The Traditional Approach to Puppy Care
A/N: My first Suits fic! All my love to my exceptional beta Phoenix on cloud nine for her encouragement and help.
"You have to do something about your damn associate."
Harvey looked up from the brief he was perusing to see a red-faced Louis standing in front of his desk.
"You seem to suffer from the same affliction that keeps Mike from remembering how to knock," Harvey replied mildly.
"Mike is the reason I'm here!" Louis said through clenched teeth.
"No, Jessica's misguided charity is most likely the reason you're here," Harvey was looking at the brief again.
"Either you do something about that damn kid, or I'll go to Jessica," Louis ground out, looking to be on the verge of screaming. Harvey sighed and set the brief on his desk, finally giving Louis his full attention.
"What happened?" He asked; not that he cared.
"What happened is that Ross has been a rude little shit all day and since he's your puppy, it's your job to control him!" Louis huffed, folding his arms and looking every inch the disgruntled schoolmarm tattling about a badly-behaved student to Daddy.
Outside of dumping some files and a merger outline on Mike early that morning, Harvey hadn't seen his associate since. While Harvey knew for a fact that Louis worked in melodrama the way others worked in paint, or clay, if Mike was terrorizing the office, he had to put a stop to it before Jessica found out and there was real trouble. Normally Louis was in charge of disciplining the associates, but Harvey had made it clear from the beginning that no one disciplined Mike but him, especially not Louis.
"Alright, Louis, get out of my office and tell Mike to get his ass in here - I'll see what the problem is," Harvey promised.
He watched Louis glower for another few seconds before he stormed out, muttering; "You better."
Within a few minutes, Mike was standing in front of Harvey's desk, looking annoyed and impatient.
"Louis said you wanted to see me," he finally spoke when Harvey didn't look up from the brief he was once again reading. Harvey didn't reply, calmly turning a page and continuing to read as if Mike wasn't there. Mike, temper uncharacteristically short, gave an indignant sigh and turned to walk away.
"I don't have time for this shit today - come find me when you actually have something to say!" He threw over his shoulder. Harvey let him get as far as his hand on the door handle before his voice rang out sharply.
"Did I say you could leave?" Harvey was now staring straight at Mike, who had turned to face the desk again, fingers still gripping the door handle.
"You didn't say anythi-"
"I don't need to; you're the puppy, you stay until I acknowledge you," now it was Harvey who looked annoyed. He pointed at the spot in front of his desk in a silent command.
Rolling his eyes, Mike went back to his previous spot in front of the desk and stood, looking disgruntled.
Harvey sat back in his chair and regarded his associate. Mike was generally cheerful to the point of being annoying; quick to smile and laugh; ever the bleeding heart optimist that buttered Donna up in all the right ways and wrangled the occasional laugh out of the mighty Harvey Specter. He'd seen Mike have moments of anger or irritation, but they were rare, fleeting and never lasted this long. From what he could gather from a quick conversation with Donna via the intercom, Mike had been in a major snit since he'd come in that morning - snapping and snarling at the other associates with more venom than he was known for. After getting their heads ripped off once or twice, the other associates decided to lay off their usual pastime of Mike-baiting and they collectively steered clear of him. Louis - socially stunted as always - had, predictably, failed to pick up the clues that Mike was having a Really Bad Day, and should generally be left Very Much Alone.
He'd come over to Mike's cubicle with a stack of miscellaneous grunt work to foist off on Mike, who was up to his elbows in paperwork and wearing a grim expression as he carefully highlighted a passage, earphones jammed resolutely in his ears. After his pretentious throat-clearing failed to gain Mike's attention, the junior partner took it upon himself to yank the left earphone out, which effectively shattered both Mike's concentration, and his tenuous control over his temper.
"God, Louis what do you want?" Mike asked angrily, slamming down his highlighter and giving the older man a scathing look. Taken aback for a second at the vehemence in Mike's voice, Louis quickly rallied and fixed him with an icy look.
"What I want, Mike is for you to get to work on these files," Louis dropped them unceremoniously on a corner of Mike's desk not already covered in papers. Mike immediately snatched them up and thrust them roughly back into the arms of an astonished Louis.
"No. I'm up to my ass in research for Harvey - legitimate work; not some bullshit busywork you're too lazy to do. Get one of these other assholes to do your bidding, I don't have time. "
Louis stared at Mike in stunned silence; well aware that all around him the other associates were watching the drama unfold, their part of the office abnormally silent. Louis finally found his voice, face flushed with rage.
"We'll just see about your attitude, Ross," Louis hissed before stalking off with the rejected files. Mike glowered at his retreating back for a few minutes before putting his earphones back in and going back to his work.
"What seems to be your major malfunction today? You've got Louis' panties all in a twist; he's threatening to tattle to Jessica if I don't do something about you. I figured he was being his usual drama-queen self, but now I'm starting to think there might have been something to all his whining," Harvey said levelly.
"Nothing," Mike said shortly. "I'm fine; Louis is just being a dick."
"Yes well, that's nothing new, but since when do you get all worked up over some grunt work?" Harvey asked.
"I'm not worked up over anything, I just don't have time to be harassed by him today," Mike ran a hand over his hair agitatedly, doing a very good impression of 'worked up' in Harvey's eyes.
"Look, kid, no one enjoys dealing with Louis, least of all me, but when you pull that crap you did with him earlier and he wants your head on a platter, then I have to get involved. Fix your damn attitude or I'll fix it for you," Harvey stated bluntly.
"Oh sure, Dad, I'll get right on that," Mike quipped sarcastically. He honestly didn't know how to stop himself. It was like the snowball that rolled downhill; the longer the day went on, the angrier he got. And the angrier he got, the harder it was to snap out of it. He wanted to tell Harvey that he was sorry, that he'd quit baiting Louis and get back to work, but he couldn't make himself say the words, so he stood there and fumed silently instead.
Harvey looked closely at Mike. The kid looked miserable and out of sorts. Harvey saw the dark circles under his eyes - he'd been pulling a lot of all-nighters lately, and the older man made a mental note to keep a closer eye on that. Not because he cared, but having Mike pass out from exhaustion wasn't exactly conducive to getting a lot of work done. He debated with himself about what to do - yelling at Mike would probably only escalate the situation further, and he knew sending him home wouldn't accomplish much either. He decided to try a more traditional method.
"Alright, go stand in the corner."
Mike blinked, startled. "…what?"
"Corner, go stand in it," Harvey pointed to the far left-hand corner of his office, behind the round table and near the record player. Mike looked at the corner then back at Harvey.
"You can't be serious."
"But, Harvey, that's a little kid's punishment!"
"How appropriate, seeing as you're acting like one. Don't make me say it again," Harvey watched Mike hesitate for a moment, and was in the processing of standing up when Mike muttered something but went to the indicated corner and stood there.
Harvey lowered himself back down into his chair and crossed one leg over the other carelessly as he picked up a file and flipped it open.
"How long do I have to stand here?" Mike asked from the corner, voice more embarrassed then angry.
"Until I say to come out. Now, be quiet; no talking in the corner," Harvey said conversationally, eyes on the file. Sighing in defeat, Mike fell silent.
If he were to ever admit to such things (which he wouldn't), he would have said that Mike looked pitifully adorable standing in the corner; head down, restlessly shifting his weight and fiddling with the cuff of one rolled-up shirt sleeve. Harvey didn't mind the silence, but after a few glances at his wayward associate, it was clear he was no less wound up then he was when he had been sent to the corner in the first place. Since the entire point of sending him there was to calm him down, Harvey tried a new tactic.
"Since you were a bad puppy and forced me to waste time trying to show you the error of your ways, you're not getting any work done. The least you can do is listen to the counter-brief that Dobson filed in response to our motion to suppress. Pay attention – quietly," he clarified when it looked like Mike was going to speak. Mike closed his mouth and nodded.
"Therefore, we submit to the court that there is no constitutional basis for the suppression of the aforementioned evidence, and ask the motion be denied in total. "
Harvey looked up from the brief and smirked: mission accomplished. Mike was leaning heavily against the bookcase; head tipped forward, eyes closed and more asleep then awake. Standing up, Harvey deftly buttoned his suit-jacket and strode quietly over to Mike, gently grabbing him by the upper arm.
"Alright, Junior, I hope you learned something," Harvey said softly as he led his sleepy associate over to his couch and pushed him down on it gently. Mike, incredibly sleep-fuzzled, tried to rally, but was pushed back down by Harvey carefully.
"I gotta get back to work," Mike protested weakly.
"You're exhausted, and therefore useless to me in this condition. Lay down and take a nap; I'll wake you in a few hours - and I expect the pissy little teenage girl attitude to be gone," Harvey groused. Mike curled up happily on the couch and closed his eyes.
"M'kay," Mike mumbled.
"More trouble then you're worth, you know that?" Harvey whispered rhetorically, as he glanced down at his peacefully sleeping associate. Without meaning to, he found his hand carding gently through the tousled blond locks for a moment - he really was going soft. Mike smiled a little in his sleep, and Harvey couldn't completely squash the rush of fondness that welled up in his chest. Stupid, brilliant kid was going to be the death of him yet.
He moved away from the softly snoring Mike and went back to his desk.
"Donna – "
"I know, hold all your calls and don't let anyone in," came her hushed reply from the intercom. He didn't have to see her face to know she was grinning.
"Yes well, if he wakes up too soon he'll be whining all afternoon," Harvey justified.
"Sure, Harvey," came the reply.
"I get no respect around here," he sighed, as he glanced over once more to see that Mike was sleeping peacefully. He then started taking notes on what he wanted Mike to do with the brief when he woke him.
He'd mollify Louis' bruised ego later - right now he had to puppy to look after.