"Hello again, Mike," Ray said as he opened the door for Harvey. He got a tiny ripple of the four fingers attached to the thumb in Mike's mouth and a listless stare, but that was about all.
Harvey's hand rubbed up and down once over Mike's back as he exchanged wan smiles with his driver, then he bent and leaned in to put Mike into the waiting car seat Ray had reinstalled while Harvey was inside checking Mike out.
Mike let out an ear-splitting wail as he was pulled away from Harvey's shoulder, but Harvey just gritted his teeth and kept working. He didn't like the separation any more than Mike did, the threat of Mike's raised temperature and subsequent sweating to his suit's unwrinkled state notwithstanding, but he also wasn't going to do anything as stupid as holding the kid in his arms during a car ride.
He'd walk the twenty-seven blocks back to Pearson Hardman, carrying Mike and his fever the whole way, before he'd risk his life in a car unbelted.
Mike, though, was not having any of this nonsense about being separated from his father, even for the ten minute drive to the condo. He thrashed and twisted and screamed and kicked, making sure everyone in a five block radius knew he was unhappy with this situation.
Harvey sighed and undid the one strap he'd managed to get over Mike's arm, then pulled the kid back out and cradled him to his chest once more. He turned and leaned his hip against the car.
"Shhh," he soothed, rocking a little as he rubbed Mike's back.
Mike, worked up and not coming back down any time soon—some of his anger probably fueled by the pain of his ear and the upset tummy that had prompted Bonnie to call in the first place—just clung to his father's neck and wailed, fat tears overflowing and dripping down his cheeks and into Harvey's collar.
Ray stood patiently by and waited while Harvey did his best to bring his son whatever comfort he could and calm him down.
Finally Mike was down to just sniffling, the tears only occasionally welling up big enough to spill over. His thumb was back in his mouth, the other hand firmly attached to his ear as he restlessly tugged on it, trying vainly to ease the pain the only way his young brain could think of.
Sometimes Harvey forgot he had a four-year-old as he listened to the things that came from the kid's mouth after reading a book a decade beyond what he should have been interested in, let alone capable of comprehending. But for all those times, there were moments like this when he just looked every bit as young as he actually was. As much as he loved watching Mike's ever increasing understanding of the world develop, he also savored these moments that proved he had many more years until he'd have to pack up the car and see Mike off to college.
At this particular moment, however, he just wished he could savor them from inside the car.
"Mike?" he finally said when he was fairly sure he had his logically-minded son back from the screaming tantrum monster of a moment before. He got no immediate verbal response, but craning his neck allowed him to see Mike's reddened eyes were locked on him.
"I know that right now you don't want to let me go. I don't want to let you go either."
Mike's hand released his ear, reaching across to grab a handful of Harvey's lapel opposite the shoulder his head was resting on and clutch at the fabric as a preemptive strike to being pulled away again. Harvey reached up and freed the wool blend, grimacing at Mike's whines of protest.
"It's only for a short drive to the condo and then to my work. You want to come to work with me?" Harvey offered. Mike loved any chance to spend time at Pearson Hardman pretending he was one of the lawyers that worked there, and usually a promise of a visit was enough to garner cooperation for the most unwanted of tasks.
"No!" Mike shouted, pulling his thumb out of mouth and using that hand to wrap around and grab a handful of the back of Harvey's jacket.
"Mike, we need to get in the— Mike, please! No— Stop that!"
"NO!" Mike shouted, tone and volume rising with each repetition. "NO! NO! NO! NO! NOOOOOOO!"
Harvey sighed, hung his head in defeat for a moment, then turned and squatted next to the open door. He pulled Mike off of his shoulder, clenching his jaw against the ever more strident protests and resolutely getting Mike into the seat. He knew he wasn't a bad father, but listening to Mike wail wasn't any easier for that knowledge.
Ray opened the front door after a moment and knelt on the seat, leaning over the back and helping Harvey contain Mike's limbs long enough to get him safely strapped down.
Mike arched his back and kicked his feet, the tears starting up again as he screamed and flailed in his rage.
Harvey raised his voice just enough to be heard over the noise and said, "Mike, I am sorry that you're upset and that we have to be separated, but I am not sorry that you're safe now."
Mike just screamed and swung a tiny fist trying to hit Harvey.
Harvey easily caught it, pressed a kiss to the knuckles, and then let Mike yank it back. He got a scowl of betrayal as Mike clutched the hand to his chest, smiled and said, "I love you," then stood and shut the door.
Only when his back was safely turned did he let the weariness and sorrow show on his own face, and then only for a brief second before he shored up his mask and turned to Ray.
"We'll need to stop by the condo and get some things, but I'd rather not have to go through all that again—"
"No worries, Mr. Specter. If he doesn't fall asleep on the way over, I'll just turn up the music and let him sing along with Miles."
Harvey wearily grinned his thanks and nodded, then turned to look at the car. Even with the sound-proofing, Mike's screams could clearly be heard. That promised an afternoon of ringing bells haunting Harvey, but there was nothing to be done about it, so with one last deep breath for patience and wisdom, he circled the car and got in.
Ray drove as quickly as he could safely do so in morning traffic.
Mike hadn't fallen asleep by the time they got to the condo and Harvey grimaced, but Ray just met his gaze in the mirror and said, "Go. We'll be fine here."
Harvey nodded and got out, striding quickly across the street and through the door. He acknowledged the doorman's greeting with a nod and then jogged the last few steps into the elevator that was just about to close.
His fingers drummed on his thigh as he watched the floor display count up until he realized he was doing it, then he clenched his fist, breathed out slowly, and straightened the digits, deliberately refusing to let them twitch again.
He fumbled the key a little getting it into the lock, but managed it after a moment, internally delivering a stern lecture on how he needed to remain calm and probably give Ray a bonus for putting up with him on days like this. A whirlwind tour of the apartment followed as he assembled the supplies he'd need—a backpack with toys, Mike's Kindle and a few books—because sometimes the kid just liked to be able to turn the pages; snacks and juice boxes; his blankie, pillow, and stuffed tiger; a few changes of clothes—for both of them in case of more vomit; some diapers and wipes as another precaution, the first aid kit with the Children's Tylenol...
He looked at the pile he'd gathered, turned a quick circle to look at the apartment once more and see if anything caught his eye, then started to pack everything into a duffel except for the things in the backpack and his spare clothes which went into a garment bag. He stopped halfway through with a, "Music!" and went to retrieve Mike's iPod from the boombox adapter in his room.
With Harvey's presence a factor, soft jazz on the record player would probably suffice for naptime, but just in case it didn't Harvey didn't want to be without the tried and true tunes on the MP3 player.
One or two more additions made their way into the bag, then Harvey yanked the zipper closed, picked up the handles for it and the backpack, swung the garment bag over his shoulder, and left the apartment behind once more.
"Do want help getting all of this upstairs?" Ray asked as he opened the trunk for Harvey to retrieve the bags, but Harvey shook his head.
"No, I can get it." He did smile, though, and said, sincerely, "Thank you."
"No problem, Mr. Specter. I just hope he's feeling better soon—for both your sakes."
Harvey huffed a laugh and settled the duffel more comfortably on his shoulder, then followed Ray around to Mike's door.
Opening it allowed the full volume of the screams to be heard and the pigeons nearby all took flight at the sound. Harvey just leaned down, undid the buckles, and pulled Mike free. Finally granted the escape he'd desired, Mike reacted by throwing his arms and legs out in every direction and flailing them about to prevent any further attempts to contain him.
Ray was a godsend once more when he caught the garment bag before it could hit the ground. Harvey flashed him a smile of thanks, settled Mike more firmly in his arm and accepted the bag once more.
Even after all that it took Harvey a few precious minutes of swaying and humming softly for Mike to realize that he was back where he wanted to be.
He pushed on Harvey's chest so he could look his father in the eye, corners of his lips still pulled down as he sniffed and hiccuped his way through the dregs of his tears.
"Better?" Harvey asked.
Mike wiped the back of his hand over his nose, sniffed again, then laid back down and stuck his thumb in his mouth. His free hand snaked between Harvey's arm and his side and wrapped around the back, regaining a solid hold on the material there.
And this was why Harvey had a spare suit waiting. This jacket was very quickly becoming unsuitable for the meetings he'd have to attend.
"Thanks," he told Ray again as he bounced a little to shift his loads into more comfortable and stable places.
Ray nodded and shut the door and Harvey set off for the building, exhaling slowly and mentally preparing himself for what promised to be a very long day.
Your thoughts would be much appreciated if you've got a mo'. :) More coming soon!