Author's Note: This is the last chapter. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this fic. My next project will be to finish up my two-parter in 'New Puppy' and it's up in the air whether I'll write anything after that.
Mike stared up at the monolith that was Pearson Hardman. Even though he had still had his job there, it was a surreal feeling returning to a building he hadn't see in three weeks.
Harvey had returned to work a week and a half ago and he had come back quieter than usual. The day after that, Mike returned to his apartment and the only one who had bothered to ask after his welfare was Donna. Since he had been injured, he'd been giving almost two extra weeks to recover, so Mike had taken the opportunity to visit his grandmother daily and that had helped him clear his mind and even occasionally forget why he'd been afforded such an opportunity to give her company.
Real life was back now and he was surprised to find the desire to bury himself back into work was warring with the apprehension of what he'd see upstairs.
He finally walked through the doors, finding the people coming and going like it was any normal day. He found the elevator entrance on their floor tiled in brilliant white as always, but the previously dark brown walls were now painted a dark blue. When he finally started out to the associate's bullpen, he ran into fresh carpet and the irritating smell of carpet glue. Donna had said it was noxious.
Walking into the bullpen was like walking into a new world. While the carpet was new and uniform throughout the building, the vacant chairs glared at him with the absence of people that should be there. He could easily see Harold spinning back and forth in his chair while chewing on a pen. He could see Kyle in the cubicle that was across from his, glancing up and then sneering condescendingly as though everyday he couldn't believe Mr. Nobody Mike Ross was allowed to step foot into the firm. Then he'd share a knowing look with Greg and that was the moment they'd start planning the ways they could harass Mike today.
The most unnerving part was that Greg was actually seated at his cubicle and he did not fail to give him that look of disdain that was this time sparkled with something akin to anger. He shivered at the onslaught of hallucinations mixed with reality and he quickly deposited his bag at his desk. Harvey had mentioned to him that Greg hadn't been very happy that he had fled the bullpen, but it was one of the few things Mike had no second thoughts about. He did not regret leaving, but he did regret not encouraging other people to leave.
As he headed towards Harvey's office, he actually shook his head trying to rid himself of the mental images. Harold and Kyle were dead, he told himself, but even as an overwhelming sadness enveloped him, the lingering hallucinations were starting to creep him out. This was the disadvantage of having a memory like his.
He jumped a little at the quiet voice and was surprised to find Rachel had been walking toward him.
"Welcome back," she replied, but her smile was strained. "You must be doing well."
"Yep, I, uh, feel perfectly fit. I dumped my babysitters over a week ago."
"Watch who you're calling a babysitter, Michael Ross."
This voice came behind him and he jumped and cowered as he turned to find the ever formidable Donna had snuck up behind him and was staring down her nose in mock imperiousness.
"Hi, Donna. You were an awesome babysitter. I can't help but miss your cooking now," Mike replied, giving her his patent puppy eyes and her expression softened.
"All right, enough with the googly eyes. Harvey is still expecting you in his office by…right now."
"I'll catch up with you later, Rachel," Mike said and he continued on his way. It was much easier going down these hallways because he hadn't actually been over this way on that day and he felt even better when he walked in on Harvey playing catch with himself.
"Knocking. Ever hear of it?" Harvey said to him in way of greeting, barely casting a glance at him.
"I already got pre-approval from Donna to come in," Mike replied as the secretary passed him to sit down in her own cubicle.
She looked at him, ready to retort, when Harvey said, "Never mind. It doesn't matter. You need to go over this contract and find the loopholes."
"Too good to be true?"
"It's subtle, but yes. They tried to hide it in an old-fashioned good deal, but when my client expanded on the promises that were made to him, it was suspicious enough to look at much more closely. I want your report this afternoon."
Mike frowned at him. "This afternoon? No impossible deadlines, like, 'You better hand it to me before lunch and then I'll bury you in bylaws?'"
"It's only your first day back; I can ease you back in."
"Donna threatened you, didn't she?"
"She'd never get my coffee again," Harvey replied, his scowl settling on Donna who pretended to obliviously type away.
"Thanks, Donna, for having my back," Mike said as he passed her to return to his cubicle.
He was back barely ten minutes later.
"You get so much natural light in this office. Mind if I work here? The lighting in the bullpen is bothering me."
"Funny how you've been able to work an entire year in that bullpen and not cared about the lighting before," the closer said with raised eyebrow and a pensive frown.
"My eyes are sensitive to the light sometimes."
"You mean sensitive only now?"
"You scared me before."
Somehow I seriously doubt that, Harvey thought as Mike went over to the couch to spread out the files on the coffee table. It was quiet again for the first five minutes.
"It will get better, Mike."
His associate sighed and leaned back, staring out the window with a vague sort of sadness. "I know," he finally said.
The rest of the day was spent in Harvey's office, with the senior partner only occasionally speaking to Mike to assign him more work and then Mike would accept it and try to hide a grin as Donna would turn around to glare at Harvey, who merely scowled back. Maybe it wouldn't be so hard to get back to where they were after all.
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