A Different Perspective
Mike Ross stopped in the pristine hallway before the familiar door. Just like the person he knew he would find in the room on the other side, the door had a bit of character that made it distinguishable from the others that lined the hall.
For instance, the copper plating that proudly proclaimed the room's appointed number was slightly dulled in one corner: a dark stain that refused to subject to the effects of polish. The brass doorknob had a similar stain at its base where the metal connected to the wood of the door. A small dent that had been repainted in the vain attempt to hide the brown interior resided in the middle of the door where another resident had most likely lost control of a walker or cart and collided with the door, scarring it. Lastly, a stain marred the bottom of the door and the carpet beneath it where a nurse had spilled a cup of coffee. The faded stain gave the impression of a puddle that had been frozen right after someone had stepped in it, droplets spraying up into the air to splash against the bottom of the door. The owner of the room had argued against repainting, liking the image of an upward rainfall. Mike had agreed.
While all the doors had their own slight imperfections, only this one had the discernible coffee stain. It was a one-of-a-kind door that could be easily identified among the others. Just like the woman who temporary owned the room it opened to.
Mike quickly straightened his suit that had become disheveled with his bike ride to the nursing home. He wanted to look professional and refined; to clearly contrast the man he had been only a few weeks before. He smoothed his hair back and adjusted his tie smartly.
Satisfied, Mike knocked on the door and then turned the doorknob, thumb brushing over the dull stain, opening the door.
The moment his eyes met the woman within, a boyish grin broke over his lips, brightening his features with pure joy. "Hey, Grandma."
The woman put down her book to smile at her guest. "You're late, Mike. You should know better than to keep you grandmother waiting."
Mike's smile turned apologetic as he stepped into the room, closing the door gently behind him. His grandmother placed her book onto her side-table and rose stiffly to her feet with a few huffs. Mike hurried over to her, wrapping his arms around her in a fierce hug as she returned the gesture, albeit, with a little less strength but matched enthusiasm.
"Sorry, Grandma," Mike said as he pulled away and helped ease his grandmother back into her chair. "Work's been pretty hectic. The moment I get one thing done, someone is telling me to do something else."
"And look at you!" his grandmother exclaimed, "You're practically a stick. I could've snapped you in two. Have you been eating properly?"
Mike sighed with a rueful smile. "When I can. Work keeps me pretty distracted. I don't always have time to eat a balanced meal."
"Or shower," his grandmother added.
"Or change into clean clothes," Mike amended, gesturing to his suit. This was his third time wearing it in a week. He had managed to keep it as unwrinkled as possible by keeping a wrinkle spray in his pocket, using his sparse bathroom breaks to soak his suit in the spray to keep it neat and smooth. He used at least half a can a day.
"Now that won't do," his grandmother tutted, looking him up and down and glaring pointedly with blatant contempt at his worn suit, unshaven face, and unkempt hair. "You need to take better care of yourself. Doesn't your boss give you the time off to do so?"
Mike laughed, the sound filled with as much contempt as the stare his grandmother was still shooting at his suit.
The sheer incredibility. Having the words "boss" and "time off" in the same sentence. That was just preposterous. She knew they were talking about Harvey, right?
"Hardly," Mike snorted. "The only thing Harvey gives me is work, an ulcer, and more work."
A new expression crossed his grandmother's face, perhaps interest or even satisfaction, but Mike paid it little heed as he collapsed into the chair opposite his grandmother. He rubbed a hand over his tired eyes, still chuckling slightly at the unfathomable prospect of his boss being concerned enough about him to allow him time to relax.
"I know you Michael," his grandmother interjected, "even if your boss was to give you some free time, you would still spend it doing work."
"No I wouldn't," Mike protested, all laughter gone. "If I had any, I would use my free time to relax, maybe go home and rest, or get something to eat. That's what I did with Mr. Disiny when I worked as a busboy. Remember?"
"Yes, I remember."
"Whenever he gave me a break, I was gone and I did everything I could to not go back"
"That was different."
"Mr. Disiny was an asshole."
"And Harvey's ten times worse!" Mike was on his feet now.
"How so?" It was Mike's grandmother's turn to ask. She settled back into her chair more comfortably to hear Mike's explanation, a knowing smile on her lips; creasing her cheeks and eyes.
"Well, he's a jerk to everyone below him, co-workers and clients alike. He only gives vaguely veiled respect to his superiors like his boss and even that seems to pain him. He treats everyone like tools to use to help his own self and discards the people who he can't use. He's egotistical, rude, arrogant, and he pushes me to my limit with work."
Mike was pacing now, stomping back and forth in front of his still smiling grandmother.
"If I don't perform to his liking, he lectures me. If I do something right, he lectures me. If I happen to make a mistake or if I miss something, he threatens me. And then he lectures me some more. He's always looking over my shoulder and constantly making sure I do everything to his standard of perfection.
"And that's not all. No, he gets in my personal life too: telling me how to life my life; who I can be friends with; even how to act. And if he doesn't like how I'm living, then he just barges in to change it to the way he wants it.
"And don't get me started with all the questions. Everything I do at work, he questions. Even what I do in my own life, he questions. He always wants to know what I'm doing, who I'm hanging with; where I'm going.
"He's insufferable, incorrigible, and a liar."
"A liar?" his grandmother asked, but Mike continued as if he hadn't heard her. He was on a role. It felt good to complain to someone about Harvey and he was going to take full advantage of the opportunity.
"Oh yes. Mr. I-Don't-Care. A bunch of shit if you ask me. He pretends to be oh so heartless and uncaring, but I know. I know he won that case for his driver because he cares. He denies it, of course. He claims he only does what he does because it benefits him. But I know the truth. He's not the callous man he wants everyone to think he is. Damn liar. He should just man-up and admit it already."
There was a chuckle and Mike's rant came to an abrupt stop. He turned slowly to stare at his grandmother with absolute disbelief. The woman was actually laughing.
"What?" he asked incredulously.
Mike blanched. But he couldn't deny it. He could feel the curve of his lips: an indisputable fact. And he knew he had been smiling for a while. He could feel it.
He was smiling.
While he was talking about Harvey.
The boss from hell.
"That's the difference."
"What?" Mike repeated, caught off guard as his grandmother's words interrupted his thoughts.
"Between Mr. Disiny and Mr. Spector," he grandmother elaborated. "With Mr. Disiniy, you ran off because you couldn't stand the man. But with Mr. Spector –"
"I can't stand him either," Mike objected.
"Maybe not," his grandmother continued casually in a tone that proved she didn't believe him, "but you want to make him proud. That's why you keep working even when you get a break."
Mike's mouth snapped shut, cutting off his complaint.
The smile on his grandmother's face widened with sincere approval and happiness. "You like this man. You respect him and you want to make him proud. And I can see why. He challenges you to be better, to be more than you are. He recognizes your skills and talents and makes you use them to be the best you can be. He can see that part of you and wants you and the rest of the world to see it too."
His grandmother took a breath and looked down at her clasped fingers. "At least, that's what I think." She glanced up with raised brows at Mike for confirmation.
Mike fell back into his chair, mouth slightly agape as he pieced together what he had relayed to his grandmother and the conclusion she had interpreted from it. In all honesty, it didn't make sense. And yet, he knew it to be true.
And all it took was a different perspective to figure it out.
Mike worked and strove to do his best because Harvey was behind him, urging him to do better. And when he messed up, Harvey was there to catch him and set him back on his way. The man kept him clean. All his annoying questioning was merely a device to derive the truth out of Mike. Whether it was the truth about Mike's relationship with Trevor or his own personal welfare, Harvey didn't let up until Mike told him what he would usually keep to himself, something that might have resulted in him getting in to trouble.
Everything Harvey did was for Mike's own good. To a certain extent anyway. He was still an asshole. Most of the time.
And the end of Mike's rant had been true. He did know that Harvey cared. If he didn't, he wouldn't have done everything else Mike had complained about. He constantly pestered him with all his lectures and questions because he cared.
Mike chuckled with a shake of his head.
"Or maybe I just do more work so I don't get left behind," he countered meekly with little conviction. His grandmother rolled her eyes.
Mike leaned forward in his chair to say something more when his phone buzzed in his pocket. He checked the ID to find the familiar name glowering back at him.
"Speak of the devil," he muttered. He looked up apologetically at his grandmother.
"Go on," she said with a wave of her hand. "You've kept me company long enough."
Mike rose to his feet and bent down to hug his grandmother; kissing her cheek. Then he straightened and went to the door, giving his grandmother a last goodbye before leaving.
"Take your medicine."
"Only when they're not going to poison me."
Shaking his head, he ambled down the front steps of the nursing home, a ghost of a smile still on his lips when an expensive black car honked impatiently at him. Mike instantly swiveled towards it and trotted up to the passenger side door just as the tinted window rolled down.
"Get in. We're late." Harvey Spector commanded before the window rolled back up soundlessly.
"I seem to be getting that a lot today," Mike muttered to himself.
Knowing that arguing would be pointless, he hurried to the other side of the car and slipped into the back seat beside Harvey. The car was already moving before he had completely closed the door.
Then a paper bag was thrown into his lap. Mike looked up to Harvey in confusion, waiting expectantly for an explanation.
"You'll have a few seconds to change before the hearing starts. Change into that." Harvey commanded.
So he had noticed the reoccurrence of Mike's current suit.
Mike inspected the neatly folded suit in the bag and then back up at Harvey to see the older man scrutinizing him disapprovingly.
"When's the last time you ate?" he asked.
Mike struggled for a moment, being unprepared for the question and searching for the correct answer. "Yesterday," he answered at last, unable to remember the exact time due to a lack of sleep and an increase in paperwork.
Harvey gave him a level gaze of disapproval. The he faced forward. "Pull over at the first empty drive-through you see," he ordered and a word of understanding sounded from driver.
"What?" Mike asked. "No, Harvey. We can't stop. We're already late."
"I'm not going to have you pass out from hunger in court," Harvey replied. "Then, after I've won the case, I want you to go home and sleep. Got it? And for god's sake, take a shower."
"Yes, sir," Mike intoned with an exaggerated salute, earning an exasperated smirk from Harvey.
"Honestly. You need to take better care of yourself."
Mike blinked. For a second, he heard the echo of his grandmother's exact words merge with Harvey's. And then he smiled at having experienced another moment in which Harvey expressed the care that he so fiercely tried to hide.
Harvey shot him a glare. "If you make that face in court, you're fired."
Alas, it was a fleeting moment. But it had been worth it.
Mike looked away and sank lower into his seat. He heard Harvey sigh beside him.
"All right, kid. We have some time before we get to the courthouse. Get some rest. I'll wake you when we get there."
"Sweet of you," Mike mumbled, eyes already closed.
"Like I said, I can't have my associate pass out in the middle of a hearing. It would make me look bad."
Mike chuckled and opened one eye just in time to see Harvey's smile.
"Hey, Harvey," he said, eye closing once more as he sank further into his seat with a sigh.
"Lettin' me see m' grandma."
Harvey glanced at Mike but the boy was going fast. "You worked hard. You deserved a reward."
Mike mumbled what could have been an agreement. His head tilted to the side to rest against the window. His brow furrowed with a last thought that seemed to be bothering him.
"Do I make you proud?"
The question caught Harvey completely off guard. He straightened and looked at Mike in surprise. But the kid had already slipped off into some much needed sleep; snoring gently.
A smile spread over Harvey's lips as he gazed at the sleeping kid. That was all he was after all. Just a kid. A damn good kid.
A little idea that came to me one day. I wanted to write a fic in which Mike explains the pains of working with his boss to an outside source in order to get a different perspective on Harvey. So I wrote this.
I like finding the little parallels between Harvey and Mike's (so-far-nameless) grandmother. They both give Mike a kind of tough love and, as he indicated in the pilot, he trusts Harvey like he trusts his grandmother.
Gotta love a caring Harvey.
Note: I don't know if Mike was ever a busboy but I figured it was believable. Being an employee of a resturant is often a first job for many people. And a disclaimer: the characters of "Suits" are not mine. I only borrowed them for a bit and returned them in like-new condition.
Hope you enjoyed.
Until next time,