A/N (This may be quite lengthy, I apologise) You guys... we've reached the end of a series that I've enjoyed writing SO much. You don't know just how much every single reader/reviewer/follower/favouriteer (which is now a word) means to me. The amount of times I've gotten people saying that they wish this wouldn't end, that it's kind of their fluffy story that they can read if they're upset (apart from a few chapters lmao) - I really am touched.
I hope that this chapter is a good last chapter, and that you'll enjoy anymore works I manage to write in between work and uni :P And I just want to say some really quick thankyou's to Rae7788 - who has kept me entertained with her daily pms and has helped me to overcome writer's block many a time - who is now a very good friend and who will hopefully love this last chapter - thanks Rach! And CuppaChar, who has been infinitely supportive and has kicked my muse into gear a few times. As well as that, she's written a beautiful sequel of sorts to 'Crayons', which I absolutely adore her for :3
Anywho, that's about it - I think it's about time we went to the last chapter, don't you?
And when you finally fly away,
I'll be hoping that I served you well,
For all the wisdom of a lifetime,
No one can ever tell.
But whatever road you choose,
I'm right behind you, win or lose...
Forever young, forever young...
- 'Forever Young', Rod Stewart -
"Grandpa!" Two voices yelled happily as they made their way into the house. Their father walked behind them, rolling his eyes as they very soon disappeared out of his sight. He could hear in the very centre of the house laughter as the children had no doubt found their grandfather and were probably being given a very warm welcome.
When the father walked into the room, he groaned as he saw the grandfather sitting in an armchair, a gleam in his eye as he held a large scrapbook in his hands. When he saw his son's face, he smirked and opened it.
The younger man tried to take it off him, but the children clamoured to see it.
"Grandpa promised that he'd show us!"
Their father sighed but sat down opposite, pouting at his own father who smirked yet again and brought the children closer so that they could see what was in it.
"This was your Dad's plane ticket when we went on our first vacation. He was 3, and he was absolutely terrified.."
"Harvey, you haven't packed everything!" Mike whined, coming into the living room where Harvey was trying not to panic as he tried to find Mike's passport. He had pulled some strings and gotten one very quickly for this last-minute 'vacation'. A long-term client (and also long-term friend) had been very appreciative of his work and very happy for him when he found out that Harvey now had a kid, so he gave Harvey two tickets to Disneyland for a week.
So this had called for some very hastily vacation plans to be made, and Harvey was surprised he actually had the full support of Jessica.
"This is brand new to you, Harvey," she told him. "You need time to adjust, and not while you're trying to juggle work."
He had been incredibly grateful, and then he just had to get flights booked, Mike's passport ordered (he'd had to pull many strings to get it to arrive on time), and had to somehow coordinate with both Donna and Mike regarding the kind of suitcase he wanted. Donna was trying to get Harvey to buy one that was small, cute and colourful. Mike had begged him not to buy it. Eventually, the kid just had a small black one (remarkably similar to the one Harvey had in full-size), although he pouted when he realised that he couldn't pull it behind him because he was too small, even for the small suitcase.
Harvey had said that he would be in charge of packing. Donna had booked flights, hotels - everything it seemed; he wanted to be in control of something for this vacation. So he had put various articles of clothing in the small suitcase, planning for cold, hot, wet, dry, snowy, windy or even foggy weather. And now he was convinced he had lost Mike's passport and was worriedly rifling through every single thing he could find.
"Mike, now's not the best time," Harvey told him, wiping some sweat from his brow (vacations were hard work).
"Yes it is!" Mike stamped his foot. "You've only put clothes in! What about HB?"
"You don't want to sleep with him tonight?" Harvey asked, pulling up the couch cushions in his search.
"Well... yeah..." Mike twisted his fingers. "What about my blanket?"
"You can't sleep without it," Harvey reminded him. "And we aren't leaving until tomorrow."
"Well... what about my cup?" He whined.
When he first moved in with Harvey, Donna had bought 'essentials', which happened to include all kinds of small-kid furniture and necessities. She had bought a sippy-cup, that was bright blue and had (bizarrely, for a children's cup) a motif of ties on it. Mike had immediately turned his nose up at it but after a while... he started to use it. And soon Harvey learnt that he had a problem trying to get the kid to drink without it.
"Like I'd risk dehydration when we're supposed to be on vacation," Harvey snorted. "There's room in my suitcase for it tomorrow morning when you've had breakfast."
"Books? DVD's?" Mike asked, knowing there should be more in his suitcase. All he could see was clothes.
"My suitcase for most of them," Harvey replied, now looking under the coffee table. "I didn't know which ones you'd want. Anyway, you won't have time for books and DVD's at Disneyland."
"For bedtime," Mike whined. "And on the plane."
"You'll be asleep on the plane," Harvey muttered, deciding to just give in and call Donna, before finding the passport in his jacket pocket.
"Will not," Mike replied. "I've never been on a plane before."
"It's not that exciting," Harvey replied, placing the passport very carefully in the centre of the table so he wouldn't lose it again. He finally breathed out and turned to see Mike standing in front of him in his pyjamas and with a frown on his face. "You okay, kid?" Mike nodded, chewing on his lip. Harvey sighed and scooped him up, not surprised when the kid just slung his arms around Harvey's neck and rested his head on the man's shoulder.
"I thought you'd be more excited than this," Harvey told him, rubbing his back and checking the clock. Mike should have been in bed an hour ago.
"I am," Mike mumbled. "I wanna go to Disneyland."
"Well then what's up?"
"Don't wanna go on the plane," Mike confessed, chewing on his thumb.
"Planes are fun, Mike," Harvey said weakly, hoping there would be no other passengers in first class to hear the cries of a frightened toddler.
"But they're just big, metal things held up in the air by their engines!" Mike cried out. "What if we crash? What if all the oxygen goes out of it?"
Harvey laughed, before quickly trying to compose himself. "Trust me, Mike - we'll be fine."
Harvey thought they would be fine, until they got to the terminal. He had hoped that Mike would be just too overwhelmed with how big and crowded everything was and would just be entertained by everything. Instead, he shrunk back against Harvey and tried to hold his hand when the man was pulling two suitcases with him. Harvey tried to encourage him to look at the airplanes landing but Mike just pretended to be interested in something else.
At first Harvey put it down to tiredness - they were up early to get the plane - and thought that Mike could just sleep through the roughly 4 hour flight to California.
When they got on the actual plane though, Mike clamoured to be picked up, and hid his face in Harvey's shoulder. Even when the steward working in first class smiled at him and offered to show him where the pilots were, Mike still only peeked out shyly and shook his head. Harvey gave an apologetic smile as he sat down on his seat, trying to get Mike to climb off him and onto his own seat.
"Mike, you have to sit there for take-off," Harvey told him sternly, sighing as the kid just whined and struggled against Harvey as the older man held him still and strapped his belt on. "Just for take-off, alright? When the sign lights up that we can take our belts off, you can get up. Okay?"
Mike pouted but nodded, sucking his thumb and giving small whimpers every so often. Harvey reached over and managed to wrap his arm around Mike's small shoulders. "What's wrong, kid?"
Mike snivelled and shrugged. He didn't even know what was scaring him so much. It was probably just that he'd never been on a plane before as it was, but for him to then to be small and for the plane to be even bigger... not to mention that if they crashed he would be obliterated into a thousand pieces.
Nothing more was said, and after the various safety demonstrations (which did nothing to improve Mike's confidence) the plane engines started up and the roar felt almost deafening to Mike's small ears. He whimpered and wriggled in his seat, trying to crawl onto Harvey's lap as the plane started moving. The belt stopped him from moving anywhere and he was soon working up to hysterics as the plane got faster.
"Mike, you need to relax," Harvey soothed him, glancing around and being incredibly thankful that no one else has booked a first class ticket on their flight. "It'll be fine - we'll be in the air soon and you'll see it's fine."
Mike snuffled and kept his thumb in his mouth, sucking hard when his ears started to pop. He chanced a glance out of the window and felt his mouth tremble as they took off from the ground. When the plane was finally balanced and up in the air, Mike had to admit he could barely feel a thing. But as soon as the light for seatbelts turned off, and Harvey automatically undid his, Mike shot off his seat and crawled onto his lap.
"It's okay..." Harvey said soothingly, rubbing his back. "Don't you want to look out the window?" He asked. "We're above the clouds."
Mike's lips wobbled again, and he shook his head.
"Hey, guys - would either of you like a drink?" The steward asked (And Harvey wanted to tip the guy, he didn't seem put off by Mike's cries at all).
"Not right now, thanks," Harvey answered. "Mike?"
The toddler shrugged.
"Hey, buddy - you're not scared of the plane, are you?" He asked. "It's just like a flying car," he continued.
Mike's face popped out from Harvey's shoulder slightly, and Harvey quickly nodded for the man to go on.
"Have you ever seen Back To The Future?" The steward (whose name badge declared he was Christopher) asked, ready to explain the movie because he doubted the three year old had seen it. To his surprise, Mike nodded. "Well - just think of it like the time machine. That could fly, and I bet you'd love to go for a fly in that, right?"
Mike nodded, his grip slowly loosening on Harvey.
"Well then what are you worried about?" Christopher laughed. "What are you going to be doing in California?"
"Disneyland," Mike whispered.
Christopher gave an over-the-top gasp of delight. "Aren't you lucky? Now how can you be scared of this thing if it's taking you to Disneyland?"
Harvey glanced down at the toddler, who looked to be thinking hard. Eventually he gave a shrug and very slowly crept off Harvey's lap, taking small steps towards the window. When he looked out he froze, but finally started relaxing, eventually having his face pressed against the window as he looked out.
"I'll leave you two for a while - if you need anything, just press the button," Christopher told Harvey, before quickly leaving.
"Harvey, you gotta see this! We're so high up!" Mike said, bouncing where he stood.
"I'll look if you agree to go to the bathroom first," Harvey said, standing up. Mike looked around and frowned.
"Because the last time I saw you moving like that, I had to pay my cleaner extra for the carpet," Harvey deadpanned, taking Mike's hand and pulling the kid over to the toilets.
The rest of the ride passed without incident. Mike became completely at ease and won the hearts of all the stewards and stewardesses working on the flight. He even got to meet the pilots and demanded to know how everything worked. He eventually fell asleep and started drooling on Harvey's shoulder for the last hour of the journey. He woke up just in time for them to land, and Harvey thought he would probably have scars on the backs of his hands where Mike had dug his nails in as they began their descent.
Thankfully, the descent didn't stay too long in his mind, as on their way back from their vacation, he bounced all over the place and asked if Harvey could buy a jet.
"And that's a picture of when we were actually at Disneyland, and - "
"Grandpa, what's that one?"
"That? That's the apology note I made an associate write after trying to play a joke on your Dad. He was 19, and he'd only been working at the firm for a few months."
Mike was juggling a large stack of files. It was just after everyone was getting back from their lunch breaks, and Mike's stomach was rumbling slightly. He'd had such a busy case load that he just hadn't had time - no doubt one of the other associates would tell Harvey as soon as possible, rather than risk getting their asses handed to them by the managing partner for not picking up on the fact.
He promised himself he would go get some food soon. He just had to take these files to their respective senior partner.
"Hey, Mike," Aaron said as he himself got back from lunch. "You alright?"
Mike nodded. "Just busy. When I get these to Louis though, I'll have about a half hour free, so it's not all bad," he quirked a smile in the other associate's direction.
"Which gives you time to do my work as well, right?" Aaron joked (at least, Mike hoped he was joking). Mike was about to reply, when another associate strolled down the corridor.
"Mike," Josh said, smirking at him. "Your hands are looking full right now. Want some help?"
"I got it," Mike said warily, moving back slightly from the older man. Josh had never been particularly nice to him before, and Mike didn't want to find out why he had suddenly taken the opportunity to help out.
"You sure? You don't look like you can handle all those files," he sneered.
"And you don't look like you can handle your girlfriend... least not the way she tells it," Mike bit back, smirking when he saw Josh frown for a second. Aaron stood in the background, not sure whether to help the teen or let him fight his own battle.
"Childish comebacks from a child," Josh said, shrugging. "And I offered to help. Guess it's just your own fault."
Mike was about to question what he meant, but the other associate suddenly swiped at his leg with his foot. Mike twisted as he tried to remain standing, and resolutely clung onto the files in his arms, which only worked against him as a trolley stacked with various office supplies being pushed by a very old and half-blind employee appeared behind him. Mike fell face first onto the cart, his arm bending and squashing between his body and the side of the cart. He continued to fall, going over with the sturdy cart and crashing over it, his already painful arm twisting unbearably as he did so, still trying to keep a tight clutch of the files.
"Oh my god, Josh - what the hell did you do?" Aaron asked, looking aghast as Mike groaned and tried to pull himself away from the small wreck. The employee who had been pushing the supplies cart squinted at the damage, and began fussing, eventually just being sent away to stand at the sidelines by Aaron.
"It was funny," Josh shrugged. "And he's alright - aren't you, Mikey?"
Mike whimpered and closed his eyes, trying not to let any tears fall. It just felt like he was in the ninth circle of Hell with his arm - any movement was agony and his head went fuzzy and dizzy at the sheer pain.
"Mike?" Aaron said carefully. "Are you okay?"
Mike shook his head, eyes still firmly closed, pulling in painful breaths.
"Mike?" Even Josh sounded concerned. Someone put their hand on his shoulder and he gasped, breathing in more and trying to push them away - which just hurt more and he was soon panicking, the gasps of pain not working with his shallow breathing. He knew he was having some kind of bizarre asthma/panic attack and he also knew exactly who he needed in this instance.
He sounded a wheezy sob and tried to choke out words, but they were lost on the other associates, and the crowd of bystanders that soon began to build up, craning their necks to see what had happened.
"Mike?" Aaron said again, kneeling and being very careful not to touch him. "I can't hear you - speak slower."
"'M... 'm Dad..." He choked out.
"Yeah, right away - uh..." He looked around, completely at a loss. "Somebody go get Mr. Specter! Tell him that Mike's hurt himself and he's breathing funny as well!" Several people darted away from the crowd, and Aaron looked back at Josh. "Why did you do that?"
"I thought... it was just going to be funny!" The other man tried to defend himself, going pale. "I thought he'd just fall into the supply cart. No harm, no foul."
"He had an armful of files and nothing to help his balance and stop him falling!" Aaron argued, trying to put a comforting hand somewhere on Mike, but the entirety of his arm looked instantly like a no-go area. It looked... wrong, even someone without a medical degree could see that. And Mike wasn't even trying to move it. He still breathed in too quickly and too sharply, and he just kicked his legs, his heels scraping the floor to bring any kind of release.
"Don't worry, Mike," Aaron said. "Mr. Specter - I... I mean your Dad... he'll be here soon." He looked around, trying to think of anything to help. He was trying to keep the teen calm, but if even the reassurance that his father would be there soon didn't help, then he didn't know what would.
Just as he was thinking of going through lamaze breathing with him, he soon felt relief flood through him as he heard the managing partner's voice coming down the corridor.
"Get out of the way!" Harvey snapped, breaking through the crowd and taking in the scene of Mike sitting against a wall by a fallen supplies cart, his arm lying oddly at his side and his breathing way too fast.
"Mr. Specter, I - " Aaron was about to say something, but Harvey just went over and knelt down on the other side of Mike, carefully putting his hand on the teen's head.
"It's alright, kiddo - you're going to be fine." He took out an inhaler from his pocket and shook it, taking the cap off and resting it on Mike's lips. The teen tried to push it away but Harvey held it there until his lips opened. "Ready?" Harvey asked, waiting for a second before pressing down the top, and doing it a second time before removing it and putting it to one side.
"Breathe with me, Mike - just like we've done an endless amount of times before - okay?" Harvey breathed deeply and his hand had soon moved to Mike's shoulder, his thumb gently making small circles on Mike's jawline.
"Dad... it - it hurts," he gasped, wheezing slightly but soon his breathing was less laboured.
"I know it does," Harvey said softly. "I know... but Donna's called for an ambulance, they'll get here soon, alright?"
"Didn't... need to - call for one yet," Mike informed him, panting quickly in succession and scaring Harvey to death (again) before his breathing smoothed out slightly again. "Didn't even... know what was - was wrong with me..."
"An associate said that you were breathing weirdly and had hurt yourself," Harvey said, checking Mike's pulse with one hand whilst the other continuously made comforting circles on his neck and shoulder. "You know I like to check after an asthma attack, regardless how minor."
Mike nodded before wincing, giving an alarmed cry. "Shit - Dad, please do something, anything," he begged, moaning when he tried to grab at Harvey. "My arm, please... it really hurts," he whimpered.
"I can't do anything, Mikey," Harvey whispered to him, uncaring of who could see as he leant forward slightly and pressed a kiss in Mike's hair. "But it'll be fine soon - I promise. They'll give you some good drugs at the hospital."
"Don't wanna go..." Mike gasped.
"Tough," Harvey replied, eyeing Mike's arm as if it had killed his own mother. "That is not what an arm is supposed to look like. Odds are, you've dislocated your shoulder."
"But... my arm," he gasped again. "That hurts too..." He rubbed at his chest with his good arm, as if trying to combat the laboured breathing.
"It doesn't look good," Harvey admitted. "But they can fix that too." Harvey realised that there was a good chance Mike's arm was broken as well as dislocated, which could mean surgery depending on how bad the break was.
"Can't… you… fix it?" Mike asked, breathing sharply through his teeth. "'Cause it kinda hurts," he said, trying to smile weakly.
"I know it does," Harvey nodded. "But it'll mend." He was trying to toe the line between boss and father, and knew he wasn't doing a very good job. He'd already kissed the kid's forehead and helped him breathe. Trying to distance himself by giving cold and cutting replies weren't going to do much. And Mike needed the comfort.
"Okay, kid – how about we try to stand up?" He suggested, going for Mike's uninjured side. He took a gentle hold of the younger man's elbow. "Ready?"
"Nope," Mike squeaked. "I'm very not ready," he rushed, eyes darting around.
"You'll need to move to go to hospital anyway," Harvey informed him. "It'll be fine – I've got you."
Mike shook his head vehemently. "I can't," he whispered, which meant that Harvey had to shuffle closer to hear what Mike was saying. "I'll fall, and everyone'll see."
"They all saw you fall the first time," Harvey pointed out, not letting go of his elbow. "I promise I won't let you fall," he said, quickly wiping away a tear from Mike's cheek that had possibly been caused by the short gasps for breath or the pain. "Ready?"
Mike shook his head but still allowed himself to be pulled up clutching on as much as possible, although he needn't have worried. True to his word, Harvey held on to him and there was no way Mike felt like he would fall, even if he let the older man do all the work. He rested a suddenly dizzy head on Harvey's shoulder but jumped, jolting his arm unbearably when Harvey suddenly turned without warning.
He hissed in pain, but felt a warm hand rub his back in apology.
"Hey, we were told that someone was having an asthma attack?"
"It's a little more complicated than that," Harvey told the paramedic who approached. "His arm…"
Even the EMT pulled a face and whistled. "You've really done a number on yourself, kid," he said. "What did you do?"
A sudden hush fell over the crowd and Harvey saw eyes darting to either Mike or one of the associates stood closer than the rest. His eyes narrowed, instantly suspicious. He hadn't even thought about what had happened. He had been too busy trying to calm the kid down, and then trying not to panic when he was focussed on the arm. He had just assumed that Mike had been clumsy, as always – there had been endless times when Mike would fall and hurt himself. At least twice a month Mike would be limping around the condo after falling over himself.
"Mike, is it?" The EMT asked. "Can I get in closer? Maybe your boss can move to the side?"
Harvey was about to open his mouth to complain, but Mike nodded. "It's okay… Harvey, I'm good." He looked like the word had an odd taste as he said it, and even Harvey blanched. Now that Mike looked a lot like he had when Harvey had first met him, and sounded like it too, it was like a flash from the past. It almost made Harvey think nothing had ever even happened, and that he wasn't even a father. But Mike nodded again and his grip lessened somewhat, letting another paramedic sidle up and hold the young man up, before helping him slide back down to the floor.
Harvey ground his teeth slightly but moved to the side, standing closer to the associate who had been there to begin with.
"Speak," he growled. "Now."
He could hear the paramedics asking Mike routine questions, but made sure he stayed aware of the situation in case Mike didn't know any answers – he bet the kid didn't even know that he shouldn't be given any medications that were too high in penicillin.
The associate – who Harvey thought was called Aaron (and he only knew that because this was the one who sometimes sidled up to Donna and said that Mr. Specter should know that Specter Junior hadn't eaten and he didn't look like he'd slept since the previous week) – paled and swallowed.
"It was… we were talking and he had an armful of files," Aaron said quietly. "And then…" He paused. Regardless of the so-called trait of lawyers, he wasn't particularly blood thirsty or vindictive. He didn't want to get Josh in trouble, but at the same time knew that what the other associate had done was appalling.
"Josh," he said in a low voice. "He knocked Mike's legs out from under him. Mike fell back onto the supply cart and went over it and landed funny. Then he started breathing weirdly and then… then you got here."
Harvey nodded, his gaze sweeping slowly over various associates until he came across one that looked even paler than Harvey did when he first arrived and he knew that one must be Josh.
"You," he said, beckoning him over. "What did you do?"
"I was…" He stuttered. "It was just a… just a joke! I didn't think he'd hurt himself!"
"You thought a man falling over backwards would be funny and wouldn't hurt?" Harvey hissed, as the crowd tried to listen in.
"Well, no… I mean, yes – I mean I didn't want him to… I mean…"
Harvey opened his mouth to rip Josh a new one, but at that moment Mike cried out in pain. In an instant Harvey was back at his side like a mother hen. "What did you do?" He asked the paramedic.
"Look, guy – this shoulder needs to go back into it's place. It's going to hurt like a bitch but it'll feel better once we do it. It's just awkward because of the possible break," an EMT tried to explain.
"Possible?" Harvey hissed. "You call that," he pointed at the odd looking limb, "possible?"
"It's fine," Mike waved him away. "Just… just let them do it. I can handle it. I'm not 5."
A few snickers flew from the crowd at the small domestic dispute between father and son, but instantly silenced as the paramedic rotated Mike's arm slightly and he paled even more than anyone thought possible and gave a small whimper.
"I've got it in line," the paramedic almost whispered. "I know it hurts, Mike – but I need to get it back into it's place or you'll need surgery."
Mike whimpered some more but nodded, his teary eyes instantly seeking out Harvey. As soon as they locked eyes Harvey knelt next to him, taking his other hand.
"You're going to be fine," Harvey soothed, watching as the paramedics murmured to each other for a second as one of them held the arm, ready to slot back in.
"It hurts," Mike whispered shakily, his eyes closing. "Where's Donna?"
"I don't know," Harvey confessed, holding up his hand indicating they just needed a few seconds to the paramedic. "Don't worry, she'll mother you as soon as she can. Just put up with me a little while longer, okay, kiddo?"
"I need you to take a deep breath, Mike," the EMT told him. "And you have to exhale when we try to put it back in. Got it?"
Mike nodded, his eyes closing and letting a tear fall out from underneath his eyelid.
"Okay, three," the paramedic warned in a countdown. Harvey soothingly rubbed the back of Mike's hand when the kid clutched tightly. "Two…" Mike's breath hitched but he then quickly took a deep breath. "One."
Mike let out his breath in a rush but it quickly just evolved into a strangled yelp, and a desperate cry. Harvey winced – his hand had basically been put into a clamp by Mike's own. But it was more the sound the younger man had made. He had barely ever heard Mike make a sound like that, and it scared him to death.
"Okay, Mike – it's back in," the paramedic breathed out, patting Mike's leg. "Good job. You ready to go to hospital now?"
Mike just nodded, his head tipping onto Harvey's shoulder tiredly, not even trying to stand up.
"Well done, kiddo," Harvey said, not letting go of his hand. Mike nuzzled into him slightly before realising that what had taken place had basically taken place in front of the entire firm. His work colleagues. He already got shit for being the boss's son and a teenager.
"Okay – you ready for the good drugs?" The EMT asked him, grinning. Mike nodded, his eyes rolling into the back of his head as he felt himself already falling asleep. "Nope, not yet, kid – sleep on the way," the paramedic insisted.
Harvey rolled his eyes but slowly let go of Mike's hand, feeling his own hand cramp painfully. He moved away and took a gentle hold of Mike's uninjured elbow. "Up you get," he said, and with the paramedics on the other side, they soon had the young man up and were slowly walking him out.
"Everyone back to work," Harvey said, turning as they walked. "Except you," he said to Josh, narrowing his eyes. "Go wait in my office and…" he suddenly grinned. "Tell Donna exactly what happened."
"Was Grandma Donna mad?"
"I don't even know what happened in that room. But look – this next page has a picture that Uncle Nick took when your Dad had a tooth out when he was 8…"
"Dad, I don't want to go to the dentist!" Mike wailed dismally, pulling at Harvey's arm in his insistence. Harvey sighed - he didn't particularly want Mike to go to the dentist either. The kid had taken part in an unnecessarily rough version of tag with friends at school and had managed to get thrown head-first into a brick wall. One of his teeth had cracked and Harvey had scheduled an appointment as soon as possible. The dentist had told him that since it was just a baby tooth, he could remove it; rather than leaving it to cause him pain.
But that meant surgery - or at least anaesthetic and Harvey was really unsure about that. Mike had had surgery before; his tonsillectomy a few years earlier had terrified Harvey. But he'd come through it completely unscathed, so surely that should calm the man down about this next round of surgery?
Apparently not, as when they arrived at the dentists, Harvey found his stomach turning just as much as Mike's probably was.
"It'll be okay, kiddo," Harvey soothed him as they sat down in the waiting room. "Uncle Nick said he'd come to pick us up."
"Why?" Mike asked, already having been curious about why they had gotten public transport to the dentists.
Harvey shrugged. "I think he has something for you; he wanted to cheer you up." Harvey hadn't been told the specifics, but Nick - whether hoping to take his nephew's mind off the impending surgery or his brother's - had clearly sounded excited for something, so Harvey just left him to it, knowing that if it was something dangerous then at least he would be there to supervise.
Although he knew that Mike would be all kinds of woozy and out of it after the surgery, so he severely hoped it wasn't something that required too much thinking.
They got to the dentist and Harvey kept a solid grip on the kid's shoulder, as if he would suddenly bolt. He constantly let his thumb rub slightly to keep Mike calm, and approached the front desk.
"Michael Specter to see Mr. Hinchcliffe," Harvey said to the receptionist. After a few seconds of tapping on a keyboard, the woman nodded.
"Go on through, he's ready for you."
Harvey nodded and took Mike's hand instead of just his shoulder, taking him into the dentist's room. It was just a cool white colour, with minimalist furniture; just the standard dental chair in the middle and with one chair to the side for another person to sit and wait their turn. There was an odd mobile above the chair that had fish on it, blowing slightly in the cool breeze from a fan on a counter top.
"Hey, guys," the dentist smiled. "Mike, you ready to get some serious dough from the tooth fairy?"
Mike shrugged, clutching on tightly to Harvey's hand. Harvey walked over to the dentist chair, practically dragging Mike. The stupid thing was, Mike refused to let go of Harvey's hand, even to save himself from the chair. So Harvey could literally just pick the kid up by pulling up his hand, and dumping him on the seat.
"Don't worry, Mike," Mr. Hinchcliffe said soothingly, already prepping the various tools he would need. "You won't feel anything. I'm going to use this mask," he held it up, "to help you breathe in some gas; it'll taste a bit like bubblegum. And you'll probably get really tired. If you want to sleep, that's fine. Okay?"
Mike shrugged again, still not letting go of Harvey's hand. He glanced up at the man, tears brimming in his eyes; Harvey knelt slightly so he could be at the same level as Mike. "It's okay, kiddo - I promise," he said, running his hands through the kid's hair.
"'M scared," Mike mumbled, wiggling in the chair as the dentist put his gloves on.
"You'll be fine," Harvey promised him, nodding at the dentist, who was waiting with the mask. "You'll get a nice smell for a few moments and you won't feel a thing. Trust me."
Mike's lips wobbled but he nodded, keeping a tight grip to Harvey's hand. With a nod from Harvey, the dentist gently put the mask over Mike's face.
"Daaaadeeee," Mike slurred, as he was practically hauled out of the dentist's office, minus a tooth. "Why aren't we at the dentists?"
"We are, kiddo," Harvey said, his mouth twitching as Mike blinked slowly, taking his time as he gazed around, his jaw going slack.
"Ohhh... But... tha's our couch!" He said, pointing blearily at some chairs in a waiting room that were standing together.
"No it's not, Mike," Harvey told him, deciding to just pick him up and hold him on his hip. Mike was bigger than he used to be, and was heavier to carry, but Harvey could just about manage it. He just hoped that Nick wouldn't be too long. The receptionist glanced their way and smiled at Mike, who was blinking slowly constantly as if he was a newborn baby, just getting it's first glimpse of the world.
"I wanna be in the 'vengers," he said, pulling on Harvey lethargically.
"I know you do," Harvey replied. He couldn't help but find it hilarious, adorable and still worrying at the same time. The dentist had explained that Mike would be groggy and all sorts of out of it for a while, and Harvey had known that before he had been told. Nick had been sending him videos all week of people high off their anaesthesia after a trip to the dentists in preparation. But still - the kid sounded drunk, or feverish.
"No, Daddy, you don't know," Mike said, head butting his cheek. "I wanna be like... like..."
"Iron Man?" Harvey ventured a guess.
To his surprise Mike sluggishly shook his head. "Coulson... He was cool..."
"He's not a superhero," Harvey said, trying to bounce the boy slightly, checking his phone before deciding to stand outside and wait for Nick.
"Yes he is!" Mike insisted, sounding extremely upset. "He is, Daddy!"
"Okay, okay - he is," Harvey agreed, patting his back. "How about you try to sleep before Uncle Nick gets here?"
"Pretty..." Mike giggled, trying to get down from Harvey's hold and cross the street, seeing a flower shop on the other side of the road.
"No, Mike - we do not cross the road on our own, do we?"
"I want one!" He whined, managing to get down (Harvey's arms were tiring out anyway) and stumble drunkenly away. He was moving so slowly that Harvey didn't have any trouble in stopping him and drawing back; this time just keeping an arm around his shoulders.
Thankfully, before he was made to buy a bunch of flowers just to shut Mike up, Nick drove up in what was obviously a borrowed car (probably from Mo), winding down the window as he pulled up.
"Hey! How's toothless?"
"Happy," Harvey replied, and they both looked down to see that Mike was waggling his own fingers in front of himself and singing gently. "C'mon, kiddo - you want Uncle Nick to come back to ours for a while?"
Mike just held up his hands, grinning dazedly at Harvey. Nick laughed and quickly took a picture. "Nick!" Harvey growled, grabbing Mike by the armpits and hauling him up. "There we go," he murmured, rubbing the eight year old's back. "Are you not tired yet?"
"Daddy there's a labradoodle," Mike slurred, pointing to the other side of the road where there was, admittedly, a labradoodle.
"That's nice," Harvey said distractedly, piling him into the back of the car. He pulled the seatbelt around the boy and was about to stand and close the car door when he was pulled back down.
"Nooo, Dad - sit with me!" Mike pleaded.
"Mike, I'm sitting up front. We'll get back soon, alright?"
"Mike - "
"Don't sweat it, Harv - I'll sit with him," Nick told him, throwing him the keys.
"You just want more pictures of him," Harvey rolled his eyes, getting into the driver's seat. "You realise I'll make you destroy them all?"
"Not if they're good ones," Nick smirked, taking a picture of Mike, who was drooling slightly because of his half numb jaw. "Hey, kiddo - how was the dentists?"
"I'm an Avenger!" Mike told him in answer, causing Nick to cackle and ruffle his hair.
"Sure you are, Squirt. Wanna pose for a picture?" He grinned in delight as Mike took the word 'pose' to heart and started pulling all sorts of embarrassing poses that Harvey knew the kid would regret in years to come, when he brings his first girlfriend over, for example - Harvey knew that these photos would somehow make an appearance.
"Uncle Nick, let's go snow boarding," Mike said drowsily, pulling on his Uncle's arm slightly.
Nick laughed. "In what snow, kiddo?" Mike bit his lip and reached around himself, going to open the car door, only to find himself stopped by Nick. "Oh no you don't, munchkin - Harv, any way we can speed this up? Kid almost threw himself out of the car."
Harvey quickly glanced around to see that Nick was holding Mike's arm. The car sped up slightly and Mike giggled to himself.
Mike had spent the entire ride home convinced that they were on the S.S. Enterprise, and had Nick in stitches as he kept trying to give Harvey orders and calling him 'Ensign'. Nick quickly shut up, however, when Mike simply referred to him as a 'redshirt'.
"Mike, I think it's time you were quiet for a bit," Harvey said firmly, helping Mike into their condo. "How about you try to sleep?"
"But Daaaaad," Mike groaned. Harvey waited but when he realised that Mike wasn't going to finish his sentence, he just sighed and ushered Mike to his room to go to bed.
"Wait, Harv - my surprise!" Nick stopped him, rifling through his bag. "Mikey," he said, catching the kid's attention. "I was going through some old stuff to throw away, and I found this," he pulled out an old polaroid camera. "You're probably, like, way too high to get any enjoyment out of it right now - but basically I know a guy who does good deals on film for these, so you'll never run out. Unless I die."
Mike made a grab for it, even though his grab went wide. Nick carefully put it in his hands. "I know I'm giving to you, but that doesn't mean you can break it. I know your game, squirt."
Mike held it clumsily for a while before pointing it slightly off-balanced towards Nick, pressing the shutter. It flashed and a picture came out, causing Harvey to laugh as Mike jumped slightly, shocked at what just happened.
"I think it's bedtime, okay, kiddo?" He smirked, taking the camera gently away from the kid and clasping his hands on both shoulders so that he definitely wouldn't stray, before taking him to his room.
"Night Unca Nick," Mike slurred, being pretty much dragged away.
Nick chuckled. "Night, munchkin."
He sat down and got to work uploading most of the pictures he got onto Facebook.
"That's funny! Ooh, what's that one?"
"That's when your dad was 15, and he's showing off on a new bike he got. He never told me how he got it..."
Mike trudged towards the firm, limping every so often and keeping one arm firmly around his middle, wincing whenever a movement pulled at his ribs too much. He didn't want to go to the firm; the chances of getting grounded were too high with both Donna and Harvey working late. But he was too far from home to walk, he had no money for the subway or a taxi, and his bike was... wherever it had been taken to after he had received his ass-kicking.
And it was definitely a very firm ass-kicking. Mike knew who had won that fight and he had definitely come second.
He was hoping that maybe if he sweet talked one of the security guards who knew him well, they would call and thus pay for a cab for him. He walked into the building, trying to come up with a very good reason why they shouldn't call Harvey down to see the mess that was his 15 year old. Unfortunately, there was virtually no one there. He spied a security guard on the other side of the large entrance but from what he could see it wasn't one he got on particularly well with. This may have been the one that - when he was 5, he had 'accidentally' helped the man crawl around ventilation shafts for an hour in search of a small girl that he said he had seen.
It turned out that he had simply seen a plant by the entrance to a shaft, and his panic had been enough to convince the man that there was a child trapped in their ventilation systems. Mike smirked when he remembered this but swore he saw the man crack his knuckles menacingly, so he quickly hurried through the metal detectors, wincing once more at the (very not good) twinge near his ribcage.
He decided to go to IT - Benjamin would help him, and could easily be bribed with a new comic book not to breathe a word of it to anyone. But just as the elevator dinged and he stepped onto it, he immediately walked into someone.
"Sorry, my bad," he hastily apologised, wincing as it reawakened the hurt around his body.
Mike peeked out from underneath his hoodie and saw he had walked right into Louis. "Louis!" He stuttered. "Sorry, I'm just, uh... I'm just..."
"What happened?" Louis asked, and his tone stopped Mike dead. It wasn't a semi-concerned, 'will-I-be-in-trouble-with-Harvey-for-this?' tone, and it didn't sound like he was angry at Mike. It was a deathly still tone, one that almost sent shivers down Mike's spine at the gravity of it. He sounded like Harvey did when Nick had called at 3am, nearly crying and not making sense until Harvey finally found out that he had been burgled.
That had been a terrifying time. Mike had never heard his uncle so stripped back with his emotions. "Seriously, Harv, everything's gone - my pictures, my... my camera, the blu-ray player you got me for my birthday, the painting that Mikey saved up for ages for and got me for Christmas... it's all gone..."
He was suddenly rushed back to the present by Louis' voice. He chanced another glance from beneath his eyelashes, knowing he was probably giving the full effect of his puppy-dog eyes to the man.
"It's nothing, I just... it was just... Nothing. I'm fine."
"No you're not," Louis told him, holding the elevator doors open and pushing Mike in there with him. "And we're going - "
"You can't tell my dad!" Mike begged, pushing his hood down in his desperation. He saw Louis' eyes darken at the sight of the mottled bruises and dried blood. "Please?"
Louis pursed his lips but said nothing. When they got to the floor of Pearson Hardman, Mike slowly exited, glancing around and praying that neither Harvey nor Donna were nearby. He quickly put his hood back up and looked at the floor when Louis surveyed him again.
"Come with me," the man said, and Mike quickly followed him, rubbing his sides slowly. To his surprise they went to the men's toilets and Louis patted the counter. "Sit on this and wait for me," he ordered and left for a moment. Mike took the time to look at himself in the mirror. He looked awful - if he could whistle through the split lip then he would, because he looked a mess.
Louis was back, and Mike gave him a sheepish grin, his arm constantly curled around his ribs. The man was holding a first aid kit, and glared at Mike before opening it.
Louis looked back up. "You. What happened?"
"Louis, I - "
"Mike. What. Happened?" Louis asked again tersely, and Mike could tell there was no room for jokes.
"I got jumped," he shrugged, wincing as Louis carefully started to apply anti-septic wipes to the cuts and giving him some ice to put on a rapidly swelling bruise on his eye. The healing stopped as Louis pulled the wipes back, looking at him. "Not like, for real," Mike hastily said. "I mean, it was just some people from school."
"By that you mean NYU?" Louis questioned, looking more angry than Mike had ever seen him.
"Well, yeah - it was just a joke, they weren't trying to - "
"Shut up, Mike. The hell it wasn't a joke; you might have broken a rib. What did they do?"
"They didn't like the fact I'm too smart for my own good," Mike told him, looking to the side so that Louis could clean the side of his face.
"So you were a smart-ass and they beat you up," Louis surmised.
"Uh... yeah that's pretty much it," Mike nodded, closing his eyes and hissing when Louis gently touched his cheekbones.
"Sorry," he murmured, before lifting Mike's hoodie up. He swore at the bruises and glared at Mike.
"What?" He squawked. "I didn't do anything!"
"What were their names?" Louis asked dangerously, pressing on Mike's side with one hand, the other resting on his shoulder and squeezing in apology when he hurt him.
"Louis, it doesn't - "
"Don't you say it doesn't matter," Louis spat poisonously. "You are one of us. No one - no one - beats up somebody of Pearson Hardman. Anyway," he hastily added at Mike's awe-struck face, "Harvey would kill me if I didn't do anything." He quickly dabbed at another cut before putting his 'tools' back down. "There. Now it doesn't look as bad for when you go to Harvey and tell him what happened."
"Louis!" Mike whined, getting off the counter and grimacing.
"He'll find out eventually, Mike," Louis told him, trying to look forceful and trying to give some sort of uncle-like advice. Before he realised that the kid's actual uncle's advice would genuinely be more along the lines of, 'Get 'em back. Beat them up too!'
Then Louis was wondering what was wrong with that.
"But I don't want to tell him," Mike said petulantly, pouting. He looked up at Louis. "Can't you tell him?"
Louis spluttered. "What? No! That's your job!"
"No. You can go tell him. And make sure you tell him that your ribs aren't broken - otherwise he'll just take you to the hospital and waste the doctor's time," Louis grumbled.
"He'll take me anyway," Mike said, equally grumpy. "Thanks, Louis," he said quietly, smiling and wincing once more as it pulled at his lip. He kept the ice to his eye and was about to leave before Louis called him back.
"Did you ride your bike with those ribs?"
"Uh... no. They kinda... they kinda stole my bike."
With that he fled, not wanting to see Louis explode with rage.
He found out after that (and after acting enough to warrant an award, had told Harvey he had fallen up some steps on his bike and had to leave it) that the people who had beaten him up had turned themselves in, and had all bought him a new, better bike than the one he had before.
"I wish my bike was that good!"
"Me too! Wait; Grandpa what's that one?"
"That's a note I got from your Dad when he was 10..."
"Have you got everything?" Harvey asked, seeing Mike struggle to close an Iron Man backpack. Mike was going to stay at a friend's house for the weekend because Harvey was going to be incredibly busy at work, and no one else had the time to babysit; and he couldn't bring Mike to the office, as he would be constantly going from there, to clients, to court and back again.
Mike nodded, his lips wobbling slightly.
"What's up?" Harvey asked, helping him close the backpack.
"Nothing," Mike shrugged.
"Something's wrong," Harvey said, putting the bag on the floor and raising an eyebrow, waiting for a response.
"It's..." Mike fumbled over his words, not sure how exactly to bring it up. "I'm staying at Tom's for the weekend."
"Yes," Harvey agreed. "You are."
"It's... that's a long time," Mike said, looking up at Harvey, chewing on his lip with an unsure look on his face.
Harvey sighed but pulled Mike over to the couch, sitting him down so that they could talk properly. He'd had a feeling something like this would crop up soon. Harvey had no idea when was a normal age for kids to stay overnight at a friend's house, but even at 10, Mike seemed too young for it.
Not even that - it was just that because he had been in special classes, he hadn't made any friends his own age, and because of that he hadn't spent time outside of school with any of the other kids. And now he was finally going to be sleeping over at someone's house - in all honesty Harvey found it worrying too; he didn't know what would be happening, what if Tom (who Harvey had only met twice) was actually bullying Mike?
But still, he had to give his fears a back seat, because if anyone needed reassuring, it was Mike. And he knew that - like it or not - the kid had to go somewhere else for the weekend.
"You scared?" Harvey asked gently, hoping he came across as more concerned than anything else; he didn't want Mike to think that he was disappointed in him.
Mike sniffed and shrugged, before nodding shyly, staring at his own lap.
Mike shrugged again. "Dunno. Just... I don't wanna be away from home," he murmured, blinking quickly.
"You'll have fun," Harvey said, trying to cheer him up. "And besides, you've been away from home tons of times before - Uncle Nick's, Donna's... Louis'."
"That's different," Mike insisted. "And it was only one night. What if I don't like it and I wanna come home?"
"You'll like it," Harvey told him gently, pulling him closer so that he could soothingly run his fingers through the boy's hair. "You won't want to come home."
"But what if I do?" Mike persisted, tugging at Harvey's hand and staring up at him imploringly.
"Then we'll sort something else out so that you can stay here instead," Harvey told him, looking him straight in the eyes to reassure him that he was being serious. "But you have to give it a go first. You'll have too much fun to miss me."
"I don't know," Mike mumbled, looking down again.
"Just try for one day, alright?" Harvey asked. "At least make it through the first night. And you can call me whenever you need to. You know my number."
Mike nodded but still chewed on his lip worriedly. He knew he'd have fun; Tom was a good friend now - one of the first friends he'd properly made from school, and they always had fun together. But it was the first time he would have slept away from home not with someone who he classed as family. So he was nervous. As anyone would be - but as well as that, he was still worried that Harvey might think of him as a baby for being nervous. He was 10, was that too old to be scared or to even have his first sleepover?
Harvey would probably put it down as him being a sensitive kid anyway. But still - Mike didn't want him to think that. Harvey probably wanted a very boyish type of son; one who wasn't scared of anything, who liked playing sports and who still didn't get terrified by thunderstorms.
"What are you thinking, kid?" Harvey jostled him slightly.
Mike shrugged. "Nothing."
"It's just..." Mike twisted slightly to look at him fully. "I want to make you proud, so I really wanna go to Tom's and have fun, and not be a baby, and I don't know why I'm so nervous, but I just am, and I'm sorry I don't like sports and I'm scared of things, and - "
"Woah, slow down, Mike," Harvey said. "Just relax, would ya?"
"But - "
"Mike I'm not expecting you to be okay with sleeping at Tom's," Harvey told him. "Of course I want you to enjoy yourself, but I also know that it's your first time away from home. I know you're going to be scared - hell, I'm going to find it weird. But you're going to have a great time because you want to, not because I want you to. And another thing," he added, bumping Mike's knee with his own, "Have I ever told you I'm disappointed in you for not liking sports?"
"Well, no, but - "
"Exactly. I want you to be you, kid. Alright? I like you as you."
Mike nodded, still thinking hard. And that night, when he was supposed to be sleeping, he heard Harvey on the phone to Donna.
"I don't know what to do, Donna - he still thinks he's just a disappointment to me. And he feels like he needs to always make me proud. Am I that bad a father?"
Mike frowned, curling up in bed as he thought hard. How did Harvey even think that he could be a bad dad? He was constantly trying to make Mike feel better if he was having a bad day; he would always boost Mike's self-esteem whenever possible... Mike couldn't think of anything he'd done wrong.
He'd have to do something. Whenever Mike questioned himself as a member of their small family, Harvey never hesitated to step in and fix the problem. And it was all well and good Donna reassuring him - he wasn't her father. The one person he needed to hear it from was Mike. So he got to work, and soon had a solution to Harvey's problem.
"Have a good weekend, kiddo," Harvey said, a forced grin on his face as they stood at Tom's door. He relaxed when Mike - whilst at first he was nervous - nodded and gave him a hug, running after Tom towards what was presumably the back doors of the house, so that they could play in the garden.
"Don't worry, Harvey," Tom's mother said. "They'll have fun. Do I have your number?"
"Mike has it," Harvey nodded. "He'll probably want to call tonight."
"That's fine. I'll see you later."
"Thank you," Harvey said, remembering he should probably stay on very good terms with this woman if he ever needed a babysitter again. "I'll see you on Monday morning."
He got back into his car and sat still for a moment, just taking in the silence. He was used to it; he obviously had plenty of times at work without Mike, or even at home while Mike was at school. But he knew that the silence would soon be broken. But he now had an entire weekend without the kid.
He moved to put his jacket on the passenger seat, before his fingers brushed against a piece of paper that was sitting on it already. Curious, he opened it, realising it was a note.
I know I'm not really the easiest person in the world to live with, but you manage to do it so easily - everything you do is pretty much for me and I wanted to say thank you for that. And I heard you talking to Donna about everything; about how you don't think you're a good dad. So I wanted to make a list of everything about you that makes you an awesome dad.
1. You always put me first.
2. You always try to make me smile.
3. When there's a storm you leave your door open for me to come in and get in bed.
4. You buy pizza when there's no food left in the house.
5. You give really great hugs.
6. You care.
7. There isn't a single person alive I'd rather have as my dad.
I could write a bazillion pages, but I'm tired and you might see that my light's on and come tell me off. But please, please know that you're the best Dad in the whole entire world and I don't know what I would do without you.
I love you.
Harvey blinked rapidly, unsure what to do with himself. As much as he wanted to get back out of the car, grab Mike and go, he didn't want to ruin the kid's weekend, and he knew he had to be at work for most of it anyway. So he just started the car, driving back to their home.
He would thank Mike properly on Monday.
"This is a good one - one of your Dad's 19th birthday cards; he was sick and at Harvard..."
Mike snivelled miserably and pulled the blanket further around himself, trying to burrow himself into it. He had felt himself getting more and sick throughout the week. He was just thankful that when he went to Harvard, Harvey had insisted he got his own apartment, rather than sharing with anyone. Something about not getting anyone else's germs.
Mike had to laugh at that, considering the state he was in at the moment.
He liked having his own space; not sharing didn't bother him in the slightest. He wasn't in a proper apartment anyway; it was still a block of dorms, but they were like studio apartments. He was sometimes teased about his Dad paying for everything, but when it came down to it - the majority of the people who got into Harvard were as rich as he was, so they couldn't really talk.
He slumped down the couch, letting out a hacking cough, muffled by the tissues he was using to catch they disgusting globules that he would get up from his lungs. He had been to the doctor, who had just prescribed rest and fluids, with painkillers and things to fight the fever.
He hadn't told Harvey. Or Donna. Or Nick. He was on the phone to one of them at least once a day, but he was good at hiding how sick he felt. Harvey would falter every so often on the other line and ask if he was okay, to which Mike laughed it off and said he was fine. Donna would yell at him and accuse him of hiding things, but for the majority, they didn't comment on it. He had told them he had a slight cold that he was getting over.
Now, however, he wished he'd told someone. Because if he had, Harvey would be on his way right now. To possibly bundle him into the car and take him back to the safety of their apartment. But that was impossible, because he had tests and work and mock trials. He was finally finding the work challenging, which he loved - but he didn't like the sheer amount he was given. He was three pieces of work away from a mental breakdown, and to top it all off on this crappy week - it was his birthday today.
He'd had a phone call the day before from Harvey, which made him more home sick than ever.
"Hey, kiddo - how are you?"
"I'm fine," he had lied. "One year older tomorrow."
"You got that card I sent yet?"
"No; should I have?"
"Just keep an eye out for it."
"I will." There were a few seconds of silence before Mike blurted out. "I miss you."
"I miss you too, buddy," even Harvey sounded close to tears (although that could have been his blocked ears). "When is Easter break?"
"Couple of weeks," Mike shrugged.
"It seems like years since Christmas," Harvey said wistfully.
Mike gave a small sniff and cough as he nodded in agreement. "Yeah. How is everyone?"
"They're fine - you'll have to wait until Easter to get Uncle Nick's present. It's too big to mail. And - what?" Harvey stopped, and Mike could just pick out a woman's voice on the other end. "Okay, I'm going - Mike I need to go. I'll speak to you tomorrow."
Mike sighed. "It's fine. Bye."
"Happy Birthday for tomorrow, kiddo. Love you."
"Love you too," Mike burbled, hoping the conversation would end soon because he felt like bursting into tears. "See you at Easter. Bye, Daddy." With that he had put the phone down before sniffling a few times, quickly turning them into sobs. Sure he was 18 (19 tomorrow) but he was allowed to miss home, and he felt really sick. And later on he would blush with embarrassment at his slip of the tongue.
He really just wanted his dad to be there right now.
And if that wasn't just the icing on the cake, it was now 12pm and Mike hadn't heard from Harvey. It was the morning/afternoon of his birthday and he hadn't gotten a single phone call. And the card he had said he had posted still hadn't arrived. And if that weren't enough, he hadn't heard from Donna or Nick either.
"This is the worst," he muttered to himself, rubbing at his eyes in exhaustion. He had woken up in the middle of the night, boiling hot and with a throat that felt like it had been cut open.
To make things worse, there was a knock on the door. He groaned and glared at it, wanting nothing more than for the person to leave. He didn't want to stand up or speak to anyone.
The knocking persisted, and he shuffled upright, getting out of the tangle of blankets and waiting for the vertigo to pass before moving. He opened the door and his eyes widened.
"Dad," he croaked. "What are you doing here?"
Harvey raised a critical eyebrow as he surveyed Mike. The kid's hair was rumpled and there was a sheen of sweat on his forehead. There were dark circles under his eyes and his clothes had obviously been worn for a few days.
"You look like shit."
Mike snorted weakly before just crashing into Harvey with a hug, gripping him tightly. He felt Harvey cup the back of his head and slowly ruffling his damp hair. "Happy Birthday, kiddo."
Mike sniffed and nodded, weakly pulling away and rubbing at his forehead. "Why didn't you tell me you were coming?"
"I wasn't going to come at all, at first," Harvey told him, ushering him into the small apartment and hanging his jacket up, his nose wrinkling at the warm, dead air in the living room. "But you haven't been sounding right the last few days. Why didn't you tell me you were sick?"
Mike shrugged. "It's not like you could do anything." He half dizzily fell and sat down on the couch, bundling his blanket around himself again while Harvey opened a window. The older man turned back and started clearing away things from the room; trash that had been steadily building up during Mike's incapacitation was quickly put in a bin bag and thrown to the side to be taken out later.
"Dad, you don't need to do that," Mike said weakly, watching as Harvey started washing up plates that had been left by the sink.
"Have you been to the doctor?" Harvey asked, ignoring him.
"Yeah," Mike replied, his eyes closing at the sheer relief he felt that his dad was there. "He said I just need fluids and bed rest. And tylenol. Lots of tylenol."
"And when was the last time you took any?" Harvey asked, deciding to stop tidying and instead getting a glass of water and wetting a cloth. He sat next to Mike and gently pushed him down so he was lying on the couch, trying to bury his face in the cushions. Harvey placed the cloth on Mike's forehead and put the glass of water down next to him in case he wanted to drink.
"Uh..." Mike tried to think, but it was hard to when Harvey was slowly rubbing his arm soothingly. "I don't know. Maybe 4 hours ago?"
Harvey hummed and continued to rub his arm. "Okay. We'll wait another half hour to be safe, alright?" Mike nodded, before sitting up and turning, lying back down so that this time, his head was resting on Harvey's lap. He heard Harvey snort slightly before running his fingers through Mike's hair, ignoring the dampness from the sheen of sweat mixed with the wet cloth.
"Some birthday, huh?" Harvey joked.
"Yeah," Mike snuffled. "And I still haven't gotten the card you sent."
"I lied," Harvey said simply. "It was going to be a surprise, me coming here, so I told you I'd sent a card. I've got a few cards in my bag from a few people. And some presents." He laughed as Mike's head perked up at the word. "Some things never change, huh, kid?"
"I like presents," Mike croaked, sticking his tongue out.
"When are your next lectures?" Harvey asked.
"I don't have another one 'til next Friday," Mike said. "'Til then it's just doing our own research and writing an essay. I've finished it anyway," he said, shrugging.
"So you basically have a whole week free," Harvey confirmed. Mike nodded tiredly. "Okay - stay there." With that he got up, carefully sliding Mike's head off his lap. He went into what was Mike's small excuse for a bedroom and started throwing some clothes into a bag, along with as much medicine as he could find and a badly hidden H.B.
"What are you doing?" Mike asked from his spot on the couch. "And when do I get my presents?"
Harvey laughed but went back out of the room, throwing Mike some socks. "Put these on." He waited until Mike had done so before nodding and giving him a pair of shoes that he'd found.
"I don't really feel up to going out to celebrate my birthday, Dad," Mike told him, pulling the shoes on anyway. He rubbed at his forehead and pulled off the now only semi-damp cloth. He found himself being bundled into a jacket. "Dad," he whined. "I'm too warm anyway."
"Tough," Harvey replied, picking up his own bag that he had brought and the one he had packed. "Where are your keys?" Mike pointed them out from their place on a small hook on the wall. Harvey grabbed them before gently guiding Mike out with a hand on his back, locking the door and pocketing the keys.
"Where are we going?" Mike huffed, exhausted. He'd not gotten much sleep for a few days, and was too groggy to realise what even a child would have realised by this point.
"Home," Harvey replied, guiding Mike down and out of the building, into the waiting car that the man must have driven down in. Mike gaped at him. "What?" Harvey asked. "You have a free week. We're going home."
"You don't have to," Mike mumbled. "I'll be fine here if you're busy."
"Shut up," Harvey told him. "You can open your presents and cards at home. Donna and Uncle Nick will be there, you can live in a germ free apartment for a while."
"Seriously, if this is too much hassle - "
"Mike," Harvey stopped him, cupping his face with a free hand. "Stop it. You're sick. I'd like you home. Do you want to come home?"
"Of course," Mike croaked. "I just didn't think you'd want me back yet."
Harvey rolled his eyes and pulled a blanket from the bag he had packed, wrapping it around Mike, practically swaddling him in it.
"Dad!" Mike whined, even though he snuggled down into it. "People'll see!"
Harvey snorted and started the ignition, noting that it took Mike less than five minutes to fall asleep as they started to drive back.
"An incident report from when your dad was 16. He wanted to keep it..."
The first thing Donna was aware of as she finished planning Harvey's schedule for the week was a crash from the man's office. Jumping slightly, she looked around, to see that Harvey had leapt up from his desk, sending a lamp and a photo frame to the ground. She raised her eyebrow and kept watching as he spoke on his cell.
She couldn't make out the words and he was pacing up and down, too far away from the intercom for her to listen in. Eventually he put the phone in his pockets and breathed out into his hands, before running them through his hair. She waited until he had pinched the bridge of his nose, squeezing his eyes shut, before walking in.
"What happened?" She asked calmly, even though she was more than worried as he barely ever reacted like this to anything.
He opened his eyes and grabbed his jacket. "That was the hospital," Harvey said, his voice wavering. "Apparently Mike's been in a car accident and they're 'unable to explain any more over the phone'," he opened his door with unnecessary force as he stormed out.
"What? When? Did they tell you anything?" Donna asked, grabbing her cell and following.
"Nope - they wouldn't even confirm whether he's injured or not," he growled, texting Ray with shaking hands to pick him up and drive them to the hospital.
When they got there, Donna was slightly scared by how intimidating Harvey could be when something like this happened. He had pushed one nurse to the point of tears and had to go through endless paperwork to prove he was who he said he was. Finally, a doctor entered the waiting room, zeroing in on Harvey pacing like a caged lion and Donna sat, shaking slightly.
"Family of Michael Specter?" He asked, and Harvey's head shot up.
"Is he alright? What happened? They haven't told us anything," Harvey would never admit to babbling but at that moment in time he had to admit - he had never been so freaked out.
"I'm sorry no one said anything," the doctor said, looking genuinely sympathetic. "But that is our standard procedure - but Michael's fine. He said he was driving home from school when some kids ran out in front of him; he swerved and hit a tree."
"A tree?" Harvey repeated, trying so hard to keep his dinner down as he imagined Mike's car smashing into a sturdy trunk, his neck snapping forward before rolling back...
"Yes, but thankfully the car had good air bag technology. He's got a mild cut on his forehead which will sting for a few days and his neck will be aching - and he has to wear a knee brace for a week or so because he hit it off the wheel... But other than that he can leave."
Harvey closed his eyes for a second before reopening them and nodding. "Thank you, doctor. Where is he?"
The doctor pointed down the corridor. "Third door on the right."
Harvey was gone, leaving Donna to thank the doctor properly.
Mike rubbed his hands down his jeans for the fifth time to try and stop them from being so clammy. The doctor said he wasn't in shock, but that meant Mike didn't know why he was shaking, why his hands kept going clammy... The door to the room he was in opened and he smiled with relief as Harvey stepped in.
As soon as Harvey saw the kid smile he walked straight up to him and hugged him. Mike rested his face on Harvey's shoulder as the older man cupped the back of his head and held him there - knowing full well he could have lost him today. Mike wrapped his arms around Harvey and felt himself shudder slightly as the events caught up to him.
Harvey pulled back and looked at him. "Hey," he said softly, quickly catching a small tear with his thumb that the 16 year old wouldn't admit to having shed. "It's alright."
"I broke the car," Mike burbled.
"It's fine, that can be fixed," Harvey told him gently, taking him back into a hug. "You on the other hand..."
Mike gave a small snort but fell into the hug much as he had the first one. "Sorry," he whispered.
"It wasn't your fault," Harvey said soothingly, running his fingers through Mike's hair. "Wherever these kids are, they're going to get one hell of a law suit."
"They were young, they weren't looking where they were going," Mike said, wiping his eyes on Harvey's shoulder. "They already said sorry."
Harvey hummed in reply and soon let him go from the hug and helped him off the bed. He winced at Mike's wince as he moved his neck slightly and rested a gently hand on his shoulder as he limped. After Donna had fussed over him for about an hour they left the hospital, with Mike fully drugged up and sleeping next to Harvey in the back of his town car.
When Donna couldn't stand the silence any more from her seat next to Ray, she turned to talk to Harvey before smiling and turning back.
He had his arm around Mike, pulling him to gently rest on him, the teen's head resting on his shoulder. He in turn was resting his cheek on Mike's hair, his eyes closed but not sleeping. He rubbed his cheek against the soft hair occasionally, ignoring Donna's high pitched 'aw' that escaped her.
"Wow, Dad was in a car crash? He never said! Wait - is that Disneyland?"
"Yep - that's your Dad with Mickey Mouse when he was 3..."
"Harvey! Wake up! You hafta wake up now!" Mike didn't care that he was probably about to rupture Harvey's lungs, or break his ribs. He reasoned that bouncing on the man's chest/stomach was the only possible way to get him up.
Harvey groaned and coughed slightly, his arms being the first things to move as he quickly grabbed Mike by the armpits and pulled him off.
"Harvey! It's nearly 7! We need to go!"
Harvey groaned. The worst thing about now being the legal guardian of a 3 year old was the early mornings. But Harvey persevered in the hopes that Mike would eventually sleep for longer; or at least learn not to barge in when he woke up.
But he guessed because they were on vacation he could cut him a bit of slack. Maybe.
"Can I have breakfast? Or are we having that at Disneyland? Can we have something fun? We're on vacation after all, we should eat something fun!"
"Mike I just woke up, nothing you're saying is making sense to me." Harvey rubbed at his eyes, leaning forward slightly and sighing. He was exhausted. They'd had to get up early to get the plane to California, and when they got to their rented villa (of course) it had taken Harvey a lot longer than it should have to get Mike ready for bed. The kid had bounced all over the place, evading capture many times and when he was finally caught and taken to have a bath, the warm water with sneaky lavender scented bubbles didn't have the right effect, and Mike was still too excited to sleep. Not when he knew that the day after they'd be going to Disneyland.
"Harvey?" The way Mike's voice had softened enormously brought him back to Harvey's attention.
"Don't be mad."
"I'm not mad," Harvey reassured him, because he was but he knew he shouldn't be and the kid didn't deserve that. "I'm just tired. How about next time you wake me up differently, alright?" Mike nodded, before pulling at his duvet slightly. "What?"
"Will you take me to the bathroom?" Mike asked, blushing scarlet. "I can't reach the seat."
Harvey frowned but nodded, taking Mike's hand and leading him to the bathroom. He hadn't even considered bringing their usual step-stool with them, and realised he'd have to buy one pretty quickly if he didn't want to be constantly helping Mike with the toilet. Donna had at some point suggested getting a potty, and Harvey had laughed in her face - he didn't think there would be anything on earth that would make Mike want to use one.
He lifted Mike onto the seat and smoothed his hair down soothingly, before turning away and focussing on turning the shower on and making sure it was a comfortable temperature. He helped Mike back down and then lifted him to wash his hands.
"Okay, kiddo - go watch TV for a bit while I have a shower. We can have breakfast and then go. Okay?" Mike nodded, still blushing from needing help before quickly running out. As soon as Harvey heard sound from the TV, he closed the bathroom door.
"Harvey, I want to go on Space Mountain!" Mike begged, pulling on his hand. He had been annoyed for all of five minutes after being forced into wearing a pull-up, just in case it was too crowded. Even though he knew it made sense, he still couldn't help but ignore Harvey for a while. At least he didn't know that Harvey had brought another two in his bag; just in case.
"I don't think they'll let you on, kiddo," Harvey told him, glancing at the sign outside. Mike was way too young and small to ride anything he wanted, and it was definitely getting on his nerves.
"This isn't fair!" Mike whined, being quickly taken over to the side of the path by Harvey, who was looking around him, apparently really not wanting to be embarrassed by a three year old. "I've wanted to go to Disneyland for ages! And now I'm here, I can't do anything!" He looked ready to burst into tears at any moment, so Harvey quickly picked him up, even though he was already being weighed down by the tourist-looking backpack he had on.
"I know it's not ideal," Harvey told him. "But loads of kids come here and never want to leave."
"That's because they're idiots!" Mike argued. "They're entertained by anything! I won't be entertained by Mickey Mouse pushing me around in a big teacup!"
"How do you know if you haven't tried it?" Harvey asked, causing him to get a glare in response. "Look - just try a few rides, okay? And you love Disney films; so shouldn't it be the same thing?"
Mike seemed to be contemplating this, before finally shrugging. "I guess. But you have to promise we'll come back when I'm tall enough!"
"I promise, kiddo," Harvey told him, rubbing his back before finally putting him down and taking his hand instead.
"Which rides can I go on?" Mike asked, rubbing at his eyes in case he had let any tears out.
"There's the teacups," he suggested slowly, rolling his eyes when Mike pouted. "Suck it up, kid - lots of these rides will be like that." He took a minute to scan the map of the park. "Look at it again and decide."
Mike took the map and skimmed it. "Can I go on the Haunted Mansion?" At Harvey's unsure face, he stamped his foot. "Harvey! Please? They let kids on there! Please?"
Harvey sighed but nodded, taking Mike's hand again and walking to a different part of the park.
"I told you I could go on this one," Mike said smugly as they got into the 'stretching portrait gallery'.
"Yeah, yeah," Harvey waved it off, walking fully into the room as the Disney worker told them to. The small group that got in all stood there and listened to the 'ghost host' talk.
"Harvey," Mike hissed, pulling on his leg. "Look at the pictures."
"I see them, kid," Harvey told him, deciding that picking him up would be easier in the long run - at least then Mike wouldn't have to talk as loudly to be heard. Harvey tensed as Mike gave a small yelp and hid his face in Harvey's shoulder as the room went dark and a flash of lightning resonated around them, showing a corpse swinging from the rafters above them.
The lights came back on and a door opened, ready for them to leave. "You want to keep going?" Harvey asked quietly, walking down a corridor.
"Yeah," Mike replied, lifting his head and glancing around, keeping a tight clutch on Harvey. Upon seeing people getting into moving cars on tracks, he clutched even harder. "We don't have to get separated, do we?"
"No, kiddo, we don't," Harvey said, already dreading the ride. Mike be damned, the next ride would be the teacups. They got into the car and Harvey managed to convince Mike to sit next to him rather than on him.
Thankfully, Mike wasn't as scared as Harvey would have thought. He may have had his thumb in his mouth in the entire time, but he giggled slightly at some bits, and his eyes widened when they reached a large ballroom with see-through ghosts dancing around it. The only bit he clung to Harvey to and had his eyes firmly shut was the attic, in which they could just hear a heartbeat sound echoing the room. They passed a ghostly bride and left the room, causing Mike to slowly open his eyes again.
Towards the end of the ride, they went through a graveyard full of happy ghosts singing, and Harvey was glad to see that Mike was a lot more relaxed during that bit, and even let his thumb leave his mouth slightly. He gasped and pointed towards a mirror as they were leaving, which showed a ghost sat in between them
"I see it."
"It said it was coming home with us!"
"Don't worry, kiddo - I won't let it."
They got off the ride and immediately Mike clamoured to be picked up.
"Well?" Harvey asked. "What did you think?"
Mike put his thumb back in his mouth shyly and shrugged. "Can we go on the teacups now?"
It had been a long, exhausting day. Mike had agreed to go on more children's rides and even stood still long enough for them to get a few pictures of him with various dressed up characters around the park.
Harvey realised that it marked just a first in a very long string of what would be him not being able to say no to the puppy-dog eyes, as Mike pleaded for several toys whilst in a shop on Main Street. Although he felt proud in that he'd managed to whittle it down to only buying two of them. So he could barely keep his eyes on the road driving back to their rented accommodation, because in the back seat, Mike had fallen asleep in no time at all; and was clutching his large toys of Nemo and Simba, no doubt drooling all over them.
"Harvey we should go back," Mike mumbled as he was lifted out of the car carefully.
"We will, buddy. We've got all day tomorrow," Harvey soothed him, taking him inside and laying him on his bed, pulling his shoes and socks off.
"Can I get a Mickey toy tomorrow?" He burbled, chewing on Simba's ear. Harvey removed the fur from his mouth and decided it would just be easier to replace it with the kid's thumb.
"We'll see. Go to sleep," he shushed, tucking in the small boy and his two new toys.
Harvey let a warm smile cover his face at that, and made sure he ruffled the kid's hair and kissed his forehead before leaving the room, switching on the night light.
"Is that Dad holding a spider?"
"Yep. We went camping when he was 6, and he wanted to get pay-back on Uncle Nick..."
Mike stumbled slightly over a tree stump and fell into his Uncle's arms.
"Careful, kid," Nick said, hauling him back up. "That's like - the third one."
"I don't like camping," Mike pouted, rubbing at his arms.
"You cold?" Nick asked, taking his backpack off to find a spare jacket for his nephew.
"No! Stop it, you're worse than Dad," Mike whined, looking back to where Harvey was walking, a large backpack on his back, that held about three first aid kits, several spare sets of clothes, water bottles, an inflatable life jacket and a penknife which had been instantly hidden from Mike, lest he think it would be a good idea to play with it.
"He just wants to make sure you're alright," Nick rationalised. "I wasn't allowed to go camping until I was 10 - be grateful."
"Are we there yet?"
"I swear to God I will leave you here to be eaten by bears if you keep asking that," Nick told him without too much malice. He winced as his face pricked slightly. "Oh man... I hate midges."
"Mikey?" Harvey caught up with them. "Do you need more cream? It looks like there's a big cloud of flies coming up."
"Yeah... we noticed," Nick sniped, spitting slightly and waving his hands around in front of his face. "I thought this was supposed to be relaxing and fun! I'm starting to agree with the munchkin on this, bro - it's not too late to turn around and swap sleeping under the stars to sleeping under a four-poster canopy."
Harvey rolled his eyes and just squirted some insect repellent cream onto his hands, rubbing it slightly before grabbing hold of Mike and trying to get it all on his face.
"Dad!" Mike whined. "I don't need more cream! It doesn't smell nice!"
"That's true," Nick agreed, nodding. "It smells like Satan's ass."
"Nicholas!" Harvey scolded him, glaring at him menacingly.
"Lighten up, Harv - when you think about it, the rules of parenting don't apply here."
"Explain," Harvey said, determinedly rubbing in cream on every part of naked skin he could reach on the small boy.
"Well," Nick began. "You won't swear in front of the kid, but you've brought him out in the middle of nowhere - you're the only one with provisions, and no one knows you've gone. It's very Spartan of you."
"Shut up," Harvey told him, putting the tube of cream back in his bag and starting to walk forward again. Nick sighed and followed, catching Mike as he stumbled yet again.
"Was it wise bringing him?" Nick called out. "He's gonna break something before this trip is up, and it might not even be one of his bones."
"You don't want me here?" Mike asked, frowning.
"'Course I want you here, Squirt," Nick soothed instantly. "I'm just looking out for you. Root," he said, grabbing Mike by the armpits and hoisting him over a particularly menacing looking obstacle. Mike had been walking backwards as he talked to Nick, and Nick was surprised he hadn't fallen over completely yet.
"Are we there yet?" Nick now asked, huffing and grabbing Mike's hand so that they both sped forward to catch up with Harvey.
"I'm hungry," Mike said, pulling on Nick's hand.
"Oh for God's sake," Harvey rolled his eyes, trying to ignore his son and brother. They'd had this trip planned for a while now; Nick had mentioned that he missed going camping with their father when they were kids, and Mike had been enthralled, listening to Nick's stories until hours after his usual bedtime. Harvey had scheduled time off work, had bought as much gear as he could lay his hands on, and had been looking forward to spending some time as just the three of them; away from any distractions such as phones or internet.
And yet now he found himself wishing for a distraction.
After about half an hour of solid walking (all with the help of Harvey's trusty map and compass) they got to a clearing that Harvey proclaimed would be their campsite. He set to work erecting the tents - two of them because a) Nick has to set up his own damn tent and b) Mike was adamant he deserved his own tent and was too much of a big boy to share a tent. So Harvey made them very close to each other, and was just wondering how he would get the night light to work when Mike approached, having been preoccupied with running after a tired looking frog for about 20 minutes.
"Hey, kid. You okay?"
"Where's the bathroom?"
"Mike we're in the middle of nowhere. You thought there'd be a bathroom here?"
Mike pouted. "I thought there'd be like, public toilets somewhere. What am I supposed to do?"
"There are plenty of trees and bushes around," Harvey suggested, throwing sleeping bags into tents.
"I can't go here!" Mike squawked.
"Well then you'll have to hold it for the next two days," Harvey told him, getting a spot prepared for a fire for what Mike assumed was a possible barbecue.
"But what if there's like... bugs and stuff?" Mike persisted. "And snakes and... and badgers."
"I really doubt there'll be any snakes and badgers, kiddo," Harvey told him, patting his back. "You're going to have to go at some point. Do you want me to go with you?"
"No!" Mike instantly said. "I'm not a baby!"
"I never said you were," Harvey said, slowly getting a fire started. "Don't go near this," he warned firmly. Mike sighed and slumped his shoulders, walking off to where he was presumably going to pee. Harvey half-wanted to go with him, on the off-chance that there were snakes and badgers in the wood, but he relaxed when he could just make out the red of Mike's hoodie from behind a tree and surrounded by bushes.
Soon, he, Mike and Nick were sitting around the fire, and Mike was slightly jittery due to the amount of smores that Nick had fed him.
"Please tell me we're not going to do the cheesy, cliché thing of sitting around the campfire, telling stories and singing songs, are we?" Nick asked, looking around uneasily as if Harvey was about to pull a guitar out from behind him. Instead, the older Specter just rolled his eyes and prodded the fire slightly as it became darker.
"Can we play hide and seek?" Mike asked, bored of sitting down.
"No," Harvey replied instantly. "It's dark and you don't know these woods at all. We'd never find you again."
"But I'm bored!" Mike whined. "Just for a bit? I promise I won't go too far away!"
"Relax, squirt," Nick said from his incredibly relaxed position on the ground (which had of course been checked by Harvey and had anything sharp quickly removed). "How about we do something else?"
"Like what?" Mike asked grumpily.
"I'll tell you a ghost story," Nick offered, grinning at him.
"Okay!" Mike agreed quickly.
"Cool; okay, ready?" Nick asked. Mike nodded. "Okay - there was once this wood, that no one dared go in after sunset. There were tons of rumours about it, and one time, a small family decided to go camping there..."
"Have a good sleep, squirtle," Nick grinned at him as Mike slowly crawled into his tent and huddled into his sleeping bag. Nick's story had been... dramatic, to say the least. By the end of it, the youngest of the trio in the story had gone to his dad's tent in the dead of night, only to find him beheaded, and with thousands of maggots in the sleeping bag.
Harvey hadn't been pleased. At all. But Mike didn't make a single sound throughout the story, and shushed Harvey when he complained. So now he was in his tent, staring out at the now dying fire.
"Are you sure you want to sleep in your own tent?" Harvey asked, kneeling down by the opening. Mike nodded, clutching H.B to his face and hugging him tightly. Harvey sighed. "Alright - I'll see you in the morning, buddy. Good night," he reached in to kiss Mike's head, ruffling his hair before getting out and zipping the tent up. "Uncle Nick and I are going to bed too," he told him. "So the fire's going to be out anyway. You got your flashlight?" Mike nodded and pulled it out of his sleeping bag.
"Just remember, I'm right next to you if you need anything. Alright?"
Mike nodded again and immediately flicked the flashlight on, laying it on the ground as he put his head down and closed his eyes.
He slept for maybe two hours, before being woken by a strange noise. He immediately grabbed his flashlight, pulling it against him, shaking it desperately when it flickered. He knew the batteries were probably dying. But the spares were all in Harvey's backpack in his tent. There was a slight rustling outside the tents, and Mike heard an owl hooting somewhere in the distance. He closed his eyes as tightly as possible and hid as far down in the sleeping bag as he could go.
But he was now freezing, not having noticed when he was about to sleep, or when he was asleep. Another rustle sounded outside and all Mike could think was the story Nick had told. About the ghostly killer that massacred anyone in the woods.
He thought he could hear something scratching on the outside of his tent, and shot out of his sleeping bag, holding his teddy and flashlight. He quickly unzipped his tent and ran to Harvey's, tripping on the way and skinning his knees. Tears came to his eyes and he hurriedly unzipped Harvey's tent, falling in and clutching the man who had sleepily rolled over.
"Hey, kiddo - shh," Harvey immediately sat up and pulled the kid onto his lap, trying to quiet him down. "What's up?"
"I thought I heard something!" He gasped. "I don't wanna be killed!"
"You won't be," Harvey shushed him, rocking him. "It's just Uncle Nick's stupid story. It wasn't real."
"And I fell over," Mike sniffed, so upset that he put his thumb in his mouth in an attempt to calm himself down. "I hurt my knees..."
"Let's look at them," Harvey said soothingly, putting his own flashlight on and gently pulling up the kid's pyjama bottoms so he could see Mike's knees. They were bleeding slightly, and he could tell there would be a bruise on one of them. Harvey grabbed the first aid kit from beside him and whispered apologies as he dabbed at the broken skin with a wipe.
"You want to sleep in here tonight?" Harvey asked, grinning to himself as Mike nodded his head and crawled into the double sleeping bag that Harvey knew he would need. He let his fingers card through the boy's hair and he snuggled up tightly to Harvey's chest.
His last thoughts, as his arms encircled the kid was that he would kill his brother - and would discuss with Mike plans to put spiders in Nick's sleeping bag ready for the next night.
"I hate spiders!"
"So does Uncle Nick. This one here is when your Dad went out with some associates when he first started working at the firm..."
"Mike, I'm working late tonight; make sure you lock the door before you go to bed," Harvey told him, as Mike dropped some files off in his office.
"I'm not 12, Dad," Mike told him, rolling his eyes. "I'm 19. I'm an associate here. I'm a big boy. I remember to lock doors. And I don't have a bedtime."
"Did I insinuate that you did?" Harvey replied. "I'm just telling you that you don't need to bother waiting up for me."
"Is it a big case?" Mike asked. "I can help - I don't have much to do." He looked so eager and happy to help that Harvey couldn't help but smile back. Mike had been working hard the past few weeks, trying to earn a spot underneath a partner, and Harvey knew that Mike had been doing the work of at least 3 other associates. He would think about maybe seeing if Mike could be his associate. Just like old times. Plus; it would mean he would know where the kid was.
"It's fine, kid. You need sleep."
Mike chewed his lip but nodded. "If you're sure."
"I am. Go home. Sleep." Harvey waved him out.
"Okay. See you in the morning," Mike grinned at him before leaving, waving to Donna and going to the associate bullpen, grabbing his jacket and bag. A huddle of associates beckoned him over.
"Okay - associate happy hour only happens once a month at this bar we all go to. We're friends with the owner so we can get you in; we'll just order your drinks."
"Guys, if it's gonna get you into trouble you really don't have to do this," Mike said, his stomach flipping slightly at the thought of Harvey finding out. Obviously he had been drunk before; at Harvard he went to parties where he didn't need to worry about being ID'd, and before then he'd drank alcohol. But Harvey thought that he was just going home to get sleep.
Mike knew he probably should do that. It had been a very long and stressful week for him, and now was his chance to catch up on sleep. But because of all the work he'd done for the other associates, they said they'd pay him back in drinks. And he knew if he didn't accept it, he wouldn't get paid back in any way for it all. So he thought what was the harm in going out for a while? He didn't have to stay long; heck he didn't have to drink much.
He would just accept drinks to be polite.
Mike felt tipsy.
Slightly more than tipsy actually.
In fact, he would go so far as to say 'wasted'.
There had been a lot of drinks bought for him that night, and thankfully it seemed that only the owner - a very laid-back man who Mike swore he had seen at Nick's one time playing poker - was clued in on the underage drinker. The associates had all clubbed together and promised that they would look after him and they would take full responsibility for him so that the owner would be safe.
Mike wanted to think that it was a very nice gesture; that they really wanted him out with them just so they could say they had gotten the boss' son drunk. And possibly left him by the side of the road by the looks of how the night was turning out.
At first it was fun - they were all buying him cocktails and they were playing drinking games with shots. After about an hour and a half as they all progressively got more drunk, Mike noticed that they all got louder and very handsy.
It was weird how literally every associate he was out with was a cuddly drunk, and he had to fend off at least six hugs and had to endure his hair being ruffled by them all. They were forever commenting on how his age was 'cute' and that it's 'sweet he and his Dad work together'.
Although this got annoying, by the time he stood up to go to the bathroom and the whole world tipped slightly sideways, he couldn't care less. He laughed loudly at any jokes or taunts that he heard and was slumping next to a female associate he vaguely knew as 'Lucy' as she droned on about her boyfriend troubles.
"Because I just think that if he actually loves me like he said he does, he would realise that saying I look like a whale hurts me."
"It doesn't sound very nice," Mike agreed, nodding his head sagely. "Maybe you should find someone new."
"Someone like... you?" She asked coyly, looking up at him from under her eyelashes, batting them and giggling, turning from heartbroken to on the prowl in three seconds.
"Uh... maybe not me... What about... Kevin?" He asked, pointing out the associate. "He's nice." Kevin was at that point slumped over the bar, trying not to throw up. "I mean, he's a great guy, and you - oh, okay," he jerked slightly as the woman moved her hand onto his thigh, slowly sliding it up. "Uh, I'm a lot younger than you, maybe you should try someone your own age, and - " He made a strangled sound as her hand found it's target and squeezed gently. He pulled away quickly, stumbling as the world spun around him.
"Oh come on, baby - I'll make ya feel real good," she promised, prowling towards him.
"No that's okay, I'm good with how I feel now," Mike stuttered, backing away and managing to slip through some other associates and make his escape. He breathed out and found himself being given another drink by Simon, one of the nicer associates.
"Thanks, man," he grinned, practically drinking it in one.
"This is fun," Simon told him, grinning lopsidedly. "I've never worked with a teenager. Especially not the boss' son. It's fun to get you drunk."
Mike laughed. "I'm gonna be in so much trouble," he snorted.
"Mr. Specter doesn't need to find out," Simon told him.
"I live with him," Mike reminded him, sitting down on a bar stool in the hopes that it would stop the ground shifting from beneath his feet. "But he is working late tonight..."
"Exactly! It's only..." Simon checked his phone. "3am. He'll either be at the firm or in bed. You can sneak back in. God I remember what it was like, having to sneak in after drinking," he said nostalgically. "I miss it."
"3am?" Mike asked, merely hung up about that part. "Shit, I should go - I have work tomorrow. We all have work tomorrow."
"Yeah but you're the boss' son!" Simon said - not that Mike needed reminding. "He'll give you the day off!"
Mike laughed hysterically for about five minutes before finally straightening up and wiping tears from his face. "I should still go. I'll see you guys later!"
The few associates still left standing said goodbye and carried on drinking. Mike stumbled slightly blearily out of the bar, resting against a lamp post as he pulled out his phone to call a taxi. He wasn't too sure where he was, but if he could still read, the bar name should be enough. However, as he rifled through his pockets, he realised he had no money. And as drunk as he was, he wasn't stupid enough to think that a taxi would take him for free.
He instead decided to call the one person who he knew would help.
"Hi, Uncle Nick!" Mike said, way too loudly. "What're you doing?"
"Mikey! How's my favourite nephew? I'm just out with some friends. You?"
"Same!" Mike beamed. "Wanna come pick me up from the bar? I don't have money for a cab."
"No can do, squirt - I'm so far over the legal limit I don't think there is one. But this is awesome - we should drink together at some point!"
"We can do it now! Where are you?"
"Uh... not Brooklyn? I dunno."
"Don't get killed," Nick said, giving very helpful advice. "Let me know when you get home, alright?"
"I'll call Dad," Mike told him. "He might still be at work."
"Again - don't get killed," Nick said. "See ya later, munchkin."
Mike hung up and called Harvey instead.
"Dad!" He said when he picked up. "Hey, you busy?"
"Why are you calling me?" Harvey sounded very concerned. "What's wrong?"
"I went out with the associates and I dunno where I am, and I don't have any money for a cab, and if you're not too busy - will you come get me?"
"Wait, wait, wait... You went out with the associates? To a bar?"
"And you're drunk?"
"Not at all, I promise," Mike slurred. "But will you come get me? Please? I don't wanna sleep on the street." He heard a sigh on the other end, and some muttering that may have been Harvey cursing the fact he had an idiot for a son.
"Stay where you are. Whereabouts are you?"
"Uh... the bar's called..." He squinted up at the neon sign, rubbing his eyes as if it would help with focus. "The Underground... I... I think it's in Manhattan."
"I'll be there soon. Just stay there and don't do anything more stupid than you already have."
"Roger that. Kirk out." With that he hung up, sitting down and resting against the wall, praying he wouldn't fall asleep before Harvey got there.
Mike's eyes opened slowly that morning. He felt vaguely fine until he sat up and his head suddenly felt like it had exploded. He groaned and shifted slightly, deciding to just put his head on his pillow and curling up with the closest thing to him - in this case H.B - which he still didn't know how it had found itself to his bed.
He jerked slightly at the unexpected voice but grunted in reply, refusing to move.
"Get up. There's breakfast and painkillers waiting for you on the table."
Mike waited until it sounded like Harvey had left before slowly getting up - painkillers sounded appealing. But he was terrified, and his stomach was churning like crazy. Whether it was because of the nerves or because of the alcohol, he wasn't quite sure. But he managed to pull himself out of bed and slowly made his way to the table. He didn't know what time it was, but Harvey was in a suit without a jacket, so it wasn't quite the time for work yet.
He sidled into a chair and although his stomach flipped at the smell of the food Harvey had cooked, he took a small bite, just enough to help him take the painkillers before straightening and looking at Harvey through bloodshot eyes.
"Okay. Get it over with."
Harvey raised an eyebrow and sat down opposite him. "Firstly - you lied to me and didn't tell me you were going out."
"I never not said I was going out?" Mike interjected hesitantly. Harvey ignored him.
"Secondly - you're underage. Thirdly - you didn't even take enough cash to get a cab home. What if I hadn't picked up? What if I'd been asleep?"
"I'd have been screwed." Mike said. "I know. And I'm sorry, really - but the other associates - "
"What? They made you? You could have said no."
"Do you know how hard it is to fit in with them?" Mike asked, too tired to sound angry. "I can't do anything with them - they all go see a game; I can't afford it. They go out to a bar; I'm not old enough. Half the stuff they talk about I don't know what they're on about. They laugh at me for being young and being the boss' kid. So yeah, okay - the moment I'm invited I go. I just... I don't wanna be left out anymore."
"It's illegal to drink until you're 21."
"I know! But they said that it was cool, and that they know the owner. I didn't... I didn't think I was doing much wrong," he said in a small voice, looking down at his plate of food.
"Mike," Harvey sighed. "You could have gotten in big trouble. Not least for the fact that you didn't even know where you were; you could have gotten seriously injured. What if some of the associates are mean drunks? You already said they tease you; it could have gotten worse."
"No, they're all really nice!" Mike insisted. "I mean; they're really handsy when they're drunk, but - "
"What?" Harvey said, his voice low and his eyes dark.
"I just mean - "
"What did they do?"
"No, Dad, nothing. Well, except Lucy, but she - "
"Lucy... third year associate?" Harvey questioned.
"She was having boyfriend problems, and I was just talking to her. And she just decided to get a bit too... intimate... that was all."
Harvey narrowed his eyes. "Drink this," he passed Mike a large glass of water. "Then go back to bed. You can come in this afternoon. But, Mike," he said, stopping Mike standing. "You have to promise me not to do this again. You're underage, and I won't always be there to make sure you get home."
Mike nodded guiltily. "I promise, Dad. Can I go now?" Harvey nodded and pulled his head gently when he stood up, planting a kiss in his hair before ruffling it.
"Get some more sleep."
"Okay, I think it's time to go," Mike said, looking at his watch. "Mom'll be back from court soon, and she'll wonder where we are." The children whined, not wanting to leave. "Grandpa's coming to ours tomorrow for dinner, alright?"
"Will you bring the book?" One of the children begged, pulling on Harvey's sleeve. "I wanna see more pictures!"
"Me too!" The other added.
Harvey laughed. "Of course. If I can't embarrass your Dad, then what use am I?"
The kids giggled and Mike rolled his eyes, smirking. "Okay - we'll see you tomorrow, Dad. C'mon, guys." The children gave their grandpa one last goodbye before running out to wait by the car.
"Bye, Dad," Mike smiled, accepting the hug that Harvey offered when he stood up.
"Bye, kid," Harvey said, pulling back and grinning in the direction of where the children had ran. Mike saw this and smiled back.
"We did alright, didn't we?"
Harvey squeezed his shoulder. "We did good."
A/N That's it you guys. I don't really know what to say - after a LONG time with this series; I mean, it started not long after I started watching Suits and it went with me to Uni, and I'm finally finished. I just want to say thank you to everyone who enjoyed this series. Also, I'm sorry if you didn't see something you wanted to - as you can tell by the chapter length, there is just too much I could write.
I also want to quickly explain why I don't mention the children's names OR any other family members, or show if Harvey got married, or who Mike is married to. Basically, I don't like creating OC's. I'm worried they'll turn into Mary-Sues, or people will see them as self-insertions. Basically, I don't like deciding on character's futures in that way, if that makes ANY sense at all. I hope no one minds :)
But yeah - that's it. I think it's a good end to the series (hopefully) - well, at nearly 20,000 words it should be! Please let me know what you think; even if you've never reviewed before! That's it from me - again; I just hope you liked it :)