A/N Hey guys :) So I can't get this idea out of my head, and I know it may seem kinda improbable - but hey, aren't most of my stories? XD Enjoy :) Oh, and this is AU - the reasons for which will be in my end Author's Note*.
The associate glanced up from the work he'd been doing. He'd worked through the night and still had yet more to complete, and scowled at whoever had interrupted him. He immediately stopped when he realised it was Harvey, but still frowned slightly.
Harvey's eyebrow rose. "And I've done what, exactly, to earn that look?"
Mike sighed and kneaded his eye sockets slightly. "Nothing. You just interrupted me. What do you want?"
"You. In my office. Five minutes ago," Harvey replied - an odd look on his face. Mike swallowed slightly as he got up and followed Harvey out of the bullpen. He'd seen that look on the man before; when he knew something Mike didn't. Mike couldn't even think of what it could be. He'd done all of the work that Harvey needed; it definitely wouldn't be about his lack of degree... or was it?
Sure - obviously, Harvey knew about it, so it wasn't that kind of knowing... but what if he knew someone else was close to working out the truth?
Mike was practically having a panic attack as they walked in silence, wringing his hands nervously and starting to chew on a few of his nails. This was just something small he used to do when he was younger to calm him - and he'd stopped after someone had told him how childish it looked.
He didn't like people saying he looked childish.
In any other circumstance, Mike would have made a dog joke, but in this instance he simply sat down, still chewing on a nail. He glanced over at Donna, who was surveying him from her desk. He could only describe her look as concern.
Oh god, Harvey was going to kill him.
"Jeeze, kid, you look like you're about to have a panic attack," Harvey told him.
"Don't fire me," he quickly replied. "Or kill me. Which would be the lesser of two evils? I - "
"Mike, sweetie," he heard Donna coo over the intercom. "It's alright. Harvey's not going to do either of those things. Just listen to him, okay?"
Mike's eyes widened as he heard Donna's sweet, caring tone. "Has someone died? Why are you being nice? What's happening?"
"Just calm down," Harvey rolled his eyes, sitting opposite him. "Nothing's happened or is happening."
"Then why are we having such a serious talk?" Mike asked.
"We haven't even started having it yet!" Harvey said, exasperated.
"I can tell it's going to be serious," Mike shot back, looking like he was eager to shuffle off the chair and sprint out of the room.
Harvey sighed. "I know, Mike."
"You know... you know what?" Mike racked his brain. He hadn't done anything, had he? There had definitely been no smoking, no drinking (not that it wasn't allowed, but... he hadn't), no Trevor, he hadn't agreed to working for Louis... "I don't get it."
"Mike," Harvey's eyes stared right into his. "I know how old you are."
- - SUITS - -
"Donna, can you tell Harvey I left early today?" Mike asked her, leaning on her desk.
"Sure thing," she said. "And then I can also tell him how we set fire to his office?" She suggested.
"... I'm not allowed to leave early."
"Well... can you tell him I left early anyway?" He asked, using what he had been told were 'puppy dog eyes' to his advantage. When Donna looked back at him, about to put him in his place he leaned forward a bit more, lowering his voice. "Please? It's really important."
"Is everything okay?" She asked, frowning.
"It's nothing, it's just... family stuff," he replied.
"Is your grandmother alright?" She asked softly.
"She's fine," he assured her. "It's just... It's stupid, it's just every year I have these cousins and an uncle I don't really see come into town to kind of... commemorate my parent's..." He couldn't finish, but Donna knew what he meant.
"Go on," she said gently.
"It's stupid, 'cause you'd think they'd help with Grammy's payments or something, but they only come to pretend they're still upset and then they leave the next day. I have to be there to meet them or I get angry calls and I'd rather not have that in the office."
"They don't pay for your grandmother's care?" Donna asked, shocked.
Mike shrugged. "I kinda prefer it that way. They're impossible to contact unless they initiate it. I don't even think they exist outside of today and tomorrow."
Donna nodded in agreement. "Maybe they're just your imagination and it's the personification of your loss?"
Mike winced. "I'd hope I'd never imagine people up as frustrating as them."
Donna smiled sympathetically. "Go on," she cocked her head. "I'll square it with Harvey."
"You're the best," he told her, giving her a smile - one that slowly lit up his face and made it impossible for her to not smile back.
"I know," she rolled her eyes. Just as he walked away she called out to him: "Good luck!"
He turned and grimaced, walking backwards as he called back: "I'll need it - I've had to put up with this for the last 8 years."
When he was gone, Donna lost her smile and instead pondered what he had just said. How old was Mike when his parents had died? For it to have been 8 years he would have been 17 (or something similar), and she knew he had been younger than that. Or had he? She hadn't really ever checked.
It didn't mean anything - she tried to shake it from her mind. He could've just been making it a random time; guestimating. Although people who did that usually picked a larger number. Like 10, or 15. Usually a multiple of five. Although Mike wouldn't have needed to make up a number; he'd have known the exact amount.
He could have meant that his cousins had been doing this for about 8 years. That made more sense. And yet that meant there would have been five or six years not accounted for.
She tried to convince herself she was reading into it far too much. But she couldn't help it. Something in her gut was telling her there was something wrong.
"There a reason you look like you've sucked a lemon?" Harvey asked mildly, walking towards her desk.
"How old was Mike when his parents died?" She asked, looking thoughtful.
"I don't care," he replied, before backing up at the look on her face, realising that was the wrong way to go. "I think he was 10 or 11. I'm not sure - I know he told Jessica at their dinner. Why?"
She frowned. "What year did they die?"
"The same year that Mike was 10 or 11," Harvey replied. "Are you going somewhere with this or can I leave?"
"Do you know when Mike's birthday is?" She asked.
"What's with the sudden interest in him?" Harvey replied, confused.
"Nothing it's just... he said something," she told him. "And... I don't know, it's just stuck in my mind. How old is he now?"
Harvey opened his mouth before closing it again. He didn't know. He'd never asked.
"I'm going to do something that is possibly out of line, and as both mine and Mike's boss - it's your moral obligation to stop me," Donna told him, picking up the phone.
"Well I guess it's a good thing I've never really been into moral obligations," he replied, flashing her a grin and watching with interest.
He soon looked vaguely shell-shocked however, as Donna had called Mike's grandmother's nursing home and after a bit of idle chit chat she'd asked in a roundabout way when Mike's parents had died, and oh, wasn't that the year there was that large storm? No? Oh yes, that year, she remembered now. Then she also mentioned how sad it was for Mike to lose his parents at such a young age, before freezing.
She quickly regained her composure and after a while thanked Mrs Ross and put the phone down before turning to Harvey.
"Mike's parents died on the 9th April, 2004," she told him, looking confused. "She said that Mike was 11 when it happened."
After some not-so-difficult maths, Harvey frowned.
"You're telling me I hired a 19 year old?"
- - SUITS - -
"I know how old you are."
"You know how old I am..." Mike repeated, swallowing slightly. "Congratulations. Do you finally know my birthday as well? Are we going to have a party for my 26th?" He asked, his heart thudding somewhat.
"That's what you're going with?" Harvey asked. "25?"
"Harvey - "
"When's your birthday?"
Mike's heart sped up slightly. "1987."
"Sure," Harvey leant back in his seat. "Do I need to ask again? What year were you born?"
"Why do you want to know?" Mike asked, only slightly desperately.
"You're not going to try and convince me I'm just mad and that you were born in '87?" Harvey asked, thinking Mike had just slipped up.
"What's the point?" The associate replied, causing Harvey to raise an eyebrow. The kid had more balls than he gave him credit. "You're not going to believe me."
"True," Harvey agreed. "So what year were you born in?"
Mike shuffled before sighing. "1990."
Mike opened his mouth to argue. Before closing it. He hadn't done anything wrong. Harvey had never technically asked him. "Fine. 1993. Okay? Happy? Can I go back to work now?"
"You're seriously 19," Harvey said, looking like he'd rather that Mike was lying.
"Yes, Harvey. I'm seriously 19," Mike replied, frowning. "What can I say? I skipped a few grades, got into college early, got kicked out just as early and then stumbled into your interview. Can we drop this now?" He begged.
"Well I'd love to," Harvey replied, standing and going over to his desk. "But you lied on your H.R forms, and you lied to me, and now I'm wondering if having a kid working for me is what I want. Didn't I say I wanted a grown god damn man?"
"Yeah, you did - and has there been any point that you doubted that was what you got?" Mike asked, crossing his arms. "And yeah, I lied to H.R but they wouldn't have bought that a 19 year old had graduated Harvard. So I lied. I've lied for a year or two now depending on what kind of job I want. I figured I could get away with 25 at the most."
"Trust me, kid, there are times when I really doubted I got a man," Harvey growled. "What I got, was a boy who's been lying to me for about 6 months now - "
"I never lied to you!" Mike argued. "And uh... technically... when I started working here I was 18. You uh... you hired me in November." He watched with wide, slightly frightened eyes as Harvey breathed out deeply before turning to look out of the window. Mike really wished he knew what he was thinking.
"Okay. Here's what's going to happen," Harvey turned back around. "You're going to go home, and - "
"Donna said you wouldn't fire me," Mike said, panicking somewhat. "She... she said..."
His voice sounded as normal as ever but now - to Harvey; now that he knew Mike's true age, it was as if the hurt was amplified - he sounded like a little kid whose mother had broken her promise.
"I'm not firing you, you idiot," Harvey rolled his eyes. "I'm sending you to get sleep. You won't be good to me if you're having to have an afternoon nap."
"I'm 19, not 5," Mike pointed out, hoping the teasing meant that Harvey had gotten over this already. "And I don't need any sleep, I'm fine, I - "
"Mike, kids need sleep," Harvey told him, a twinkle in his eyes as he said it.
"You're not going to let me forget this, are you?" Mike asked.
"Go home, kid," Harvey said. "I'll see you tomorrow."
Mike blinked but nodded, realising he was pretty damn tired. "Okay... Thanks. For... y'know... for not making a big deal out of it."
"Well I haven't had enough time to prepare," Harvey told him, smirking. "It takes time to come up with insults and condescending phrases. Go home and sleep," he reiterated. "Then you'll grow up into a big boy."
"That one didn't seem to require much effort," Mike grumbled, standing up and grabbing his bag that he'd left there this morning.
"I'm warming up. Leave."
Mike left, giving a wave to Donna as he did so.
"Can I pinch your cheeks?" She asked him.
He looked alarmed and quickly fled before she could ask more.
When he had left, both Donna and Harvey turned to each other and grinned.
They would have so much fun with this.
- - SUITS - -
For the most part, Mike's day had been normal. Of course there were a few teases - but when weren't there? And he knew he was relatively safe in the bullpen - he knew Harvey wouldn't 'out' him to the other associates.
But sometimes... he really didn't make it easy.
"Hey, Ross - heard you were sent home from work yesterday," Gregory smirked at him, standing there casually with his hands in his pockets.
"Congratulations, Gregory, I get it - you're in on 'gossip'. Can I get back to work now?" Mike sighed, pulling a highlighter cap off with his teeth to quickly colour something in."
"Well, it's just that if I know when the partners think you can't do your job properly, then I can start doing the work you clearly can't," Gregory told him. Mike sighed and shook his head, trying to ignore the teasing. "Aw, what's the matter, Ross?" He asked, giving a fake-sympathetic pout. "Didn't Daddy want to work with you?"
Harvey happened to have been coming in to the bullpen to grab a file he needed from Mike and overheard the words. Usually he would have snorted at the idea - him as Mike's surrogate father-figure was laughable, in his opinion but now... The kid was only a teenager. It reminded him of his little brother - who obviously was no longer a teenager - was in fact older than Mike (when he thought the kid was actually an adult) and yet... the big brother in him always saw his kid brother as exactly that. A kid.
And whilst teasing and hazing was nothing new to him, it was suddenly different knowing the kid was barely an adult. He couldn't even drink for god's sake! A surge of protectiveness that was quite surprising to him suddenly flared up as he watched.
He'd given the kid this job. He was the one who'd placed him in this cut throat world.
He was the one who'd thrown a teenager to the sharks.
"Mike, why are we talking and not working?" Harvey asked.
Gregory wanted Harvey to act like a father?
He'd act like one.
Mike flushed and shook his head. "I, uh... it's nothing - here, this is the file you wanted, isn't it?"
Harvey surveyed Gregory, who was trying to both get the attention of a senior partner and make a quick exit. "It's Gregory, isn't it?" Harvey asked, his eyes narrowed.
"Yes, sir," he stuttered in reply.
"Well, Gregory - if you have enough time to infer my associate is as incompetent as you seem to be, then you definitely have time to do all this work I was going to assign him," Harvey said, grabbing a stack of files off Mike's desk and handing it to him, before taking his file from Mike's hands and flipping through. "This is good work."
Gregory's eyes widened and he quickly shuffled back to his own desk, eyeing Mike enviously.
"You know I can get him fired for harassment, if he's always done it," Harvey told him, looking over with some disdain on his face.
"What?" Mike sputtered. "Are you feeling okay? Sticking up for your associate, then threatening the guy who was..." 'bullying me' was on the tip of his tongue, but he didn't like implying he was young.
Harvey shrugged. "The guy's a dick. Seriously, kid - if you're being harassed, you can come to me about it."
Mike's eyes were wide as he looked at Harvey. "Are you sure you're not really a pod person?"
"You know you should stop mouthing off to your boss," Harvey said, leaning back as he flicked through the file.
Mike snorted. "You call this 'mouthing off'? You haven't heard me mouthing off - "
"And I don't need to, Junior," Harvey told him, giving him a small reprimand in the form of his knuckles rapping gently on Mike's head. "Just keep some of your thoughts to yourself. Unless you want grounding."
He then left, leaving Mike to slither down his chair in embarrassment, groaning slightly.
"How old does he think you are?" One of the associates asked. "That's what I hate about partners. They act like we're teenagers who still haven't learnt how the law works."
Mike buried his face in his hands.
That's exactly what Harvey thought.
- - SUITS - -
"Mike, honey - have you eaten today?" Donna asked him as he sat in Harvey's office, waiting for the man in question to come in. Mike sighed.
He had to admit that he kind of liked Donna's mothering - he was at the age that he would still put up with a hug from his mother; probably when he came back from college for holidays. He frowned as he thought about how he'd only lied about his age by about 6 years. Surely that age gap wasn't that big for her to suddenly be feeling maternal?
Apparently it was, as she regularly called him 'sweetie', 'honey', 'kiddo' and - on one occasion, 'Mikey'.
He'd also realised that Harvey was calling him 'kid', 'junior' and 'kiddo' a lot more than he had been.
Mike wondered if they even noticed what they were doing.
"Haven't had time," Mike shrugged, smiling. "I'll get a hot dog or something at lunch."
"Michael you will not eat another of those hot dogs!" Donna told him sternly.
"Harvey does it all the time!" He whined (although he would deny that it was a whine later).
"Well Harvey might but he's coming up to 37 and you," she quickly glanced around, making sure no one would hear her, "are a teenage boy who is still growing and because you aren't being looked after in a way that nineteen year olds should be looked after - someone needs to do it."
"Donna..." he was touched, really, but he didn't want them to treat him differently than how he was accustomed. "Please. It's nice that you're looking out for me, but I don't need this. I'm fine. Besides, you didn't care when you thought I was 25," he reminded her.
"Hmph," she raised an eyebrow. "That was when I thought you were old enough to starve from your stupidity."
"Donna, why are we starving the puppy?" Harvey asked - genuinely sounding interested, having caught the tail end of her rant as he walked in.
"He's not eaten yet today and is planning on yet another hot dog for lunch," she said, glaring at Mike. "Do not make me bring in a packed lunch for you."
Harvey smirked. "We could get him a lunch box, dear."
"I'm already deciding between Iron Man or Superman."
"Iron Man, all the way, and - please?" Mike begged slightly. "Please stop. I get it, I'm sorry I didn't tell you about my age but please stop. Someone's going to notice and I really don't want that - if they found out my whole cover'll be blown."
"And what happens when they ask you out for beers?" Harvey asked him. "Or if Rachel asks you out on a date?"
"Rachel is 27, you are not dating her," Donna told him, pointing a manicured finger in his direction.
"You can't tell me who I can and can't date," Mike said, going to stand up before being pushed back down.
"Have you even had a girlfriend before?"
"Jesus, I'm nineteen, not twelve!" Mike struggled past Donna and stood up. "Just stop it! Leave me alone, and just act like you always have towards me! I've managed to survive this long; you knowing my age doesn't make me suddenly stupid, or immature or impedes my ability to do my job!"
He stormed out of the room and slammed the door doing it. Harvey winced and glanced at Donna. "Did we just get a tantrum?"
She nodded gravely.
Harvey grumbled something before following out of the door. "Mike," he said in a warning tone. Mike was halfway back to his desk before he heard Harvey. He swallowed and slowly stopped walking. "Care to come back and apologise to Donna? I could just explain it to her as hormones, but I don't think she'd buy it."
"Will you stop?" Mike whirled around.
"I said stop it!" Mike's fists clenched angrily. "What do you want, you want me to quit? You want to go find yourself a 'grown god damn man'? Fine. I quit. Happy?" Mike walked back, attempting to push past Harvey to get to the exit, but was caught on the elbow. He glanced down to see that Harvey had a firm grasp on him. "Let go of me, Harvey," Mike snarled, his eyes burning with anger.
Harvey wordlessly dragged him back to his office - and however much Mike struggled his couldn't break free of the grip Harvey had on him. Finally he was thrown back into the office, where Donna was still stood.
"Harvey!" She exclaimed, as Mike was shoved back onto the couch.
"Here's what's going to happen," Harvey said, standing in front of Mike with his hands in his pockets. "You're going to apologise for your little tantrum, and then you're going to get back to work. We'll forget that you yelled back at me, and in return I won't tell Jessica how old you are."
"If you did that then she'd work out I didn't go to Harvard and I'd be fired anyway!" Mike yelled back - again. "You're just threatening me with things you won't do!"
"You don't believe I'd fire you?" Harvey asked, looking serious.
Mike swallowed and back pedalled slightly. "Why are you caring?" He suddenly asked - and his voice sounded cracked and strained. It wasn't the usual accusation of caring, with a smirk to go with it. "What do you care what I do or how I act? Sure, I'm a representation of you, I get it - but why are you trying so hard?" His voice was ragged.
"What do you mean?" Harvey asked in a softer voice than Donna would credit him for.
"Why do you care what happens to me?" Mike asked, desperately. "No one else does - why should you?"
The statement made Donna and Harvey both flinch. The kid was so young and yet so cynical. He'd had some parents who had died (only eight years ago) and a grandmother who had tried her best. After that... He had no one.
"We're your friends, Mike," Donna told him - which Harvey was thankful for, because he knew he wouldn't be able to get the words out. "Believe it or not we want what's best for you."
"You've only started acting like this since you found out my real age," he said softly.
"It's been a lot harder to hide now," Donna admitted to him. "Mike - you're nineteen. You're only a teenager and you've not lived much. I know you've had experience on the streets and with Trevor - but you're just a kid. You need someone to occasionally reign you in and make sure you don't die."
Mike chuckled weakly and finally looked up to look her in the eyes. "Thanks... I think."
"Don't think I'll go easier on you with work," Harvey told him from his position further away.
"You fought off bullies for me," Mike reminded him.
"I did not," Harvey replied, looking indignant. "I just reminded a douchebag that he was incompetent."
Mike smirked. "Sure you did. I'm still hungry," he mentioned, standing up. "Anyone else want a hot dog?"
Both Donna and Harvey protested and Mike rolled his eyes as he was made to sit down (and 'think about what he'd done', as Harvey had said) as Harvey asked Donna to go get them all some pasta from the deli she liked.
"You need to stop acting so fatherly around the other associates," Mike told him, halfway through his pasta - not surprised when Harvey told him not to eat with his mouth full.
"I am not 'acting fatherly'," Harvey argued, looking disgusted at the thought.
"They're going to think something is up and it won't be long before there's either more harassment or there's people looking into things. It's not hard to find my college records," Mike looked nervous at both possibilities.
"Hey - neither of them will happen," Harvey told him.
Mike nodded but put his pasta to the side, not feeling hungry any more. He heard Donna tut over the intercom and smiled weakly, glancing over at her guiltily. "I'll pay you back for it," he told her. She nodded vaguely but he had the suspicion she wouldn't let him pay her back.
"As nice as this play date has been," Harvey said; feeling comfortable enough to fall back on the age-teasing, "you need to go back to work."
Mike nodded and stood up. Before leaving, however, he turned and glanced at Harvey semi-guiltily. "We're cool, right?" Mike asked. "I'm... I'm sorry about earlier."
Harvey nodded. "We're cool," he allowed Mike to fondly smile at him for three seconds before flapping his hand at him. "Now go on - shoo."
- - SUITS - -
Things started to go back to normal - it seemed like both Harvey and Donna had all but forgotten about Mike's age. It was always niggling in the back of Harvey's mind, however - and it made him act slightly differently around the kid.
Like when he'd scored two tickets to a Yankees game but his date had to cancel the day before, so he strolled into the associates' bullpen and made his way to Mike's desk.
"Harvey, I'm almost done with the due diligence, if I have another hour - " Mike began, before seeing the tickets in Harvey's hands. "You're going to a baseball game?"
"We are going to a baseball game," Harvey told him. "I was told that kids need occasional affection and for their self-worth to be nominally improved by their respective carer. And since apparently that is somehow now my responsibility - you're coming with me tomorrow."
"I..." Mike blinked, not sure what to do or say. "Thank you?"
Harvey grinned and threw him a ticket, which he managed to catch, regardless of his still-dazed expression. "You done with the severance quotes I wanted?" Mike nodded wordlessly and handed them over.
Rumours and gossip would soon spread like wildfire over what happened next, and would go down in Pearson Hardman history as Harvey Specter - New York's best closer and the definition of 'uncaring' - grinned at his associate and produced a Yankees cap, pulling it down on Mike's head before chucking his chin slightly in a paternal way.
A/N I really... I don't even know in all honesty. It had no plot whatsoever, but I hope you lovely people don't mind :) I don't know where this oneshot came from or why I decided to write it but... here it is XD
*I know this would be AU as - as young as P J Adams looks, I really doubt he could be actually nineteen in the series. But this is fanfiction, so anything can happen XD Oh, and the title is lyrics from My Chemical Romance's song, 'Teenagers' :)