Hey guys! So I was chatting with the lovely phoenix on cloud nine awhile ago about how much we both love writing bromantic hugs and thus this bizarre and random fic was born as her Christmas gift— so Merry (Happy?) Christmas, El! :D I was originally going to make it a oneshot, but it spiraled slightly out of control and the individual hugs came out to be about 2,000 words each because I'm apparently incapable of being concise XD It seemed like too much to put them all together as a oneshot, so I'm planning on posting one chapter a day leading up to Christmas Eve to space it out a bit. Hope you all enjoy and have a good holiday season! I kind of put To Build a Home on the back burner to write this, but I'll be back with a new chapter of that after Christmas hopefully.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a lot of student loans and some easy mac
A/N: this first one is based lightly off of a scene from the show Merlin episode 2x6 where Merlin misinterprets Arthur's body language and goes in for an unexpected hug— if you really want to see it you can just search for a clip of it on youtube. Anyway, sorry about the lengthy preface. Onward!
1. The Merlin and Arthur almost-hug
The first time that Mike hugs Harvey, Harvey doesn't reciprocate at all.
In fact, he actually jerks away in shock and spends a good part of the rest of the afternoon overcompensating and being as condescending as possible because he doesn't know any healthy ways of dealing with the surprise and discomfort he feels about Mike's attempts at physical affection. It's not that he doesn't like hugs—he's certainly shared many a passionate embrace with various beautiful women—it's just that, well, it's Mike— his dorky, overeager associate whose only goal in life appears to be to firmly implant himself in Harvey's life and in Harvey's physical space.
He doesn't blame Mike for it because god knows the younger man is starved for affection. That is evident to anyone with a pair of eyes in their head— the way that Mike lights up at the slightest hint of approval or praise— but that doesn't mean that Harvey wants to engage in physical affection. Sure, he'll toss the kid a bone every once in awhile in the form of a clever compliment disguised between a strain of insults; perhaps a hand on the shoulder for a job well done— but actual hugging? No way. He has his limits, after all. How is he supposed to maintain his image as New York's most formidable and impenetrable closer if he's seen giving out hugs to somewhat childish, vulnerable associates who happen to have an uncanny ability to imitate a kicked puppy? One thing would lead to another and eventually he'd find himself willingly taking on pro bono cases left and right or volunteering at an animal shelter or leading a Girl Scout troupe. And that just simply wouldn't do.
The first time that Mike hugs Harvey is at the end of a long and painful two weeks about a year into Mike's career at Pearson Hardman. They've been absolutely swamped with the Hanson case and both have spent a tense and sleepless fortnight desperately slogging through paperwork and weighty legal texts. So it's really no wonder Mike is so loopy when they finally go to court and win the case.
Harvey still isn't expecting the hug, though.
He supposes afterwards that it's partially his fault for egging Mike on— after all, he knows Mike can't handle affection without getting excited and overreacting in typical overgrown-puppy fashion. So he probably shouldn't have openly praised Mike. And he should have known that he was treading dangerous waters when he went for the casual congratulations-at-not-completely-failing-at-life-you-actually-did-something-useful pat on the back. But to be honest, Harvey isn't entirely certain that he would have won this trial without Mike's help (an extremely alarming thought). Sure, he probably would have figured something out eventually; pulled something out of his ass at the last minute like he always does. But he can't deny that it had been exceedingly helpful when Mike had pulled through at the 11th hour by unearthing a key piece of evidence that proved that George Hanson's jealous ex-wife was the one embezzling from Hanson Paper Products, Inc. So the praise is actually somewhat merited.
Harvey's original plan is to try to go about thanking Mike for his tireless efforts in a subtle, manly way. But when this all transpires Harvey hasn't slept more than 4 or 5 hours a night in two weeks and he's too tired to think of anything other than sleep sleep sleep, much less something profound and clever. So he decides to just go for a simple and honest "thank you" because he knows he's over thinking it. And the 1% of his brain dwelling on the matter really wants to join the other 99% in thinking about his mattress and his pillow.
He has just left the courtroom after spending a lovely hour listening to George Hanson profusely thank him over and over again for his services (Mike had ducked out about a half an hour into George's grateful soliloquy under the guise of filling out and filing the post-trial paperwork, the big coward). But when Harvey finally shakes off George and leaves the courtroom, he's not surprised to find Mike sitting on a bench in the hallway and dozing, files abandoned next to him. Harvey frowns slightly as he takes in his associate's appearance— Mike is far too pale and there are dark circles under his eyes even in sleep. Not to mention the fact that Mike's suit is wrinkly and is just a little too loose on his slim frame for Harvey's liking. Yes, it's been a rough two weeks for the pair of them.
But that doesn't mean that Harvey can let Mike get away with sleeping in public places— he's still new to the legal field and he's in the process of making connections and first impressions with influential people in the court system. And it won't look good to passerby judges to see him sleeping in an untidy suit and looking like a bum. And if Harvey's associate looks bad, then Harvey looks bad too. So Harvey picks up the stack of post-trial files that Mike will be responsible for handling and slams them back down on the bench nice and loudly.
Mike is on his feet like a rocket, scrubbing sleep from his eyes and straightening his stupid skinny tie. "Article 8, Section 13!" He shouts blearily and Harvey just stares at him and waits for him to remember that the trial is over and that he doesn't have to go around hollering the finer details of Hanson Inc.'s bylaws to the general public. Sure enough, after a minute of squinting at his surroundings and thinking (it looks like hard work), Mike relaxes and yawns loudly. Harvey rolls his eyes but doesn't say anything because at least the younger lawyer is standing and not sleeping on the bench anymore.
"Hi, Harvey," Mike says. "Can I go home now?"
Harvey just holds up the stack of post-trial files and waggles them in Mike's direction, ignoring Mike's crestfallen expression. "Come on, let's go while Ray's still on the clock," Harvey says. "Otherwise I'm taking a cab and you can find your own way back to Pearson Hardman." Mike sighs but dutifully gathers up his things and starts walking out to the car as Harvey mentally braces himself to thank Mike for his recent efforts.
"Mike," Harvey says, clearing his throat and falling into step with the younger man. "I just wanted to say that you did a good job the past two weeks and that I appreciate all the time you put into this case." There. That's good— personal but still diplomatic. His Harvard professors would be proud. He figures he'll go for a quick pat on the back to top it off.
Mike is looking at him with that same absurd grin of happiness that he gets whenever Harvey hints that he possibly might not mind Mike's presence and may in fact even find it tolerable. Harvey bravely raises his arm to pat Mike on the back and that's when it happens— Mike clearly assumes that Harvey is going for a hug rather than a pat on the back, and he brings his own arms up and around Harvey— for half a second, that is, until he feels Harvey stiffen at the contact and then he hastily removes his arms.
They both stand there and stare at each other, arms raised in the air as they cautiously try and read one another.
"What was that?" Harvey finally asks after a tense minute.
"I thought you were going for a hug!" Mike crows defensively.
"No." Harvey says simply, shaking his head. "Just—no."
Mike shrugs uncomfortably then. They both stare at each other for a minute longer before slowly lowering their arms and turning in unison to resume walking out to the car, not saying another word.
They slide into the back of the car and have a rather silent ride back to Pearson Hardman. When they finally get up to the office, Harvey hands Mike the files. "You. Work on these while I go report back to Jessica. And try not to mess up— I'd like to actually make it back to my apartment tonight without having to stay here and fix your mistakes."
Mike nods and takes the stack from Harvey. The truth is that he looks so ridiculously pathetic and weary that Harvey considers snatching the files back out of his associate's hands and calling Ray to come take Mike home. But he has already explicitly thanked Mike once today and letting him off now would exceed the "okay, well maybe Harvey does really care about Mike" quota for the year— not to mention the fact that it might lead to another attempted hug. So he points Mike towards the couch and ignores the sad look on Mike's exhausted face as he heads over and sets to work.
Harvey feels a little guilty for a moment. He doesn't really care that much about Mike hugging him for half a second— Mike is clearly so deliriously tired right now that it's a miracle he didn't grab a random passerby and hug them instead— but he hasn't really actually articulated that to Mike, so the kid probably thinks Harvey is angry with him. But he can't bring himself to tell Mike out loud that it was okay. So he just leaves to go talk to Jessica, still feeling a bit bad about the whole exchange.
But he makes up for that later when he returns to his office and finds Mike passed out asleep on the couch, full out snoring and drooling and the whole nine yards. Normally he would wake Mike up in an instant and put him back to work. Or take embarrassing pictures and post them all over the internet. But tonight he merely pours himself another cup of coffee, slides the files from Mike's slack grip, and brings them over to his desk and sets to work on them himself while Mike snoozes away. And when he takes a break and runs to a nearby deli to grab some dinner and just so happens to accidentally buy an extra sandwich that's the same kind that Mike likes, well, so be it.
Just because Harvey's not the type to naturally initiate or reciprocate hugs doesn't mean he can't show he cares in his own subtle and manly (or as Donna calls it, 'emotionally stunted') sort of way.
Hope you enjoyed it! I'm about to go take a 2 hour linguistics final, so cross your fingers that I still have a few brain cells left over afterwards so that I can update again tomorrow XD