Hi everyone! It's been a crazy few weeks but I managed to scrape some time together to write this (long plane rides equal writing fanfiction lol). Sorry this is short, but it'll have to do for the time being. As I said before, this sequel is going to be a collection of one-shots set in no particular chronological order, so let me know what you think or if you have any requests. I feel like it's kind of a silly title, but I'm really bad at titles so I'm taking the easy way out. Thanks for reading- here, now have some lighthearted fluff!
Sold, I'm ever
Open ears and open eyes
Wake up to your starboard bride
Who goes in and then stays inside
Oh the demons come, they can subside
-From "Calgary" by Bon Iver
It took a good six months after the adoption was finalized for Mike to actually call Harvey 'dad' to his face. And it took years and years after that for Mike to gradually switch from using 'Harvey' to just 'Dad' all the time; years for the self-doubt and discomfort Mike felt about vocalizing the importance of Harvey's presence in his life in such an explicit way to fade away until only a comfortable warmth remained, constantly flickering in his chest even when he had grown up and was long gone from the apartment. He carried this warmth like a security blanket through his darkest moments; he felt its spark inside his heart in his happiest days. Because no matter how good or bad life got, Mike was always content in the knowledge that he would always have the home and family that he had built with Harvey.
But initially, it wasn't something that either of them gave much thought to. Harvey didn't consider it until Donna brought it up one night at the office in April, shortly after the adoption was finalized.
"Harvey, maybe you should talk to Mike about what he's going to call you now that you've officially adopted him," Donna had said as they were scanning and organizing the papers of the Young contract in the filing room.
"What do you mean? He calls me Harvey. What's wrong with that?" Harvey had asked in confusion, pausing in his motions of straightening the papers.
Donna had sighed. "Come on, Harvey. Rub those brain cells together— Mike is legally your son. He probably wants to acknowledge that by calling you 'Dad.' Have you made it clear to him that that's okay with you?"
Harvey had frowned at this in order to counteract the strange warmth that was spreading through his chest at the idea of Mike calling him 'Dad.' "He can call me whatever he's comfortable with, Donna. I don't want to pressure him," Harvey had said dismissively. He figured it would spook Mike if he tried to have a talk on the matter with him— while Mike had come a long way when it came to being open with Harvey, this was such a sensitive issue. Plus Harvey didn't want to presume that Mike thought of Harvey as his father. So he let it be, figuring that Mike would just continue to call him whatever he was most comfortable with.
And that was fine with Harvey, it really was. If Mike never got around to calling 'Dad', well, that was okay, because Mike deserved to call Harvey whatever he wanted to call Harvey.
But that didn't stop a small corner of his heart from wishing to hear the moniker 'Dad' coming from the mouth of the boy that he considered his son.
In Mike's opinion, on the other hand, nothing had really changed since Harvey had adopted him—and he meant that in only the most positive way: Harvey had already been doing everything that fathers did for their sons for months, so all that the adoption did was make it legally official. So when all the paperwork was finalized in April six months after Harvey had filed for adoption, they celebrated and then carried on in much the same way as they always did: Mike was Mike and Harvey was Harvey, and they were both happy.
But that all changed over the summer when Mike started to notice the way that other people referred to Harvey in relation to Mike. Like when Harvey showed up at Mike's speech competition and Rachel grabbed his arm and pointed out "there's your dad, Mike." Or when Mike got sick at Pearson Hardman one day hot day in July and Donna, smoothing back his hair after he vomited, promised him that she would "go and find his dad for him,"— well, eventually it all got him wondering why he didn't call Harvey his dad; since that was what Harvey seemed to appear to be in everyone else's eyes.
And of course, Mike wanted to call Harvey his father simply because he wanted concrete proof that he shared a parental connection with someone. He'd never admit it out loud, of course, but he thought of Harvey as his father. And he'd called him 'dad' a few times over the year and a half he'd known the older man— he had slipped up occasionally when he was sick or particularly exhausted or feeling any extremely strong emotion, but unfortunately most of these occasions were only hazy at best in his memory, dimmed from the fog of sleep that was generally blurring the edges of his mind at the time of the incident. So whenever he tried to recall Harvey's reaction to him dropping the d-bomb, it always eluded him, like grains of sand slipping through his fingers as he desperately tried to clench his hands together and hold all the memory fragments together so that he could at least form some sort of shadowy impression of how Harvey felt about the name 'dad.'
He supposed that the only logical way to find out how Harvey would react to being called dad was to say it sometime when he wasn't concussed or sick or on the verge of falling asleep. That way he'd be conscious enough to be able to gauge Harvey's facial expression to know how well his attempts had been received.
But that was much easier said than done, of course. Because even though Harvey had explicitly told Mike that he wanted him in his life as his son back during the whole Grammy-moving-to-Florida-colossal-misunderstanding-and-ensuing-crisis thing, and had since proved it to be true through a myriad of unspoken actions and quiet, meaningful little gestures, some small part of Mike would always question the true depth of Harvey's affection for him. He couldn't help it—the major emotional wounds from his time with the Jensens had long since scabbed and scarred over under the caring and watchful eye of first Grammy, and then Harvey and Donna. But Mike felt like there would always be a shard of self-doubt that lay like a piece of shrapnel deep under the surface of his skin, occasionally returning to haunt him and tug at the still-tender scars. For the most part, Harvey's presence acted as a buffer and protected him from succumbing to this doubt, but there were still days when it all lingered around him like an icy cold shadow that he couldn't escape from. And frankly put, Mike was scared of rejection; scared that he would see only revulsion or anger on Harvey's face if he decided to acknowledge that he thought of Harvey as his father—after all, Harvey was always complaining that he was too young to be Mike's father whenever strangers commented on the two of them, so maybe he wouldn't want to be typecast as the father figure in this scenario—maybe he'd just prefer the more ambiguous, spacey title of 'permanent guardian' or 'adoptive guardian'; something more neutral that implied less of an emotional attachment.
Mike didn't know—but he had a feeling that things were going to come to a head sooner or later and he'd find out, for better or for worse.
There had been many times when he'd almost brought it up; when he'd come so close to just asking Harvey if he would mind it if Mike called him by a paternal title—but the words always froze on the tip of his tongue at the last second and he usually wound up stuttering something and disappearing into his room like some kind of blushing schoolgirl.
The closest they'd ever come to talking about it had been an incident from a few weeks prior—it had started off as a mundane enough day. Harvey was up and out of the apartment before Mike's alarm had gone off because he had to be in court early. So Mike had gone through his normal morning routine, which involved accidentally spending half an hour in the shower and then scrambling to get dressed, eat breakfast, and get out the door to NYU in the span of ten minutes. They were out of Mike's favorite kind of cereal, so he'd just grabbed a bagel and hastily scrawled a note on a post-it to let Harvey know that they needed more cereal, stat.
When he'd gotten home later that evening, there had been a box of cereal waiting for him on the counter with a note that simply said "gone to the gym to work out." This was a little odd because Harvey generally signed his notes 'Harvey' instead of just leaving them blank (Mike didn't know why he bothered; he certainly recognized his guardian's handwriting at this point). But maybe Harvey had been in a hurry to get to the gym or he had finally realized the futility of taking the time to needlessly sign notes, so Mike didn't really think much of the lack of signature.
The stranger part was that Mike's original post-it note had gone missing from the cupboard where he had stuck it that morning. Harvey and Mike both scrawled each other notes to say where they were going or to add something to the grocery list pretty frequently, and they always left them up all over the kitchen out of sheer laziness (and okay, maybe the reason that Mike didn't take his down after Harvey responded to them was because he liked the spirit of homey clutter that the colorful post-its added to their rather Spartan kitchen, but who cared about the reason anyway?). So they'd generally leave all of them up for a month or so until it got to be too much homey clutter, and then they'd taken them all down and start anew. And they'd taken the old ones down just last week, so Mike didn't know what Harvey would have done with the cereal note or why he would have gotten rid of it. But once again, he didn't think that much of it, although the incident lingered at the back of his mind for a few days after until one warm, breezy evening in early September.
"I'm going for a bike ride, Harvey," Mike called into the kitchen as he pulled on his shoes. He didn't have any homework since it was the beginning of the school year, so he had decided to take advantage of the mild summer weather while it lasted.
"Can you stop at the gas station and pick up a gallon of milk on your way back?" Harvey asked, handing Mike his wallet. "Just put it on my credit card."
So after Mike had worked up a good sweat zipping up and down the streets, he wheeled over to the neighborhood gas station and grabbed a gallon of milk. He paid for it without incident and it wasn't until he went to slide Harvey's credit card back into his wallet that Mike saw a post-it note with his own handwriting on it tucked in amongst Harvey's license and other credit cards. He drew it out of Harvey's wallet and skimmed it realizing quickly that it was his post-it about the cereal from the other morning. He frowned at in confusion—why would Harvey have it saved in his wallet?
And that was when what he had written in the note fully registered in his memory and he did a double take, scanning over the post-it again and feeling his stomach drop in mortification. He stood frozen in the aisle of the gas station as realization seeped through his veins, rereading the note and feeling his face warm in embarrassment. In his haste to get out the door to school he had written:
We're out of that cereal that I always eat for breakfast—you know, the one that you keep saying is going to give me cavities and that you're not going to pay for me to get them fixed by the dentist? Well, if you want to keep me from growing that last inch or two and being taller than you, then you had better buy me more sugary breakfast food to stunt my growth, ASAP. Please?
Mike's mind was abuzz as he rode back to the apartment. Had Harvey kept what was otherwise just a run-of-the-mill post-it note because of the embarrassing salutation that Mike had unconsciously written in his rush to get to school on time? And if so, had he kept it because he liked that Mike had written 'dad'? Or had he kept it because he didn't like it but wanted to get it out of plain sight in the kitchen so he could avoid having to talk to Mike about what was a potentially awkward and emotionally messy issue?
Mike wanted to talk to Harvey about it; knew that he should talk to Harvey about it. But when he got back to the apartment, the thought occurred to him that the reason that Harvey hadn't signed his "going to the gym" note was because he probably didn't know if he should sign notes from Harvey or from Dad anymore since it probably appeared to him that Mike was subtly trying to get him to go by 'Dad'. But the last thing Mike wanted was for Harvey to feel obligated to let Mike call him that when it might be something he was uncomfortable with. And then all of his fears about being rejected came crashing back over him, so he didn't say anything—he just handed Harvey the milk and went off to shower and go to bed.
And now it was the very beginning of October, almost Mike's 16th birthday, and Mike hadn't really made any progress on Operation Figure Out How to Call Harvey 'Dad' in a Subtle Way. He'd been far too busy with school and NYU and speech and helping Harvey at the office to dedicate any time to the project, but he had been busy in a good way so he didn't mind.
"Mike, I'm telling you, the Stanton Foundation can't afford to merge with the Smiths—"
"Yeah, but that's because they haven't liquidated their assets. It's a risk, but—"
Mike and Harvey were walking out of Pearson Hardman to head home for the day, and they were currently engaged in their normal bickering over legal possibilities for the clients they were working with. Neither of them would admit it, but they both loved it; bantering back and forth and testing their minds against one another. Harvey usually won because he had so much more experience, but Mike could hold his own pretty well and he was good for coming up with last minute ideas. He was slowly getting better and better at helping Harvey out, and his pre-law classes at NYU were great, although they were still a little too basic for his taste.
"They don't even have enough assets to make it worth liquidating!" Harvey said passionately, waving his file that contained the Stanton financials. It was Ray's day off, so they had to walk to the parking garage across the street to get to Harvey's car. Mike wondered if Harvey would let him drive home— he only needed 3 more hours of driving time before he could get his license when he turned 16 next week, and he doubted Harvey wanted him to finish the three hours—he wasn't sure if Harvey was ready to let him loose on the road by himself yet.
"What are you talking about—" Mike's voice died in his throat as he saw the car come barreling around the corner— he barely had time to register the fact that it was red and that it was going way too fast and that it was heading straight for Harvey, who had just stepped into the street.
As the car screeched in their direction, many things flashed through Mike's mind. First and foremost, he was thrown back into the memory of the car crash that had killed his parents— he felt the adrenaline kick in as his perfect memory brought back the feeling of the car spinning out of control, the sound of his mom screaming, and the mind-numbing panic he'd felt when his parents wouldn't wake up in the front seat. He suddenly imagined Harvey lying on the ground, lifeless and unmoving like his parents had been, and he felt a wave of agony run through to the core of his very bones as he tried to comprehend what it would mean to lose Harvey.
"DAD!" The word tore from his lips in a panicked shout, and he grabbed Harvey by the arm and yanked him back onto the sidewalk as forcefully as he could. Harvey stumbled backwards but made it onto the sidewalk just before the car sped by them and down the street, completely out of control.
Harvey turned to Mike, his normally composed mask replaced by a visage of shock. He stared at Mike for a minute as he processed what had just happened, his eyes wide. Finally they narrowed and Harvey took Mike by the shoulders.
"Are you all right?" He asked, his voice tight and his hands moving down Mike's arms as though checking for broken bones.
Mike shivered and tugged his arms out of Harvey's grip, wrapping them around his waist and hugging himself. He was still breathing way too quickly and he couldn't believe how close Harvey had just come to being hit by the car.
"Mike, are you all right?" Harvey asked with more urgency, his hand coming up to gently lift Mike's chin so Mike would look at him.
"I'm fine," Mike said, but his voice sounded oddly wobbly and his legs felt weak. "The car didn't hit me. Dad— I mean, Harvey, are you okay?!" His voice rose at the end of the phrase and he knew he sounded slightly hysterical but he couldn't stop thinking about how close a car had come to once again taking someone important from his life.
"I'm fine, Mike," Harvey said reassuringly, looking into Mike's eyes curiously. "You pulled me out of the way just in time. I'm fine," he said, and his eyes darkened slightly as clarity seemed to settle in and he realized what was going through Mike's head. "I'm fine, Mike. Thank you for grabbing me," he said patiently, his hand warm under Mike's chin, his thumb moving soothing across Mike's cheek a few times.
"You need to shave," Harvey said, smiling as he dropped his hand and began heading towards the parking garage again, choosing not to comment on the fact that Mike was walking much closer to him than was necessary.
"No, I don't. I'm growing a beard, can't you tell?!" Mike exclaimed querulously, insulted by Harvey's inability to see how truly manly and impressive his slow-growing, patchy facial hair was. Harvey let out a genuine laugh at this, which only added to Mike's indignation.
"I think you've still got a ways to go, kid," Harvey said as they climbed into the car. Mike nestled into his seat, his prior panic dissipating now that he was certain that Harvey was okay. He gathered up all his courage and cleared his throat. After all, if he could save Harvey's life from a speeding car, surely he could survive asking a simple question.
"Harvey, did you...did you you mind what I called you earlier?" He asked nervously as Harvey backed the car out. Harvey turned to him, his face serious.
"You can call me whatever you feel comfortable with, Mike. You know that. Harvey is fine, Dad is great. Don't over-think it; it's not worth it to waste your time worrying about something so trivial. Clearly you need to focus all your energy on growing that beard instead," Harvey said wryly, reaching over and ruffling Mike's hair.
Mike rolled his eyes and shrugged away but he smiled nonetheless. He knew it would probably take him a long time to feel completely comfortable calling Harvey 'Dad' but he had made so much progress over the past 2 years that he knew that someday he wouldn't think twice before dropping the name. And for now, that was enough.