Growing Up Is Hard To Do (Letting Go Is Harder)
Summary: After the events of 'Crayon's...' both Mike and Harvey realise growing up is hard to do, but letting go is harder. A tough case, a dip into the emotional minefield of adolescence and a distant Harvey is not helping either.
Warning: Mike swears a bit more than he did in Crayon's (as in at all).
A/N: This is a sequel to phoenixoncloudnine's 'Crayon's For The Associate, Sir...'. I was greatly honoured when asked to do this. It wont be as long as Crayon's and probably not as good or epic, but I still hope you all enjoy it (I also live in hope that there may be some au-one shots of kid!Mike&fake-dad!Harvey ;D ).
I am also aware that Harvey, initially in this, may come across as being in a different head space, in regards to his and Mike's interactions, as he was at the end of 'Crayon's...'. This is intentional, but only temporary and will be addressed in an upcoming chapter.
Disclaimer: Suits does not belong to me. No infringement intended.
It is the process of transition from childhood to adulthood with an accelerated physical, mental, biochemical, social and emotional development.
Viewed as a socio-cultural phenomenon adolescence is a period in one's life when society ceases to regard him/her as a child but does not yet accord him/her full adult status, role or function
Vijayeta Priyadarshini, Physical Problems of Adolescence,
It's been nearly two months since he had changed back. The transitional period after had been... odd, to say the least. As much as he hated to admit it at the time, he had still needed nap-time and the occasional time-out. He knew Harvey would never utter any of the embarrassing and totally mortifying late night freak-out calls for the monsters under the bed or sleepy 'read me...' requests.
Even more mortifying, was the effect Harvey's authoritative commanding voice had on him – sure, Mike had always listened, processed and eventually done what Harvey had requested, but not without questions, alternatives and barbed banter – but, Harvey had a way of altering his voice, giving him a look and he'd clamp his mouth shut, roll his eyes and comply with hardly any of the latter. He was sure, at times (but only when too tired to argue) that Harvey could talk him into a time-out for no reason at all.
Thankfully, he hasn't had one of those for quite a few weeks. Maybe, because, he'd seen Harvey less and less over that period of time. He knew it wasn't Harvey's fault – the firm had taken on a high-flying client who had enough money to buy himself into trouble several times over and it was taking not only Harvey, but Louis and Jessica too, to get him out of it.
Harvey had, naturally, dumped all his other files and irrelevant paperwork on Mike's desk (but only after Mike had assured him he was okay to help, mistakenly believing Harvey wanted him on the case with him). He'd then kindly told him to just focus on proofing all his files and then, much to Mike's chagrin, 'Do some administrative work. The paperwork is on Donna's desk' because Donna was scuttling after Harvey, as she too had been caught up in someone else's high end drama. That was unfair, he knew. Donna was kick ass and she didn't scuttle (and if Harvey had to have said kick ass and probably axe wielding assistant with him, then the shit must have hit the fan), but the whole situation was rapidly pissing him off. And lately? It really didn't take a lot to piss him off.
He sighed loudly and dropped heavily into his seat at his cubicle, letting the files fall from his grasp and slap against his desk. He rubbed at his elbows, feeling the familiar ache creep into the joints and behind his knees. He'd been having these, along with a tightness running down his neck and across his shoulders for quite a few weeks now. It had warranted a visit, courtesy of Harvey's ever vigilant insistence to the crack-pot professor who had initiated all of this in the first place.
"Fuck," Mike muttered, rubbing at his eyes tiredly. Now would be a good time to insist on nap-time, Harvey.
"Not from your usual vocabulary range, Ross." He heard someone observe from behind.
Lifting his head, Mike saw Gregory leaning over his cubicle wall, an amused smirk on his face.
"Whatever," Mike muttered again, rubbing at his face.
"What's the matter?" Gregory asked. "Harvey and Donna playing with the big boys?"
"I'm busy," Mike said, which was true, he just had yet to start on the files yet. "Is there something you wanted?"
"Is it true?" Gregory asked, leaning over the wall further and blowing a teasing grin at him. "Does Harvey still make you take nap-time?"
Mike gritted his teeth.
"Do you want him to?"
He wanted to say
yes, I want a fucking nap-time
yes, I want to stamp my foot and throw a tantrum until Harvey takes heed and lets him head across town to join their endless meetings
yes, he freaking misses the hugs (because Harvey's too busy for any tactile reassurances and Mike's too big to climb into his lap) and he's absolutely mortified for even thinking about it.
Mike knew he was falling right into the hole Gregory wanted him in, but he couldn't help it, and suddenly his middle finger was raising by it's own accord. He flicked it over his shoulder in his fellow associate's direction.
He could practically feel the energy from Gregory's pleasantly triumphant grin wash over him.
"Real mature, Ross."
It went silent after that and a quick glance over his shoulder revealed that Gregory had drifted away to annoy someone else. He dropped his head back down into his hands and stared in numb reservation down at the unopened files.
"Damn you and your fucking hormones."
It started with an ache, pulling down the calf's of his legs and winding around his muscles. His arm's had been hurting too, just the weight of the endless files Louis had sent him after, in the too far away records room, had been enough to make him want to tiredly sigh and crawl into the crevice under his desk. He swore his joints had joined in the party too, but according to many, that's all in his head. They couldn't deny the stiffness to his shoulder's and their travels across the nape of his neck. Myth or not, none of what had occurred would have been explicable and until today he was still none the wiser at how it had actually happened.
The tiredness was another thing all together. Mike had always had the ability, before his trip into munchkin land, to work through the night and survive, admittedly, on a unhealthy amount of Red bull. It didn't matter how many times Harvey insisted on nap-time, he was always bone tired and Harvey had found him dozing off over case files on at least a couple of occasions. There was also some rapidly labile mood changes, taking both of them by surprise, and no amount of naps or time out's would have have saved them from the wraith that came with it.
After a few puzzling days, Harvey had dragged him back to where it all started...
…."Mr Specter," Anna Green greeted them with a smile before giving Mike a measuring look. "I see you brought your associate back in one piece."
Harvey smiled thinly in response.
"I hope it was an enlightening experience for you both."
"Yes," Harvey responded, words genuine. He didn't want to give her the pleasure or satisfaction, but he could not deny himself or Mike that truth. "I guess you could say that."
Anna smiled again and despite Harvey not regretting the experience that they had shared, it groused him to see she had no qualms or ethical dilemma over the emotional upheaval she had put them through, especially for Mike. To let him experience something so emotionally buried ('I miss my dad' Mike wailed, burying his face into Harvey's neck and sobbing into his shirt.) and to then pull it away without a grasp of the consequences was truly cruel. Although, Anna Green, hadn't known about these deeply in-grained issues at the time.
Mike hadn't responded to the doctor's greeting. He seemed to have pulled back, withdrawn into some available space behind Harvey. Politely sullen. "Mike," Harvey prompted.
"Hey." It came out in a more of a grunt.
Harvey glanced back, looking at him for a second before turning to face Anna again. He didn't miss the way she was studying Mike with an earnest look of interest. It unnerved him and he coughed to catch her attention again.
"Right, take a seat," she said once he had caught her eye, waving to the two chairs in front of her desk. "Tell me, any unusual side effects?"
"Define unusual," Mike said with a raised eyebrow as he slunk into the chair. He's managed to burrow himself into his jacket, collar flipped up. Harvey stared at Mike for a second longer than he intended, something pulling at a pushed away thought at the back of the head. But he dismissed it with a shake of the head.
"Behave," Harvey muttered. He gave the kid a small, gentle smack to the back of the head which earned him a raised head and glower in response.
"I don't want to put things in your mouth," Anna smiled. He doesn't understand why she is so damn happy with the kid's crankiness. The last time, his associate had her eating out of his hand, all understanding sympathy and puppy dog tails. "Go on."
Mike has gone silent again, picking at the sleeve of his jacket and pulling at a loose thread and Harvey wants nothing more than to flick the hand away. He's ruining a good jacket, after all.
It became clear that Mike wasn't going to respond when he distractedly looked away, eyes unfocused but a look of confused anger across his face – obvious, he thinks, only to himself.
"Well, we haven't had to use any man-size pull-ups," Harvey joked, trying to break the stilled silence.
Mike's face flushed red and the muscles in his jaw clearly tensed and grind together.
Harvey instantly regretted it. He's committed some unforgivable sin of utter betrayal in Mike's eyes and his attempt at breaking the ice appeared to have come across as looking like an uncool father making an even more uncool joke with complete embarrasement as the result.
"At toddler stage," Anna said, clearly picking up on the tension and trying to smooth it down. "It's quite normal."
Mike shrugged in response and turned his glower from before in her direction before shifting his gaze over her shoulder.
"Okay, seeing as Mike's too busy to talk now," Harvey said, glancing uncomfortably between the two. "I'll just say what he's mentioned to me and what I've noticed."
Anna nodded eagerly, picking a pen up, hand hovering over a note-pad.
After listing everything and earning another glare from the kid for Harvey calling him on his pissy attitude, Anna dropped her pen and nodded vigorously.
"Just as I thought."
"Hmm, excuse me?" Harvey said, momentary distracted by Mike's increasing physical agitation. He lifted his hand and placed it against the back of Mike's arm, squeezing gently and murmuring his reassurance that they will leave soon. "Care to explain your epiphany?"
"Some of our test subjects have shown an interesting phase..." Anna conceded, eyes bright (Harvey wondered if it was less about a scientific discovery and more about her own personal loss).
The words Interesting and Phase did nothing to calm his fraying nerves.
He felt Mike move under his arm and a quick glance revealed he had turned his full attention back to the doctor.
"... An interim, if you will," Anna continued, eyes darting between them, face flushed with an unknown knowledge. "It's only to be expected really."
She stared at their blank faces as if it was positively obvious and Harvey pushed at the niggling thought again, opting for ignorance because he wasn't entirely sure he could actually deal with that. The only sign that Mike had any inkling of anything was the physical tension building under Harvey's hand.
"Mike went from toddler to adult within a very short period. He skipped a whole stage. A right of passage." Anna said, her eyes softened and moistened before she blinked them away. Any other day, without brief instantaneous acid trips into child-hood and the impending unknown territory that Harvey was now sure to follow, Mike would have reached across the desk and taken her hand in his. "Although, physically, Mike is an adult, he is affectively going through... shall we call it adolescence?"
Yes, why not, Harvey thought dryly, considering that's what the hell it was.
Anna continued, seemingly unaware of the stony silence emanating from both Harvey and Mike. "Expect the normal stages of that... Mike's experiencing a rush of hormones at the moment, due to the rapid transition, so don't be surprised for some wildly fluctuating mood swings and he'll probably try and pull away from you, you know... in a rebellious stand to be independent again. In Mike's case, that might not be a bad thing, as long as it's not too wild. I guess you might want to consider cutting the strings sooner rather than later, dad."
Harvey felt his breath catch painfully in his throat. Mike turned rigid against his hand. Anna Green doesn't know the significance of her passing words, thrown in jest. She hasn't a clue.
"And the pains?" Harvey asked, trying to pull all three away from the stormy waters and repressed emotions.
"Quite simply, growing pains. They'll pass soon enough."
"I thought that was a myth?"
"'Growing pains is a harmless condition that affects ten to twenty per cent of growing children. Approximately one third of children with growing pains also experience other forms of recurrent pain, such as headaches or abdominal pain'. Copyright Sally S. Harris M.D, speciality Sports Medicine." Mike quoted blankly. Harvey was impressed.
"Hyperthymesia, interesting..." Anna said, confusion marring her face and jotting something down in her note pad."
"Not really," Harvey said, rolling his eyes. "He was like that before."
"Oh," she said, appearing appeased that her theory hadn't been quashed by her subject's freakish mind. Mike had fallen silent again, seemingly bored. Anna continued with her explanation as though he had never spoken. "They are very real. Although most people mistakenly believe it's the bone growing. It's actually the muscle being stretched or being pulled unevenly. It's usually most common in the legs, but we've gone from toddler to adult in 60, so it's not odd that he's experiencing it in other areas too."
Harvey doesn't like the use of 'we'... it angers him that she's trying to replant herself into their journey. Apart from her initiation, against their will, she would never know, no matter what she was trying to recapture into her life, what it had meant for both he and Mike. It was unique and touching, wrong on so many levels, yet still, so very right. And she still didn't have a clue. What she had put Mike through. What she had taken away.
"In some cases, although not very common, the pain can manifest itself as headaches. In Mike's case, due to the unusual way it has progressed, I would expect to see him develop some..."
She continued to talk, about intensities and migraines, when Harvey heard a small huffed out voice beside him.
"Michael!" Harvey snapped automatically, although he somewhat agreed with the sentiment. "Apologise to Dr Green, right now."
Mike's mouth closed immediately, a look of distaste on his lips, as though he didn't like the taste of his own words.
"It's okay, really..." Anna said dismissively. She looked as though she had slowly realised something more troubling was occurring than just the cusp of angst-filled adolescence.
Mike turned and looked at Harvey, the brief fluttering of betrayal flooding across his face and a threat of tears as his eyes pricked and blinked furiously. Harvey gulped and swallowed hard, fighting hard not to show any emotion. He kept his hand firmly secured around the kid's arm.
"... Sorry..." Mike finally said, not sounding sorry at all, but Harvey didn't have it in him to make the kid sound sincere and really, he didn't care for it.
"Go wait outside," Harvey said, leaning in close, so the words were ushered softly between them. He squeezed gently at the elbow
Mike turned and glanced at him. His eyes still looked angry but confusion was rapidly replacing it.
"Fine!" Mike muttered. He stood abruptly and stomped a few feet out of the office. Harvey watched him as he went.
Naturally, there was a door slammed.
"It's okay, really." Anna said to him.
"No, it's not," Harvey said in a low voice that he usually reserved for nervy witnesses and inferior opponents. He turned and stared at her full on."If I had my way, I would sue your ass, but Jessica foolishly thinks you're still good for the firm. The only reason I'm not tipping the authorities anonymously for your complete disregard for free-choice, humane, ethical and LEGALATIES OF your crazy shit, is because I can't exactly take my associate to a regular doctor, can I? How would that go? 'Some crazy scientist turned a grown man into a child and now he's reliving his teens again. Please cut him open and see for yourself."
Anna's remained silent through his quietly controlled rant – his voice effortlessly cool – face pale, hands ringing nervously in her lap.
"Mr Specter..." she tried.
Harvey stood abruptly and leant across her desk, leaving enough space between them to be non-threatening and smiled at her.
"If Mike has so much as one hair out of place after all of this settles down, I will completely destroy you."
Harvey knew he was only being halfway fair. Anna Green was clearly a troubled woman whose misguided actions were a result of a need lost, and unable to regain it, had channelled her brilliant mind and said need into dangerous waters. Despite this, Harvey remained full of building anger, a reluctance to open himself to the implications or reasoning behind it. What scared him, though, was how he hadn't questioned it.
Harvey straightened, tweaked his tie and suit jacket and bid Dr Anna Green goodbye...
The headaches, as predicted, came a week later (but a whole week before the firm – and Harvey – were consumed with another man's greed and need for trouble.)
It's gone 6.30 and he's still nowhere finished. He stared down numbly at the words that assaulted his pulsating eyes. They felt ready to pop from eye sockets and he rubbed at them tiredly.
Most of the other associates had left, but for some unknown reason, both Gregory and Kyle remained. They're huddled near Gregory's cubicle, Kyle leaning lazily against the cubicle wall. He said something that makes Gregory break into a ridiculous guffaw of laughter and caused Mike to swallow down a gurgled S.O.S.
He looked back down at the file with useless and uncooperative eyes as Kyle snickered and then launched into some conspicuous tail.
"What are you still doing here?"
Startled, Mike flinched with pain and looked up to find Harvey standing between the cubicles. He wasn't looking at him, though, and Mike blinked in confusion, nausea playing with tonsils at the back of the throat. It caused him to clamp his teeth down in fear of the repercussions.
"Just finishing a few things, Sir..." Gregory said nervously. He straightened and glanced at Kyle who had the nerve to actually smile.
"Really?" Harvey said, with a smirk that was nowhere near amused. "Because it looks like your playing chatty cathy."
"Right..." Gregory said, who made an aborted move towards his cubicle before stopping, hands fluttering nervously.
If Mike hadn't been in so much pain, he would have snorted at the obvious fear radiating off his fellow associate. Harvey hadn't even been trying.
"That's your cue to leave, unless you want me to tell Louis how your not working on your not-something." Harvey said. Mike watches as both Kyle and Gregory both stare at Harvey for a confused second. Harvey flicked his head towards the door. "Leave."
Once Kyle and Gregory had gone, Harvey turned his attention back to Mike.
"Hey," Mike responded, flicking his gaze back towards his desk.
"Headache, huh?" Harvey asked.
Mike managed a 'Hmm' in confirmation. He sighed loudly and swiped a hand across his face. When he let go, the paperwork was still there and he stared dumbly down at it.
"Go home, Mike." Harvey instructed him quietly. He was just about to shake his head, when Harvey reached down around him, pulling the files out from under Mike's elbows. Mike shifted his eyes and continued to stare dumbly at Harvey instead. "I got this."
"But..." Mike started to say.
"If anyone hears about this," Harvey warned as he started to flip through one of the files. "I'll know where it came from. Get your backside out of here before I change my mind."
Mike felt his head nod against his own will, head bobbing away, a small smile playing at his lips. Body on autopilot, he sluggishly picked up his bag and turned his monitor off.
"Ray's outside. Use him," Harvey said quietly and firmly, not once lifting his head from the file. Words enough to implore him into obeying. "I'm not scraping you off the pavement."
"Uh.. thanks, Harvey," Mike said, turning to leave before stopping suddenly. "I'll see you tomorrow, right?"
He doesn't know why it came out as a question. Of course he'd see him tomorrow. He sees him everyday, more often than not he ends up in his office for some reason or another. Harvey lifted his head then and frowned at him before nodding. "Of course... see you tomorrow, go before you wilt any further."
Mike smiled tiredly at him and left Harvey rifling through the file. It was unknown to both of them at the time, that Harvey was holding the file that would in the weeks to come, monopolise Harvey's time and send Mike on an epic meltdown.
AN2: Mike's quote from Palo Alto Medical Foundation
Introductory quote from
The song 'Cats in the Cradle' is my unofficial song for 'Crayon's..' and how I feel about this... Any version will do, but I prefer Harry Chapin or Ugly Kid Joe.