A/N: Okay, First of all – I owe so many people so many apologies – most especially to Phoenix, who I feel I completely went off the grid. Please please forgive me. Trust me, everyone's encouraging reviews and PM's have meant a lot. I feel I must explain – There is a reason I've been a terrible person (and no, it's not because I kind of got side-swiped by a one Stiles Stilinski and his epic angsty relationship with his father, although it did help) - Life has been very much 'meh'. As soon as one thing settles down another thing starts. My dad was diagnosed with an aneurism to the heart which caused much distress all round (although my father seems to have taken it on the chin and is as cheery as ever) and my mother is due to have an operation next week for a cyst that is literally the size of my liver – and therefore quite alarming when it's actually in her own liver. Throw in 2 bouts of horrendous flu, one lost voice, a potential – although not confirmed – case of acute bronchitis and a Human Resources review for the fact that I had 2 bouts of flu, one lost voice and a potential, although not confirmed, case of acute bronchitis and a lecture on not having the flu jab and a SEVERE case of staff shortages that may or not have contributed to a) the aforementioned and B) my colleague and I being thrown around a bedroom like a rag-doll by an unwell and extremely violent patient. I spent one month (and by then it was more of the tip of the iceberg) barely mentally surviving the shit on the ward doing 14 hour shifts while bank and agency staff ran for the hills. I've managed to find some of my sanity again by escaping to the night shift (10 and half hours of relative calm on a good day). The only down side being is I tend to crash for days afterwards.
So, yeah that's my excuse. I could summarise and just say 'meh, didn't feel like writing', which was also very true. Phee, I'm epically sorry for not giving you more (I even owe you an epic review) and promised you a finale to rival all finales.
That being said – I've decided to extend the finale by another, third, part. So there will be part 3 in the near-future (but I can't promise when) partly because of penance and partly because the thought of writing again (and it is quite overwhelming to think how many wips I have started that I still WILL and WANT to complete) was a bit daunting that I thought I would make it into smaller chunks. 2 birds. One stone. At least, loyal readers and followers, you do get something. I hope it does you all justice and that I haven't lost too many readers along my extended absence.
Long apology is long. I love you all. I hope you still love me back.
Disclaimer: Standard disclaimers apply. No infringement intended.
They're halfway through their quarterly evening meeting when he got the call. He'd spent at least the last twenty minutes doodling Louis as the devil, tail included, while Jessica droned on about the changes to the firm, who was moving where and some surprising budget cuts. He'd moved on to a new doodle, poodlelarising Louis lack of hair, when his phone chirped to life. Someone from Human Resources, trying to conceal their utter boredom with a hand over their yawn, freezes.
Jessica eyed him with a surprised look of her own
He remembered, back when Mike had first started working for him, how he had given the kid such a hard time for doing the exact same thing
"Answer it," Jessica told him, dismissing him with a wave of her hand. "Go take it over there."
"Thank you," he mouthed at her, pushing away from the table. He wondered if Donna had filled her in on his 'parental anxiety…' liked he'd dropped Mike off at his first day of kindergarten. It would definitely explain the reason why Donna had insisted on passing on a personal message for Jessica mere minutes before the meeting started. Didn't Jessica have her own PA for that?
He barely got a 'hello?' out as he stepped away from the conference table before, registering that yes it was Mike who was indeed calling, before a startled gasp and the tell-tell sound of tears assaulted him.
"Har…" the kid stuttered, trying to catch his breath. "Harvey…?"
"What's wrong?" he asked, heart jumping. He pinched the bridge of his nose, feeling a headache forming against his temples, fighting the urge to tell Mike "I told you so."
"Oh god," Mike said, voice cracking. Harvey nearly dropped the phone because the kid sounded so absolutely terrified that he was positive something horrific had happened. "Harvey, I'm sorry… god, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean it. It's not my fault. Please, Harvey…"
"Whoa, kid…" Harvey tried to calm him, even has his own panic sky-rocketed. He could just about hear Jessica's voice, going on about the firm's new financial targets, over Mike's panicked crying in his ear. "Calm down. Start from the beginning."
"Um. Yeah-" he heard as a breath was sucked in. Harvey imagined Mike trembling, body tensing as he literally tried to suck back in his anxiety. "'Kay."
"Kid?" Harvey prompted. He heard a muffled moan and a small sob. "What happened? What's not your fault?"
He knew he was drawing attention himself. His own voice had risen slightly, he paced back and forth across the far end of the conference room floor, willing the obviously distressed younger man to speak. Jessica's words slowed down, voice uncertain, as her eyes tracked his movements.
"Harvey?" she questioned.
"There was so much blood," he heard instead, practically feeling all color bleed from his face. Unsure what to do or say, he threw Jessica a look of horror. Jessica's eyes widen in return. "He said he was okay and then he wasn't. They won't tell me anything 'cause I'm not family."
"What? Is it Mike?" Jessica whispered at him urgently. He couldn't hear what the kid was saying over the rush of blood in his own ears and waved her off angrily. Someone, from behind, inhaled sharply.
"Keller?" Louis asked still seated at the table, braving Harvey's anger.
"Mike? Just calm down, will you-"Harvey asked again, voice soothing and in sharp contrast to the scowl he was giving the junior partner. "Where's Keller."
"Not here," Mike answered quickly.
"What?" He asked, eyes crinkling in confusion.
"He's not here," Mike insisted. "He left before it happened."
"Mike, if you're not talking about Keller-" Harvey asked slowly. "Who are you talking about?"
Another tightly controlled breath was heard.
"Nick," Mike breathed out in a rush and Harvey felt his already wildly out of control heart drop a little further. "It's Nick, Harvey."
He must look like complete shit, losing enough time to realise he's somehow managed to find his way back to his seat, because Jessica has managed to gather his belongings and is thrusting it at him. He realises, a little belatedly, that she must have seen his extensive amount of doodling.
"It's Nick," Harvey said dully. "He said Nick's hurt."
Jessica looked at him with worry, squeezing his shoulder with her hand, offering his belongings again.
"I…" He stumbled to a stop, realising blankly that he didn't know. Mike hadn't kept the line open long enough for him to find out. "I don't know. He only said that Nick was hurt. He sounded out of it and wasn't making sense. All I know is-" he paused, feeling nausea stemming from the fear of the unknown. "- is that there was blood involved. Shit, I don't even know what hospital they've been taken to."
"Call him back," Jessica urged, the voice of reason.
He did, but it was answered by a man whom Harvey didn't know and instead of calm introductions and explanations, Harvey quivered with worry and asked with trepidation 'why do you have Mike's phone?' only to have the man explain he'd given it to him when the nurse had taken him for an examination. The call only served his fear that his kid was hurt too. He at least managed to find out the location they were at.
"Mike's hurt too," he managed to say out loud. "I don't know how badly."
"Go," Jessica told him.
"What about Keller?" Louis asked again. In the last few weeks Louis had barely said anything to him since Keller jumped the Louis-shaped ship.
"I don't know and I don't get care," Harvey shouted with such vindication even Jessica jumped. He eyed Louis with anger-filled eyes and jabbed his finger over the table. "This is all your fault!"
"My fault?" Louis asked incredulous. "How did you figure that out? You're the one who-"
"Louis-" Jessica hissed at him and Louis immediately stopped, mouth snapping shut. "Now's not the time."
"I should go," Harvey said, grabbing at his brief-case and jacket and making a bee-line. "I need to flag down a taxi. My driver's at his kid's recital. He won't be available for another hour."
"Harvey-" he heard Jessica call as he snagged the handle of the conference room door. Turning he saw both Louis and Jessica on Louis side of the table whispering in what looked like a heated conversation. The balding man looked as defiant as ever until Jessica hissed his name again. Harvey narrowed his eyes in suspicion.
"Okay, okay. Fine," Louis conceded, raising his hands in the air. He stood up and pushed away from the table. "I have my own car this evening. I'll drive you," he told Harvey, eyes betraying the reluctance there.
He stopped by the door, waiting.
"Come on, it'll be fun," Louis said with sarcasm. "We can exchange insults on the way."
Harvey finds Mike sat huddled in the hallway, knee's drawn up, and head in his hands. All hope for a Mike relatively unharmed were dashed upon the sight of him. There was a large hematoma on his left temple, dried blood smeared down the side of his face. There was cut from just under his right eye that finished just before his ear, a splash of blood under it, but by the small amount of steri-strips that adorned it, it couldn't be too deep. There was already a dark bruise blossoming around his eye and a nasty looking split lip.
"Dad!" Mike cried, untangling himself and launching at Harvey, in a flail of arms and legs. Harvey blinked, momentarily shocked by Mike's declaration. It had been way too long since he last heard himself being called that. "Harvey… oh god. I'm sorry, Harvey."
"Hey," he instantly tried to soothe. He swept his arms around him in a hug while still trying to lean back to get a closer look at Mike's injuries. By the way he had thrown himself at him the kid probably didn't have any rib injuries. "What happened? Are you okay?"
Mike continued to murmur into his jacket, head buried into his shoulder, and by the way his head bobbed Harvey wasn't entirely sure if he was shaking or nodding.
"He's fine," a voice announced from behind and Harvey only now realised that someone else was there with them. Harvey eyed the stranger – a balding, portly man in his late forties to fifties – over Mike's shoulder. "At least that's what the doc said anyways."
Mike chose this moment to extricate himself from Harvey and nod more clearly.
"I'm fine," he reassured Harvey, but the remains of tears in his eyes still made Harvey's heart painfully squeeze. "I have a concussion. They said I was lucky, but Nick…"
"Go on…" Harvey encouraged, still confused how his brother had become involved in Mike's disastrous playdate.
Mike audibly gulped and waved his hand in distress. He rubbed at his mouth, something Harvey hadn't seen Mike do since he was a kid, unable to get the words out.
"Hey, it's okay," Harvey encouraged, snagging the hand and tugging it away from his mouth. He looked around nervously, realising the man was still looking at them. He was still wary, not knowing how he was connected to either Mike or Nick.
"Nick explained Mike's situation," the man said, giving a little shrug. "So don't worry."
Okay, so the man knew Nick, who wasn't there. And Mike was having a freak out about it.
"Nick? Where is he," Harvey asked, ignoring the fact that Mike instantly went rigid and buried himself back into Harvey's shoulder. The kid was clearly having some kind of emotional relapse.
"They sent him for some tests," the guy told him, face looking more pained, a flare of anger to his rounded cheeks. "To check his head. He got glassed. Thrown around quite a bit."
Harvey blanched. He felt his knees wobble and weaken and if it wasn't for Mike's solid and rigid form pressed against him, he was sure he would have slid to the floor.
"Right," he said a little bit too methodically. "Mike said something about him being all right and then he wasn't?…"
"Yeah," the man said with a nod. He was clearly tense, hand flexing before coming up to rub at his balding patch. "Well, he was beat as hell, but conscious, you know? Desperate to check on the kid, but as soon as he stood up he just completely crashed and was out for the count until the EMT's turned up. Your boy completely lost it. He thought he'd got Nick killed."
Harvey could just imagine it, remembering how Donna had described Mike's reaction when Harvey had been unconscious after being struck by a cyclist and his regression that followed, and nodded at the man. He squeezed Mike a little closer to him.
"Of course, Nick's okay-" the guy nodded back, throwing a lazy fleeting grin at him. "Came round typical Nick style, asking if he was still a hit with the ladies. That kid's a right pain in my butt, you know?"
Harvey found himself grinning at the man who appeared to be genuinely both exasperated and having a fond-affection for his wayward younger brother.
"I'm sorry," He said, reaching around Mike and offering his hand, now extremely intrigued by the man's identity and connection with Nick. "I'm Harvey… and you are?"
"This is Mo," Mike said, pushing away from Harvey again and gesturing to the man, allowing them to shake hands. "He's Nick's boss."
"Partner," a voice suddenly says to their right, Nick suddenly appearing from around the corner. His face brightened, in sharp contrast to the mottled marks scattered over his face, one side completely covered in blood. "Harvey!"
"Nick!" Mike exclaimed, utter joy and relief present in his voice. He pulled away from Harvey and dashed to his brother in such a way that Harvey longed for a time when Mike was still a toddler. "Thank goodness. I thought you were dead."
"Hey, munchkin," Nick muttered even though they were both near enough the same age. He was obviously in pain, wincing as Mike practically threw his spindly arms around him. "Watch the merchandise."
"Mike," Harvey called, in warning. He walked the few steps towards them and gently pulled Mike away. "Nick's hurt."
"Sorry," Mike said, quickly pulling away as though he had burned him.
"S'ok," Nick said, wincing slightly as he tried to straighten, causing Harvey to inwardly wince with him. "Had worse."
Harvey rounded on Nick, studying him – clearly out of the two, Nick had got the worse of it – and reached out a hand to touch a part of his face that wasn't covered with an immense amount of bandages. Nick flinched but didn't pull away. "What happened?" he hissed angrily. "Who did this to you?"
"Don't ask me," Nick huffed at him, pulling away and attempting a painful shrug. "Guess I was in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"Mike?" Harvey asked, not taking his eyes off his wounded brother. "Was Keller involved?"
"Now would be a good time to start talking, Mikey-" Nick encouraged, staring back. "He's got that weird pulse thing in the middle of his forehead again."
"No, Harvey – I swear it wasn't him. He left," Mike insisted, invading the space between them.
"See, right there – " Harvey exclaimed, angry all over again.
"I wouldn't go with him," Mike interrupted him, voice insistent and sincere "I'm sorry, okay? I was pissed at you and refused to go with him."
Harvey shook his head in confusion.
"So if Keller left, who…"
"I might have been a little drunk-" Mike admitted.
Mo snorted causing both of them to look up.
"I'm going to have a word with the bartender," Mo apologised to Harvey. "He should have cut him off."
Harvey nodded and then gestured for Mike to continue.
"… and Trevor turned up," Mike said in a barely there whisper. Behind him, Harvey could see Nick had retreated to the safety of the wall, hand bracing his side, eyes shut.
"Trevor?" Harvey asked in surprise, torn between checking on his brother and railing on Mike. "Trevor who's supposed to be in Montona?"
"There's only one, right?" Mike attempted to joke but ended up looking away when he chanced a look at Harvey's unamused face. "I was as surprised as you are," the younger man insisted. "I swear I didn't know."
"So what happened?" Harvey asked, folding his arms.
"We had a fight."
"A fight?" Harvey asked, raising his eyebrows.
"An argument, really-" Mike quickly corrected, eyes stormy. "He was talking trash. About me and you and I… maybe… kind of threw a punch."
"- and missed," Nick offered from his spot against the wall. "Got an upper-cut right to his face instead. Went down like a sack of spuds."
"Thanks Nick," Mike said, rolling his eyes. "Way to big me up."
"You're welcome," Nick cracked an eye open and grinned painfully. "Still glad I'm alive?"
"Trevor did all of this?" Harvey asked in bewilderment, hand gesturing between Mike and his brother, ignoring Nick's completely inappropriate comment.
"I… I don't know," Mike answered, appearing blank. "I don't even know where he went. All I know is that the bar just went completely crazy."
Nick shrugged. "You should see it on ladies night."
"I think he ran as soon as the place kicked off," Mo answered for them. "Most of Nick's damage came from a bunch of biker's."
"Seriously Mo," Nick exclaimed with a half-cocked grin and a tut. "The riff-raff you're letting in lately."
"My sentiments exactly," Mo eyed Nick back.
"I thought you were partners," Mike said in confusion.
Mo grinned and pointed at Nick. "Nick? Are we partners?"
Harvey was interrupted to the on-going debate that included Nick telling a confused Mike 'I've heard it both ways' by his phone going off. By the grave look on his face and hearing a one-sided conversation, Mike obviously had realised something was up.
"That was Louis. He's gone back to work. Keller's threatening to leave."
Mike dropped down onto an available chair. He didn't look particularly surprised, mortified and defeated yes, but not surprised.
"Shit, Harvey. I'm Sorry," Mike told him, face full of shame. "What does this mean for us."
"Well, I'm pretty sure there's no 'us' anymore," he said, pocketing his phone. At Mike's horrified look he immediately clarified himself. "I mean there's no more 'me, you and Keller'. Louis is going on the defensive. It's all damage control now. Which is strange." he snorted. " Normally it's the other way around."
"I'm sorry," Mike muttered, voice muffled as he buried his face into his hands.
Harvey didn't reassure or comfort Mike's misery this time. By his own reasoning Mike was at least half responsible for the events that had occurred tonight – he had completely disregarded his rules, got drunk and let himself be provoked into a fight that he clearly was incapable of finishing (a little harsh maybe, but Harvey made a mental note to take the kid to gym for some boxing lessons, and by the state of his brother's face, Nick too) – and one hundred per cent the reason that Keller was walking.
In fact he was seething, but was saved from chewing the kid out by Mo bringing his attention back to Nick again.
"You look like shit," Mo said, folding his arms as he scrutinised him. "Are you sure they cleared you."
"I discharged myself."
Harvey shot out of his seat, causing Mike to jump in surprise.
"Nick!" Mo admonished with a fierce disapproval, pinning him with angry eyes. "Seriously, you're going to be the death of me."
"And then I get the bar, right?" Nick asked with an airy cheerfulness and a wink.
Mo scowled at him in return.
"Nicholas!" Harvey snapped at him in anger.
Mike peeked at them from through his fingers
Nick stared back in defiance.
"I'm fine Harvey," Nick told him, unflinching from his stance against the wall, although Harvey figured that was more to do with not being able to move without the support of it than any bold gesture. "No bleeding on the brain. No swelling. Just a few broken ribs and a bad concussion."
"You could be like one of those people," Mike offered, eyes wide and imploring. "You know, the ones are who all heroic and save everyone and then bam!" Mike slammed his hand down on the chair causing Harvey to jump – although he'd never admit it – and Nick to roll his eyes. "They drop dead."
"This isn't a day-time soap opera," Nick groused at them.
"You need to make sure," Mike implored of him, looking up with those watery eyes again.
"I'm fine, Mikey," Nick reassured him with a grin that ended up being aborted due to the sharp inhale of pain that followed. "Seriously, don't worry."
"Have you forgotten I have an eidetic memory? I know exactly what could happen," Mike told him with a serious look. "Do you want to traumatise me for the rest of my life?
"You're getting yourself checked out," Harvey told him firmly, pointing at him while looking around to see what doctor or nurse he could grab hold of.
"Past tense, Harvey," Nick said with a roll of the eyes. "I discharged myself, remember? And there's nothing you can do about it."
Harvey just smiled in response and patted his shoulder in such way that no one could mistake it for anything other than patronisation.
"You tell yourself that, Nicky."
Glaring at both his idiot brother and his insolent but adorable non-adopted fake son he snapped his fingers at them. "Stay here," he told them with his most angry and 'don't argue with me' voice he could muster (and with how he was feeling right at this moment it wasn't too much of an effort). "Both of you."
As he rounded the corner and beared down on an unsuspecting nurse, he heard Mo utter another thinly veiled exasperation, lingering in fondness. "Sit down," he heard, satisfied he had someone on his side, for once, when it came to his sibling. "Before you fall down."
A/N:2 So, there will be a part 3. Involving nightmares, tears, some Nick-woobie-loving and Harvey getting down the real reason that Mike's been such a brat of recent. You'll have to see what happens in regard to the pull-ups, but I don't think I will put him in a pair. I just can't do it. But they will make an appearance.
And, just a shout out really – Mike's insistence on Nick being checked out is all inspired by a particular character from Neighbours and that 'explosive' episode from last week. I won't name names in case anyone is yet to watch it. RIP. Lesson learned, people. No one is invincible.
Phoenix: You gave me two HB requests that I promised to fill. For the life of me I can't remember what they were * ducks an errant thrown shoe * and can't find them in my old pm's. Be a dear and remind me * blows kisses *
Announcement: I was going to save this for the final part but as I've been a complete fart to you all I've decided to give it to you early. Phoenix is aware of this as we have discussed it before, but for all not in the know, I am planning a follow on to Phee's Lesson's, focusing on Nick (working title is 'The Continuing Adventures of a One Nicholas Specter). These will be multi-chaptered one-shots in the same vein as Lessons and Crayon's and be set around mini!mike age instead of the teen-years. I have two (maybe 3 – although I'm really not sure how to work the third one yet) planned, but what I wanted, and if you're all interested that is – is for some prompts from you guys. E.g. anything you want to see in regards to Nick. Also if you've got any better ideas for a title, I'm all ears. Just pm me on here if you have any suggestions.