thomas tugs on his arm.

He watches the movie and answers whenever Thomas asks him a random question, which is usually about every three minutes if not more. Once it's over they want to watch it again, so Mike chuckles and hits the play button on the menu and leaves them to watch the movie again.

When he makes it back to the kitchen it's to find Robbie standing there with a furrowed brow. "What's wrong?" he asks, looking around to see if he can see what's amiss.

"I forgot the sweetened condensed milk. And the chocolate chips." She looks up at Mike. "Would you mind watching the kids while I go to the store?"

"I can go if you want."

"No, no," Robbie says, slipping her cell into her back pocket and pulling the apron off over her head. "You shouldn’t suffer through the Christmas Eve madness just because I forgot something. Just stay here. If that's okay?"

"Of course."

Robbie gives him a grateful smile before ducking down the hall to tell the kids she's going out for a minute. He trails along but waits in the hallway while she's in the bedroom talking to the children, and he's close enough to hear her say, "Now you be good for Uncle Mike, okay?"

Uncle Mike. They've never called him that before. Before he has time to really process it Robbie is flying out of the room in a mad rush and Thomas follows behind, asking Mike if he wants to play a game, so he puts the thought aside and follows Thomas back into the bedroom.

Mike loses track of time then. The kids are adorable but demanding, but at least that keeps him from checking his watch every five minutes and wondering how long it will be until Harvey gets home. They play with Thomas' train set, and he reads a book to Annabelle as she sits on his folded legs, and they watch another movie (this one isn't Christmas themed though). Robbie drifts back in at some point, harried but grateful, and Mike leaves the kids to help her in the kitchen.

It feels like an eternity until Mike gets a text from Harvey, but finally there it is: Home sweet home. Come over whenever you're free.

Robbie is grinning when he looks up at her. "He's home?" she asks, already knowing the answer.

Mike nods. "I should go."

He goes into the bedroom and says goodbye to the kids, giving them hugs and pressing quick kisses to the tops of their heads, reminding them to be good for mommy so Santa will come tonight. When he returns to the living room he kisses Robbie's cheek and says, "Thanks for letting me hang out today."

"Any time. We'll see you tomorrow."

Mike grins, hustling to the door and picking up his bag before heading out. He uses the building elevator to head up to Harvey's floor, and his heart is thudding painfully in his chest, a combination of nerves and excitement. He knows he shouldn't be nervous, but it's been four months, twice the length of time that they actually had together before Harvey left. What if it's different now? What if the distance has irreparably altered their relationship and whatever they had was gone forever?

He can't stand there stressing over it, so he takes a deep breath and knocks on Harvey's door.

There's a look of surprise coloring Harvey's face when he opens the door to Mike. Mike doesn't blame him - Harvey probably assumed he was a good couple of hours away, having to get from Brooklyn to the Upper West Side in the Christmas Eve madness. He seems so blindsided that he just stands there for a moment, looking at Mike. But Mike can't wait, doesn't want to, grinning as he steps into the apartment. The movement seems to shake Harvey from his daze and he meets Mike halfway, their bodies crashing together and lips meeting in a bruising kiss.

It's better than he remembered, the feel of Harvey, real and solid beneath his hands. He kicks the door closed behind him and Harvey wastes no time pressing Mike against it. The kiss is heated, desperate, and Mike feels like he can't breathe yet he can't bring himself to care.

Mike wouldn't be able to tell you how long they stood there, desperately clinging to each other, but however long it was Mike still feels unprepared when Harvey pulls away. Harvey smiles at him, brilliant and blinding, fingertips running over Mike's face, like Harvey is trying to make certain that Mike is real.

"God, I missed you," Harvey murmurs, and before Mike even has time to tell Harvey that he missed him too Harvey has pressed his mouth to the curve of Mike's neck, sliding wet, open-mouthed kisses down his skin.

Harvey pushes the jacket from Mike's shoulders and they begin stripping each other, shirts piling up on the floor beside them. The very small corner of Mike's brain that is still functioning registers that they are standing in the entryway, and he manages a quick, "Bedroom," before his mouth is once more occupied by Harvey's.

"Too far," Harvey says against his lips, flicking Mike's jeans open and thrusting his hand beneath Mike's boxers.

Mike lets out a groan, head thrown back and hitting the door that is thankfully keeping him upright. Harvey chuckles in a self-satisfied kind of way, pushing his jeans and boxers down and wrapping his fingers around Mike's cock.

Mike feels weirdly debauched and exposed, standing there with pants around his thighs while Harvey, who is still mostly clothed, pumps his hand in the exact way Mike likes. But he decides not to care, because Harvey's hand on him feels amazing and he's missed this so much and when he kisses Harvey the dual sensations nearly do him in. Mike thrusts into Harvey's fist, desperate for friction, for release, and it doesn't take long, Mike breaking the kiss with a strangled cry when he comes.

Mike leans against the door, breathless and wrung out in the best possible way. He smiles lazily at Harvey under hooded eyes, and Harvey keeps his gaze as he brings his hand up to his mouth, licking it clean.

Mike idly thinks this is the story of how I died - because how is he supposed to manage the brain power to keep breathing with Harvey doing that - before sinking to his knees and pulling at Harvey's jeans.

"Mike-"

Mike shuts him up pretty effectively, Harvey sucking in a sharp breath when Mike gets his cock into his mouth. He swallows Harvey down deep, focusing on the sensitive spots that he knows drives Harvey mad. Harvey makes these delicious noises when he plays with the head, so he does that for a few moments before shifting down and sucking a ball into his mouth.

Mike can feel Harvey's body bend slightly as he braces himself against the door, and Mike chases the movement, licking up his shaft before going down on him again. Mike loves the weight of Harvey's cock on his tongue, and he sucks in earnest, wanting to get Harvey off as soon as possible.

Harvey lets go, barely uttering a warning before he comes, spilling down Mike's throat. Mike collapses onto the floor, wiping at his mouth and glancing up to where Harvey still has his palms pressed to the door. Harvey looks completely exhausted, and Mike is tempted to make a joke about losing his stamina in his old age but then Harvey opens his eyes and smiles down at him, sliding down the door and sitting with Mike on the floor, a tangle of limbs and discarded clothes. Mike leans across and kisses him, a simple and sweet pressing of lips. "Welcome home," he whispers, and Harvey smiles in reply.

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

The best Christmas gift Mike will ever receive is waking up in bed beside Harvey.

He feels better rested than he has in months, stretching luxuriously in Harvey's bed. Harvey stirs at the movement, slowly opening his eyes. Mike watches unabashedly as Harvey rubs his face sleepily, turning to Mike and smiling when he sees him.

"Hey," Harvey says, voice still hoarse with sleep.

"Merry Christmas," Mike replies with a grin.

Harvey snuggles deeper under the covers, inching closer to Mike. He rests a hand on the side of Mike's neck. "Merry Christmas, Mike."

Mike feels nothing but unadulterated love when Harvey kisses him then. It's a contentment he never thought he'd experience, and there's something completely freeing about feeling like you are in the exact right place with the exact right person. Mike doesn't know exactly what twist of fate bought Harvey into his life but whatever it was he's so grateful for it.

"So," Mike asks, shifting his body onto Harvey's and lining them up just so, "what did you get me for Christmas?"

He rolls his hips in punctuation, and delights in the moan Harvey lets out. Harvey grips Mike's hips and replies, "You mean flying three and a half thousand miles to see you wasn't enough?"

Mike presses his mouth to Harvey's nipple and tongues at it for a moment. "What, so not even a token of affection."

"I'll give you a token," Harvey replies, meeting Mike's thrusts.

Mike laughs, leaning up and kissing Harvey. "That was a terrible line."

"You're the one that set it up," Harvey retorts.

"I'll try and think of something more clever next time."

"You do that."

Their bodies move in an easy rhythm, shifting just so, every thrust sending bolts of pleasure through Mike's body. Harvey's fingers press into Mike's back, gliding down the dip of his spine. They kiss as well as they're able, with Mike increasing the pace the closer they get.

"God, you're going to kill me," Harvey groans when Mike presses up onto his hands to get better leverage, his hips thrusting wildly against Harvey's.

Mike can relate - they've had a lot of sex in the last sixteen hours, more than he really thought was possible, and yet it's still not enough. He's always insatiable when it comes to Harvey. "But what a way to go."

Harvey arches against his movements and it doesn't take long for them both to come, Mike collapsing onto Harvey and pressing idle kisses onto his skin, their chests heaving against each other as they regain their breath.

"I'm not sure I can move," Harvey says.

Mike chuckles. "I knew I was good but damn."

Harvey pinches Mike's side, making him squirm, and then Mike presses a quick kiss to Harvey's lips before sliding off him. "Well, I for one can move, and I need a shower."

He slips out of the bed and heads to the en-suite, feeling Harvey's eyes on his naked body as he moves across the room. He showers quickly, scrubbing his body down. He sees for the first time the marks Harvey has left on his stomach and hips, and he runs a fingertip over them, smiling.

When he's done Mike heads back into the bedroom to get dressed, only getting momentarily distracted by the sight of Harvey stepping into the shower, hot water streaming down his body. Mike shakes his head and finishes dressing before heading into the kitchen. He turns on the coffee machine and heads to the fridge. It's only after he's opened it that he realizes that he should've expected it to be empty, but when he opens it there are eggs and milk and lots of other very perishable items.

He starts pulling ingredients out, and is just about ready to start cooking when Harvey wanders into the living room, his hair still damp and curling over his forehead. It looks adorable.

"Hey, so, how is it that you flew in from London yesterday and somehow managed to have a fully stocked fridge?"

"Donna," Harvey says simply. "I think she conspired with Marcus and Robbie to make sure we had food to eat."

Mike nods, whisking the eggs, and then stops as he thinks about it. "Wait, when did she organize this?"

Harvey shrugs. "Yesterday, maybe?"

Mike lets out a light chuckle. At Harvey's questioning look, Mike just says, "Never mind," thinking about Robbie insisting that she go out to buy the food she 'forgot'.

"What're you making?" Harvey asks, tipping his head towards the bowl.

"Omelets."

"Not very impressive breakfast for Christmas Day," Harvey teases.

"Yeah, well, I've seen the food Robbie and Marcus are planning for today. Trust me when I say you'll be glad I've made us something light to start the day with."

Harvey cleans the dirty dishes while Mike is at the stove, and when the food is ready they head to the living room and eat breakfast, curled up on the couch. Snow is falling outside, and Mike can't take his eyes off it. He's lived in New York his whole life, but even now, there is still something magical about a white Christmas.

They talk as they eat, Mike telling Harvey about life at the shop, Jenny, having quality play time Thomas and Annabelle. Harvey tells Mike about how the shoot's been going, the crazy stunts he's done, the apartment he's staying at in Hyde Park and the quirky shops and beautiful, old buildings in his neighborhood. Mike's missed this, just talking to Harvey, even more than he's missed the sex. They've kept in contact over the months, but conversations were either rushed or spread out over several days, messages sent hours apart. It feels so nice to be able to just sit there and talk to each other.

They exchange presents after breakfast, sitting in the middle of Harvey's bed after they'd each dived into their respective pieces of luggage to get them. Mike idly wishes that they were at his apartment - it feels weird to be doing this somewhere other than in front of a Christmas tree - but the thought disappears when Harvey places a brightly wrapped and heavy present into his hands.

Mike smiles at Harvey as he unwraps it. The box he uncovers is plain white, not one single marking on it, so he opens that and carefully reveals his present: a Narnia snow globe, with Lucy and Tumnus standing by a snow-covered lamppost. Mike tips it upside down and watches the snow flurry. It's beautiful.

"I love it," Mike says, looking up at Harvey with a grin. Harvey returns the smile and Mike looks back down at the globe, taking in all the details. "Are you sure you didn't go over our spending limit?"

Harvey makes a guilty face. "I maybe have tiptoed over it." At Mike's look he hastily adds, "Not by much, I promise."

"Yeah, yeah," Mike grumbles, but he's smiling through the words. Mike had wanted a limit because, to put it bluntly, Harvey was a fucking millionaire while what little money Mike had was spent on luxuries like food and electricity. He didn't want some extravagant gift that he couldn't match. But holding this in his hands, he isn't mad that he went over the limit. Because it's perfect.

"Thank you," he says sincerely.

"You're welcome."

"Okay, your turn," Mike says, putting his gift aside.

Harvey picks up the flat, square present and deadpans, "Hmmm ... wonder what this is."

"Shut up," Mike laughs.

Harvey grins at him as he opens the present. With the wrapping gone he looks down at the LP's. The first is a Spinners vinyl, not a first pressing or anything, but still Mike thought he would like it. And he must, because he smiles as he flips the record cover over to read the back. When he's done he looks to the second, raising an eyebrow in question when he sees that it's Viva La Vida by Coldplay.

"To bring you into the now," Mike explains. "I don't think I've seen one record from the last thirty years in your collection. Great music exists beyond the 70s you know."

Harvey chuckles, thoroughly examining the cover for a few more moments before he puts them aside and leans forward, kissing Mike's lips. "Thank you," he says, still so close that their mouths touch as he talks. "I love you."

"I love you too," Mike whispers, before capturing Harvey's mouth in a deep kiss. It's all too easy to push Harvey back onto the bed, to lie over him as his tongue explores Harvey's mouth. Harvey makes a frustrated noise before slowing the kiss down to an eventual stop. "As much as I'd love to continue this, we really should head downstairs."

"Okay," Mike says with an exaggerated sigh, but he smiles and kisses Harvey briefly before pulling back.

They get themselves organized, pulling presents from Harvey's walk-in and figuring out how to carry them all so they only need to take one trip downstairs. Mike has boxes piled in his arms and bags hanging from his wrists and Harvey is just as loaded. They somehow manage to make it downstairs without dropping anything - a Christmas miracle if you ask Mike - and when Marcus opens the door with a wide grin they can do nothing but smile in return and hustle into the apartment to put the presents under the frankly enormous Christmas tree. Harvey and Marcus are greeting each other with a warm hug when Thomas and Annabelle walk into the room, rushing over to Harvey excitedly and attaching themselves to a leg each. They're screaming excitedly and Marcus extracts himself to greet Mike while Harvey crouches down to hug his niece and nephew and it's the best kind of insanity, a wall of noise and excitement and happiness.

Mike hasn't had a big family Christmas in a very long time. He has hazy memories of Christmas as a kid, with his parents and grandparents and lots of toys and presents, but in all honesty he doesn't know how much of it actually happened and how much is a trick of the mind, fake memories conjured as a point of comfort. After his parents were gone their Christmases got quieter and smaller, and for the last seven years his Christmases can barely be called that. Apart from one year spent with Jenny's family his Christmas days have been spent holed up in his apartment, eating junk food and watching movies that were about anything other than Christmas (because those types of movies generally focused on familial and romantic love, and he had neither).

A Specter Christmas is like nothing he's ever experienced. Robbie greets him with a warm hug and immediately offers him a hot drink. There is so much food - not just an amazing meal with delicious turkey and ham and roasted vegetables, but amazing pies and cookies and fudge for dessert, plus bowls of candy idly lying on every surface of the apartment - that Mike thinks he could put on five pounds just from the food he consumes in this one day. A Christmas music playlist continually filters throughout the apartment. They sit around the sofas in front of the fireplace as they exchange gifts, and Mike takes some satisfaction in the fact that he was right to worry about extravagant presents from Harvey because he absolutely spoils his family, Thomas and Annabelle especially, and when he mentions it to Harvey his reply is a grin and "What are uncles for?"

The kids are a never-ending ball of energy, and the adults take it in turns playing with the kids and their new toys. Between the excitement of the day and the amount of sugar consumed Thomas and Annabelle get cranky towards the end of the day, and Robbie disappears with the kids to bathe and get them ready for bed. Mike sacks out on the couch beside Harvey, hands on his very full belly, talking with Marcus and Harvey about nothing of actual importance.

It's nearly midnight by the time Harvey and Mike peel themselves from the couch and head back upstairs. Mike quickly brushes his teeth and strips off his clothes and pretty much just collapses into the bed. He can hear Harvey chuckle from somewhere behind him, and then Harvey manhandles him so that he's under the covers and in a position that isn't going to kill his neck. Harvey slides into the bed behind him, arm slipping easily over his waist and pressing his body close. Mike drifts off to sleep feeling warm and loved.

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

They barely leave home all week.

Days are spent lounging around the apartment, spending a few hours a day with Marcus, Robbie and the kids, spending time together while they can. Mike makes a few trips outside the building for food and coffee runs, but apart from that the days are spent confined to the apartment. He doesn't even go home or into work, he just spends every available second with Harvey.

It's perfect.

Mike tries to put the impending deadline of Harvey's departure out of his mind, and for the most part he's able to. But the closer it gets to January 1, the more difficult he finds it to ignore it. He doesn't say anything to Harvey, not wanting to dampen the limited time they have left, but he thinks that Harvey understands anyway.

They don't do anything spectacular or crazy for New Years Eve. Even if Harvey wasn't one of the most famous people in the world and they could go out into the city without being harassed every five minutes, they wouldn't want to waste their time partying in anonymous crowds. They just want to savor their last night together.

So they have an early dinner with Marcus, Robbie, Thomas and Annabelle, after which Harvey takes over bath and bedtime story duty. Once the children are in bed the four adults have dessert (made by Mike and Harvey - well, mostly Harvey) and a couple of drinks before Harvey and Mike say their farewells and head back upstairs.

Harvey starts packing, and Mike leaves him to it, watching New Years Eve on television (admittedly not the greatest movie ever made but it has the bonus of being thematically appropriate) as Harvey works away in the bedroom. Harvey joins him just in time for the finale, and as the credits roll Harvey silently takes his hand, linking their fingers together and leading Mike to the bedroom.

They barely notice midnight coming and going, the only sign of it being the colored lights that reflect on their bodies from the fireworks as Mike rides Harvey in their bed. They stay awake all night, tangled together in the sheets, speaking words that mean nothing and everything. And then, with the rising sun, Harvey is gone.

Leaving Harvey's apartment and going home feels like he's leaving a bubble of warmth and color and being confronted with the cold grey of the city. It's returning to reality. But after the initial shock back into reality he finds he doesn't mind. Because their separation isn't going to be as long this time, and more importantly, he feels more confident in his and Harvey's relationship. They can do this. They can survive long periods apart and return just as in love as ever. Sure, of course the separations are going to suck each and every time, but they aren't permanent.

Harvey will come home to him.

They'll be okay.

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

Mike has an app on his phone, a countdown, so every day he can wake up and see the number of days until Harvey's return decrease. Thirty nine is a relatively small number to start from, and it brings him untold joy to watch the number get lower.

He doesn't get the chance to talk to Harvey as much anymore, because they're in the homestretch of filming, having left the most elaborate set pieces until last. It's not ideal, but it makes the times they do manage to have a phone call or Skype session all the more special.

Winter has well and truly arrived in New York City, and the business usually slumps around this time with less foot traffic coming in off the streets. Every few years he spends January freshening up the store somehow: rearranging the stacks or painting the walls or something. This year he does both, Jenny helping him pick a new color for the walls, and he surfs the web until he finds a gorgeous tree decal he can add to the wall behind the counter.

Mike loves a project, something he can see through from start to finish, likes seeing the difference all his hard work can make. The store looks brand new, and Mike snaps some photos and sends them to Harvey, who lauds the changes.

February is bone-chillingly cold, but Mike doesn't mind. Days are spent in the warmth of his shop, sitting behind the counter reading books and fucking around on the internet between the handfuls of customers he gets in the store.

And every day that number gets smaller.

It's the day before Harvey is due home and Mike is scrolling through his facebook feed when he sees it. It's actually kinda hard to miss, with Huffington Post, Entertainment Weekly and Variety all posting articles within minutes of each other. He clicks on the Variety link and is taken to their webpage to read the article titled Star Trek: Specter out, Urban in.

He reads the article in a state of shock and confusion. It doesn't go into specifics, in fact it's only a couple of paragraphs long, stating that Harvey was leaving the project and had been replaced by Karl Urban.

He goes back to his facebook page and clicks on all the other articles, but they are much of a muchness. Mike doesn't get it. He knows how excited Harvey was over that role. It was his dream to be in Star Trek. What could possibly have happened for him to leave? He desperately wants to call Harvey and talk to him, make sure he's okay, but he knows that they were probably still filming, and that tomorrow Harvey was coming home straight from the wrap party, so Mike didn't want to disturb him.

He just hopes everything is okay.

Harvey's flight lands just after six pm the next day, and he texts Mike to let him know he'd arrived safe and sound. Mike smiles as he reads the message, warm inside just from knowing that Harvey is home. He's tempted to call but assumes Harvey is still making his way through customs, so he messages him back a simple welcome home. After the message is sent he adds should I come over tonight or did you wanna meet up tomorrow?

He's desperate to see Harvey, but Mike also knows that Harvey's probably exhausted and if he just wants to go home and pass out then that's fine. But Mike gets a reply moments later, a simple come over.

A few hours later Mike lets himself into Harvey's apartment with the silver key Harvey had pressed into his palm before his last departure to London. The lights are on but he can't see Harvey anywhere.

"Hello?" he calls, stepping deeper into the room.

Harvey emerges from the hallway, grinning, and Mike meets him halfway, throwing their arms around each other in a tight embrace.

"Hey," Harvey says softly into his ear.

Mike pulls back so he can look Harvey in the face. "Hey yourself," he smiles, before leaning in and gently pressing his lips to Harvey's. They kiss gently, with complete reverence, Mike feeling like the ground beneath his feet feels that little bit more real with Harvey there beside him. "I missed you," Mike says into the small space between their mouths.

"Me too."

Mike pulls back to look at Harvey. "Are you okay?" he asks with concern, his hands running through Harvey's hair in soothing motions.

"Okay?" Harvey asks with a tilt of the head. "Why wouldn't I be?"

"I heard about Star Trek. Well, it's online, so everyone has. What happened?"

"I asked them to release me from my contract."

"What?" Mike asks, hands dropping in shock. "Why?"

Harvey lets out a soft sigh, avoiding Mike's gaze but taking the time to link their fingers together. "I don't work for the money. I do it because I love it. From the first moment I stepped on stage I knew that it was how I wanted to spend my life. But filming Evanesce was one of the worst shoots in my life because I hated being away from you for so long. And with Trek I had to commit to three long international shoots over the next six years, and that's before you take into account all the publicity trips. I didn't want to be away from home that much. I didn't want to be away from you. It's taken me nearly twenty years but I've finally found something I love more than my work. Well, someone."

Mike kisses him softly. "I love you," he tells Harvey emphatically. "But you didn’t have to do this for me."

"I didn’t. I did it for me, for us."

"But this was your dream movie."

"And you are my dream life."

Mike can't help but grin. "I think that was the cheesiest thing I've ever heard you say."

"Hey, I'm an actor; I'm allowed to be cheesy once in a while."

Mike agrees with a chuckle. He squeezes Harvey's hands. And it's not that he isn't touched by the gesture, or that he wants to keep harping on about it, but this is a big deal, bigger than Harvey is making it out to be. He knows how much Harvey wanted to be part of that movie. He doesn't want Harvey to regret this, or end up resenting Mike for it.

"Are you sure?" Mike asks one last time, because he just needs to.

"Yes," Harvey replies emphatically, and Mike believes him. "Plus," Harvey adds with a grin, stepping back and heading to the table, "Giving up Trek and being home will give me more time to work on this..."

He picks up what Mike assumes is a script, and Harvey's grin is wider than he's ever seen as Harvey places it into his hands. Only, it's not a script. It's a contract, and Mike scans the first page, eyes going wide when he finally sees it.

"You optioned In Absentia?" Mike asks incredulously, and without even waiting for an answer he looks back down at the contract, wanting to double check that what he's seeing is real.

"Yes. I've already spoken with Ron and Brian and they are going to produce it. We're in final negotiations with an amazing screenwriter and have come up with a shortlist of possible directors and-"

Mike cuts him off with a kiss, too overwhelmed to find any actual words. He drops the contract, that miraculous pile of paperwork which says that Mike's favorite book will soon be coming to life, onto the floor so he can wrap his arms around Harvey and press their bodies together. He's equally torn between wanting to rip all of Harvey's clothes off and fuck him right there and just holding on to him for the rest of their lives.

Actually he hopes he can do both.

Mike eventually breaks the kiss, pressing his forehead to Harvey's and whispering, "How did I get so lucky?"

"I'm the lucky one," Harvey says with complete earnest, and it sounds so simple but the truth is that between their individual histories and the complicated lives that they lead that they should never have ended up here. It was against all odds, and yet here they were, together, happy.

"Have I ever told you how glad I am that you walked into my store that day?" Mike grins.

"Maybe once or twice," Harvey says with a soft smile. "But I'll be happy to hear it for as long as you wanna say it to me."