Despite what the associates and junior partners might say about him behind his back, there are times when even Harvey Specter puts his personal life on hold for Pearson Hardman. A slander case involving an old colleague from Harvey's days under Cameron Dennis definitely qualifies, and Harvey will never question the necessity of these extra hours, nor think of them in terms of billable hours.
“How late are you staying?” Donna asks as he walks past her desk. “Shouldn't you be holed up in your condo with an old movie and a glass of bourbon by now?”
It's almost eight o'clock on a Friday. And it may be that the sky's not completely dark yet at this time of night during the summer, but even the associates with the deepest ass-kissing streaks have left, gone home or gone out to prove to themselves or friends that work does not own them. It doesn't own Harvey, either—he's made a point to get his shit done efficiently and effectively, allowing him to have the luxury of a personal life—but this is a special case. John Worthington deserves every bit of knowledge, strategy, and persuasion Harvey can wield, and he's going to get it, even if it means a few late nights and canceled plans.
“Shouldn't you have been home with some romance novel with Fabio on the cover nearly two hours ago?” Harvey counters.
Donna just smirks at him. “The only thing I've ever enjoyed involving that man was that clip of him getting a goose to the face on that roller coaster. Now I suggest you get back into that office before that poor puppy of yours starts gnawing on the furniture.”
Harvey glances through the glass of his office, watching Mike highlight briefs as he hunches over, one leg bouncing, with excess irritation or a desire to get the hell out of work for the week, Harvey doesn't know. “Maybe it's time for dinner.”
“You think?” When Harvey makes a face at her, Donna only shrugs. “Whether it's Pearson Hardman or you, personally, Harvey, someone's buying me truffle french fries and Kobe beef.” She reaches into her desk and retrieves a delivery menu to some gourmet burger joint Harvey's never heard of. “You in?”
“I had something else in mind,” Harvey says, shaking his head. “I'll order it myself.”
“You sure you can handle that without my help?”
“Funny. Order your own food and get back to those emails.”
Donna gives him a little mock-salute, already scanning over the menu in her hand, and Harvey shakes his head and re-enters his office. Mike's so absorbed in what he's doing, he doesn't even look up, even when Harvey stands there, waiting expectantly for a moment. “Hey,” Harvey says a bit sharply, watching the kid jump like something's just bitten him. Mike looks up, guilt etched over the exhaustion on his face, the cap to the highlighter still in his mouth. “Put that down for a second. You have an important decision to make.”
“If it's about whether or not we contact Troy McLandis about the--”
“No,” Harvey says, cutting him off and fixing him with a look. “Dinner.”
“What. Do you want. For dinner?”
Mike's eyes widen and he gives Harvey this look like someone's just told him that the Yankees made the World Series, and he's got tickets. “I could do food.”
“I know you could. You've been here for twelve hours and had nothing but a Snickers bar, a Red Bull, and a bag of mini pretzels.”
“But how do you know that's—? I mean, hey, I eat real food. I was just—”
“Busy. I know. We all have been.” Harvey gives him a half-smile. He appreciates the work the kid does—it's quality, and there's no denying his eye for detail and flawless recall have saved Harvey's ass at least once since he's started here...not that Harvey's going to admit that aloud. But he's really throwing himself into this one, as if it matters to him (and it probably does on some level, now that Harvey thinks about it) that it's a case that's so important to Harvey, on a personal level, in addition to the professional one. “But forget about the case for ten seconds. What do you want from La Vitalità?”
“Italian?” Mike asks, frowning a little.
“Not just Italian, Mike. That's like saying Babe Ruth was just some guy who played baseball. This is the best Italian you're going to find outside of Italy. Now,” he says, sliding his phone out of his pocket and waggling it in front of him to get the point across. “Tell me what you want, or you're stuck with whatever I order for you.”
“Pizza,” is Mike's quick reply. “Just pizza. Extra cheese, regular sauce, pepperoni and maybe sausage and onions and black olives.”
Harvey just stares at him. It's like someone has just ripped out a little piece of his soul. “I tell you this is the best Italian place in the city, and you order pizza? Try again. An actual dish this time.”
Mike sighs. “Fine. Spaghetti.” When Harvey narrows his eyes, Mike looks defensive. “Look, I just want something safe, all right? Something simple I know will be good. Besides, you can tell a lot about quality by judging the fundamentals, and spaghetti sauce is one of those things that has a massive range of quality. All right?”
“I'll let it slide this time, on that argument. Next time, you're branching out.” Harvey wanders over to his desk and places the order with Isabella, the hostess and daughter of the restaurant's owners—his usual order, plus a plate of their spaghetti and legendary meatballs, and a Coke. He almost asks if they carry Red Bull, looking over at Mike, who's back to highlighting things again, but decides against it. The last thing he needs is his associate buzzing around the office and talking his ear off. Mike may be able to read and still absorb information while people are talking and moving around, but Harvey prefers quiet for this sort of thing. A record playing in the background is one thing—perfect, even—but a twenty-something rambling on about the latest episode of whatever reality show is popular at the moment is quite the opposite. Mike can make do with soda. Really, he's lucky Harvey didn't just order him another bottle of mineral water.
“Hey, Harvey?” Donna pops her head in to the office without knocking. She uses the intercom during business hours, but that's for appearances. He told her years ago that she's exempt from the general rule that keeps this his private, totally-off-limits-without-explicit-permission space, and she's never once overstepped any bounds. He trusts her implicitly, knowing it's much more than a professional working relationship they have, and that she's just as fond of their friendship as he is. She's his eyes and ears within the firm, his go-to for everything from supplying him with coffee when he doesn't have time to stop to opinions on which tie is best to wear for closing arguments on important cases to other things she seems to have answers on before he knows which question to ask. “My food will be here in thirty. I'm going to run down to the lobby and sweet-talk the guard on duty into letting the delivery driver up here, before I go harass one of the IT guys about not fixing my monitor by five, like he said he would. Want me to have him let your food on up, too?”
“You're still here?” Mike interjects before Harvey can respond. “I thought I was the only one he kept this late.”
Donna raises her eyebrows at the kid. “Bossman says 'work', I work. I'm just grateful he unchained my ankle from the desk so I can use the ladies' room now and then. If I'm good, maybe he'll let me go home before sunrise.”
“Donna volunteered, Mike,” Harvey says, rolling his eyes.
“Only because it's John Worthington,” she clarifies. “And because it's you I'm helping. Louis tried to tell me tonight that if I were his secretary, he'd never make me stay this late, and he'd make sure I knew how appreciated my work was.”
“Oh? What'd you tell him?”
“I told him that Norma shared with me what he'd given her for Christmas last year as his way of saying thank you, and that I felt my services were best put to use in my current position. I wish I'd taken a picture of his expression for you before he scurried off towards the elevator. Priceless.”
“Do that next time. Frame it for me. I'll put it on my desk.”
Donna grins. “And that's your Christmas present this year taken care of.” She adjusts the hem of her blouse and the way her hair falls over her shoulders. “And now, if you gentlemen will excuse me, I'm off to sweet-talk the night guard and put the fear of God into some little computer geek. Back soon!”
Harvey watches her walk away, smiling to himself. If she ever got a mind to do it, she could have half the population of New York – of the entire world – around her little finger. Somehow, she's content to settle for being the support behind him, ready to help take him take over the world with only a word.
“She's totally going to break Ben, isn't she?” Mike asks, watching her go. “Benjamin. The IT guy,” he explains, when Harvey raises his eyebrows. “Too bad we can't watch that. He's kind of a dick.”
Harvey shakes his head and slips into his chair, pulling the file he'd been going through earlier toward him. The employment history of one of the journalists involved in the slander case. Not exactly riviting reading material. But it has to be done, and Mike's doing the task he's most needed on right now. There are a million small, tedious things to do in a case like this, and if Harvey ever thought being a lawyer—even a senior partner in a respectable, powerful firm like Pearson Hardman's become—was going to be nothing but glory and fun and charming the hell out of jurors and judges, it's nights like tonight that stomped all over that little fantasy.
Two figures approach Harvey's office a little while later, and Harvey looks up when one knocks on the door. He recognizes Lenny, one of the two regular late-night delivery drivers from La Vitalità. The other one must be for Donna, who's not yet back at her desk. Sighing, Harvey gets up and signs for both deliveries, setting the bag of Italian near Mike's feet—one of the few places without files or reference books scattered around—and placing both the large drink and the small brown bag with Donna's food on her desk.
“Oh my God,” Mike moans as Harvey walks back inside his office. “This stuff smells amazing.” Without even asking, he drops his work and rumages through the plastic bag, pulling out a round aluminum container with a plastic lid. “Looks like yours. Some sort of pasta with cream sauce and...shrimp, I think.”
Harvey snags the container from Mike's hand. “You get even a molecule of food or drink on any of this....”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm not going to use the briefs as a napkin or anything, geez.” Mike removes the smaller paper bag containing their drinks from the plastic one, sets it down, and pulls out another container with bread and smaller containers of pesto, marinara, and diced tomatoes and spices in olive oil. “That's all you, too.” He removes the last container from the bag, his face lighting up. “Ah, finally.” With no hesitation whatsoever, he uncrimps the aluminum edging of his bowl and removes the lid, breathing deeply. “Is it wrong to love this spaghetti so much I want to marry it right now?”
“La Vitalità's food is good, Mike, but clearly, you need to start eating more than vending machine fare during the day. I think your body is starting to cannibalize your brain. Just move your work out of the way, eat, and get back to it, all right? This stuff's best hot, and we've still got a lot of work to do.” Harvey takes his food and his bottle of mineral water to his desk and sits. He allows himself a moment to close his eyes and savor his lobster fettuccini, rich and creamy without being greasy and too heavy, before he pulls the file in front of him and resumes work, ignoring his own instructions to not eat near anything important.
It's maybe two minutes later when Mike clears his throat loudly. Harvey cringes, but doesn't look up, not wanting to lose his place. “What do you want?”
“Nothing, sorry. Throat just tickles.” Mike clears it again, much quieter, and Harvey hears the hiss of escaping carbonation as Mike opens his bottle of Coke. “Don't worry—if I needed you for something, I'd use words.”
“Good. There's subtlety, and then there are annoying, impolite ways of getting someone's attention. Keep them straight.” He stares at the page in front of him and frowns. Lost his place after all. Pursing his lips, he starts again, three large paragraphs up, intent on ignoring absolutely everything but the file on his desk. Even his food can wait for a few minutes, even if it is softly chanting his name.
It's hard to focus, though. It's late, the pages he's reading are painfully dry and boring, and all Harvey really wants to do is give this supposed journalist (more like tabloid columnist) a good, old-fashioned smack-down and threaten him with more bodily and professional harm, if he doesn't stop making John Worthington's life hell. Mike's also fidgeting, making the leather of Harvey's sofa squeak as he moves around. At least he's coughing quietly into his fist, though even that's distracting, and Harvey finds himself wanting to shout at him to go find Donna and see if she has a cough drop. Clenching his jaw against the outburst, Harvey bows his head further and rereads another paragraph.
Harvey's concentration takes that interruption as its cue to slip away again, taking the last half-page of information with it. “What?” he asks, pushing himself away from his desk, frustrated more with the situation than with Mike's interruption. “What's so important?”
“I think...” Mike trails off, and it's only then that Harvey realizes that Mike sounds worried about something. “It's kinda hard to...”
Harvey looks over at his associate, an uneasy feeling replacing the hunger in his stomach. Mike's face is blotchy, and his tie is loosened, the first button of his shirt undone. His sleeves are unbuttoned and pushed up to almost his elbows, and Harvey can see welts on Mike's skin, along with what look like scratch marks. Now that Harvey's paying attention, he can hear the wheeze in Mike's breathing. “Mike? Hey. You okay?”
“I think I need to...” Mike says, standing and moving towards the door, but he doesn't finish saying whatever it is he thinks he needs. Instead, he stumbles, knocking over a stack of file boxes, sending it all crashing to the floor. Harvey sees Donna spin around in her chair outside at the noise, on her feet and through the door before Harvey's even completely around his own desk.
“Mike!” Mike's flat on his back on the floor, but he locks eyes with Harvey, even as he paws weakly at the collar of his shirt. There's no questioning the presence of wheezing now; it's in every breath, high-pitched and growing louder as Mike tries to take deep breaths. Harvey's frozen by the panic in Mike's eyes. He hits the floor beside his associate, not even caring if he ruins the knees of his pants, and one of Mike's hands clutches at him. It's the desperate, panicked touch that seems to short out Harvey's brain entirely. It's only Donna's sharp voice that snaps him out of it.
“Harvey! Nine-one-one!” she says, tossing her phone at him. It's already ringing. “You were here when he fell. You know what happened.” She crouches down at Mike's other side, and Harvey sees her furrowed brow as she takes a good look at the kid just as the operator picks up and asks what his emergency is. He watches the way Donna's eyes widen and she looks around the room as he relays the fact that someone's collapsed, having trouble breathing, but is still conscious. “La Vitalità's,” she mutters as Harvey tries to answer the series of questions being asked in his ear. “Fucking hell, Harvey.” She gets up with surprising speed. “Hold on, Mike,” Harvey can hear her say as she steps out of the office, and all he can think is that if Donna abandons him while Mike dies on the floor of his office, no fact in their shared history will keep him from firing her.
It can't have been more than sixty seconds since the operator picked up the phone call when Harvey hangs up, but it feels like hours. Mike's lips are slowly going blue, and Harvey stuffs a pillow from the sofa under Mike's legs, raising them like the operator instructed. Mike's lips are pursed, and it's obvious all his focus is on breathing, making Harvey wonder if he even remembers how to do CPR, if it comes to that. It can't come to that. “Stay with me, Mike. Ambulance will be here any second.” But Mike doesn't answer him. His eyes roll to the back of his head, making Harvey feel sick. But he's still wheezing, and that means at least he's not... Yeah. That.
“Move your ass, Harvey,” Donna demands as she re-enters his office taking long strides to reach them as fast as she can. She's not wearing her shoes, Harvey notices absently, moving out of the way as she plops onto the floor at Mike's other side. “Hang in there, Mike,” she murmurs, something in one fist, and then she makes a sudden, forceful movement, jabbing something into Mike's thigh. “Check his pulse,” she demands, rubbing at the spot she's just struck him. “My prescription and not his, but I don't think he can wait for the ambulance to get here before doing anything.”
“What is that?” Harvey asks, fingers at Mike's neck, trying to find his pulse point. It's there, and just that fact alone lets Harvey shove the panic away and reassert control over his brain. And then it clicks. He knows what that is, because she's shown it to him. It must be ten years ago, maybe longer, but he remembers that tube. “An EpiPen?”
“No, I go around stabbing all of your dying associates with magic markers. Of course it's an EpiPen. Why in the hell did you order him something with pesto meatballs in the first place?”
“What are you talking about? He picked the spaghetti!” This is hardly the time for an argument over something so stupid, but Harvey's feeling a little overwhelmed with his associate on the floor between them, unconscious and struggling to breathe. “It always comes with meatballs!”
“And the ones from La Vitalità are seasoned with pesto. You know that!”
“So? That's why they're so good.” He wants to smack himself for having this conversation when Mike should be his only concern. Harvey looks down and, though it's only been ten or fifteen seconds, it's obvious the EpiPen is working its magic. He lets out a shaky breath and rubs a hand over his face. Not out of the woods, but at least facing the right direction.
“The kid's allergic to pine nuts! For heaven's sake, Harvey, don't you talk to your puppy?”
“Of course I talk to him!” Harvey snaps, silently thanking the god that he doesn't entirely believe in that Mike's lips are changing back to pink from that terrifying blue color. “I'm sorry if medical history didn't come up as a topic of casual conversation! And what, now he talks to you? I thought he was scared of you.”
“I am,” comes the wheezed response from the floor, and both Harvey and Donna whip their heads down to look at him. “And not just because I think she stabbed me in the leg a minute ago.”
“Shut up and just breathe, kid,” Harvey says, one hand gripping Mike's wrist and giving it a light squeeze without him even thinking about it. He can feel Mike's pulse beating rapidly underneath his fingertips, probably a side effect of the epinephrine coursing through him, subduing his body's reaction to the allergen. “You can flatter Donna later by telling her how much she terrifies you.”
“Look who's suddenly over his panic and regained brain function,” Donna mutters, glaring at Harvey, who returns the look. But then she turns back to Mike, her face both reassuring and concerned, and Harvey wonders if she sees herself in Mike's shoes. He knows she's had one bad reaction in her life—she'd told him so the day she'd shown him the syringe of epinephrine and instructed him on what to do, if she'd been stung by a bee and was unable to do it herself—and he can't imagine that sort of thing is something you forget. “You have an anaphylaxis kit of your own, Mike?”
He shakes his head. “Never had a reaction like this before. Just some itching and puking.”
“First time for everything, huh?”
“Like being stabbed by my boss's secretary.” Mike clears his throat, and Harvey notices that his wheezing isn't even half as bad now. He's still a little blotchy, but even that's slowly fading. “You know, maybe it was the lack of oxygen, but you sort of looked like an angel. A beautiful, absolutely terrifying angel.”
“You say the sweetest things,” Donna says, ducking her head in mock embarrassment. “Now lie there quietly until the paramedics cart your ass off to the hospital. I'm going to go take the emergency half a Xanax I keep in my bag and call a cab home. I'd say I've earned myself the right to quit work for the evening. Back in a moment, boys.” She pats Mike's hand and gets up, heading for her desk.
“You couldn't have told me you were allergic to pine nuts?” Harvey asks when she's gone. He's fixating on it, because the last five minutes have handed him a number of lightning-quick realizations, but this is one thing he can still argue over. And if there's one thing that helps Harvey establish himself and get control of a situation, it's arguing, and winning.
“It's not a big deal,” Mike starts to say, but then he snorts laughter. The wheezing's almost entirely gone now—Harvey only hears it in that laugh. “Or it wasn't, before tonight. I've always just stayed away from them. It's why I don't get things with pesto sauce, or order salads with them. When I get Italian, I stick with safer things—pizza, spaghetti, maybe something alfredo.” He clears his throat and moves to sit up, but Harvey keeps him in place with a firm hand to his chest. He can feel Mike's heartbeat beneath his shirt, and it's definitely rapid, but it doesn't feel irregular, and Harvey allows himself to relax a fraction, telling himself that Mike's not going to suddenly die on him before the ambulance arrives or anything.
“Anything else seemingly innocent out there that might turn on you? You know, so I know before I accidentally kill you again? Cats? Flowers? Bees? Green minerals that start with a K?”
“Should I take that reference to Kryptonite to mean you think I'm as awesome as Superman?”
“Hardly.” Harvey hears the elevator ding, and a pair of EMTs appear as the doors open, guiding a stretcher towards his office as Donna points them this direction. “Cavalry's arrived.”
Mike rolls his eyes and tries to sit up again, once again blocked by Harvey's hand. “I'm fine.” But that's about all the argument he gets to make before Harvey gets out of the way and Mike's subjected to things like blood pressure readings, pulse counts, and an oxygen mask strapped to his face after he answers a couple of questions.
All in all, it takes virtually no time before they're carting Mike off on a stretcher, despite his protests. Donna answers a few questions and takes the lecture about not giving other people a prescription not tailored to them without clawing out the eyes of the paramedic, probably only stopped from doing so because of the reluctant admission that it could have saved Mike's life, or, at the very least, hadn't put him in more danger.
“Is one of you coming along?” the other paramedic asks Donna as his partner stops to adjust the oxygen tank between Mike's legs on the stretcher before continuing to the elevator.
“He is,” Donna says without hesitation. “He's just got to run and get Mike's bag first. Don't you, Harvey?” She doesn't even glance at Harvey, who can only stare at her. “It's all right for him to sit in the back of the ambulance with Mike, isn't it?” She gives that look Harvey knows so well—the one that makes so many people fall all over themselves, trying to help or impress her—and Harvey gives up and heads for Mike's desk. “He'll be out in front in just a second,” he hears her say as the paramedics pull Mike—who's still protesting the hospital visit—into the elevator.
Harvey turns. “What? I'm just getting his...” He trails off as she reaches down and picks up Mike's messenger bag from behind her desk. “Had that part planned, did you?”
“You're going to the hospital with him.” She fixes him with a look, and he knows this is an argument he won't win. “And do you know why?”
He thinks he might, one of those things that's suddenly been made clear in the last half-hour, even if he can't put it into words. “No. Why?”
“Because he wants you there.”
That isn't what he expects to hear. “Well, if it's a choice between you and me, I'd say that's not surprising, since you terrify him.”
Donna doesn't smile at that, and Harvey swallows hard. She's serious. “That's not what I mean, and you know it. But that's just ancillary to the fact that you want to be there for him. You can't tell me, after what happened tonight, that you don't feel something for him. Or are you still in denial, like you were about that thing with your mother?”
Harvey tenses, but takes the bag from her hands anyway, hitting the button for the elevator. “I'm not in denial.” No, that was cleared up very definitively for him this evening. There's nothing like seeing your associate stop fucking breathing on the floor of your office to make you realize that, holy shit, you have feelings for him. And if that didn't make him positive, then that flood of relief so great it nearly drowned him when he heard Mike's voice again had finished the job. He can still feel the way Mike had grabbed at him as Harvey’d knelt beside him on the ground.
“Good. Now get your ass down there and make sure your puppy's all right.”
He goes, unable to even say anything in response. It isn't until he's three floors down and adjusting his grip on Mike's bag that he notices his hands are shaking. It's not fear that Mike won't be okay that's the cause, either; it's the relief that he will be, and the knowledge that, no matter how well he's played off any feelings for Mike before this, it's going to be harder to do now.
– * –
The first work day after Mike nearly dies because of a damned meatball is not one of Harvey's best.
Mike strolls in Monday morning just as he always does, and Harvey sees Rachel intercept him out in the hall, handing him some piece of paper before walking away. There's no concern or smile on her face at all, despite Harvey being fairly sure that if there was anyone Mike had a friendship with in the firm, it was the paralegal. Then again, when Harvey had left the hospital Friday night, it had been at Mike's insistence that he was fine and that Harvey certainly didn't need to worry about him. The only thing he'd asked was that neither Harvey nor Donna tell anyone—even his grandmother—about what had happened. “It's stupid,” he'd said, yawning. “I have to sit here in a hospital gown for twelve hours while they make sure it doesn't flare up again, and when I get to work on Monday, everyone's going to give me shit for needing to be wheeled out of Pearson Hardman on a stretcher. Any sign of weakness with the other associates—or, fuck, with Louis—and I'll never live it down.” He'd looked at Harvey, eyes bright blue and desperate. “Promise you guys won't say anything. I mean, if Jessica has to know for liability purposes or whatever, that's out of your hands. But other than that, let's pretend this never happened, okay?”
Harvey had considered it. It might seem odd to some, to keep this as a dirty little secret, but Harvey knew perfectly well how cutthroat their world was, and Mike was right—there might be good-natured ribbing, but at least one person would store this information, using it to get to Mike in some way, to press their advantage when it served them best. “If that's what you want.” He'd stood and slung his jacket over his shoulder, unsure what the proper way to say goodbye was in this situation. Eventually, he'd just settled for putting his hand on Mike's shoulder, far less than he wanted to, deep down, but more than he might have done just yesterday. “Glad you're all right,” he'd said, pretending that he didn't notice when Mike tensed and held his breath, looking wary. “Get some rest.”
Harvey keeps his eye on Mike, picking up his phone and dialing the number to the county municipal office, knowing he'll be directed through several minutes of recorded messages. It's an old trick he doesn't use much these days, but it's always come in handy when he needs to be on the phone and can't risk Donna popping through on the intercom, giving him away. Mike stops at Donna's desk and, as far as Harvey can tell, not a thing is different about the way they interact. Harvey can see her look at the phone, then turn and glance at him once she sees line one lit up. Mike says something else to her and looks into the office, nearly catching Harvey watching. Donna takes another long look back at Harvey and, before she turns back to Mike, Harvey can see the look on her face. He's screwed, he knows it, and the way she only nods to Mike, sending him in, confirms his assessment.
“Donna says Ray'll be here in ten to drive us to the courthouse,” Mike whispers when Harvey finally waves him over, pretending to wrap up his conversation on the phone. Harvey nods and tries to look irritated. Actually, it doesn't take much acting. He's irritated as hell, but only because it's finally become impossible to ignore that he does actually care about Mike as more than a reflection of himself, and it breaks so many of his own damned rules that he's going to have to find a way to kick his own ass.
They make their way downstairs without much conversation, and Harvey's both surprised and grateful. The kid's always talking about something or other, or asking questions and storing the answers in that black box recorder of a brain, but he's strangely quiet today. Maybe he's just afraid Harvey's going to break his promise and bring up Friday night's events. Well, that, he doesn't have to worry about.
It's funny, but this time, Mike's doing exactly what Harvey's always wanted him to do—sit there, shut up, and look good—and Harvey can't stand the way it makes him feel. He feeds off of people, always has, and right now, Mike's not giving him anything. So when Judge Lindquist plows through through the proceedings, granting Harvey's request at speeds that probably has opposing counsel wondering if Harvey's bribed him somehow, Harvey just sort of sits there, unable to feel properly victorious.
He really hates having the rush of victory muted by something else.
Harvey's distracted enough during the ride back to the office that he doesn't even notice Mike compulsively clicking the top of his pen, playing with it and fidgeting like a kindergartener who's eaten a handful of Pixy Stix. That is, until Mike fumbles the pen and sends it flying practically in front of Harvey's face. “Sorry,” he mumbles, reaching across Harvey for it.
Without thinking, Harvey reaches out and catches Mike's wrist with one hand, picking up the pen with his other. His fingertips rest on the bare skin of Mike's inner wrist, positioned so that Harvey can feel the beat of Mike's heart as he holds him still. Mike freezes, his face inches from Harvey's knee, and Harvey quickly lets go, holding the pen out as Mike scrambles fully back into his seat. “Might try decaf next time,” Harvey says as mildly as possible. “Though I am appreciative you kept all of your fidgeting around out of the courtroom.”
“Uh, yeah,” Mike says, turning pink. “Sorry.”
Mike practically sprints into the building when Ray pulls up to the curb, and Harvey sighs. He hadn't meant to grab onto Mike like that, though it's hardly the first time they've ever had physical contact. But just the feeling of Mike's pulse beneath Harvey's fingers had hit him in some way, an echo of that relief and adrenaline at feeling the beat of his heart Friday night, assuring Harvey that Mike was alive.
“You all right, Harvey?” Ray asks after a moment, and Harvey realizes he's still standing there, holding the door open.
“Yeah. Sorry. Just thinking.”
“Too much of that's dangerous, you know.”
Harvey laughs and gets out of the car, straightening his jacket. “Yeah, I do. Thanks, Ray.” By the time he reaches the office, he's shaken off whatever's been bothering him. “A little quicker than I expected, but it went our way,” Harvey tells Donna as he reaches her desk. “Guess that means I've got some free time.”
Donna winces. “Not quite. That subpoena you filed for the Rosario contracts and financials?”
“Finally handed it over?” Harvey asks. He's been waiting for that for days. It's holding up another case, and he and Mike should have been on those files two weeks ago.
“You could say that. They're in your office, at Jessica's instruction.” She drops her voice. “Poor puppy looked a little faint when he saw them.”
Harvey looks up to see Mike already perched in his usual spot, highlighter drawn. Sitting next to him are eight file boxes that weren't there this morning, and Harvey sighs. If he were Louis, he'd dump this on Mike and sit in his office working on something else. But this has to be done first, even before the work on John's case, and Harvey can't do that in good conscience.
“Donna, would you call Peter Forsythe and—”
“Need to cancel your meeting for dinner and drinks tonight?”
Harvey shakes his head. “No. Just see if he's okay pushing it back to six instead of five.”
“It's going to be another long night, isn't it?” Mike asks when Harvey walks in. “Sometimes I think that if I die and go to hell, some demon's going to escort me to my room or whatever, and it's just going to be some tiny office with nothing but boxes of briefs that replenish themselves, and all the highlighters are almost dead.” He shakes the one in his hand and makes a face, arcing it across the room and tossing it into the trashcan. “Like that one.”
“Cheer up. At least this place has air conditioning.”
“Ahahaha. Ha,” Mike mutters, reaching into his pocket for a new highlighter. For a second, it feels like everything's back to normal, like Harvey's still able to deny everything, and Mike hasn't scared the living hell out of Harvey, and Donna hasn't come marching in like some guardian angel with a needle.
It stays that way, the silence easy and comfortable and interrupted only by a handful of phone calls and Jessica checking up on him about Judge Lindquist's decision, until Donna buzzes him on the intercom. “Harvey. It's five-fifteen. You're still meeting Forsythe at six.”
Harvey looks up, wondering how in the hell he's managed to work through lunch and straight into early evening. Over on the couch, Mike's squinting at his watch, looking like he's wondering the same thing. “Did you want me to stay and keep working after you go?” Mike asks tentatively, eyeing the boxes next to him.
“No.” Harvey closes the file in front of him and sets it neatly in his drawer. “Get your stuff together, Mike. You're coming along.”
“But there's all this work to—”
“Perhaps you were too busy ogling that paralegal when I mentioned it,” Harvey says, pinching the bridge of his nose as he stands, “but half the reason Forsythe wants to get together tonight is so that he can meet you.”
“Oh,” Mike says, rubbing at his face. “Right.”
“Ray's downstairs, Harvey,” Donna's voice says from his desk.
“We'll be right down.”
Harvey scrutinizes Mike for a quick second before they leave his office. He's known the man for three years now, and Peter Forsythe is the type to make a snap judgment and hold onto it for all he's worth. There are giant redwoods that are less firmly rooted than some of that man's first impressions. “You can't wear those cufflinks,” Harvey says, sighing and moving back towards his desk to rifle through the top center drawer. Really, he should be thrilled that Mike's wearing an appropriate tie.
“Arm,” Harvey demands a moment later, and Mike's arm shoots out automatically, despite the confusion all over his face. He undoes Mike's cufflinks quickly, a bit of muscle memory he can complete no matter how drunk or tired he is, and replaces them with the silver and onyx set from his drawer, slipping Mike's stainless steel ones into his pocket. “There,” he says, pulling Mike's sleeves into place. His fingers linger for just a moment at Mike's wrist, and the heat of Mike's skin and the blood pulsing though his arteries makes Harvey feel almost lightheaded.
Mike's eyes close for just a moment, and Harvey can't help but notice the long, deep breath Mike takes. He doesn't attribute it to uneasiness this time, as he has in the past. Instead, he gets what Donna was trying to tell him the other night, and what he's been unable to acknowledge for months now. He wonders how long it's been under his nose like this, but he can't say anything about it. “Come on. Let's get outside,” he finally gets out, breaking the spell.
It's harder than usual to take Peter Forsythe's brash brand of humor tonight, and Harvey isn't the only one who looks eager to get out of here. Mike's toying with his drink, letting the ice melt, and Harvey wants to tell him that they're never getting out of here if that glass doesn't end up empty. If this wasn't a client meeting, Harvey would happily order another two glasses of bourbon, maybe three, and drink until he can stop thinking about the way Mike's hand had clutched at him on Friday, or the look in his eyes before Harvey had left the hospital, and especially the way he'd looked back in the office, with his eyes closed and arm extended out in offering. He needs to get good and drunk, give himself a night to fantasize, and take the next morning's hangover as a reminder of how shitty it would feel to fuck things up with his associate.
It's nearly ten when Forsythe releases them, six or seven drinks under his belt to their two. Harvey waits until their client climbs into a cab before stepping outside, Mike close behind him. “It's too late for you to go back to the office and ride home,” Harvey says, wondering if Mike will ever give up the bike and use public transit like most normal New Yorkers, until such time when he can afford his own damned driver. “I'll pay for your cab home.”
“Ready to shuttle me off so quickly?” Mike's tone is frustrated, and Harvey blinks in surprise. “You know what? Don't bother,” he says, turning and walking away, hands shoved in his pockets, leaving Harvey to chase after him for once.
“Hey, hold on a damned minute,” Harvey demands when he catches up to Mike at the end of the block, but Mike shakes his head and tries to step off the curb. Before he can, Harvey moves around him, hands coming up to Mike's chest and holding him in place. “You want to talk? About what?”
Mike makes a choked noise. “This!” They both look down at Harvey's hands and, much as Harvey feels he probably should, he can't seem to drop them. “All day, Harvey. All day, with the touching, like you think you have to keep correcting me or I'll—” He stops suddenly, his eyes going wide. “That's not it, is it?”
“No,” Harvey says quietly. It's not that he thinks Mike's going to run away on him for some reason. It's not even so much that he wants to touch because he wants to get Mike into bed, though he certainly wouldn't turn him away. “It's...” He can't find the words, and that frustrates him, because he knows they should be easy. “It's reassurance,” he says, and yeah, that's it, or close enough.
“Of what?” Mike whispers.
Harvey doesn't answer right away. He shifts one hand up, laying his palm over the center of Mike's chest, and closes his eyes. “That you're all right,” he murmurs after a moment, and beneath his touch, Harvey feels Mike shudder. “You scared the hell out of me,” Harvey says, unable to open his eyes and see Mike's reaction. “And I didn't realize until just then how much I...how you...” He groans. Silver goddamned tongue in the courtroom, nothing but clay when it matters.
He doesn't ever figure out the words to describe what happened, what he'd realized when his shield of denial shattered around him, and he makes a move to pull away, to apologize and tell Mike it's just shock, he'll be fine, and they can go back to the banter and sarcasm and camaraderie Harvey's enjoyed. But before he can, Mike moves forward, into him rather than away, and presses his mouth to Harvey's.
Harvey's eyes fly open. They're in the middle of Manhattan on a Monday night, on a street corner with cars whizzing by and people nearly colliding into them, but everything pales in comparison with the feel of Mike kissing him.
This isn't what he's expected at all, even in a best-case scenario of how the evening could go, so when Mike pulls away, looking anxiously up at Harvey as if he's afraid he's done something terribly wrong, Harvey can't find any words at all. Mike's face starts to fall, panic and disappointment replaced by mortification, and Harvey does the only thing he can think of, grabbing Mike by the tie and pulling him back for another kiss. Mike moans, parting his lips to allow Harvey's tongue to slip past and Harvey breaks it off with regret. “Not here,” he murmurs.
Harvey's never seen someone hail a cab so enthusiastically.
They manage to get through the cab ride without more than an occasional stolen kiss and secretive thigh grope, and their driver is the good sort who pretends like he doesn't see anything. Harvey tips him well for that, and they're not even halfway up the glass elevator before his hands are on Mike again.
“Never thought I'd be grateful I almost died,” Mike gasps as Harvey undoes his shirt buttons and yanks his already-loosened tie over his head. “If I'd known it'd end up in this, though, I might have considered it sooner.”
“Don't be an idiot,” Harvey growls. “I didn't suddenly start wanting you because you almost died. I was just forced to realize it all at once when you hit that floor. You could have skipped the drama and given me a little more time to come to terms with it.”
“Not really sure how much longer I could have waited for a sign, anyway,” Mike says, allowing Harvey to lower him onto his back on the bed. “For someone so observant, you can be really dense.”
“Not a mistake I'll be making again.” He climbs onto the bed, pulling Mike close. He can feel Mike's heartbeat as Mike kisses him again, their bodies pressed together. It's thudding strong and heavy, all the reassurance that Harvey needs that not only is Mike here and safe, but that this is what they both seem to need. Now that he has this, has Mike, he's not letting go.
And he's never letting Mike near La Vitalità ever again.