Hi fellow suitors! I'm excited and nervous to begin my first multi-chaptered fic. I'm hoping to post a chapter every week or so, but I'm currently working two jobs to pay for my higher education, so real life may interfere from time to time. Hopefully everyone is relatively in character. Also I've tweaked Mike and Harvey's ages a bit- Mike is 14 and Harvey is 30 in this story. I don't know how old they are in the show, but I figure this is only off by a few years hopefully. I also don't know anything about the law, so pretend everything I say makes sense for the sake of the story. I hope you enjoy this!
Disclaimer: I don't own Suits or any of the songs that I pull lyrics from
TO BUILD A HOME
CHAPTER 1: NOT YOUR YEAR
Every day it starts again
You cannot say if you're happy
You keep trying to be; try harder
Maybe, maybe this is not your year
This is not your year
-"Not Your Year" by The Weepies
Fourteen, Mike Ross decided, is not my year. Granted, he had only been fourteen for a few hours, but things were not exactly looking up. Instead of enjoying birthday dinner and cake with Grammy and Trevor and Jenny like he had originally planned, he was pacing around in a hospital waiting room, anxiously awaiting an update from the doctor on Grammy's wellbeing.
It was all the stupid factory's fault. Grammy really was too old to be working there— she was almost seventy years old, after all, and most of her friends had retired 5 or 10 years ago. So maybe this was really all Mike's fault, because he knew that he was the reason why Grammy was still working at said stupid factory in the first place. Providing food and clothes for a growing teenager wasn't exactly cheap, and Mike and Grammy couldn't survive on just Grammy's pension money. So Grammy had gone back to work a few years ago at the McKinnon Pharmaceutical Lab.
McKinnon Pharmaceutical was a huge corporation. They produced medical supplies and drugs and Grammy worked in the factory assembling blood pressure cuffs and stethoscopes. It was mind-numbing, menial labor but nobody else wanted to hire a seventy-year-old woman, so Grammy did it, and she did it without complaint. She was very good at letting on that it was fine and that she didn't mind working, but Mike knew that it exhausted her and couldn't help but blame himself for the way her back ached and her tired eyes strained to see at the end of the day. He felt guilty that she had begun developing arthritis in her hands from the repetitive motions the job required— her poor hands, which had worked so hard to stitch his baby blanket fourteen years ago, could barely grasp a needle properly now. And he felt terrible that instead of finding a new hobby or travelling or meeting up with her gardening club for lunch like her retired friends, she was forced to work so hard to put food on the table for him. Mike was counting down the days until he turned fifteen and could get a work permit and start contributing to their meager income. The factory didn't pay well at all, and, in Mike's opinion, they were complete assholes that were only interested in making money.
Mike shivered as he remembered the phone call he had received earlier that evening. He had gotten home from school at 3 and been waiting for Grammy to come home at 5. She was planning on making his favorite dinner for his birthday and Trevor and Jenny were going to come over for cake and ice cream to celebrate. At first he hadn't been too worried when she didn't show up at home right at 5 like she usually did. Maybe she had missed the bus she usually took or had gotten held up at work by something. But when 5:30 and then 6:00 rolled around, Mike began to grow nervous. He had been anxiously pacing around the living room while Trevor and Jenny sat on the couch and tried to convince him to calm down and stop overreacting when the phone rang and Mike's worst fears were confirmed. It was the hospital close to the factory and they were calling to tell him that Grammy had fallen at work that afternoon and they were doing x-rays on her to determine the extent of her injuries.
He had breathlessly explained the situation to Trevor and Jenny and had then sprinted the 16 blocks to the hospital where he had sat in the crowded waiting room for hours, watching as the crowd slowly dwindled and then eventually disappeared altogether as the evening dissolved into night. At about 8 a young resident had come to tell Mike that the x-rays had showed that Grammy had a badly broken hip and femur and that they were prepping her for surgery. Mike had been waiting since then, his anxious feet tapping a now-familiar rhythm on the hospital floor as he paced.
Mike raked his fingers through his untidy blond hair before collapsing into an uncomfortable waiting room chair to stare numbly at the wall, his feet aching from standing for so long. The main emotion he was feeling now was worry for Grammy, but anger also simmered very close under the surface. This accident could have been avoided completely if the factory was set up under better working conditions. He had visited Grammy at work once or twice and had seen the workshop section of the giant building that she worked in. The lights were harsh and florescent, and the room was so crowded that it was hard to maneuver around the machines. It was no wonder Grammy had fallen and broken her hip and femur in quarters that close and cramped. The machines could be dangerous, too, whether you were twenty years old or eighty. It had nothing on the awful sweatshops of the Industrial Revolution, of course, but it was still risky. It was lucky that Grammy hadn't fallen into or onto one of the machines and been killed.
He blanched at the thought of Grammy dying, and although he wasn't a religious person, he sent up a quick prayer to whatever deity that might be watching over him that Grammy would be okay. He had no clue what he would do without her— her warm laugh, her constant encouragement, and her unconditional love had all gotten him through the pain and confusion of losing his parents three years ago. She had given up so much to take care of him and had never once complained. Mike angrily swiped at his eyes with the back of his hand, cursing the lump that had suddenly risen in his throat. She had to be all right. She just had to, because he still needed her. He was barely fourteen, for Christ's sake. He needed someone to take care of him. And there was no way that he was going back into foster care. Not after what had happened last time.
He shuddered as the memories crashed over him in stormy waves before he could do anything to stop them. His eidetic memory, although mostly a blessing, was also a curse in many ways. While it was invaluable that all the good things in his past were immortalized in his mind with crystal clarity (his mother's clear, sweet voice singing him a lullaby or the smell of his father's aftershave and coffee on a rainy Sunday morning), there were many things that he desperately wanted to forget but simply couldn't. Like the memory of the car crash that took his parents' lives when he was 11. Or anything to do with his subsequent time spent in foster care while Child Services tried to track down his grandmother.
Mike was grateful to be distracted from his dark musings by the sudden entrance of a man who strode purposefully into the almost-vacant waiting room, looking like some kind of war general off to conference with his commander-in-chief. The newcomer wasted no time looking around; he just marched up to the front desk to talk to the nurse sitting there and Mike watched him for lack of anything better to do (besides continue to worry fiercely about Grammy). He had already read and memorized all of the magazines that the waiting room possessed in a fit of nervous energy a few hours ago.
The man was tall, trim, and athletic looking, with dark hair that had been gelled back perfectly. He seemed pretty young, probably around 30. He wore a crisply tailored three-piece suit that had probably cost the equivalent of a year's worth of groceries for Mike and Grammy. Mike immediately got the impression of intelligence and sharp-wittedness just from looking at the guy, who was currently flashing a disarming smile at the nurse. The gesture was obviously practiced— his body language practically oozed self-confidence and Mike was sure that he spent a lot of his time charming other people. Mike wondered what his occupation was and why he was in this waiting room, at this particular hospital in one of the poorer parts of New York City at 1 in the morning. Was he a doctor here? A surgeon? The latter seemed likely— Mike had heard the stereotype that surgeons tended to be extremely self-assured and somewhat arrogant.
The man's discussion with the nurse didn't seem to go as he had planned. He turned away, smiling graciously at the pretty young nurse, but Mike could see the tension in his jaw. He walked a few paces away from the desk and closer to Mike before taking out his cell phone. While the conversation at the desk had been too muffled for Mike to hear, he couldn't help but be privy to this phone call.
"Jessica, this is Harvey," the man, (who was apparently named Harvey—Mike thought that this suited him very nicely) said in an oddly soothing, rich voice. "I'm just calling to update you like you asked earlier. Look, I don't know if you knew this went you sent me here, but Mrs. Ross is in surgery right now" Harvey said, slight irritation creeping into his tone. "I feel like a vulture lurking around and waiting to pounce on her the second she comes out of the Operating Room. And the nurse won't give me any info on her because I'm not family. But don't worry; I'll sort it all out. I'll have all the paperwork on your desk by tomorrow morning, like you asked." This Harvey person must have been leaving a message, because he hung up after this, gracefully sat down across from Mike, and grabbed a finance journal from the magazine rack. He glanced at Mike briefly but didn't seem too interested in the 14-year-old's presence.
Mike, on the other hand, was now insatiably curious about the man. He stared at Harvey, his exhausted brain trying to process what he had just overheard. So this guy wanted to see Grammy? But why? He clearly didn't know her because he had referred to her as Mrs. Ross— nobody who knew her called her that; it was always Edith or Grammy. Also neither Mike nor Grammy knew anyone as rich and dignified as Harvey appeared to be.
He wondered if he should confront this Harvey character and ask him who he was and why he wanted to see Grammy. He was saved from resolving this quandary, however, when a portly middle-aged man in scrubs and a white coat entered the waiting room.
Mike leapt to his feet before the doctor even finished saying the words "family of Edith Ross?"
"Yes, that's me," Mike said, rubbing his sweaty palms together in nervous anticipation, noticing that Harvey's expression had shifted from his previous indifference. He was now eyeing Mike both curiously and calculatingly. "My name is Mike; I'm her grandson," Mike explained, focusing on the surgeon. "Is she going to be okay? How was the surgery? Can I see her?"
The doctor held up his hand to cut off Mike's rapid-fire questions. "Nice to meet you, Mike. My name is Doctor Brown. Your grandmother will be fine. Come with me and we'll talk," the doctor said, motioning for Mike to follow him behind the swinging white doors that led out of the waiting room and into the hospital itself.
"Wait!" a now-familiar voice called. Both Mike and Dr. Brown turned around to see that Harvey had stood up and was now striding over to them.
"My name is Harvey Specter," Harvey said, shaking hands with a slightly puzzled-looking Dr. Brown. "Edith Ross is my mother," he explained calmly and without any hesitation. Then he placed his arm on Mike's shoulder, as though he and Mike had known each other forever. "And this is my son, Michael."
Mike knew that his mouth had fallen open at this sudden proclamation and he was sure that his facial expression was almost cartoonish with confusion and bewilderment. Harvey's hand squeezed his shoulder in warning, jolting Mike out of his shock. Mike impulsively decided to play along with this little scheme for now until he could get the man alone and figure out what he wanted from Mike and Grammy. So he forced his jaw to close and tried to school his features into a casual, neutral expression, telling himself that this was the best way to get answers.
"Oops, Dad. I can't believe I almost left you in the waiting room alone," Mike said, giving a strained laugh. He hadn't said the word "dad" out loud in 3 years, and it made his something deep inside of his chest ache to say it now to this complete stranger. "I was just anxious to hear how Grammy is doing." Harvey looked slightly surprised and pleased that Mike was actually playing along.
"Well, just wait up next time. I'm worried about Grammy too" Harvey said, smiling easily. Mike dutifully nodded at this remark, fighting the urge to break into a fit of hysterical giggles at how freaking weird this situation was and how forced their dialogue was. Damn his exhausted brain.
Either Dr. Brown didn't notice or didn't really care that there was something blatantly off about the supposed father-son dynamic between Harvey and Mike, because he just continued leading them through the hospital hallways, beginning to talk. He probably just wanted to get this over with and go home.
"Mrs. Ross's surgery to repair her broken hip and femur was successful. We did a CT scan and found that she has a mild concussion so we'll be keeping her for a few days for observation. Unfortunately she has a very long recovery ahead of her. While she's strong for her age, it will probably take at least 3 months of constant care and physical therapy for her to be functioning independently again. I know that this is probably a lot for you to take in, but I have a list of highly recommended care facilities for you, Mr. Specter. There are some very good nursing homes in this area…" Dr. Brown kept talking, but Mike zoned out at this point, countless questions churning in his mind. How the hell were they going to pay for Grammy's rehab? And where was he going to live for the next three months?
"…alright, you can both go in and see her for about 10 minutes. She's on a lot of pain medication right now and just needs to rest for the next few the days. Let the nurses know if have any questions or concerns, and they can page me. I'll talk to you both later," Dr. Brown was saying as he stopped in front of room 402, where Grammy must have been assigned.
"Thank you," said Harvey, shaking hands with Dr. Brown, who nodded and left, probably to go catch up on some sleep after the intense 4-hour surgery he had just done on Grammy.
Harvey made a move as though he was about to enter Grammy's room and Mike reached out and grabbed his sleeve to stop him. He glanced down the hallway to ascertain that Dr. Brown was gone and that no errant nurses were within view.
"Alright, what the hell is going on? Who are you, why are you pretending to be my father, and what do you want with my Grammy?" Mike said harshly, stepping in front of the door protectively to block Harvey's entrance. He wasn't letting this guy anywhere near his grandmother until he knew his intentions.
Harvey backed off a bit. "Easy, kid, easy," he said in a placating tone, holding up his hands as a sign of non-aggression.
"If you don't tell me what's going on right now, I'll scream for the nurses and explain that you're not really Edith Ross's son," Mike said, refusing to be mollified. He crossed his arms defiantly and scowled as fiercely as he could.
"Alright, alright, you win. You can cut the Mr. Tough Guy act now, because you look about as frightening as an abandoned puppy. I'll explain it to you and then you'll probably want to let me see your grandmother," Harvey conceded. He was anxious to talk to Mrs. Ross and just wanted to get this over with. "Don't interrupt me; this is somewhat complicated. My name is Harvey Specter, and—"
"I do not look like an abandoned puppy," Mike objected petulantly. Harvey scowled at him now, and Mike had to admit that Harvey's frown was probably a lot more intimidating than his own was.
"What did I just tell you about interrupting me?" Harvey said. "Anyways, as I was saying, my name is Harvey Specter and I'm an attorney at the Pearson Hardman law firm." Harvey paused here for dramatic effect and Mike got the idea that he was supposed to have heard of Pearson Hardman before and be suitably impressed by its reputation. He hadn't, so he just stared at Harvey blankly until Harvey mumbled something about ignorant ruffians who probably didn't even know how to read. "It's only New York City's best law firm," he explained in exasperation. "Do you know anything at all about the law?"
"I've read a few books on it here and there," Mike deflected vaguely. The truth was that he had read every single law book the local library had, but Harvey didn't need to know that. If he thought Mike was some dumb kid, he would probably tell him more.
"Yes, I'm sure you have," Harvey said, a slight edge of derision to his voice. "Anyways, the reason I'm here at almost 2 in the morning to talk to your grandmother is because my firm is putting together a case against McKinnon Pharmaceutical. They're a pretty big fish, and we're hoping to snag your grandmother as a leading witness, what with her recent accident. Apparently they didn't pass any of their safety inspections for the past 2 years but they don't want to have to tear down their factory and completely rebuild because it would be expensive and damage their reputation. They have a habit of trying to make workers look responsible for accidents when they are partially or completely the factory's fault in the first place. That way they don't have to pay insurance or workman's comp for the accidents. We think they will try to do the same thing to your grandmother; make her look like her fall was completely her fault and then she'll have to pay. The reason why I rushed over here so quickly is so that I could talk to her before McKinnon got here and tried to buy her off or stop her from testifying. One of our sources inside the factory told us about your grandmother's accident this evening and my boss sent me over here. So you can stop freaking out and let me talk to her. Because when I win this case, which I will, your grandmother will receive a healthy compensation and will never have to work again," Harvey explained as Mike listened raptly. Mike found himself inclined to believe everything Harvey said, although he didn't quite know why.
"Well then why did you say all that stuff about being…you know, my father?" Mike asked.
"The nurse at the front desk wouldn't tell me anything because I wasn't family. So I just eavesdropped and used you to get back here. Look, kid, it's for your grandmother's own good, and my firm is doing this case pro bono so you don't have to worry about payment. I just wanted to get back here to talk to her before McKinnon got to her. I promise I won't tire her out or demand that she testify or anything. But if you could just let me talk to her for 10 minutes, I'll be out of your hair for awhile." Mike thought all this over quickly, still coming up with about a million questions. He zoned in on one that was particularly bothering him.
"I don't get it. What's your angle on this? You don't exactly seem like the type to do that whole champion-for-the-masses, crusading-for-rights-in-the-modern-workplace thing. You seem like someone who weighs the value of everything before they do it and I don't know what you would stand to gain by helping an old lady and her grandson to get workman's comp. You don't care about us. So what are you getting out of this deal? Why aren't you on McKinnon's side of this case where you normally would be as some hotshot corporate lawyer?" Mike puzzled, and Harvey looked somewhat taken aback by this flash of insight into the older man's character.
"I underestimated you. You might make a good lawyer someday, kid," Harvey said, and Mike fought the warm, pleased feeling that briefly ignited inside of his chest at the thought of someone thinking he had the potential to be a successful anything someday, much less something prestigious like an attorney. Answers, Mike, he told himself. Focus.
"You're deflecting. Answer the question or you can't talk to Grammy," Mike said firmly, pleased to be holding the leverage in this strange, twisted poker game they seemed to be playing.
"Fine. What do I get out of it? I get to be junior partner at Pearson Hardman. I was just promoted and this is my first case as junior partner. If I don't win, my boss Jessica will probably demote me. So as much as I hate pro bono work, I will win this case for your grandmother because I need to show Jessica and the senior partners that I'm taking this seriously." Harvey wondered if he was being too frank, but the kid seemed to accept this explanation. He was chewing fiercely on his lower lip and seeming to be engaged in an intense internal debate. Finally the kid looked up at Harvey with clear, startlingly blue eyes.
"Okay, you can talk to her. But let me go in alone for a minute first, alright? Don't tire her out. And if she's sleeping and doesn't want to talk then you're not to wake her," the kid said seriously.
Harvey rolled his eyes but nodded in agreement. "Yes, Florence Nightengale," he said sarcastically. "Good luck tending to the Union Army in there." He leaned against the wall to wait as Mike opened the door to his grandmother's room.
"Actually, Florence Nightengale was a nurse in the Crimean War, not the Civil War. You're thinking of Clara Barton. Do you know anything at all about history?" Mike grinned cheekily, echoing Harvey's earlier words to him about the law. "Now stay," he instructed in a stern tone that one might use with their dog. Harvey bristled at Mike's assumption that Harvey was the puppy and not the owner in this scenario.
"Bossed around by a twelve-year-old," Harvey mumbled self-deprecatingly to himself, rolling his eyes at Mike's retreating back. "The things I do for my job."
The kid turned indignantly. "Hey, I'm fourteen, not twelve!" He exclaimed, before entering the room and leaving Harvey alone in the hallway.
"Oh, so he's fourteen. Well, now it's completely alright that he's bossing me around," Harvey muttered sardonically under his breath as he settled in to wait for his turn to talk to Mrs. Ross. He replayed his conversation with Michael in his head and found himself seized with the oddest urge to actually laugh at the banter they had exchanged. The kid was smart, all right. Harvey would give him that.
So that's chapter 1! Let me know what you think if you have a minute. I know that it doesn't really make much sense right now, but the next chapter will have more action- I'm hoping to delve more into the case and explain what's going on more clearly. We'll also see more Mike/Harvey interaction and I'll try to get to the point and hurry up with the whole Harvey-taking-custody-of-teen!mike plotline. This chapter is just kind of setting everything up.