Title: The Care & Keeping of Harvey Specter's Puppy
Author: themastress (smartalli on LJ and AO3, pinkhairisnotpunk on tumblr)
Characters/Pairings: Donna + Mike, Harvey/Mike, Louis
Summary: Donna doesn't get paid enough for this. She really doesn't.
Disclaimer: Don't own it. Not mine. Don't sue.
It's obscenely early when Donna steps out of the elevator onto floor twenty-two, silver jumbo sized travel mug clasped in one hand, purse slung over her left shoulder. The receptionist desks are empty and the offices are quiet and dark, save a few lights left on by the nighttime custodial staff that provide just enough light to see, and the clack of Donna's heels echo off the marble walls in the elevator bank. It's been years since Donna came in to work this early, but it was either this or miss Lily's big game, and she wouldn't have missed that for anything, especially not after she promised the nine year old that nothing could keep her from watching her play. Aunt Donna keeps her promises.
Still...she's going to kill whichever genius decided it was a good idea to schedule a championship game on a Friday at one o'clock in the afternoon.
Donna settles in and gets to work, turning on her computer and pulling up Harvey's schedule for the day. She's trying to decide whether Harvey's meeting with James Heron can be moved to Monday – Heron is a talker and Donna absolutely refuses to run the risk of Harvey's morning meetings running long – when she hears someone approach, and looks up to see Mike walking up to her desk, a stack of files in his arms. He looks startled, and he stops in his tracks a few steps away from her desk, his eyes going comically wide, his head swiveling immediately to check Harvey's office. It's fairly obvious he didn't expect her to be there, not this early, and was hoping to simply drop his work off and scurry back to his desk.
No such luck, kid.
He doesn't look good. There's a tired, manic set to his eyes, his five o'clock shadow is looking more like an eleven o'clock shadow, and...is that the shirt he wore to work two days ago? Sloppy, even for Mike.
Now what's that about?
"He's not in yet."
Mike looks more than a little relieved to hear that and holds out the files, motioning with them toward Harvey's office. Getting his work in just under the wire, then. "Can I..."
She considers him a second, then finally nods her head toward the office. "Go ahead."
His smile is grateful. "Thanks, Donna. You're the best."
"And don't you forget it."
"I wouldn't dare."
Donna watches Mike as he walks into the office and carefully places the files on Harvey's desk, centering them just so, and smiles to herself. Sweet, love-struck kid. He gives her one last smile as he leaves the office and Donna continues to watch him through narrowed eyes as she leans back in her chair, eyebrow rising when she sees his body practically deflate as he walks down the hall and toward the associates' bullpen. When he turns the corner and disappears from sight, she stands up from her own chair and follows him.
When she turns the corner herself and nears the bullpen, she sees him sitting there at his cubicle, staring at a towering stack of files in front of him. He glances down at his watch and almost immediately his face falls, his chin dropping down to meet his chest. He slumps back in his chair, his posture one of utter defeat, and begins rubbing his eyes slowly with his right hand as he lets out a sigh. Mike is the only associate at work this early on a Friday morning, and that alone raises warning bells for Donna – if Mike and his genius brain, Harvard degree or no, can't keep up with the workload, what does that say about everyone else? – but one more look at the staggering pile of work on Mike's desk clues Donna in to exactly what she's been missing.
Mike's pile of work is five time larger – bare minimum – than any of the other associates. And she knows most of that isn't work for Harvey.
Something is clearly very wrong with this picture.
Mike's hands drop from his face and he looks up, startled, when he hears her voice.
"Come with me."
She spins and begins to walk away, and hears Mike stumble out of his chair and follow her. They walk down the hall, Donna's crisp, precise steps contrasting with Mike's confused shuffle, and stop when they reach her desk. She turns to look at him, and a much more careful examination reveals too pale skin, bags under his eyes, slumped shoulders, and shaky hands, shoved quickly into pockets in an attempt to convince her, she imagines, that she's just seeing things. Silly boy. When she looks up his wide eyes are trained on her, watching her, no doubt desperately wondering what he could have possibly done to incur her wrath.
Normally Donna encourages a healthy amount of fear. But right now? Right now she's simply wondering how it is that Mike managed to keep this a secret from her.
You're slipping, Donna. You're slipping.
"Donna, did I do something wrong?"
She gives him a good, long look. "Mike, when was the last time you slept?"
That's clearly not the question he was expecting and he stutters as he shifts from one foot to the other. "Oh, uh...I-"
"When was the last time you ate?"
"I just had-"
"Red Bull and coffee don't count."
His cheeks pink and he looks away.
"When was the last time you even went home?"
She puts her hands on her hips and stares at him, and he folds under her gaze, mumbling something under his breath, suddenly finding the pattern on the floor beneath his feet to be incredibly interesting.
"I'm sorry, what was that?"
"Three days ago."
"Three days ago?"
He winces and she crosses her arms. Worse than she thought, then.
"I know you have a genius brain, Mike, but even you need sleep or you'll burn out. And then you'll be no good to anyone."
He looks up. "I know! I know. I've just...got a lot of work right now. When it lets up-"
"Newsflash, kid. This is the big leagues. It's never going to let up."
He sighs and scratches the back of his neck, and Donna softens. She can practically see the weight of her words falling onto his shoulders, dragging him down.
"Why is your pile so big?" He shakes his head. "I know how fast you work." He looks down and a pleased little smile slips out. It was an observation, not a compliment, but she can understand why Mike would take it that way. Especially when the kid has to practically beg Harvey for a simple atta boy. "Anyone with basic observational skills can see how fast you work. So why is your pile five times the size of anyone else's?" He doesn't respond, just looks at her, and she makes the connection herself. "It's Louis, isn't it?" She nods at her own conclusion, a little put out she didn't see it sooner. "Of course it is. Louis is the one giving you all that work."
He just shrugs helplessly.
She can't blame him for not saying anything. He can't speak up to Louis, because that implies he can't handle the work. He can't tell Harvey because every time he tries, Harvey tells him to solve his own problems with Louis. And Mike, who is so clearly hanging onto this job by the grace of his own fingertips most days, can't afford a slip up the way the other associates can. They can always find another job as a lawyer. But if he loses this job, what will Mike have?
Christ. She isn't paid enough for this.
Donna opens the bottom drawer of her desk, takes out Harvey's emergency toiletry bag, and holds it out to him. "Wash your face, shave, and brush your teeth. I'll come bring you a clean suit."
Mike nods and scurries off to do as he's told, and Donna walks into Harvey's office, pulling the spare suit she stashed for Mike weeks ago out of Harvey's closet. She makes a quick phone call, promising Marco, her breakfast guy, a loaf of her grandmother's secret recipe banana bread if he can have something hot and fresh sitting on her desk in ten minutes, then heads toward Mike.
When she gets to the bathroom she walks right in, hands Mike the suit, pulls the small bottle of gel out of the bag, and begins to apply some product to Mike's hair. It's not perfect, but at least he won't look like the walking dead when she's done with him, so that's a step in the right direction.
"This isn't Harvey's."
"Of course it's not. After the bedbug fiasco, I decided it was better for everyone involved if you had a fresh suit available."
He looks at the suit in his hands, confused. "But I didn't buy this."
"I'm aware of that. Now put it on."
Clearly he misinterprets her words, because his eyes widen and he says, "Donna, this is too much."
She pats his cheek. "That's sweet, but I didn't pay for it. I used Harvey's card."
"Does Harvey know that?"
"Don't be ridiculous." He puts the suit on and Donna packs up the toiletry bag, zipping it shut just as Mike finishes knotting his tie. The suit is impeccable and fits him beautifully – thank you, René – and she looks him up and down, sweeps her hands across his shoulders, straightens the knot of his tie, and, finally, nods her approval. "Not perfect, but it'll do."
She motions for Mike to follow her and he does, trailing her heels by a couple of steps, pausing when she pauses, increasing his speed when she increases hers.
Sometimes the puppy analogy just fits.
When they reach her desk there's a white bag and a bottle of orange juice sitting in front of her monitor – note to self: buy bananas and walnuts after Lily's game – and she picks it up and hands it to Mike, exchanging the food for the suit in his hands. "Go back to your desk, eat everything in this bag, drink the entire bottle of juice, and then get back to work."
He stands there and stares at her and she sighs.
"It's just...what are you even doing here this early?"
She lifts an eyebrow and says, "Not that it's really your business, but my niece is playing in her championship game this afternoon, and I'm not going to miss it. I came in early so I could have the afternoon off."
"Soccer?" She nods. It was a good guess. "If she's playing in the championship game, she must be pretty good."
"She's better than good."
She tilts her head. "Top scorer for all girls under twelve in the state of New York."
"Wow. Yeah, that's definitely better than good." He laughs, shifts from one foot to the other, and clutches the white paper bag a little tighter in his fist. "But she's related to you, so, you know, of course she kicks ass. Her kicking ass is pretty much a foregone conclusion."
It's adorable, how nervous he gets around her sometimes.
She watches him for a moment then motions with her head down the hallway. "Go on...get back to work."
He nods awkwardly and hurries down the hall, and she shakes her head, tucks Mike's suit into a bag under her desk, sits down, and turns her attention back to James Heron.
Even if she shifts him to Monday morning, lightening Harvey's morning – and hers, by extension – Harvey's schedule is still pretty full. She wonders if she's going to have time to squeeze in a run down to the coffee shop on the ground floor of the building before she gets Mike's suit to the dry cleaners. It isn't even six o'clock and today is already looking like it's an iced quad venti nonfat extra whip vanilla latte kind of day.
Harvey's meeting with Paul Anderson runs long, so she doesn't have time, but Mike surprises her mid morning when he walks up to her desk with her usual and sets it next to her keyboard with a slight smile. She taps the side of her face and allows him to kiss her on the cheek as a reward, and he gives her another smile, this time a little less hesitant and a lot more proud.
Mike turns and looks at Harvey, bright smile on his face. Poor puppy has it bad. "Thanks. Donna picked it out."
Harvey lifts an eyebrow and shoots Donna a look.
"That certainly explains why your tie doesn't have Bob's Bargain Barn stamped somewhere on it." He smirks and holds out a small stack of folders. "The Zimmerman briefs. I want them on my desk before you leave for the day."
Mike takes the folders with a nod, and if Donna hadn't been looking for it, she wouldn't have seen the slight shift in his eyes, the oh-so subtle droop of his body. He doesn't want to disappoint Harvey, but he has no idea how he's going to get it done in time, not with that massive stack of work waiting for him on his desk.
It's time to even up the odds a little.
He doesn't even look up. "No, Donna. Whatever Harvey needs, the answer is no."
"But you haven't even heard what I have to say."
"Really? You aren't the least bit curious?"
He leans back in his chair and crosses his hands on his stomach, looking across the desk at her with a smirk. "Okay, let's see. Blah blah blah, Harvey Harvey Harvey, blah blah blah. You want me to save his ass again so he can impress Jessica and I can, once again, get absolutely no credit for my hard work and dedication to this firm. Is that about the gist of it?"
Wow. Harboring a little resentment, are we?
"Not even close." She walks up to his desk and stares down at him. "You're going to take all the work you unloaded on Mike and redistribute it to the other associates. And in the future, when you have work that needs doing, Mike is going to be your last choice."
He laughs. "And why would I do that?"
Donna holds up a small piece of folded white paper between the pointer and middle fingers of her right hand and lifts an eyebrow.
"So if I don't do what you ask, you'll give me a paper cut? Is that it?" He laughs again. "Really shaking in my boots here, Donna."
She holds it out to him and he leans forward and takes it, shaking his head as he sits back in his chair and leisurely unfolds the paper. Almost immediately the color drains from his face and he crumples the paper into a ball in his fist, leaning forward in his chair as he hisses, "How did you find out about that?"
"Oh, Louis." She tilts her head to the side and smiles at him sweetly. "The question you should really be asking yourself isn't how I found out about that, but what else I know. And what I'm prepared to do with it."
His face gets a couple shades closer to white and he grimaces, his eyes boring into hers. "Since when do you care about Ross?"
"That's really none of your concern, Louis. Is it?"
His mouth thins. "Fine. I'll take the work I gave to Ross and give it to the other associates."
She lifts an eyebrow. "And?"
"And in the future, I'll assign any work I have to the other associates first."
She smiles at him. "There, now. That wasn't too difficult, was it?"
He glares at her and mumbles something as he looks away, but makes no effort to get up from his chair, choosing instead to stare at his wall of accomplishments, his own face smiling smugly back at him through UV resistant glass.
Donna crosses her arms and looks at him pointedly. "I'm sorry, Louis. Did you think I meant you should do it later?"
He looks back at her, purses his lips, and stands, buttoning his suit coat and giving her one final, long look before he steps out of his office and heads toward the associates' bullpen. Donna follows and stops just around the corner, watching as Mike hands over the huge stack of paperwork on his desk to Louis, and smiles at the amazed expression on Mike's face when Louis turns and drops a large portion of it onto Kyle's lap, then a portion of it onto Gregory's desk, before, finally, he splits the remainder between Harold and Sheila.
Louis walks toward her and stops, looking her in the eye. She nods.
"If you ever actually go through with your plans to take over the world, let me know."
"Why, Louis? You want to help?"
"No. I'd like a head start."
The moment Donna makes it back to her desk the intercom sounds, and she takes a seat, smoothing her skirt out beneath her.
She looks over her shoulder at Harvey, who's staring at her amusedly, spinning a baseball in his hand.
"Whose ass have you been kicking now?"
"Is it that obvious?"
"You have a glow. You always get a glow whenever you do something subversive." He leans into his desk. "So who was it?"
She smiles. "Never you mind."
Harvey sends her a final, proud smile and a shake of the head before he turns away to look through the windows and Donna starts typing out a response to an email from HR.
When Donna looks up next, it's to see Mike standing at her desk, a massive grin practically splitting his face in two. "Okay...what did you do?"
"So I take it things seem to have shifted in your favor?"
He laughs, and it's a sound of such pure relief that Donna can't help but smile. "You could say that. Louis took most of the work he assigned me off my desk and assigned it to the other associates. Donna...what did you do?"
"It's better for you if you don't know. Plausible deniability and all that."
She turns away from him, back toward her monitor, and feels Mike bend down next to her and give her a kiss on the cheek. She turns her head to look at him, kneeling next to her chair, grateful smile on his face, and she gives him a fond look.
She could be in worse corners. Louis', for example. Or that associate who licks paper when he thinks no one is looking. Harvard, my ass.
"You're a goddess, Donna. Thank you."
"Am I interrupting something?"
Mike stands with a smile. "Nope."
Harvey just nods and Mike gives Donna a final, bright smile before he heads off down the hallway, back toward his cubicle.
"Two cheek kisses in one day? Is there something going on I should know about?"
"Jealous, are we?" She looks up at him with a smile, batting her eyes, and he glares at her. "Oh, Harvey. I'm sure if you asked, Mike would be happy to kiss more than your cheek. Much...much more."
He doesn't bite at her deflection. He knows her too well to play that game. "Donna...what's going on?"
She leans back in her chair and looks at him. "For someone who claims to read people so well, you're doing an awful good job of missing something staring you right in the face every morning. Although I don't suppose I can really blame you for that. It took me a while to see it too."
It took her so much longer than normal, in fact, that Donna wonders how much practice Mike's had at covering up things he doesn't want seen.
He's quickly losing his patience, his fingers gripping the top of her cubicle wall as he stares down at her.
"He hasn't been sleeping, he hasn't been eating properly...and Louis was giving him so much work, he was about to flop over from exhaustion. The poor kid is running on Red Bull and fumes."
He furrows his eyebrows. "Mike would-"
She gives him a pointed look. "Mike would tell you that Louis has been piling more work on him than he can possibly handle when you've made it abundantly clear that he should solve his own problems with him?" She lifts an eyebrow and he shifts. "You and I both know Mike doesn't have the same margin of error the other associates do."
She stands, leaning over her cubicle wall and toward Harvey as his eyes shift briefly to look down the hall in the direction of Mike's cubicle.
Her eyes trace his face. "I know you care about him. A lot."
She's known this man a long time, has been his friend and ally for years, and there isn't much that slips by her, but sometimes...sometimes she misses things.
This is not one of those times.
Mike surprised the shit out of her at first, but she supposes the law of averages being what it is, something was bound to, eventually. And she can't be too put out about that. After all, Mike surprised the shit out of Harvey too. He still does.
Even if Harvey won't admit it.
"And I also know that it bothers you."
His mouth thins and he steps away from her cubicle and walks into his office swiftly.
Feelings. Definitely things they never talk about.
She follows him, steps into his office, and closes the door behind her with both hands, walking up to his desk slowly. "It does, and I understand that. How many ways can Mike be used against you?" She's never counted, but if she knows Harvey well enough – and she does – then he has. Judging by the sharp look he's giving her, she's right. "So you keep him at a distance. It's easier that way. And I don't necessarily disagree with you. But he deserves more than table scraps and five seconds of your attention every two weeks, and you know that."
He stares at her and works his jaw, shoving his hands into his pockets.
"At the very least, you gave him this job and brought him into this world, and you need to make sure he can handle it."
He lifts an eyebrow. "Last I checked, Mike is a grown man."
"Yes. He's a grown man who knows a hell of a lot about law but almost nothing about being a lawyer. He's barely keeping his head above water."
He stares at her. "So...what? You're his champion now?"
"Someone has to be." She pauses. "He knows what it meant for you to hire him, Harvey. He knows what you risked. The last thing he wants to do is let you down. And if you took more than a two second glance at his face every once in a while, you'd already know that."
She gives him a final, pointed look, then walks away.
She's halfway out the door when she stops, looks back, and says, "Take better care of your puppy, Harvey, or I'm suing for custody. And I know a lot of lawyers. Good ones."
A ghost of a smile passes over his lips and she lets go of his office door, hears the gentle shush of the glass as it closes behind her, and walks back to her desk.
Harvey paces in his office for close to two hours – in that time, Donna hears four record changes, sees him pick up his baseball and set it back down five times, and watches him stare out the window three times for a grand total of one hour, twenty-three minutes, and thirty-nine seconds – before the intercom buzzes and she presses the button, looking over her shoulder at him.
"Mike and I will be working out of the office for the rest of the day. Can you-"
"I'll make sure to have the receptionist forward all your calls to your cell."
His posture is different now than when she cornered him in his office, easier. The defensiveness has disappeared, the tension has left his shoulders, and the hard edge of his mouth has shifted to his more customary smirk. He's come to a decision, then. Finally.
Thank God for that. She wasn't sure how much more "subversive" eyesex she could realistically handle seeing before she locked them in a closet. Or the file room. Or the back of the town car.
"I know. You're incredible, Donna. What would I do without you, Donna? You complete me, Donna. Here's my card, go buy yourself something shiny and expensive, Donna."
He grins. They've always understood each other, the two of them.
She rolls her eyes with a smile. She doesn't need to ask the question, but she does anyway. "Would you like me to call Mike?"
He nods and releases the intercom button and turns around to load papers into his briefcase, and she takes that as her cue to call Mike and tell him that Harvey needs him, and he has about five seconds to get his cute little ass to Harvey's office. Now.
Mike comes running up to her desk with wide eyes a mere minute later, shoving papers into his bag, tie loosened, and Donna just barely fights the smile that threatens to break free.
(Okay, so it probably wasn't necessary to make Harvey's summons sound like an emergency. So sue her.)
Harvey walks out of his office, briefcase in one hand, the other tucked into his pocket, and looks at Mike, staring at the loosened tie. Or, more likely, the bare throat just peeking out underneath.
Subtlety, thy name is not Harvey Specter.
"You needed me?"
"We're working out of the office for the rest of the day. Do you have the Waldorf financials?"
"Why?" Harvey lifts an eyebrow and Mike backtracks. "Sorry. Uh...yeah."
"The Zimmerman briefs?"
"Good. Let's go."
He walks away from them, down the hall, and Mike leans over Donna's cubicle wall and says, "On a scale of only sorta to holy shit, how screwed am I?"
"Depends on what you mean by that."
"Mike." Donna will deny it if she's ever asked, but Mike's puppy eyes really are lethal in their own way. Not that Mike will ever know that. "I wouldn't worry about it."
She lifts an eyebrow and gives him a smile.
A grateful smile breaks out over his face, and he jogs down the hall after Harvey, glancing back at Donna once just before he turns the corner.
Donna's getting soft.
She glances down at her watch.
Maybe she has time to squeeze in a little blackmail before she leaves for Lily's game. Torture an associate or two. Kyle Durant has been acting a little too cocky for his own good lately. And if she's not mistaken – and she never is – that was him making fun of her puppy in the break room on Monday. Maybe it's time he was knocked down a peg or two.
Her cell phone beeps with a new text, and she touches the accept button under Mike's name.
Tell Lily to kick some ass.
She has about ten minutes before she has to leave. That should be enough time to unearth at least one juicy little morsel.
Kyle, Kyle, Kyle.
What skeletons are hiding in your closet?