Harvey's first clue something was up was when he found Donna waiting for him by the elevator when he arrived that morning.
Not that it was the first time. She'd been known to meet him there for a couple of reasons. Mainly to give him shit about some hot date he'd had the night before, but sometimes to warn him about a potentially troublesome situation. And, truth be told, Harvey had been going through something of a dry spell recently. Since well before Mike had gone to prison almost a year ago actually, if he was being candid, and if that could be considered as 'recently'. So teasing wasn't her aim. Unless she wanted to bring up the subject of when he last got laid. (It wasn't that he couldn't get a date. He just ... didn't want one. Or so he told himself.)
But even if he had gotten lucky last night, one look at Donna's face would have told him that today she was there to give him a heads-up.
"What is it, Donna? What's wrong?" he asked as they left the elevator bank and headed towards his office.
"First, I need you to promise me you'll stay calm, Harvey. Tell me you won't do anything stupid. Like throwing Louis out the window."
"I'm making no promises until you tell me what the hell he's done now." Harvey felt the muscle in his jaw twitch in that way only Louis could set it off.
"Second of all, I need you to know I had no part of it. I knew nothing about it until she showed up at my desk a few minutes ago. And I'd have thrown her out of the building then and there myself, but Louis pulled rank on me. Seems he knew all about her little surprise visit and just decided not to share with the class. Or more likely, pussied out of telling you about it. Anyway, I flat out refused to let her in your office, so they're waiting in Louis'. Mike was already in the building so I called him and he's there waiting for you."
"You knew nothing about what? Who's waiting for me in Louis' office? Donna, what's going on?"
By now they had almost drawn up to Louis' office and saw Mike up ahead, hovering outside the glass wall, trying (and failing) to look nonchalant. The darting glances through the glass, wary, but brimming over with curiosity, gave him away. Whoever was in that office clearly intrigued the hell out of him. And that in turn intrigued Harvey. Who the hell would Mike be so interested in?
Donna had fallen silent. Harvey had a feeling she was thinking of that old saying about shooting the messenger. One look through the glass walls of Louis' office at the petite, elegantly-dressed and still undeniably attractive woman of a certain age perched on the couch and he didn't blame her for not wanting to be the one to announce the identity of the visitor.
"What the hell is she doing here?" he hissed at Donna.
The redhead just shrugged.
"If I was psychic don't you think I'd have started playing the lottery by now? If you want to know what she's doing here you're going to have to saddle up and go in there and ask her yourself, cowboy."
"Yeah? Well, this law firm ain't big enough for the both of us so I guess I'm just gonna have to run her out of town. Come on, Tonto, you're with me," he said, looking at Mike and jerking his head in the direction of the office. "Red, you get back to your desk and hold down the fort while the menfolk take care of whatever the hell this is."
"Riiiiight. Yeah, not happening. If Cruella de Vil in there has come to mess with my 'menfolk', then this little lady right here is gonna be on hand to bitchslap her the hell out of Dodge."
Mike snorted and got a 'oh, you think I'm kidding?' look from Donna and a 'kid, you know better than that by now' one from Harvey for his trouble.
"What, you think I'm gonna let Butch and Sundance have all the fun?" Donna pouted.
"All right, Annie Oakley, you can come, but try to keep your six shooter in its holster. Rookie, it wasn't the Christmas present I was planning on giving you, but I guess it's about time for you to meet what remains of my parents," Harvey said. “Get ready to say hello to the Ghost of Christmas Past. Just don't turn your back on her, she's liable to shoot you in it.”
“Yippee-ki-yay, motherfuc…” Mike began, before a murderous look from Harvey stopped him in his tracks. “O...kay. Still not ready to joke about it. Got it. Lead on, Kemo Sabe.”
Steeling himself, Harvey pushed open the office door with a little more force than was strictly necessary, Donna and Mike hot on his heels.
"Well, if it isn't the Grinch who stole Christmas. What are you doing here, Lily?" Harvey demanded, contempt dripping from every word.
"And what the hell do you think you're doing letting her anywhere near my firm, never mind inviting her in," he said, rounding on Louis.
"Haven't you ever seen 'The Lost Boys'? 'Don't ever invite a vampire into your house, you silly boy. It renders you powerless.' And, trust me, she's a vampire. But, let me guess, you're more of a 'Twilight' guy, am I right?"
"And Merry Christmas to you, too, Harvey. It's nice to see you again, son," the dark-haired woman spoke up, voice calm and unruffled. Evidently she had come there knowing what kind of welcome she could expect to receive from her firstborn.
"Still like to fall back on the movie quotes instead of saying anything real, I see," she added.
"There's the door. Get out and never come back. Is that real enough for you, Lily?"
"Would it kill you to call me 'Mom'?"
"I don't know. Would it have killed you to keep your legs together every time my dad left the house for more than five minutes at a time?"
The whole room fell silent.
Lily didn't flinch, but Harvey was pretty sure he saw Mike wince at the verbal smackdown he'd just given the woman who gave birth to him. He wanted to tell him she didn't deserve his pity, that she'd been a lousy excuse for a mother and an even worse wife. But it seemed churlish to complain about such things to someone who had lost both parents in one fell swoop at the tender age of eleven.
It was Donna who broke the silence.
"Okay, Wicked Witch of the West, why don't you or your little flying monkey here," she said, tilting her chin in Louis' direction, much to his indignation, "tell us exactly what it is you want? Then Harvey can tell you to go to hell again, you can get on your broomstick and fly back to where you came from and we can all get back to enjoying our lives without you."
"Ah, Donna, still no ring on that finger? And yet here you are, once again riding into battle beside your man. Except he's not 'your man', is he? Haven't you got the message yet, honey? What's it been now? Something like thirteen years and he still hasn't made an honest woman out of you? I'd give some serious thought to moving on, if I were you. You've got a few fertile years left yet. Why don't you go out and find yourself a man who actually wants you? Maybe even squeeze out a couple of brats before you dry up completely, if you're lucky. Because our boy here? I'm not sure he's the marrying kind."
"And if I'm not, whose fault do you think that is? And I am not your boy. So shut your mouth and don't ever speak to Donna like that again."
"That's my Harvey, always so gallant. As long as you're not his mother."
"Okay, okay, why don't we all just calm down a little and we can discuss the reason for Mrs. Specter's being here...," Louis interjected, before Harvey cut him off.
"It's Mrs. Cartwright now, not Mrs. Specter. Isn't that right, Lily? Or have you traded in Husband No. 2 for a newer model?"
"No, it's still Mrs. Cartwright. Specter never really suited me."
"No, but 'Satan' works just fine," Harvey lobbed back.
A thin, cold smile crossed Lily's face at that. "It's funny you should bring my name into it. That's actually why I'm here."
"Yeah? You looking to legally change it to Beelzebub?"
"No," she smiled again. "I'm trying to stay Mrs. Cartwright."
Harvey frowned. "What are you talking about?"
"We've been trying to tell you, if you'd let us get a word in, Harvey," Louis said, stepping forward. "Your mother and Mr. Cartwright are getting a divorce."
"What a surprise. Been up to your old tricks again, Lily?"
"Like I said, they're getting divorced," Louis quickly intervened before another round of insults and sniping at each other could begin, "but Mr. Cartwright has decided to fight dirty. He's contending that they were never legally married in the first place and therefore your mother isn't entitled to her fair share when it comes to the division of assets."
"So this is about a payday for you. I should have known," Harvey sneered, shaking his head.
"No, this is about me giving someone twenty years of my life. Standing by him when he quit his job to start his own company. Working two jobs to support him while he got that company off the ground. Working for that company in my spare time and without drawing a wage. And now being told I'm not entitled to anything. And not only that, but to add insult to injury, this man I dedicated my life to isn't just seeking to end our marriage, but to obliterate any trace of its existence. He's trying to erase me from my own life. And I'm not standing for it."
"Funny, you didn't seem to have a problem erasing your children or your first husband from your life."
"It wasn't like that, and you know it, Harvey. You forced me to walk away. You told your father and you forced my hand. I never wanted to cut you out of my life. That was your doing, not mine. I didn't turn my back on you, and Marcus didn't turn his on me. You're the one who wanted me out of your life. You made that decision, not me."
"Maybe so, but I couldn't stand to look at you then, and, frankly, nothing has changed. So get out. There's no help for you here. We don't handle divorces, and even if we did, we wouldn't handle this one."
"With all due respect, Harvey," Louis butted in, "that's not just your decision to make. We're partners and I have as much say in the matter as you do. And we do have some experience in this area. You handled Esther's divorce and that turned out all right for us. Better than all right. You stopped her conniving ex-husband from getting his hands on her company."
"That was different, Louis. Esther's family. Mrs. Cartwright here isn't."
"No, Louis. It's not happening."
"Donna, dear, you're a fan of the Bard. How does that line go again? Oh, yes. 'How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child!'" Lily spat out.
"Oh, we're quoting Shakespeare, now, are we! Well, I've got one for you, Othello to Desdemona, 'What, not a whore?'"
The path of Lily's open hand as it travelled to make contact with Harvey's face was blocked just inches away from its target, thanks to Mike's close proximity to Harvey and his quick reflexes. He stepped forward, his fingers closing around her wrist. Not hard enough to hurt, but enough to stop her blow from landing.
"That's enough," he said, voice low but resolute. "From both of you," he added, casting a look in Harvey's direction.
"My, my, Pretty Boy speaks at last. 'Welcome to the party, pal'," Lily jeered, pulling her arm out of Mike's grasp and proving she could quote the classics just as well as her son. "Who's the kid, Harvey? Your bodyguard? Or maybe he's the Horatio to your Hamlet, is that it?"
"Leave him out of this," Harvey snarled.
Lily's lips twitched up in some grotesque impersonation of a smile, sensing somehow that she'd hit a nerve."Oh, I get it. He's your latest little boy toy, is that it? Bit young for you, isn't he?"
Harvey instantly felt himself go rigid. From the corner of his eye he saw Mike stiffen too, but that was the only reaction from him. Distantly, Harvey felt a spark of pride that Mike had finally developed a pretty good poker face. The kid didn't flinch, didn't suddenly shoot questioning looks at Harvey and didn't let his jaw hit the floor.
"I did try to tell you he wasn't the marrying kind, Donna. Although, I suppose they let just about anyone get married these days. Live and let live, that's what I say. Maybe you could be Old Maid of Honour, dear."
"I'd like to see you married, Harvey," she continued. "Then maybe you'd finally admit what we've both known all along."
"Oh? And what's that?"
"That you're exactly like me."
"I am nothing like you," he replied, coldly.
"You're exactly the same, Harvey. You hold yourself apart from other people. Even those you love will never get close to seeing the real you. You always hold part of yourself back. But I see you. I know you. Because you're just like me. You like to think you're your father's son, but the truth is you're mine, through and through. We'll never be able to feel things the way other people do. We'll never really let anyone in. And we'll always end up alone."
"Speak for yourself," Mike's voice broke in as he stepped forward and laced his fingers through Harvey's, gently squeezing his hand.
Harvey looked at Mike, then down at their entwined fingers, then back up at Mike again. Nope, he wasn't dreaming. This was happening. Mike had stepped forward and claimed his hand. And the rest of him too, by the sound of it, Harvey realised, finally tuning back into the conversation that had picked up around him.
"But, for how long??" Louis was spluttering.
"Almost a year. Since I broke up with Rachel and came back to the firm."
"And you didn't tell me??"
"We didn't tell anyone. Well, Donna here knew, but then...,"
"I'm Donna. I know everything," Donna chimed in on cue and jumping right aboard the crazy train it seemed. Harvey still wasn't sure what was happening.
He looked at Mike once again and this time caught his eye. What he saw there took his breath away. Fire and determination, protectiveness and ... something else. Something Harvey imagined he had glimpsed before a few times, but which he'd always shied away from, not yet ready to examine exactly what it was he thought he was seeing. Suddenly his mother's words came back to him, resounding in his head. We'll never really let anyone in. And we'll always end up alone."
It was true that had always been Harvey's greatest fear, he could admit it now, and yet he had seemed powerless to stop it, like some self-fulfilling prophecy. He had always kept everyone at a certain distance, even those he loved. Zoe, Scottie, even Donna. But there was one person who had somehow managed to close that distance. To get right up next to Harvey and sneak into his heart. Mike. Only Mike. Harvey hadn't even realised what was happening until it was a done deed and he'd fallen hook, line and sinker. And it scared him. But right here and now he wasn't afraid anymore. He felt himself smile and returned the squeeze of Mike's hand.
"Yeah, sorry, Louis," Harvey spoke up at last. "We probably should have told you sooner, but we didn't want to rub it in Rachel's face, what with us getting together so soon after she and Mike split, and then, well, I guess we liked it just being our little secret, just the two of us against the world."
"Sorry, Donna, three of us," he added, as an afterthought.
"Well, I can't say I'm really all that surprised," Louis blustered.
"You're not?" Harvey asked, eyebrows shooting up.
"Please," Louis rolled his eyes. "From the moment you hired him you've been putting yourself on the line for him in a way you never have for anyone else. As for him, he's been breaking his neck trying to impress you since the day you met. And you'd have to be blind not to notice the way you look at each other sometimes. Jesus, who am I kidding? Not sometimes, all the time."
Mike and Harvey looked at each other. Harvey felt like his whole body was on fire and the only way to put it out was to fall into the cool, blue depths of Mike's eyes.
"Yeah, you see, like that," Louis said, gesticulating wildly at them. “Like you're always about two seconds away from ripping each other's clothes off.”
Mike blushed and ducked his head, biting his lip to suppress a grin. Harvey had no such compunctions, beaming wide and free, like the cat who hadn't just got the cream but the key to the whole damn dairy as well.
"Well, this is all very moving and everything, but if you're quite finished playing Romeo and Romeo, could we please get back to the little matter of my husband trying to railroad me out of the company I helped build," Lily piped up, enough ice in her voice to sink the Titanic.
Harvey's head snapped back in her direction, but before he could say anything, Mike placed his free hand on his arm and whispered his name in a clearly restraining manner. Amazingly, it worked.
"Well, look at that, the little bitch knows how to keep the big dog in line," Lily baited.
Harvey growled, but once again Mike held him back, this time using humour as a calming method.
"Actually, the big dog and I prefer 'Puppy', don't we, Big Dog?"
Harvey smirked, then full on laughed."Yeah. Yeah, we do, Puppy," he said softly, looking at Mike, before turning on Lily again, "And there's only one bitch in this room."
"Yeah, and I think it's time for her to go walkies," Donna said.
"Yes, I think my partner and I need some time to discuss your case, Mrs. Cartwright, so why don't I walk you out and we'll be in touch," Louis spoke up, moving forward.
"No, we won't," Harvey chipped in, "because there's nothing to discuss. We're not taking her case."
Louis levelled a glare at him, but Harvey didn't back down.
"We'll talk about it when I've shown your mother out, Harvey."
With that, Louis swept Lily out of the room and immediately the atmosphere seemed to lighten.
"Wow. So that's your mother."
"Yeah, Mike, that's my mother."
Harvey looked at him again and realised they were still holding hands. He found himself rather reluctant to let go. Mike didn't seem in any hurry either, by the way he clung on. Neither spoke, but their gaze didn't waver. They just kept staring at each other as if they were only truly seeing the other for the first time. But then, every time felt like the first time with Mike, Harvey thought.
The moment was broken by Donna clearing her throat.
"Okay, Big Dog and Puppy, if you two are done playing let's pretend and can tear your eyes away from each other, I think it's time we returned to the kennel. Or the ranch. I'm not sure if we're going with the canine or cowboy motif anymore. Either way, mush, giddy-up, hi-ho Silver away, whatever, let's get back to Harvey's office."
"Yes, ma'am," Harvey drawled, tipping an imaginary hat her way, much to Mike's amusement.
"Puppy," he said, holding the door for Mike after Donna had exited and indicating he should go next.
"Big Dog," Mike grinned, acknowledging the gesture, but dropping the grin as he finally let go his grip on Harvey.
Harvey immediately missed the feel of Mike's hand in his and itched to reach out and take hold of it again. But Lily wasn't around anymore to lie to and Harvey wasn't entirely sure what had just happened or what it all meant. If it meant anything at all. Did Mike really feel something for him? Or had his stupidly big heart just overruled his head once again and jumped in with a lie about a relationship, all to save Harvey some face in the light of his mother's taunts and cruel predictions? Harvey wasn't sure how to go about finding out, other than asking Mike right out. And the idea of doing that terrified him.
But there were other matters that had to be dealt with first. Like making sure Louis knew, in no uncertain terms, that they were absolutely, one hundred and ten percent definitely not taking Lily's goddamn case.
They ended up taking Lily's goddamn case.
Louis had quite a persuasive argument up his sleeve about how when Jessica left, some of their clients hadn't viewed it as her needing to lead a different life, but as her jumping ship. Or rather, deserting a sinking one. And like rats on a sinking ship, many of their clients had bailed too. They needed a win, and an influx of money, and winning Lily's case could provide both those things Louis proclaimed, before flouncing out of the room in search of a prune juice. But it wasn't his argument that swung it. It was Mike's.
"I'm not gonna lie to you, Harvey. She wasn't exactly the best human being I've ever met. But no matter what she's done, she's still your mother, and she's being treated unfairly. And you can help her. If not because it's the right thing to do as a son, then as a lawyer."
"Mike, you heard her. You heard what she had to say about me, what she's like. She's a liar and a cheater and she doesn't care who she hurts."
"And she's still your mother, Big Dog."
Harvey rolled his eyes. Mike's next words, though, threw him for a loop.
"Besides, you do this and you'll never owe her anything again."
"I don't owe her anything now, Mike."
Mike hesitated before he spoke again and Harvey watched the play of emotions across his face. The newly-acquired poker face dropped in front of Harvey, apparently.
"Harvey, there's something you don't know..."
"What is it?" he demanded.
"Scottie told me about your brother's illness when you were at Harvard. About how you were going to drop out and use your tuition money to help pay for his treatment."
"Yeah. So? It didn't come to that. My dad managed to raise the money without me having to drop out."
Mike fixed Harvey with an intense look, loaded with something that looked a lot like 'did you really believe that, Harvey?'.
"What are you trying to tell me?" Harvey asked, with a sinking feeling he knew exactly what Mike was trying to tell him.
"Your mother raised that money, Harvey. To save Marcus and to stop you having to drop out of college."
And that was the clincher. Loathe though he was to take on the case, he felt he had to now. It didn't matter that Lily had only done what any mother would try to do for her children, ensuring one had a future by paying for lifesaving treatment and safeguarding the other's by making it unnecessary for him to drop out of college. Harvey still felt like he owed her.
And Mike had known he'd feel that way. That was why he'd held back that nugget of information. He knew Harvey would feel like he was under some kind of obligation to her and he hadn't wanted him to feel like that. Until now.
Now, when he had a chance to both do the right thing and get out from under any obligation, real or imagined, he felt towards his mother. And once that was done he could walk away, put her out of his mind, and his life (their life?) forever.
"All right, rookie, you win. Tell Louis we'll take the case. And tell him I want a full work up of Cartwright's finances. I want to know what he's worth, right down to the last penny. Get our best forensic accountant on the case if Louis thinks he can't handle it himself. I'll call Vanessa and get her to start looking into our Mr. Cartwright, see if she can dig up any dirt on him that might be useful to our case."
"Donna," he said, turning to his secretary, "I can't believe I'm actually saying this, but call my mother and get her in here again. We need to discuss this claim Cartwright's making that they were never legally married and find out if there's any merit to it. Tell her to bring any and all documentation pertaining to their marriage."
"On it, boss."
"Mike? You're still here?"
"Right. Sorry. I'll just go ... ah ... go get started," Mike stumbled over his words, turning to follow Donna out the door.
"No, actually, wait a minute," Harvey called, deliberating quickly. They had to talk about it sometime. Might as well bite the bullet and do it now.
"Sit down. I want to talk to you."
Mike plopped himself down in the chair on the other side of Harvey's desk.
"I wanted to say thank you. For earlier. For riding to my rescue like that. And for not acting like my mother outing me as bisexual was any big deal."
Mike smiled. "It isn't a big deal."
"No? Oh, right, you Millennials, it's all good with you guys, isn't it? Anything goes."
"Nothing to do with when I was born, Harvey. I just don't think who you're attracted to is anybody's business but your own, and if the category of people you're attracted to happens to include guys, well, so what? Besides, it's not like it came as any great shock to me."
"It didn't?" Harvey asked incredulously, eyebrows somewhere up in his hairline. He'd always thought he'd been pretty discreet about his orientation. Donna knew, of course, because she's Donna and she knows every... well, you can finish the rest of that sentence yourself, you've heard it often enough.
"No," Mike replied, laughing at the look of surprise on Harvey's face. "You might be the soul of discretion. Ted Phillips, however, is not."
"What do you know about Ted Phillips, rookie? You've never even met the guy."
"Not so. Remember a few years back when Jessica strong-armed me into betraying you?"
They both cringed at the bad memory.
"Yeah, what about it? That's ancient history, Mike. We've moved past it."
"Yeah, well, after you told me we were done ..." Mike faltered, stopping to draw a deep breath. Harvey didn't miss the way he winced on the words. He felt like wincing himself, the memory as raw and painful for him as it evidently was for Mike.
"After you told me we were done," Mike continued, pulling himself together, " I went to work with Louis, as you know. On one of our cases we thought we were going to have to go to trial so Louis called Ted in as jury consultant. I only met him the once because we managed to settle without having to go to court in the end, but the day he came in I was a little off my game and Louis pulled me aside."
Mike paused again and Harvey didn't push, letting Mike find the words in his own time.
"He told me he knew the 'break up' with you, those were his words, was playing on my mind but I had to forget about it for now and get my head back in the game. That that was the only way to get you to sit up and start taking notice of me again. To prove I had what it takes to be with you."
The words fell out of Mike's mouth in a rush and if Harvey didn't know better he'd have said the kid was blushing.
"And, well, Ted overheard everything Louis said," Mike ploughed on, "and when I walked him out he told me he was sorry about the break up, that he'd been there himself and knew how it felt to get your heart broken by Harvey Specter."
"He'd got the wrong idea, you see. When Louis said 'break up' he took it to mean in the romantic couple sense. As in he thought we'd been together like that. Which meant when he was talking about you and him breaking up he meant it in the romantic sense too. Or so I surmised. It felt pretty much confirmed when he proceeded to hit on me."
"He hit on you?" Harvey glowered, feeling the dark cloak of jealousy drape itself across his shoulders.
"Yeah. Said we should go get a hotel room and screw you out of both our systems."
"And did you take him up on his offer?" Harvey felt queasy. He wasn't sure he wanted to know the answer, but he needed to hear it.
"What? No! Of course not!"
"Right. Sorry. You're straight. Of course you turned him down. I'm just so used to hiding part of myself away I've started thinking everyone else is hiding something too."
Mike looked nervous for a second. Harvey watched the bob of his Adam's apple as he swallowed.
"Well, in this case you wouldn't be far wrong. I didn't turn Ted down because I'm straight. I turned him down because I wasn't interested in him or in letting him use me as some way of getting back at you."
Harvey wasn't quite sure he believed his ears. Had Mike just outed himself?
"So ... you're telling me you've been hiding the same damn thing? Jenny, Tess, Rachel, they were all just one part of who you're attracted to? Is that what you're saying?" he enquired tentatively, half expecting Mike to slap down the notion at any second.
"That's what I'm saying, yes."
Mike sounded more confident than he looked, but Harvey didn't judge him for his unease. Revealing your true self, even to someone you thought would understand, would accept you for who you were, wasn't always easy. Harvey knew that. He also knew Mike was doing it now because Lily's little dig effectively 'outing' Harvey as bisexual had been a violation of his privacy and of his right to decide who to tell, and when. She had taken that decision out of his hands and Mike didn't like it. He knew how exposed Harvey had felt in that moment and choosing to reveal his own bisexuality now was his way of letting Harvey know it was okay. Of letting Harvey know he understood and that he wasn't alone.
Harvey had never loved him more.
"So you're really okay with my mother, and Louis, and whoever he decides to tell, which will probably be everyone, thinking we're a couple?"
"A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do," Mike smirked. "Plus, I'm pretty sure most of them already think it anyway."
"What can I say? We look good together, Mike," Harvey shrugged, unable to deny the truth of Mike's assertion. He knew there'd been whispers about just how close he and Mike were, almost from the very beginning. Hell, half the partners and almost all the associates thought they'd been banging since day one. He tried to ignore the little voice in his head that whispered, if only.
He didn't ignore the way Mike definitely blushed at the suggestion they looked good together, though.
It was nothing to the shade of deep, glorious red he turned a week later, however, when they arrived at the picturesque little cabin in Connecticut, owned by one Mr. and Mrs. Robert Cartwright, and discovered they were expected to share not only one room, but one bed as well.
They had made the drive from New York, Lily in tow, much to Harvey's chagrin, to go visit the little town where she and Robert had gotten married. Harvey was all for letting Vanessa handle it, but Lily had warned them the townsfolk were unlikely to reveal much to an outsider and argued they were much more likely to be forthcoming if she were there. A familiar face, as it were. Vanessa, as it turned out, was too busy pursuing other lines of investigation to make the trip with Lily. Because that's just my luck, Harvey grumbled internally, knowing he was stuck with the task.
If it had been any other client he'd have shunted it on to Mike. But this was Lily. Sending him off alone into the wilderness (which covered anywhere outside of New York in Harvey's opinion) with her would be like handing Bambi over to the hunter. Mike would come back strapped to the hood of her car, ready to be turned into venison steaks.
Of course, it didn't really require both Mike and Harvey to go. But since neither Mike nor Lily could drive, and no one trusted Harvey not to murder Lily and bury her body in the woods somewhere if they went alone, Mike had gone as chaperone.
There had been a mild scandal in the town of late. Something that had come in handy for Robert Cartwright and made it necessary for Harvey and Mike and Mother makes three to undertake this little road trip in the first place.
It had been discovered that a recently deceased local man who had been running a quaint little wedding chapel there had only ever been ordained online. No great scandal on the surface, perhaps. After all, it was a practice that was becoming increasingly popular these days as more and more couples turned to close friends and relatives or other non-traditional ministers (Elvis impersonator, anyone?) to marry them.
However, what many people were unaware of was that Connecticut was one of a handful of places in the United States that didn't recognise the authority of ministers who didn't have active ministries to legally marry couples. Yes, Elvis may have left the building, but the mess he'd left behind still remained.
Cartwright had heard about it after one of the New York papers had run a little fluff piece on how many couples 'married' by this man were rushing to the altar to pledge their love once again after finding out they weren't legally wed. Rather than taking heart at the number of couples who couldn't wait to cement their vows, he saw an opportunity to get out of his and promptly filed for divorce, at last having found a way to get out of his marriage without having to give his wife her due. Or so he thought.
The drive to Connecticut, when they had finally gotten underway, had worn on Harvey's nerves. Mike had held them up when some mysterious meeting he didn't want to talk about had ended up running over. Playing nice with his mother so as not to make the journey too uncomfortable for Mike wasn't exactly his idea of fun either, but the trip had borne fruit.
A few discreet enquiries around town and they had found out that the man who had recently died and left so many couples' marriages in limbo wasn't actually the man who had married Lily and Robert. The unqualified man’s name had been Paul A. Davis. But the signature on Lily and Robert's marriage certificate clearly read Paul S. Davis.
A little boyish charm from Mike, used on a group of old ladies at the local hair salon, followed by a little light flirting with a clerk at the local Public Records Office from Harvey, soon turned up the information they needed. Paul A. Davis had been the son of Paul S. Davis - and Paul S. had most definitely been a legally ordained minister with his very own, very active ministry right there in the town. The marriage was legal and valid. Robert was going to have to find some other way to wriggle out of it.
None of which explains how Mike and Harvey found themselves standing in the middle of the second bedroom in Lily and Robert's cabin, situated just outside the town, staring at the one bed the two of them were expected to share.
It was the stupid car's fault, Harvey thought, for breaking down like that. Or the stupid small town garage for not having the part needed to fix it until tomorrow. Or his mother's fault for coming back into his life and turning it upside down again, just like she always did.
But there was no use trying to allot blame when there was nothing anyone could do to fix things. Eventually Harvey had acquiesced to Lily's suggestion they spend the night at the cabin. What she hadn't mentioned, however, was the fact it only had two bedrooms, and, indeed, only two beds.
Of course, there was no reason she should have, Harvey reasoned. She still thought he and Mike were a couple and neither of them had seen fit to correct her, to tell her it was all a lie. Harvey shoved that thought away. All a lie. He hated that it wasn't true. That Mike wasn't with him for real. But Lily didn't know that and she assumed them sharing a bed was unlikely to be a startling occurrence. Harvey, though, he felt startled. And Mike, well, he just looked like the proverbial rabbit in the headlights. Cute and fluffy, but scared as all hell.
"Come on, Mike," he cajoled. "It's gotta be better than your last accommodations in Connecticut."
"Yeah, well, at least in Danbury they gave us each our own bed," Mike retorted.
"Look, if this is going to be awkward, I can just sleep on the couch in the living room. We can tell Lily we had a fight or something and you banished me from the bedroom. Or we can say you're making me wait until we're married.
Mike snorted, "Yeah, right, like anyone's gonna believe that."
"Are you saying I'm irresistible, Mike?" Harvey teased, enjoying the flush that rose on Mike's face and the flustered look he was trying so hard to hide, before relenting.
"Or we could always just tell her the truth if you want," he offered, hesitantly. Whatever this was, real or not, Harvey didn't want it to be over yet.
"What? And let her think she was right about you? Not a chance."
"That's my boy," Harvey grinned, relieved more than he knew was good for him. It was just going to hit him all the harder when Mike eventually did put an end to this charade.
"Yeah, yeah, Specter, whatever. You just better not snore or hog all the blankets or I'm telling Louis who really changed his Wi-Fi password to 'I am the Rat King'."
"You wouldn't dare."
"Try me," Mike winked.
"Sorry to ruin your fun, boys," Lily's voice interrupted as she sailed into the room and caught Mike's last words, "but if you could refrain from trying anything with each other just for tonight, I'd appreciate it. This is a small cabin and not to sound like a prude or anything, but I could really do without hearing my firstborn and his jailbait boyfriend going at it hot and heavy in the next room."
Harvey rolled his eyes and Mike blushed again. Red was a good look on him, Harvey decided. And just as well because it seemed to be adorning his cheeks more and more lately.
"Besides," Lily added with a grin disturbingly reminiscent of his own to Harvey's eyes, "I neglected to buy lube when I was in the pharmacy getting you these." She pulled two toothbrushes out of a bag with a flourish and held them out in front of her.
"Mom!" Harvey exclaimed, taken aback at her bluntness.
All three of them froze.
"Well, I guess we found out what it takes to get you to call me Mom again, Harvey, honey. Embarrassment. Good to know. And, look! It didn't kill you! Now, here, you take the blue one," she said, slipping the blue toothbrush into the breast pocket of his jacket.
"And Mike can have the red one. It'll match his face," she said as Mike took the proffered toothbrush and blushed even deeper as she reached up and pinched his cheek.
"Now, you boys wash up. Dinner's almost ready. It's nothing fancy. The grocery store here isn't exactly Di Palo's on Grand Street, but I managed to throw a little something together."
"Oh, God," Harvey moaned as she left the room, dropping down to sit on the end of the bed and bury his face in his hands. "She's the Devil. The Devil in vintage Dior. That's the only explanation for it."
He felt the bed dip as Mike sat down beside him. Then he felt Mike's shoulder nudge against his own. He peeked out from between his fingers and looked at him. Mike rolled his eyes good-naturedly and snickered a little, before reaching out and taking one of Harvey's hands in his own and pulling it away from his face.
"Now, now, remember what Verbal Kint said about the Devil and his power? 'The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist'. Well, you know Lily exists. You're one up on her already. Besides, the Devil wears Prada, you know that."
Harvey smiled, drinking in the blue of Mike's eyes this close up and enjoying the feel of his hand once again in his.
"Only you could quote 'The Usual Suspects', find the silver lining in a warning about the Devil and reference a Meryl Streep movie all in one breath."
Mike flashed him a breathtaking smile and Harvey's breath caught in his throat.
"How do you do it, Mike?" Seeing Mike's quizzical look, he added, "How do you stay so open? After all the shit you've had to deal with, everything you've had thrown at you, how do you not close yourself off?"
"You're only seeing the bad stuff, Harvey. Losing my parents, Grammy, my place at Harvard, my freedom, even if was only for a brief time, all of that. You're not seeing all the good things that have happened to me too."
Those eyes focussed right in on Harvey, pinning him in place like a butterfly in a display case.
"You're not seeing the very best thing that ever happened to me." He smiled again, soft but full of conviction. "I am."
Harvey wondered just exactly what it was Mike could see because the only thing he could see was Mike. They were so close Harvey could feel Mike's breath against his cheek. All he had to do was lean in ever so slightly and he'd feel that breath against his lips. He'd swallow that breath with his own as his lips met Mike's. And all he had to do was lean in ever so slightly. The way Mike seemed to be doing.
"Dinner's ready, boys!"
Lily's yell shattered the silence that had settled around them, breaking the moment, and Harvey found himself with a whole new grudge to nurse against his mother.
Dinner was a surprisingly pleasant affair, however. Harvey had forgotten what a good cook his mother was, but the memories flooded back as he sat down and she dished out his childhood favourite, her pasta carbonara. He hated to admit it because he knew it should be choking him, sitting down to dinner with the woman who had played his father for a fool for years and made Harvey complicit in the deception, but every bite tasted like heaven. Mike obviously agreed.
"Oh. My. God," he moaned, making noises Harvey was having a very hard time ignoring. "This is amazing, Mrs. Spec ... I mean, Mrs. Cartwright. A-mazing."
"Why, thank you, Mike, I'm glad you like it. But, please, call me Lily. Everyone else around here does," she said, throwing a look in Harvey's direction, which he chose to rise above.
After dinner, Mike naturally volunteered himself and Harvey for dishwashing duty, seeing as 'Lily' had cooked.
"Boy Scout," Harvey murmured.
"Just trying to keep in good with my potential mother-in-law," Mike shot back cheekily, with a smirk Harvey was dying to kiss off his stupidly perfect face.
The rest of the evening was spent listening to Lily regale an only too eager Mike with stories of Harvey's exploits as a boy. Only the most embarrassing ones, of course. Harvey half expected her to whip out his baby pictures at any minute. He could practically see the Puppy's ears prick up and his tail wag every time she opened her mouth and fed him some new gem, but he tried not to think too much about that cute little tail. His mind, however, couldn't help continually straying back to that moment in the bedroom earlier when it had felt like he and Mike had been about to take this fake relationship and turn it into something real. Starting with a kiss. Had they been, though? Or was it all in his fevered imagination? Occasionally he caught Mike's eye and wondered if he was having the same thoughts.
His mind also liked to keep reminding him that tonight he was going to share a bed with Mike for the first time. Oh, he wasn't expecting to get lucky. While the idea of moving his relationship, fake or otherwise, with Mike up to the next level was something he was undoubtedly interested in, the idea of them 'going at it hot and heavy' with Lily in the next room was as unappealing to Harvey as it was to her. But, still, the notion of sharing a bed implied a certain level of closeness, and not just of the physical kind. Harvey wondered if he and Mike were ready to navigate such an intimacy. He guessed they'd find out soon enough.
And so to bed. Chivalry dictated Lily had first use of the cabin's sole bathroom. Mike went next, his little red toothbrush clutched endearingly in his hand, and Harvey last.
When he returned to the bedroom Mike was already stripped down to his boxers and undershirt. December was cold in both New York and Connecticut, and both he and Harvey had worn plain white T-shirts under their shirts when they had gotten dressed that morning. Harvey supposed it made things a little less awkward than if either or both of them were clad in only their shorts.
"What are you waiting for, kid? Jump in and warm the bed up for me," Harvey joked. "You'll catch your death standing there, shivering. Or is the thought of finally getting me into bed making you tremble?"
Mike shot him a disparaging 'you wish' look and they both smirked.
"No, sorry to break it to you, Valentino, but it's the temperature making me weak at the knees, not the idea of cozying up to you. Although, I admit I'm so cold right now that doesn't actually sound completely repellent."
"Stop it, you'll give me a big head," Harvey responded, sporting an easy grin Mike returned in kind.
"But if you're so cold what are you still doing standing there when there's a perfectly good bed, complete with blankets, right there?"
"I, ah," Mike looked down, shuffling from foot to foot, "I wasn't sure which side of the bed you like."
"Oh. Right. Thanks, that's ... that's nice of you to care," Harvey muttered, the warm feeling he felt spreading through his bones ensuring he didn't feel any cold as he stripped off his own shirt. "But it's fine, I don't mind. What side do you prefer?"
"Well, I usually sleep on the right, but I don't min..."
"That's fine, Mike. I usually sleep on the left so I guess that all works out perfectly," Harvey beamed.
Mike returned the megawatt smile with one of his own.
"I guess it does."
Still he made no move towards the bed, but continued to stand there, smiling at Harvey. It was only when Harvey saw him shiver again that he nodded towards the bed and told Mike to get his ass into it before it froze off. Mike laughed, but did as he was told. Which left him in the bed, blankets pulled up to his chin, and Harvey still half-dressed at the end of said bed, feeling like he was about to perform some clumsy striptease for him.
He felt Mike's eyes on him as he slipped off his shoes and socks then stood to remove his trousers. It didn't feel as weird as it should have done. It felt ... arousing. Harvey quickly hit the lights and slipped into his side of the bed before that line of thought could take hold. Tonight had been embarrassing enough without any wayward boners making their presence known. Immediately he felt the warmth coming from Mike's side of the bed and unconsciously turned towards it.
Mike was flat on his back, eyes glued to the ceiling. Harvey watched his Adam's apple bob as he swallowed heavily, just like he'd watched it that day in his office a week earlier when Mike had revealed his own bisexuality in the wake of Harvey's being exposed. Mike was nervous, and Harvey could think of only two reasons why. The first was that he didn't want anything to happen between them. The second was that he did.
Harvey hoped to hell it was the second, but he wasn't going to push it tonight. Instead he tried to ease Mike's nervousness with a joke.
"Hey, Ross, remember my mom's next door so keep your hands to yourself tonight, okay?"
"Please," Mike snorted, turning to look at Harvey. "What do you take me for, Specter? Dinner with your mother and a night in Connecticut? I'm not that easy."
"That's right, I forgot. You're not that type of girl."
"No, you're not that type of boy, either," Harvey replied.
Mike laughed. "What does that even mean??"
"It means you're complicated. Just like me," Harvey whispered. "We're complicated," he added.
"Really?" Mike asked, levelling him with a look so intense the darkness surrounding them did nothing to diminish it. "I always thought we were pretty simple."
Harvey's heart was clamouring in his chest, a constant beat of Mike, Mike, Mike hammering through his body. Could things really be as simple as Mike seemed to be implying they were? Harvey wanted to believe, God knows he did, but belief came hard to him. He felt that distance he always kept people at begin to reassert itself and he hated himself for his own cowardice in letting it. Jesus, just two minutes ago he'd been praying for something like this. And now he was chickening out, thumbing his nose at whatever benevolent deity had seen fit to answer his prayer.
He wanted Mike, and everything that entailed, he really did, but it scared him, too, and he wasn't ready to deal with it right now. He had to withdraw, gather himself, consider the ramifications of what might happen if Mike was talking about them the way Harvey thought he was. He had to pull away from Mike now to be sure he wouldn't hurt him terribly somewhere down the road.
"Maybe. Go to sleep now, Mike. We have an early start and a long drive ahead of us tomorrow."
Maybe. That was all he could commit to for now.
He only hoped it would be enough for Mike.
"Goodnight, Harvey," Mike whispered softly, turning away from Harvey to curl up on his side, and Harvey thought he could detect a hint of sadness in his tone.
"Goodnight, Mike," he whispered back, well aware of the sadness in his own.
Morning came bright and early. Nothing unusual there. The warm, not unpleasant, weight on Harvey's torso and the soft, tickling sensation in his nose, however, were a different story. Eyes still closed, Harvey reached up to see what was causing the tickling and his fingers brushed against soft hair. Cracking one eye open, he looked down to see Mike wrapped around him, his face snuggled up close to Harvey and Harvey's head curled into the top of Mike's. Nuzzling. Yep, Harvey couldn't deny it. There was definite nuzzling going on, on both their parts. It felt ... nice. Unlike the feeling of regret Harvey felt creeping into his heart and taking up residence.
Last night Mike had hinted he wanted to talk about them, about what they really were to each other, and Harvey had chickened out. Or at least he thought that was what Mike had wanted. Harvey didn't know anymore. His emotions, the ones he had fought so hard to lock away for so many years, had slipped their chains and were running riot through him.
His feelings for Mike, which he knew now he had been fighting for a lot longer than he cared to admit. The distress and disruption of having his mother back in his life again. All the stress of trying to keep the firm afloat in the aftermath of Mike going to prison and almost everyone abandoning them. Jessica running off to Chicago. The guilt of knowing Donna still harboured feelings for him he couldn't return. They were all scrambling for attention in his brain and were making thinking impossible. They were clouding his judgment. Now was not the time to be making decisions that could have potentially devastating consequences down the line. Embarking on a relationship with anyone now, before he knew he was truly ready, willing and able to go all in, would be unfair. Or so he told himself.
Still, it didn't stop the feel of Mike's body against his, warm, both soft and somehow firm at the same time, from being the most beguiling sensation Harvey could ever remember experiencing. He lay where he was, afraid to move and rouse Mike from slumber, enjoying the simple closeness. It was another twenty minutes until the alarm Harvey had set on his phone was due to go off. He got to enjoy the feel of Mike against him for all twenty of them.
He couldn't help the laugh that escaped him, though, when the alarm went off and Mike jerked awake, his head snapping up and looking around wildly. He really did rock the bedhead look, Harvey thought.
"What?? What's going on? Harvey? What are you doing in my room?"
"Relax, kid, I'm not here to murder you in your sleep. And we're not in your room, remember? We're in Connecticut, working on Lily's case."
"Oh. Yeah. Right," Mike said around a yawn. "I suppose we should get up then."
"I suppose so."
"I'm, er, sorry for sleeping on you."
"Don't be. I don't mind."
"No. Mike, look, about last ni..."
They both jumped as a loud knock sounded on the bedroom door.
"Morning, boys. I hope you both slept well. Breakfast is almost ready. Up and at 'em, kids!" Lily's voice boomed heartily through the door.
"Jesus, I forgot how cheery she is in the morning," Harvey said, smacking his head back on the pillow.
"You were right last night," Mike answered.
"Of course I was right," Harvey responded automatically, before lifting his eyebrows in question. "Right about what?"
"She is the Devil."
"Tell me something I don't know, kid. Who do you think picked my middle name?"
They both smirked then and the thought he could get used to waking up to Mike beside him, on top of him, whatever, just as long as he was there, flitted across Harvey's mind.
But right now breakfast was calling. It proved to be as much of a hit as dinner had been, Lily laying on the full eggs, bacon, sausages and hash browns.
"There you are, Harvey. Eggs over easy, just how you like them."
"Really? You're not a sunny side up kinda guy? You do surprise me," Mike joked and Harvey threw him a 'yeah, yeah, keep it up, wise guy' look.
"You've been together for almost a year and you don't know how he likes his eggs, Mike?" Lily broke in and Harvey saw Mike freeze, thinking he had slipped up. Like Depardieu with the name of that damn hand cream in 'Green Card'. Luckily for him, Harvey was on hand with the save.
"I haven't eaten a breakfast like this in years, Mom," he said, deliberately throwing the 'mom' in there and hoping it distracted Lily enough not to notice the look of abject panic on Mike's face.
"I'm more a coffee and doughnut guy these days. Something quick I can pick up on the way to work."
It wasn't a lie.
"Coffee and doughnuts? That's hardly a healthy start to the day," she tutted disapprovingly.
"And this is??" Harvey retorted, glancing down at the stack of fried food in front of him. "It's like a heart attack on a plate."
"Anyway, you should see the sugary crap this one eats," he added, indicating Mike with a nod of his head.
"Hey! There's nothing wrong with cereal for breakfast! Millions of adults the world over enjoy it every day!"
"Adults?? That crap you eat still comes with a plastic toy in the box!"
"And yet you still keep a box of it at your place just for me," Mike grinned.
"Yeah, I still do," Harvey replied, voice soft.
It wasn't a lie either. He did still keep a box of it in his kitchen, even now, long after the first one had appeared there when Mike had stayed with him while he was separated from Rachel. Sometimes Mike would call by Harvey's place to work or just hang out and he enjoyed a bowl of the sugary crap at any hour of the day and night. And Harvey always made sure it was there for him. That probably should have tipped him off to his feelings a little sooner he supposed.
Of course, after breakfast St. Michael of the Dishcloths insisted on signing them up for dish duty again. Harvey rolled up his sleeves and went into the kitchen to run the hot water while Mike and Lily cleared the table. When the suds were ready, and neither of them had appeared, he headed back to the dining room to see what the hold up was. He stopped at the door, though, when he caught a snippet of their conversation.
"Mike, I ... I wanted to apologise for the things I said and the way I behaved at the firm that day, in Louis' office. I know it was wrong of me to use Harvey's sexuality against him like that."
"Yes, it was," Mike replied. "So why did you do it?"
Good Puppy, Harvey thought.
"Honestly, and I know how horrible this sounds, but I think I did it to make Harvey feel as awful as I did."
"Seriously?? He's your son! Why would you ever want him to feel bad? Why would you ever want him to feel bad about who he is?"
"I know, I know. You're right. It's sick and it's twisted and it's pathetic. But we really are alike in some ways, whether he acknowledges it or not, and sometimes it feels like the only thing Harvey and I are good at is hurting each other. But it wasn't always like that. When he was little, before he saw something he should never have had to see and everything changed, he would sit for hours and just watch me paint. We'd put on one of his dad's records and talk about his day. What he'd studied at school, how his Little League game had gone, what he wanted to be when he grew up. We were just like any normal mother and son."
"And then you blew it," Mike said, but there was no malice in his tone.
"Yes, and then I blew it. And I know we'll probably never be able to get back to the way we were before everything went to hell. But I'd really like it if we could have some kind of a relationship. Preferably one that didn't involve us trying to hurt each other all the time. That's why I wanted your firm to handle my divorce in the first place. I was hoping we might be able to move past everything that has happened between us and reach some kind of understanding, some kind of peace. And I'd like it if you and I could be, if not friends, at least not enemies either. So, like I said, I'm apologising for my behaviour the day we met. I didn't exactly get us off on the right foot, did I?"
"No, you didn't. Look, Lily, I don't particularly want to be enemies with you either, but it's not me you should be telling all this to, it's Harvey."
"I know, Mike, and I will. But I also wanted to say that my words that day, well, I know how they made me sound. Like I'm homophobic, or biphobic, or something. And I wouldn't blame you if you didn't believe me, but I'm really not any of those things. I was just..."
"Trying to hurt Harvey."
"Yes. I was. God forgive me, but I was. But that's going to stop from now on."
"It better. Or it won't be Harvey, or your soon to be ex-husband, or his team of lawyers you'll have to worry about. It'll be me," Mike bit out, voice strong and unwavering, and Harvey had no doubt he meant it. Once again he was hit with a wave of love and affection and pride for everything this man who had stumbled into his life just when he needed him most was.
"Fair enough," Lily responded. "But know I always wanted him to be happy, Mike. And I'm glad he's found someone who makes him as happy as you so obviously do. And I'm glad that someone is you. I never found that, not really. Not with Harvey's father and not with Robert, if I'm being honest. Nor with any of the others."
"I'm sorry for you for that," Mike replied softly, voice kind and Harvey had no doubt he genuinely meant it. "I wish you could have found someone who makes you as happy as Harvey makes me. But if I'm being honest, I wish you could have found that with Gordon, if only for Harvey's sake."
"I wish that too. And I did love Gordon, really, I did. But I was so young when I met him. He was so handsome and charming and exciting to be around. And he was talented. I've always loved music and Gordon played so incredibly beautifully that it just seemed to come alive around him. I came alive. He would play and the whole room would be in the palm of his hand. And talent like that is an intoxicating thing. Especially to a young girl, new to the city and just starting out on her own in life. Naturally I fell for him. How could I not?"
"So what went wrong?" Mike asked, voicing the very question running through Harvey's own head at that moment.
Lily sighed. "Like I said, I was young. Too young. I hadn't lived, Mike. I hadn't seen nearly enough of life. Gordon and I had a whirlwind romance and before I knew it I had a ring on my finger and people were calling me 'Mrs. Specter'. We hadn't taken the time to really get to know each other. Not like you and Harvey. We thought we were in love and that it would last forever. So we rushed into marriage because we wanted forever to begin right away. But we were wrong. Or I was."
Harvey couldn't remember ever hearing her sound so sorry or full of regret before. So real and human, and prone to all the frailties that entailed.
"I don't think Gordon ever really stopped loving that fresh-faced girl from the sticks with stars in her eyes. But I changed. I couldn't stay that girl forever. And I should have told him that. Or maybe given him a chance to get to know the woman she'd become, that I'd become. But I was scared, I guess. Scared he wouldn't like her very much. I know I didn't." Harvey heard her sigh again before she continued.
"So I kept up the pretence of being the girl he fell in love with whenever he was around. And when he wasn't, well, I got to know who I really was and I didn't much like what I saw. So I went out looking for men who did and I tried to pretend I felt something, even if it was only physical. I tried to pretend I wasn't broken inside, or I hoped one of them could put me back together again. But they never did, Mike. That's something I have to do myself. And it starts with being a better mother to my son. If he'll let me."
They fell quiet then and Harvey was just about to step away from the door when he heard Lily speak again, her piece said and determined to know Mike's story now. Harvey had a feeling she was going to hit his fake boyfriend with the 'and what exactly are your intentions towards my son' question at any second.
"But enough of my sad, inglorious history. Let's talk about something happier. Like when did you know, Mike? That Harvey was the one for you?"
Rationalły Harvey knew nothing definitive had been said last night, or at any other time. For all he knew this was all still one giant hoax for Mike, just a favour he was doing for a friend (a pretty big favour, but still) so he figured he could be forgiven for having more than a passing interest in how his supposed boyfriend would answer that question.
With a blush and a stammer should have been his first guess.
"I, er, I ... Um..."
"Really? As soon as that, eh?" Lily teased, causing Mike to blush even deeper. "Okay, then, tell me this, how did you know he was the one?"
"Because he believed in me like no one else, bar family, ever did," Mike replied without hesitation. "He believed in me when I didn't even believe in myself. He has faith in me. He trusts me, and that's not easy for Harvey. You have to earn it. You have to deserve it. And somehow he thinks I did, I do. He sees my potential and every day he pushes me to achieve it. He appreciates my abilities, and he respects them. He doesn't try to exploit them, or me. He's amazing at what he does. The best. It's a joy to watch him dancing circles around the other guys in the room. Talent. Like you said, it's an intoxicating thing. He's smart. He's seen every movie ever made, it feels like, and he matches me quote for quote. He makes me laugh more than anyone I've ever met and I never have to pretend to be someone I'm not with him. I never have to act dumber than I am around him just to protect his ego. He wants me to be all I can be. He encourages it. He's the best man I've ever met, even if he doesn't think he is. He makes me feel safe and breathless and reckless all at the same time. He gets me in a way no one else ever has. And he always, always, always has my back."
Harvey felt his heart swell within him. He felt it might burst out of his chest at any second. Images of John Hurt in 'Alien' sprang to mind. He smiled at the look he could imagine Mike giving him at that most unromantic of comparisons, but it was how he felt. Once again, Mike had blown him away. To hear him say those things, without hesitation and in that sincerely honest voice only Mike could use and not be cloying, was overwhelming. He felt undeserving of Mike's friendship, let alone his love. But love was what he dared to hope he heard expressed in those words. Lily certainly seemed to agree.
"He has your back, and your heart, too, I'd say, from the sound of it," she said quietly, gently, and Harvey remembered that tone from his early childhood, from when 'Lily' was still 'Mommy' and he had whispered his secrets to her as she tucked him into bed at night.
Telling her his dreams of becoming a baseball player in the Majors and hitting the winning home run for his team in the World Series. Or of being a musician, just like Daddy, making people's lives better through music. Or a cop, like the one who had come to talk to them at school, filling his head with words like 'protect' and 'defend' and a need to make sure the bad guys got what was coming to them. Drifting off to sleep while she sang softly to him, one of the old jazz standards they both loved, or told him a story perhaps.
Harvey felt hot tears well in his eyes. Anger and sadness, pain and regret, and yes, love and happiness, all swirled within him and he wasn't sure which way was up anymore. He slipped back into the kitchen on shaky legs, feeling as if the ground below him was no longer solid. He prayed it wasn't the start of a panic attack, but something felt different this time. He felt lighter. Stronger.
The clatter of dishes cut through his thoughts and he quickly swiped away the tears that had begun to fall. He didn't trust his voice when Mike looked at him with concern clear in his eyes and asked him if everything was okay. He just gave a tight smile and nodded, and Mike seemed to sense not to push it.
The drive back to New York was uneventful. No one talked much, wrapped up in their own thoughts. A compilation of soul and jazz and blues classics provided the perfect soundtrack to their musings. Occasionally Mike and Harvey's eyes would meet and they'd exchange small smiles, smiles that said they each had a secret they hadn't told the other, but which the other knew anyway. It felt like the end of one thing and the start of something else. Like one chapter in a book coming to a close, but a whole new one just beginning, and the book was far from done. It was just getting interesting.
Back in New York they dropped Lily off at her apartment first. Harvey helped her from the car as Mike went to the trunk and fetched a couple of things she had brought from the cabin and deposited them with the doorman to her building.
While he was gone Lily wasted no time in sharing a few pearls of motherly wisdom with Harvey.
"Don't mess this up, Harvey."
"What? Your divorce?" Harvey asked, not immediately following.
"No! You and Mike! Don't mess it up. That boy adores you. You can see it in his every look, hear it in his every word. It shines out of him. He is the best thing that ever happened to you, Harvey. Don't break his heart. Because you'll break your own, too. Trust me, I know what I'm talking about. He makes you happy, sweetheart. Happier than I've ever seen you. You light up around him, just like he lights up around you. Don't let him go, and whatever you do, for God’s sake, don't push him away. Forget everything I said about you being just like me. It was all bullshit. I was just..."
"Trying to push my buttons? I heard what you said at the cabin to Mike this morning."
"Then you heard me say I was sorry. I meant it, Harvey. Just like I meant I want us to have a better relationship, or at least try to. Do you think there's any way you could meet me halfway?"
"I don't know," Harvey replied honestly. "There's been a lot of water under the bridge. I'm not sure I know how to keep my head above it."
"All I ask is that you try. Will you do that for me?"
Harvey nodded and Lily seemed satisfied for now. She smiled up at him then, a real smile, and a million memories of that smile looking down at him when he was still her little boy and not the man who towered above her today ran through Harvey's head.
"You are your father's son, Harvey. Sweet and kind and capable of feeling real, deep emotions. You just forgot that somewhere along the way, or tried to. And that's my fault. I know that. But you're a big boy now, Harvey. Time to get over the mistakes I made and learn from them instead. So love your boy and let him love you. You do love him, don't you?"
"He's my guy," was all Harvey could get out past the lump in his throat and the stranglehold his emotions had on him.
"Well, I should hope so," said a small voice somewhere behind him. Harvey glanced over his shoulder to see Mike standing there, eyes shining with tears, but the biggest smile Harvey had ever seen in his life plastered all over his stupidly perfect face. Harvey turned back to his mother and felt something for her he hadn't felt in a long time, or hadn't wanted to let himself feel. Gratitude. Love. Forgiveness.
He fought back the tears that threatened to flow down his face as he found himself letting go of something it had been hurting him to hold on to so tightly for so long. Stepping forward, he made the conscious decision to envelop the woman he had hated for so many years in an earnest hug. Dr. Agard would be proud of him, he thought absently.
"Merry Christmas, Mom," he whispered.
"Merry Christmas, baby."
"God bless us, every one!" Mike chirped up, prompting a laugh from Lily and an eye roll quickly followed by a fond, indulgent smile from Harvey.
"Come on, Tiny Tim, back in the car with you. We may have had our Christmas miracle, but there's a Scrooge out there who's about to find out that there's none in store for him this year. Isn't that right, Mrs. Cartwright?"
"You go stick it to him, son," Lily replied, with a wink.
"Yep, you've definitely got some of her blood running through your veins, Specter," Mike laughed. He made such a beautiful sight Harvey couldn't help himself any longer.
Before he could second guess himself he pulled Mike to him, cutting off the laughter with a kiss. He felt Mike smile against his lips and he smiled too. And then proceeded to kiss Mike's stupidly perfect smile off his stupidly perfect face, not stopping until they both needed to come up for air. Harvey felt safe and breathless and reckless all at the same time. He hoped Mike did too. He definitely had the breathless part down, judging by the way he was panting heavily, and there was certainly a reckless gleam in his eye. As for the safe part, well, Harvey was just going to have to hope the promise of his arms around Mike whenever he needed them that their current embrace implied was enough.
"Well, that was quite a show, boys," Lily said. "It was so passionate and full of longing one might almost think that was your very first kiss together."
Both Mike and Harvey looked at her then, taking in the arched eyebrow, the knowing look and the smile that said 'I'm nobody's fool'.
"Well, every time's like the first time with Mike," Harvey smirked.
"Uh-huh," Lily nodded, not buying it for a second.
"Nothing gets past you, does it?" Mike asked.
"When did you know?" he pressed, knowing that the jig was up.
"Oh, from about the second you stepped up and grabbed his hand in the office that day and he looked like he was about to pass out from shock. Right before he caught on to what you were up to and then he looked like all his Christmases had come at once. Now, go on, get out of here. Go tell that scheming husband of mine he's not getting rid of me that easily. Oh, and I know I'm pushing my luck here, and I know it's short notice, but if you're free tonight I'd love it if you could both join Marcus, Katie, the kids and myself at our traditional little Christmas Eve get together."
Harvey glanced at Mike, who nodded eagerly.
"Okay," Harvey agreed.
"Oh, I have this thing I have to go to at midnight, though, and I was kind of hoping Harvey would join me," Mike started babbling. "I mean, we don't have to, but it used to be a tradition in my family and I thought it might be nice to start it up again, and..."
"What 'thing', Mike?" Harvey interrupted.
"Er, Midnight Mass, at St. Andrew's. Father Walker is sort of expecting me to show. But it's okay, we don't have to. I know you're not religious or anything, and now you have plans with your family, and..."
"No reason we can't do both. Right, Lily?"
"Right," Lily agreed.
"We'll just come here first and spend a few hours with the family and then we'll head on over to St. Andrew's in time for the Mass."
"Are you sure?"
"It seems like it's something important to you, Mike. I'm sure."
The smile never left Mike's face all the way back to the firm. It lasted right up until Robert Cartwright's new attorney walked into Harvey's office.
"Scottie, what are you doing here?" Harvey asked, as Donna showed his ex-girlfriend in. He didn't miss the way Mike instantly bristled and his smile fell away.
"I'm here representing Robert Cartwright. When he heard what you'd dug up in Connecticut he decided he needed a little more firepower than his previous lawyers could muster so he fired them and hired my firm instead."
"But you don't handle divorces."
"Neither do you, but here we are."
"I'm only handling this one because it involves my mother."
"And I'm only handling it because Robert Cartwright is an old school friend of my boss and he ordered me to take the case. They still golf together every Saturday or something equally as tedious," she said, with an unimpressed shrug.
"Anyway, I just came here to say two things," she continued. "One, my client now accepts that the marriage between himself and your client was legal and valid so he is prepared to make her this rather generous offer to settle without dragging this out into some long drawn out court battle."
She tossed a slim dossier on to Harvey's desk in front of him and he quickly scanned the contents. He face gave nothing away, but he had to admit it was a pretty good settlement.
" You put all this together in the time it took us to drive from Connecticut this morning?" he asked, trying to keep the admiration out of his voice.
"Not quite," Scottie smiled, hearing the compliment anyway. "It seems Mr. Cartwright still has a few friends in Connecticut, and one of them called and gave him a heads-up about your little fishing expedition down there and what information you netted."
"All's fair in love and alimony, I suppose," Harvey smirked. "Okay, I'll take your offer to my client and let you know what she says after the holidays."
"And the second thing?" Mike asked, speaking for the first time since she had entered the room. Looking up at her from where he sat opposite Harvey, he added, "You said you came here to say two things. What's the second?"
"Very good, Baby Harvey," Scottie sneered, disdain tainting every word and twisting the cool smile she gave Mike in an ugly way Harvey had never seen on her before. "But then, I always knew you were more than just a pretty face. You'd have to be for Daddy here to have kept you around this long."
"The second thing I came to say," she said, bending down over Mike to get right in his face, "is that I knew it. I knew it all along."
"I FUCKING KNEW IT!" she yelled, stalking away from Mike and turning her rage on Harvey, leaning over the desk and poking him in the chest with her finger.
"You were fucking him all along! Your little Boy Wonder here! Every time I told you you were choosing him over me and you denied it AND YOU WERE FUCKING HIM ALL THE TIME!!!"
"Scottie, no, it's not like that," Harvey tried to reason with her.
"He's telling the truth," Mike said softly. "I promise you, he's telling the truth, Scottie."
"Yeah, sure he is, Golden Boy. Look at you, sitting there like butter wouldn't melt in your mouth. And all the time he was accusing me of never giving him all the story, of not being someone he could trust, he was banging your brains out behind my back!"
"IT WASN'T LIKE THAT, SCOTTIE!" Harvey shouted. "Look, I don't know what you've heard, but..."
"I've heard you two have finally come out in the open, that's what I've heard. You're the hot topic of discussion around every water cooler in every law firm in New York! And me? Well, I'm just the idiot that had no clue what was going on right under her nose the whole time. Except I did have a clue, didn't I, Harvey? And you kept telling me I was crazy, kept telling me you weren't choosing him over me. But you were. Every single time. I never stood a chance."
"Scottie, listen, it wasn't like that. I wanted to tell you the truth about Mike for so long, about him never going to Harvard, but that was all I wanted to tell you. There was nothing else to tell. As for what everyone's talking about now, well, that was all fake. We faked the whole thing to get my mother off my back, that was all..."
Harvey stopped talking when Mike abruptly got up from his seat and hurried to the door.
"Mike?" he called. "Where are you going?"
Mike stopped at the door and turned to face Harvey, tears once again shining in his eyes, but for a very different reason this time.
"I'm going to give you two some privacy to say all the things you need to say to each other. And to give you some time, Harvey, to decide what's real and what's fake because I'm not sure you know anymore. Let me know what you decide."
"Mike!" Harvey shouted, but he had already pulled open the door and disappeared out of view. Harvey stepped out from around his desk to follow him, but Scottie blocked his way.
"Awww, is the Puppy misbehaving? You're going to have to train him better than that if you're going to be taking him out in public. Of course, maybe you prefer to keep him all to yourself, behind closed doors. Tell me, Harvey, do you make him wear a collar and leash?"
"Get out of my way, Scottie," Harvey seethed, trying to push his way past.
But Scottie had the full fury of a woman scorned at her command, and fury can be a powerful thing. She pounced on him, wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him into a kiss that felt more like punishment than love. She nipped his lip hard enough to draw blood as Harvey struggled to free himself from her grasp without physically hurting her. She had no such qualms, drawing her fingernails down his cheek and scratching him like a cat.
"What the hell?!" Harvey exclaimed. "Are you out of your fucking mind?!"
"If I am, it's because you drove me there."
She smiled at him then, eyes darker than Harvey had ever seen them before. It occurred to him that he had never felt more of an affinity with Michael Douglas' character in 'Fatal Attraction' than he did at that moment. Except that guy had actually cheated on someone. Harvey hadn't. But then, didn't she have a point? Hadn't he always chose Mike over her? Over everybody? Maybe you didn't have to have sex with someone else to cheat. Maybe you just had to keep putting them before the person you were supposed to put first.
"You know, I had you all wrong," Scottie spoke again, tone suddenly more conversational than confrontational. As if they had just been discussing the weather, or traffic, or some other such triviality, and not pouring salt into the still gaping wounds left by the demise of their relationship.
"My mistake was figuring you responded to strength, not weakness. But really you're just another wannabe knight in shining armour, looking to save your very own damsel in distress. Or lame duck in this case. Just couldn't resist those big puppy dog eyes, looking up at you with such adoration, could you? 'Oh, I'm just a poor little orphan, save me, Harvey, please!' Was that it? Is that how it went?"
"You're wrong, Scottie. Mike's no lame duck. He's stronger than I'll ever be. I didn't save him; he saved me," Harvey said gently, all the fight gone out of him, and not looking to inflict any more pain.
"Nothing physical ever happened with him while I was with you, I swear. But you're right. I did keep choosing him over you. And maybe I was too chickenshit at the time to look too deeply into why that was. You will always mean something to me, Scottie. I loved you, really, I did. And I'm sorry for making you always feel second to Mike.
"But the truth is everyone will always come second to Mike. I see that now, and I admit it. To myself, to you and to everyone. I'm sorry if that's not what you want to hear, but it's the truth."
"Well, it's about time," Scottie hissed.
"I second that," Donna said, appearing in the doorway.
“I'll just bet you do,” Scottie laughed, tossing a look the secretary’s way and Harvey saw something like a glimmer of understanding, and maybe commiseration, pass between them.
"Was that so hard, Harvey?” Scottie enquired, turning to face him again, calmer now. "Admitting I was right, and apologising for always having one foot out the door in our relationship?"
"I'm sorry, Scottie. I really am."
"Me too. Now, get your mother to accept our settlement offer before I have to kick your ass in court as well."
Harvey went straight to Mike's office after Scottie left, but he wasn't there. He tried the break room (both the executives' and the mere mortals’ alike), the library, the file room, the restrooms, everywhere. He scoured the place for him while trying his cellphone which kept going straight to voicemail. He left several messages begging Mike to call him. Finishing up for the day (it was Christmas Eve, after all) he headed over to Mike's place, but there was no answer. Figuring this qualified, he dug out the emergency key Mike had given him and let himself in, hoping to find his Puppy curled up somewhere, ignoring the door and licking his wounds. But the apartment was empty.
He sat down heavily on the couch and tried to think of where else Mike might have gone. He called Rachel, but she hadn't seen him. Donna had promised she'd call him if Mike showed up at her place, but he tried her again anyway. No dice. Louis was a no go as well. The only thing he could think of was maybe Mike had gone out to drown his sorrows in some bar somewhere, in which case Harvey didn't know where to start. Unless ...
Traffic was chaos so it was quicker to walk to his mother's apartment. It wasn't too far from Mike's place and Harvey found himself breaking into a jog as he got closer, trying to convince himself he'd find Mike there, waiting for him. But he was disappointed.
"Where's Mike?" Lily asked, when she answered the door to him.
"He's not here?"
She shook her head. "No. Harvey, what is it? What's wrong?'"
"I think I messed up, Lily."
"Oh, honey," she sympathised, drawing him into a hug. "Come in and tell me all about it."
The rest of the evening passed in a blur of whispered confessions to his mother and pleasantries exchanged with his sister-in-law, man hugs with his brother and forced smiles for the kids. But all the while the only thought running through his mind was Mike. Mike, Mike, Mike, and how to fix this terrible misunderstanding that had occurred between them. If Mike had only let him finish! He'd been going to say that it might have started out fake between them, but it wasn't fake now. Hell, it probably never was.
Eventually the kids began to tire out and Marcus and Katie decided it was time to make a move for home before Santa decided to put them all on the naughty list for staying up late. Harvey kind of felt like he was on the naughty list himself.
"Talk to him, Harvey. You'll see. It'll all work out,” Lily reassured him.
"How can I talk to him when he won't answer his phone and I have absolutely no idea where he is?!"
"You know where he's going to be at midnight."
"Wait ... You think he's still going to go to Midnight Mass?"
"It seemed important to him. I'd put money on it. Besides, church might seem to offer some comfort to him right now, if he thinks you two are done."
"We're not done, Mom. We'll never be done."
"I'm convinced, Harvey. Now go convince him."
It was quite a bit after midnight by the time Harvey arrived at the church, a car accident having caused delays and left him running late. Slipping in as quietly as he could he was relieved to spot Mike alone in a pew at the back of the church and to find the congregation on their feet and in the middle of an jaunty Christmas carol. The singing covered any noise made by his entrance and Mike's choice of seat saved him having to traipse up the aisle in front of curious, questioning eyes or having to do the whole 'excuse me... can I just... sorry ... thanks ... sorry' shuffle along a packed pew to reach him.
'You came!" Mike blurted out, getting the stink-eye from the hatchet-faced old lady in the pew in front.
"All that brainpower, rookie, and your real genius is for stating the obvious."
"I meant, what are you doing here, Harvey?" Mike whispered, angrily.
"What? I thought we had a date," Harvey whispered back, catching Hatchet Face's attention this time and flashing her his most disarming smile.
"Not funny," Mike snapped.
"It wasn't supposed to be. Look at me a minute, will you? Will you just do that for me?"
Mike turned to look at him, a battle between wariness and hope playing out across his face for all to see.
"It was important to you to be here tonight, so it was important for me to be here. Because you're important to me, Mike."
"But what about Scottie? And what the hell happened to your face?" Mike asked reaching out to run his fingers over the scratch Scottie had inflicted on Harvey's cheek before snatching his hand back as if it'd been burned.
"It's nothing, Mike, don't worry about it. Look, Scottie will always be important to me, but even before she kissed me this afternoon I knew ..."
"Wait ... You kissed her?!"
"Well, it was more like she kissed me ..."
"I don't care who made the first move, Harvey! You kissed and I think that tells me everything I need to know about where I stand!"
Hatchet Face had given up even pretending to be annoyed at this stage, Harvey noticed. The scene playing out behind her was far too interesting.
Just then the last note of the carol rang out and the congregation took their seats once more, Mike having to reach up and tug on Harvey's coat sleeve to help him get with the program.
Harvey was about to launch into another appeal for Mike to listen to him when Father Walker's voice issuing a brisk greeting resonated through the church. Mike glared at Harvey and he got the message. No talking through the sermon, or whatever this was. Got it, Harvey thought.
"Let me start by thanking you all for coming out tonight and letting you know you are all very welcome here at St. Andrew's," Father Walker began. "Of course, everyone is always welcome in a house of God. Something I had cause to remind someone of earlier this week."
"Now, as any of you who have attended this service in years gone by will know, every year I like to choose a non-traditional, but no less joyful for that, song for our wonderful choir here to sing to lift up your hearts at this special time of year. Who could forget last year's rousing version of Candi Staton's 'You Got The Love'?"
Hatchet Face nodded approvingly and Harvey found himself wishing he'd been there to hear it. She seemed like a woman of discerning tastes.
"Well, this year I was having trouble coming up with a song that felt right and had resigned myself to having to repeat a choice from a previous year. And then trouble walked in the door and handed me the answer. No, I jest. I'm being unfair there. Let me explain. Recently, a young man from this parish, a young man who had grown up in this church, but had wandered away and got lost, unable to find his way back to us, well, he found it again, ladies and gentlemen. He found his way back to us."
"You should go now," Mike whispered urgently.
"You should go now. You're just going to be bored out of your brain."
Harvey watched as Mike's Adam's apple bobbed up and down as he swallowed thickly. Mike was nervous again, and Harvey was intrigued.
"No, I'm not bored, Mike. I'm not bored at all," Harvey breathed, before turning back to listen intently to the priest's words.
"... came to see me, this young man, just yesterday, needing to talk. Perhaps we both did. You see, this young man had lived a lie for many years, but he had finally managed to cast off that lie and tell the truth. And I am very proud of him for that. We talked a little about all the ways his life had changed since the truth had come out, and all the ways it hadn't, and in the end the young man confirmed to me that the truth coming out had been a blessing, a burden that had been lifted. And, well, I'm a priest, so I did what priests do. I talked to him about God and God's plan for him. I talked to him about faith and belief, about all the things I wanted to talk to you about tonight, my friends. About how there is always one we can turn to, no matter how alone we feel, one who is always there for us, one who never gives up on us and who will see us through anything if we only have faith. If we only believe in Him, and ourselves, as He believes in us."
Harvey could feel the way Mike had started to tremble next to him on the pew. He could see the way his fingers drummed nervously on his knee. His heart went out to this unnamed 'young man' Father Walker kept referring to. Mike's mysterious meeting the day before made a lot more sense now. Instinctively he reached out and closed his hand around Mike's, putting an end to the fingers' drumming by interlacing them with his own.
Mike's head whipped around to look at him, eyes wide and fearful and absolutely heartbreaking. Mike's eyes should never look like that, Harvey thought, vowing then and there to make sure they never again had cause to. He smiled softly at Mike before bringing his still shaking hand, now safely in Harvey's grip, to his lips and placing a gentle kiss on the palm. He watched as a single, solitary tear slid down Mike's cheek, before he leant forward and tenderly brushed it away. But Father Walker's words continued to filter into his brain.
"But now he revealed to me he had fallen into another lie, once again pretending to be something he wasn't, but desperately wished he was. And once again the same person was his accomplice in this lie. Now, I'm all for taking personal responsibility, ladies and gentlemen, because, after all is said and done, we can only be led astray if we decide to follow. But I'll admit, I was curious. So I asked him how it had come about that once again this other person was instrumental in aiding and abetting him in a lie."
"I thought he might take a moment to think about it, or come up with some excuse. But he didn't. He didn't even hesitate. 'Because he's my guy, Father, and I'm his, and nothing's ever going to change that.' Faith, you see, ladies and gentlemen. Maybe not in the Lord, but still a powerful thing. Like love. Put your trust in the Lord and you can do all things, my friends. But with a little faith in the right person and a lot of love you can do quite a lot, too. Things like taking a lie and making it the truth. And unless my eyes are very much mistaken it seems our prodigal son has managed to do just that, with a little help from his friend."
"And our song? Well, I had mentioned during our talk that I was drawing a blank choosing one this year, but after he had explained to me about the importance of this friend in his life, that young man of our parish gave me that same carefree, devil-may-care, boyish grin I remembered so well from his boyhood and said, ‘Father, I think I know just what your song should be this year.' And he was right.”
“He did know just what the song should be and whether you choose to put it down to Divine Providence or dumb luck, it turned out to be a song the choir had no trouble learning in such a short space of time. Of course, like our prodigal son, many of them are film fans so they were well-acquainted with this song already. If you've ever seen the movie 'Sister Act', you'll no doubt recognise it too. So, I'll hand you over into the very capable hands of our choirmaster and his talented singers.
"But before I do, let me urge you all to spare a moment amidst all the present opening and turkey and games of charades with the family, and, yes, the arguments too, to ponder the faith and trust God placed in us when he gave us the first, and most important, Christmas gift of all, His only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, that we might be redeemed through him. Happy Christmas, everyone. Okay, over to you, Joe."
Harvey knew what was coming and yet the first few notes still hit him like they were tied to bricks and lobbed straight at his heart. When the choir came in, all his defences crumpled and this time it was Mike brushing away Harvey's tears as they fell.
Nothing you could say could tear me away from my guy,
Nothing you could do 'cause I'm stuck like glue to my guy,
I'm sticking to my guy like a stamp to a letter,
Like birds of a feather we stick together,
I'm tellin' you from the start,
I can't be torn apart from my guy,
Nothing you could do could make me untrue to my guy,
Nothing you could buy could make me tell a lie to my guy,
I gave my guy my word of honour
To be faithful, and I'm gonna,
You best be believing
I won't be deceiving
It was stupidly perfect. No other way to describe it.
"Well, I guess we won't have to lie if anyone asks us what our song is," Harvey choked out. He was pretty sure he saw Hatchet Face dabbing a tissue to her eyes as well.
The service ended soon after and everyone began to flock out into the night, eager to get home. Mike and Harvey stayed where they were. Just holding hands, and laughing, and smiling at each other like some irresponsible dentist had let them at the happy gas.
Mike had questions, of course.
"But you kissed Scottie."
"She kissed me, Mike. I told you."
"Yeah, but did you enjoy it?"
"Well, Scottie was always a good kisser, even if she did get a little rougher than usual this time," Harvey answered honestly, running his tongue over the still tender spot on his lip where she had bitten him.
"Right," Mike sighed, "I get it."
"No, I don't think you do. Yeah, it was good with Scottie. But you know what? It wasn't great. There's only been one 'great'," Harvey said, looking meaningfully at Mike and smiling.
Mike shook his head, disbelievingly. "Seriously?! I'm falling apart here and you're quoting 'Scrooged' at me?!"
"What?! It's a Christmas movie. Seemed appropriate," Harvey smirked. "And you know I'll always be here to put you back together when you fall apart, Mike. Have a little faith, Puppy."
"In you? Always,” Mike smiled.
“Good,” Harvey said, leaning forward and pressing a chaste kiss (they were in a church, after all) to Mike's lips. “For the faithful shall be rewarded.”
“Oh, and you're my reward, I suppose?”
"Got it in one, kiddo. Besides, you know what they say."
"'A dog is for life, not just for Christmas', and I don't intend letting you slip the leash, Pup."
"Likewise, Big Dog," Mike grinned, stealing another quick kiss. "Likewise."
And somehow Harvey knew that come the New Year the vows they had whispered to each other in this church, the promises they had made and the pledges they'd sworn, were all going to be honoured, for many New Years to come.