Two impulses war inside Harvey, to come running like a trained dog, or to pretend he didn’t hear. Eventually, he settles for gathering up his stack of resumes and walking into the hotel room at what he intends to be a dignified pace.
Charles Forstman gives Harvey a knowing look.
Charles is waiting in the conference room of the Chilton Hotel, at ease amidst the gold and crystal and mirrors, sitting in his chair with his arms draped on the sides like it’s a goddamn throne. He watches Harvey with hot, predatory interest, and Harvey speculates it’d be less uncomfortable if that interest was sexual.
“Here are all the applications for the trading positions,” he says, dropping them on the dark wood desk. Though officially he shouldn’t be doing secretarial work, he’s won the privilege of shadowing Charles for the day, and he does what he’s told. “If you want I can speed things up, kick out anyone who’s clearly not a fit—”
“Go right ahead.” He grants Harvey a magnanimous smirk.
By now Harvey has learned Charles’s tastes, he can tell who will entertain him. He sends in a couple old-money types from Yale and Princeton, because it’ll amuse Charles to laugh at them and they might even make it long-term if they’re sufficiently abusive at their trading desks. He throws jokes at the others who come by— cruel jokes, but nothing illegal, nothing compared to what they’ll hear if they get hired— and cuts anyone who starts to crumple.
“Mr. Ross, can you tell me why I should let you in five minutes late?”
The kid— maybe still a teenager, twenty-two at the most— runs a hand through scruffy blond hair and turns puppy-dog eyes on him. Harvey’s tempted to laugh.
“I really need the job,” he says, still breathless from running here. “My grandmother, she’s sick, and I need twenty-five grand to cover the medical expenses—“
“You had five whole minutes, and you still couldn’t find something less cliche?”
Harvey looks at those innocent blue eyes. Dammit.
“You’re not getting in here,” he says, stern as he can.
“Come on—“ god, can’t he take a hint?— “you’re going to lose out as much as I—“
“You.“ Suddenly Charles is next to them them, leaning in the doorway, eyes fixed on the new guy. “Are you Trevor’s boy?”
“I am,” he says, spine snapping straight just as Harvey demands, “Who’s Trevor?”
“Business associate,” Charles answers after pondering it a moment, his eyes dancing. “You haven’t met him yet.” He smoothly turns his attention back to Mike and beckons him into the hotel room.
Strangely sickened, Harvey drops into his seat. The door clicks shut.
Harvey drops a pile of papers in front of Mike, reaching around multiple computer screens at his trading desk. Other guys bustle around them, hollering about news reports and market fluctuations and tips that dance the fine line of legality, and Mike leaps up from his chair, leaning in close to hear him over the trading room chaos.
“Here’s the rest of your orientation paperwork,” Harvey informs him.
Mike glances down and briskly flicks through the pages before remarking, “You’re in-house counsel, isn’t this below your pay grade?”
“I also wanted to check that you’re aware of our . . . other policies.”
“Don’t get caught taking illegal tips, don’t trade over 9 mill at a time unless you want the DOJ to destroy you?”
He says it all bluntly, with a slight edge in his voice, and Harvey cocks his head to the side.
“You sure you’re cut out for this?”
Mike’s expression darkens. “I got the job, didn’t I?”
Harvey doesn’t scowl back, instead bending forward and folding his arms on the top of the cubicle. “Let me tell you something. This isn't high school, this is hard work. Long hours. High pressure.”
“Again,” he snarks, “I will point out that I got the job—”
“And I don’t know what you pulled to get it, but if you’re not positive you can win the game now’s the time to get out.”
Mike’s glare morphs into a look of curiosity. “What game?”
Harvey falls uncharacteristically silent. When he begins to talk again, he lowers his voice, and Mike has to lean in even closer to hear him. “You’re the only one who made it through those interviews, so I assume Mr. Forstman sees something special in you. Now, he collects favorites. You could be one of them.”
Harvey purses his lips, taking in Mike’s excitement. “His favorites are typically smart, resourceful young men who are also vulnerable.”
He can defend that statement in court. “Vulnerable” could mean a hundred things, it could mean “emotionally available” or “sensitive,” but the light’s starting to dull in Mike’s eyes.
“I need this job.”
“And you can’t get any other trading job in the city?”
Mike shakes his head cautiously. “Nope.”
Harvey doesn’t know how Mike got into this job, but he’s willing to guess it wasn’t an entirely innocent road. Maybe it’s got to do with that Trevor guy, a bribe in the form of a job. More likely Mike walked into the interview and started reciting particularly private material information; Charles has a taste for good old-fashioned insider trading.
“I don’t suppose,” Mike says with a half-hearted chuckle, “you’ve got 25 grand to give me instead.”
“I do,” Harvey admits before he can stop himself.
Mike freezes, and then his face crumples. “I can’t. I signed a contract, I can’t get out—“
“I know.” He knows too well, he reviews the bank’s employment contracts himself, but for one hopeful second—
Harvey gives him a curt nod and pulls back, disappearing back into the mass of traders in indistinguishable suits.
He doesn’t hear from Mike in weeks. He puts the kid out of his mind, the last thing he needs is a stray pup pulling at his heartstrings, but it’s hard work repressing unwanted thoughts. The sound of a shredder plays in his dreams, the drone of white noise marked by the crunch of paper disintegrating, of paper being laundered, cleaned of evidence, washing away any lingering pretense that he’s still worthy of Jessica Pearson or Cameron Dennis or even Louis Litt.
He’s got plenty to forget.
Tonight, his work is to play, because Charles requested Harvey’s presence at one of his infamous midsummer parties— not at his real mansion out in Bergen County, but at the place he keeps in the city just for nights like this— and he goes where Charles wants. It’s a hot night, the AC’s blasting throughout the penthouse apartment, but there’s so many warm bodies crammed in for the revel that it’s turned hazy and hot again.
Then again, the room temperature might not be the only factor at play.
Harvey’s refrained from drinking. Instead he’s sitting at a crowded table, playing poker with traders and lawyers and other people he doesn’t recognize. There’s stacks of cash all around— Harvey’s been growing his pile all night— along with other forms of currency, and Harvey laughs at the traders arguing over conversion rates, trying to establish whether a thousand dollars is equivalent to five grams of high-quality coke and a secretary’s bra.
“Nah.” Charles materializes out of nowhere, standing beside the table, leaning down with his elbows on one of the other players’ chairs. “You gotta add another two grams to make that fair. Or her panties,” he adds thoughtfully.
His voice is low, rich like a cello.
Charles flashes a smirk. Harvey thinks it’s at him; after all he’s been winning, killing it, getting good hands and treating them right, taking money from guys far richer than he is and keeping it for himself like the Robin Hood of Wall Street, and if you think he’s already indulged in his non-monetary winnings you’d be right. He’s felt warm all night, he undid his top button minutes after arriving, but now he grins back and flicks open the next button. Let Charles interpret that how he wants.
Harvey looks down at his new hand— no pair, highest card only a Jack, but he can work with this. He ought to check, but instead he opens, smoothly counting out hundred-dollar bills for his bet.
He proceeds to watch the table, analyzing all the other players. There’s one other lawyer at the table right now, an up-and-coming M&A guy named Kaldor, and Harvey suspects he’s got a genuinely strong hand, but he’s cautious, and Harvey can use that against him. Then there’s two junior traders from a bank down the street, throwing away money just to show that they have it, and a hedge fund owner who’s giving his money away because he’s on too many pills to know better.
Harvey’s got this.
He keeps an eye on the lawyer and keeps bluffing for all he’s worth, raising every time he can, radiating confidence. God, he can feel the confidence glowing, pouring from the pores of his skin, and he knows the magnetic pull he has on Charles Forstman. He glances up, and yeah— Charles can’t look away.
So Harvey returns the attention, watching Charles as much as the other players. First his eyes linger on the olive skin of Charles’s collarbone, hard and golden against the soft white crease of his shirt collar. Then the glimmer of his hair catches Harvey’s eye, light glinting on silver strands sprinkled over dark brown, almost like Cameron’s if he squints.
Harvey widens his smile, keenly aware of every muscle in his face, making sure everyone knows how lucky he is. He wants everyone to know how lucky he is, how clever, how fascinating—
He has to spend half a minute scrutinizing the hedge fund guy, just to confirm that he’s got a lousy hand, and when he looks back up Charles has turned away to kiss some girl. In seconds she’s draped herself around him like a goddamn ermine stole, and Harvey idly wonders how much he’s paying her.
He throws down his cards and leaves the table to search for air, because suddenly it’s too damn claustrophobic. And hot, he’s too hot and too good for these people—
He’s opened a door, releasing a blast of cool air and stumbling into a bedroom— the master bedroom. Mike’s on the opposite side of the room, leaning over an open nightstand drawer. He studies Harvey for a second before saying, “I got curious.”
Shutting the door behind him, Harvey saunters over as Mike presses the drawer closed.
“Find anything interesting?” he drawls.
“Pills.” When Harvey raises an eyebrow, he amends, “Blood thinners, over the counter.” He steps back and gestures towards the nightstand’s second, larger drawer. “You wanna do the honors?”
“Don’t mind if I do.” Who’s going to stop him, the cops?
He snorts at the thought, even as he bends down and pulls the bottom drawer out, revealing a neatly packed set of CDs. Nat and Ella and Miles, they’re all here, and as Harvey scans the collection he identifies a few featuring Gordon Specter. Mike reaches down by him and plucks a couple out and goes to play them, quietly.
They stay that way, Mike starting the nearby CD player and puttering around the rest of the room, Harvey still and kneeling by the nightstand.
He closes his eyes and listens to the hum of a soprano sax, sweet and pure, holds on until it blurs into mechanical droning. His head drops hard against the edge of the nightstand, and he tightens up his chest against the tide coming to drown him.
In his periphery the bed dips as Mike sits down by him. “You were bluffing that last round, weren’t you? You didn’t actually have a good hand.”
Now there’s a siren on the street below, blaring, boring into his head, and Harvey ought to push himself to his feet and run.
“How’d you guess?”
“You weren’t really that happy.”
“I will admit there was a mild possibility that I got overly cocky. Common effect of taking too much—”
“Vodka,” Mike finishes.
Harvey’s head swivels around. “Hey, I don’t mix alcohol with—”
“With other alcohol, which is why you only drank vodka, possibly spiked with coffee,” Mike says, eyes wide and earnest. “I saw girls serving it out there.”
He’s so damn innocent, and Harvey doesn’t have the heart to bring him back down to earth. He settles for staring too hard at the CD collection, even though all the letters on the spines are swimming in front of him. Eventually he just closes his eyes.
“What’s he got on you?” Mike murmurs a second later.
How’s that for a paradox.
Harvey’s mouth is still moving faster than his brain, he doesn’t waste time pretending that he misunderstands, so he smirks. “Maybe I was just born this way.”
Maybe he was.
The silk covers rustle, and now Mike’s leaving him too. The jazz switches off, the door creaks open, and the electronica invades again, thrumming through the wood of the nightstand to his bones. When he’s quite sure Mike’s gone, he lets a sigh fight its way up and out, rattling his whole chest.
“Hey—" Mike’s voice floats over the haze— “take a cab, would you?”
“I’m sorry, sir, but the bar’s full and all the tables are by reservation—"
“Katie, see this man? Remember him. He never needs a reservation.”
With a jovial laugh, Marcus Specter claps Harvey on the back and welcomes him into the new restaurant, a new Italian restaurant that’s full of happy chatter and a smell like heaven. “We are actually booked, but hey, you wouldn’t mind sitting in the back room, would you? It’s meant for the really large parties, but it’s a fully functioning table—"
Marcus brings him to his seat and then has to go straighten out a snag in the kitchen, but a server promptly starts bringing out food, exactly to Harvey’s taste. He indulges in crispy bruschetta and exquisitely creamy burrata and fragrant tagliatelle, alone in a grand, sumptuously decorated, empty hall.
It’s not until he’s eating the last of his panna cotta that Marcus finds his way back. “So what brings you up to Boston?”
“Visited the cemetery today— I was busy with work on the real date— and then I wanted to see my investment.” He smiles warmly. “You’ve done a hell of a job.”
“Couldn’t have done a damn thing without that check of yours,” Marcus replies. “I gotta thank you, Harvey.”
“No problem at all.”
“And thank Jessica, too. It’s good of her to give you your job early—“
Harvey’s smile shines harder. “She didn’t. I’m working for a bank now.”
Marcus furrows his brow. “What does that mean?”
“It means I took an in-house counsel position for a major financial—“
“No, no.” He shakes his head vigorously. “What does it mean for your whole deal with Jessica?”
“I’ve got a new deal. I already paid her back with interest.”
Marcus’s eyes dart up, around the room with its dark wood and shimmering curtains. “You didn’t sell your soul for this place or anything, did you?”
“That’s ridiculous,” Harvey scoffs. “Who would pay this much for my soul?”
Now Marcus is focused on him again, his stare too perceptive for comfort. “Look, I don’t know about stuff like banking and law. It’s above me.”
“Marcus, if you’re worried about repayment—“
“I’m not talking about the money, just . . .” He fumbles for words. “If you can find someone who knows and can help you out, that’d be good.”
“Marcus, you don’t need to worry about—“ Harvey shifts in his seat, about to laugh it all off.
“You look tired.”
Harvey’s leaning against a newsstand a few blocks from the office. His hair’s slicked down, he’s wearing a suit even in the heat of summer, and he’s skimming the day’s Wall Street Journal.
The picture of a dutiful corporate suit.
“I gotta admit, I feel a little like James Bond.”
Harvey insistently doesn’t look up, and he only allows himself the smallest smile as he flips to the next page. “James Bond doesn’t come late to meetings without an excellent excuse.”
“Bad analogy,” Mike concedes, and Harvey glances at him curiously. “If I’m Bond, that might make you . . . Spectre.”
Harvey rolls his eyes. “Clearly, I’m Bond in this scenario.”
“And I’m the secret agent who gets roped into your plans?” He turns away to look at the collection before muttering, “Bond girl.”
“You’re not a Bond girl,” Harvey snaps, offended, and Mike’s eyes dart back to him. “Those stories never last more than a movie.”
Mike freezes, then shakes himself and reaches for a copy of the Times. “Why’d you bring me here?”
Harvey doesn’t answer.
“I’m not saying no, but . . .” Mike sighs as he counts out change for the vendor. “Is this above board?”
“It’s all legal.”
“Not what I asked.”
Harvey looks at him, his thorny hair and endearingly awful off-the-rack suit, and for a second he wonders how he got so lucky that Mike came at all. “I’m not taking it for granted that you’re here. And I’m not going to let you get hurt.”
“I know that,” Mike replies, and Harvey’s heart speeds up even though he’s stone-cold sober. “And I’m glad you asked me, I just don’t get why you’re asking me.”
Asking me to break into my own bank’s trading database. Asking me to investigate my trading desk supervisor. Asking me to keep it quiet from all my colleagues.
“I’m heading up an internal investigation, and I could use your help,” Harvey says under his breath, eyes firmly focused on “Marketplace.”
Mike sounds surprised, and Harvey replies with a puzzled frown. “Is that so shocking?”
“You’re a bit junior, that’s all.”
“And you’re a rookie trader with record-breaking earnings.” He sneaks a glance at Mike, who’s now wearing a surprisingly closed-off poker face.
One point to the insider trading hypothesis.
Mike redirects smoothly. “So what, Mark’s suspected of breaking trading policy?” He gives a little shrug. “That’s not a rumor I’d heard.”
“It’s just a guess on my part.”
Now Mike looks puzzled. “You’re launching a full investigation because of a guess?”
“No, it’s not,” he retorts.
Harvey’s eyes flicker up, because he didn’t expect Mike to call him on that. He studies Mike, the quiet intelligence in those blue eyes.
“No,” he admits, “it’s not.” There’s no avoiding the truth anymore, and it comes as an inexplicable relief to be honest with Mike. “The investigation was about certain sexual harassment claims.”
“So those finally caught up with him?”
Mike’s not surprised, and Harvey feels a brief rush of anger that this place has stolen his innocence so damn fast.
“Not quite. I finished my investigation, turns out there’s nothing that would be considered a fireable offense.”
He wonders if he’ll have to spell it out, but Mike’s eyes widen as he grasps the strategy at once. “Whoa.”
“So I’d really appreciate it if you could take a look around, just see if there’s anything that stands out—”
“I did it first time you asked,” Mike cuts him off. “He’s been breaking the internal 9 million limit for months. I don’t actually think they’re illegal trades . . .”
“But they’re against policy,” Harvey finishes, fighting a grin, “which is enough to fire him for.”
Tucking the Journal under his arm, he turns and starts to walk away, but Mike calls, “Hey!”
Mike puts his hands in his pockets sheepishly. “This is how I know you weren’t born this way.”
“Hey, kid, come by around 10 tonight.” Charles hangs up before Harvey can answer.
It’s Saturday, his official day off. He hesitates and then heads to his closet to pick out clothes.
Right at 9:55 he’s riding up in Charles’s glass elevator, dressed in a smart suit without the tie, unsure of what to expect. He might be walking into an off-the-record board meeting, a one-on-one conversation—
Or a rave.
Charles greets him right by the elevator doors, pressed too close to him by the throngs of dancers around them.
“Harvey—” Charles steers him through the crowds, placing a hand on the small of his back— “I’ve got a good person for you to meet.”
He leads Harvey to a young woman, all bright eyes and sharp angles. “Holly Cromwell, Harvey Specter.”
“A pleasure to meet you.” She reaches out for a surprisingly firm handshake, and Charles’s smile widens.
He leans in, close enough for Harvey to smell the sick-sweet apple brandy on his breath, and whispers, “Close her.”
Before Harvey can ascertain exactly what Charles has in mind, he’s gone.
Harvey invites her back to the personal elevator; most people don’t know, but Charles owns the floor below this one too. He leads her down, into a luxurious study done up in dark woods and black leather, the music from upstairs floating through the floorboards.
He knows his way around this place, moving directly to the liquor cabinet as she takes a seat. He pulls out the Macallan 25 and pours them two glasses.
“Why does he do this?” Holly asks.
“I’m going to need you to be more specific.”
“The parties. You can’t tell me he actually likes them.”
“He likes what he sees at them.”
“Bad deeds make for good blackmail material?”
“All this—” he gestures upwards— “was going to happen no matter what. Might as well happen right under his nose.”
A spark’s in her eye; he settles down on a sofa by her chair and starts the conversation. Turns out she’s a fresh grad from Wharton whom the bank’s trying to recruit for the front office. There’s something performative in how she carries herself and moves her hands, and Harvey is briefly reminded of another actress who knew too much.
Pushing that aside, Harvey does his best to close Holly with facts and flattery and logic. Yet after an hour and two more drinks, he remarks, “You’re still not convinced.”
“I want money, interesting work, and a fast track upwards. On all counts, Goldman’s doing better than you.”
“Then why haven’t you taken their offer?”
She runs a finger along the rim of her glass. “Call it a culture thing.”
Harvey takes a slow sip of his scotch, watching her closely, buying time.
She lays a hand on his.
He pulls his hand back and turns around to see Mike frozen in the elevator. After a tense moment, he steps out into the study. “I was looking for you.”
“Does Charles want me?” Harvey puts down his glass and prepares to get up—
“No. Just me. I wanted to talk.”
Harvey glances back at Holly, who’s watching them both curiously. Harvey can see her conclusions the heartbeat before she reaches them.
“Holly and I were heading up.” He throws a salacious smile back at her. “She’d like to see our brand of fun.”
He rises, plucking the bottle off the table and returning it to its mahogany cabinet; Holly follows him back into the elevator while Mike stays, watching him go with an oddly stunned look.
Once the elevator doors slide shut, Holly observes, “He’s cute.”
Blame it on the alcohol.
They reemerge into the booming chaos; Harvey counts three distinct forms of criminal activity in his first thirty seconds. Holly’s eyes are sparkling at the spectacle, and he leads her to the poker table. “You got cash?”
“You can bet your clothes too, if it helps.” He grins down at her as she takes her seat. “Have fun.”
“I most certainly will.”
He slips back into the crowd before Charles can catch his eye, back to the elevator, back to the floor below. When he returns, stumbling slightly as he exits the elevator, he can’t find Mike.
“Coming!” Mike hurries back in. “Sorry, I was just looking around. It’s amazing how rich people live.”
Harvey returns to the Macallan. “You aren’t rich people now?”
“I guess I am, but, um. I’ve been giving most of my money to charity. Programs for disadvantaged youth, orphanages, things like that.” There’s a story there, but Mike seems in no hurry to tell it. “How about you?”
He shrugs, drifting over to a floor-to-ceiling window nearby, a wide pane of glass looking out at the whole glittering city. “I’m going to have this, one day. The penthouse. The view. All the money I want for suits and old records and older scotch.”
Harvey turns around and takes a good look at Mike, expecting to see judgement. Instead, Mike's eyes are wide, glistening in the darkness.
He murmurs, “What more can I ever get?”
Harvey shifts in his chair, looking around at the chrome and black marble and abstract art lining the walls of the office. There’s a boom behind him, and he whips his head around. Charles has just shut the heavy doors, arriving ten minutes late to a meeting he set.
“You know you’re really channeling Gordon Gekko pretty hard here, right?”
“Nah,” he chides, “I don’t have that window washer ruining my clean lines.”
Harvey pastes on his trademark smirk. Still, there’s no real confidence to support it, not in this den where Charles might snap his fingers and have a hitman shoot Harvey in the head. He could probably get all the furniture and police records cleaned in an hour flat.
“So—” Charles snaps Harvey from his reverie— “you’ve been busy. Lots of acquisitions, and good work on that thing with Mark.”
“I aim to please.”
He’s looking up at Charles, who still hasn’t sat down, instead standing with an elbow crooked and rested on his own chair.
“And you can be forgiven—” Charles grandly waves the other hand— “if you’re not all caught up on the big issue.”
Harvey covers as smoothly as he can. “Fill me in.”
“Well, we’ve been hearing rumbling from DOJ antitrust guys. Seem to think we’re running some kinda cross-sector price-fixing scheme.”
“What are we doing about it?” Charles raises his eyebrows, and Harvey sighs. “Of course. Internal investigation.”
“And I knew you were busy, so I gave it to Sal. He thinks we can pin everything on one guy.”
“Yeah. We’ll fire him now, turn him in later if we need to.”
Business as usual.
“The guy in question is—” Charles rifles through a legal pad on his desk— “Michael James Ross.”
Charles keeps his office warm— he always runs cold— and Harvey’s suit is too damn hot for summer, and yet he’s acutely aware of ice in his veins.
“Bad call,” he says.
Charles cocks an eyebrow, idly fiddling with a Montblanc pen. “Yeah?”
“Yeah,” Harvey says, pressing forward in his chair, voice rising as he strains to piece together an argument. “He’s one of the best junior traders.”
“May I call your attention to ‘junior’?”
“I’m just saying, pick a different scapegoat.”
“Who the hell looks as guilty and is actually worth less?”
“He’s worth the two of us combined!”
He regrets the outburst, even before Charles tips his head to the side and asks, “Are you offering?”
Is he offering?
“What have I got to lose?”
At once, Charles starts chuckling. Low and rich and chilling, his laugh fills the whole office.
“You know what? I’m going to match Goldman’s offer.”
Goldman’s offer? “What, for Holly—”
“Damn right. God knows how I missed it, but she’s the one who called you . . . and Mike.”
“Let me guess,” he groans. “There’s no internal investigation.”
His smirk widens as Harvey catches on. “Too late, kid. You fell for the same trick twice.”
This is Charles’s game. He baits Harvey into confirming his speculation, and he does it by threatening the people Harvey cares most about. He did it with the Dupont case and Cameron Dennis, and now—
“I never slept with him.”
“I don’t care if you eloped in goddamn Vermont,” Charles retorts, jabbing at him with the pen. “The point is that you’re weak for him.”
Harvey wants to leap out of his seat and fight back, swear up and down that he doesn’t give a damn about Mike Ross, but the awful truth comes crashing down that that’s a lie.
And Charles Forstman figured it out before he did.
“What do you care?” he says.
“I made up the investigation,” Charles admits, “but not the price-fixing rumors. And I, for one, would have no problem sacrificing Mike Ross to the DOJ.”
“What do you want from me?” Harvey murmurs, his eyes growing dull.
“You went out of bounds on the sexual harassment case.” Charles leans forward now, hands on his desk, towering over Harvey. “You looked some place you weren’t supposed to. There’s only one guy who knows all the ins and outs of this bank, and that’s me. Not you.”
“I was trying to do my job,” he says, but it’s weak, his voice is hoarse.
“You went out of bounds. My bounds,” Charles snarls. “And you seem to have forgotten that I already have Marcus’s throat in my fist, so here’s a reminder. You make one wrong step, and Mike Ross is gone.”
Harvey has a thousand things to say, but his lungs are tightening up and throttling him, and he’s shaking apart under Charles’s sneer, and his heart hurts.
Harvey’s sagging against the door of his bathroom stall, fighting nausea, his legs threatening to crumble below him as a new world order comes crashing down.
He’s trapped in a web of his own design— though Charles would no doubt like to take credit— and he’s tied up Marcus at the center, and now Mike. Part of him says Mike is guilty of insider trading, that should count for something, but stacked up against everyone else in Charles’s hell pit Mike is kind and good. Innocent.
He realizes all this with bizarre detachment, as if considering it from a distance. He’s already floating in another life, just waiting for his body to catch up.
He grabs onto his PalmPilot and finds he’s just been summoned for a new assignment.
He reports for duty and is told to handle the goddamn DOJ antitrust lawyers, at whatever cost.
He starts researching the opposition and latches onto a familiar name— Andrew Malik. A quick call back to the DA’s office reveals that Andrew left it for the DOJ under unusual circumstances, earlier than he ought to have, and Harvey starts to spin conjectures. In all likelihood Andrew got caught doing something underhanded, Cameron kicked him out and he jumped to the DOJ by pulling some convenient connection.
So Harvey invites Andrew to the office and arranges dinner reservations, hotel reservations, the nicest of everything for his trip up from DC; hell, he thinks he might even be able to snag a jet for the return flight. He’ll dazzle Andrew with style and gloss over the substance.
It’s getting easy for him.
“Good to see you again, Andy.”
“You remember me?”
“How could I not? You worked three doors down from me.”
Harvey’s met Andrew down in the office lobby, ahead of a meeting to discuss possible cooperation with the DOJ. There’s no suits filed yet, no explicit accusations, and yet he’s sensing an unexpected layer of hostility—
“Here I thought you only had eyes for Cameron Dennis.”
“Oh, come on,” Andrew scoffs. “I knew what was up with you two. Always in each other’s offices, always sneaking out for drinks. He was cut up when you left. Like he really loved you.”
Harvey focuses too long on the curl of Andrew’s lip. “Whatever you’re implying, it never happened.”
“And I bet you didn’t know about the buried evidence either, huh?” Andrew sees Harvey’s surprise and misinterprets it. “Yeah, I figured out what you two were up to. How do you think I snuck out to the DOJ before my time was done?”
Panic swells in Harvey’s throat, but he ignores it, he’s got no time for it. He’s got to reevaluate his whole strategy now. He thought Cameron dropped Andrew for unethical behavior, but it could just be the other way around— isn’t that another hit to the fundaments of Harvey’s life— and that means he can’t just rely on schmoozing Andrew, one dirty lawyer to another. If he tries wining and dining him, he’ll get slapped with a felony for bribing a public servant.
He’ll completely deserve it.
“Why are you here?” Harvey takes up a smirk of his own. “You know I’m not actually going to cooperate, right?”
“I wanted to give you a chance to redeem yourself.”
He snorts. “You gave up on me a long time ago. What’s the real reason?”
Andrew gives him a shrug, feigning indifference, but Harvey sees through the act.
“You came calling,” he says. “I was interested.”
Harvey’s not interested, but he’s seen the hard evidence, and even Charles’s version of events is damning for their side. He can’t win this— or at least he shouldn’t— on its merits, so he’s got to turn to extralegal methods. He already came to terms with bribery.
He doesn’t know why his new plan feels so much worse.
Keenly aware of every muscle in his face, how his tongue darts out to wet his lips, how his eyes flicker down just for one suggestive second, Harvey lowers his voice and asks, “Why don’t I give you what you really want?”
He just closed Andrew Malik.
“You’re blackmailing a public servant.”
“And you’re free to hit me with charges. Just know that I will send the recordings to every news organization and tabloid and potential employer out there, and you will never show your face in D.C. again.”
His plan's a roaring success. Harvey can’t bring himself to get out of bed the morning afterwards.
Another damn party.
Harvey nearly doesn’t show, but he’s never going to break the hold Charles has on him. So he comes, and pays his respects by the poker table where Charles is currently holding court, and talks his way out of playing himself— “I’ve only got two grand on me, not enough for any real fun”— and slips away before Charles offers to fund him himself.
He slips out a glass door to the balcony. He looks down at the cars shoving their way around each other, honking and flashing their headlights. He exchanges that for looking up at the sky.
There aren’t as many stars as there used to be. He remembers coming up to the Big Apple with his dad and riding up to the top of some tall building and staring up at the night sky, pointing out constellations— “See, that’s Lyra, right in the middle.” Harvey can still pick out a few, though light and air pollution’s blocking plenty out. There’s Pegasus, the winged horse that some guy rode right up to Olympus.
Harvey’s struck by a thought of touching the stars, jumping out to gather them right up by the million and put them in his pocket, and he’s leaning out over the balcony, getting closer and closer. It’s one light leap up to heaven.
What could it hurt?
Harvey pulls back, because he knows who it is without even turning around. He feels his presence there, warm and steadying.
“How’d you get Malik to back off?”
He sounds genuinely curious. The one person who still asks questions he doesn’t know the answer to.
Harvey can’t answer.
“Are you okay?”
Another impossible question.
Mike steps forward, rests his hand on the back of Harvey’s neck, and it’s all Harvey can do not to shatter at the gentle touch.
Harvey angles his head to the side, though he still can’t look straight at Mike. “Forget about me,” he says.
Mike starts chuckling, and Harvey’s surprised enough to turn around.
“Harvey,” Mike says with a look that’s teasing and yet soft, “I can’t do that. Not as long as I live.”
Harvey sees him considering something more.
“I’m going to go inside,” Mike finally says, “to get something, but then I’m coming back out to you.”
“Promise?” He means for it to sound like a joke.
Mike gives him a small smile that’s wholly serious. “Promise.”
Harvey waits, looking back at the stars, now keeping a safe distance from the edge. He rediscovers the two parts of Serpens, Caput and Cauda.
“Back,” Mike announces a few minutes later. “Brought you something, too.”
He’s holding a joint. Harvey looks up with a raised eyebrow and a smirk.
“Remember Trevor?” Mike explains, “This is the business he associates with.”
Then Mike expertly brings the joint to his mouth and lights it, and Harvey’s smirk goes rapidly from shocked to amused. More so when Mike takes a deep breath in and then hands it over to Harvey.
Harvey lifts it to his lips and inhales deep; it’s good stuff, though not too intense. He lets the serenity settle into him.
“I ever tell you about my parents?” Mike breaks the silence.
“I think you know the answer to that.”
“They were adorable, like out of a movie. Celebrated everything. One night, they go out on the anniversary of their first date, and they don’t come back. Drunk driver hit them. Look, this is all to say that I lived a life surrounded by people, but I know what it's like to be totally alone.”
“Wow,” Harvey says, “your stoned is depressing.”
Still, he’s mesmerized by how the lights in the buildings around them are all blinking on and off, glowing golden around Mike’s head like the archangel he’s named for.
“What can I say?” Mike shrugs. “It’s been a tough week for both of us.”
Mike blinks and tries to frown, but he can’t focus well enough for it. “Got a . . .” He trails off and takes a second to rediscover English: “Got an assignment to finish. Messier than I thought. I got emotionally entangled.”
They stay that way, passing the joint back and forth until it’s nearly all burnt up.
“You want some of the end?” Mike says.
“Sure.” He reaches out and sputters incoherently as Mike takes the hit himself.
But Mike’s eyes light up with glee, and suddenly he’s leaning in close, and Harvey closes his eyes and opens his mouth and lets the white fog float from Mike’s lips past his own. He leans in too, straining to meet Mike in a kiss—
Guilt starts to poke past the calm of the high; why did he think Mike wanted that, why did he think he’d be worthy of Mike?
Mike cups Harvey’s face softly with his other hand and whispers, “Not like this.”
That night Harvey turns up his AC and curls up in his blankets, cocooning his body in warmth even as he breathes in the cool air. Faster than he has in months, he floats off to sleep.
His phone wakes him up in the morning. There’s a text from some unknown number: Get down to the office. He calls back and receives no response.
With a groan, he drags himself out of bed, dresses in one of his impeccable suits, and calls a cab. When he reaches the office, a man in a suit that’s far too dark and formal for summer approaches him.
“Can I help you?” he says curtly.
“I think you already have,” he replies. “I’m Sean Cahill, with the SEC. I want you to come in for questioning.”
“You got a warrant?” Harvey barks.
He’s distracted by Sal, one of the bank’s other lawyers, yelling at the top of his lungs as a mousy bald man with glasses leads him out the main doors of the building in handcuffs.
“No,” Sean replies after glancing at the spectacle. “Not for you.”
“I can’t help you. Can’t break privilege.”
“Unless you were asked to help commit or cover up criminal activity.”
“. . . The crime-fraud exception.”
“Yeah. So you tell me,” Sean says, his steel-blue eyes surprisingly earnest. “Are you going to help us?”
Harvey looks up at the skyscraper, up to the seventieth floor where Charles is probably lounging right now on his ill-gotten throne. “I’d want some assurances.”
“Come down the station and we’ll talk it over,” Sean says as a car pulls up for them.
Sean leads him to a grim interrogation room, all gray cement and and mirrors, and Harvey sits down on one side of the table while Sean sits on the other.
“I think,” Sean says cautiously, “that we’re on the same side of this.”
“What makes you think that?”
“You’re no fan of Charles Forstman. And from what I hear, you’ve been trying to do good things inside a rotten organization.”
“Yeah?” Harvey scoffs in spite of himself. “And who’s your source?”
He doesn’t expect a straight answer, but Sean says, “My protege. Let me see if he’s made it back to the office yet.”
He gets up, opens the door and smiles. “Hey, you, get in here.”
In walks Mike Ross.
He shoots a smile at Harvey before reporting to Cahill. “Hey, we got the, um—“ He passes over a note. “And also the—“ He passes over an entire stack of files.
Sean gives him a nod of approval. “Good, now fill in your friend here.”
Harvey can’t stop his eyes from welling up. He ought to feel scared, scared and betrayed and used. All he feels is relief.
“So,” Mike says briskly, sitting down at the table, “Harvey, you’ve already been really helpful in the SEC’s investigation of Charles Forstman and his . . . business associates.”
Mike’s eyes twinkle, almost as if he foresaw the question, and he launches into a speech, counting off his points on his fingers. “You warned me early on that there was in fact shady behavior going on and that I should turn away, which served as early evidence that this investigation was worth our time. You informed me about legally questionable off-the-book policies. You helped me search Forstman’s personal residence. You gave me the access to the bank’s trading database, and reasonable cover for looking through it. Finally— this isn’t for the SEC, but it’s still worth mentioning— you worked with me to identify a sexual predator within the bank and kick him out.”
“I did,” Harvey says cautiously, because Mike’s entire speech is technically sound. “I did do all that.”
“And at this point, to be perfectly frank with you, I have absolutely no proof that you’ve personally committed any specific crime.”
Harvey’s eyes are locked on Mike, and he immediately understands why the marijuana doesn’t count; they’d both be equally screwed.
“But,” Sean breaks in, the counterpart to Mike’s good cop, “I bet we could find proof if we go ask everyone else in this facility right now.”
“We don’t want to,” Mike says, leaning forward with his elbows on the table, voice tinged with pleading. “We don’t want to pit everyone else against each other and give out a bunch of plea deals. But you and me, Harvey? You’ve been looking places you shouldn’t too. Between just the two of us, we can bring Forstman down forever.”
Harvey wants to believe, god knows he does. “But I don’t have the financial records, and unless you printed out the contents of the database—“
“Don’t need to,” Mike cuts in. “I have near-perfect recall. I read through the database once, and I came over here that night and recreated it all.”
“Oh, my god.” The words slip out of Harvey’s mouth, suffused with awe.
“So,” Mike continues, now a little smug, “if you come help us, we can knock this thing out of the park.”
Harvey sits back in his chair and takes a second just to wonder at Mike, so mature and well-spoken and still so good.
“You already know the only issue I have with this arrangement.”
Mike nods. “Forstman has something on you.”
“Not just me. A family member who doesn’t even know who Charles Forstman is,” he spits.
“Whatever he has,” Sean says, “are we talking about physical violence?”
“Then we’ll work something out.”
“I need details,” Harvey informs them.
“We have to negotiate those, and we brought in your lawyer to represent you,” Mike pipes up, opening the door again.
Harvey does a double take. “My lawyer?”
“Unless you think you can do better.”
That’s Jessica Pearson standing in the doorway, tall and luminous in a white column dress.
Mike looks at Harvey’s face and smiles beatifically. “We’ll let you two talk it out.”
Harvey tries to keep it together, to dispassionately walk Jessica through his time with Forstman, how he took the entire New York Penal Code out for a test drive, but he can’t stop the tears from dropping until he finally breaks down and cries. After a minute, Jessica reaches out across the metal table to hold his hand, with enough grace that he might not be condemned to eternal embarrassment for taking it.
Mike drafts the immunity deal, and Harvey signs it in a matter of hours.
That afternoon Charles Forstman is arrested. Mike predicts that, with the evidence he and Harvey cobble together over the following hours, no judge in the city will grant him bail or let him out of prison ever again.
Jessica stays for hours, sorting through the paperwork, giving Harvey and Mike suggestions on how to use their evidence most effectively, and making doubly sure that neither Harvey nor Marcus can be prosecuted for Forstman-related crimes. When she heads out at ten that night, Harvey writes her a check on the spot. She takes it, but not before whispering a job offer in his ear.
Harvey’s been smiling for hours at the sheer joy of bringing down Charles Forstman through purely legal means, but now his grin grows brighter. “You would still—”
“Yes. But not unless you drop some of your bad habits.” She glances behind him, where Mike and Sean are still poring over files.
Harvey recoils like he’s been burned. “I’m not leaving Mike.”
She gives him a look. “I meant the illegality.” She looks at Mike, then back at Harvey, reconsidering their connection. Finally she shrugs. “Keep the kid. He makes you better.”
“Want to grab a bite?” Mike pokes Harvey a little past twelve, and he looks up from his files.
“Is Sean coming too?”
“No, he went home already. It’s only my job to stay up all night,” he laughs, like it’s not really a hardship for him.
He agrees, so Mike leads him out of the office and down a couple blocks to a greasy little diner that’s open all night, and they hop up on the squeaky high stools and order two of the blue-plate specials, which Mike swears are the best burgers in the city. It’s an objectively ridiculous claim, but still Harvey believes him.
(They are in fact incredible.)
“So,” Harvey says casually, “how much of the stuff you said to me was a lie?”
“None of it, not until I told Sean I didn’t know about the, uh—” he mimes smoking a joint. “Everything was true, at least on a technicality.”
“Huh. So how’d you meet Sean in the first place?”
Mikw winces. “Look, the SEC would murder me if I gave you the details on that, but let’s just say Trevor facilitated that meeting as well.” He chuckles as Harvey’s eyebrows spring up. “It’s nowhere near as bad as you’re thinking, and also much, much worse.”
“And how’d you get past Charles at the interview?”
“Pretended I had inside info. Actually,” he says while stealing Harvey’s biggest onion ring, “I’m just really good at analyzing markets.”
“And you’re a lawyer too?”
“Nope. I’m finishing my bachelor’s this summer, and starting law school in the fall.”
“And yet you’re working as a SEC secret agent on the side,” Harvey deadpans.
“They made the position for me.” He shrugs. “I’m kind of a special case.”
They talk a bit more about their plans, how Mike’s heading to Columbia in the fall and Harvey’s going to Gordon, Schmidt and Van Dyke as soon as he can pass their drug test. “It’ll be Pearson Specter in a decade, just you wait.”
They pay and walk back outside, and even as he keeps up his side of the banter Harvey gazes at Mike. He’s been staring at him on and off all day— maybe all summer— but for the first time Mike seems to notice. “What?”
“Forstman didn’t just threaten me and Marcus. He went after you, too.” Smirking at the irony, he adds, “Said he’d turn you in to law enforcement.”
Mike’s jaw drops in horror. “Jesus, Harvey, I’m so sorry—”
“But I’m not,” Harvey exclaims, trying to reassure him. “I thought you were worth it, I couldn’t explain why, but I—”
He cuts himself off.
“You what?” Mike says gently.
“Does it happen like this?”
Mike’s eyes light up. “If you want.”
So Harvey lifts his hands to cradle Mike’s face, and brings him close, and kisses him on the pavement because he’s got nothing left to hide. “Thank you.”
Mike’s smiling so hard, raising his own hands up to dry Harvey’s cheeks. “Come on, we’ve got more cases to build. Best party of the summer, right?”
Harvey nods and follows him back into the office. The work will take them through to dawn.