Disclaimer: Say it with me now ~ me ... don't ... own.
Summary: "Do you play?" Mike asked, head nodding towards the baby grand piano in the corner, and before Harvey could answer Mike continued with, "Nah, you're probably one of those rich bastards who buys a piano just because they can afford it and can't play a note to save themselves."
The statement was delivered without heat, a twinkle in his eyes, and Harvey couldn't help but laugh. It wasn't an accurate account by any stretch of the imagination, but before he could protest Mike was up off the couch and heading over to it. He sat on the soft bench and lifted the fallboard, his fingers gliding reverently over the keys.
Authors Notes: Written during the mid-season two hiatus, so just ignore everything that happened post High Noon - especially Mike getting high again after that night with Harvey. Thanks as always to my lovely beta smartalli.
Harvey was enjoying a rare night off. He debated going out, grabbing a drink and seeing where the night took him, but after an internal debate that lasted about five seconds, he decided a night in would be much more enjoyable. He was exhausted. Things had been insane lately. It felt like his life had been non-stop for months. But for the first time in weeks he thought that maybe things might start to calm down, so he took the opportunity while he could, declaring all work off limits for the weekend.
He was flicking through his TV guide when there was a soft knock at the door. Harvey stood with a groan and headed to the door to answer it. He wasn't expecting anyone (had actually turned down a couple of invitations to go out) and his doorman hadn't announced anyone to him, so it must've been either a neighbour or one of the few people on Harvey's all-access list that could come and go without being announced.
It was Mike.
He was just standing there, both hands shoved into his pockets, coat and hair slightly damp from the current flurry of snow falling onto the city streets. He didn't look at Harvey, was staring at his shoes like they were the most interesting things in the world.
"Mike?" Harvey asked, feeling suddenly uneasy.
Mike took in a deep breath, finally looked up and met Harvey's eyes. He was pale, eyes glassy, and he shuddered out a soft, "Hey."
Harvey gave him another once over and before he could stop himself asked, "Are you high?"
Because he'd only ever seen Mike look like this once, when Harvey showed up at Mike's apartment after Edith's funeral.
But Mike was shaking his head. "No. Uh … today, it's – it was Grammy's birthday."
Oh. Well, that explained Mike's demeanor then. It had only been a few months since his grandmother's death and, though Mike was doing much better now than he was back then, a reminder such as this was bound to get the emotions flying.
"I was sitting at home, thinking about her, and I just wanted to not think about it, you know. Just wanted to block it all out. So I went looking to score some pot."
"Mike," Harvey breathed sadly.
Mike finally smiled. It was small, but it was definitely there. "Don't worry, I didn't do it. I came here instead. I … uh, I hope that's okay."
Waves of relief rolled through Harvey. He opened the door wider and said, "Mike, if you ever feel the need to get high, it's always okay to come to me instead."
Mike threw him a thankful smile, shedding his winter layers (a coat, hoodie, scarf and gloves) as he stepped into the warm apartment. Harvey took them from him and gestured for Mike to sit while he hung everything up in his walk-in. When he returned to the lounge, Mike had shucked off his shoes and curled up on the side of the couch, was flicking through Harvey's TV like he owned the place.
Harvey was disturbed by how little that bothered him.
Mike was too engrossed in the TV to notice him, and so Harvey hung back, leaned against the doorframe as he took in the sight before him. If someone had told him a year ago that a stranger would come crashing into his life, unapologetic and unyielding, that that someone would have a genius brain and an attachment to undeserving assholes and a loyal streak even wider than his, that that someone would've been a borderline drug addict who had been so disappointed by life that he always took the easy way out, Harvey would've been torn between staring at them like they were an idiot and bursting out into laughter. Because Harvey didn't do attachments, not in the traditional sense, and even if he did, he would never allow himself to become invested in someone with as much baggage as Mike had. And yet, there they were, Mike curled up on his couch like that was where he belonged, Harvey nothing but warmed by the situation.
Mike finally looked up and noticed the older man. He put the remote down and seemed to draw even more in on himself. "I'm sorry for crashing your night in. I just didn't have anywhere else to go." Mike laughed, completely without humour. "How sad is that? The only person I can go to when I'm in emotional crisis is my boss."
Harvey ignored the small flinch he made at the boss comment and moved into the room, sat on the couch beside Mike. He ran a hand through his hair, wondering how best to say this without crossing any lines (or sounding really stupid).
"Mike, after everything we've been through, I think it's time to admit what we really are."
Mike's eyes widened visibly at that, looking almost panicked. Beyond that he remained still, like he was bracing for something he didn't want to hear.
Harvey held out his hand and said, "Friends?"
Mike laughed, clearly relieved, and shook his hand with a smile. "Friends."
Mike turned back to the TV and found something for them to watch. Harvey eased back into the couch, feet on the coffee table, relaxed in the silence sitting between them. Mike refused his offer of a drink or food, and so they watched the movie in relative peace, only throwing out the occasional sarcastic comment.
When the movie was finished it was past eight o'clock, and Harvey was starting to get hungry. "Stir-fry okay for dinner?" he asked, standing and heading to the kitchen.
There were a few beats of silence, and when Harvey realised that Mike wasn't answering, he looked back to see the younger man sitting straight on the couch, looking torn. "You don't have to – I can go if – you probably don't want-"
"Mike," Harvey said firmly, "stop."
Mike still looked ready to bolt, and Harvey knew that though he appeared calmer and more settled than when he arrived, he was still slightly fragile. There was no way in hell he was letting Mike leave yet.
"You can stay. I want you to."
He saw Mike let out a shaky breath before he stood and joined Harvey in the kitchen. "Can I help?" he asked, and because Harvey knew how much Mike disliked cooking, he took it as the thank you with which the statement was intended.
"Sure," he replied, his smile an obvious you're welcome.
Harvey cut the meat and Mike cut the vegetables, and they moved around the kitchen so easily that Harvey was struck with how domestic it felt. He couldn’t remember the last time he cooked a meal with someone. Sure, he had cooked for people before, and often, but this was different. It was so easy and actually fun, and they were talking and joking and Harvey was struck with a feeling in his chest that screamed about home and right and he tried his best to ignore it.
They ate dinner on the couch with the TV tuned to the news channel and they just talked. Despite the fact that they made their considerable living on talking, on words and the context with which they are used, Harvey couldn't remember it ever feeling this easy. And it's always been easy with Mike. From the day they met they had a natural report, felt comfortable enough to tease and argue and give each other shit when they still should've been in that polite and tentative stage. But this felt different. They didn’t talk about work, didn't really talk about anything significant, and maybe that's why it was so great. It was normal. This was what people did, every day, they talked and connected and just relaxed.
"Do you play?" Mike asked, head nodding towards the baby grand piano in the corner, and before Harvey could answer Mike continued with, "Nah, you're probably one of those rich bastards who buys a piano just because they can afford it and can't play a note to save themselves."
The statement was delivered without heat, a twinkle in his eyes, and Harvey couldn't help but laugh. It wasn't an accurate account by any stretch of the imagination, but before he could protest Mike was up off the couch and heading over to it. He sat on the soft bench and lifted the fallboard, his fingers gliding lightly over the keys, almost reverently.
And then, with a deep breath, Mike started playing. Harvey sat up straighter, leaned forward in his seat, eyes entranced as he watched. From this angle he could see Mike's profile, and though he was smiling it was small, like he was lost in thought, perhaps in memory.
Harvey could not have enumerated all the different feelings swirling within as he watched Mike play his piano. It was overwhelming. He wanted to laugh and he wanted to cry. It was like some missing piece had finally fallen into place, and he never wanted the moment to end.
The music was, without doubt or quantification, beautiful. It wasn't a piece Harvey recognised. The notes mixed together in a haunting kind of way, mournful but with a touch of hope, and when it was over a few minutes later, Harvey sucked in a deep breath as he realized he’d been so enraptured he’d barely breathed.
Mike looked to him then, tentative but unguarded, like not only did he fully expect Harvey to make some smartass comment or tell him he was terrible, but that he'd be completely okay if he did.
"I didn’t know you could play," was Harvey's actual comment, and it was probably a ridiculous thing to say, but he couldn't help it.
Mike laughed lightly. "Harvey, the things we don't know about each other could fill the Encyclopedia Britannica."
"You know they don't make those anymore."
"Well, what we don't know about each other could fill the entirety of Wikipedia then."
Harvey groaned, making Mike laugh even more. Mike knew Harvey's feelings on Wikipedia (hint: they weren't good), thus weirdly disproving his original statement.
Harvey's head began to hurt, and he felt like he was losing track of this conversation. He physically shook his head to clear his mind and refocus. He looked at Mike, this young man who had inexplicably crashed into his life (and, even more incredibly, hadn't left), and said honestly, "You know me."
He could tell the significance of the words was not lost on Mike. He looked like he wanted to look away, but was forcing himself to keep Harvey's gaze.
"Only because sometimes you get high with me and tell me things you wouldn't tell me sober," Mike said. His tone was light and teasing, but Harvey could hear an indescribable something lining his words.
"Okay, first of all," Harvey said, rising off the couch, "that was once, and it's never going to happen again. The getting stoned part I mean," he quickly added when Mike's face fell slightly. "And as for the rest of it, okay, let's get to know each other. When did you learn to play?"
Harvey sat beside Mike at the piano. The bench was long enough to take both of them, but only just, and Harvey could feel the line of Mike down his arm and leg. His hand hovered over the ivory keys, but before he could press down he withdrew his hand, rubbing it on his thighs.
He looked up to see that Mike had witnessed his little moment, but something in Harvey's expression must've stopped him from asking about it. Instead, he answered Harvey's question. "I learned when I was a kid. I go back to it every few years, but I haven't played in a while, certainly not on an instrument like this."
"What was it? The song you played?"
"Um," Mike tried to stall, clearly embarrassed. "It was something I wrote when I was a teenager."
Harvey knew he was staring at Mike like a crazy person, but he couldn't make himself stop. "You wrote this?" Harvey said, tone a mixture of shock and disbelief, and okay, maybe Mike was right. Maybe they really didn't know anything about each other. Mike had a genius mind and a generous spirit and now it appeared he had incredible magical talent. It was almost unfair.
"Yeah," Mike replied, smiling shyly. "It was the only piece I ever wrote. I haven't played it in nearly ten years. You're the only one who has heard it, other than Grammy that is."
Harvey worried this mention of Edith might send Mike back into himself, but on the contrary, it seemed to brighten him, thinking of her, obviously luxuriating in a happy memory. Harvey let him bask for a few moments before asking, "What's it called?"
Mike looked away, refused to answer. Harvey wasn't putting up with that shit, so he playfully elbowed him, prompting him with a smile when Mike looked at him.
Mike took a deep breath and said, "It's called 'All My Fortunes At Thy Foot I'll Lay'."
Harvey took a moment to let that sink in before grinning. "Romeo & Juliet? Really?"
"Since you know it was from Romeo & Juliet that means you can't give me shit for it," Mike pointed out, the lawyer in him trying to find the loophole.
"Oh no, I'm still going to give you shit for it," Harvey laughed, and Mike couldn't help but join in. "I mean … um … why?"
And that made Mike laugh all the more. He shrugged. "I don't know. I'd just started reading Shakespeare when I wrote it, and I just really liked the quote. There was something rhythmical and melodic about the expression which I liked, and I thought it suited the piece."
Harvey was still rolling the idea around in his mind that as a teenager, Mike read Shakespeare and wrote music and it should’ve been comical but instead it was just endearing. But he was torn from his thoughts by Mike knocking his shoulder into his.
"Okay, your turn," Mike said, and when Harvey stared at him dumbfounded, Mike elaborated with, "Tell me something I don't already know."
Harvey looked away, focused on the keys in front of him. "This piano was my dad's. He was a sax player, mainly, but he loved the piano too and he taught me to play. I was terrible at it." Harvey laughed lightly at the memory, his dad overly enthusiastic in his praise whenever he managed to get through a whole song intact because it didn't happen too often. "But I didn't care. I just loved sharing that with him, you know." He could sense more than see Mike's nod. "I haven't played anything since he died."
"Oh, Harvey," Mike's voice was sad. And then he practically flailed beside him, the movement dragging Harvey's eyes up. "Shit. I shouldn't have just played – I didn't know – I'm so sorry –"
"It's okay," Harvey told him, reaching out and wrapping a hand around Mike's to still him. "It's okay, Mike. Honestly. I'm glad you played it. It's been sitting here unused for too long."
Mike calmed slightly, but still seemed a little unsure. Harvey unthinkingly kept hold of his hand, thumb idling back and forth across the back of his hand, and it seemed to finally soothe him.
"Tell me about your dad," Mike said, and when Harvey looked at him he could see that he was genuinely curious.
So Harvey did. He told him about Gordon's face when Harvey learned to play Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. About how he would go on tour for months at a time but stay up until the morning so he could phone home and talk to Harvey and Miles, his younger brother, before they went off to school. About how Harvey's screw-ups were probably just a way to get Gordon's attention when he was away for too long. About the last piece of music Gordon ever wrote, which he named after Harvey and Miles. About how he had called Harvey the day he died, but Harvey never got a chance to call him back.
Harvey trailed off after that, always so wrapped up in guilt when he thought about that last day. It was only Mike's hand squeezing his thigh gently that got his attention. He shifted his gaze to Mike, saw Mike looking at him with bright eyes and a shaky smile.
"I wish I could’ve met him."
"Me too," Harvey replied, smiling sadly. And then he added the biggest compliment he had ever paid Mike when he voluntarily supplied an honest, "He would’ve liked you."
"How could he not?" Mike asked with a grin and Harvey laughed, which, given Mike's expression, was obviously the desired result. But then Mike sobered and quietly added, "Grammy liked you."
Harvey was momentarily stunned into silence. "But she barely knew me," he protested, not to be an asshole about it, but simply because he couldn’t comprehend it. He had met Edith once and spent less than five minutes in her company. How could she have decided just from that that she liked him?
"Well, admittedly, she was probably predisposed to like you. But she had this thing," Mike smiled softly, the one Harvey had come to associate as being reserved solely for thoughts of his grandmother, "where she always decided within a minute if she liked someone. I swear, it's like the phrase about first impressions lasting was invented solely for her. She always made up her mind straight away and, as infuriating as it could be, she was almost always right."
Harvey didn't speak, couldn’t form the words to say how much Edith's approval meant. She was Mike's only relative, the most important person in his life, and he didn’t know why it mattered to him so much that she'd liked him, but it did.
"I like you too."
Harvey had to have misheard it. It was whispered low enough that the only logical explanation was just that. He had misheard. Or even if he hadn't, it didn’t mean what Harvey thought (hoped) it meant. Mike was just taking the conversation to the next step, and really, was that comment so far from Harvey's earlier admittance that they weren’t just a boss and his subordinate but actual friends? It didn't mean that Mike liked him. This wasn't Junior High – they were both modern men, and Harvey wasn't going to spoil the moment by asking if he liked him or liked liked him.
But then Mike was running a hand through his hair, something Harvey knew was a nervous tick, and Mike started babbling, "Fuck. I shouldn't – I'm sorry, Harvey, I didn't mean – I swear this doesn't change anything. Let's just pretend I never said anything. I don't want to ruin everything. Just forget it. Let us never speak of it again."
And didn't that just answer the question Harvey didn't have the balls to ask.
Mike wouldn't look at him. Harvey was certain the younger man could feel his stare on the back of his neck, but he wouldn't face him, just continued staring at the wall like it held all of life's great answers. Mike's body was a jumble of nerves; his leg was bouncing and his fingers were twisting together and if Harvey was a betting man (which he was), he would put everything he owned on Mike worrying his bottom lip.
"Mike," Harvey said in his softest, most gentle voice. Mike didn't turn, so Harvey repeated his name and this time wrapped a hand around the back of his neck to gently coax him back. When he finally turned to face him, Harvey inhaled sharply. He had never seen Mike look so scared, and he actually felt a physical response at Mike's distress. He didn't drop his hand, kneaded his fingertips through the short hairs at the nape of Mike's neck and smiled in what he hoped was a reassuring way. "Before we never speak of this again…"
Harvey kissed him. It was so simple, just a quick move forward and a press of their lips and everything was different. He took it slowly, not wanting to scare Mike. Because despite Mike's unintended confession he still had no idea if he wanted this for real, and he wanted to give Mike the opportunity to tap out if that was what he wanted.
But Mike returned the embrace, opened his mouth slightly before pressing in again. He rested a hand on Harvey's thigh, gripping slightly. It was barely anything more than a simple peck, though admittedly one that lingered, striding right past the border of platonic and into the realm of want. When they broke away it was only to withdraw their lips; their hands were still on each other and their foreheads pressed together and they were so close they breathed the same air.
Harvey swore he heard something like a groan and then Mike was kissing him again. It was deeper, their mouths opening simultaneously and tongues sliding in like that was where they belonged. But even then, even with the lust coursing through his veins and Mike tightening his grip on his thigh and the absolute desire to claim Mike as his, they still kissed slowly. They had plenty of time, hopefully a lifetime of it, but they were never going to get another first kiss, and he wanted it to last forever.
Soon enough he wanted more, wanted to touch, wanted skin and warmth. But they were sitting side by side and the angle was weird. When they broke away for air Harvey took the opportunity, leaning completely back and out of Mike's grasp. Mike looked dazed and Harvey couldn't help but grin. He did that.
Harvey stood up, and a look of panic briefly graced Mike's features. It was removed when Harvey sat back down, this time straddling the bench so he could face him properly. Mike grinned and kissed him again, hand wide and flat on Harvey's thigh. The older man finally got his first touch of Mike, slipping his hands beneath Mike's tee and gripping at his ribs. Things began to heat up fairly quickly, their kisses turning frantic, Mike bumping his elbow into the piano keys as he tried to angle closer, and then something happened that Harvey never saw coming.
Mike broke away, laughing.
And not just a giggle, but full on body-shaking and mouth-covering laughter. Harvey stared at him, his face a mixture of surprise and confusion and frustration and when Mike saw it, he just laughed even harder. Harvey threw his hands up in the air, resigned.
"I'm sorry," Mike said, still laughing, and he didn’t look sorry at all. "Harvey. Sorry. I just – my mind went somewhere weird and I couldn't – sorry…"
"Okay, with a statement like that, there's no way you're not telling me what the hell is going on in that head of yours," Harvey told him, voice firm but with no real heat.
"Oh God," Mike was starting to calm down, and finally had the grace to look embarrassed. "It's really stupid," he warned, and none of these statements were making Harvey less curious.
Harvey fixed his eye on him, arched an eyebrow, and waited.
Finally Mike groaned and said in a rush, "I just suddenly thought of that ridiculous scene in Pretty Woman where they try and have sex on a piano," and then he lasted all of three seconds before laughing again.
Mike was right. It was really stupid. He had fallen for a juvenile. But Mike's laughter was infectious, and despite his best effort Harvey couldn't help but grin.
"Mike, let me tell you, we are not having sex on this piano."
And Mike suddenly sobered, his expression unreadable, and after a second's confusion Harvey realised that maybe his statement had been a little too definite, and now Mike thought they weren't having sex at all. To remedy this miscommunication, he immediately leaned forward and kissed him, adding with a smile, "Not when there is a perfectly good bed only thirty feet away."