Title: The Haunting (Or Something Lame Like That)
Warning(s):violence, language, some sexual situations
Summary:After witnessing a tragic accident outside the Pearson Hardman building, Mike falls victim to a series of unexplainable attacks. Harvey tries to help him when he realizes that something beyond Mike's control is happening, but only succeeds in becoming enmeshed in the mystery alongside Mike. A pair of strange men begin dogging their steps through the city, leaving Harvey uneasy and wondering what Mike's gotten them into now.
A/N:I wrote this for the Suits Big Bang 2011, and if you haven't seen all of the pieces people managed to pump out you should really go track down the LJ comm. Special thanks to ladyknightanka, zekkas, c8h7n3o2, loverstar, and atennuh, with more details on that over on my LJ with the original post.
It was a beautiful day out, not a cloud in sight. The buildings all around towered far above the street, windows glistened in the sun and made everything seem brighter and cleaner. No birds were singing this far into the city, but the chorus of angry honks from the street as people were blinded by the glare could lend itself to the imagination. Harvey reveled in these days, when everyone he met was in a good mood – and were therefore easily molded to his will. The sunrises from his condo didn't hurt, either.
Harvey accepted his coffee from the vendor and stepped out of line, internally reveling in the heat on such a crisp autumn morning. He sipped at it gingerly, scanning the masses for any sign of Mike. The kid wasn't late yet, but Harvey was already reviewing what jabs he hadn't tried on him yet. His being late wouldn't ever truly get Harvey into trouble (Harvey had long ago learned to plan around other people), but he wasn't about to let his associate know that.
He jumped when tires suddenly screamed on the street beside him, accompanied by a series of meaty thuds. Harvey turned to see who'd been hit, and his heart skipped a beat when he saw –
Mike's bike –
Harvey half-ran a few feet forward, heart thudding and vision sparking at the edges when he saw Mike on his knees, leaning over –
Wait, on his knees?
Once he realized Mike was unharmed, air rushed into his lungs and his vision grayed, but he moved through it, clutching onto his atypical calm. He rushed forward to lean over Mike, a hand on his shoulder for added balance as he got a better look at what happened.
The man on the asphalt was a young man, barely older than Mike, and his face tugged at Harvey's memory. Before he got any further than that, Mike's shoulder shifted under his hand, drawing his attention back to his associate. Mike had assumed the CPR position and was pumping his hands on the quasi-stranger's chest, face panicked and beaded with sweat. His expression jogged Harvey's memory, and he realized this was Allan – Aaron? – one of the other associates. He thought he'd once used him as an example to prove to Mike that 'getting it' was important, but he couldn't be sure. Mike grabbed Aaron's chin and pinched his nose for two breaths before returning to pumping his chest.
Harvey straightened and looked around for help. There was a traffic cop on his radio trying to form a perimeter, and a cacophony of sirens was growing closer. He looked at Mike, watching him grit his teeth and grunt with the effort and frustration of the situation. The moment stretched, the surrounding noise not penetrating the shock at the sudden catastrophe that blanketed their minds. Mike looked away from what he was doing long enough to meet Harvey's eyes, and the older man felt his mouth twist with sympathy. This was going to just wreck Mike.
A flash of white and blue caught Harvey's eye and he caught at Mike's shoulder, pulling him back and away as the paramedics fell to their knees beside Aaron. He didn't stay to watch, instead leading Mike to the curb just outside the police tape and forcing him to sit. When Mike's eyes remained on the gruesome scene before him, Harvey crouched in front of him and tapped his cheek.
"Hey, look at me," he said, eyes intent on Mike's face. Mike tried to lean around him to keep watching, so Harvey gripped his chin and forced him to look him in the eyes. "You with me, kid?"
Mike visibly gathered himself and nodded, deliberately turning his face to the side to both break Harvey's hold and survey the crowd. Harvey pulled out his cell and hit Jessica's speed dial, eyes flying to Mike's face when the younger man suddenly leaned over to spit. There was a pinkish tinge to the froth leaving Mike's mouth, and Harvey grimaced when he realized what it was, and where it came from. When Mike's eyes drifted as through to look toward the paramedics, Harvey put his hand back on his shoulder. Mike shut his eyes and clamped his jaw shut resolutely. Jessica picked up on the second ring, distracting him.
"Harvey?" She sounded surprised to hear from him. He spoke brusquely before she could say any more.
"There's been an accident in front of the building. A taxi hit one of the associates. Allan? Aaron?"
"Aaron," Mike confirmed. Harvey peered over his shoulder to see a sheet had been laid over the body and someone official-looking headed in their direction.
"Mike and I won't be in for the rest of the day. I'll take care of the situation down here." Now that there was relatively little to shield Mike from (that is to say, nothing he wouldn't already know in a few moments more), Harvey moved to stand at Mike's shoulder. The woman was diminutive and dressed in a suit, pen and paper already poised in her hands. Her warm eyes roved from Harvey to Mike and back, before finally settling on Mike.
"Are you the one who administered CPR, sir?" Mike rubbed his eyes with one hand and nodded. Harvey's eyes trained on his Adam's apple as he swallowed.
"Yeah. I, uh... my name's Michael Ross," he said, pulling his hand from his face and looking somewhere over her left shoulder. He very carefully didn't look at Aaron, though Harvey knew he couldn't have missed the glaringly white sheet covering him. The woman wrote for longer than was necessary to just jot down his name.
"I'm Detective Layton. Could you walk me through what happened?" Mike nodded in response, fidgeted with his sleeves and abruptly stood. He gazed at his hands before seeming to realize it was a nervous gesture and forcing them to still.
"I was riding my bike, on my way in to work. I was headed toward the building, and he was crossing the street the other way. There's a coffee shop the associates like down there." Mike caught Harvey's eye and held it, then stopped stalling. "He was still facing me when the taxi hit him."
The woman continued writing, allowing him a moment to breathe before posing a more difficult question.
"Could you describe the accident in more detail? I'm sorry, I know that this is difficult." Mike released a hard breath, continuing to look Harvey in the eye. If that was what the kid needed to tell the detective anything necessary, Harvey could suck it up and deal. He nodded in a manner that could be considered encouraging, and a little weight seemed to ease from Mike's shoulders. Dominic may be a grown man, but Mike was young and this was by no means a normal circumstance.
"He, uh, saw me notice him and looked kind of... excited? Just for a moment. He hurried out into the street, like he was coming over to talk to me, and... the taxi driver was frustrated with the traffic or something, I dunno, but he suddenly jerked the car into the left lane and gunned it." He wrapped an arm around his ribs and covered his mouth, trying to cover the tremulous quality of his voice. "The impact was right about knee-level, and he sort of - crumpled into the hood. He looked so shocked."
Mike cleared his throat and blinked a couple of times, finally looking away from Harvey.
"His feet left the ground for a few seconds, but it wasn't like in the movies, he didn't roll over the top of the car or anything. The driver hit the brakes and he fell to the ground. I couldn't stop my bike in time," here he gestured to the bicycle lying on its side several feet from them. "I crashed it, and when I got back up he was on his back, not moving. I loosened..."
Mike lost control of his emotions for a moment and focused on just breathing to center himself.
"I loosened his tie and took his pulse, checked his breathing. He stopped breathing, and I started CPR. It felt like forever –" Mike's voice cracked and he trailed off. The detective paused in her note taking to gaze at him in concern. Harvey turned to face her, effectively pulling her attention from Mike.
"Is that enough for now?" Detective Layton nodded, recognizing Harvey's tactic for what it was. She placed her pen behind her ear and pulled a business card out of her pocket. This woman was old school; Harvey could appreciate that.
"Thank you. If there's anything else you can think of, please call. Otherwise, I'll get hold of you when a further statement is required." She handed off the business card and walked towards the cop at the perimeter. Harvey flipped the card to find a number scrawled elegantly on the back. He perfunctorily examined the name and numbers on the front until he deemed enough time had passed for Mike to compose himself and turned back to him. Raking his eyes over Mike's form revealed blood stains darkening his right knee and both arms from elbow to wrist, as though he'd fallen on his crossed arms.
"Ready to go?" Mike faltered, uncertain how to answer. Harvey took pity on the kid and didn't wait for an answer. With one hand on his associate's lower back, he directed him into their building. After the requisite pause at the security desk and the short walk to the elevator, Harvey's discomfort with the unaccustomed silence became too much for him.
"Do you want to go to the hospital for those scrapes?" They should have had the paramedics look Mike over. Mike looked at Harvey, confused, then looked down at his injuries as though he'd been completely unaware of the wounds. He peeked down one sleeve to tally the damage while Harvey watched. Letting the arm drop, he shrugged.
"It just needs some Neosporin and gauze and it'll be fine." He straightened and spoke clearly, like he'd finally come out of his daze. The doors slid open on their floor and they strode out onto the familiar flooring, but they hadn't gone more than a few feet when Mike jerked back like he'd been shocked.
"My bike! I didn't lock it up, I need to -" He spun around to return to the elevator, but Harvey got a hand on his chest to stop him.
"Hold on there, tiger. You're not going back down there." He caught sight of one of Louis' associates and snapped his fingers to catch the kid's attention.
"You, yes. Come here. You are going to go downstairs and lock up his," he pointed a thumb at Mike, "bike. It'll be behind the crime scene tape; if the cops don't want you to move it wait until they give the O.K. Give him the lock, Mike."
Mike clutched at his bag possessively, widening his eyes in disbelief as he stared at Harvey. The other associate darted his eyes between them like a frightened rabbit. Harvey held out a hand.
"Fine. Give me your bag." Harvey tried to stare Mike down. He didn't see what the big deal was, and he didn't appreciate being faced with Mike's atypical insubordination in front of one of Louis's associates. Heaven forbid the timid man mention it and give Louis more ammo in their feud. "Mike, give me your bag or your lock, I don't care which, or you're fired."
Harvey saw a fleeting anger on Mike's face before he handed over his bag.
"I'll be at my desk," Mike said, voice tight, then limped off. Looked like that knee was catching up with him. Harvey reached into the bag distractedly as he watched him go, and his brow creased in consternation when he felt something wet and sticky. Lip curling in disgust, he pulled the bag open further to find the source. A punctured can of Red Bull was nestled comfortably among the papers and other odds and ends, and Harvey could almost hear Mike laughing evilly over his revenge.
"Okay, that's gross. You grab the lock."
Harvey held the bag out to the terrified associate, and he reached into the bag as though he expected a rattlesnake to leap out and bite him any time. He tentatively closed his fingers around the cold and sticky hunk of metal and paused to be sure nothing horrible was forthcoming. Harvey eyeballed him when he reached to pull away the paper stuck to it, and duly afraid of the repercussions of destroying paperwork that belonged to Harvey, he gently pulled each sheet from the lock. That done, he stood frozen with the realization that his only option was to put them back in the ruined bag. Exasperated by the associate's inability to act, Harvey shook the bag in his direction. The associate squeezed his eyes shut as he replaced them, then all but ran to the elevator the second Harvey moved to go around him.
Harvey made his way to Donna's desk, holding the bag as far from his suit as he could. An odd squelching sound emerged from its depths with every step he took. Donna raised her eyebrows at him when he rounded the corner and she identified him as the source of the bizarre noise.
"Did you two have a mishap and accidentally 'fire' into that bag?" she asked dryly. Harvey stared at her flatly, then dropped the bag on her desk. She screeched and jumped out of her chair, then grabbed for the bag when it titled over toward her keyboard. She narrowed her eyes at him, mouth tight.
"Oh, you will pay," Donna threatened. Harvey shrugged; it was worth it. He motioned to the bag she was daintily holding.
"Get someone to take care of that." He stalked into his office, hearing Donna's grumbled, "What am I, your secretary?" and smirking. He almost set his hand on his phone before remembering it was a sticky mess. He marched back out of his office and stopped again at Donna's desk.
"Oh, can you have a courier run to the drug store and get some gauze, Neosporin and Ibuprofen? Thanks." She rolled her eyes, but reached for the phone anyway.
"I so don't owe you anymore," she tossed at his departing back.
Harvey approached Mike's desk, medical supplies in hand. Mike looked like a social pariah, what with all the associates giving his desk a wide berth. Louis, revealing his decent side, had put the fear of God into all the associates by informing them that anyone who so much as breathed wrong in Mike's direction would be working in the mail room for the rest of their lives. Or maybe he was worried Mike would leave the firm and they'd lose their paperwork machine.
He dropped the plastic sack on Mike's desk, startling him. Mike popped the, apparently salvaged, headphones out of his ears.
"What are you doing?" Harvey asked mildly.
"Uh, working?" Mike squinted at him like he thought he was senile. "Why?"
"I told Jessica we're both taking the day off." Mike scoffed and turned back to his computer.
"I'm serious, come on."
Mike looked askance at him.
"This isn't a request, you're coming with me. Now." Mike totally ignored him, this time grabbing a highlighter and random file from his desk. Deciding force wouldn't work, Harvey tried persuasion.
"If you stay here and keep working, you'll be dealing with Louis. He's taking care of all my cases today." Mike gave him an 'Is that supposed to intimidate me?' look and Harvey sighed, vowing to himself that he'd limit his associate's contact with Donna. The kid was sharp enough on his own, without her not-insignificant influence.
"Fine. Grab the bag and I'll take care of your scrapes in the bathroom." He walked away without waiting for Mike, the telltale rustling of the sack informing him he was. Once safely ensconced in the confirmed privacy of the bathroom, Harvey locked the door and had Mike hop up on the counter.
"Knee first," he said, and Mike tried rolling up his pants. He hissed when the cloth, now fused with the scabs, tugged painfully. Harvey touched the tips of his fingers to the back of Mike's hand.
"Hold on, let's get that wet before you rip the scabs off. And why didn't you change, anyway?" Harvey grabbed a handful of paper towels, soaked them, and placed them on Mike's knee. "Hold that."
He fired off a quick text to Donna asking her to bring Mike's spare suit to the men's bathroom, then soaked some more paper towels and held them to Mike's right arm, leaving Mike to take care of the left. Mike didn't break the silence, still irritated with Harvey, and they remained that way for several minutes. Eventually Harvey sighed with fond exasperation.
"You're an idiot, you know," he told Mike, a smirk playing about his lips.
"What! Why?" Mike squawked, affronted.
"You're blaming yourself for something that isn't your fault." Harvey's eyes pierced right to the heart of Mike's thoughts, as always, and he flinched. Mike slid his eyes to the side and twitched the hand holding the paper towels in place.
"Yeah, and what do you know about it?" he asked belligerently. Harvey huffed.
"Well, I've never been in a situation quite like the one you're in, but I do know what it's like to blame yourself for someone's death. The thing you've got to understand is that Aaron would have done the same thing if it was me, or Jessica, or even Louis that had noticed him. The guy was starving for that sort of attention." Harvey gauged his words' effect before continuing. "If you hadn't been there, he still would have crossed the street, and the cab still would have pulled a jackass move. You tried to save him, that's the best anyone could ask."
Mike still didn't look up or acknowledge him, and they were interrupted by someone knocking at the door. Mike reached up and took over the task of securing the paper towels, leaving Harvey free to answer the door now the moment was gone. Donna shoved the suit into his chest the instant it was clear of the door and stalked off, the sharp staccato of her heels speaking her anger clearly. Harvey idly wondered if anyone had told her about Mike's rough morning yet, then figured she'd probably heard. She'd brought the suit, after all. He shut and locked the door, then swiveled to address Mike.
"You might as well take those clothes off for this. Gonna have to change anyway." Mike gave a put-upon sigh, but carefully jumped down and complied. Harvey carefully hung the suit on a stall door. By the time he'd laid the bandaging supplies out on the counter, Mike was again slouched on the counter, now sans all but boxers and socks.
He didn't react when Harvey slathered his knee with antibiotic ointment and wrapped it, but his mouth twitched when Harvey moved close to the counter between his knees to deal with his arms.
"You locked the door, right?" Mike asked, voice wry with amusement. Surprised, Harvey snorted a laugh when he realized they were in a superficially compromising position.
"I always knew you were a gutter dweller," he chuckled. He finished patching Mike up efficiently, then washed his hands while Mike dressed. Using one more paper towel to dry his hands, he leaned his back against the lip of the counter and eyed Mike with speculation.
"I'll take my cases back from Louis and let you work today on one condition." Mike's head darted up to watch him warily.
Harvey weighed his words carefully before deciding to continue. He looked Mike straight in the eye.
"I want you to come stay with me. I know this may not seem like it's going to have a big effect on you, but when it really hits you, it will."
Mike cracked a small smile and quipped, "Aw, that's cute, you're worried."
Harvey rolled his eyes and threw away the paper towel.
"I'm not worried, I'm just looking out for the firm. We can't afford to have two associates out of commission." Harvey examined Mike critically during his callous statement. When Mike's face didn't so much as twitch, he decided he should back off. He wasn't going to get anywhere right now, not with Mike thinking he was Jericho. Like Jericho, Harvey knew, his walls wouldn't last forever, and when they came down Harvey would be ready. He left Mike there without another word.
Harvey stood observing Mike from the hall that led to his office. His associate was currently engaged in proofing a set of briefs for one of Louis' cases, as he'd finished all of his work for Harvey several hours before. Harvey should have known that Mike would be one of the people who dealt with hard memories by burying themselves in work. Maybe Mike thought that if he buried the memories in new knowledge, they'd simply disappear.
Over the course of the (very long, very boring) day, Harvey had considered various ways to get Mike to talk to someone. Though Donna and Rachel seemed like viable options, he'd decided he'd go for the one person he knew Mike couldn't say no to. He adjusted the lapels of his jacket to make sure it was still perfect, then strode confidently up to Mike's desk. He rapped his knuckles on his cubicle and waited for Mike to remove his earphones.
"Go home, go see your grandmother or go do whatever it is you do, but I don't want to see you in this building again tonight. Capiche?" Mike stared at him blankly for a moment, obviously still in his research head space. Harvey smirked when comprehension hit Mike all at once and he slammed the file closed. Mike slouched back in his chair, letting his jaw go slack.
Harvey was familiar with this routine, but decided to bite anyway.
"What?" he asked, a hint of annoyance in his tone.
"You're being nice to me," Mike said smugly. He swung slightly back and forth in his chair, reminding Harvey of nothing so much as the cliché cat with the canary.
"Or, Jessica is riding my ass about you taking time off and I don't want to hear it," he replied, condescending smile out in full force. "Now get gone."
Harvey let Mike revel in being right for as long as it took him to clamber to his feet and sling his bag over his shoulder before bursting his bubble.
"Oh, and if you're even one second late tomorrow?" Harvey waited for Mike to meet his eyes, smirk rapier sharp. "I'll have you doing the paperwork for every merger Pearson Hardman handles for the next month."
Mike almost protested, visibly thought better of it and conceded with a sigh. The allure of a rare evening spent in the company of his grandmother was too much, especially when coupled with the prospect of going home early.
Harvey idly watched him as he left, knowing he'd rue the day Mike finally learned to read him. The morning had been a shocking one, and Harvey knew that for the foreseeable future he'd be worried every morning Mike came in late. For now, he was secure in the knowledge that Mike was clueless as ever when it came to the emotions of people of Harvey's caliber.
Pleased, he turned sharply on his heel, sending associates scuttling in every direction like roaches.