A/N: Written for the alphabet_soup challenge over at LJ. Prompted by destinyjadams, beta read by Tania.
J is for Justice
It was Saturday and Mike wanted nothing more than to stay in bed and sleep in. But Harvey told him they had to meet an important client that lived outside town, on her ranch. She had some dislike for New York and never set a foot there, so every time there was a problem, or she needed a fiscal report, Harvey hopped into his car and drove to her. Without any protesting or rolling of eyes involved. That might've been the reason why Mike hadn't tried to get out of the trip. He was curious to see the woman who had seemingly had Harvey wrapped around his fingers.
Still, he was surprised when at nine a.m. sharp, as he stood before his apartment building, Harvey's sport car pulled up to the curb.
"Where's Ray?" Mike asked opening the door.
"And hello to you too, sunshine," Harvey quipped with a raised eyebrow. Mike sighed and nodded his head in greeting.
"Sorry. Good morning, Harvey. What a nice day we're having? Where's Ray?" He finished and Harvey shook his head.
"It's Saturday. Ray needs some free time too. Now will you stop hanging onto that door and get in so we can actually get to Ellie's ranch before sunset?"
With a grumble and a somehow careful look at Harvey behind the wheel, Mike settled into the passenger seat and buckled up. Harvey revved the engine and pulled off.
"Wait, how comes Ray gets free Saturdays and I don't?" Mike asked after a second, trying to ignore the sound of the engine under the hood and trying to keep his eyes off the speedometer.
"Because Ray is my driver, not my associate. What's the matter, Mike? One would think I'm taking you from a hot babe and dragging you to the gallows, instead of taking you for a scenic drive in this beauty of a car."
"Maybe I did have a hot babe in my bed," Mike said testily. Harvey spared him one look and shook his head, that blasted grin of his all over his face.
"No way you got laid last night, kid. You wouldn't have that giant stick up your-"
"Harvey!" Mike spoke, offended. Harvey chuckled.
"I just... Had other plans for today," Mike said with a sigh and Harvey become more serious.
"Look kid, we deal with this and you can be back in the city by five. You might still make good of some of those plans."
"Yeah," Mike conceded and turned to look out the window, when a smile lit up his face.
"So, what's the deal with you and Ellie?"
All he got in reply was a small smirk on Harvey's face and a faraway look that spoke of history.
"Oh man," Mike whined. "There's no chance we will get back today, is there?"
They'd been on the road for over an hour, half of that time spent on the Interstate. The needle of the speedometer was keeping steadily at the limit of 65 miles per hour and Mike started to relax. The car was really something, and Harvey seemed like a good driver. The drive so far had been smooth and Mike could almost ignore his fears. Driving in the city was one thing. The speed limits were lower there and drivers paid more attention, not to mention that it was usually Ray who drove them in the limousine, which was a rather impressive car. Much safer than the sports car Harvey drove, at least by Mike's standards. The problem with the highway was that there were far less patrol cars and far more people thinking they could speed and drive recklessly. There were also long stretches of road where there was nothing to focus on. But Harvey was a surprisingly responsible driver. He didn't feel the need to show off his car, and Mike was considerably more relaxed than when they started out. Actually, he was relaxed enough to start ribbing Harvey about his history with the client.
"Come on, she's almost fifty now!"
"Forty seven, kid," Harvey corrected him. "And she was younger than I am now, when we met for the first time," he added with a sly grin, one that made Mike choke down a laugh.
"So she was old then too, right?"
"Watch it," Harvey said with a warning glare and Mike pretended to be scared.
"I'm sorry. I know I should respect the elderly," Mike continued and Harvey shook his head.
"I'm warning you, kid. Weigh your words, or I will tell Donna you think she's old."
Mike's eyes went wide and Harvey looked at the road with that self satisfied smirk on his face.
"You wouldn't dare," Mike tried and Harvey gave a shrug.
"On what?" Mike frowned. Harvey took a moment to think, and then opened his mouth to answer, but then the car jerked to the right. One look at the side mirror showed him a Range rover with teenagers behind the wheel. Obviously they were trying to play whack-a-mole with Harvey's car.
"What the hell?" He growled and pushed down the gas pedal, putting some distance between him and the other car. He threw a look at Mike, waiting for some jibe or a question, anything really. But the kid was white and clenching the door and the dashboard as if bracing for impact.
"Mike? What's wrong?" Harvey asked, concern filling his voice.
Mike wanted to reply, but he couldn't. All his will was being spent on keeping himself breathing, and pushing back images from the past.
"It's okay. We are not gonna die. Everything's okay," he repeated to himself like a mantra, trying to control his breathing. He almost made it, but then the Rover caught up with them, its front bumper colliding with the Mustang's rear. The car jerked and the Rover gassed up. Harvey tried to get out of the way, to separate the cars so he could stop, but the driver of the Rover had a different idea. He was obviously enjoying playing with Harvey, and if the hooting calls coming from the passengers was any indication, they were enjoying it too. All but Harvey and Mike, who was on the edge of a stroke. Harvey cursed as another jolt sent the car careening towards a truck that was passing by. Struggling with the wheel, Harvey got the car into a spin, but managed to stop it on the median, before getting into the opposite lane. The fact they didn't hit any other car was nothing short of a miracle.
The Rover had had enough fun, and it sped away without slowing down. For a long moment, Harvey sat still, trying to slow his breathing, and stop the hands clutching the wheel from shaking.
"Fuck those kids," he cursed with a sigh and looked to his right, hoping to see a slightly shaken but otherwise okay Mike. What he saw instead was a kid, white as a sheet, shaking all over, chest heaving rapidly. If the wheezing sound that was coming out of his mouth was anything to go by, Mike was anything but okay.
Someone rapped on Harvey's window and he almost jumped out of his skin."Hey, are you alright sir? Do you need to call the ambulance or cops?" A middle aged guy was looking at him with concern. Harvey rolled down the window and shook his head.
"It's okay. We... Weren't hurt."
"Are you sure? Your pal there looks like he's on the verge of a panic attack. I've seen few of those in my life, and they ain't pretty."
Harvey looked at Mike realizing the stranger was right. For a moment he didn't know what to do. It was such a strange feeling for him that he felt lost. He wanted to send the man away, he wanted to kill those idiots who tried to push them off the road, but most of all he wanted to help Mike.
"What do I need to do?" He asked the man suddenly.
"Talking helps, usually. He needs to calm down so he can breathe. Right now, he's hyperventilating and he may pass out. Talk to him, get him a bag to breathe into if you must. You sure he wasn't injured?"
"Yes. No. We didn't crash, just spun around. He'll be fine. Thanks for your concern," Harvey gave the man a look that clearly said he wanted him to leave. The man nodded.
"Okay, do what ya need to do. But I'll call in those jerks. They tried to push us over the road too and if they ain't stopped, someone's gonna die."
"As long as it's them, I won't mind," Harvey thought but didn't say anything. His attention was already on Mike.
"Mike? It's okay, everything's alright. You're safe, kid." He reached out to touch Mike's arm, when Mike suddenly jerked and started scrambling for the handle to open the door.
"I need to get out. Let me out. I need to get out!" He repeated and pushed against the door, managing to open it by chance. But when he tried to get out, the seat-belt pulled him back and Mike's panic flared as he tried to get out of the belt unsuccessfully.
Harvey was quickly losing his cool and panicking himself. Mike wasn't listening to him, couldn't hear him, all he wanted was to get out of the car, but Harvey couldn't let him, not without risking Mike being hit by a passing car. Cursing, Harvey got out of his own seat and grabbed Mike's face in both hands, effectively immobilizing the younger man.
"Mike! Listen to me. It's okay, you're safe. Stop struggling and calm down!" He shouted and suddenly Mike went still. His eyes were wide and unfocused, but for the first time since the accident Harvey saw some recognition in them.
"That's it kid. Just calm down. It's okay, the car stopped. No one is hurt. You're okay. Just breathe." Harvey repeated it over and over until Mike blinked. His breathing started to slow down and he wasn't struggling anymore. He had his eyes locked on Harvey as if he was the only thing keeping him alive and Harvey used it to bring Mike down from the attack.
"Can't... breathe," Mike finally spoke and Harvey, hands on the back of Mike's neck told him to relax.
"No... You're... Too heavy. Can't breathe," Mike pushed out and Harvey realized that in his struggle to stop Mike from leaving the car he practically sat on his lap.
"Sorry," he said and quickly moved back to his seat, one hand staying on Mike's shoulder just in case. "You okay now?"
Mike took a deep breath, and then gave a sheepish nod. His face, previously white, now turned to crimson as shame hit him, and Harvey would've thought it cute and worth telling Donna about if he hadn't felt so relieved.
"God, don't do this to me, ever again. Not unless you want to take responsibility for my first gray hair." It was proof of how shaken Mike was that he didn't take that as a challenge to rib Harvey.
"Sorry," was all he said instead. "I didn't mean to... Freak out on you," Mike looked up, his eyes filled with shame and something else. Harvey shook his head.
"Don't be stupid, kid. Hell, I was freaked out when those idiots started ramming us. Look, I know your parents died in a car crash." At the mention of his parents Mike jerked, but didn't say anything. "I didn't realize you were that scared of cars though. You never had any trouble with Ray behind the wheel."
"It's different... In the city. The traffic is usually so bad we are barely moving. And the limousine is a big car. Safe."
Harvey wanted to protest that his Mustang was safe too, but after what happened thought better of it. "So you just don't like driving on the highway?" Mike looked lost in thoughts and something nagged at Harvey. He needed to know the truth. "You were trying to get out. Why? Did your... Were your parents trapped in the car?"
Mike shook his head. "They died instantly. I was the one trapped. I just... Couldn't get out. I saw them, all bloody and motionless in the front. I tried calling out but no one answered. Then I saw the flames..." Mike paused, choking down a sob as the past came flooding back with Technicolor precision.
"I wasn't hurt badly, just a broken arm and a cut on my head, but I couldn't get out of the damn car. I kicked at the glass and screamed until my throat hurt. I thought I was gonna die there, when I saw a man's face. He was old and had a long white beard. He looked kinda like Santa Claus and I was half expecting to see some reindeer." Mike gave a disbelieving chuckle. "He broke the window and pulled me out. The flames were so close and there was so much smoke, and I could barely breathe. He had just put me down on the grass when the car blew up. He saved my life."
Harvey listened with growing horror. He knew about the accident, but he always thought Mike was at school or with his grandmother when it happened. Nothing he knew about Mike indicated he was in the car when it crashed.
"I'm sorry, Mike. I... I didn't know," Harvey admitted and Mike gave him a small smile.
"That's a first," he said and took a deep breath. Somehow telling Harvey helped, at least a little. They sat in silence for a while, giving Mike time to calm down. After several minutes though, the silence was broken.
"Do you... Do you feel up for the ride back?" Harvey asked somehow sheepishly.
"What, and miss seeing Ellie with my own two eyes? Not a chance. Anyways, we are closer to the ranch than to the city. It's not like we are gonna walk back on foot, right?"
"Well, I was thinking about calling Ray to bring your bike, but Donna would kill me if she got a hunch of that. So... You good to go?"
"As long as you keep it under the speed limit," Mike said with a small smile. Harvey started the engine and slowly pulled back on the road. To Mike's relief he was keeping well below the speed limit, so much so that some passing cars honked at him, but neither of the men minded that. They were getting closer to the ranch and Mike was getting back his color. The shaking stopped too, Harvey was happy to observe. While he had to mind the wheel, he was regularly checking on Mike. Well, as regularly as he could without keeping his eyes off the road completely. It helped that Mike started asking him about the ranch and his older cases. Harvey obligingly answered the questions just as long as it kept Mike's mind busy and away from memories.
"What's that?" Mike asked suddenly and Harvey slowed the car down to a crawl as he saw red and blue lights and several police cars ahead. The traffic had slowed down and as they got closer they saw the Rover half into a ditch. There were two teenagers being treated in the ambulance, one girl being interviewed by an officer and an older looking boy who was being led toward the police car, hands behind his back in handcuffs. Harvey pulled over and turned to Mike.
"What are you gonna do?" Mike asked a little nervous.
"I just want to talk to the cops. Find out what happened and who those kids are."
"Okay," Mike said a little timidly. He thought about getting out but the sight of the crashed car was making him sick to his stomach. So he turned on the radio and decided to watch Harvey. He saw his boss walking up towards the nearest cop. They spoke for a while and Mike bit his lips nervously when Harvey pointed towards him, looking angry. The cop was frowning, and then said something that had Harvey relaxing. Mike frowned when the two exchanged cards and Harvey was back.
"What was that?"
"You pointed at me. Why?"
"I was pointing at the car. You didn't see it, but there are some nice scratches on my side," Harvey said with a frown. "This is a classic, it doesn't deserve that kind of treatment."
Mike almost rolled his eyes. Of course Harvey was pissed about the car. Who wouldn't be? But then he thought about the way Harvey was keeping watch on him since his panic attack, how he didn't make fun of him and had tried to keep his mind off the accident. No, it wasn't just the car Harvey was worried about and Mike tried to hide his sudden emotions. He didn't do a good job because Harvey frowned, the look of concern back on his face.
"What?" Mike asked, confused.
"You just grimaced. If you feel sick or something, now is the time to speak up. The ambulance is there."
"No, I'm fine, Harvey. Really," Mike reassured him with a smile. "What happened here anyway?" He asked to change the topic.
"What was bound to happen the way those idiots were driving. They couldn't handle it and ended up in a ditch. Luckily, no one else was hurt."
"What about them?"
"Just some slight injuries. Pity, really," Harvey growled, then gave Mike a sheepish look. "Sorry."
"S' okay. Not like I feel a lot of sympathy for them. Were they high or something?"
"Probably. The driver was celebrating his twenty first birthday. Got a new car from daddy. Sat behind the wheel, drunk and high. But he won't be driving for a long time when I'm done with him," Harvey added the last line under his breath, so Mike couldn't hear it. He started the car and went back on the road, waving at the cop as he passed him. Mike relaxed back into his seat, softly chuckling.
"Karma's a bitch," he said and Harvey rolled his eyes.
"That's not what a lawyer should be saying," he commented, and got a raised eyebrow from Mike.
"Come on, what would you call it then?"
"Poetic justice," Harvey said with a smirk and Mike laughed.