Tag to 1x11 "Rules of the Game." Harvey breaks. Donna makes sure Mike's there to pick up the pieces.

SPOILER WARNING FOR 1x11 RULES OF THE GAME. Please skip if you haven't seen the ep and wish to remain unspoiled. No spoilers for 1x12, as I know absolutely nothing about it. This whole fic will probably be rendered obsolete by 1x12, but heck, I felt compelled to write anyway.

The call came around midnight.

By then, most of the associates and partners had already left for the night, and the only sounds to be heard were the soft hum of office machinery and the occasional rustle of papers or clack of keyboard keys And so when his phone vibrated harshly, like a jackhammer in the silence, Mike nearly jumped a foot in the air.

Blearily he rubbed his eyes, dragged a hand over the rough stubble of his chin. Hell, it was late. He had been so engrossed in his files, so desperate to try to redeem himself for fucking up the negotiations with Louis, that he had been completely oblivious to the time.

The phone buzzed again, insistently. He shook his head a little to clear the grogginess as he clumsily reached into his interior jacket pocket. Jeez. His muscles felt stiff and cramped from being hunched over at his desk for far too long, and he honestly couldn't remember if he'd even eaten dinner or not.

The caller ID read Donna.

Instantly, his weariness and aches dropped away. "Donna?"

"Mike," she sounded worried, "Is Harvey still in the office?"

Harvey? Confused, he scrambled to his feet. "Um. Give me a sec; I can check."

Odd, why wasn't she calling Harvey's cell phone?

"I've called him twice already. He hasn't been picking up."

There was something, something like a dim warning bell beginning to ring in Mike's head. This behavior was unusual; Harvey was never unreachable.

The empty office seemed to mock his growing concern. "He's not here."

She muttered something that sounded suspiciously like a curse. "Do you remember the spare key I gave you?"

It took a moment for the thought to process. "Harvey's key?"

"You need to go see him, Mike."

"What, at his condo?"

"Of course."

"Why do I need his key? To break in?" He was incredulous.

"If he won't let you in, obviously."

"Donna, what are you talking about?" The last thing Mike needed was to give Harvey even more reason to be angry with him, and he was pretty darn sure that forcing his way into the man's apartment was a big step in the wrong direction.

"You didn't see his face earlier today. He needs someone right now."

"If by that you mean he needs someone to vent his rage on, then I'd really rather not volunteer."

Even through the phone, he could feel her disapproval emanating in waves.

"Why don't you go?" he tried not to whine the words, and wasn't too sure that he was successful.

"Because I'm not the one he needs," she said, impatiently, "Now are you going, or do I have to come down there and drag you to his door myself?"

"You would, wouldn't you?"

"Try me at your peril," she shot back.

He still didn't think anything about this was a good idea; quite the contrary, it was an idea very likely to result in Harvey bodily throwing him out of his apartment...but Mike knew better than to try to cross Donna. "All right," he conceded warily, "I'm heading there now."

This was so not a good idea.

Harvey answered the door only after Mike spent a good two minutes pounding on it and alternating between threatening to use his key to break in and threatening to call Donna if Harvey continued to ignore him.

"Go home, Mike. And give my key back to Donna," he said, his voice unnervingly emotionless, before moving to shut the door in his face.

Against his better judgment, and all his survival instincts, Mike stuck his foot in the door, keeping it open. And then grimaced as Harvey pointedly tried to shut the door on his foot anyway.

A trace of irritation flashed across Harvey's face. "Leave now or you're fired."

"Look, Harvey, I'm kinda in between a rock and a hard place, okay? If I leave now, Donna will probably kill me tomorrow. And no offense, but I'd rather face you than Donna. Please?"

Harvey stared at him impassively for a moment, and then sighed deeply and pulled the door open. Mike suppressed a smile at that; even the great Harvey Specter didn't cross Donna.

He hopped in awkwardly, favoring his right foot. Damn, that had been one heavy door.

The entire condo smelled of oak and spice - some sort of expensive scotch. Mike's eyes swept across the impeccable condo - in fact, the only sign that someone was even living there was the stack of file folders on the glass coffee table, and the suit jacket casually thrown over the back of the black leather couch.

Wordlessly, Harvey brushed past him and settled on the couch. As always, Mike did a bit of a double-take to see his boss dressed casually: this time, in a pale green jersey pullover and dark chinos.

Harvey picked up a whiskey tumbler half-filled with scotch, and took a swallow. "How can I reassure you to Donna's satisfaction?" he said dryly, "I'm still alive, still breathing - "

"One sort of precludes the other," the words popped out of Mike's mouth before he could fully think them through.

"Do you need me to tell you that you've overstayed your welcome, or can your big brain figure that out for itself?"

"Donna won't let me leave until, you know, you're fine and everything." He squirmed.

"I'm fine."

"That's convincing."

Harvey looked hard at him.

"I had a pretty shitty day today too," Mike offered weakly. "Rachel and Jenny - "

He stopped short at the expression on Harvey's face, the expression that read something like a cross between, oh woe be you, you have two women to choose between and I honestly don't give a damn about your love life.

"And I lost to Louis Litt," he said.

"That is a pretty shitty day," Harvey agreed finally, and Mike breathed a sigh of relief. At least Harvey didn't sound too pissed off about it.

But then he was out of conversation topics and so simply stood there awkwardly under the bright recessed lights, until at last Harvey seemed to resign himself to the fact that Mike wasn't going to be showing himself out anytime soon.

"Scotch?" Harvey said, pulling himself off the couch.

"Yeah. Please."

Harvey returned a second later, pressing a cool glass tumbler into his hands, and Mike took a deep gulp of the stuff. The alcohol seared down his throat, sending a warm, welcome flush through his body. It had a bit of a smoky quality - Mike wasn't too sure how else to describe it.

Harvey rolled his eyes. "Swirl it. Sniff it. Sip it. That's $200 scotch you're so carelessly chugging like a frat party beer."

His boss settled back on the couch, and though he was still getting the strong feeling that he was uninvited, Mike perched himself carefully on the armchair. Harvey refilled his own glass and drank from it, before absentmindedly swirling the glass in his hand. Discreetly, Mike tried to glean some clues as to how drunk Harvey might actually be. If Harvey was at all affected by the alcohol, he sure as hell was hiding it well.

There were a thousand questions running through Mike's mind, not the least of which was a simple: what the fuck happened? He had witnessed Harvey's loss of control earlier in the day; they all had. The lawyer was always cool, collected, sarcastic. His outburst at Louis had rattled a chord deep within Mike - a realization that Harvey was hurting deeply - and that unnerved him.

He didn't know what to do. Who could, when they had lost their stable foundation, their one given in life?

"You can stop looking at me like that."

Mike gave a start at Harvey's words, a lazy drawl, almost.

"You're worse than Donna," Harvey muttered, taking another sip of the scotch.

"Harvey," Mike said, gripping the glass tightly, "What happened?"

"Nut-uh, kid."

"I want to help."

"You can't."

"I did some research," Mike said defiantly, "I did some reading on Cameron Dennis, I got copies of the cases you prosecuted when you were ADA. I reviewed all of them."

There was a pause. And then, coldly: "I didn't hire you to look into my past."

"Who the fuck was he, Harvey? What did he do?"

"It's not your concern. Drop it."

He couldn't. He couldn't, because it was too late. He had been in this from the second that Cameron had come back into Harvey's life, and dredged up whatever guilt, whatever shame there was, and tried to use it against him. Mike had been in this from the second Harvey had been threatened.

"I have a theory," he said, "You caught him tampering with evidence for one case. Now you know he did it for many more, including many of the cases that you won." He leaned forward. "Whose life did he fuck up? Which innocent did you damn to jail?"

"Don't." Harvey's voice was harsh. His breath came a bit faster.

Mike stopped, stunned. Shit. Oh shit. Harvey looked on the verge of shattering, and Mike didn't really know how to pick up the pieces.

"Let me help you fix it," he said, almost a whisper. "Please."

Harvey looked away from him, his knuckles white on the whiskey tumbler, every line of his body taut with tension.

And then he gave a bark of laughter, a mirthless, empty laugh. "You're as loyal and naive as I once was," he said, "You'd follow me down any road, without even knowing where I'm leading you. And if I were to lead you straight to hell?"

He would go.

Mike swallowed.

"There's a kid," Harvey said, "There's a kid rotting his ass away in jail for a crime he didn't do. I put him there. I put him there on false pretenses."

But there was no self-recrimination in his tone. No anger. No bitterness. Just...nothing.

A chill crawled up Mike's spine. "You thought he was guilty."

"Don't defend me," Harvey snapped.

"Someone has to."

Harvey turned his gaze directly to him, and Mike suppressed another shiver as he realized that Harvey's flat tone had been a mask for his true emotion.

Harvey looked so...lost. Forlorn. And there was guilt there, guilt written across every shadow of his face. Guilt and fear, that he had made a wrong and could never make it right. Fear that he had finally come across something that he couldn't fix, that he couldn't win.

"You're drunk," he realized, dumbly. Harvey never showed emotion like this.

The lawyer laughed, a raw, abrasive sound. "Yeah. And?"

"You can fix this," Mike said, "You were the prosecuting attorney; you can re-open the case."

"I can't turn back time. I can't give him back the life I stole."

"You thought he was guilty," Mike repeated.

"That doesn't mean a goddamn thing." Harvey tossed back the rest of his scotch and rose to refill, his movements suspiciously languid.

Mike followed him into the kitchen, where the natural granite countertops, gleaming appliances, and handsome cherry floors stood in mock contrast to how fucked up their lives currently were. Harvey was hunched over the sink, looking ill.

"Harvey," Mike said softly, with concern.

"He was my mentor," Harvey said, barely audible. He closed his eyes.

Fuck, Mike was scared. Donna should be here. Donna would know what to do.

"Then he was a shitty one," he said, desperately. "You're better than him."

"Listen to you." A snort of laughter. "You're as deceived by me as I was by him."

He'd had it with the cynical.

"Fuck you."

There was a long pause. Then:

"Excuse me?" Harvey sounded incredulous.

"You heard me. That guy sounds like a piece of shit, okay? He's nothing - " he broke off the the rest of his words: he's nothing like you.

"Nothing like me?" Harvey said, mockingly. "Do you remember that woman who was almost wrongfully imprisoned for insider trading? I almost did that."

"But you didn't."

The protest sounded hollow and feeble even to his own ears.

Time to try again. "You're different from Cameron," Mike insisted, "You act like a jackass, but he is a jackass. You're here getting drunk because you unknowingly put an innocent man in prison, and you've probably spent the whole night going through the evidence trying to find some way to undo it, and what's Cameron been doing, huh?"

Harvey stared at him blankly.

Several seconds passed with no response, and Mike was beginning to wonder if Harvey had even heard him. Then:

"He was planning on betraying me to save himself. He was my mentor, I trusted him, and he - he - " Harvey trailed off, as if unable to finish the thought, as if he was still unable to believe it.

Mike's heart started pounding, loudly. Blood rushed into his ears.

Shit, but Harvey had sounded vulnerable.

Harvey smiled tightly, and hammered home another glass of scotch.

Mike had a sudden strong, strong impulse to go punch Cameron. No wonder Harvey was so emotionally fucked up at the moment.

Harvey pointed a finger at him, a finger that wavered slightly and that wasn't quite on target. "See. You'd go defend me now, wouldn't you? As I would have for him."

"It's different," Mike said heatedly. "You're actually worth defending."

There was a long silence as his words fell on heavy air. Mike flushed with embarrassment at the vehemence of his response. But he had meant it...every single word. He wasn't going to take them back to save his pride.

"Don't go mushy on me, kid," Harvey said, finally.

"You need to hear it."

"I don't need anything - "

"And we're going to fix it," Mike continued determinedly, "We're gonna fix whatever that sonuvabitch did."

"Stop talking," Harvey growled, but there was something - something different in his voice. He sounded almost human again, instead of a hollow shell.

"Shutting up."

Harvey pushed away from the sink. "I need to think about something else," he muttered, "I recorded a game. Want to watch?"

Mike agreed immediately, feeling immensely relieved that this was a Harvey that he could handle.

The lawyer weaved a bit as he walked, dropping heavily to the couch and sprawling out on it. "TiVo'd," he said, gesturing ambiguously at some fancy looking electronics. "Do you mind?"

"Yeah, sure." Mike set his scotch down on the coffee table and crouched by the DVRs. Once he had oriented himself and found the right button and input channel, he glanced up to check on Harvey.

And saw that the man was fast asleep.

Mike stopped the game and stared at his sleeping boss, a little amazed. In sleep, the hard and stern lines of Harvey's face melted away, and he looked...young.

He realized, then, that Harvey had once been a kid. There had been a time when he hadn't been so guarded, so cynical. He had once trusted, trusted and followed Cameron with unfailing, undeserved loyalty. And he had been let down, his entire world disillusioned.

There had been a time when Harvey had been young: an awkward, painful time, but a time when the future had seemed to shine with the power of a thousand suns.

And one by one, those suns had been burned out by the stifling grip of betrayal and the agony of a breaking heart.

Shit. Mike didn't know if he was ready yet to see Harvey as a mortal.

He tiptoed into Harvey's bedroom, feeling every bit like an intruder into something far too personal. Quickly, he gathered a navy blue fleece throw in his arms, and slipped back out into the living room. He covered Harvey loosely with the throw, and then settled at the foot of the couch, the case files in his lap, a highlighter in his teeth, a pen in his hand.

Harvey stirred slightly. "Mike?"

"Yeah?" he said, softly.

"I'm not gonna remember this tomorrow," Harvey's words were sleepy and slurred. "So...thanks, okay?"

Something hot, something cold, something exhilarating rushed through Mike at those words. "No problem," he said, suddenly feeling fiercely protective of what he had just witnessed. He had seen the vulnerable side of Harvey - no, Harvey had let him see this side, and that meant something.

Meant everything.

"And if you don't get some sleep, you're fired."

He suppressed a smile. "Got it."

He waited until Harvey had drifted back into sleep before opening the first file folder. After all, he reasoned, twenty minutes counted as some sleep.

And there wasn't a damn thing in the world that was going to stop him from helping Harvey - not even Harvey himself.

The End

Author's Note: As always, I'd love to hear what you think!