"Only time I've ever seen you wear lavender is when your brother was in the hospital." Donna
The fifth-worst day that year started out nice enough. Harvey got up, stumbled over to the treadmill and ran three miles while watching the Sports Update. He put on the coffee while he took a shower. Then dressed, poured the coffee, got in car, got to work by 9 am on the dot. He was in the car when he got the call from his brother.
"Hey big bro," Harvey smiled at the sound of Joshua's voice. He'd practically raised the kid and now only saw him when both of their hectic schedules coincided, which wasn't often enough. So he contented himself with phone calls most of the time, and tried to pretend he wasn't damn proud every time he saw his little brother's comics in all the daily papers. "I'm in your neck of the woods today. You got time for lunch?"
"Only if you take me to the Phoenix."
"Still craving crappy diner food?" Josh laughed, "Shouldn't big-shot lawyers have a more refined palate?"
"Shouldn't artists be eating at snobby, hipster restaurants?"
"I'm impressed you know the word hipster, Harv."
"You kidding? They had to invent a new term for me and that's the best they could come up with." Harvey liked making his little brother laugh, because he still laughed like he was ten years old and didn't have a care in the world. "I'll see you at one. Try to fight the instinct to be late."
"But Harv, I have to find some way to keep giving you grey hairs." Harvey shook his head and hung up the phone. He smiled. He didn't yet know that this would be the fifth-worst day of the year.
Across town, Mike was leaving the nursing home later than he would have liked. His suit was rumpled, and Harvey was going to make fun of him for five minutes before giving him one of the eight spares he kept on hand at all time. He would ask what Mike had been doing that made him wear the same suit two days in a row, and Mike would think that maybe Harvey had grown a soul and would begin to answer before remembering that Harvey Specter was incapable of compassion.
"We'll call you if her condition changes," one of the nurses, young and pretty with a bit of a crush on the lawyer who still visited his grandmother every week, told him on his way out. He flashed her a tight smile. This is what he'd known was coming but refused to think about: his grandmother was getting old. She'd fallen yesterday and hit her head against a table. Mike had sat with her all night. She'd called him his father's name. He'd pretended not to notice.
Mike didn't know that this would be the fifth-worst day of his year, but at least he had an inkling that it wouldn't be a great day. He just didn't know how much worse things could get.
He liked the action of riding his bike to work. He liked dodging through New York City traffic, zipping by executives in their limos and people in taxis and commuters and soccer moms. He liked to think that one day he'd pass by Harvey on his way to work and prove once and for all that his mode of transportation wasn't useless.
He also liked riding his bike because it gave his mind room to wander, make connections without him having to push for them. Today, he was starting to slowly get a revelation about the sports agency the firm was representing...something about salaries and statistics, sacks and Salmason...everything was just beginning to come together. He didn't want to push the idea too much, or else he'd put off that Eureka moment. Look too hard at one of those pictures of the swirly lines and you'll never see Shakespeare's face hidden in the squiggles.
What he didn't like about riding a bike was the lack of padding, because when Mike was caught up in those Eureka moments he had a tendency to not notice things like SUVs barrelling towards him. Not until the last minute anyway.
The car screeched and Mike swerved, but it wasn't enough to avoid the collision entirely. Mike went flying, tumbling through the air in a way that would have made any Olympic gymnast jealous, though the Olympic gymnasts would probably have a more graceful landing than smacking hard into the concrete.
He got up, dazed, his revelation completely gone in the wake of the pain that flared in his chest and his left arm. A woman got out of the SUV, and as Mike blinked up at the car he could see three, four, five heads poking out various windows. Great, he'd just been hit by a car pool.
"Ohmygod are you okay?" Mike nodded, looking around for his bike and thank God finding it mostly undamaged. "Do you want me to call someone? Do you need an ambulance?"
"I'm fine," Mike gasped, thinking shit, I'm gonna be so late. "I gotta go. Hope you're all right." He took off unsteadily, wishing he'd had that Eureka moment already. All the facts of the case seemed to have disappeared only to be replaced by throbbing everywhere.
He managed to get to the office only ten minutes late. Most of those minutes were spent fumbling with the lock on his bike. His left arm was no longer cooperating with the signals sent to it by his brain and it took a deal of contortoinism to chain the bike to a pole.
He was fully expecting a dressing-down when he showed up late at Harvey's door with a very rumpled day-old suit and no answers as to how to proceed with their case. "Er...Harvey..."
"You're going to have to start keeping your own stock of suits, kid. Can't have you wearing one of mine every day." Mike blinked, surprised at Harvey's light mood. As the older man crossed his office and plucked a suit out of a hidden closet, Mike did his best to wipe the blood off of his scraped palms. If Harvey was going to play nice, Mike was going to do his best to put the morning behind him.
"Go wash up, come back to me when you don't look like you were just frozen in a block of carbonite." Mike took the suit, looking at the purple tie laying on top and frowning.
"What, don't like purple?"
"It's lavender," Mike said, ready to unstick his tongue and try to forget his sore body. "And my great-aunt used to whack me with a cane that was painted that exact shade of lavender."
"That nice grandma of yours ever tell you that beggers can's be choosers?" But Harvey was already undoing his navy tie, "I'm not doing this for you, kid," Harvey said in response to Mike's incredulous expression, "I'm meeting my brother for lunch today and am going to stick him with the lavender tie. He'll get a kick out of it."
"How is Josh?" Mike asked, giving a half-glance to the framed picture the artist had given Harvey the only time Mike and Joshua had met. It was Mike's favorite thing in Harvey's office - a simple sketch of Harvey and Mike together. "I saw he won the Reuben award for The Cuckoo's Nest. Pass on my congrats, will you?"
Harvey felt a swell of pride at the mention of the award. He remembered being woken up at four am by his cell phone. When he glanced at the caller ID, he was sure it was bad news. Why else would you call someone at four am? He was not expecting Josh's voice in his ear, yelling about a prize won by people like Charles Schultz and Jerry Scott. But he liked to pretend that he had no heart, so he just shook his head and propelled Mike out of the office, "Be back here in ten with a solution to the Bandicoot case." He never noticed Mike limping slightly, or the fact that he never moved his left arm, not once. He was already retreating back into his office, using the window's reflection to tie the lavender tie.
So how did a kind of good and kind of sucky day turn into both Harvey Specter's and Mike Ross's fifth-worst day of that year? With lunch, and two trips to the hospital.
Mike split for lunch at twelve forty-five, already hopping on his bike to head down to the nursing home because even though pretty nurses would promise to call him all the time, pretty nurses were often swayed by nice old ladies who didn't want to bother their grandson. At twelve fifty-four, Mike had fumbled with his lock enough to get it off the bike and was thinking that maybe he could get a pretty nurse to check out his arm. He suspected bad bruising, maybe some muscle damage, take two pills and call me in the morning.
At twelve fifty-seven, Harvey Specter walked into the Phoenix diner and took a seat in a booth that he and Josh had shared for ten years, since they'd moved from Boston to New York. Joshua wasn't there yet.
At twelve fifty-nine, Josh Specter was crossing the street a block up from the diner when an SUV with five children in it came down the road. The woman driving was named Peggy McClaran, and she was an au pair. She was also texting, despite the fact that she'd been texting that morning when she ran into a guy on a bike.
And who ever said that lightning couldn't strike the same place twice? At twelve fifty-nine, Mike Ross took a shortcut down the same street that the Phoenix Diner was on. He was just remembering the revelation that had come to him that morning, the one about salaries and sacks and...if he could just peddle a little harder, zone out, he'd get it. He'd remember.
At one o'clock, almost on the dot, Harvey Specter sighed and glanced at his watch. Josh was late again. Some things never change.
At one o'clock, almost on the dot, Mike Ross defied the odds and got hit by the same SUV twice in one day. This time it was entirely the car's fault - it had drifted into the narrow bike lane and clipped his back tire. The car was going forty-two miles an hour, and swerved as it hit him...swerved right into Joshua Specter, who was on the sidewalk rifling through his papers, trying to find the newest Cuckoo's Nest he'd drafted.
Josh looked up just in time to see an SUV aiming for his chest. Then he was thrown over the hood of the car, and the world went dark.
Harvey left the diner when he heard the sirens stop somewhere nearby because he was a paranoid person. When Josh was growing up and Harvey was his guardian, he would envision house fires and car accidents, kidnappings and terrorist attacks if his little brother was even ten minutes late for anything. So when there was a commotion near to where the two brothers had planned to meet, Harvey's pulse raced and he slid out of the booth as nonchalantly as possible. After all, it had always been him overreacting in the past. Why should now be any different?
The first thing he saw was the very young woman with five kids, not one of which was her own, giving a statement to the police. She was crying. Harvey hated it when people cried. It made him hot and uncomfortable. The next thing he noticed was an ambulance loading a man with a mop of hair just like his. "Oh my God," he whispered to himself even as he broke into a run. "Hey!" He called the the EMTs about to close the doors. "Hey, that's my brother!"
Harvey spun around and took in the other man on a different stretcher. "Mike?" He could hear his pulse in his ears. The world felt like it was spinning. Josh and Mike involved in the same accident? Every nightmare he'd ever had was coming true.
(except...except this was only the fifth worst day of the year, so obviously everyone lived. there was The Worst Day. when mike and josh were both hurt again, and harvey couldn't do anything to stop it. but there's a pattern to this story. something about empathy. something about a tin man admitting to a heart.)
"Harvey, what happened?" Mike sounded so lost, and Harvey couldn't get past the blood dripping down his face, but he looked intact. He was well enough to talk at least. That had to be a good thing.
"Sir, another ambulance is coming. We need to leave with your brother now. Are you staying here or coming with us?" Harvey looked down at Mike and felt like the EMT was asking him to chose between his two little brothers.
"I'll be at the hospital, Mike." Harvey knelt down and pulled off the lavender tie. He thrust it into Mike's hand and curled the younger man's fingers around it.
"Thought you were giving this to your brother." Mike said quietly. It was getting harder to breathe, harder to keep his eyes open.
"I am," Harvey patted Mike's hand, "Don't die on me, kid."
"'Kay Harv." Mike said, using the name only Joshua used as he passed out on the streets of New York. Harvey forced himself to turn away from him to climb into the ambulance next to his little brother.
"So...is there a particular reason why Mike is clutching that hideous lavender thing to his chest like a teddy bear?" Donna was trying very hard not to burst into tears - not at the sight of the two young men she'd grown to love lying in hospital beds, looking quite the worse for wear. No, it was Harvey's expression as he stood in the doorway, hands stuffed in his pockets - he looked vulnerable, afraid, concerned. And for the life of her, Donna could not think of a moment in the past eight years when her boss had worn an expression like that.
Harvey liked that Donna was pretending things were normal, "I may or may not have given it to him at the scene."
"Well, now he won't let go. Is he going to use this as proof that you care about him?"
"Probably. He uses everything else." Harvey tried to sound like this pissed him off, so why did it come out so fond, so aw-shucks-that's-kind-of-cute?
"Are we just hovering in the doorway?"
"That was the plan."
"The docs say they're going to be fine. Bumps and bruises and -"
"And gashes and Mike's broken collar bone and Josh..." he couldn't even talk about his little brother, "Josh broke his wrist. His right wrist."
"What if it doesn't?" And Harvey wasn't just talking about livelihoods and money and awards like the Reuben his brother had just won. He was talking about the real, God-given talent that had gotten the Specter brothers through more than a few rough patches.
"Well, you're already suing everyone involved. Would bodily injury make you feel better?"
"Sometimes I wish I was less Harvey Dent and more Batman," Harvey muttered. He'd become a lawyer so he would be powerful in the face of any 21st-century villain. And now he felt like he could never exact enough revenge.
"Hey," Donna touched his arm, smiled just a bit at him, "It's going to be okay. They're fine. Everyone's present and accounted for."
"I know," Harvey knew this was the important part. Everything could have ended up so much worse. "It's just been a really bad day."
"I'm pretty sure you've used up all your bad karma for a while," Donna said "There's not much worse it can get than having your assistant and your little brother run over by the same car. They weren't even supposed to be in the same place."
"When you say it like that, it sounds like the beginning of a really bad romantic comedy." Across the room, Mike laughed raggedly, waking out of drug-induced sleep to Harvey's annoyed tone. And Josh was moving, looking at his drawing hand with his brow furrowed, trying to find a way out of this one. Harvey pulled up a chair exactly in between the two of them, believing Donna when she said that things couldn't get any worse than this.
(they were wrong.)
this version of harvey's brother was introduced in our other suits fic "5 times harvey learned something about mike." this fic's going to be similar - it's five days. five of the worst days imaginable that happen between our two lead guys. because something has to explain this automatic trust that exists between them, and trauma goes a long way to forging friendships.