It takes very little to unravel a lie.
The second a human being projects a story onto an audience of people, there will be those who take the word as gospel, and those who laugh at the ludicrous nature of the suggestion. Some will be indifferent; and some will be forever changed by it, for the better or the worse. Words shape societies internationally, no matter in what language they are spoken in, the context, or what they actually mean. They affect the decisions that each individual makes on a daily basis, or the calls that have to make only once in a lifetime.
Lies are just words, actions, and gestures—not entirely unlike truths, except for their nature. It's as easy to change someone with a truth as it is with a lie, as knowledge, whether false or not, manipulates what people know. A quiet truth, in many instances, could be twelve times as effective as an extravagant lie, and still change the situation to be how you like it.
But each and every piece of truth handed out to the world is a piece of the person themselves—we are our words. Every time someone whispers a secret into someone else's ear they give a hint away about their true nature, or their darkest desires. Due to this, it's much easier just to tell a lie.
However, on every occasion a lie is told, a fragment of the truth slips out with it, embedding itself in the essence of the falsified reality. If someone were to take the time to think over a phrase they know is a lie, to maul it over and over again in their minds, they'd find the shockingly naked veracity amongst all the words. That's the fundamental way in which lies are bought by otherwise smart people—the truth has been slipped under the surface, and they just fail to realise it isn't on the top.
Harvey should have known that out of all the minds of New York, Mike's would be the only one to read that buried truth, to know that Harvey coveted him. But Harvey had underestimated the kid he had quoted to be a younger version of himself, and now he was paying for it.
It was rare for Harvey to find himself so dishevelled, even if it was in the wee hours of the morning as the sun peaked over the city skyline. He was hunched forward on a wooden chair on the balcony of his apartment, watching as the ant-like figures below him woke up and began to scurry across the sidewalk. He never imagined he'd feel like the pissed off eight-year-old wielding a magnifying glass again, but the events that had transpired over the previous hours left him lost and angry.
It was windy out—his suit flapped around him as if it desperately wanted to take flight and leave him behind, but the Italian designer that had supervised the stitching of it made it impossible for that to happen. He was glad for that, as by later in the day tomorrow he thought he'd quite possibly end up losing the only thing that mattered to him outside his personal belongings and career, and he couldn't afford to throw it all away.
The air was moist from the storm that had passed over the concrete and brick buildings last night, and while most of the thick grey clouds had drifted off as the orange clawed at the sky, a few still haunted the corners of Harvey's vision. He didn't want to blink in case they drifted off, because if he mislaid them, he'd lose all evidence of the conversation he had with Mike last night save for the hollow feeling inside his chest.
And as every lawyer knows, feelings weren't good witnesses.
A thin strand of dark brown freed itself from his perfectly styled hair, and his nerves danced as it crossed his forehead in the breeze. It caught the sunlight, glowing lighter against his tan forehead, and he didn't bother to brush it back.
There were many times when he felt like he was growing much older than he actually was; like his bones were made of lead and everything about him was weary. During those moments, he longed for youth and ignorance, longed for that era in which he still knew nothing about the world. Now he felt all too naïve and young, like the world was still a foreign place he'd yet to walk on.
"What do I do?" he asked the empty balcony, but no response came from the tile, the chair or the cityscape that stretched on endlessly in front of him. In all fairness, it would have freaked him out if he'd gotten one.
He couldn't lie anymore, not to Mike anyways—when the kid looked at him and asked for the truth, Harvey knew bone deep he had to give it to him. He hated being so weak in that sense; and yet he was infamously heartless to the people that knew him. Except the kid. The kid who he'd hired because the two of them thought similarly.
Harvey wanted to kick himself, now, thinking of that overused phrase you can't lie to yourself. Well, shit. He'd really thrown himself under the bus.
He stood up, and paced the balcony.
Okay, okay. Just—pretend he's the jury.
He suddenly remembered his days at the DA's office, and thought of the twelve faces that would stare at him blankly from their seats. He almost cracked up at the thought of twelve Mike's, then realised he was close to being hysterical.
"Mike—you're uh—shit. You're pretty awesome for an associate. I mean, you're annoying as hell, but then you started looking at me like I was your hero, and I became incredibly corny. Out of the blue. I think you should've come with a disclaimer, kid. I'm considering filing a lawsuit."
Harvey ran a hand over his eyes.
"That was awful. Okay—I'm attracted to you."
"I sound like I'm trying to pick him up at a bar."
Suddenly, he wished he had more practise with romantic confessions so he wouldn't screw this one up. It was both sad and funny—no one before Mike he'd had emotions for mattered after his puppy had walked into his life.
"If I say 'I love you', I'm going to make both of us uncomfortable. Then Donna will walk in, and she'll be uncomfortable too. Hell, people who didn't even hear us will be uncomfortable. Somethings you don't say outside of the bedroom."
"I'd just kiss you, but then you wouldn't feel the same way, and I'd have to go to court for sexual harassment. Not that I wouldn't win, but it would wreck our work relationship."
"What do you want from me, Mike?" he asked, his voice barely louder than an exhale, turning into a cloud as it exited his mouth.
He hadn't been scared once since he'd met Jessica, yet here he was, alone and mildly cold, terrified of how he'd spend his next sunrise.
Mike couldn't focus.
It was nine o'clock, and although he'd arrived early today, none of the paperwork stacked on his desk had been filled out or filed. He'd turned on his computer, but it had gone into sleep mode after he'd entered his password due to neglect. It now persisted to emit a low, quiet drone that only he could hear from his proximity.
His heart was pounding and his muscles were twitching-his whole body flooded with adrenaline, but he forced it into stillness. He lowered his head so it looked as though he was focusing on the paper in front of him, but it was blank except for where he'd placed the date and his signature. He was playing with the fountain pen he'd snatched off of Harvey's desk when he first came in, drumming it absentmindedly on his grey desk.
When someone walked past, he'd flick his eyes up to see if it was Harvey, and then glance back down intently on his paper as though he was working. He'd been playing that particular game for about two hours now, and having nowhere to vent his frustrations, he was incredibly pissed off at the paper.
It was staring up at him mockingly, as though it was saying, he's avoiding you. Be realistic, kid, you tried to get him to confess to feelings he's never felt for anyone. He's Harvey Specter, not a Shakespearian character.
Mike almost snorted, but then frowned when he realised the voice he had assigned to the paper sounded eerily like Harvey himself, and checked behind him to make sure it wasn't actually his boss speaking.
He scowled at the empty space.
Mike grabbed the paper and shoved it to the side, pulling another one off the stack and pinching the bridge of his nose as he glanced over it.
Footsteps passed by his cubicle, and he jerked his head up.
Rachel gave him a funny look as he glanced back down again.
Harvey came into work at two o'clock in the afternoon, much to Jessica's chagrin and Louis's annoyance, looking as smooth a svelte as usual, grinning at Donna.
"Good morning, Donna!" he said cheerfully, coffee in hand and a fake smile plastered on his face.
She smirked. "Good luck."
Harvey stopped dead in his tracks, his spine going rigid. "Sorry? I didn't quite catch that."
She raised an eyebrow. "Yes you did. Mike's been waiting here since seven o'clock looking like you accidentally killed his puppy."
Harvey felt his stomach drop.
"I don't know what you did—yet—but fix it," she ordered.
Harvey shifted his face back into a neutral expression, brushed off his pants with one hand and then placed his coffee on Donna's desk.
"In case I don't make it, I want you to have this," he said soberly, patting the red head's hand.
"Thanks," she said sarcastically. "I always wanted your half-finished coffee."
"Half-full," he said with a slight smirk, striding off towards Mike's cubicle.
When Harvey first came to work for Pearson Hardman, he had initially thought of it as one of the largest places he'd ever worked—it stretched for what seemed like miles, the corridors and glass reflecting off one another to give the illusion of a long space. It took him forever to reach his desk, or a neighbour's desk, or Jessica's office.
Now the distance seemed all too short as his most vital organ danced in his chest.
He didn't give Mike much of a greeting when he reached the assigned cubicle, just tapped two fingers against the opaque glass to get the younger associate's attention. Mike lifted his head nonchalantly, trying desperately to look like he was indifferent to Harvey's presence and almost reaching his goal when a grin launched itself on his lips.
"Hey," Mike said, his voice coming out slightly breathless.
Harvey kept his face unreadable, and spoke to Mike in a quiet undertone. "We aren't doing this here," he muttered, crooking his fingers slightly. In a heartbeat he was on his feet, following Harvey swiftly to the elevator.
"I didn't think you would come to work today," Mike said once they were inside, watching as Harvey hit the button for the ground floor and avoided looking at him.
"Thanks," Mike said appreciatively as he looked up at the older man, trying to make contact with the golden brown gaze and failing.
"Don't say that," Harvey growled, his eyes dark and focused pointedly on the floor.
Mike exhaled through his nose, putting his hands in his pockets and curling them into fists. He shuffled closer to Harvey, brushing their shoulders together and eliminating some of the stiffness in the atmosphere between them. Harvey glanced up and shot Mike a look that a prisoner on death row would have given their guards—a mix between a silent plea and an accusatory glare, with a goodbye punctuating the unspoken sentence.
"Harvey—" Mike tried.
"No." He said firmly. "I am not talking about my feelings in a goddamn elevator, Mike. You can forget it."
Mike raised his eyebrows. "I was going to tell you your shoe is untied."
Harvey glanced down, opening his mouth to start to say, "No it's n—" when Mike flicked the tip of his nose. He stepped back, glaring and rubbing the injured facial feature.
"You know what you are?" he asked Mike.
"What?" Mike responded.
"Five years old."
"Oh? How old are you, then?"
Mike jostled towards Harvey again until they were in close proximity just as the door to the elevator opened, and Harvey found his hand gliding to the small of Mike's back to gently guide him towards the exit. Even the limited contact between skin and fabric sent something electric through his veins, and he was suddenly reminded that he was a very carnal human being beneath his fancy title and expensive suit. He was filled with a mixture of fear and loathing when he caught his reflection—Mike resembled Bambi, with his large blue eyes and innocent smile, and he was the wolf that was pressed all too hungrily to the unalloyed creature.
The two passed silently through the lobby, and Harvey neglected to nod or acknowledge the two security guards conversing quietly over the static feedback from their hand held radios. Neither of the two parties paid any attention to one another, each caught up in their own worlds, much like the rest of the population of the world's largest city. Harvey preferred it that way; he could utter his darkest secrets in a crowd to himself and no one would so much as glance in his direction.
Which was good, as he was about to do just that—except Mike would be listening, and Mike would care. As much as he berated his associate for it, he realised it would be much more painful if Mike listened to his confession and announced that he didn't give a damn. In some ways, he was glad that Mike wasn't his exact image, because if the kid was, Harvey doubted he'd be in this scenario. It occurred to him how this was the first time he'd ever adored someone more than himself, the first time he'd been captivated by something other than a mirror.
He wasn't vain anymore, he realised—well, not to the same extent.
The warm daylight seemed to singe his skin as soon as they stepped outside, like he was made of paper and the sun was a match being held against him. He looked sideways at Mike, who glanced back at him with an edge of knowing in his eyes.
Harvey turned, his shoes hitting the pavement with an elegant clack that only an expensive brand could've given off. Mike's footsteps eagerly chased his, and when Harvey rolled his shoulders he felt the fabric of his suit brush against Mike's.
"Easy, kid," he muttered. "I'm not going anywhere without you."
Mike spaced himself slightly from his boss after that—still close, but not so that he'd trip over Harvey if he decided to stop. He mimicked the evenly paced steps in front of him, as though if he walked the same way Harvey did he'd begin to understand him.
After five minutes of walking, Mike began to wonder where they were going. The people around them bumped them closer and then pulled them apart, as though they were each the end of a piece of rope in a tug-of-war.
Finally, Harvey started speaking over the loud roar of the crowd. "I'm the best closer in the city," he stated, glancing back at Mike, meeting his eyes.
Mike nodded in agreement, latching a hand on Harvey's elbow and letting himself be led out of the congested sidewalk and onto a clearer part of the street.
"The best," Harvey repeated.
"I've been lying since I was about fourteen. No, don't try to calculate how many years ago that was—let's just say it's been a while." He paused, sitting down slowly on a metal bench, leaning forward and resting his elbows on his knees. Mike sat down next to him, and Harvey let the cobalt of Mike's gaze mix with the russet shade of his own in the blinding light of midday.
"I made it into an art, really. I learned how to control my facial muscles, how to perfectly pace my phrases, how to sell it to a sceptic…it used to be my favourite feeling, when I got it right. It was like I was untouchable, floating above the rest of the world."
"You sound like an addict," said Mike, his blue eyes tearing through the space between them.
For a minute, Harvey let the rush of the city engulf him—it reminded him vaguely of pressing his ear to one of those oddly twisted shells that allowed you to hear the ocean. A friend of his had ruined that magic for him as a child by bringing him back down to earth and insisting the noise was just the rushing of blood in his ears being echoed. The hundreds of thousands of people reminded him of that shell, of the roar of his blood or the ocean; he had always thought of the crowds and multicultural blur as the blood of his beloved city, bringing life to all its vital organs. He had thought that in a city such as this that all people would be valued equally, as all of them had an equally important job in keeping the body alive. But he'd been mistaken.
Mike had a job much more valuable than all of theirs, one that couldn't be filled by a backup.
Mike was New York's heart.
Harvey had lived in the city for his whole life, and yet if Mike so much as toed the border it wouldn't really be home for him anymore.
The classy streets and austere alleyways would be hollow, and the sun wouldn't shine the same way. Wall Street would lose its glamour and expensive scotch its flavour—beautiful women would cease to be beautiful and suits would just be overpriced clothes. The things he loved about life would be dark and desolate, like the world had twisted itself inside out in Mike's absence. Even the things he'd loved before the kid would be worth nothing if the center piece in his puzzle was plucked out.
"I am an addict. The worst kind, too—because life without what I'm dependant on just wouldn't be worth living anymore. And yet…"
He squinted at the slight glare reflecting from the building across from him.
"…when you asked me to, I told you the truth. I could have lied to you again, like I've done to everyone else that's walked in my life, but I gave you exactly what you wanted. It half destroyed me to do it, but I did. For you. And that's what you mean to me, Mike. Because above all things, I love to lie, but I'd stop if that's what it took to make you happy."
Oftentimes, the problem with liars is that they expect the worst outcome from every situation—hence the reason they lie. They expect that the first time they've been dealt a bad hand it will be the hand they have to play with for the rest of their lives, that those cards are glued to their fingers and aren't just temporary pieces of paper.
Harvey expected Mike to yell. To storm off. To be disgusted.
He'd been dealt that hand before by a few too many people, however, and had come to anticipate the worst about the people he was infatuated with.
Mike didn't yell, storm off or act disgusted.
"Jesus, Harvey, was that so fucking hard? You spend three months soaking in angst about how you feel about me, and it only takes one conversation to sort this out."
Harvey blinked, then frowned.
"You aren't mad." He had meant for it to come out as a question, but a small voice in the back of his head insisted he shouldn't act like a complete idiot.
"Harvey," Mike said slowly, as though he was talking to a small child, "it's okay to have feelings for someone. You won't lose your membership at the asshole lawyers club."
"Thank God," said Harvey sarcastically. "I was really worried about that."
"Actually, I'm quite impressed. Given your previous track record, that was surprisingly not corny. I mean, half of the time you look at me as though you are going to start spitting lines of poetry that would make the writers of romantic comedies jealous."
"Do you honestly envision yourself as a character in a romantic comedy? Who plays you, hmm? Katherine Heigl?"
"Of course not!"
"Jensen Ackles, maybe. Or Daniel Radcliff. You'd be played by a B-list actor no one's ever heard of but with a phenomenal amount of talent that later plays a secondary character in a series," Mike said soberly, nodding his head.
"Oh, I see. Have any other director-like thoughts for this awful film?"
"We'd have to have a really odd producer that puts a metaphorical spin on the whole thing—I'm thinking Kermit the Frog."
Harvey grinned, glancing to the small crinkles in the corners of Mike's eyes that formed when he gave his signature smile.
"Why are there so many songs about rainbows?"
Mike laughed, tilting his head back slightly so that his face was turned up towards the sky and the warm sunlight danced on his features. Harvey felt his stomach simultaneously drop as his heart rose into his throat, and he watched those tantalising red lips part so that teeth could peek through.
He felt the poet leak out of him again, and he swore Lord Byron was waxing in the back of his mind just to piss him off by proving Mike's metaphor. To distract himself, he tried focusing on Mike's nose—it was a nice nose, really. It suited his face. Perfectly proportioned and even to the rest of him, as though Mike was a creation that an artist had spent uncountable hours planning and executing until he was flawless. Harvey wanted to send that man a note, or meet him in person to tell him how much he appreciated his work; but at the moment, what he really longed for more urgently was to press the palms of his hands to Mike's cheeks and let his thumbs trace over his cheekbones and let his smooth lips find Mike's rough ones and envelope them. His fingers desired to know how soft Mike's hair was, his breath wanted to mingle with the other man's and his tongue craved to sample that taste.
Mike turned to look at him, still smiling as he leaned closer to Harvey, leaving only an inch or two between their faces. Harvey bridged the gap, touching their foreheads together gently in a way that was both too much and too little touch all at once. His heart was suddenly a creature, desperately pounding and crawling at his ribcage in an attempt to escape as his breath hitched and his nerves danced. He didn't feel like this often—a fox among the doves—but he had to recognise that Mike brought out both the best and the worst in him, whichever of the two this one was.
"We should head back to the firm," Mike said, and tilted his head away from Harvey, depriving him of that smell of sweet skin and faint cologne, as though Mike had tried rubbing some of Harvey's onto him and then quickly stashed the bottle back where he'd found it.
"Yeah, I guess we should," Harvey deadpanned, looking at Mike through brown and amber eyes that danced in the light.
The two stood together, taking the first few steps back towards the office, when Mike stopped.
"Oh, and Harvey?" Mike asked, his gaze filled with an unnamed emotion.
Harvey felt his chin being seized firmly between two fingers and tilted down, and then suddenly his mouth was filled with Mike.
The younger associate pressed his slightly rough lips against Harvey's, letting the tender flesh touch, sending the nerves in his mouth to shut off all his other senses in favour of solely relying on sensation. Harvey captured Mike's upper lip between his, tasting the sweetness of a lingering toothpaste and the long faded aroma of freshly ground coffee. Mike let out a small moan into Harvey's mouth, and Harvey found his arms encircling Mike as though to separate him from the people passing around them. His brain had gone quiet in favour of losing itself in Mike as well, and his eyes fluttered closed until his eyelashes mixed with Mike's. Time around him came to a violent stop, and he pressed the soft fabric covering Mike's chest against the fabric that concealed his. In the stillness of the moment he could feel Mike's heartbeat pounding safely against his chest, and he wanted nothing more than to keep it for himself and protect it from the world.
His hands snaked up Mike's back and into the kid's hair, tugging at the soft strands as they wormed their way in between his fingers. He pressed his fingertips lightly into Mike's scalp, relishing the soft groan that buzzed in his mouth.
He parted his lips slightly, and suddenly found himself exploring the both carnal and ethereal feel of Mike. Their tongues twisted together in a heated embrace, only to separate slightly in favour of dancing around one another and taking in the new tastes and sensations.
A shiver ran down Mike's spine, and Harvey smiled against the kiss.
"Your place," Mike muttered in his mouth, and Harvey pulled him tighter against his figure, trying to tug Mike inside his ribcage against his heart, where Harvey felt he'd be safest.
Their mouths parted slightly, allowing the two to exhale and let their breaths mingle in the air between them. Mike's lips carried a trace of Harvey on them, and Harvey felt a distinct smile grow as he ran his thumb across Mike's bottom lip.
"I never imagined—" Harvey tried, his words getting caught on one another as his brain switched back on and desperately tried to comprehend what just happened.
Mike grinned. "Yeah. Sometimes I think reality is even better than the things we create."
Harvey smirked, wrapping a hand around Mike's elbow and tugging him in the direction of a cab.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for reading my story, and for all your fantastic reviews.
I know this had its mediocre and corny moments, but you were all extremely encouraging and supportive throughout the whole thing, and for that I want to thank you for being such a great audience.
Special thanks to PocketPamela, Aerilex, JJLiberty and all those who took the time to review, especially the ones who did anonymously.
I plan on writing a comedic five times plus one sort of fic, and a more serious one where Harvey has a stalker, that I thought I might promote here. Let me know if either of these sound good, or if you'd like to hear more!
Thanks so much, everyone!