The two men stood on opposite ends of the couch, Harvey staring at Mike and Mike looking down at his shoes. The silence was stretching on between them while Harvey gathered his thoughts about the young man in front of him. He knew that he had every right to be pissed and part of him wanted to throw Mike out of the apartment again just so he wouldn't have to deal this. The other part of him, the part that had grown inexplicably fond of Mike wanted him to help the kid. He decided that he should listen to that second part of him this time. He had told Mike once that he was responsible for him. That hadn't changed.
Harvey's voice cut into Mike's thoughts and Mike couldn't stop the flinch at the steel in his voice. "I'm going to ask you some questions Mike and you're going to answer them. Honestly. If you even try lying to me I'll know. I already told you once that lying to me is never the right decision."
Mike looked up at the man that he considered his mentor and knew that he owed Harvey a lot more than the honesty that he was currently demanding. Mike nodded both to show that he understood the instructions and in acknowledgement that Harvey had indeed told him this before. He shifted his weight nervously and waited for the inquisition that he knew he deserved.
"Do I want to know where you got the stuff?" Mike was a little surprised that this was the first question Harvey decided to ask. Harvey, on the other hand, wanted Mike off balance so the kid wouldn't be able to dodge any questions.
"I use to be a professional pothead, I know where to get it." Mike cringed at the flippant answer. He had been going for funny, but fell far short of that goal.
If it was possible Harvey's voice turned even colder. "Don't get smart with me. This is your one and only warning. Another answer like that and you're out of here." Mike flushed at the reprimand. Harvey moved closer to Mike, crowding his personal space and forcing Mike to either look up at him or fall over. You had to press when you had an advantage. "You said you can't sleep. Explain."
"Nightmares. I can only sleep for three, maybe four hours if I'm lucky and then I wake up. Sometimes I don't even know what happened in the dream and all that I'm left with is this residual fear or panic that I can't explain."
"Why didn't you come get me, wake me up?" Harvey had suspected that nightmares would be the reason Mike hadn't been sleeping but he was glad that Mike admitted it. He needed the kid to be honest right now, for both of their sakes.
"I didn't think that we both needed to lose sleep. Someone had to be rested enough to concentrate at work. Besides, I'm a grown man. I should be able to handle some dreams." Mike couldn't keep the self-loathing out of his voice and it cut like a blade across Harvey's chest.
"You're a puppy." Harvey's voice had softened without his permission and even Mike was able to pick up on the exasperated fondness that lurked just beneath the surface.
Mike had hated it when Harvey had first started referring to him as a puppy but now he recognized the nickname as one of Harvey's ways of showing that he cared without actually having to say that he cared. Mike felt some of the tension leave his body. Maybe this mess hadn't gotten completely out of hand yet, it just might be salvageable. Mike saw the ray of light at the end of the tunnel and he was determined to reach it, to come out the other side whole.
Harvey could see that Mike was starting to get lost in thoughts which reminded Harvey of something else that the kid had said during that rant in the hallway. Harvey crossed his arms over chest and plunged ahead before he lost complete control of the situation. "What did you mean you had to silence the voices in your head?"
Mike broke eye contact and looked over Harvey's shoulder, sighing before answering. "I'm not crazy or anything. It's not that kind of voice. For as long as I can remember my own subconscious has been one of my own worst enemies. It's always telling me that I'm not good enough, that I'm just a screw up. When you kicked me out of your office this evening that little voice was all too happy to start babbling about how I was a disappointment and untrustworthy and how having me around was a liability for you." Mike wasn't sure if he was embarrassed or relieved as he admitted all of this to Harvey. No one besides Trevor knew about his complete lack of self-confidence. He didn't even understand why he felt this way about himself. "Getting high was the only thing that made the damn voice go away. I don't know how else to make it shut up."
Harvey watched the range of emotions pass over Mike's face. He knew that the young man was constantly in need of validation but Harvey had never expected it to be this big of a problem for him. He would have to remember to give the kid a pat on the back a little more often. "Listen up rookie because I'm only saying this once. You're not a disappointment. I wouldn't keep you around if you were. You're not a screw up either. You might make bad choices, tonight being a prime example, and you might forget important folders on your desk, like today, but that doesn't make you a screw up. It makes you human. So you tell that voice in your head to shove it."
Mike couldn't help the light chuckle that escaped at the end. It was such a Harvey thing to say; to just basically tell yourself off because you don't like what you're telling yourself. "I don't know if that work, but I'll try." Mike returned his gaze to Harvey's face, wanting to make sure that Harvey knew he was serious.
"You said you could fix this. What 'this' were you referring to?"
Mike sighed and broke eye contact again. He didn't know if he could admit this while looking at Harvey. "Us. I know I screwed up. And I know that getting high tonight only made things worse. I was so miserable the whole time I was smoking. That's never happened before, you know? I just kept thinking about the promise I made you. And I realized that this is the first time that I don't want to give up, just walk away and forget about everything. I know that you're not going to forgive me right away, assuming you're going to forgive me at all, but I knew had to come back and try to apologize, to make things right between us."
Well, shit. Harvey sighed, his shoulders finally relaxing and Mike almost wanted to cheer. Harvey turned back toward the couch and sat, indicating that Mike should do the same. "Couple of ground rules, kid. First, if you ever get high again, we're done. No apologies, no excuses, nothing. You're fired and I don't want to see you again." Mike gulped and nodded. That was going to be a pretty effective method of keeping Mike away from weed for the rest of his life. "Second, you wake me up if you have a nightmare. You don't have to sit by yourself when I'm just in the other room. Understand?" Again Mike nodded, relieved because clearly this meant that Harvey wasn't going to kick him out of the condo again. "Third, if you start falling behind in paperwork, tell me. I'll give you shit about it but I'll help you."
"You'll help me?"
"Believe it or not I was an associate too once upon a time and I do know how to do paperwork. Part of the perks of not being the puppy anymore is having someone else around to do it for you. Now, fourth, you talk to me if something like that idiotic voice in your head is bothering you. I can't fix the problem if I don't know that one exists. I can't exactly hear the voice that lives in your head." Mike grinned, acknowledging the truth of that statement, regardless of how ridiculous it sounded. "I'm serious Mike. You have to talk to me when something is bothering you. I'm not going to chase you down. You come to me and I promise to listen."
"I promise." Mike meant it. The two men sat on the couch, Sports Center playing quietly in the background. The silence was becoming comfortable again although Mike knew that there were still things that they were going to have to talk about, but enough had been said tonight. He settled on the couch facing the TV and laid his head back. He was exhausted, but not the bone weary tired that he had been all week. Instead it was the kind of pleasant exhausted that you get after emotional conversations when everything in your world is starting to correct itself. His eyes were becoming heavier and he knew he was going to be asleep in another couple of minutes. He could feel his head listing over to the side until it bumped into Harvey's shoulder. Mike was going to move and was preparing to mumble an apology, until he felt Harvey shift his arm around his shoulders and pull him that little bit closer. Mike fell asleep with a smile on his face.
Monday rolled around, the weekend having been uneventful after Friday night. They had talked some more, relaxed around the condo and went out for dinner when neither felt like cooking. As they approached Harvey's office Donna looked up and graced both of them with a smile, obviously pleased that they had reconciled. Harvey allowed himself to grin back at her as Donna passed him his messages, squeezed Mike's arm and went back to her computer.
The two worked steadily through the morning in Harvey's office going through the remainder of the paperwork from the weekend and starting the files for their new case. They had some initial proposals set up and Harvey gathered the paperwork and stood up. "Good work, Mike. I'm going to head over and meet with the client, show him the proposals and see if he'll agree."
Mike looked up startled. "I'm not going?"
Harvey looked at his associate carefully before responding, keeping his voice honest but not angry. "No, you're not going. What you said the other night was right on. I'm not going to forgive you completely right away. You're going to have to work for it. If you're serious about not quitting this, then prove it to me. You can start coming to meetings again when I'm convinced that you've got your act together."
Mike nodded. If Harvey wanted him to prove his loyalty, then he would. He had meant it when he promised Harvey that would fix this and if that meant staying at the office and doing paperwork, then so be it. He gathered up his supplies as Harvey left the office and he went back to his cubicle to start on the next batch of files. He was interrupted two hours later by a text from Harvey telling him that the client went for his proposal. Mike grinned and got back to work.
It was almost two full weeks later when Mike was allowed to go to a meeting again. Harvey even let him do some of the talking. The two weeks had passed by uneventfully; occasionally they would bring work home with them instead of staying late at the office and Harvey even took Mike to a Yankees game ("It's a sin to live in this city and not go to the Stadium regularly"). Their relationship was back to normal. They bantered back and forth, they argued about what to have for dinner and whose turn it was to cook. Underneath that though was a new level of honesty between them that Mike was eternally grateful for. Harvey had been true to his word and he listened when Mike needed to talk about a nightmare (which were becoming less frequent) or when he just needed to vent about his frustrations. It was comforting to know that he had someone he could go to.
Mike had gotten word from the engineers that he could move back into his apartment by the end of the month. While he was sad to be leaving, he couldn't deny that he was excited about getting back to his own place.
When the day came to move out, Harvey helped him box up his things and drive him across town to his apartment building. They unpacked and reorganized the new things with the stuff already in Mike's apartment. Luckily the damage to his area of the building had been very minimal so there wasn't really anything broken or much to be cleaned up.
Finally everything had been put in its place and the boxes had been collapsed and piled near the door for recycling. The two men were sitting on the couch, finishing up the movie that had been on when Harvey started talking.
"Just so you know, Mike, the ground rules don't change just because you aren't living with me anymore. I still expect you to hold up your end of the agreement." Harvey looked over from his spot on the couch to Mike sitting next to him.
"I know. I learned my lesson Harvey. I won't screw up like that again. I promise."
Harvey got up and prepared to leave. "Good. If you need something, you call me. Or you can come over if that'll make you feel better. You seemed to get along with my couch well enough so if you start to miss it I'll let you borrow it from time to time." Mike rolled his eyes at that but he heard the message underneath; he was welcomed to crash at Harvey's if he needed the company or someone to talk to.
Harvey had made his way to the door and was about to open it when Mike spoke. "Harvey, I don't think that I can thank you enough. For letting me stay with you, for not firing me when you by every right should have, for putting up with my shit when you shouldn't have to. I don't know how to make all of this up to you."
"You keep your promise. That's how."
Mike nodded solemnly. That was one promise he intended on never breaking. "Done."