Final fic dump of the night
A/N: This the sequel to 'Calls From Crappy Apartments'. That fic is on my ff. net profile page (it doesn't appear to be showing on the normal suits ff. net page)
Title: Suits: In Difficulty Lies Opportunity
Summary: Harvey had thought Trevor was the only one he had needed to worry about. He was wrong. Harvey doesn't know everything about Mike, but he better start learning. Fast.
Characters: Mike, Harvey, mentions of Trevor (deceased), OMC
Warnings: mention of minor character death, some swearing, mentions of drug use, implied child abuse, non-con in later chapters.
I am aware that there has been a Clifford featured in the series. This 'Cliff' is no way associated with Danner. I had the name for this before I even realised someone by that name had been featured and I kind of liked how (I imagined) Mike would say it. All angry and hissing. Just, so you know.
Disclaimer: I do not own Suits of these characters. No infringement intended.
'A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. 'In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.'
So is a lot'
'In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.'
Mike settles into the couch with a beer. It's 11:20 and it's the first time in at least three days that he's home before 1am. He's swamped at work – what with both Louis and Harvey riding his ass. Louis more in an attempt to work him till some horrendous fire-able error occurs. He's pretty sure Harvey's is an all together different motive. He's not actually sure of the reason, but he's been acting differently towards Mike ever since Trevor overdosed and died.
It's been three months since that day and Mike still shakes his head, not quite believing that there wont be a phone call any minute asking for help. He'd not heard or seen Jenny in that amount of time either, save for the rather unfortunate, distressing and apparent end of their friendship the day after Trevor's death.
Despite Mike's sunny disposition he didn't really run in big circles – through the very short and abrupt college period it had been very much him, Trevor and pot. After the college period it had been very much him, Trevor and Jenny. And pot.
So now, it was pretty much just him. It was probably the reason why he spent all his available time at work. It was also the probable reason why Harvey didn't question his constant presence and request for more work. At times he'd even ask Mike to his office under the pretence of discussing 'important details' of cases and then let him simply carry on with his work at his couch.
Harvey had at times, tried to ask him questions, to decipher his associate's well-being.
'Are you okay?'
'I'm fine, Harvey.'
'How you doing, kid?'
It became an endless loop of repetitive and throw away comments that eventually became something in passing until it stopped completely and they settled into their normal interaction full of fake smiles in between their agreed silence.
He was satisfied with work despite the weirdness there. But today – after the shitload of work he'd waded through – did nothing to drive away the need for sleep and after his eyes swam one too many times and he felt his head droop for the third time, he had reluctantly decided to go home. He wasn't sure if sleep would come. His body at work, it seemed, craved the need to just lie down – that moment on the precipice, stuck in limbo, dozy but aware, body thrumming but relaxing too. At home, however, his body had stiffened at the quietness, the chime of the clock startling him and he had swung by the fridge hoping the allure of a ice cool beer would help lull him into some kind of sleep.
It was 11:23, whilst sat on his couch with his beer sweating in his hand, when there was a knock at the door and the satisfied feeling was ripped away completely. He'd opened it without hesitation thinking – or hoping – it could have only been either Jenny or Harvey – with a painted smile.
Said painted smile slides off his face when he saw who was standing there.
His heart speeds up and throat clenches as memories slip in and fluff around him.
"Cliff? What are you doing here?"
He can hardly hear his own voice over the blood rushing through his head.
When Mike's parents died he didn't go to live with his grandmother straight away. In fact he lived with his uncle Cliff for three months before that even happened.
It wasn't the first time he had lived with Uncle Cliff... in fact his uncle had been living with him and his parent's for the six months prior to Mike's parent's dying. Mike had always liked his uncle – he'd called him 'Fun Uncle Cliff' (not that he had any other uncle's to begin with) – he'd take him to football games, NASCAR racing and one occasion a really gnarly Roller Derby. But around a month before he'd moved in he lost his job and his girlfriend dumped him, affectively loosing a roof over his head. Mike's dad didn't want to see his kid brother homeless and had invited him to stay, much to Mike's delight.
Only two months in Mike soon realised his uncle wasn't that much fun to be with any more. His breath went from occasionally smelling of alcohol to being quite drunk most of the time and although he was affectionate – ruffling his hair and trying to tickle him to death (despite Mike telling him 13 was too old for that but secretly relishing it) – he wasn't that interested in taking Mike to some of the fun places they used to go to.
Dad said his uncle was depressed. Mom wanted him gone. He'd listened from his partly open door. It would go on like that for months until Cliff announced he had some kind of job and spent most of his time out of the house. The arguments between his parent's improved and life moved on. His uncle seemed to be a bit more like 'fun uncle Cliff' and had actually stopped drinking. (It wouldn't be until after his parent's death he would discover what his uncle had replaced it with).
So life stilled and moved on until the first significant change occurred in Mike's life. He had been staying at Trevor's for the night when his parent's were killed – swerving to avoid a drunk driver – spinning out and hitting a high built wall instead.
His uncle came and told him.
He didn't cry.
He ended up being left in the care of his uncle.
Cliff told him that his Grammy had moved a few short weeks prior to his parent's death and he couldn't find her new contact details. He desperately wanted to see her – to feel her soft embrace and even softer kisses. His uncle appeared even less affectionate now and the drinking had started again.
They stayed at his parent's house for a month until Cliff told him he couldn't afford to. Mike gathered all available photos of his parent's including one – a close up all three of them, faces looming close to the lens – and hid them deep amongst his clothes. They ended up at a pretty shitty two bedroomed flea ridden apartment.
On the first night there, he'd buried himself amongst the bed sheets and pulled his duvet – that he had dragged from his old room – wondering how his grandmother would find them now.
It didn't really occur to him to ask why his uncle wasn't trying to find her.
It was two weeks later that Mike walked in on his uncle. He had something wrapped around his arm, tied tightly, and was sticking a needle into his arm. He stayed there for a mesmerising second until his uncle screams at him to get out.
They have been at the apartment for over month now (passing Mike's 14th birthday) when Cliff returns home late. Mike's still up – watching the old TV box set – and jumps as his uncle barrels into the small apartment. He's drunk or high. Maybe both. And he's not alone.
It's the first time he's actually starting to feel scared around him. He's already started to feel uncomfortable.
The uncomfortable feeling settles in quickly when his uncle's friend – Freddy – settles down next to him on the couch and starts murmuring shit that Mike just nods at and makes non-committal noises as he 'hmm's and 'ahh's'. Freddy then brandishes a bottle of vodka and offers it to him with a leer. He looks at Cliff unsure but his uncle just grins and nods reassuringly.
Mike doesn't like the taste and it doesn't take much to feel a bit light headed and giggly.
Somewhere between light headed and giggly and a bloodied face Mike ends up in the bathroom (he thinks he remembers telling Freddy he felt a bit sick). It's not until Freddy leers a bit too close, stinky breath fogging up around him, trying to pull at his clothes that Mike reacts to the situation.
One swift kick to the groin.
Freddy stiffens, cries out, one hand grabbing his abused area while he suddenly tries to grab blindly at him with the other.
"Fuck you!" he spat before Freddy's hand finds it across Mike's mouth, affectively cutting anything else off. So Mike reacts the only way he can think of and bit hard across the palm.
Freddy snaps his hand away quickly, snarling a 'god damn it!' and slaps his open palm across Mike's face. The force sends Mike tumbling hard, face connecting with the edge of the off-white porcelain sink. Blood fills his eye and pain engulfs him.
Sound roars around him and it's not until he crawled on his hands and knees to the bathroom door that he sees Cliff and Freddy grappling in the living room.
"You owe me, Cliff." Freddy shouts. "You fucking owe me."
"Get the fuck out."
By the time Freddy has disappeared, Cliff is back to being genuinely nice and affectionate again. Ruffling hair and whispering 'sorry' over and over.
Trevor asks Mike how he got his black eye. He tells him he walked into a door.
Trevor obviously doesn't believe him because he suddenly asks way too many questions and his head hurts. They end up having an argument – Mike can't even remember what it was about– but Mike practically calls him a looser and that he had a fucked up family (if he was honest, he was actually jealous).
"Fuck you, Mike."
"No, fuck you."
He watches Trevor storm off with a heavy heart.
It's over another month when Mike returns home late from school to find his uncle crying – actually crying – in the kitchen and attempting to wrap some bruised ribs. Mike wordlessly goes over and helps to fasten it into place and asks him what was wrong.
"I'm in trouble, Mikey." Cliff says sincerely. "I owe a lot of money. I don't have it."
Mike sits opposite him at the kitchen counter. His uncle looks older now and desperate. He misses the fun days.
"So, what are you going to do?"
He half expects his uncle to declare that they are moving again or at least hopes that he's actually found his Grammy for them to go to.
By the look on his face – grim, shamed, regretful – he knows it's neither.
"Mikey, they know I don't have the money." Cliff responds quietly, head dipping with avoidance. "They only want one thing in exchange."
Mike doesn't ask what that one thing is. He steps away from the counter and takes a few steps to the couch where he sits heavily.
"Please, Mikey." Cliff says from the counter. His voice is pleading. Desperate. Mike cringes within him. "I don't want it like before."
Mike thinks of bloodied faces and bitten palms and stinky breaths.
Mike doesn't give Cliff an answer – so his uncle takes it as acceptance – and goes about making arrangements. He offers him a pill to help him 'forget' and Mike takes it. Only, when Cliff is out of the way, Mike goes to the bathroom and takes another two.
It seems though that the three tablets, coupled with lack of food – makes Mike very loose limbed and too passive because after a few minutes of some new guy breathing all over him while he's lying half-comatosed on the couch, he's distantly aware of the man rolling away and getting into an argument with Cliff.
"What the hell? The kid's out of it. That's not my shit."
Mike wants to laugh at the irony of it but can't work his vocal chords to do so. He thinks that Cliff might have though.
Some time later, Cliff sinks to the floor and buries his face in his hands, and Mike can hear the self-hatred in his voice. He stays there for the rest of the night, in what Mike thinks is his uncle's way of making sure he doesn't die in his sleep.
Even in sleep Mike knows this problem is not going away. And next time he might not be so lucky.
It's a week or so later that Mike actually tells someone. That someone is Trevor because at the time he thought he was the safest bet.
He's sitting on a swing in the local play-area, not caring that he thinks he's too old for it – when Trevor drops into the swing next to him. He carries on some lost conversation from a million months ago as though their argument never happened.
"He lets them touch me."
It comes out soft, whispered. Out of the blue.
Trevor immediately stops and turns.
Mike doesn't get a chance to give Trevor any more information. It seems he doesn't have to, because Trevor's suddenly out of the swing and declaring "Fucking bastard."
Mike doesn't move – he wraps his hands around the the metal chain of the swing and feels slow tears fall. He's still there, tears long dried, when a bunch of younger kids turn up murmuring excitedly about some guy who'd been stretchered off in ambulance after having the shit kicked out of him.
It's dark when the kid's disappear and he looses time until suddenly Trevor's mom is there with a soft smile and a welcoming hand. He takes it wordlessly and they go back to the Evans' home. He doesn't say anything to Trevor but he can see the already swollen and bloody knuckles.
Trevor catches him looking at them and shrugs.
"A door walked into me."
It takes Trevor's mom a solid three days of phone calls and searching until Mike's grandmother is found. She'd been three hours away. Mike's unsure if Cliff knew this.
By the beginning of the fourth day, he was engulfed by the comfort of his grammy that he had missed so much.
And the rest was history.
But with an eidetic memory, not so much...
…. "What are you doing here?"
Voice wary. Confused. Suspicious.
He's not a kid any more. He can deal with this shit. Instead of the stability that knowledge should give him, his breath escapes him -
Bloodied faces and bitten palms and stinky breath.
Only this time, Trevor's not here to bail him out.
"Hey, Mikey," Cliff drawls. He leans into the door frame with a small smile. "How you doing?"
Mike stiffens, cringes and takes a precautionary step back. Cliff, though, seems to think that it is an invitation and steps further in. Mike plasters himself against the wall of his apartment, not wanting contact.
Cliff looks around his apartment with a sweeping gaze and Mike watches him as he touches inanimate objects with a light brush of fingers. His hand stills over the framed picture of Mike with his parent's and he wants nothing more than to rip it from his fingers.
"Cliff...?" Mike tries, words feeling thick against his tongue.
"I heard about Trevor," Cliff offers, hand still lightly brushing the glass of the frame before turning and facing him. "Just wanted to say that I'm sorry about that."
Mike's first reaction is fear... not because he's in his apartment when he doesn't want him to be and he's lost all ability to function properly – but because of the dawning realisation that his uncle might actually have been tracking him for the last twelve years. That he might know everything about Mike. Stuff that could destroy him. Stuff he feared (and most probably would) could be used against him.
"How... how do you know about that?" he asks tentatively, hating how soft, timid and child-like he sounds.
Cliff stuffs his hands in the pockets of his worn jeans and shrugs.
"A friend of a friend, I guess," he offers him without much of an explanation. "It seems that Trevor and I moved in similar circles."
Mike laughs dryly at this.
"He died nearly three months ago," Mike says, a suspicious tone making it's way in. "Why are you here now?"
He's still standing near the door – not making any attempt to move closer and finding himself trapped between the coffee table and door – needing a possible quick exit if required.
"I only just heard," Cliff says nonchalantly, pulling one hand out his pocket and brushing it through his hair. It causes some to fall across his eyes. "Some guy was talking about his 'go to guy' – a Trevor Evans – not being able to provide his gear any more on the account of him being dead. Don't know about you, but I only knew one Trevor Evans... So I looked into it. I'm sorry, kid."
"No, you're not," Mike says surprising himself with the anger that laced his voice. "You fucking hated him. He put you in hospital."
Cliff grins again then and Mike shivers, pulling his arms across his chest. He moves slightly to the left, leaving a clear pathway between his uncle and the door.
Cliff licks his lips, stuffing his hands back into his pockets and quietly moves around the room again. He lingers far too long, in Mike's opinion, near the doll Harvey had given him. He shivers again, feeling as though Cliff was somehow marking his territory. In doing so he had also skewered Mike's strategically placed pathway.
Anger – a little fear – a little nausea – spike in him.
Cliff chuckles and shakes his head.
"I'm sorry for you, kid. Trevor and I … well, we didn't part on the best of terms, that's true. But he was there for you."
It's surprising what a mix of anger, fear and nausea can bring out in someone because Mike starts to feel bitterness lace his words and before he even realises what's happening, he's talking. A bit too confrontational and lippy, but warranted nonetheless.
"I'm not your kid." He says, biting his lip hard. Tension rolls from his shoulders and ripples down his folded arms.
Cliff seems to realise he's struck a nerve – although really everything he's saying (and his mere presence) is striking a god-damn nerve – and raises his hands trying to placate him, a neutral mask sliding into place.
"Okay, sorry," Cliff says, taking a slow step forward. To him. He flinches and Cliff stops just as quickly. "I'll go, okay. Take it easy... you okay for money?"
Mike's pushing himself back into the wall. The words are kind of muffled around him because he's trying not to fall into full blown panic and he shakes his head to clear it.
"What?" he asks in disbelief.
"Money, you need some?" Cliff repeats, with another glance around him. "Because by the look of this place, you don't have a lot."
"No," Mike says, shaking his head. (Bloodied faces and bitten palms and stinky breath). "I'm good."
Mike uses the opportunity of clarity to straighten against the wall and move further away. Again.
"What about your Grammy?"
Anger and distaste rise in him.
"You mean your mom?" Mike says, disgust lacing through him and coiling around his gut. "She's in a home. She's good."
Cliff shifts his eyes down and for a second Mike wonders if it's shame.
"A home, huh? That must be expensive," Cliff makes a move again. "Let me-"
Mike darts away and grapples with the door, wrenching it open.
"I don't want your god damn money," He practically shouts.
"Mike-" Cliff starts to say with genuine surprise. "I just want to-"
"Well don't!" Mike snaps, feeling his face flush with anger. "What ever it is, don't. I've moved on. I don't need you, your money or what ever it is you want. So just go."
Cliff moves closer to the door. It means that they are too close together, breaths apart. (Bloodied faces and bitten palms and stinky breath.)
"You want to help with Grammy?" Mike says, voice low and challenging. He roughly pushes at Cliff who has no choice but to stumble back into the hall. "Go see her and give it to her instead."
He slams the door with force and whirls away, pacing up and down, breaths rapidly rising and falling with panic. Oh, shit. Oh, shit. Oh, shit. Oh, shit.
He drops heavily into the couch and buries his face into shaking hands.
Mike ends up being late for work the next day.
After his uncle had left he had crawled into bed, beer abandoned, and wrapped the bed sheets around him. He didn't really sleep – just tossed and turned, staring at the ceiling – being plagued by waking nightmare. Memories.
So he just laid there, awake, staring at nothing until well past the alarm. By then Mike knew he would be late – but a little part of him simply didn't care. He had forced himself out of bed, into the bathroom, and ignored the striking pale and pinched features.
By the time he was forcing a cup of black coffee down his reluctant throat his phone buzzed against his thigh.
Coming in today, princess?
Mike wants nothing more than to reply – no, because life sucks – but ends up pocketing it instead and dragging his bike out of his tainted apartment.
He gets to work shortly before 9am, which by associate standards is pretty much a no-no and a disciplinary action in the making.
There's a post it note stuck to his computer monitor when he drops his bag off at his cubicle.
My office, now. Harvey.
Feeling exhausted and well off his game Mike trails slowly to Harvey's office.
"What time do you call this?" Harvey says, scanning through a file.
Mike knows he should apologise profusely and fall to his knees at Harvey's nicely shined shoes, like a well trained puppy, and ask for forgiveness but he doesn't because his head is filled with a shit load of stuff that he doesn't want to be there – vodka that tastes too strong for a child's mouth, leering faces, stinky breath, grabby hands, bloodied faces...
Despite the distraction he knows what he shouldn't say – most definitely not with a careless and bored tone – but does it all the same.
"Eight-Fifty..." Mike says with that very same careless and bored tone. "... two..."
Harvey looks up in surprise, "Excuse me? What did you just say?"
Mike rolls his eyes and shrugs, "Sorry, okay?"
Harvey pushes up from his desk with the folder, one further glance at it before slapping it down hard on the desk.
"Look, Mike. I know you've been doing long hours," Harvey tells him, moving around the desk. Mike doesn't miss the way Harvey's eyes move up and down, crinkling at the sides as he takes in Mike's demeanour and appearance. "But that doesn't mean you can stroll in what ever time you fancy."
"I know," Mike says with a pronounced sigh. He's suddenly feeling even more exhausted and spent from his hardly there rebellion. "I should get back to work."
He's half turning away back towards the door when Harvey rounds on him and crowds into his space. His hands raise and push lightly against his chest – in that same way when Trevor was still alive and asking for help - eyes questioning and lips pursed.
"What's going on?"
"Nothing." A chuckle rolls out of him. It's flat and painful and despite Harvey being that close to actually seeing into him Mike doesn't mind their close proximity. He swallows the urge to talk and spill the beans on how messed up Mike's life had been even before Trevor had been on the scene. He pulls away and dodges to the left.
Harvey catches his arm in a firm grip affectively stalling his escape
"Mike?..." It hangs heavy in the air between them.
"Seriously, Harvey... " Mike says, stopping short from saying 'I'm fine'. He extricates himself from Harvey's hold and takes another daring step towards the door. "I've got a lot of work to catch up on."
He needs to shake himself down and put his game face on. He can't afford to let Harvey in on this. He can't afford Harvey to think any less of him. He, just can't.
"Mike-" Harvey says, rather firmly and Mike instantly stops at the door with his back to him. He hasn't quite got his game face into place yet and thankfully he hears some uncertainty to Harvey's voice. "- … just don't be late again, okay."
Mike swallows again, counts to five, and raises some distant tone of old. "Ey ey Captain. It wont happen again."
Only it does. Several times.