How it Began
Harvey Specter had considered all the things that could lead to his undoing. The best way to avoid an enemy's hit is to know what it is, and when it's coming. So Harvey Specter prepared himself by wracking his brain for possible weaknesses.
Who knew a little nose bleed would lead to the unraveling of The Harvey Specter?
The first time it happened, Harvey thought little of it.
"You're not working hard enough to be sick," he quipped, sauntering up to the younger man's cubicle, sneering at the tissue pressed against Mike's nose.
Mike's attempt at a glare was weak, prompting another smirk from Harvey as he stopped to lean against the wall of the cubicle.
"'m not sick," Mike protested, the words slightly muffled by the wad of tissues covering half his face. "My nose is bleeding." Harvey raised a brow.
"'nd I disagree," Mike continued, glaring at him. "It's my second all-nighter in a row. I'm working plenty hard to warrant sickness."
Harvey scoffed and gave the associated an unimpressed eye roll.
"You'll have to pay your dues somehow, rookie," he said, fixing the younger man with a smirk. "After all, everyone else here had to put in three years of Harvard Law to get where you are."
"I keep telling you that you need new material, old man," Mike said, rolling his eyes.
"If it ain't broke," Harvey grinned, straightening and brushing off nonexistent dirt from the lapels of his suit.
Mike ignored him in favor of pulling out another tissue and pressing it to his nose, bright red blood beginning to soak through the two he already held to his face.
"Hopefully you'll get some on that tie of yours," Harvey said, turning to walk back up the aisle of cubicles. "Donna's been dying to toss it."
He held back a chuckle at the week spluttering of his associate as he returned to his office.
The second time, he teased Mike about his "frail constitution" for a whole week.
The two were elbow deep in files in Harvey's office, well past midnight. Old coffee cups littered every possible surface not currently covered by paper – they had to get creative with placement after the fourth coffee run of the night.
Harvey's jacket had been discarded four hours previously, his tie loosened three hours previously, and his sleeves were just being rolled up when he heard Mike swear softly.
Harvey peered up at his associate with a brow raised. Mike's jacket and tie were thrown over the back of the sofa beside him, his sleeves long since rolled up to his elbows sloppily.
The tie's current position had saved it from being ruined by thick drops of blood now spilling freely from Mike's nose.
"I'm pretty sure none of those documents contain pornographic images," Harvey drawled as Mike struggled to stem the flow of blood with his hands.
"Ha ha," Mike quipped, not sparing the older man a glance as he tilted his head forward and pinched his nose closed. "That only happens in cartoons," he grumbled at his boss.
Harvey opened up a drawer and tossed a box of Kleenex toward his associate, chuckling darkly as the cardboard box hit Mike on the head.
"Real mature, Harvey."
"I'm not the one who can't hack it," Harvey said, grinning. "Can't play with the big boys with a weak constitution, Mikey."
The third time it happened, Harvey was pissed.
"'m so sorry," Mike apologized, the sound muffled by the two hands currently cupping his nose.
Dark drops of blood dripped onto the paperwork and the glass table of the conference room.
"Oh dear," their guest whispered, eyes wide and face pale. Harvey's own eyes widened as their billionaire potential client swayed dangerously in his chair.
"Mr. Lanister," Harvey began, standing slowly from his chair. "Are you alright?"
Not sparing a glance at his associate, Harvey moved to approach the older man.
"Oh dear," Mr. Lanister repeated, eyes watching the drops of blood now littering the papers on the table. "I'm not very fond of…of –" he explained weekly, gesturing to the now bloody paperwork.
"Why don't I –" Harvey began, finally coming to stand next to Mr. Lanister and dropping a hand to his shoulder softly.
The man's eyes rolled back and he tipped sideways off his chair.
"Call an ambulance," Harvey directed, catching the older man before he could hit the floor.
He heard Mike's loud footsteps as the younger man fled from the room.
"Shit," Harvey swore, leaning over the pale man, fighting down panic. Harvey Spector didn't panic.
"What happened here?"
Harvey turned at the sharp voice of Jessica Pearson. The woman stood in the doorway, keen eyes surveying the bloodied paperwork and landing on her senior partner.
Thirty minutes later, Harvey was pacing his office with a frown on his face.
That damned kid was going to ruin his life. Time after time he had to go around picking up after his messes, and today was no different. This time, it was him literally picking up the bloodied mess of papers on the conference room table and calling Mrs. Lanister, apologizing profusely.
"Donna said you wanted to see me?"
Harvey looked up from his pacing and locked eyes with his sheepish associate.
He took an immense pleasure in Mike's fearful look as the man took his seat on the edge of the couch.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" he spat, rounding on the man. Mike flinched.
After a moment of silence, he continued. "Most days, that's a rhetorical question, but today, I want an answer. What. Is. Wrong. With. You."
At Mike's continued silence, Harvey threw his hands in the air and began his pacing. "There's always something with you, Mike," he growled. "If you're not being chased down by drug dealers, you're drunk on my doorstep."
Harvey missed Mike's flinch.
"Or you're fighting with your girlfriend, or you're out of money for the week."
Harvey continued his pacing, ignorant of his associate's paling face. A small voice in his head warned him to stop there, because he was too damn tired to think clearly.
"Every damn day there's something new with you, and you know, I would have thought that after three months of working together, you would have run out of things to piss me off with."
"Harvey, I –"
"You lost us a client!" Harvey interrupted, turning to face Mike. "You're no use to me if you can't at least stay out of the way. But no, you have to go and fuck with clients."
"That's not fair," Mike began, anger flashing in his eyes.
"You want to know what's not fair, Mike?" Harvey said, raising his voice above Mike's. "I put my goddamn job on the line for you, and what have you got to show for it?"
Mike closed his mouth.
"First you drop the ball with the patent filing for Wyatt's prototype," Harvey said, ticking off Mike's offenses on his fingers, ignoring yet another flinch from the young associate. "Then you get tricked by Louis of all people into directly disobeying the one fucking rule I gave you," Harvey hissed, narrowing his eyes.
"And that was all in your first week!" Harvey began his pacing again. "You lost in housing court," he continued, throwing a look of pure disbelief over to Mike. "And now you've gone and lost me a billionaire client that Jessica has been riding my ass to get signed for months."
At this point, Harvey's voice had dropped to a venomous whisper.
"I'm sorry, Harvey," Mike said, his voice soft. Harvey snorted and turned away, unwilling to be swayed from his anger by his associate's soft tones.
"Just go home," he said, rubbing a hand over his face. The kid needed to leave before things got more out of hand.
Harvey stood facing the window, hand still pressed into his temple, willing the headache away, for several minutes of silence. Finally, he turned back to find an empty office.
The silent office left him with a strange mixture of relief and guilt on top of an incredible exhaustion. With a sigh, he dropped uncharacteristically into his chair and lowered his head into his hands.
The fourth time would begin the unraveling of The Great Harvey Specter.
Only three days had passed since Harvey had yelled at Mike, and so far, things were tense between the two men. Mike showed up on time, stopped by Donna's desk with coffee, then proceeded straight to his desk – not a glance in Harvey's direction.
Harvey should have felt pleased that his associate appeared too afraid of him to approach, but for some reason, Harvey felt rather disappointed.
Standing from his desk, Harvey turned to the window and picked up a baseball, spinning it slowly in his fingers. The kid hadn't spoken to him in three days, and Harvey Specter should be sadistically happy, or at least still angry at the kid for losing an important client.
Harvey's grip on the ball tightened. He didn't feel either of those things. Instead, he felt guilt. The kid had just looked so…hurt.
He slammed the ball down and returned to his seat. Content with the fact that most people would be gone now after 11:00pm, he didn't even attempt to conceal his frown. Staring out of the glass into the empty halls of Pearson Hardman did little to alleviate his sudden onset of feelings, however, and he lowered his head into his hands.
He needed coffee. He was just tired – overworked and stressed. The combination would surely bring about abnormal responses to situations.
Harvey stood from his desk and into the hall, cherishing the quiet that accompanied late nights in the office. His usual brisk, purposeful footsteps seemed too loud in the quiet hallway as he made his way to the break room.
As he glanced into the associate's bullpen – a habit ingrained most definitely not out of concern for a certain associate - he halted. Mike's desk lamp was illuminated, the soft glow basking his cluttered desk with light. Harvey moved to investigate.
Completely out of the desire to ensure his associate was working on his work, and not Louis', Harvey made his way to Mike's desk.
The kid's bag was still there, tossed unceremoniously on the floor, and papers littered the desk, an uncapped highlighter resting on top of them. Harvey looked down the hall toward the associate break room, but the light was off.
Where was the kid?
Purely out of the desire to confirm his associate wasn't slacking off and sleeping in the file room, Harvey prowled down the hall to the file room.
At the door, Harvey wrenched it open, hoping to scare the kid, and peered in. The room was empty. Slightly annoyed now, the lawyer closed the door and headed to the only other reasonable place his associate could hide.
Harvey reached the men's room and yanked open the door. The sight that greeted him would haunt his nightmares.
Mike was on the floor with his back resting gracelessly against the wall, arms and legs played out before him. The position looked vaguely uncomfortable, and Harvey probably would have laughed at the kid, had it not been for the blood covering the man's neck and staining the front of his shirt.
"Mike!" he shouted, his voice nearly cracking in anxiety.
Harvey ran to the slumped form, worry and fear coiling uncomfortably in his stomach. Shaking fingers found a shoulder and Harvey shook his associate desperately.
"Mike, open your eyes, kid."
Harvey's fear doubled as he received no response. All coherent thought left him, leaving behind only a panicked litany of, Oh god, oh god, oh god, no! No! No! Please!
"Mike," he croaked, his voice breaking.
Blue eyes slowly fluttered open. Harvey thought he might cry with relief.
"Oh thank god," he whispered to himself, leaning forward, suddenly exhausted, and resting his head against Mike's shoulder.
The man lifted his head to meet blue eyes, now blinked blearily at him.
"Wha' happened?" he mumbled, bringing a hand up to rub at his eye. He looked like he had just woken up. Harvey froze.
"Were you…sleeping?" he asked, completely bewildered.
Mike blinked a couple more times, then moved his gaze to the bathroom, looking rather confused. Then his eyes widened and he returned his gaze to Harvey, now looking rather sheepish.
"Ah," he said, hand now rubbing at the back of his neck. "Yeah, I was just so tired, and I couldn't get the bleeding to stop…"
Harvey finally looked down and saw a large wad of tissues in Mike's other hand, soaked with darkened blood.
"I decided to sit down and wait out the bleeding," Mike continued, looking down at his hands. "I guess I must have fallen asleep…"
Harvey felt so many conflicting emotions, he felt rather dizzy. Firstly, he was just so overwhelmingly relieved. Mike was alive. Not dead. Just sleeping.
Sleeping. The damn kid had fallen asleep. And he had freaked out. Harvey almost shuddered as he remembered how his breath had caught in his chest and his heart had plummeted as he looked at Mike on the floor. Heat pooled in his face as embarrassment flooded him. He had completely, totally lost all semblance of control.
He had almost...cried. Harvey Specter never cried.
"Get your shit together," he hissed, berating himself for his weakness.
He didn't feel things for people. He was Harvey Spector. He used emotion, he didn't feel it.
Harvey looked down at Mike at the soft, pained word. Oh. Had he said that out loud? Latching onto the idea, he quickly hardened his face.
"This is the second time in three days you've had this little…" he trailed off, gesturing to the man. "Problem," he finished, rather lamely. "Fix it," he growled, scowling at the man.
He backed up, prepared to run – no, walk confidently – out the restroom.
"Harvey, it's nothing," Mike said, struggling to his feet. "I won't let it affect my work."
"Too late," Harvey hissed, narrowing his eyes to take in Mike's rather wobbly legs.
"I was just tired," Mike explained, his eyes turned pleading.
Harvey pushed down the rising feelings of concern as he took in sunken eyes and pale skin. His hand twitched as his body betrayed his desire to hold Mike.
Harvey shook himself. He did not want to hold the kid.
"Get your shit together, Mike."
Please tell me what's wrong.
"Go see a doctor or something."
Let me take you to get examined.
"Just figure your shit out."
Please just be okay.
"Or you're fired."
Don't leave me.
The final thought utterly frightened him. Turning on his heel, Harvey stalked out the room.
Later, Harvey would say that that night was the beginning of the end of The Great Harvey Specter. For now, he was just overwhelmed.
Mike came in early the next day, no sign of distress other than his usual haphazardly pressed suit and entirely too skinny tie. Harvey forced himself to not look up from his files as he tossed Mike a case.
"Have this on my desk in four hours," he barked out.
So he might have given the kid extra time than usual, but only because he had a meeting. Not because his associate still looked tired. Not that he cared.
Mike didn't even respond, just grabbed the files and retreated.
Days passed, and though Harvey resolutely ignored the kid for all outward appearances, he watched the kid like a hawk. He looked fine. Tired, perhaps, but fine. The pale pallor of his skin had disappeared, and Harvey had coerced Donna into coercing Rachel into getting Mike lunch somehow each day.
As a week came and went, Harvey felt increasingly more uncomfortable. He'd glance into the associate's cubicles constantly, each time berating himself for the concern. He would be kept up at night, his mind cataloging Mike's appearance and comparing it to before. His mind would wander from reports, trying to remember each nosebleed incident.
It had only happened four times over three months, and before the most recent one, they'd each happened pretty far apart. And each were proceeded by long, exhausting hours. Harvey had Googled persistent nose bleeds, and nothing serious had come up, so he relaxed minimally.
As his thoughts drifted away from concern over his associate's health, his traitorous mind decided to linger on other, more frightening things.
Like how he rather missed the kid's presence.
Or how Mike looked, pale and slumped against the wall.
Or how his heart had plummeted at the thought of the kid being dead.
Harvey Specter was losing it.
And so, Harvey Specter did what any self-respecting man with an identity crisis did. He avoided the whole damn thing. He didn't leave his office except to meet with clients, which he did alone, because god help him if he had to actually sit next to Mike while his ridiculous mind tortured him with thoughts.
His dark mood kept everyone at bay, even Donna left him to his thoughts – only throwing him concerned glances now and then.
At two weeks after The Last Time, Harvey Specter found himself called into Jessica's office. His attempt to blow off the meeting was met with vivid and creative threats against his person, so at 8:00am sharp Wednesday morning, Harvey strode into the managing partner's office.
Jessica looked up from her desk at his entrance and gave him a steady glare, keenly observing him.
"Where is your associate?" she finally asked, setting down her pen and standing.
Harvey made himself comfortable on her couch, unbuttoning his suit jacket and tried to look casual. "My tracking device is currently not working. Ask Donna."
The woman just leveled him a look.
"I haven't seen him this morning," Harvey replied, shrugging. He really hadn't seen him for two weeks, but he wasn't going to tell Jessica that.
"Well, this case is big, and I'm going to need Mr. Ross' talents," Jessica said, moving around the desk and settling into the chair across from Harvey. "So I suppose we will wait until he arrives. I don't like repeating myself."
Harvey shifted in his seat after several minutes, hoping the frown on his face displayed anger rather than worry. He returned Jessica's small talk with only half-hearted interest as the minutes ticked by without any sign of his associate.
After thirty minutes of waiting and, for Harvey, growing anxiety, Mike Ross literally stumbled through the door to Jessica's office.
"Kind of you to show up, Mr. Ross," Jessica said, giving the kid a stern glare. Harvey turned around and took in Mike's haggard appearance.
While he hadn't truly seen his associate in the past two weeks, he had glimpsed him from afar. Either in passing the associate's cubicles every so often for unnecessary trips to the file room, or to watch the kid lock up his bike while he overlooked from the coffee cart – which he just happened to be at every morning at the exact time he knew Mike would be coming.
But from all those glimpses of Mike, he hadn't really had the chance to see how exhausted the man had looked. The kid's face was pale, his eyes slightly red and accompanied by heavy dark circles.
"Sorry!" Mike spluttered, closing the door and turning to face the tall woman. "I'm here."
Harvey watched as the younger man stumbled weakly over to where they sat, eyes narrowing. Mike's forehead glistened with sweat and his tie looked sloppier than usual. The damn kid had probably rushed in after sleeping late.
"I do hope we haven't interrupted your beauty sleep," Harvey growled, scowling at the younger man.
Mike turned to glance at him, flushing slightly. "Sorry," he mumbled, looking away. "Won't happen…again."
Harvey frowned as Mike had to take a gulp of breath before finishing the short sentence. The kid couldn't have been that winded. Bells started going off in Harvey's mind. But naturally, he couldn't just ask the kid if he was okay.
"I'm sure," he scoffed, his tone laden with sarcasm.
"Well, now that we're all here," Jessica said, sitting up straighter and opening the files. "Let's begin."
Harvey focused what he would describe as a herculean effort to pay attention to Jessica. He really did. But this was the closest he'd been to Mike for two weeks, and his traitorous eyes couldn't keep from glancing over at the man. And they didn't like what they saw.
Mike's breathing never slowed. Instead of leveling out, his breaths continued to come in short, labored puffs that the kid tried to keep quiet. After a few minutes, he began tugging at his already-mussed tie.
"Mike," Harvey said, wincing slightly as his tone came out harsh in his worry. His associate turned to him, the frown on his face momentarily lifting to show his confusion.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" he asked, feeling the guilt weigh heavier as Mike flinched from his words.
"I – I don't – nothing, Harvey," Mike mumbled, his hand coming up to rub at his chest nervously.
Jessica sighed as she closed the folder in her hands. "Have either of you actually been listening to anything I've been saying?" she snapped.
"S-sorry, Ms. Pearson," Mike apologized quickly, hand still rubbing his chest. Harvey's eyes zeroed in on the action, thoughts buzzing now with worry.
Standing abruptly, Harvey stalked over to his associate and clapped a hand on his shoulder. "What's going on?" he barked out, narrowing his eyes to take in the man's pale face.
"I'm fine," Mike said, trying to shove Harvey's hand off his shoulder. The older man's anxiety increased as weak fingers failed to move his hand off Mike's shoulder.
"Come with me," Harvey growled, moving his hand to grab Mike around the upper arm and pulling the kid from his seat.
"I'm not finished," Jessica snapped, standing. "What is going on here?"
Mike swayed on his feet as he was pulled into a standing position, his face paling further. Harvey tightened his grip as his heart beat quickened. His gut was telling him something was very wrong, and he was going to figure it out right now.
Mike, however, apparently had other ideas. The kid managed to wriggle out of Harvey's grip, and took a step back.
"Mike –" Harvey began, his tone commanding.
"No, Harvey," Mike cut him off, giving the man a glare. "You can't just ignore me…for weeks," he continued, pausing halfway to take a breath, "then go and be all…" The kid trailed off, gesturing weakly to Harvey.
Harvey bristled in anger. The damn kid didn't know what he was talking about. Every day he'd spent hours thinking about him, worrying about him, observing him quietly. Damnit, he was going soft.
"You're a pain in my ass, rookie," Harvey hissed, bringing a hand up to pinch the bridge of his nose.
"Exactly," Mike said, still glaring at his boss. "So don't you start…pretending like you care now."
Harvey looked up, honestly surprised. The damned fool accused him of caring every other week, and now he's suddenly lost faith?
"Listen here, Mike," Harvey said, moving forward to close in on the younger man.
As the associate took a step back from Harvey, his face pinched in pain. Harvey halted immediately, the pained look frightening him. Mike grimaced further, letting out a small whimpering sound as he pressed his hand to his chest.
At the sound, Harvey could feel his tiny, blackened heart clench with worry and a powerful need to make it better.
"Mike?" he asked, a tiny part of his mind utterly sick at his desperate tone. "Are you alright?"
Mike's eyes moved slowly to Harvey's, and the terrified, pained look would be another image that would haunt the older man's nightmares.
"H-Harvey," Mike gasped, legs now shaking. "H-help…" he began, reaching out his other hand weakly. Then Mike Ross fell to the floor.