Guarding Jupiter – Part Five
That was the absolute last thing Harvey had expected him to say, and it stopped Harvey in his tracks.
"It won't be difficult," said Mike, trying to sort out his thoughts. "I will just tell Jessica that I don't want to bring any sense of impropriety to the firm."
"To hell with that," said Harvey. "Explain what you just said. What do you mean my life flashed before your eyes?"
"This apartment, my lack of wardrobe that you are so fond of pointing out, they are the reason my grandmother's facility care is paid for as of the next six months, plus a reserve for medical expenses. If I leave, I go back to being a mortal with a run-of-the-mill probably minimum-wage job that at least lets me eat and pay rent."
"Yeah that sounds like a really compelling reason to leave," interjected Harvey.
"Don't interrupt," said Mike, trying to hold on to his resolve. "If they find out about you…" He paused and took a breath, meeting Harvey's gaze. Harvey winced at the pain he saw there. "If they find out about you, it's over for you and we both know it. At best, you get disbarred, and at worst, I don't even want to know what happens to the firm."
"The longer I stay, the greater the chance that this charade falls apart and that all of this actually happens. You and I both know that, it almost happened today. And if wasn't for Lola, it would have."
"Let me get this straight, you're leaving to protect me?" Harvey was shouting now. "What right do you think you have to do that? I'm not some five year old that needs hand-holding Mike. Jesus Christ, I thought you were smarter than that."
Mike took a seat on the sofa, curled his feet under him and said softly, "I know you care sometimes, Harvey. You wouldn't have come through for me so many times if you didn't. Maybe it's for your own reasons, or maybe it's for me, I don't know. But I'm grateful anyway, regardless of how stupid you think I am. " He wiped away the moisture in his eyes and said, "You think after everything you've done for me, that I could stand to see you go down for this?"
"I can fight my own battles, Mike, "said Harvey exasperatedly.
"Maybe you can, but since I'm the one who got you into this particular mess, I'm the one who's going to get you out of it."
"A little cocky there, aren't we?" said Harvey. "I'm the one who hired you, remember? It was my decision. I'm not an idiot, Mike. I knew exactly what I was doing when I hired you."
"And when you fired me," Mike said brokenly.
"What?" said Harvey, trying to think back. "I thought we worked things out about the pot."
"That first day," said Mike. "You came into the office and you tried to fire me. And I blackmailed you into keeping me on."
Mike didn't have to apologize, to stammer lengthy explanations that he had learned his lesson since then. Harvey could see the guilt written across his face in neon.
"You think all of this is your fault," said Harvey gently.
"Isn't it? You're good at reading between the lines. Now do the math. " Mike shuddered and took a ragged breath.
Harvey had been pacing at the end of the sofa but moved closer to where Mike was sitting and took a seat beside him.
"How long have you known me?" he said softly.
"Five months, and twelve days," said Mike reflexively.
"And in that time, have you ever seen me do anything that I didn't actually want to do? Well, unless Donna was somehow involved, anyway," he said lightly.
Mike gazed at him with guilt-ridden eyes and said, "I didn't give you a choice." His voice broke as if the weight of the world itself had crushed him with that same thought.
Harvey gave an exasperated sigh. "Mike, if I had wanted you gone, make no mistake, you would be gone. I hired you back because you gave me an idea of how to take the pressure off of Jessica's ultimatum. And because you impressed the hell out of me. Doesn't the fact that you had to remind me of this little incident suggest that it didn't exactly have a long-lasting impact?"
"Well, when you put it that way…"
Harvey smiled fondly at the younger man, shaking his head. "Get it through that freaky brain of yours: This is not your fault. Whatever happens, happens. I am the one who lied to Jessica, and I am the one that hired you. I will accept responsibility for that if the time comes, and I don't need you trying to ride to the rescue on a white horse. You'd probably fall off it anyway."
"Now," he added with gruff affection, "promise me you're not going to do anything stupid." His voice softened as he added, "and promise me you'll stay."
"Who are you and what have you done with the real Harvey?" asked Mike with a grin that broke the tension between them.
Harvey punched him lightly in the arm and said, "That's not an answer, rookie."
"Yes on both counts, then," said Mike with sudden seriousness. He looked so young as his face softened and he said hopefully, "We're good, then?"
"We're good." Harvey relaxed against the sofa and breathed a sigh of relief. This was why he hated having emotions, it was so goddamn draining. He was about to ask Mike if he had anything to drink when the younger man dropped the second bomb of the evening.
"Okay then," said Mike smiling. His gaze turned serious after a moment, and he added, "Now, about Trevor."
* o * o * o * o * o * o *
"What about Trevor?"
"You're going after him, aren't you? I'm wondering if you called your private investigator already or if you were waiting till after this conversation." Damn the kid was starting to think like him way too often.
"You disapprove?" he said, by way of answer.
Mike surprised him for the second time that night. "No, not this time I don't."
"You're going to give up your friendship with Trevor, just like that? Without hearing his side of the story?" He hated to be arguing on Trevor's behalf, but it was vital that Mike figure out right then and there exactly where he stood on Trevor's betrayal. If not, it would tear their own relationship apart in short order.
"What is it that he could possibly say?" Harvey winced at the hurt in Mike's voice. "I'm used to him doing stupid shit and then apologizing afterwards. It's kind of our thing. But it wasn't just me he did this to, no this time. I'm not going to sit back and watch him destroy the people I care about, especially when he's only doing it to piss me off."
Harvey's heart warmed at Mike's misguided sense of protectiveness. If he had admitted to being sentimental, he would have found it endearing. As it was, it had taken the day's events to realize that Mike's concern for Harvey was also a huge liability. Oh well, he thought, he had been protecting Mike from himself for this long, why quit now?
He was about to ask Mike if he was really sure that he and Trevor were finished when the younger man sat upright and exclaimed "Oh God, Jenny. She's back at her place tonight, and I haven't called her, and I have to go-" Harvey put a hand on his shoulder to keep him on the sofa. "Not so fast, there, Lancelot." At the panicked look Mike shot at him, he said "It's taken care of."
"What do you mean it's taken care of?"
"My PI has a guy keeping an eye on him. If he goes anywhere near your place or Jenny's, I get a phone call."
"How'd you get Jenny's-"
"Donna," they both said in unison. Mike smiled. "Figures."
"So what's the plan?" said Mike, warily.
"There isn't one, not yet," said Harvey. "I want to be very clear about this. I am not going to let him get to you again, but that can happen in a number of different ways. He's your friend, or your ex-friend. It's up to you to decide how far this goes."
Mike was quiet for awhile, his mind whirling. Finally he said, "He's a friend, Harvey. Still. I don't want him back in jail, I just want him out of my life. You probably think I'm being stupid, but that's the way it is."
"I don't think you're being stupid. You're as loyal as they come, Mike. I respect that about you. But I'm sure as hell not going to let Trevor take advantage of that."
"What are you going to do?"
"I am just going to suggest to him that life in Montana was pretty good," said Harvey. "I will tell you what I won't do – I won't use anything Vanessa finds in his past to get him arrested. But if he pulls anything from this moment forward, my first phone call is to Detective Sanders." After helping clear Clifford Danner, Sanders had offered his services in the future. Harvey was not opposed to taking the Detective up on his offer.
"And if you change your mind, whether its tomorrow morning or next week, you tell me, okay? I hope you won't, but I'd…" He hated getting emotional. "I'd understand."
They chatted for awhile longer until the lateness of the hour and stress took its toll on both of them. Mike walked Harvey out of the building to the waiting limo.
"You don't have to walk me out, you know. I can get to the curb by myself."
"I know," said Mike, clearly enjoying Harvey's irritation. Life was most certainly back to normal.
Before he got in the limo Harvey said, "Oh. Ray and I will be around to pick you up at seven, be out on the curb."
"Oh God, this is going to become a thing, isn't it?" groaned Mike. "You worried Trevor is going to – what - ambush me on the way to work?"
"No, I just want you looking presentable for court this week. For a change," said Harvey indignantly.
"I take it after this week you won't care quite so much what I wear to court," said Mike knowingly.
"Hey I can't help it if we have a discerning judge," said Harvey.
"Oh please," said Mike. "You and I both know Judge Winters couldn't see past the end of her nose without her bifocals. And her appreciation of fashion probably ends with the demise of the corset."
"Never hurts to be prepared," said Harvey, stepping into the limo. Outwardly he ignored the smile Mike was beaming in his direction but even in the dim light, he hadn't failed to notice the genuine happiness in the younger man's eyes, which seemed to shine with their own light.
"See you tomorrow, Sensei," said Mike warmly, closing the door before Harvey had a chance to respond.
* o * o * o * o * o * o *
"So I was thinking last night," said Mike, turning his gaze from the town car window to Harvey.
"Never a good idea," Harvey muttered.
"There's a chance this still won't work. I guess we need to be prepared for that possibility."
"We are," said Harvey softly. "I told you that you weren't in this by yourself, and I meant it." Harvey thought for a moment and then asked "How much of a backstory did Lola give you?"
"She originally added me to the alumni database, but then went back in later and added transcripts."
"How the hell did you get her to do that?" said Harvey, impressed.
"I never asked her to do any of it. You should know as well as I do that no one gets Lola to do anything. She was just… grateful."
Harvey smirked at his associate.
"No, not that kind of grateful, sheesh. You remember that weird charge from Excelsior Excursions on your corporate card that I said to bill as Client Retention?"
"Lola's father could buy the sailboat factory, why the hell would he want to rent a sailboat?"
"That's not the point." Mike did that thing where he looked at Harvey as if he'd just said two plus two totaled five. "Lola's past with her dad means a lot to her. When she was a kid, before her father's company took off, they used to rent a sailboat and cruise up the coast. Her birthday was coming up, and Jessica was okay with Pearson Hardman footing the bill."
"I take it from the sudden materialization of your transcripts that things went well?"
"She loved it," said Mike proudly. "So did her dad."
"How is it that I didn't know about this?" said Harvey, wondering suddenly what other secrets Mike was keeping from him.
"I was going to tell you but you got wrapped up in that case with Louis, and it was never the right time, and then the thing with Cameron Dennis happened. It was just a good thing," said Mike humbly. "It wasn't like you had to clean anything up. I didn't want to waste your time."
"I may not be a big fan of emotion but I do like good news as much as the next person," said Harvey. "I wish you would have told me. " He was silent a moment and added, "That was a good call."
"Yeah," said Mike.
"And you have transcripts." Harvey was still having a hard time processing that bit of information.
"Yeah. Though I will admit, I passed Real Estate Law by the skin of my teeth."
"Now you're just being cruel," said Harvey, as they arrived at the office.
"Come on, kid," he said, waiting uncharacteristically for Mike on the curb. "Let's go put this diploma issue to rest." He gave Mike a meaningful glance and added, "We've got work to do."
* o * o * o * o * o * The End * o * o * o * o *
If you made it all the way through, thanks so much for reading! Please leave a comment if you enjoyed. This eruption of fic was the result of a bad week, and it would really make my day. :)
Since I wanted to make this mostly about Harvey and Mike, I intentionally left the resolution with Trevor open-ended, though I have some ideas for a continuation if you guys are interested.