He had known the call was inevitable.
And since he had known this, he had prepared. He had mentally run through the various scenarios over and over again, each time reiterating to himself that this time, he would be firm. "Trevor, no, I can't help you."
Six words. Six simple, simple words.
But when the inevitable call came at 3AM, what he said was, "I'll be there as soon as I can."
Only after he had hung up the phone did he drop down on the couch, bury his face in his hands, and say, "Shit."
Mike nervously straightened his tie as he approached Harvey's office. Play it cool, he reminded himself. All he had to do was casually ask Harvey for a few days off to settle a personal matter, and hope and pray that the man wouldn't ask too many questions.
Who was he kidding? Harvey was Harvey. There would be questions.
But what choice did he have?
Determined, he swallowed past the lump in his throat, schooled his features into something approaching neutrality, and strode forward -
- only to be stopped short by Donna's arched eyebrow. "Where do you think you're going, mister?"
"I need to see him. It's urgent."
She gave him an unimpressed expression that plainly read, oh I've heard that one before.
"What have you done?" she said.
"I - I don't know what you mean."
Smooth. Real smooth.
"You look like you're expecting Harvey to kill you. So before I allow a potential murder to occur under my watch, you'd better have a good reason why I should let you in there."
He hesitated a moment, his eyes flying between the silent, imposing figure of Harvey at his desk, and at the stubborn expression of his fiery assistant.
"Donna," he dropped his voice to a whisper, "A friend needs my help."
She regarded him sternly for several seconds more, and then: "Oh you," she sighed, the unrelenting professional facade dropping away, as she nodded her head at the office's glass door. "Go."
"Donna, thanks. Thanks," he said fervently, even as he nervously reached up to tighten his tie.
"Loosen it. Your eyes look like they're about to bulge out of your head."
He smiled sheepishly, straightening his tie, and knocked on Harvey's door.
Show time. Mike took a deep breath, mentally steeling himself.
Harvey sat behind the expanse of the sleek plexiglass desk, looking as unruffled and impeccable as always. He set down a heavy looking case file, and said - with a distinct note of amusement in his tone - "You both went through Donna first and knocked on the door. Could her numerous reminders have finally sunk in?"
Mike managed a wry smile. "Not quite."
"In this, the eidetic memory fails," Harvey said dryly, "Tell me what's wrong."
"I - what? Why would you think something's wrong?"
"You never knock," Harvey said pointedly. "That was a clue."
"Oh right. Sorry. About the knocking thing. The never knocking thing."
He was babbling like an idiot, and Harvey certainly didn't look impressed.
"I don't have all day. Talk," he said.
But all the cool, collected phrases Mike had practiced had left him. He cast about, trying to regain some of his usual ease. He knew some of the other junior associates were damn intimidated by Harvey, but he had never been one of them!
"I need to take a few days off," he began.
"For a personal - no? Wait, what?"
"Are any of your immediate family members dying?"
"Then the answer is no."
Mike set his jaw. "According to the New York State Department of Labor - "
"You are classified as an exempt employee, which effectively precludes you from the provisions of the FLSA and any and all New York wage-and-hour laws." Harvey arched an eyebrow. "Anything else?"
"You can't just deny my request like that."
"On what basis are you defining your argument?"
"I need to - "
"That would hardly convince a jury."
"Hey, you can hardly presume to speak for twelve non-existent people."
A touch of a smile pulled at Harvey's lips as he stood up. He crossed in front of his desk and leaned casually against it, and then said, almost indifferently, "So you need to help a friend."
"How did you - " Unbidden, his eyes flew to Donna.
"She's not the only one who can read lips."
His shoulders slumped. Busted.
"It's Trevor again, isn't it?"
Lying was still an option, but he had a sinking feeling that Harvey would see right through it. He nodded.
"I thought you bought him a one-way ticket to Montana."
"He is in Montana. He's been arrested."
Harvey's face hardened. "Illegal drug possession? Or sale?"
"Assault. With a deadly weapon."
Both of Harvey's eyebrows shot up.
"With a car, apparently." Mike grimaced. "He says he's innocent."
"He's not just asking you to fly to Montana to bail him out, is he?"
How the fuck did Harvey know everything?
Warily, he admitted, "He asked me to defend him."
"I see." Harvey wheeled around and strode to the window. For several long moments he simply gazed out the windows at the bustling streets below with every appearance of avid interest, but Mike had the impression that his boss was seeing none of it.
"You're not going."
Wait, what? He needed a few seconds to make sure he'd heard that correctly. "Harvey, hey wait, you can't - "
"I don't seem to recall needing - let alone, asking for - your opinion."
"He's my friend," Mike said, frustration beginning to seep into his tone. "I'm not like you. I don't abandon my friends."
Harvey's back stiffened.
And belatedly, Mike regretted his words. "I didn't mean - it's just, you've been telling me from day one to turn my back on my best friend."
"You're his best friend. He's not yours."
"You don't know him!"
"I risked my life for his ungrateful, undeserving ass, and he didn't even have the courtesy to keep himself out of trouble for a month. I think that tells me enough."
Mike shook his head resolutely. "I can't abandon him. You don't - you couldn't - understand. He fucked his life up the way I did. What he is – where he is – that could be me."
"Would have been you," Harvey's tone was dry and brittle, "if not for me."
"I - " Staggered, Mike took a half-step backwards, his expression torn. He recognized an ultimatum situation when he saw one, and he damn well didn't like it. How the hell could he chose? How could he choose between the man he had once thought of as a brother, and the man who had saved him from himself?
Harvey turned around sharply, and Mike had to force himself to maintain eye contact.
"Answer me this. How many times are you going to let him ruin your life?"
He swallowed roughly.
"Answer me. Now."
But no words were coming to mind. No words at all.
"I've said it before. Cut him out. Let him spend some time in prison. He certainly deserves it, and it might even do him some good."
He was shaking his head. He was shaking his head even before rational thought kicked in, but he knew, he just knew that he couldn't leave a friend in prison.
For just a second, he saw hurt and disappointment flash across Harvey's face. And then it was gone, so whisper fast that Mike wasn't even sure he'd seen it there. But if it had been there, then he was shaken, shaken to the core at that momentary glimpse of emotion from a man who kept everything from the world.
"I don't have time to deal with this. You've asked, I said no," Harvey said evenly. His lawyer face. His lawyer voice. "If you choose to go to Montana to help Trevor, then go. But before you do, leave your badge on your desk. Now get out."
Of all the ways he had thought this meeting would go, he hadn't expected this. Mike stood rooted to the spot, stunned. "Harvey - "
"I won't say it again." Harvey gave him one last hard look before wheeling sharply around, seating himself behind the desk and picking up a sheaf of papers. His long fingers quickly leafed through them before he settled on one, perusing it with what appeared to be great intent. He gave no indication whatsoever that the angry words they'd exchanged had had any impact.
Mike hesitated a moment longer, hoping, still hoping for a response, for something other than the curt dismissal.
With every part of his body feeling like lead, he walked away.