Harvey's only allowed to make three people cry a week. Apparently. While Jessica had tolerated two, she informs him that four would be grounds for termination.
"You know that thing you do that makes you act a little human? Do it. Now. So I don't have to fire you."
Harvey doesn't bother to reject the premise...this is well-worn ground. Only for Jessica will he fall back on placation. "Absolutely. You're right. First thing this evening."
She levels him a look. "No. Right now. I cleared your schedule for the rest of the day, and reserved one of the firm's loaner cars. Don't step foot back in this office until I can see a valet slip."
He manages to keep his jaw off the floor through years of practice being inscrutable. "You want proof? Should I bring my own notary? After all, I might just park and never use the facilities."
"Excellent point," Jessica said smoothly. She does not back down in any way. She is actually serious.
"This is outrageous," he declares, because he's already lost but it needs to be said.
"Completely out of bounds," she agrees easily. "Get out."
Harvey turns on his heel and exits her office. He's tempted to hunt down a client of Louis's and set a record with crier number four. But he knows that he won't.
It isn't just height that she has to her advantage. Her balls are bigger, too.
It has been a while since he's been to the club, but he and Jessica differ – she labors under the illusion that it's a need, when to him, it's just a hobby. A very enjoyable hobby. One that fits him like a glove and yes, relieves a little stress when done with regularity. But nothing more than that.
He rejects the word lifestyle. On so many levels.
But if there's one thing that annoys Harvey more than that extra half-inch in heels, it's Jessica's tendency to be right; although it's not a need, something does slide into place in his head when he hits the club's foyer.
She was right to think she just needed the ticket. He couldn't come here and not stay, and somehow the woman knows it.
He came straight from the office, for reasons he won't examine, so he's still wearing his good suit – a brand new Caraceni. It's not a first for him but a rarity; Harvey tries to limit body fluids to last season’s menswear, but there’s a special kind of rush to whipping a man while he’s dressed to impress.
And this suit does impress – it gets him a wolf whistle as he approaches the front desk. Ari gives a slow appraisal that Harvey takes as his due, grinning as her eyes linger. "You look like you came straight from court. Should I worry that a lawsuit is imminent?"
Harvey tips her an eyebrow. "Have you done anything to deserve one, lately?"
"I'll hold my peace, thankyouverymuch. You know I can't afford a retainer like yours."
Harvey's smile doesn't slip at all. He keeps it light when he says, "How are things?" because he's been broke before, and understands that particular shame. Back then, it was all he expected; Areena’s fallen from the literal penthouse, which he thinks is so much worse.
On the other hand, she's only broke for a given value of it; she has a roof over her head and food in her stomach. He got her that much in court.
But barely. It was a fucking bloodbath.
Her mask is almost flawless, but he can see through the cracks. "Got everything I need."
"Do you?" It's still light, the right side of flirtation, but it hits so close he sees the mental flinch. Well, this might solve both their problems, for today. "You got some time for me, when you're done at the desk?"
They haven't played together since before the divorce. He knows she's skittish, but she took the job here so she could keep membership. At least part of her's still open to kink.
The tears that well up make him squirm inside, but she nods and he relaxes. "I'm done at six."
"Room or floor?"
"Room," she says quickly, and he should've thought about that...whatever exhibitionism she may have had before, it's probably gone. At least for now.
"Ok, set it up. On my card," he adds, and sees the moment she remembers that a room will be extra. He can see the war in her between wanting to take it back and not wanting to do a floor show. "Hey. Room's better for me. Ok?"
She doesn't believe him, but she takes the out, nodding like she's ashamed of herself and fiddling with the computer. Today won't be about taking her apart, so much as putting her together.
He can work with that. Jessica thinks that this place keeps him human by giving an outlet, a place to vent his wrath. She's only half right.
He wanders the floor while he waits for Areena. It's not busy, of course, before five on a Tuesday, but there's more action here than he'd expect. From looking around, the afternoon crowd seems split between idle rich and those hiding their membership from their spouses under the cover of long "business lunches."
It makes him glad he's never visited at this time before, and doubly glad he found Ari – he's hard pressed to find a reason he'd ever waste time with these losers.
He does linger at one scene. He's familiar with the Dom...if you'd like to call him such. Harvey's unimpressed with David, half-convinced he'd be happier on the other side of things. He's not what you'd call a natural. At first, Harvey had chalked it up to a lack of experience, but there's been no improvement...a regular for years, he still tends to overdo it.
David overcompensates. In this, as in everything.
Harvey has to cringe at the humiliating drivel that's coming from his mouth. Funny enough, that isn't Harvey's cup of tea, but he's seen those who do it well. Dave just does it...badly. Nails-on-a-chalkboard badly, and Harvey'd have to walk away if it weren't for the sub.
The sub is new. Theoretically possible he's been afternoons-only, or become a regular in Harvey's absence but. He's new. Brand new, doesn't know what he wants, or else he wouldn't be with Dave.
Because this isn't good for him.
He has no doubt the kid agreed to what's happening. The club is scrupulous and specific with scene contracts. Nor is it possible Dave pressured him. Body language says they're strangers. Plus the kid is so green, and, Harvey doesn't doubt it, new, that it's almost certain this was facilitated. The club thought they’d match, which means the kid got his own preferences wrong.
Dave doesn't see it. Dave has the instincts of a dead fish, but he's not a bad guy, in all. If the sub were blatantly unhappy, he wouldn't wait for the safeword.
But it's not that. It's just...not what the kid needs. He isn't turned on by the shaming (though...it's so badly done, who would be?). And Dave's skin-on-skin contact is nil. Completely oblivious to the way the boy's straining for it, if not physically then in spirit.
The thing is, he doesn't look unhappy, or like he even knows it's wrong. To someone less perceptive (Dave), he looks exactly right. He soaks in the degradation, genuinely welcoming the pain, like it fits him.
Not what he needs, but...what he'll get. Maybe, deserves.
Harvey shakes himself off of that mental track. There's really nothing wrong – nothing that warrants him interrupting someone's scene. Not his sub, not his problem.
Areena's his concern today.
She's plenty concerning in and of herself, and when he loads her in a cab (handing the driver plenty of cash when she's not looking), by all rights, he should be exhausted. Flattened. Instead, he feels lighter than he has in weeks.
And tomorrow, he's going to have to watch Jessica know it.
But Harvey's not one to spite his own face, and there was no good reason he stopped coming regularly...just busy, is all. And Areena's divorce left a bad taste in his mouth. Richard's lawyers trotted out things that happened on the club floor like it wasn't at least half his idea. Straight He said/She said – except the photos of Areena playing with other men, her husband never in the frame.
With a conservative judge, the tactic worked.
But it wasn't the club's fault. In fact, Richard had been banned.
It had been unlike him to let something he was good at be soured by one experience.
It's time he gets back to doing things on his own terms. Speaking of which....
His mission's made easier because Eric's at the desk. He and Eric are too similar in personality to be what you'd call friends, but they have a long acquaintance and mutual respect. "Harvey. Been a while."
"Long enough to get new faces."
"Yeah, a few." Eric grins. "Since you're not one for idle questions, I'm guessing there's one you've got in mind."
"What's the story on the kid I saw with Dave? Probably set up for four, four-thirty."
Eric turns to the computer and scrolls through the day's activity. "Oh, yeah. Mike." He frowns down at the screen.
Harvey gets that feeling, familiar from the courtroom, where he knows he's got something in the absence of any proof. "Something wrong?"
"Yeah...well, no. But. David. Just not what I expected. I helped with the kid's application...he just seemed...." Eric makes a few clicks of the mouse, and shakes his head again. "Gina set this up, so I must've got him wrong. We only talked for a few minutes." But he still looks unconvinced.
"Or," Harvey finally says, "you got him right, and he got himself wrong."
Eric blinks and his face clears. "Could be. I wouldn't be surprised, really. He was very...."
Eric flashes a grin. "Yeah. God, yeah. He claimed 'some experience,' but...." He pulls a face that says how much that's worth.
"That's what I thought. Who referred him?"
Harvey's eyebrows wing up. "Scholarship kid, huh?"
"I didn't tell you that."
"Course not." That fits. Not a trust fund brat or self-made whiz kid; too braced for disappointment. Discounted membership helps bring fresh blood and prevent a bottleneck for meeting everyone's needs, but it's a tricky thing, easy to tip towards exploitation. The staff is careful, approaching paranoid, with new members of that type.
"You want me to set up facilitation?"
"Yeah. Listen. Don't let him get with Dave again. Not til I get my hands on him."
Eric's eyebrows shoot up. "Harvey."
"I know." He gets a jolt of agitation, though the censure's understandable. So he shifts gears a little. "I'm not asking you to book something direct or break the rules. Facilitate us, by all means. But it's not in his best interest to end up in Amateur Hour. Worst case, I help you figure out where he fits."
Eric scrubs a hand over his shaggy hair. New Yorkers shouldn't dress like surfer burnouts, but wealth doesn't buy taste. "Yeah, alright. I'll make it happen."
Harvey nods, like he expected nothing less, and turns to go.
"Hey, Specter." Eric's watching him closely. "You've never given two shits about things like this. There something you know that I don’t?"
Harvey smirks. "So many things."
But it troubles him all the way home. What's special about this kid? Nothing, as far as Harvey knows. Except there's that nagging instinct. And it's never served him wrong.