A/N: This fic was written for the alphabet_soup challenge but was inspired by a prompt over at suits_gen meme, where kriadydragon wanted a dangerous client who makes Harvey and Mike's lives miserable. It took me a little while, but here's the first chapter of the fic. The rest will follow shortly. As always, thanks to my beta Tania.
Trial went surprisingly well, especially considering Harvey's dislike for them. It couldn't be helped though, the opposition didn't want to settle and the client wanted blood. Thanks to Mike's eye for detail and several all nighters, Harvey presented the judge with irrefutable evidence, winning the case. Pity the kid was unable to see him in action. Harvey felt that he'd given a great performance. Patting shoulders with the happy client, Harvey was already looking forward to the celebratory night, a night that didn't involve work or work partners, just him, a bottle of good wine and a nice, warm body in his bed. Or anywhere in the apartment, Harvey thought with a smirk. He was just heading out of the courtroom when he spotted a familiar skinny tie rushing his way. Letting out a sigh, Harvey changed his direction lightly, raising a questioning eyebrow.
"Do I need to find a new associate now? Or will bribing Donna to come up with your alibi be enough?"
"What?" Mike frowned in confusion, falling in step right next to Harvey. Seeing the raised eyebrow, he huffed and shook his head.
"No, actually Donna already came up with something. She wanted me to bring you these files and let you know that Dan Miller rescheduled his appointment. You have a reservation for Ronaldo's in one hour." Mike handed him the files, smirking at the look that passed Harvey's face. It looked similar to a person who was suffering from indigestion, and Mike knew it wasn't from the thought of eating at Ronaldo's, but from the thought of having a prolonged conversation with Dan Miller. He was one of Harvey's least liked clients.
"I heard you won the trial," Mike said and Harvey got his satisfied look back. "It sucks I couldn't be there. I bet it was impressive, especially when you presented the false bank accounts I found last night," Mike added, with a self satisfied smirk. This time Harvey did roll his eyes and was of a half mind to give the kid a frown, but he had to admit that Mike had helped.
"Well, I'll admit that thanks to you we got the case closed with a little less all nighters, but that's all the credit I'll give you kid. We both know how you fare at trials."
Mike grimaced momentarily, but then he smiled.
"You're welcome," he said, and ignored Harvey's protests that he did not offer any thanks. They bickered all the way to the car, pausing only to give Ray directions to Ronaldo's. None of them noticed the man stepping out of the building, watching them with hateful eyes, until they got in the car. The man clenched his fists and watched as the car pulled away from the curb. Several passersby threw him a curious look and instinctively quickened their steps. The man ignored them, shaking off his sudden stupor. He had a goal and it was time to act on it.
Mike was in the middle of proofing when his phone started ringing. It was one of the many files Louis had thrown at his desk earlier in the morning, so Mike grabbed the phone eagerly, welcoming any distraction.
"Mr. Ross? This is Evan, from Reception."
Mike frowned, trying to think of a reason why the receptionist would be calling him.
"A gentleman came in and reported that someone damaged one of the bikes parked outside. I went to have a look, and it seems like you have a broken tail light. Thought you might want to check it out for further damage."
"Oh." Mike's frown deepened, one hand rubbing at his temple. A broken bike. Just his luck. "Did you... did anyone see who did that?" Mike asked after a moment, already knowing the answer.
"Sorry sir. The gentleman said he saw some youngsters around but couldn't give a description, and our surveillance system doesn't cover that space. Do you want me to call the police?"
"No, that's okay. I doubt they could do anything about it now. Thanks for letting me know, I'll be down in a minute," Mike said with a sigh and hung up. The day had just started, but he was already wishing for it to be over.
A few minutes later, Mike waved at Evan as he passed by to check on his bike, and true to his word, he found the tail light broken. Squatting down, Mike checked the frame and tires, but couldn't find any more damage. For a moment he thought about taking the bike upstairs with him, but he could imagine Harvey's scowl, and the last thing he wanted to add to his day were comments about the office not being a parking lot. The lock wasn't tampered with and he figured if the 'youngsters' wanted to do more damage, they would've done it the first time around. The ringing phone and Harvey's voice on the other end demanding his presence put all thought about the bike out of his head. The rest of the day was spent in hectic preparation for a new case and it was late in the evening when Mike finally found himself on the way home. Tired and grumpy, Mike hopped onto his bike and hoped that the cops wouldn't notice his light was broken, and the street lights would be enough for any passing cars to see him.
Luck seemed to be with him after all, because he made it home without any accidents or tickets. He was just pulling out his keys and unlocking the front door when he felt a chill run down his back. The feeling of being watched. Turning quickly, Mike looked around. While the neighborhood wasn't the most dangerous in the city, it wasn't exactly very safe either. Frozen, Mike looked at the shadows but couldn't see anyone. It was already dark and there could have been someone hiding in the bushes or behind the dumpsters, but all he saw were two older woman walking steadily, chatting away. Nothing suspicious.
Must be nerves, Mike thought, and turned back to the door, throwing the bike over his shoulder. He was almost inside when he heard the engine of the car, passing by. Something about the sound didn't fit. The car was going too slow. Turning to look, Mike saw a grey Ford Focus slowing to a crawl, as if the driver was trying to decide where to go. He must've figured out his destination, because the engine roared suddenly and the Ford disappeared behind a corner. Mike shook off the strange feeling, though he made sure the door was locked before he started the way up to his apartment. A person could never be too careful after all.
The next morning Mike headed out a little earlier and stopped by a shop to buy a new tail light, promising himself to either fix it during his lunch break or else head home before nightfall. When he arrived at work he was met by Harvey, ready to go out and talk to a witness in their latest case. Mike thought he would be lucky to have a lunch break at all, and pushed his bike into the back of his mind. There were more pressing issues to deal with. Like finding out why Harvey was so keen to go and do some leg work when usually he just made Mike to it.
The question was still unanswered even after the half hour ride to their client's house later that day, and Mike was kinda out of ideas on how to get an answer from Harvey, who seemed to be enjoying his puppy's plight. Muttering under his nose about cruel bastards, Mike stepped out of the car and followed Harvey to the house. Well, he wanted to follow him, but a passing car caught his attention. It was a grey Ford and it seemed to be cruising the neighborhood, looking for a parking space. The moment Mike looked up and towards the driver though, the car sped up and vanished down the street.
Something churned in Mike's gut and he frowned.
"I don't pay you for sleeping on the job," Harvey's voice broke through his thoughts and Mike startled.
Harvey's eyebrow went up as he gave Mike a quizzical look. "Eloquent. If I'd known you were gonna stand there all day, I would've left you at the office. Plenty of files waiting for you there."
"Sorry," Mike shook his head and fell in step next to Harvey. "Just... had this crazy feeling."
"Did you turn and see the city turning to ashes like Lot's wife?"
Mike shook his head, still too lost in thought to appreciate Harvey's humor. "Nah. Ever had the feeling you're being followed? I could swear I saw the same car before by my apartment last night."
Harvey's eyebrows shot up and he grabbed Mike's arm dramatically. "Kid, you better be straight with me now. Does paranoia or schizophrenia run in your family? Just so I know if Donna should remove any pointy objects from your desk, or be on the lookout for tin hats."
Mike snorted, throwing a disapproving glare towards Harvey. "Funny. Yeah, you chose the wrong profession, Mr. Specter. Maybe you should've pursued an acting career instead, or stand-up comedy."
"Wait, you telling me this isn't some procedural show we're acting in?" Harvey's eyes went wide and Mike couldn't stop the grin at the mock horror. "Shoot, kid, in that case, we better start focusing on our client, least we lose the case, don't you agree?"
Harvey waited until Mike gave him an amused nod, only then did he ring the doorbell.
It was finally Friday and Mike was done with the pile of files on his desk. They were still waiting for some documents on their latest case, but everything was moving along smoothly, and Mike had high hopes that his weekend would be work free. So it was in high spirits that he finally left Pearson-Hardman and hopped up on his bike, looking forward for a quiet movie night with a cold beer and sleeping in. Tomorrow could be spent visiting his Grandma, and maybe a call to Jenny wouldn't be amiss either. Head filled with weekend plans, Mike pedaled on, eager to get home. The bike gave a slight jerk as Mike came off the sidewalk but he ignored it, too lost in thoughts. What he couldn't ignore was the sudden loss of balance as he leaned over the handles. His eyes caught sight of his front tire rolling away, even as his whole body was flying over the handles that where no longer supported by the tire. Mike barely blinked, mouth open in surprise and his body instinctively curled up as he was met by the hard asphalt. His helmet hit the unyielding ground moments after his right wrist took the brunt of the impact. Still in motion, Mike grunted and rolled until his back hit a sidewalk.
Tires screeched and horns blared as several cars passed by dangerously close, but Mike didn't hear them. All he heard was the rush of blood and his panicked heartbeat. His vision dimmed but he didn't black out, couldn't. Not when he saw a pair of headlights heading right towards him. Yelping, Mike threw himself aside, into safety. He heard a crack as the car's tires ran over the frame of his bike and he fought the nausea as he imagined how it could have easily it been him.
"My God, are you okay?" Someone was leaning over him, an older guy. Mike blinked up at him, pulling his eyes off the wreck of his bike and focusing on the man instead.
"Are you okay? Should I call an ambulance?"
"N-no, don't. I'm fine," Mike said shakily and tried to sit up. It wasn't the first time he'd fallen off his bike, but never had he taken such a dive. Still, the mention of an ambulance pushed shock into the background.
"Are you sure? It was quite a fall." The man looked studiously over Mike's body. Groaning, Mike gave a small smile and managed to push himself up into a sitting position, though he couldn't stifle the yelp of pain when he tried to put pressure on his right hand. Frowning, he looked at his hand, which was already bleeding from the abrasions. The wrist felt swollen and painful but he didn't think it was broken. Maybe sprained. Letting out a sigh, Mike thought about taking an inventory of his injuries. He had a headache, but the helmet had taken most of the brunt and he hadn't passed out, so possibly no head injury. Hopefully. His ribs and chest felt fine, for which Mike sent up a silent prayer of thanks. His knees felt raw and stung, and there was a tear in his pants, but otherwise he felt okay.
"I'm good," he said with a sigh and managed a much more convincing smile. The man seemed dubious but let it slide, instead nodding towards the remnants of the bike scattered across the road.
"Definitely better than the bike. But you were lucky. I saw that car heading right towards you. Man, that wouldn't have been pretty!"
"Yeah," Mike agreed with a choked up voice. "Damn lucky." Shaking his head, he pressed his injured hand to his chest and stood up, swaying a little before the man put a steadying hand on his arm. He gave him a silent thanks and once the world had stopped spinning, his eyes went wide and he started looking around frantically. "My bag. Did you see a messenger bag? God, I had files in there!" The thought of his bag being run over by cars, the files lying there, on the street, haphazardly, was worse than the thought of his bike being ruined.
"Hey, relax. It's over there." The man pointed to the side of the road only few yards behind and Mike let out a relieved sigh.
"Thank you," he said and picked up the bag, smiling as he saw the lock still holding it closed. Small miracles.
"So, do you want to call a cab or a friend or something?" the man asked, pulling out a cell.
Mike reflexively reached into his pocket and checked his cell, happy when he found it working, although a little scraped. "Nah, I can handle it. Thank you, for you know... caring," he added and found he really meant it. After all, several people had seen him fall, almost be run over by a car, but this guy was the only one who stopped by and offered help.
"Yeah, well, someone has to step up once in a while," the man said, and there was a sudden hardness in his voice that made Mike look up. The man looked haggard, his clothes a little rumpled as if he'd spent one or two nights in them, but he was shaved and clean. His eyes were a little puffy, as if he hadn't gotten much sleep, and there was a sense of the whole world hanging on his shoulders, and Mike had the sudden feeling that maybe the guy was in need of help more than himself.
"In any case, I appreciate it." He reached out with his uninjured hand, offering a shake and the man took it.
"Well, my name is Eddie Banks, if you ever feel like sending me a fruit basket or something," Eddie said with a smile and Mike grinned.
"Mike Ross. I'm not sure about fruit baskets, but if you need legal advice, I might be able to help with that."
"Ah, a lawyer," Eddie grimaced and Mike got the feeling he didn't like lawyers that much.
"And now you're wondering if you should have just pushed me under that car, aren't you?" he joked, and Eddie laughed and shook his head.
"Nah, would be more trouble than it's worth. I guess having a lawyer on my side is better than having one working against me." Just then Eddie's phone started ringing and he grimaced.
"Well, looks like I gotta go. You sure you're okay?"
"Yeah, go. I will just call a cab. Thanks again for your help."
"You're welcome. Take care," Eddie said and sprinted off. Sighing, Mike took off his helmet and ran a hand through his hair, wincing as he discovered a small bump. Cursing, he stood there for a moment, trying to decide what to do. In the end he pulled the wrecked frame of his bike off the street and leaned it against the nearest dumpster. He really couldn't bother himself with the darned thing anymore. After several tries, he managed to flag down a cab and finally headed home. Only when he was in his apartment, sitting in the kitchen and wrapping his swelling wrist, did his thoughts turn toward the accident itself and what had caused it. He replayed the scene over and over in his head and each time, he felt the front tire give when he rode down the pavement, onto the road, rolling out of the frame. Adding this to the earlier damage on his tail light, Mike couldn't help reaching the conclusion that someone had a personal vendetta against his bike.
Try as he might, Mike couldn't come up with a single person holding a grudge against him lately, or any reason why his bike would be the target. But each time he thought about the accident, he saw the car lights heading towards him and heard the blaring horns and he had to fight down the rising nausea. It had been close, too close for his liking.
It was close to midnight when Mike felt the adrenaline rush fade away and his eyes started shutting on their own accord. It was time for bed. Limping slightly, his knees giving a painful twitch each time the scraped skin tensed, Mike made his way slowly towards the bed, deciding that he would leave the thinking for tomorrow, along with the decision on whether he should buy another bike or just ride the subway for few weeks.
He fell into bed, feeling like he could sleep through the whole weekend.
The shrill sound of the doorbell broke through the haze of sleep and Mike groaned, rubbing his eyes. It felt like he'd only slept for five minutes, and a look at the clock told him it was still the middle of the night. Two in the morning, to be exact. Mike blinked, thinking that maybe it was all just a dream, but the ringing resumed and Mike frowned in disbelief. Who the hell could that be?
After twenty more seconds of the awful sound, Mike crawled out of the bed, feeling all the bruises flare to life.
"Damn it, shut up!" he uttered to the empty room. He made it all the way to the door when the ringing finally stopped. Still, he looked out of the peep hole, somehow relieved to find the hallway empty. It must've been some drunken neighbor trying to get home and mixing up the bells, Mike figured grumpily, and walked back towards the bed, only stopping to grab a Tylenol, hoping it would help with the throbbing wrist and the headache. Falling asleep the second time wasn't as easy, but once the pill kicked in, Mike managed to find a position that was relatively comfortable and closed his eyes, only to open them as the buzzer started ringing again.
"You gotta be kidding," he uttered in disbelief as the clock showed four a.m. Now recognizing the sound as the buzzer from the main door downstairs, Mike headed right towards the window and peeked out, trying to spot the offending prankster. But the angle was wrong and while he could see most of the street and the parking lot, there was no way to look at the front door. Cursing, Mike had a fleeting thought about going down and tell whatever idiot it was to just fucking stop the noise, but even Mike realized it was just wishful thinking. No sane person would go down to confront some stranger, not without a gun or at least half dozen of other guys providing back up. Not in this neighborhood, not without being suicidal. Mike could call the cops, but even though he was now working for Harvey and being surrounded by law enforcement occurred on daily basis, it didn't mean he trusted them, or wanted to deal with them in his during his personal life. The only other solution, the easiest one, was to simply disable the buzzer. After a session of cursing, as it took some time to disable the buzzer with only one working hand and sleep induced fuzziness, Mike managed to get back to sleep around five. When he woke up it was to sunlight shining in his eyes and the sounds of his neighbors moving around the apartment above his, possibly moving furniture, if the sounds were anything to go by. It was almost noon though and a grumbling stomach pushed Mike out of bed. It took a hot shower, some coffee and a late breakfast for Mike to start feeling human again, and although he felt like one of the cars had run over him instead of his bike, he headed out to his grams.
Having spent most of the day at his grandmother's home had a relaxing effect on Mike. There was also the added bonus of one of the nurses taking a look at his wrist and re-wrapping it in a more fashionable way. He stayed until dinner and then went home, feeling tired but in a much better mood. Settling down in the kitchen, Mike pulled out some of the files from work that needed a little proof reading and turned on his iPod. When he felt sleep tugging at him it was barely ten, but taking in last night's interruptions, Mike closed the files and went to bed. He was in the middle of a dream when a ringing broke through the haze. Blinking in confusion, Mike's look went toward the hall. He remembered disabling the downstairs buzzer and the sound was different from his front door buzzer. Frowning, Mike looked at the time. Two a.m. And the ringing was coming from his landline phone.
Mike felt a shiver creeping up his spine. The phone was still ringing and there was a sudden thump on the wall and an angry neighbor's voice rumbling. Mike hesitantly reached for the phone, putting the receiver to his ear.
"Hello?" he asked, aware of how many horror movies started out just that way. He was hoping this was a mistake, a prank call from one of the associates. But there was no reply, only the sound of breathing. Mike didn't ask who it was or what they wanted. He slammed the receiver down so hard it almost cracked and stared at the phone, not even noticing how shaky his hand was. "What the hell is going on?" he muttered and then almost jumped out of his skin when the phone started ringing again.
"Fuck!" he cursed and reached for the plug in the wall before his neighbors decided to do more than just thump on the wall to stop the noise.
"Damn," Mike sighed and ran a hand through his hair. Either someone from Pearson Hardman decided to play some pranks on him, or someone had a personal vendetta against Mike. Either way, Mike felt the tight coil around his stomach as he realized this meant trouble. But this was not the time to panic. So far, it were just phone calls and maybe a sabotaged bike, Mike's mind supplied, but he decided to ignore the thought for the moment. He needed sleep but first he needed to get something to drink. Walking to the kitchen, Mike gulped down a whole bottle of cold water. Passing the front door he paused momentarily, looking through the peep hole feeling like a five year old watching a horror movie. The hallway was dark though, not even the emergency light was on and Mike quickly put the cover back on the peep hole, making sure the door was locked.
"Don't be an idiot," Mike muttered and hesitantly turned his back on the door, heading towards his bed. He had a sudden urge to call someone, either Harvey or Donna, as if either of them could scare away the boogeyman.
"There are no monsters, Mikey," he remembered his Grandmothers words even as he slipped under the covers. "Only crazy people," he added with a grimace and went to sleep, without any further interruptions.
It was Sunday night and Mike was almost dreading going to sleep. His plan was to stay up till two a.m., just to make sure that his wannabe stalker didn't decide to pay him a little visit, now that he'd disabled the buzzer and the phone. Some Red Bull and a movie marathon helped him stay conscious up till midnight, but he must've dozed off between the commercials, because suddenly he heard the familiar tone of his cell phone. Two a.m. Right on time, he noted with frustration, even as he grabbed his phone and looked at the caller ID. Unknown Number, displayed the screen, and Mike fought the urge to throw the phone against the wall. He waited until the call ended, then tried to redial the number. The phone rang, and Mike was about ready to hang up, when it was picked up. Startled, Mike waited. There was the sound of breathing on the other side, but nothing else. He thought it might've been a male, but that was all the clues he got, and it frustrated him as well as scared him. Unable to hold back any longer, Mike shouted into the phone.
"What the hell do you want? Who are you?"
Silence. The breathing was still calm and steady and it played with Mike's nerves more than any words could.
"Go to hell and stop calling me!" he shouted and ended the call. He was breathing heavily even as his phone started ringing again.
"Damn it!" The same number. Mike had enough. Cursing, he turned off the phone, throwing it at the couch. He needed to think, to breathe. Walking across the room, Mike opened the window and poked his head outside, taking in a huge gulp of air. The street below was clear, no people milling around, and he wouldn't have even noticed the car if it hadn't suddenly started up its engine and headed out of the lot. Mike blinked. He couldn't see the plates, but he was pretty sure it was the same grey Ford he'd seen before. He watched as the car drove out onto the street and vanished around a corner. Funnily, it made him feel a little relieved. Whoever was stalking him, decided to leave for now. Closing the window, he flopped down on his couch and turned the TV off. Despite his best intentions, this night sleep didn't come easily and when it did, it was filled with nightmares.