Sorry. No update for "Heat Wave" this week either. I've been studying for midterms. That, and this idea refused to let me write anything other than this story.
Harvey Specter looked around the room, although, calling it a room would be like calling the Empire State Building tall. It yawned out in four directions, its expansion stopped abruptly by four tall walls decorated with stained glass and expensive works of art that Harvey knew to be real and not copies of the original. The roof loomed above him in a wide dome, made completely of glass so that those beneath it could look up to see the changing colors of the sky as the sun descended towards the earth. It was still bright enough to see without artificial light but crystalline lamps lined the walls, casting soft light onto the intricate marble floor, making everything sparkle in a kind of dream-like haze.
A refreshments table lined one wall, offering a plentiful bounty of sweet delicacies, exotic fruits, and various cooked meats glistening in sauce. A separate table stood near the first with a hired wine connoisseur standing at the ready, empty glasses and full bottles of deep colored liquid lain out before him.
One the opposite wall, seemingly half a mile away, sat an orchestra playing sweet music that trickled in the background of the voices of the other guests invited to partake in the colloquial festivities of the grand meeting of attorneys.
Harvey turned his examination to the other guests spread about in small clusters, chattering pleasantly amongst each other. Dressed to their best and finest, woman glided across the floor in flowing dresses that hugged close to their curves while the men seemed to have started a competition amongst themselves, showing off expensive suits, shoes, and watches.
They needn't bother with a personal competition between attire. The fact was, everyone in the room was in competition with each other.
The reason for the competition was currently talking with Jessica Pearson.
Martin McNeil. A man known for his renowned wealth and power as well as his eccentric ideas, limitless humor, and fierce protection and loyalty towards his friends and family.
His father had first started the successful business of inventing and reinventing products for everyday uses. He was tinkerer, a trait Martin picked up with no difficulty. When his father retired, Martin eagerly took his place to continue building products for the everyday man and woman. Despite his growing years (and a growing plumpness around his middle), Martin remained active in his business. He was a good man and a lot of people respected him for it.
His son, James McNeil, was now an apprentice in the business, preparing to take his father's place and had already created a few inventions of his own. But it seemed someone of another business had recently acquired the blueprints for his latest invention and had made his own variation, copying James' model. Martin was looking for a good attorney to take his case in order to get his son's invention back. So he had sent an invitation to every firm in New York, asking them to send their best attorneys for him to choose the one he wanted to represent him and his son.
It seemed almost every firm in the state had sent at least three people to impress Martin. A win was sure to gain Martin's friendship and support. That, and the firm would be made famous for it.
Harvey walked around the small groups of guests silently, glancing at the familiar faces that spared him no glance. Most of the attorneys stayed in their own clicks, avoiding their rivals with vigor. They all kept an eye on Martin, waiting patiently for him to wander away from Jessica so they could pounce and take their turn talking and appealing to Martin to gain his favor.
Harvey was left alone. He had no friends here.
Jessica was still talking with Martin and, judging by his hearty laugh echoing through the room, she was doing well. Louis had cornered a tall read-head who had detached from her group to get a drink and was flirting with her, no doubt ranting on about his athletic prowess at tennis and his achievements as a junior partner judging by the expression on the young woman's face. Her strained smile, darting eyes, and slow retreating steps reminded Harvey of a mouse seeking escape from a – rather annoying and pompous – cat.
Everyone else was putting on a show of casual friendliness, and avoiding and ignoring Harvey. He had beaten them all in court at one time. He was a threat to the collective and had therefore been ostracized.
He could feel their heated gazes at his back but no one met his eye when he turned to face them. Loitering by the refreshments table, Harvey noted grimly the promptness with which the other attorneys took their drinks and left, offering not even a nod in greeting, let alone acknowledgement.
Harvey couldn't blame them (though he didn't appreciate their cowardice and petty acts of passive aggression). That's how attorneys were: empty compliments, false smiles, forced laughter. The evidence was all around him. The only genuine person in the room was Martin McNeil. Harvey didn't deny it. When he got his chance to impress, he'd act the part to. This was the nature of attorneys.
Well, the nature of real attorneys.
Mike Ross hurried up to Harvey, weaving through the clusters of attorneys like he would through cars on his bike; doing his best to appear suave. His excited grin was disconcerting.
Mike increased his pace eagerly to reach his mentor's side. "Looking all over for you," he said, thankfully remembering to drop his voice. His initial greeting had disrupted a few close groups that looked up at the pair oddly or with simmering anger and then had quickly drifted away.
Harvey was grateful for it though he hid his smile and pretended to be debating about what piece of fruit he wanted.
"You're late," he intoned.
"Yeah, sorry. Had to find the right tie."
Harvey looked up at that. Finally. Mike had finally listened to Harvey's instructions. He had finally cast aside that stupid skinny tie and –
"Didn't I say to wear a thick tie?" Harvey asked, frowning at Mike's tie.
"You're not wearing one," Mike countered indignantly, glancing pointedly at the knotted ribbon at Harvey's neck.
"Because I can pull off a bow tie," Harvey explained patronizingly.
"So can I," Mike scoffed proudly, throwing his shoulders back and planting his fists on his hips, displaying his black bow tie as if he were Superman and the tie his symbol.
Harvey glared disapprovingly at the tie identical to his own. He didn't like it when something (or someone, or even the something of someone) was similar to him.
Noticing, for the first time, the stares he was getting from others, Mike released his pose and sidled closer to Harvey, finding some comfort in being near a familiar face in a sea of hostile strangers. Too bad the kid didn't know the glares would only increase with his proximity to Harvey. Mike was no stranger to many of the other attorneys. Word had spread of Harvey's promotion and his acquirement of a new, and promising, associate.
"Just so you know," Mike murmured, distracting Harvey from shooting down the glares aimed at his associate's back, "my dressing up to your standards comes at a cost to me."
"And how do you figure that?" Harvey asked, amusement slipping into his words.
"I look like a penguin," Mike whined piteously. Harvey chuckled.
Mike shot him a glare that was refreshingly void of hate compared to the others Harvey had received at the party thus far. "And so do you," Mike added. "I feel like we have to sing and dance with Mary Poppins."
Harvey raised a brow at this.
"Oh like you didn't watch it," Mike snapped, fiddling with his tie.
"Stop that," Harvey chided, slapping Mike's hand away. "It looks fine."
This brought a smile.
"I said it looks fine. The tie."
And then the smile was gone.
"Look, a bow tie only looks good on those who know how to wear it. Exhibit A," Harvey finished, gesturing to himself. Mike rolled his eyes but his smile was back.
"Here, for one, don't slouch."
Mike snapped upright, back straight, head high, and hands on hips.
He looked ridiculous.
Harvey bit back his laugh. He unceremoniously grabbed Mike by the arm and spun him around to face the refreshments table, hiding him from the quizzical stares of the other guests, including Jessica and Martin's.
"Don't embarrass me," Harvey hissed with renewed seriousness. He still had a reputation to uphold and he had to impress Martin McNeil. And it was getting increasingly harder to do so with Mike making him laugh with his blithe antics.
Harvey offered an apologetic nod to both Jessica and Martin. Jessica shot him a fierce glare. Harvey understood her command perfectly. Control your pup. Martin, on the other hand, waved Harvey's apology away with a dismissive hand, a shake of his head, and an amused smile. Well, that was promising.
Harvey turned back to Mike. The kid was grinning.
"Stop doing that," Harvey ordered, not allowing himself to be swayed by Mike's smile. "You're giving me a bad name."
Mike's smile didn't fade. In fact, it grew devious.
"No. Whatever you're thinking, stop."
Seeing that his Superman pose had been rejected, Mike reverted to pressing his arms close to his sides, fingers sticking straight out adjacent to his body. He clicked his heels together and moved his toes apart so his feet were shaped like a V. Then he started to rock back and forth, imitating a penguin.
But he wasn't finished. No, now he stared to sing in a lowered voice.
"Oh, it's a jolly 'oliday with 'arvey."
Harvey had to cover his mouth to hide his smile and stifle his laughter. In all honesty, the kid did a good impression of Dick Van Dyke.
But now he could hear a rippling murmur running through the other guests. Harvey risked a look back to scan his fellow attorneys to see that many of them were looking at him and his associate: nudging others and whispering and pointing at the odd pair. Jessica and Martin, the potential client they were trying to gain, had also turned their attention to Mike and Harvey.
"Damn it, Mike," Harvey hissed, all previous joviality gone, "If Jessica fires me for this, I swear I'm taking you done with me."
Mike paused in his dance and looked behind him, noticing that he now had an audience. His face paled before red rushed up to color it. He turned quickly, hitching up his shoulders defensively to fend off the quiet snickering. He slowly stated to sidestep away from Harvey, keeping his head bowed to hide his face. He made it to the end of the table, conscious that he was still being watched, and then hurried out of the room.
It was silent for a moment, except for the orchestra still playing a melodic tune, and then the quiet conversations picked up where they left off and the incident was forgotten.
Harvey was alone again, staring at the door where his associate, his only ally in a sea of rivals; the only person to come up to him with a lack of insincerity, had disappeared.
He tore his gaze away and found Jessica's. She smiled resignedly and motioned with her head to follow Mike. Harvey turned to face her fully, his head dipped slightly and his brow lowered as if to say, "You sure?" Jessica raised a delicate brow and turned slightly to indicate Martin behind her.
The man was laughing enthusiastically, elbowing an attorney in the arm and talking amiably to the group of a firm's attorneys who had taken advantage of Jessica's distraction to talk to Martin. But it didn't seem they could get a word in edgewise as Martin made a little skip: a move Harvey recognized being performed by Dick Van Dyke and animated penguins.
Harvey met Jessica's gaze once more and she nodded approvingly. It seemed Mike's antics had impressed Martin. Harvey gave Jessica a smile and a bow before slipping away, the gazes of the others following him out of the room. If he had bothered to look back, he'd have seen the disappointment evident in the attorneys' faces at having lost once again to the great Harvey Specter.
Harvey found Mike outside on the front porch, leaning against the railing; gazing out at the dark sky untouched by the decorative lamps that illuminated the front yard of Martin's house. Green grass circled gardens of fruit trees, vegetable patches, and flower beds. A paved path snaked around the gardens and stretched towards the front gate where cars were parked just outside its border.
"Was looking for you," Harvey said in way of announcing his arrival.
Mike cringed visibly. He turned slowly to face Harvey, eyes downcast. His bow tie was unraveled and hanging limply around his neck.
"Harvey, I'm sorry," he started, looking like a child who knew Harvey knew what he had done wrong and was willing to admit it to prevent having it pointed out to him in a demeaning fashion. "I didn't mean to embarrass you. I just wanted to have some fun. Felt like a laugh was needed in there, especially when you were alone looking so…"
His rambling ceased as his eyes met Harvey's. He quickly abandoned the conclusion of his thought with a drop of his shoulders and lowered his eyes. "I'm sorry. I'll go."
Mike made a move to step past Harvey but Harvey grabbed his arm, stopping him.
"Mike," Harvey stared hesitantly. Mike looked up with those god-damn puppy eyes. "I'm not angry at you," he said gently. "You didn't do anything wrong. I – Damn it. I can't take you seriously like that."
Before Mike could ask, Harvey promptly took hold of the ribbon around Mike's neck and focused on tying it. Mike stayed silent; casting furtive glances around the yard and back towards the door as Harvey finished his knot and arranged the tie neatly.
"There," he said with satisfaction, stepping back to assess Mike's appearance. "Now, keep your head held high and stand straight."
"Not so stiff. Relax."
"Good. Remember, when you walk, stay relaxed. Not too fast; not too slow. Don't go swinging your arms around either."
"Don't look so piteous. You want to look confident and proud so no scowling and, for the love of god, don't grin like an idiot. If someone makes eye contact with you, give them a nod and a small polite smile. That's all. Got it?"
Mike nodded. "Yes sir."
"That's proper bow tie etiquette. Any questions?"
Mike raised his hand, a spark of familiar deviance back in his eyes.
"Don't do that," Harvey sighed, rubbing a hand down his face. "What?"
"Why are you telling me this?"
The genuine confusion in Mike's voice made Harvey look up. The kid had his brow furrowed in his familiar expression of misunderstanding.
"Because I need to make sure you look good," Harvey answered with an easy smile; casually tucking his hands into his pockets.
"So that you look good," Mike finished knowingly; a hint of contempt marring the statement.
"Exactly. Now, let's get back in there before some other firm takes our client." Harvey turned to go back inside.
"So, you want me to go back with you?"
Harvey stopped and turned. Mike was staring back at him, one foot forward in eagerness but the other hanging back with uncertainty.
"You're my associate," Harvey said straightforwardly. "You go where I go. Most of the time," he added when Mike opened his mouth to protest. Mike accepted this and closed his mouth.
"Besides, you seemed to have made quite the impression in there. McNeil noticed you."
Color returned to Mike's cheeks at the memory.
Harvey smiled. "That's a good thing."
Mike looked at him with obvious skepticism.
"Ok, while your choice of action may not have been the most desirable, you still attracted his attention. That was the goal of this party; the goal of every attorney in there. And you did it."
"So, I should do stupid things to get a client?"
"No. God no. In fact, if you pull a stunt like that again, I'll fire you. But it is important to stand out. To McNeil, we're just a room full of suits and pretty dresses. You showed him that you're more."
"A penguin," Mike amended with a sheepish grin.
Harvey laughed. "Yes, but the client seemed to like that."
Mike nodded thoughtfully. He took a brave breath and settled into his bow tie pose: cool and collected. "Ok. Let's go."
Harvey offered him a smile – encouraging? Proud? Approving? He wasn't sure. – and turned to go back in, Mike's footsteps padding after him. And then beside him. Harvey gave Mike a sidelong glance.
His associate walked beside his mentor with ease, head high as if to better display the bow tie that matched Harvey's. His steps were calm, synched with Harvey's perfectly.
Mike noticed Harvey's gaze and met his eye, flashing his own grin before slipping into a professional smile. Harvey smiled back.
Together, the two reentered the room, instantly attracting several stares with their radiating air of pride and confidence. Martin was waiting for them and eagerly stepped forward, clapping Mike on the back with a hearty laugh.
Harvey drifted towards Jessica, trusting Mike on his own. Boss and attorney exchanged a glance and watched with pleased smiles as Martin introduced Mike to James.
The other attorneys already started to trickle out the door. There was no point in staying.
I can't say for sure where this idea came from. I just wanted Mike to show up to give some company to Harvey. And then it turned into a Mary Poppins reference (by the way, Mary Poppins, its characters, songs, and penguins don't belong to me). I hope you enjoyed it.
Hey, did my White Collar readers recognize Marty? Yep, I brought my special OC here into the Suits world. I might let him roam around here a bit.
Anyway, I'll get back to my other story soon so stay with me a bit longer. Until then,
(Disclaimer: Suits and its characters don't belong to me but I'm glad to been able to use them for my own devices.)