Mike's always been jealous of Harvey's near impeccable timing, but he pushes the thought aside as Harvey walks through the front door just as he's finishing up their dinner. Harvey greets him but continues walking to the bedroom, re-emerging in his casual clothes just as Mike is pouring the risotto into two bowls.
"How'd it go?" Mike asks, slightly tentative.
"Fine," Harvey replies dismissively, taking the bowl with a grateful smile and heading to the lounge.
Mike follows, worried, and when they settle into the couch Harvey says, "Wanna keep going with Battlestar?" He reaches for the remote before Mike even has a chance to answer, and so Mike stops him, reaching over and grasping his hand in his before he's taken hold of the object.
"Harvey," Mike says, voice slightly forceful. The older man looks over at him, and he looks slightly annoyed, but Mike won't let go. He keeps his fingers wrapped around Harvey's hand and says, "Talk to me. I know we're not actually involved or anything, but I'm still your friend. I care about you, and I can tell something's wrong. I know you're used to keeping everything to yourself, but you have me now. So please, talk to me."
He lets go at last, gives Harvey a moment of space. If he decides he still doesn’t want to talk, then fine, Mike will respect that. But he needs Harvey to know that he's here, for whatever he needs, whenever he needs it.
"Telling Jessica," Harvey says, his voice low, "lying to Jessica, it was harder than I thought it'd be. I don't regret it," he hastily adds, like he thinks Mike is about to apologize once again for getting them into this situation (and he's right, so Mike remains silent). "This is what needs to be done, and I'm okay with that. And it's not that we tell each other every aspect of our lives or anything. But I've never lied to her like this before."
"Apart from hiring me to begin with," Mike points out, and he means it in a joking way, wants to lighten the mood, but it doesn't work. His voice is too heavy, too overwhelmed with everything Harvey is doing for him.
"Mike, whatever happens, I'll never regret any of my decisions when it comes to you."
And he just sounds so earnest that Mike believes him. He really does. As much as he wants to offer Harvey the chance to get out of this, because he never wanted to compromise the relationships Harvey has had for the decades before they met, he can't do it. Maybe he's selfish, wanting Harvey like this, but he can't help it. So he ignores the feelings in favor of focusing on the knowledge that even if he offered an out to Harvey, that he would never take it. Harvey's in this for real. And so is Mike.
He wants to tell Harvey that he's sorry for complicating his relationship with Jessica. He wants to say that he's sorry for getting them into this situation. He wants to tell him how grateful he is, that he has Harvey in his life, that Harvey chose to do this for him. He wants to say how much it means to him that even after all this Harvey's still glad Mike came crashing into his hotel room that day.
But the words seem too small. He wants them to move forward, no uncertainty and no regrets. Whatever happens, whether this plan works or not, he wants to commit to it, commit to Harvey and everything he's doing for him.
So what he actually ends up saying is, "What are you doing this weekend?"
Harvey screws up his face at this seemingly random question. "Uh, nothing planned. Why?"
Mike bites his lower lip briefly, looks away as he asks, "I know we somehow keep getting sidetracked whenever the topic comes up, but I'm gonna have to move in here eventually, right? So I figure, why bother putting it off. If it's okay with you, I mean, I thought I might move in this weekend. Like officially."
Mike doesn’t know why he's so nervous asking for something that they both know is going to happen sooner or later. But it still feels like a massive step, and maybe he should've waited for Harvey to offer. But then Harvey smiles at him, and says, "Well, I guess our weekend's not free anymore."
It's surreal to think that at this time last week Harvey was sitting at the best table in one of the city's finest restaurants, opposite a beautiful woman with flowing dark hair and legs that went for days, because right now he's relaxing in a corner booth at a hole in the wall restaurant, eating really bad food, laughing his head off as his fiancé recounts the story of the night he and his girlfriend got busted skinny dipping by the cops, complete with the ridiculous story he came up with to explain just what in the hell they were doing there.
What a difference seven days makes.
It still feels a bit bizarre when he thinks about it, how much his life has changed in such a short amount of time. But Harvey is also self aware enough to know that he infinitely prefers this. As fun as it is spending the evening with a beautiful stranger, a whole world of possibilities open to him, this is so much better. Mike is one of the few people on Earth who really knows him. He's one of his best friends, one of the people that Harvey cares for more than he will ever admit, and it's better. Everything is better when you're with someone you know and trust, and Harvey knows that when presented with the choice of a night on the town with a hot date or a quiet night alone with Mike, he'll choose Mike without a moment's hesitation.
Mike insists on paying. He surprises Harvey with his vehemence, so Harvey lets him, heads outside to hail a cab in the fall rain while Mike settles the tab. When Mike climbs in beside him they head home and spend the rest of the evening going through another disc of Battlestar Gallactica.
Harvey normally keeps to his gym schedule, even on the weekend, but when Saturday morning rolls around and his alarm goes off he thinks fuck it and goes back to sleep. Which means, for the first time, Mike is actually up before him. Harvey stumbles out into the lounge to find Mike sitting at the table, eating breakfast and reading a newspaper while one of Harvey's records plays softly in the background.
Something in Harvey's chest hurts at the sight, but he tries his best to ignore it.
Mike smiles when he looks up and sees him. He tells Harvey to sit down, and for no other reason other than curiosity, he does. Mike disappears into the kitchen, and Harvey can see him move around the space, pouring a glass of juice and moving between the stove and toaster and refrigerator before returning to the table, placing a plate of scrambled eggs and English muffin in front of him.
"Thanks," Harvey says, surprised.
Mike shrugs, like it was no big deal that he made Harvey breakfast. "Big day. Gonna need lots of energy."
"So what's the plan?" Harvey asks, before he starts eating his breakfast.
Mike shrugs. "Figured we could just head to mine and just jump right in. I don't really have a lot of stuff, and a lot of it can be thrown because, let's face it, your stuff is much nicer than mine. I say we just pick a room each, decide what's staying and what's going, and dive right in."
A few hours later, when they are standing in the middle of Mike's apartment and deciding what is going to be kept and what's going to be thrown (or donated, as the case may be), Harvey realizes that Mike is looking at this long term. Not once has he mentioned putting his belongings into storage for when they eventually get divorced, for when this whole charade inevitably ends.
There are three possibilities that come to mind. Either he thinks a) they're going to be living together indefinitely, b) that when he moves out he'll just buy all new belongings, or c) he just hasn't thought it through at all.
Knowing Mike it's probably Option C, and Harvey knows he should bring this up, maybe put some of Mike's furniture into storage so he doesn't have to start all over again when he eventually moves out. But for some reason he can't bring himself to do it. The words get stuck on his tongue and all he can do is just nod when Mike points at the things he wants to bring back to Harvey's and help him pack up all his belongings, remaining mute the whole time.
Mike brings surprisingly little with him. His bike is stored in the garage below Harvey's building. The majority of his clothes fit into the closet in the guest room (Mike's room now, he supposes), with the small overflow making its way to Harvey's walk-in. His toiletries take up residence in the bathroom, separate from Harvey's in his own en suite. His DVDs and CDs mix in with Harvey's in the entertainment unit, his TV is mounted on the wall in his bedroom, some of his more sentimental belongings scatter themselves across the apartment – the most obvious being the panda picture which Harvey hangs in their kitchen – and that's pretty much it.
It only takes a day. Harvey pays out Mike's lease with his landlord while Mike is dealing with the movers. They drop the furniture and appliances they're donating to a charity not far from where Mike lived. Mike unpacks most of his belongings himself while Harvey prepares dinner, Harvey helping him when their dinner is cooking in the oven, and then it's done.
Mike has officially moved in.
It takes until mid afternoon for Mike to realize.
He looks over at Harvey, who is eased comfortably into the couch, feet on the coffee table, open bag of potato chips in his lap. A week ago he'd never seen Harvey like this, so relaxed and at ease with the world. It was clearly his most relaxed self, the version he left at home every day when he went into Pearson Hardman and assumed the mantle of Harvey Specter, badass lawyer and best damn closer in the city.
But the thing is, he must have a life of his own outside of Pearson Hardman. Mike knew that he did, that he went to events and bars and had a varied social (who are we kidding, sex) life. And yet, this whole week, he's been hanging with Mike. He hasn't seen him so much as text someone outside of work hours, and it occurs to Mike that maybe he's here just for him, that in any other circumstance Harvey wouldn't be spending this much time shut inside. And he doesn’t want to be a burden for Harvey, any more than he already is anyway. So when the episode they are currently watching ends Mike says, "If you have other things you'd rather be doing I'm totally fine."
Harvey turns to him, forehead crinkled with confusion. "What are you talking about?"
"Well, I figure you don’t normally spend your Sundays like this," Mike says, waving an arm to point out the junk food on the table and the blanket on their laps and the TV which is scrolling through the episode credits. "I can't imagine you've ever spent your entire Sunday mainlining a TV show before now. If you're doing this just because you think I want you to then you don't have to. I mean, not that I don't want you to hang out with me. Because I do. But if you'd rather be doing something else, you know, going out with friends or whatever it is you normally do, you don't have to stay just for me."
Mike really wants to just burrow under the covers and hide in embarrassment. He hated doing that, envied Harvey's perpetual elegance when Mike got tongue tied and lost for words more often than he cared to admit. He really needs to think before he opens his mouth to prevent saying stupid things just because he hadn't thought about how best to phrase his statement.
But Harvey doesn't look at him like he's an idiot. He doesn't seem at all annoyed by Mike's rambling. If anything it's like he finds his uncertainty endearing. And he says softly, "When have you ever known me to do anything I didn't want to do?" before turning his attention back to the television like the whole conversation never happened.
Mike lets the grin overtake his face, because Harvey's focused on the screen in front of them and can't see. He doesn't know why it means so much, that Harvey could be doing anything in the world and all he wants to do is hang with Mike. But he feels a warmth spread throughout his body and he settles deeper into the couch as the next episode starts up.
Gordon Specter lives in the quiet hamlet of Clinton Corners, which gives Mike the two hour drive (probably longer with the Columbus Day traffic) from Manhattan to grill Harvey about his family.
"Come on, Harvey," Mike whines when Harvey tries to ignore Mike's pestering. "I have to know something about your family other than their names. We're supposed to be together, remember. You're supposed to have spoken to me about them, several times, over the last year."
"I get that," Harvey tells him. "I just don't know where to start."
"Well, let's put it this way. I need more than 'my father's name is Gordon and he's a musician, and my brother's name is Nathaniel and he's a teacher'."
Harvey exhales slowly. It feels wrong to have this conversation here, sitting in the Lexus they rented which smells of leather and pine, driving up the Taconic with Mike's ridiculous music filtering throughout the car. But Mike's right. If they're going to sell this relationship he can't go into the situation blind.
"My dad's a sax player. He's amazing, and it's not just familial love saying that. He played with everyone, all the jazz greats. And they all loved him. He was on the road a lot when I was a kid, which obviously upset me at the time but I get now. He's the most understanding, protective, genial, intelligent man I think I've ever met."
"What about your mom?"
Harvey takes a moment to decide what to say. He doesn't want to go into all the gory details, so he just says, "They divorced when I was nineteen and Nate was fourteen. I haven't seen her since."
He keeps his eyes focused on the road, all the better to avoid Mike's surprised stare which still manages to burn into the side of his face. But Mike, despite Harvey's protests that he reads books and not people, can obviously sense Harvey's discomfort at the topic, so he doesn’t press his curiosity further.
"Okay, so tell me more about your brother."
"He lives just outside of Hudson, so we don't get to see each other as much as we'd like. He teaches high school English, so he's only really free during the school holidays, and since he's got kids of his own the only time we really see each other is during our annual catch up. But we email a lot, and Skype a bit so I can still see my nephew and niece."
"How old are his kids?"
"Owen is four and Maisie is nearly three."
"Is he married?"
"Divorced. It was finalized about a year ago now."
Mike stops his questions after that, and Harvey wants to revel in the silence but he's just suspicious of it. He quickly glances at Mike to see his expression is thoughtful.
Against his better judgement, Harvey asks, "What is it?"
"Nothing," Mike says, but Harvey sees through the lie.
He can hear Mike sigh. "It's just, your parents and your brother are both divorced. I mean, I lost my parents when I was young, and that sucks, but at least I know that they were happy and loved each other. But your brother and your dad, they don't have that. It just makes me kinda sad."
Harvey keeps his eyes on the road. He won't say it, but it makes him sad too. He knows how much his father and brother had loved their wives, had seen them love so wholeheartedly, and still they couldn't make it work (admittedly for vastly different reasons). And now Harvey was going to become just like them, relegated to another divorce statistic.
Mike stops his questions after that, and Harvey's glad. The closer they inch towards his dad's home the more anxious he feels. He's not worried about his family and Mike not getting along. They'll love Mike, Harvey can almost guarantee it. But therein lies the problem. They're going to love him and be happy for Harvey and it's all a lie.
Harvey knows it's a necessary evil, that to save Mike (and himself, at this point) no one can know the truth. But his family has always been his safe place. They're the only people in the world he can be himself with, doesn't have to maintain the image he presents to the world back in Manhattan. And he feels like introducing Mike to his family, combining those two worlds, it's like tempting fate. He feels like he's walking down a road of no return, and he doesn't know what's going to happen but he can't help but brace himself anyway.
"Harvey?" Mike asks softly, after a near half hour of a not uncomfortable silence, and Harvey is secretly proud that he's managed to go this long before continuing with his questions.
"What have you told your family about me?"
Harvey's glad that he's driving, that he has something to keep his eyes focused away from Mike's face. He can't look at him, not when Mike sounds like that, tentative and hopeful and nervous all at once.
"I told them that I was bringing someone important home to meet everyone. I was hoping the sheer shock of such a statement would render Nate speechless, or that he'd be too busy flailing with excitement he wouldn't ask any questions, but unfortunately he immediately demanded to know who it was and how we met and all that crap. I literally said 'his name is Mike' and because I'd mentioned you before he realized who it was."
"You'd mentioned me before?" Mike says, and Harvey can hear him perking up.
"Of course. Who else am I going to complain to about my new idiot associate other than my brother?" Harvey says, but his smile softens the words.
"Did you tell them about the whole, you know, marriage thing?" Mike asks, eloquent as always.
But Harvey shakes his head. "Figured that would be a conversation best had in person."
"Are you kidding me?" Mike breathes as Harvey drives up the long driveway and pulls up in front of a large house. It's a two storey, clad in grey stone with a deep front porch. When Mike gets out of the car and looks around all he can see is green grass and blue skies.
Mike had always assumed that Harvey didn't come from money. Which some might say is an odd assumption to make, given Harvey's wealth and the ease with which he moved amongst New York's elite. But Mike also knew, from the occasional statement dropped here and there, that he had worked his way up on his own power, with Jessica and not his father his guiding hand.
But looking around now, Mike begins to question everything he knows.
"Your dad lives here?" Mike asks, rather stupidly given the face Harvey pulls in response. Harvey opens the trunk and they both pull out their bags.
"No, he's just squatting," Harvey says as he rolls his eyes, like the thick sarcasm wasn't enough. "Of course he lives here."
"I just didn't realize you came from money."
"I don't, not really. Musicians like my dad didn't make a lot back then, but we got by okay when I was growing up. But like I said, my father's smart. He's managed to do well for himself, despite the economy. We didn't grow up here."
Mike is still trying to take everything in when he follows Harvey up the porch steps. The door is unlocked, so Harvey walks straight in, holding the door open for Mike.
"Dad?" Harvey calls. Mike just stands awkwardly in the entryway as Harvey sheds his jacket.
Mike can feel the nerves skitter along his skin now that he's here, but he doesn’t have long to wallow in the feeling. Gordon Specter strides into the room, face beaming. Mike barely has time to take in his features (he's slightly taller than Harvey, with salt and pepper hair, blue-gray eyes, and the same crinkles around his eyes that Harvey has) before Harvey meets him and they throw their arms around each other in a warm embrace.
Mike watches for a few moments as the two men greet each other in soft murmurs. It hurts his chest in a way he can't explain to see them together like this. He can practically see Harvey relaxing before his eyes, and he feels a kind of honor at getting to see Harvey like this. And then there's the familiar pang he gets when he sees people interact with their parents. It was a privilege robbed from him too early in life, and though he would never begrudge anyone for having what he can't, it still makes him slightly melancholy.
"Dad," Harvey says, stepping out of their embrace and turning to Mike. "This is Mike Ross."
"Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Specter," Mike says, holding out his hand, and he pointedly ignores Harvey's look of amusement.
Harvey's father just laughs, shaking his hand warmly. "Please, call me Gordon. And it's nice to meet you too."
"Nate here yet?" Harvey asks.
"No, not yet."
"The man lives forty-five minutes away, how is it possible we beat him here?"
"Well, in his defence, he has two children to wrangle and you don't. Why don't you show Mike around and get settled before they arrive."
"Okay," Harvey says, heading for the stairs. Mike, at a loss for any other option, slowly follows. "Usual room?"
Gordon nods. "Everything's all set up."
Mike follows Harvey up the stairs, where he crosses the landing and passes several rooms as they walk through the corridor to the last door on the right. He opens the door and Mike follows him inside. The room is a comfortable size, large enough for a queen bed, a couple of dressers and a wing back chair which faces the window, but not much else. Mike instinctively makes his way across the room and looks outside. He can see the front of the property, all the way to the front gate and beyond. It's beautiful.
He turns back to see Harvey standing awkwardly by the bed. There are a couple of piles of towels resting on the foot of the bed, and the penny drops.
To be honest he hadn't even thought about the sleeping arrangements (which, now that he realizes it, is actually kinda weird). But they're both grown men. This doesn’t have to be weird if they don't make it so.
"You sleep on the right, yeah?" Mike asks, as if he doesn't already know.
"Yeah." Harvey nods slowly, like he's unsure of where this is going.
"Awesome, I'm totally a leftie anyway." And he puts his bag on his side of the bed before returning to the view, leaving Harvey to deal with the situation in private.
But Harvey says his name, and looking back Mike can see he's just followed Mike's action by leaving his bag on the bed. "Come on, I'll show you around."
Mike follows as Harvey gives him the tour. This side of the upstairs floor accommodates three bedrooms (Harvey and Mike's, Nate's, and Owen and Maisie's) while the other side is taken up by the communal bathroom and Gordon's bedroom and en suite. They head downstairs and Mike trails along, wide eyed the whole time, as Harvey shows him around the two living areas (the larger of the two looks to be used more often, the other seems to be more formal with a small piano in the corner, and Harvey refers to it as "the music room"), the dining room, bathroom, large kitchen/breakfast room, and sun room. Mike doesn’t know how to describe the interior. The best he can think of is 'modern country', with the cream colors and mixed textiles. Nothing really matches, but everything still works together. It's not sparse and streamlined like Harvey's place is, it's more like his own (old) apartment: comfortable and homey.
They head out through the kitchen door to the backyard. There is a patio area, which has clearly been set up for entertaining, with the outdoor table and chairs and bricked in barbecue and fireplace, with a few flowers and plants along the exterior house wall. Beyond the patio there is flat green lawn before the land becomes thick with trees. They are tall, the few leaves that remain in varying autumn shades.
"Is all of this your dad's?" Mike asks, wondrous, as he stares at the view.
"Yup. He bought it about ten years ago."
"How big is it?"
"Uh, there's about two acres of land, give or take."
"It's perfect." Mike murmurs, and when he looks to Harvey it's to find the older man smiling at him.
The moment is broken by the sound of a car horn, and Harvey turns back to the house.
"Guess Nate's here. Come on."
They walk around the house to the front to see Nate lifting Maisie out of the car as Owen runs up the porch steps to Gordon, screaming, "Poppy, Poppy!" the whole time. Gordon laughs and crouches down to receive Owen's hug. Mike can see Maisie wriggling in Nate's arms as he pulls her out of the car, and as soon as he puts her down she's off like a shot, rushing up the steps and into Gordon's open arms.
Nate closes the door as he sees Harvey and Mike come around the corner. He grins, heading over and greeting Harvey with a handshake that quickly evolves into a hug. It's brief but warm, Nate pulling away and advancing on Mike with a grin.
"You must be Mike," he says, and Mike makes a conscious effort not to take a small step backwards.
"You must be Nate," he replies, and then Nate is there, shaking his hand.
"I'm very happy to meet you at last."
Mike doesn’t know how respond to that, the at last ringing in his ears. His mouth supplies a, "Likewise," before Nate heads back to the car.
Harvey turns to the kids and yells, "Hey, where's my hug?"
Owen and Maisie turn, and immediately run down the stairs, excitedly crying, "Uncle Harvey!" Mike can't help but grin as Harvey scoops up Owen, kissing his face repeatedly, making the young boy squirm. Owen wipes his face as Harvey puts him down. Harvey remains crouched as Maisie throws herself at him, her small arms going around his neck. Harvey squeezes tightly, pressing a kiss to the crown of her head.
"How are you, are you good, baby?" Harvey asks, and Mike has never even pictured anything like this before and it should be ridiculous but it's not. Maisie tells Harvey some story that includes Dora the Explorer and Harvey listens intently, nodding along and asking her questions which she answers with enthusiasm.
"Who're you?" Owen asks, and Mike tears his gaze from Harvey and Maisie to see Owen looking at him.
Harvey comes to his side and addresses the kids, saying, "Owen, Maisie, this is my friend Mike. He's come to visit with me."
"Hi!" Maisie beams up at him, and Mike smiles at her.
"Hey, you wanna play with us?" Owen asks, and the completely unabashed way he asks surprises Mike.
"Yeah, you wanna play hide and seek with us?" Maisie asks, like it's the greatest idea ever.
"Hey you two," Nate says, coming over to them. "Give Mike a minute."
"No, it's fine," Mike says. "I mean, if it's okay with you," he says to Nate, because they've seriously just met and if he doesn’t know the protocol.
"Yeah, of course," Nate says. "But no playing in the house," he tells the kids, "not while we're unpacking. If you want to play you can play outside."
Owen and Maisie bounce excitedly on their heels. "Okay, daddy," Maisie says, while Owen takes off for the backyard, calling, "Chase me. Come and chase me."
Once the kids have gone Harvey steps closer to Mike and says, "You don't have to do this, you know."
"It's fine. I could do with some fresh air after the drive. And besides, you should catch up with your family," he says significantly, and he can tell Harvey understands his meaning.
"Okay," Harvey nods, and Mike gives Nate a brief smile before heading back around the house.
"Need a hand?" Harvey asks, nodding towards the car, and Nate nods.
It takes a few trips between the car and the upstairs bedrooms to get everything inside and in the right place. It never fails to astound Harvey how much stuff kids need. Once done, they join Gordon in the kitchen, who hands them both a coffee before the three Specter men sit down at the small table.
They chat amiably for a few minutes, catching up on the everyday stuff. Nate tells them about work ("trying to get the kids interested in F. Scott Fitzgerald is like pulling teeth") and his kids ("if I have to watch one more episode of Dora the Explorer I might scream"). Harvey asks Gordon if he's written anything lately, and Gordon tell them that he's been working on a few different pieces, each in varying stages of completion.
Gordon asks Harvey about work, but there's a smirk in his voice which means he's really asking about Mike. Harvey drinks the dregs of his coffee in order to stall, because he doesn't know how to tell them what he needs to tell them, only Nate is a sneaky bastard and uses that opportunity to say, "Mike looks like he's having fun."
Harvey turns to look out the back. He can see Mike practically running in circles, being chased by his niece and nephew who are laughing the whole time, before Mike abruptly turns and begins chasing them. They're too far away to hear but Harvey can tell the kids are squealing with delight when Mike catches up to them but allows them to run out of his grasp.
Harvey only realizes he's smiling like an idiot when Nate laughs. "What?" he demands.
"Nothing," Nate replies, hands up in surrender, but he's still chuckling. "It's just, I never thought I'd see that look on your face."
Harvey wants to ask exactly what look he's referring to, but decides he probably doesn’t want to know. So instead he returns to Gordon's original question. "Work is going well. We just won a fifty million wrongful death suit and-"
"Come on, Harvey," Nate interrupts. "Skip all the boring stuff and tell us about Mike."
"Ugh, fine," Harvey grouses, but it's all in good fun.
Gordon gets up to refill the coffee mugs, so Harvey waits until he's sitting back down to say it. He only wants to go through this once, and he probably should've thought of how to say this but he hasn't. So he just doesn’t think and starts talking.
"Obviously you know we're together, but there's something I didn't tell you. Mike and I, we're getting married."
Gordon and Nate are rendered silent, and Harvey doesn’t blame them. Given that up until a few days ago they didn’t even know he was seeing someone it must be a hell of a shock. Because they thought bringing Mike home to meet everyone was a big deal, since he's never done that before with anyone. He can't imagine that they thought things had progressed this far.
"You're getting married?" Nate says sceptically, and Harvey can't tell whether it's because he's surprised that Harvey's going to make the commitment, or that Harvey still wants to, given everything that happened with their parents and then later, Nate and Jemma.
"Yeah," Harvey says, and he leaves it at that because he doesn’t want to have to explain this.
Harvey can tell Nate is about to say something, but their father gets there first. "Well," Gordon says, "I'm not going to lie and say I'm not surprised. Because I think you know you've shocked the hell out of us with this. And we need to have a serious talk about communication one of these days, since less than a week ago we didn't even know you were seeing someone, let alone your subordinate." Harvey looks sheepishly at Gordon, tries to show his remorse. When he'd told his father about Mike, Gordon didn't care that he was with a man or even a colleague, but that it was someone who Harvey was a direct supervisor of and how it was taking advantage. Harvey had assured him it wasn't like that at all, that what they had was real, and he thinks Gordon understands even if he's still slightly disapproving. "So the only question that really matters is: are you happy?"
Harvey glances out the window, sees Mike with Maisie in his arms as he spins her around. "Yeah. Yeah, I am."
Gordon smiles, pats him on the arm like that's all that matters. Nate lifts his mug, and Harvey laughs, tapping his own against it.
"Congrats, big brother," Nate says, and Harvey knows that he means it.
"Thanks," he says, and they continue talking for about twenty more minutes before Nate figures it's time to rescue Mike from the kids.
Nate steps outside to call everyone in, and moments later the chilled and windswept trio make it inside. Nate decides that the kids should have an early bath to warm up, and Gordon and Nate usher the kids upstairs while Harvey and Mike remain in the kitchen.
"They're great," Mike says, coming to stand by Harvey's side.
Harvey just nods in agreement, and then Mike pulls his hand from behind his back. There's a single yellow flower in his hand, one of the last blooming for the season. Harvey looks at him, confused, and Mike just grins at him.
"It's been a week," Mike says. "Happy anniversary."
Harvey is shocked into stillness for a moment before he lets out a breathy chuckle. "Idiot," he murmurs, but the word is thick with fondness, and he accepts the flower anyway.
Mike's face hurts from smiling and laughing so much.
He looks around the table and is struck by how right this all feels. It's one of those perfect moments in time, where everything just seems right with the world. Because Harvey is laughing, so loud and unashamed because he doesn't have to hide here, while squeezing Nate's upper arm as he hits his punch line. Nate throws his head back with raucous laughter. Gordon watches on, amused, and he makes a quiet comment that shocks his sons into silence for three seconds before they all burst out into laughter again.
It's been a long time since Mike had been in a room so completely enveloped in affection. The curse of an orphan, as much as he craved affection, he always stopped himself from forming permanent connections, was scared of loving and losing. So he never let himself go there. And for the first time in a long time he wishes things were different. He wishes this could last, that he had what these men had, because it's beautiful and real and they're so happy.
Gordon is still chuckling as he gathers everyone's plates, and Mike tries to help but is quickly waved away. He takes a sip of his wine (finishing his second glass, and he should really stop drinking now) and catches Harvey's eye. They exchange a brief smile, and he thinks Harvey can tell, knows how much fun he's having. Because of course Mike had been worried about coming here, nervous that he'd feel like he didn't fit in or know what to say or wouldn't be comfortable. But the conversation has flowed constantly for the last two hours and Mike engaged with the conversation and made them laugh as often as they did for him. Still, he keeps waiting for something to go wrong. It can't be this easy.
"So, Mike, tell us a little something about yourself," Gordon says when he returns with a lemon meringue pie for dessert.
Mike doesn't even have a chance to speak before Harvey interrupts with, "Hey, come on, let's not do the whole 'interrogate the partner' thing, it's so cliché. You're better than that, Dad," he adds with mock annoyance.
Mike chuckles, and Nate says, "Screw that, they're cliché's for a reason. Plus, you're far too cagey, Harvey. It's not like you've ever really told us anything about Mike over the last however many years."
"It's fine," Mike says, because he can tell Harvey is about to object again. He looks between Gordon and Nate and asks, "What do you want to know?"
"Well, the first question that springs to mind is why the hell did someone as smart as you fall in love with this lug right here?" Nate says, reaching over and affectionately messing with Harvey's perfectly sculpted hair.
Harvey swats him away, leaning further away from his brother for a moment before retaliating, giving Nate a proper noogie while the younger man howls in protests. Mike and Gordon watch on, amused, and Mike can't help but ask, "Are they always like this?"
Gordon nods. "Unfortunately they regress to their childhood selves whenever they're together. You get used to it."
Mike nods absently. He didn't expect this, this juvenile and playful version of Harvey. Nate surrenders, Harvey patting his messed up hair back down before returning to his chair.
Nate takes a breath before saying, "Sorry about that. Okay, Mike, you were saying?"
Mike hadn't actually said anything, and the question feels too serious for this light-hearted atmosphere. But Gordon and Nate are looking at him curiously, while Harvey very purposefully avoids his gaze, and Mike suddenly realizes that Harvey's never brought anyone home to meet his family before. Mike had been aware of the fact in an abstract sense, but he suddenly sees it from their side. All these years Harvey's never committed to anyone, and they must've wondered why - if it was because of Harvey himself, and maybe they wonder what other people see when they look at their son/brother.
"Well, who knows why we fall in love with the people we do. I'm not sure I believe in fate or anything like that, but I do know that Harvey and I were meant to meet that day." Mike chances a brief glance at Harvey, who still isn't looking at him but is smiling faintly. "I can tell you my favorite things about him. I love how fierce he is, his tenacity when it comes to his work, how fiercely he protects those he cares about. I love that he knows who he is, that he's comfortable in his own skin and completely unapologetic about it. I love the life that he's given me, because no one else would've done what he did for me, and I've never been this happy before."
The room is silent, and Mike can feel the weight of everyone's stare. But all that matters is Harvey, the way he's looking at Mike like he's searching for a lie. But he won't find it. Every word was true, and it doesn't matter that they need to lie to the world at large, because this moment is real.
"Well, fuck me," Nate breathes, and Mike can't help it, laughing lightly. The heaviness in the air from Mike's speech seems sucked from the room with Nate's words, and he's glad for the change. "So, tell us about the wedding then. What's the plan?"
"No plan yet," Mike says. "We haven’t really talked about it, though I think we'll need to soon. All I know is that I want it to be small. I know you'll probably want a massively extravagant affair," he says to Harvey, "but I've never had a big family or a massive social circle, so I just want something quiet and intimate."
Harvey nods thoughtfully. "I had a meeting at the Chilton a few weeks ago," Harvey says, which surprises Mike because he can't recall who that meeting would've been with. "When I was there I saw that they have a small library room. It's all dark wood and cream couches, and the walls are covered in thick leather books. There are tiffany lamps and a working fireplace and it's just really warm and inviting. They hire the room out for small functions, and I thought it might be a good place for the ceremony."
Mike can't tear his eyes away, overwhelmed by how Harvey somehow managed to sound hopeful and shy at the same time.
"The Chilton?" Gordon asks.
"It's where we met," Mike says, eyes still on Harvey. "You don't want a big wedding?"
Harvey shrugs. "Not if you don't."
He can't help the grin from breaking out. "Sounds perfect."
"Well then," Nate says, clapping his hands, tearing Mike's attention away. "Sounds like we better get planning then."
"I didn't realize wedding planning was part of your skill set," Harvey says teasingly to Nate, which of course sets them off with more brotherly pestering, and minutes later they've wandered off onto a completely different topic of conversation.
The four men migrate to the lounge after dinner, but it's basically just more of the same, more conversations and wine and food, until a few hours later when they decide to call it a night. They all head upstairs and bid each other goodnight before heading to their respective rooms, the door closing behind Harvey with a thud.
It's really the first time they've been alone since they arrived, and though Mike already loves the Specter family, there is something about being alone with Harvey that allows him to breathe that much easier. He pushes his duffle onto the floor and collapses onto the bed with a sigh. Harvey looks down at him with an indulgent smile.
"I drank way too much," Mike moans, even though he didn’t really drink that much at all.
"You'll be fine," Harvey says.
Mike shifts up onto his elbows. "Your family is amazing," he says with complete earnest. Harvey doesn't reply, just smiles, but there's something sad about it. "Are you okay?"
"Fine," Harvey says, dismissive. "Why wouldn't I be?"
Mike just looks at him, waits until Harvey relents under his stare.
Finally Harvey exhales and says, "Yeah, okay, it's not ideal. But this is what we signed up for. Admittedly the lying aspect isn't great, but I can deal."
Mike thinks about it for a moment. Harvey starts rustling around in the dresser for his sleep clothes and suddenly it hits Mike. "Thank you," he blurts before he loses his nerve.
Harvey turns back, confused. "What for?"
"It just occurred to me that I never actually said thank you for doing this for me. All of it. Marrying me, lying to the government, introducing me to your family. For saving me. For always saving me. You didn't really have to do any of it and even though I maintain that it's kinda insane it doesn't mean I don't appreciate it. Because I do. So, thank you."
"You're welcome," Harvey says softly.
Mike collapses back onto the bed. "I'm really tempted to just to go sleep like this."
"You'll regret it," Harvey says, adding his toiletries to the bundle of clothes in his arms. "Back in five," he says before slipping from the room.
With a groan Mike stands, taking advantage of Harvey's momentary absence to change into his pajamas. He heads to the bathroom when Harvey leaves it, quickly brushing his teeth and washing his face before returning to their bedroom.
Harvey's already in bed, and Mike refuses to hesitate, to think too much about it. He just heads straight to his side of the bed, slipping beneath the covers and turning off the lamp on his bedside table.
"Goodnight," he murmurs, closing his eyes and turning onto his side. He hears Harvey say goodnight and is asleep within minutes.
Harvey sits on the wingback chair in the bedroom, tying his shoelaces, when Mike stirs, opening his eyes blearily.
"Where are you going?" Mike mumbles, rubbing a hand over his face.
"For a run. Wanna join me?"
"What time is it?"
Harvey checks his watch. "Just past seven."
Mike groans, pulling the blankets tighter over his body. "Seriously, we're on vacation, you're still going to get up early and exercise? Fuck that, I just wanna do nothing."
Harvey chuckles to himself as Mike closes his eyes and goes back to sleep. He heads downstairs to find Nate and the kids already up. He kisses Owen and Maisie on the top of their heads as he passes before heading out the front door for his run.
He keeps a steady pace for nearly an hour. He has a few different runs he goes on depending on how long he wants to be out, and today he picks the longest route. When he returns home everyone is now up, spread out into different rooms, eating their breakfast.
Harvey heads upstairs and showers quickly, dressing in his favorite jeans and Henley. Mike, Nate and Gordon are in the lounge, watching Hercules with the kids, so he grabs a bowl of cereal and joins Mike on the couch.
Owen gets bored after about twenty minutes, and Maisie lasts about ten minutes more, wandering off to go play elsewhere. Which leaves the three grown men to watch the movie, which they do, because Hades is fucking hilarious.
The day idles by easily. Harvey sticks pretty close to Mike's side for the day, and tells himself it's because he doesn't want Mike to feel abandoned and awkward in a houseful of strangers, and he ignores how much it feels like a lie. They play with Owen and Maisie, doing puzzles and building tower blocks (which Mike takes way too seriously) and playing hide and seek (which they rope Nate and Gordon into). The other hours are filled with nothing, just relaxing and lounging on the couch and talking.
It feels good, not thinking about work, having his mind and body let go from his everyday life. He's missed this, just relaxing with the family, and having Mike here introduces a new element which works better than he could've ever hoped.
Mike insists that Gordon let him help with dinner, which means afterwards Harvey and Nate are on dish duty. Mike pushes him toward the kitchen with a grin before Gordon steals Mike away to teach him how to play Cribbage. It's the Specter card game of choice, and Mike's never played, so Gordon is more than happy to teach him.
Harvey and Nate get to work, clearing the table and beginning to wash up. It actually doesn't take too long, with pretty much everything going into one load for the dishwasher and just a few of the bigger pans needing hand washing.
"So," Nate says, as the sink fills with warm water. "You and Mike, you're really getting married."
"Of course," Harvey replies. "Why wouldn't we be?"
"No, it's just, after what happened with mom and dad, I distinctly remember you saying you never wanted to get married."
"In my defence I was twenty at the time."
"But in all these years, you've never talked about wanting to get married or have kids or anything. And after what happened with me and Jemma, I don't know, it just surprised me is all."
Nate starts scrubbing at the pans, and Harvey watches him for a moment. "Are you doing okay? How are things between you these days?"
Nate shrugs. "You know, good days and bad days. But don't try and distract me. We can talk about me and my failed marriage later. We're talking about you and Mike now."
Harvey chuckles lightly, takes the dripping pan from his hands and begins to dry. "Fine. Yes it's really happening, and yes I'm really sure."
Nate looks over at him. "He makes you happy," he says, and Harvey thinks it should be a question but he gets the distinct impression that it's a statement.
"Yeah, he does."
"I swear, I'm not trying to be an asshole about it, questioning your integrity or intentions or anything. I just want you to be happy, Harvey. And, after what happened with me ... I just don't want to see you hurt like I was."
Harvey can't help but think that, despite going into this with his eyes wide open, that he's going to end up hurt in the end anyway. He can feel the inevitability of pain looming, and he wants to run away, stop himself from ever going down this road. But he won't. He's too far gone now, and no matter how scared he might be, he'll never abandon Mike.
"I won't be," Harvey assures him. "Promise."
When Mike wakes, he's alone. His arm stretches to Harvey's side of the bed but the sheets are cool, so he grabs his cell from the bedside table and checks the time. It's nearly 9am, so he gets up, showers and dresses before heading downstairs for breakfast.
"Morning," he says when he collapses into the chair beside Harvey at the breakfast table.
"Nice of you to join us," Harvey says, but he's grinning around the words.
"Vacation, Harvey. Vacation."
"Yeah, yeah," Harvey chuckles. He gets up and comes back to the table a few moments later with a steaming coffee he puts in front of Mike.
"Thanks," Mike murmurs, wrapping his fingers around the warm mug and taking a sip. "So, anything planned for the day?"
"I told Owen and Maisie we could go for a walk this morning as long as the weather stayed clear. Other than that, no, nothing concrete." Mike nods absently, and is surprised when a few moments later Harvey tentatively says, "You want to come?"
Mike's head snaps up, surprised. Harvey asked like he wasn't sure, and to be honest, Mike hadn't considered any other option than going with them. "Of course."
So a couple of hours later everyone is lining up in the front entranceway, ready to head out. Owen is so excited he tries to sneak outside without his coat, but Harvey grabs him just in time and wrestles him into it while Nate buttons Maisie's jacket.
"Okay, everyone ready?" Nate asks the room at large, even though it's really directed to the kids. "Shoes? Jackets?"
"Yes, Daddy," Maisie says, and she's just as bouncy as Owen now.
"Okay then, let's go."
So the six of them walk through the front door, and ten seconds later the kids have already run ahead. Harvey yells, "Don't go too far," but doesn't actually make a move to catch up to them.
Mike doesn’t know where they're going, but the kids obviously know the area well, because they'll run off and then come back to the adults, running in circles around them a few times before heading off again. Mike keeps pace beside Harvey, the two of them chatting amiably, and about twenty minutes into the walk he can suddenly hear Owen call out, "Mike, Mike, come and look."
Mike looks to Harvey, surprised, and Harvey just smiles, placing a hand on his back to push him forward as he says, "Off you go."
Mike hustles down the lane to where Maisie and Owen are waiting for him. They're looking excitedly ahead into the not too far distance, and when Mike reaches them Maisie points and says, "Look."
In the distance Mike can make out a large, blue lake. "Wow," he says.
"Can we go?" Owen asks, and Mike blinks past the surprise that they're asking him and replies, "I think we should ask your dad that, don't you?"
Mike looks back to see the three Specter man still slowly meandering towards them, and then his attention is drawn back to Maisie as she tugs on his hand. She inches closer to his side, and he crouches down and asks, "What is it?"
Maisie points into the grass ahead of them and Mike can make out a small, dark frog. It hops forward, and Maisie startles. "Hey, it's okay," Mike says, wrapping an arm around her. "It won't hurt you."
But Maisie clearly isn't so sure, and she presses to his side, throws her arms around him. At a loss of what else to do he wraps his arms around her, lifts her from the ground. She wraps her small legs around him, buries her head into neck.
"It's okay, sweetie," Mike murmurs, rubbing a hand up and down her back. "Come on." He starts walking away, and after they take a few steps Owen runs after them, walking beside Mike. "So, Maisie, what are we gonna do this afternoon?" he asks, and it draws her out enough for her to be okay with him letting her down. She starts talking about playing with her toys (Tiger and Glowworm, and Mike chuckles internally over their imaginative names) and then Owen chips in something about his dinosaurs and they're off, talking a million miles an hour.
Mike's never really had much to do with children before, but he adores these two, and can basically just throw in the occasional "Really?" or "Is that so?" or "And then what?" and the kids can practically keep the conversation going by themselves.
Nate slides up to them, clapping him on the shoulder. "They totally love you."
"Who wouldn't?" Mike jokes, because that's easier than dealing with the feelings stirring within at such a pronouncement. Nate laughs, and Owen hustles up to them.
"Dad, can we go to the lake?"
"What do you say?"
"Please. Please Dad, can we go see the lake?"
"Alright, little man. Let's go."
Harvey has to give Nate props; he doesn't know how he does this every night. Trying to wrestle the two littlest Specters into bed is like waging an epic war, one worthy of the halls of Pearson Hardman. Maisie is going through a phase where she likes being naked, so as soon as Harvey lifts her from the bath and wraps a towel around her she's off, running out of the room and down the corridor. He follows, chasing her around the landing a few times before scooping her up and carrying her to her room.
But even when they're both dressed it doesn’t get any easier. There's still the matter of convincing them it's bedtime and that they need to go to sleep. Owen is particularly petulant. He keeps insisting, "No, I don't need to go to bed," and trying to get out. Harvey tries everything he can think of to convince him to get back into bed and is just about to resort to blackmail when Nate pops his head in and gives them both a stern look. Owen reluctantly climbs under the covers.
"I don't know how you do it," Harvey says as they head back downstairs.
"Don't worry about it. They'll use any excuse to play up. You should enjoy it. You can just be fun Uncle Harvey and do all the exciting stuff and leave everything else to me."
Harvey nods absently, and when they make it into the dining room, Gordon and Mike are just finishing setting the table. Harvey trails his hand lightly across Mike's back as he passes, and Mike looks up and smiles at him.
After dinner, Harvey asks Gordon about what he's been working on.
"The label has me working with a new artist. She's young, younger than all of you, but amazingly talented. The most beautiful lyrics I've heard in a long while."
"So how does it work?" Mike asks.
"Depends. Sometimes I'll write some music and she'll add the lyrics to suit the piece, sometimes she'll write the song and I'll create the melody. She lives in New York, so most of the work is done separately, but it still works. I actually think it works better because of the distance. We can bring a fresh perspective to each other's work."
"What kind of music do you play?" Mike asks, and everyone's eyes immediately fall on him.
"You've never played him dad's stuff?" Nate asks Harvey, incredulous.
"Mike is in serious need of a musical education, it's true, and given how terrible his music taste is, I've been afraid to start. But in my defence, he has heard Dad play before, he just didn't know it was him."
Now it's Mike's turn to be incredulous. "Really?"
Harvey nods, thinking back to when he'd first played his father's music, when he and Mike were working late one night. Mike had complimented the music, and Harvey remembers wanting to tell him, to share that with him. But he was too cowardly, too weak, and then the moment had passed and it was too late.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Mike asks, and his voice is soft. He's hurt, and Harvey wants to explain. He wants to say that he'd wanted to, wanted to share something with Mike, something personal and his. But he'd felt like it was too much, didn't know how to reach out and let Mike in.
Harvey can't keep Mike's gaze, so he turns back to his father and says, "You haven't played for us in a while."
"Is this your way of asking me to play for you now?" Gordon asks with a smirk.
Harvey chuckles. "Only if you want to."
"Of course," Gordon replies easily, and they move into the music room.
Gordon pulls out his saxophone while everyone settles around the room, Harvey and Mike on the couch and Nate on the chaise. Gordon sits on the piano bench stool, hands moving effortlessly over the instrument as he prepares it.
"What would you like to hear, Harvey?"
Harvey doesn't think about it too long. "How about Rhapsody in Blue?"
Gordon nods, taking a calming breath before starting to play. The notes are so familiar after all these years. This was always one of Harvey's favorite pieces of music, and he loves it even more when his dad plays it.
Mike turns to him after a few minutes, and he can see the realization on his face. Harvey smiles shyly, and Mike just beams at him. Mike settles into the couch, turning his body so he's pressing into the arm of the sofa, his feet finding their way into Harvey's lap. Mike closes his eyes and Harvey can see him relaxing as the music washes over him.
Harvey turns back to his father, who is watching him with a knowing look. Harvey ignores that for now, loses himself in the music, his hands resting on Mike's ankle and lightly tracing the skin there.
[part one] [part two] [part three] [part four] [part five]