a/n: Thank you to Cokie316 for providing an extremely fast beta for this, my first Suits fic. Coda to episode 2x09 – "Asterisk".
Disclaimer: I own nothing to do with Suits.
Mike knows he's spiraling out of control. The ledge he's been teetering on is slowly crumbling away beneath his feet, and he has nothing but thin air to grasp at as he desperately tries to keep himself steady. He felt himself losing his grip on reality the moment Rachel, instead of his grandmother, stepped through the door. And in the twenty-four hours since, he has not seen any improvement.
He'd gone into work this morning, thinking that he'd be better off focusing his mind on something… anything… other than the fact that he was now completely alone. Donna had questioned his motives for being there, but Harvey had supported his decision, laying out a solid defense of cold, hard facts of how doing something constructive would benefit everyone. Then he had pulled Mike aside, said something comforting, and given him some small jobs to keep him occupied.
It hadn't helped that the tension in the office was palpable. Everyone was on edge, including, and perhaps especially, Harvey. It probably didn't help matters that Mike had yelled at him in the middle of the bullpen. For no real reason except that Harvey happened to show up at his cubicle to see how he was doing and to express his concerns over the upcoming vote.
The vote that was today.
And Mike, having been sent home after his outburst, wasn't there for Harvey when he needed him the most. Just another thing for Mike to feel guilty about.
And now he's in his empty and depressing apartment, contemplating on how both are adequate descriptions for how he's been feeling today. All he can think about is the small tin hidden inside the old Folger's can in his kitchen cupboard above the sink. Once upon a time he'd told Harvey he'd gotten rid of all of the drugs in his possession. But that seems like a lifetime ago, now. Back when Mike thought his life had turned around and he was finally doing things right for a change. Back when his Grammy was alive and giving him advice and loving him, regardless of his train wreck of a life.
But then again, he hadn't seen her much lately. She'd been forced to get a ride to Pearson Hardman and bring him lunch just to see him for an hour…
The guilt he's been drowning in pulls him under so hard that it leaves him gasping for air. Leaping up from the couch, he shakily cards his hands through his hair as he paces in a small circle. He looks toward the kitchen. Decision made, he makes his way over to the cupboard, whips it open, and pulls down the old, red, coffee can. Inside he finds the tin… right where he'd left it… one of the last remaining "souvenirs" of his life before Pearson Hardman.
Mike tells himself that no one could blame him for wanting this. For needing this right now. It may not be how Harvey would choose to deal with it, but this is how he deals with it. Because, he admits to himself with a twinge of sadness, it's the only way he knows how. But that's life. That's Mike's reality.
He opens it with trembling hands. Sees the evidence of the life he thought he left behind.
And he feels angry.
Angry at Grammy for leaving him behind.
Angry at Rachel for shattering his world.
Angry at Harvey for making him work so much.
Most of all, angry at himself for reasons so numerous he doesn't dare try to count them or name them. But it doesn't matter, because they all flash before him in movie-reel fashion. And before he knows it, the drugs are in one hand, and a lighter is in another. He's drowning and falling all at once, and the ledge he's standing on gives way completely.
Harvey isn't sure why he's here. It wasn't exactly like he had planned to come here after getting in the car, after leaving the office, after a day that was possibly one of the worst days of his life. And yet he finds himself standing outside of Mike's door, hesitating to knock, not entirely sure what to say when the door is opened.
Oh, the usual platitudes come to mind… I'm sorry for your loss... If there's anything I can do to help... Blah blah blah. See, the thing is, he's been there. He's been there and he knows firsthand that nothing anyone says makes a damn bit of difference. But he needs to try anyway, because the look on Mike's face earlier was one Harvey never, ever wants to see again.
And so he knocks. And waits. And when Mike doesn't answer, he knocks again, and calls out to him, and still Mike doesn't answer. It's only on a whim that he tries the knob, and when it turns easily, gaining him access to the apartment, Harvey confidently lets himself in. He isn't quite sure who's more surprised when he makes his entrance.
"What the hell are you doing here?" Mike demands.
He's standing in his small kitchen, looking at Harvey like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Only he's not holding sweets… he's holding drugs, and all Harvey can think is we had a deal. But he knows that cannot be the first thing out of his mouth to the young man in front of him who is looking at Harvey with eyes that reveal both the fierce desire to forget all of his troubles as well as the part of him silently begging Harvey to stop him.
"You don't want to do this, Mike." Harvey closes the door behind him.
"Don't tell me what I want, Harvey," Mike replies, his voice just above a whisper. "You don't get to do that."
Harvey nods and doesn't stop closing the gap between them.
"Maybe so, but you can't tell me that this is honestly how you want to deal with things." Harvey's now in the kitchen with Mike, and he's struck with how young Mike looks in this moment. His eyes are red-rimmed, his hair disheveled, and he can't help but notice how the objects Mike's hands are shaking slightly.
"Oh, and how should I be dealing with things?" Mike spits back, and his anger begins to seep into his words. "Bury myself in my work, like you? Act like everything is okay, when everything is actually falling apart?" His voice cracks, and he's about to lose it, and Harvey knows just what buttons to push.
"What about your grandmother, huh? Would she want you to do this?"
It's a low blow and he knows it. Mike knows it. The trembling in his hands increases two-fold, but this time it is anger causing them to shake and he lifts his hand and throws the drugs across the kitchen. They smack into the fridge and clang to the floor and the associate glares at his boss.
"Get out!" Mike shouts.
"No." Harvey wills himself to stay calm even as every fiber in his being is urging him to yell at the young man in front of him; to force him to see that he's about to make the biggest mistake of his life.
"Because it's clear that you cannot be left alone right now."
"Screw you, Harvey." There's venom in Mike's voice, but some of the heat has drained from it. Harvey seizes the opportunity and takes another small step towards him.
"You don't have to do this alone, Mike."
Mike shakes his head and does his best to look Harvey in the eyes. "Don't you see that I don't want any help?"
"And haven't you learned by now that I don't give a damn what you want?" The words are harsh but Harvey needs Mike to understand. "This isn't about what you want, Mike. It's about what you need. And what you need, besides a swift kick to the head, is help."
"And who is going to help me, Harvey?" Mike asks, incredulously. "You?"
Once again, Harvey can see the turmoil raging in Mike's eyes: the urge to battle his problems on his own raging against the desperate desire to not be alone anymore.
Harvey remains silent, only raising his eyebrows slightly in response to Mike's question. Mike shakes his head and huffs out a laugh before brushing past Harvey to sit at his small kitchen table. Harvey lets him have a moment alone before he joins him. They sit in silence across from one another in the small space, Mike staring at the panda photo on the wall; Harvey staring at Mike.
"Mike, I've been there," Harvey begins softly, but Mike doesn't turn to look at him. "I tried to do it alone. I dealt with it the way I deal with things. And you were right." At that, Mike finally turns to look at Harvey. "I buried myself in work and pretended everything was fine. And that helped me get through the hardest time in my life."
Harvey isn't used to admitting things like this, but he knows now that it is what Mike needs to hear.
"And that's how I thought you could get through this, too. But I was wrong. You aren't me. And you need to deal with this the way you deal with things."
"Oh really," Mike says skeptically. "And how is that, exactly?"
"Head on." Mike blinks at that, but Harvey continues. "Look, kid, I know I give you a hard time about caring and having feelings and all that. And when I do, you usually don't listen to me."
"What are you saying?"
"I'm saying don't choose this moment to take what I say to heart," Harvey beseeches. "Now isn't the time to be stoic. Now isn't the time to bury yourself in your work or worry about my problems." He pauses and waits until Mike is looking at him again. "And now is definitely not the time to fall into old habits."
Silence returns to the small apartment, and Mike runs a hand through his hair. Harvey waits as he mulls over what was said, and privately hopes that kid listened and heard all that Harvey didn't say: Don't do this… I'm here for you… Come back from the brink… To his relief, Mike sighs and nods.
"Okay, Harvey." He even manages a slight smile. "Okay."
"Okay," Harvey says with a smile of his own.
Another small silence, but this time it isn't awkward or tense. It's almost satisfying.
"I'm sorry… about today," Mike confesses sheepishly, and Harvey shakes his head.
"There's nothing to be sorry for," Harvey says with his usual air of finality that Mike doesn't argue with him, even though his embarrassment is obvious. To be honest, Harvey wasn't the least taken aback by Mike's behavior earlier in the day. He had sent him home, not out of anger, but out of concern for the younger man's emotional state. Harvey thought he was doing Mike a favor by sending him away from the pressure which was building in the office, but now, in hindsight, maybe keeping an eye on him would have been a better idea.
"So, what happened at the vote today?"
Harvey shakes his head again. "I don't want you to worry about that right now."
Mike's piercing gaze meets Harvey's for a moment. "That bad?"
"Have you eaten?" Harvey deflects and Mike shakes his head. "Come on. Get cleaned up and we'll head out." He stands and walks away from the table, already pulling out his phone to call Ray and let him know the new plan.
He turns around, already prepared for Mike's argument against the meal, but is surprised that it isn't needed.
Mike disappears into his bedroom before he can reply. Harvey, finding himself alone, closes his eyes and sighs, deciding that caring does make you weak because damn, he's exhausted. But he also knows that this time, it's worth it when Mike reemerges from his room and offers up a tentative smile.
"Let's go," Harvey says, placing a hand on Mike's shoulder as they walk out the door together, one man no less broken than he was before, but perhaps a little steadier on his feet.