When Mike broke up with Rachel, Harvey was relieved. He hated himself for it, hated that he felt any kind of positive feeling towards something that would obviously make Mike so unhappy, but it was the truth. He was relieved, because they didn’t get married and they weren’t together anymore and Mike wasn’t going to be tied to someone who he didn’t belong with.
He had always thought that when - not if - Mike and Rachel broke up that it would be a new beginning. If he had known what came next, that in fact it was the beginning of the end, maybe he wouldn’t have been so eager to see them separate.
Mike hadn’t confided in him beforehand, so when he showed up on Harvey’s doorstep with a packed bag in hand and said “I need a place to stay” it was a shock. Mike, who was usually so apt to tell him any and every passing thought inside his head, had never once mentioned that they’d been having troubles. But Harvey, forever and always one of the best lawyers in the city, was used to moments like this, the ones that changed everything in an instant.
So he didn’t react, didn’t let his surprise show. He simply opened the door a little wider and said, “Stay as long as you need.”
Harvey got used to Mike rattling around his apartment with unsurprising ease.
Mike took over the guest room like he’d always lived there. He left his dishes in the sink, and when Harvey pointed them out Mike grinned like an arrogant child but as soon as Harvey’s back was turned he hastened to clean them up. He let Harvey choose what tv shows and movies to watch (on the rare occasions that they were both home), and they bantered their way through them together.
It was living a kind of life Harvey never thought he’d get to have. The kind he barely even acknowledged that he wanted.
He wasn’t an optimist, not by any stretch of the imagination. But still, he couldn’t help but hope that maybe they could just keep on like this. That Mike would realize that this is what they were meant for, to be together, in each other’s lives in every way possible. Well, nearly every way. He didn't want to completely scar him and ruin their friendship by admitting to some of the more than friendly feelings he harbored safely in the deepest part of his heart.
Mike had never indicated that he’d want something more. So why open himself up to the possibility of messing things up and ending up with less?
Mike dealt with his breakup surprisingly well. When he first moved in and the wound was still fresh Harvey had expected Mike to go through patches of being morose and listless and just flat out angry. But he never did. He seemed fine, happy even. When he rebuffed Harvey’s offers of talking about what happened it appeared that he genuinely didn’t need to talk about it. He’d say things like “It’s for the best” and “It was only a matter of time” and he’d smile and change the subject and Harvey would let him.
Mike was happy. He was admitted to the Bar. He was a Junior Partner. And though neither of them said it he’d been certain that Mike had to know that as soon as it was acceptable Mike would become a Senior Partner and then one day down the track their names would be side by side on the wall (with or without Louis, preferably without).
There was a plan. An unspoken one, true, but a plan nonetheless. One that started to crumble the day Harvey came home to find Mike sitting on the couch, in the dark, sipping a whiskey as he stared off into space.
Call it what you will - a delayed reaction, the breaking of a final straw - but Mike was reacting to something that happened months before. Harvey tried to help, and Mike smiled weakly and went along with whatever Harvey suggested, but nothing seemed to make much of an impact.
Finally, something crossed Harvey’s desk. A godsend of a case, one he knew would appeal to Mike’s better nature and allow him to fight for the underdog. It would lift his spirits, of that Harvey had no doubt.
In the end, it did all that, and more.
He should’ve known he’d end up being the cause of his own undoing.
“We need to talk.”
Never once had that phrase led to something good, so Harvey was immediately on edge. He’d been lulled into a false sense of security by the bright smiles and happy laughter Mike had returned to since he’d won his case. He’d thought everything would be okay. Mike seemed better, more contented, more like himself.
Harvey had no idea what was about to happen. If he had, he would’ve put off the conversation for another day, another hour, another minute. Anything to delay what he would soon learn was inevitable.
Harvey sat beside Mike on the sofa and took a deep breath.
“Do you remember my pro bono case? The sexual harassment one?”
“You mean the one where you managed to find a dozen other victims and teamed up with that pro bono firm that you wouldn't stop raving about and ended up winning each plaintiff several million dollars each. That one?”
Mike smiled bashfully. Harvey had no idea why. It was a major win and proved to anyone who still doubted Mike’s legitimacy that he was the real deal and not to be underestimated. Harvey had never been prouder.
“Yeah, that one. Well, you know how Anderson & Rains is like this amazing, well funded firm with offices all over the place...”
Harvey was starting to get a bad feeling about this. “Yes.”
“Well, the head of the New York branch was impressed with my work on the case. They’re opening up a small office in Paris, and he gave my details to the board and … I met with them last night, and they’ve asked me to run it.”
Harvey kept waiting, waiting for more, waiting for Mike to laugh and say just kidding, waiting for the moment to be but a dream. It didn’t happen. This was real.
“You’re leaving-” me, his brain unhelpfully supplied, “-the firm?”
Mike nodded. “They gave me some time to think about it. I have to let them know by the end of the week. But … I think so, yeah.”
Harvey was rendered silent. Mike took the opening without malice. “Harvey, you have to know how grateful I am to you, for everything you’ve done for me. You … you changed my life in the most profound way and I’ll always be grateful. But we both know how much I’ve struggled to reconcile corporate and pro bono law. This job will give me the perfect balance between the two.”
Mike kept looking at him, waiting for Harvey to say something. But he couldn’t. What could he say? He wanted to beg Mike, to ask him to stay. He wanted Mike to choose him and the life they could have together. But he couldn’t do it. It was unfair to Mike to ruin things for him, to stop him from taking what even Harvey could concede was an amazing opportunity. But more than that, he didn’t think he could take it when he asked Mike to stay and Mike told him no.
So in the end he said nothing, and after a few painfully silent moments Mike looked away, stood up, murmured, “Sorry,” and then walked out of the room.
Notice was officially given and handovers were begun and Harvey felt like his life was spinning out of control and yet he was too weak to stop it.
He kept up a good facade. He had to. He was the boss now, and he thought about Jessica, who went through a marriage and a divorce with no one in the office knowing. Because they didn’t need to know, it wasn’t any of their business, and it would make her look weak in the eyes of her underlings. So Harvey did the same. He felt like he was dying inside, but he didn’t let it show.
He kept up appearances. He joined Mike at several farewell dinners with various clients. He asked Donna to plan Mike’s farewell party, despite it being below her COO status, because he wanted Mike to have the best and no one planned a party like Donna. He wrote a rousing and funny speech and delivered it in front of the hundred people gathered to farewell Mike, toasting Mike’s success with a glass of expensive champagne and wishing him bon voyage.
He should’ve seen it coming. He'd been so focused on putting on a good show for the previous month that he had unknowingly wandered into the land of denial. And so when Mike stood there, giving his speech, thanking his colleagues for having his back, telling Louis and Donna and Jessica (who made a surprise appearance to the delight of both Harvey and Mike) how grateful he was for them, telling Harvey that he’d be nothing without him, it suddenly all came crashing down on him.
Mike was actually leaving. He was going to get on a plane and fly away and never come back.
How he managed to make it through Mike’s speech without making a scene he didn’t know, but as soon as the crowd dispersed he quickly and quietly snuck away. He stumbled blindly to the bathroom just in time. His legs gave out from under him and he collapsed in the corner, his heart pounding and lungs constricting and his head feeling like it was going to explode.
Suddenly Donna was there, crouching in front of him.
“I feel like … I can’t breathe,” Harvey panted.
“I know,” Donna said gently. “I know.”
And she held out her hand - which he gripped like a lifeline - and let him hold onto her as he got through the worst of it. When it was over, when he felt the air in his lungs like a soothing balm, Donna stood and quickly poured some tap water into her empty champagne flute. She held it out to him, and when he accepted it with a grateful smile she sat on the floor beside him, designer dress be damned.
“You should tell him,” Donna said softly.
He didn’t know if she knew the extent of his feelings, or if she just thought Harvey was sad about his friend leaving. At any rate, it didn’t matter, because the answer was the same either way. “I can’t. I need to let him go.”
Mike had been living out of a suitcase ever since he and Rachel broke up, so there wasn’t all that much to pack up in the end. He’d found a temporary furnished apartment to move into in the 4th arrondissement and would have a grand total of two days to acquaint himself with the city before he began the new job. With that in mind what few belongings he was taking with him had been packed into bags that were sitting by the front door and everything else was already on a boat somewhere being shipped over.
His flight was in the morning, and so they’d gone out for one final steak dinner. Everything felt tense, loaded, and yet they both tried to act like everything was normal, that this was just a nice dinner between two friends and not the last time they would be seeing each other, for a while at least.
“Promise me you’ll finally use up some of those vacation days and come see me.”
Harvey chucked. “Not sure you get vacation days as managing partner.”
“Don’t make me start quoting the Specter, Litt and Associates bylaws regarding paid vacation days because you know I will.”
The smile that stretched across Harvey’s face was wide and genuine. “I promise.”
Harvey couldn’t sleep. In the morning Mike was going to have breakfast and take one last walk through the city (his bike was one of the few things that was getting shipped over) before heading to the airport.
And then he’d be gone.
Harvey laid in his bed, staring at his ceiling, for all the good it did in the low light of the room. With a heavy sigh he threw the covers off, got up and padded across the room to the windows. He opened the blinds and sat in a chair by the windows, looking out at the sparkling city below him.
If he was going to be melodramatic he might as well look the part.
There was a part of him that still longed to go to Mike, to ask him to stay. He’d been on the verge of saying it a couple of times, but inevitably Mike would mention something about Paris or the new job and the words would die in Harvey’s throat. He hadn’t seen Mike this happy and excited in a long time, maybe not even since the early days of their partnership. It was like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders, and Harvey would not be the one to put it back on.
After an hour or so of listlessly staring out the window Harvey crawled back into bed, hoping to finally get some sleep. It was as elusive as ever.
The knock was soft but it still startled him. The door slowly opened and Harvey could make out a Mike shaped shadow standing in the doorway. “Harvey?”
“I couldn’t sleep.”
Mike didn’t ask and Harvey didn’t offer. Mike just made his away across the room and slipped under the covers. Harvey’s bed was wider than Rhode Island and he barely felt Mike’s presence. He’d never missed his cramped childhood bed more.
“Je suis sûr que Paris sera incroyable, mais cet endroit aura toujours une place spéciale dans mon coeur.”
Clearly those french lessons had paid off. “I understood about three of those words.”
Mike laughed, said, “I can’t turn my mind off.”
“I know the feeling.”
“Maybe we should do something to pass the time. Backgammon? Chess? I could recite To Kill a Mockingbird. You could tell me about your days at Harvard. We could have sex…”
Mike’s voice was light and teasing, and Harvey was glad that the room was still dark enough that Mike couldn’t see the color he was sure was on his cheeks. If he thought Mike was even halfway serious he would’ve seriously contemplated it, but Mike was joking, and he was leaving, and sex was a complication that an already complicated situation didn’t need.
“Maybe next time,” Harvey replied with equal mirth.
There was a knock on the door. Ray greeted them with a smile and quickly took Mike’s bags downstairs to the town car.
“So, I guess this is it,” Mike said.
Harvey nodded. “I guess so.”
They stood there awkwardly for a moment, until Mike stepped forward and threw his arms around Harvey. Harvey responded in kind, fisting his hands into the back of Mike’s tee and holding him close.
“Promise me something?” Mike asked.
Anything, Harvey thought but couldn't say. “What?”
“Don’t forget about me.”
Harvey pulled back, shocked. “How could I ever forget about you?”
“Well,” Mike smiled, “you don’t exactly have my memory.”
“Should I point out how many times you’ve forgotten your phone over the last four years?”
“I told you, it’s not-”
“-the same thing,” they finished together.
Mike smiled softly. “I’m going to miss you, Harvey.”
“I’ll miss you too.”
After one last moment Mike turned and opened the door. But before he left Harvey called his name. He might not be able to tell Mike the full truth but he could tell him this. “I could never forget you.”
Mike looked at him for a moment, an expression on his face Harvey had never seen before. And then he rushed forward, pressing a quick kiss on Harvey’s lips before turning and walking away.
Harvey couldn’t bring himself to go into Mike’s room. He looked at the closed door with suspicion every time he passed it, which was more often than was really required.
Finally, long after Mike had left, hours after the sun had set, Harvey slowly opened the door and walked inside.
It looked the same as it did before Mike moved in. Neatly made bed. Bare bedside table and dresser. The only difference was the interior wall, the one that the bedroom door was cut out of and that the bed faced. It was where Mike had gleefully hung his Chinese Panda picture. And it’s where that same picture had stayed.
There was a post it note, not on the picture itself but on the wall next to it. And in Mike’s messing writing just four words. To remember me by.
The first few days were the worst.
Harvey kept picking up his phone to call Mike, kept walking down the hall to Mike’s office only to find it empty. It was a strange dichotomy. Harvey knew that Mike was gone, felt it with his entire being. And yet whenever he made himself stop thinking about it, when he focused on the work, he’d fall back into old habits and want to go to Mike for things. Only he wasn’t there anymore.
Mike had texted him to say that he arrived safely but didn’t communicate beyond that. Harvey knew he’d be busy, settling into the city, starting up a new office with new colleagues, trying to get his feet under him. Harvey wanted to call, ask how he was doing, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t push himself into Mike’s new life. If Mike opened the door Harvey would gladly walk through it, but until then, he had to let Mike go.
He tried not to think about the kiss too often. He wasn’t terribly successful.
After nearly a month of radio silence Mike called. He’d missed that voice.
Harvey was on his way to court, so as he sat in the back of the town car he listened to Mike tell him all about Paris, about his colleagues, about his cases, a smile on his face the whole time. They didn’t have much time, but in the end the act itself was enough. It was a sorely needed first step.
It was easier after that. There were quick phone calls whenever they had five minutes and the timezones worked for them. There were random text messages and emails throughout the day. Mike would send him pictures of different places in Paris: his apartment building, his favorite bridge, a view from a café.
Mike never said the words out loud, but Harvey knew him better than anyone. He could tell. Mike was thriving in Paris, and had never been happier.
And Harvey might’ve missed him more than anything, but Mike was happy, and that was all that mattered.
It wasn’t that Harvey didn’t try. He did. He accepted that Mike was gone and attempted to move on. He tried dating, but they were all uninteresting and annoying. He tried throwing himself into work, but that only led to crises of his own design.
His life suddenly made so much less sense than it ever had before. It wasn’t just Mike leaving, though that had certainly exacerbated it. He’d reached the goal he’d set for himself twenty years earlier - being a managing partner at a major New York law firm - and now he didn’t know what to do with himself. Because being managing partner was great, but it wasn’t all he thought it would be. He didn’t know what he had imagined for his life, but it wasn't this. Or, maybe more accurately, it was this, only he didn’t want it anymore.
Turned out coping with an existential crisis wasn’t one of his strong suits. He vacillated between seriousness and recklessness, tense and uncaring. Donna and Louis put up with it as well as they could, but then Donna threatened unspeakable things the third time he and Louis nearly came to blows in as many days.
He stood there in his office, angry and breathless and so keyed up he wanted to throw something, and Donna said, “Maybe you need a break.”
A break was the last thing he wanted, and he said as much.
“I said need, not want,” Donna pointed out. “We can survive without you for a week or two if you want to get out of town. I hear Paris is nice this time of year.”
Harvey glared at her. It didn’t matter that he’d had the same thoughts every day since Mike left. His life was here and Mike’s was there and popping across the pond for a quick visit would probably do more harm than good at this point.
“Just think about it,” Donna said before leaving his office.
Harvey didn’t know how to do anything else.
Harvey might’ve thought about visiting Mike every day since he left, but in the end his first trip was still impromptu.
He’d had a shitty week at work and on Friday he lost it, leaving in a huff at one in the afternoon. He left the office and started walking back home and with barely a thought he pulled out his cell phone and called Mike.
“What are you doing tomorrow?” Harvey asked without preamble.
There was a pause before Mike tentatively replied, “Just doing some work at the office. Why? Is everything okay?”
“Look, I know you’re really busy, and I don’t expect you to drop everything for me. But I need to get out of here. So, if I fly to Paris can I take you to dinner tomorrow night?”
The pause was even longer, so long in fact that Harvey checked to make sure they hadn’t been disconnected. “Of course,” Mike said at last, voice hoarse, and Harvey felt like he could breathe again.
Harvey booked a flight for that evening, packed a carry-on, and idled around his apartment until it was finally time to leave for the airport. The flight was fine, and he even managed to get a few hours’ sleep (thank god he managed to book the last available seat in first class) so when he landed in the morning he was relatively well rested.
Mike had told him he’d probably be in the office when he arrived, and he’d texted Harvey an address in the 2nd arrondissement and told him to meet him there. The city flew past his taxi windows but he barely noticed any of it. All he could think about was seeing Mike again for the first time in over ten months.
I’m here, he texted after the driver dropped him off. He looked up at the building. It was so different to the office back in New York. Instead of a sky high tower of glass he saw a compact but beautiful building, more rendering and wrought iron than glass. He paced idly on the sidewalk, his palms damp with nerves.
It didn’t take long for Mike to appear in front of him. He looked good. His hair was slightly longer, there was a thin layer of stubble covering the lower half of his face, his jeans and shirt were plain but fit nicely on his frame. He barely had a chance to take in this new Mike before the man himself was grinning, rushing forward and closing the space between them, wrapping Harvey up in a warm hug.
Harvey smiled, buried his face into Mike’s neck.
“Hi,” Mike said, squeezing tighter.
Mike had about an hour of work left to do, so Harvey accompanied him to his office upstairs. The space was an inviting mix of old and new, and though it was mostly deserted there were a few of Mike’s underlings lingering around who had also come in to get some work done on their weekend. Mike introduced Harvey to them, saying, “This is my good friend, Harvey, visiting from New York.”
Harvey shook hands and exchanged pleasantries with Augustin and Jeanne, the latter of which looked back and forth between the two of them and then said to Mike, “Sérieusement? Juste un ami hein?”
Mike said nothing - though there was a hint of a smile - just guided Harvey into his mess of a tiny office.
“Are you okay?” Mike immediately asked, concern shining brightly from his face.
Harvey nodded. He didn’t mean to scare Mike, to send him panicking into worst case scenarios by his sudden visit. He just needed to see him. “I’m okay. Just needed a break from New York.”
Mike looked at him, unconvinced. “Do you wanna talk about it?”
“Maybe later. But don’t let me interrupt you. The sooner you get back to work, the sooner we can leave, right?”
Mike grinned, but he seemed reluctant to go back to work, as though scared that if he took his eyes off Harvey that he wouldn’t be there when he looked up again. Harvey collapsed on the chair opposite his desk and pulled out his phone, scrolling through his emails. If Mike was going to work he should probably do the same, if only to kill the time until Mike was free to leave.
It was almost like old times, each of them working quietly together in the same space. At least for the twenty minutes they sat there until Mike announced, “Fuck this, let’s go.”
They went to Mike’s apartment in the 4th to drop off Harvey’s bag. The space was small but neat, and Mike told him that he’d been looking for a new place in what little free time he had. Harvey could see why; the apartment wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t really Mike’s taste either.
Once the tour of the apartment was concluded - not difficult, since it was basically two and a half rooms - Mike asked, “Are you hungry?”
So Mike took him to a café a few streets away. It was Mike’s favorite, and once they were settled into their table and eating delicious food Harvey could see why.
They talked. Some of it was light and easy. Harvey asked Mike about life in Paris and Mike gushed about how much he loved it, how beautiful it was to live in, how amazing his colleagues were, how important the work they were doing was. Harvey updated Mike on Jessica’s new political career, told him about some of his cases, answered Mike’s questions about Louis and Donna and Benjamin.
After lunch they went sightseeing. “I haven’t been to as many places as I would’ve liked,” Mike told him. “There are still so many things I want to see.”
Mike looked at him with a combination of fondness and exasperation. It was an expression he was familiar with and had missed more than he could say. “Harvey, it’s your first time in Paris, we’re going wherever you want to go.”
Harvey didn’t care, would go anywhere Mike wanted to, would do anything as long as it was with Mike by his side. However he knew better than to say that. “Okay, how about Sainte Chapelle,” he suggested, remembering a conversation he overheard from a young honeymooning couple on the plane.
Mike brightened before his eyes. “That was on my list too.”
It was about a half hour walk to Sainte Chapelle and they took it slowly, Harvey just taking everything in. Every corner presented a new sight, every street an entirely new vista. New York would forever be etched on his heart, but Harvey couldn’t deny that Paris was a beautiful city.
Sainte Chapelle ended up being one of the most stunning things he’d ever seen. The colors of the stained glass windows were truly a sight to behold, almost as much as Mike’s awed expression as he tipped his head upwards and basked in the beauty. Afterwards, they crossed the Seine and walked along its bank, passing Pont Neuf and several other beautiful bridges. They happened upon Musée d'Orsay and decided to go in.
Playing the tourist was fun. Harvey hadn’t had a vacation in … actually, he’d never had a vacation like this. He’d had mini breaks upstate to see family. He’d had working holidays in various parts of the east and west coasts of America. He’d gone to London once, back in his early days of Pearson Hardman, a reward he gave himself for making junior partner, and he wandered around the city for a week. But he went to London alone. Having Mike by his side as they talked about various art pieces and Mike translated some of the french plaques felt more incredible than he could ever imagine.
“We need to work on your French,” Mike laughed after he translated the info beside The Death of Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta.
Harvey couldn't help the flare of hope in such a sentence. It spoke of futures together, and Harvey didn’t know how that looked but that fact that Mike was, consciously or not, thinking about it too felt like a weight being lifted from his shoulders.
It was a perfect day. They found a great restaurant for dinner, ordering steaks much to their waiters obvious disgust. “C'est la tradition,” Mike explained. Harvey then got Mike to order the most expensive red wine to go with it, which appeased the waiter somewhat.
There were moments Harvey couldn’t believe this was real. That he was actually sitting in a restaurant in Paris after not seeing Mike for ten months. He hadn’t wanted to admit it, but he’d been nervous. What if things felt different between them now? What if their time apart had changed things. What if not working together removed most of their topics of conversations and they found themselves in awkward silences.
It never happened. Things were just the same as before, maybe even better, because now Harvey could feel the urgency, could appreciate the moments between them more than he ever could before.
This was finite. He knew that. And he was damn well going to enjoy it while he had it.
They walked back to Mike’s apartment, arms brushing nearly every step. When they got back home there was a tension, one that had been building all day.
“I never asked,” Mike said as he shucked off his jacket and placed it over the back of the couch, “how long are you here for?”
“I fly back home tomorrow night.”
Mike’s gaze snapped to his. He looked at Harvey, expression slowly turning wondrous. “You came all this way just to have dinner with me?”
Harvey nodded. He knew he shouldn’t say it, but the words came tumbling out anyway. “I’d fly here and back in a day if it meant I could see you, even just for an hour.”
Mike moved first. He reached over, took Harvey’s face in his hands and kissed him, somehow urgent and gentle all at once.
“I’ve missed you,” Mike murmured.
“I’ve missed you too.”
The kiss was deeper this time. Harvey submitted, pulling Mike closer, wanting to feel every inch of him. His mind raced, overwhelmed by what was happening. He broke the kiss, panting. “I didn’t come here for this.” He didn’t know why he said it, he just needed Mike to know that this wasn’t planned, that he didn’t fly to another continent just to hook up.
Mike looked nervous. “Does that mean you don’t want—”
Harvey cut him off with a searing kiss. Oh, he wanted. He wanted so much he couldn’t see straight. They stumbled blindly back to Mike’s bed, pushing at clothes and pulling each other closer and it was a beautiful mess.
Harvey touched Mike gently, like he was afraid of breaking this spell that had overcome them. His fingertips trailed along bare skin, pulling soft sighs from the base of Mike’s throat. Mike touched him just as reverently, kissing his skin as though he was at worship, his expression nothing short of pure wonder.
Harvey wanted to go slow, to bask in the feeling of Mike’s bare skin pressed against his own, to savor the moment Harvey got his mouth on Mike’s cock and had Mike arching beneath him. But he couldn’t. He couldn’t wait, not anymore. It had been too long, not just months but years of missed time, days lost to their uncertainty when instead they could’ve had this.
So it was urgent and desperate and intense, Mike sinking down on him and connecting them in a way Harvey had so long craved for. Their bodies moved in sync, the touch of bare skin electric. Harvey said Mike’s name, over and over, until Mike swallowed his words with a kiss. Harvey couldn’t breathe, didn't even want to, wanted nothing but this feeling of completeness. He pulled Mike closer, rocked their bodies together, and when he got his hand on Mike and took him apart it was like this was what he was put on this earth for.
The next day they spent the morning in bed, talking and touching, kissing each other quiet for no other reason than because they could.
When they finally got up they decided to get out of the center of the city and went to visit the Château de Versailles, another item on Mike’s list of places he wanted to see. They spent the day exploring the palace, wandering the gardens, marvelling at the stables. Mike took a thousand photos and pulled Harvey into half of them. They’d occasionally link hands and steal quick kisses. They never once talked about their relationship or what was going to happen next, not even when they stopped to eat and Harvey had the most exquisite croque monsieur on the planet as they talked about everything but that.
The drive back to the city was quiet, subdued. Harvey knew why. He was going back to Mike’s apartment to pack his bags and go back to his life in New York and neither of them knew how to talk about it, how to even broach the subject.
When they got back to the apartment Harvey gathered his scattered clothes and packed his bags as Mike sat on his bed and silently watched. When it was all done, when there was no other task to distract them, Mike looked at Harvey tentatively and said, “What happens now?”
“I have no idea,” Harvey replied honestly. And he didn’t. What could they do? Mike’s life was clearly here now, and Harvey had a home and job and life back in New York. “I go back home, I guess.”
Mike nodded, thoughtful. After a few moments of tense silence he said, “You never asked me to stay. All that time I was thinking about leaving, after I gave my notice, as I was packing up my room in your apartment, you never once asked me to stay.”
“You could’ve asked me to go with you,” Harvey pointed out.
Mike quirked an eyebrow at him, asking incredulously, “Would you have left?”
“Would you have stayed?” Harvey countered.
Mike suddenly looked sad and older than his years. “Yes. In a heartbeat.”
Harvey loved New York. He’d always felt like it was where he was meant to be, his place in the world.
And yet, as Ray drove him through the city streets, he’d never felt more lost.
It was ludicrous, the idea rolling around in his head. He wasn’t twenty years old and falling in love for the first time. He was an adult with serious responsibilities and he couldn’t just pack up and leave and follow his heart across the sea, no matter how much he might want to.
He tried moving on, mostly out of sheer stubbornness, determined somehow to prove that he wasn’t that person, that his life’s work meant more than falling in love with his former protégé. He tried to focus on work, on being a good friend to Donna and Louis, on giving his clients all that he could.
It didn’t work. Instead of writing up contracts he’d find himself looking at apartments to rent in Paris. Instead of going to partner meetings he’d take online tutorials in basic french. Instead of taking work home he stalked the Anderson & Rains facebook page and website, seeing what amazing things they’d accomplished. Instead of going out at night, schmoozing potential clients or wining and dining potential bedmates, he’d rattle around his apartment, mentally sorting his belongings into the categories of leave here or take to Paris.
It was all theoretical, a fantasy in the same vein that most people who were slightly dissatisfied with their lives had, where they dreamed about up and leaving and creating a whole new life for themselves. Most people never followed through though. Harvey wondered if he’d be the same.
He and Mike still texted and emailed, but the calls had dropped off. And everything between them felt so loaded now, heavy with the weight of everything they weren’t saying.
Harvey was never a big believer in fate or signs. The closest he ever came was thinking that maybe Mike ending up in his hotel room, that first day all those years ago, maybe that was fate. But even so, he was more inclined to believe it was just a coincidence, maybe good luck if he was feeling generous.
But this, this was fate.
It was a terrible day. One of Harvey’s biggest and longest serving clients called in the morning - they called Louis, didn’t even bother going to Harvey - and said that they were leaving, that Harvey had been preoccupied and wasn’t giving enough of his attention and dedication to them. Louis stormed into his office to yell, Donna soon joined them to mediate, but the truth was there was nothing to mediate. Because Harvey wasn’t fighting back. How could he, when their client was right.
Harvey hadn’t been giving his all to Specter, Litt and Associates, hadn’t for a while now. And so he told them a truth they never saw coming. “I’m thinking of stepping down.”
It was a whole thing. He never thought he’d see the day where Louis Litt argued with him to try and get him to stay. Donna seemed less shocked, but she agreed with Louis. The firm needed him. They needed him. Harvey tried to placate them, told them nothing was finalized, he hadn’t made up his mind, it was just something he was thinking about. But they might want to think about it too, about what they’d do if he did decide to leave.
When he got home that night he did his usual cyber stalking. And that’s when he saw it. Mike was hiring an associate.
Harvey was never a big believer in fate or signs. But this, this was fate.
Harvey was nervous. He’d been fine while booking the ticket, he’d been relaxed getting on the plane and flying across the ocean, he’d been calm as the taxi drove him through the city streets. But as he walked into Mike’s office building, his breath caught in his throat and his heart started to pound.
He didn’t think he’d ever been this nervous before.
It wasn’t that he wasn’t sure if this was the right thing to do or not. He knew it was, down to his very bones. No, his nerves stemmed from Mike’s reaction. Harvey thought they were on the same page, wouldn’t be making so bold a move if he didn’t, but still, they’d never really talked about it. They’d talked around it, they’d felt the unspoken words sitting heavy between them, but it was still implied. And without the proof, the verbal or written confirmation he was so used to relying on, it was a risk.
But then again, everything with Mike had been a risk, from the day they met.
He wasn’t expected, and he tried his best to communicate this with this very limited french. Luckily Jeanne passed by reception and spotted him. There was some rapid fire french exchanged, of which Harvey understood about five words (two of which were Mike and Harvey), before Jeanne smiled at him and told him to come with her.
She led him to the elevator and once inside pressed the button for the top floor. “Mike didn’t mention that you were visiting,” she said in her accented and perfect english.
“He doesn’t know. It’s a surprise.”
She smiled. “Well, I’m sure he’ll be happy to see you.” When the elevator doors opened they walked through and she asked, “Do you remember the way?”
Harvey nodded, said, “Merci.”
Harvey made his way through the office, which was buzzing with activity. Mike’s office was in the far corner, and when he got there he hid himself on the other side of the office wall, putting his carry-on on the floor and pulling a manila folder out of it. He then went to Mike’s office door and stood outside it for a moment, watching Mike though the glass. Mike was sitting at his desk, which was covered in stacks of paper and, despite the early hour, two coffee cups. He was hunched over and reading intently. His right arm was outstretched, showing off his forearm where his sleeve was rolled up to the elbow, and he occasionally looked over and made notes on a yellow legal pad.
Mike didn't see him until he opened the office door and stepped inside.
Genuine surprise shined on Mike’s face for a moment, before it melted into delight. He smiled widely and stood, exclaiming, “Harvey! What are you doing here?”
“I came to give you this,” he replied casually, handing over the folder.
Mike accepted the folder with an expression that was equal parts curiosity and concern. He flipped it open. “This is your resume.”
“It is,” Harvey agreed.
“It lists your address as my apartment.”
Mike looked up at him then. “What—”
“I’m applying for the associate position. And I know I’m underqualified, but I’m hoping that you’ll look past that and let me learn on the job. Because the thing is, I’m wildly in love with you. And I should’ve asked you to stay in New York with me. But I didn’t, and that’s on me, and I know how happy you are here and would never ask you to leave. So I thought I’d come to you. If you’ll have me.”
Mike said nothing, did nothing, just stared at him, unabashed. Harvey started to panic. Maybe he was reading things wrong, maybe he pushed too far or too fast. His mind was starting to conjure exit strategies when Mike finally moved, dropping the file onto his desk. He strode with purpose around his table towards Harvey, and he didn’t stop, reaching out and taking Harvey’s face in his hands, kissing him soundly.
Harvey tried to smile and kiss Mike at the same time, and when that didn’t work focused on Mike, on kissing him with all the love he felt. He wrapped his arms tightly around Mike’s frame, holding him close, never wanting to let go.
“Wait,” Mike said, breaking the kiss abruptly. “Why exactly are you underqualified for a first year associate job?”
“Because at this point in time my french basically consists of me saying ‘Je suis désolé, je ne parle pas français. Parlez vous anglais?’”
Mike laughed, pressing his lips to Harvey’s in a tender but chaste kiss.
“Not to mention I don’t have the visas and work permits and—”
“Okay, I get it,” Mike said, smiling.
“But, if we can get all that sorted, I’d be honored to work for you.”
“What about Specter, Litt and Associates?”
“Things are in motion for me to leave. With or without this job, I want to be with you.”
“You do?” Mike said softly, his voice tinged with hope.
Harvey waved his arms, indicating them and the room around them. “My transatlantic trip to declare my feelings wasn’t enough? If anything, I should be the uncertain one here. I’ve yet to hear your answer.”
“You mean my running across my office and kissing you wasn’t enough?” Mike teased. Harvey couldn't help but chuckle at Mike throwing his words back at him. “But, in case you still want to hear the words … yes. Yes, Harvey, I want to be with you.”
And then they were kissing again. It was utterly surreal. Harvey had spent so long having no idea of the true nature of his feelings for Mike, and just as long again pining away for him, that he couldn’t believe that they were finally here, that they’d made it.
“This is a good idea,” Harvey whispered uncertainly when they broke apart for air, foreheads pressed together, “isn’t it?”
“Are you kidding? You hiring me when I was running from a drug bust was a bad idea. This, this is a fucking great idea.”
Harvey hated that he needed the reassurance, but was emboldened by the relief he felt at Mike’s words. “Well how can I argue with that?”
“And you know what they say,” Mike added. “Paris is always a good idea.”
Harvey laughed. “And to think we almost made it through our declarations without quoting a movie.”
“Uh … have you met us? That’s what we do,” Mike replied with a wink.
“So, does this mean I get the job?”
Mike sobered slightly, stepping out of Harvey’s embrace. “Harvey, you know I’d hire you in a heartbeat. But I’m afraid I don’t have the power you had when you hired me. You’ll need to apply and be interviewed like everyone else.”
“That’s fine,” Harvey reassured him. And it was. His application, though genuine, meant more to him as a display of his commitment to Mike and their relationship and the life they could have together. He was happy to go through the motions and see what came of it, even if he wasn’t successful in getting the job.. “I guess I’ll need to work on my french, huh?”
“Probably,” Mike grinned. “Wanna get out of here, get started on those french lessons.”
Harvey knew Mike better than anyone, so could easily read between the lines. And though he wanted nothing more than to get out of here and go home and ravish Mike’s body until the sun came down, he felt like he should probably point out that it was mid morning on a Tuesday and presumably Mike had work commitments that needed seeing to. “Don’t you have things you need to do?”
“We only hire the best, I’m sure someone here can cover for me.”
“Well then let’s go,” Harvey grinned.
Mike smiled, and started back towards his desk before changing his mind, turning back and kissing Harvey again. “I’m so glad you’re here.”
“And for the record, je t'aime aussi.”
Harvey grinned. “Now that I understood.”