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"Me"

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There was nothing remarkable about that Thursday. Spring was still being held under the heavy thumb of winter, who insisted on dropping five more inches of snow in April. But still, the sun managed to peek through the clouds and bounce off the bright white snow. In no time at all it would turn to gray sludge, then melt.

It was around lunchtime, well, for the firm anyway. A typical lunch usually happened at 1 or 2, and a fair amount of workers had left the floor in search of sustenance. But not the dream team…

Gathered in Jessica's office was Mike, Harvey, Louis and Scottie; and Jessica of course. Somewhere along the line, Louis and Scottie decided to go at each other's throats, using their respective cases and whatever spare mental capacity they had to drop bombs on one another.

Mike and Harvey were just casualties, about to leave Jessica's office when Louis came rumbling into Jessica's office, Scottie in tow. When the verbal mudslinging began, Harvey and Mike stood to leave, but Jessica requested they stay to give their opinions as an unbiased third party. Which was bullshit since Harvey was banging Scottie. But then again, that's exactly what Jessica wanted, to see if Harvey could be impartial.

Their backs were all to the glass, save for Jessica's, which is why she was the first to notice the man in the hallway who was out of place. Her eyes were wide, mouth parted in anticipation, when the man burst into her office. "What the hell…" she started, but stopped…dead in her tracks as she watched the man pull a gun out of his jacket.

By now, all eyes were on the intruder, a charged silence hung in the air. Security guards and cops poured out of the elevators and into the hallway.

The man was sweating but held a steady hand. He glanced quickly at the hall and then at the occupants of the room. "You," he waved the mat black gun at Mike, "walk towards me." Mumbles of protest rose out of the lawyers, only to be silenced by the man. "Fucking walk towards me, NOW!" he screamed.

Mike gave a passing glance at Harvey as he strode in front of him, and towards the man, who reached an arm out to snap Mike up. He spun Mike around, keeping the lawyer in front of him, and backed himself into a corner.

A heavy arm pressed tightly into Mike's neck. Louis looked like he was about to piss himself, Scottie's expression was drenched in shock, and Harvey struggled to maintain his composure.

"And who the fuck are you?" Jessica asked cooly, with an undertone of annoyance. The man smiled, he chuckled, Mike could feel his chest move against his back. "I knew you wouldn't remember me," the man said, shaking his head.

Mike's wide blue eyes bore holes into Harvey's, they wouldn't leave his mentor's face. But he blinked tight when he felt the cold press of metal nestling against a patch of his soft blonde hair. "I'm your worst fuckin' nightmare. But most people just call me Bruce. Bruce Tyler."

The man was panting. He had on a worn grey suit, had sharp spiked black hair and empty grey eyes. For a moment his shifting eyes swept the hallway, making sure that no one could hit him, without hitting Mike, but that didn't even matter, the angles were in his favor.

"And what is it you want Bruce Tyler?" Scottie asked, genuinely, politely. Still, Harvey threw her a cross look for even opening her mouth in such a dangerous situation. But the man just smiled, and looked back at Jessica.

"You buried me in a legal suit a decade ago. Accused me of fraud. Ruined my life."

"So this is some vendetta?" Jessica asked. "If it has to do with my firm, you should take it up with me, and let Mike go," she gestured towards Mike who's face was sick with panic.

"It's not just about your firm, you bitch," Bruce seethed, moving his arm, gripping Mike's neck and squeezing.

Louis must've been looking at the door a little too much, because Bruce said "move, and I blow his brains out."

"Mmmy apologies," Louis stammered, shuffling back towards Jessica. "This is just a lot to handle for a man who just had a heart attack."

"Well cry me a river, Justin Timberlake," Bruce cackled. "Maybe if your boss there didn't get me wrongfully convicted, none of us would be here!" he yelled. His booming voice was deafening in Mike's ears, and he was struggling to breathe beneath the sweaty hand of his captor - his face began turning red.

"I know all of you so damn well," the man grinned, shaking his head, gun still digging into Mike's fine hair. "You put me away for twelve years…my own son doesn't know who I am…my wife left me….all because of you," he looked at Jessica, "and you," he looked at Harvey, "who bent the rules so that you could put another "win" down in your books."

No one said a thing.

"And the cherry on top…? The cherry on top was when you led the suit against my family's own business. As if it's not bad enough I can't get work ANYWHERE, you team up with that scum bag who is discrediting and dismantling businesses so that he can get the real estate when they go under!"

Bruce let Mike's throat go, but kneed him, so that Mike fell to the ground. Then he pistol whipped him in the back of the head. He was on his hands and knees, staring at the carpet, which now spun in his vision.

Harvey took a step forward.

"Ah…ah…ah…" Bruce said, pushing the gun into the back of Mike's skull.

"You were the worst of all Harvey Specter. I even came to court to testify for my family's business, and you STILL didn't recognize me. It's as if I never existed, as if you don't even REALIZE what you've DONE!"

"So punish me," Harvey said, hands motioning to himself.

"Oh, but I am…" the man said, pistol whipping Mike again.

Scottie looked to the hallway for help, but no sniper could get to Bruce at this angle. She stared at her boyfriend in horror at what he had just said. She couldn't even believe that she'd wasted the past two weeks being mad at Harvey…how stupid.

"After that court case, after my family lost their business, I began to study you all…very closely. And for the longest time I couldn't figure out what I could do that could get to you. I mean…my life's already over, what've I got to lose? Nothing! But you…you who doesn't care about anything…what could you lose?" he asked, staring at Harvey with death in his eyes.

Mike gasped, his neck was red, a fresh handprint still indelible in his flesh. His head rang, and blood dripped out of his right ear. Then he felt a sharp tug on his hair, and again, he looked up at Harvey.

Never in his entire life had Harvey Specter felt so fucking helpless.

"The more I learned about you all…the more I realized that Mike was the key. He's the smartest fucking person here, and even more important than that…you care about him Harvey," Bruce said, head twisted, the word "care" strung out in disbelief.

"And even better…he cared about you! I watched him you know…during that time when you wanted nothing to do with him, when he almost became Louis' lackey instead of yours. He stopped eating, barely slept, started using again…what a pathetic little fuck," he mocked.

In an instant he yanked Mike up by the shoulder and spun him, before he could stand, just far enough around to get a punch in. Again, Harvey stepped forward, but the gun was back on Mike, whose face was now bleeding.

"You know what this kid wants more than this stupid job?"

"No…what?" Harvey asked.

..."You."

Tears began to form in Mike's eyes, but not from the pain. Harvey looked at Mike with some emotion that Mike had never seen before - couldn't make out.

"And the fact that you risked EVERYTHING FOR HIM, the fact that you keep his secret, and he keeps yours…is EVERYTHING. HE is what I can take away from you. HE is how I can make you suffer for the rest of your life."

"Don't do this," Harvey's visage cracked. A tear rolled down his face.

"Too late. It's either one of you," he waved the gun at Jessica then Harvey, "or it's him. I'll let him decide," he pulled Mike to his feet.

Mike could hear his own heartbeat in his ears, his head screamed in pain and his legs felt like they were made of jelly. It was like his blood had become ice water, struggling to make it to his heart.

"What do you mean, you'll let me decide?" Mike croaked, his throat burning.

"Ahh…the fun part," Bruce said sadistically. "I really have nothing against you Mikey, I hope you know that."

Harvey's face was tormented, he looked to the hall for help, but the calvary couldn't get a clear shot. He took a moment to look around the room. At the lawyer who had for so long been his enemy, and for what? At the girlfriend he had just begun to fall for. At the boss who believed in him, made his dreams a reality and weathered the storms with him. And Mike…Mike…was beyond words…

"There are only so many live rounds in this gun," Bruce said, waving it slightly. "I'm going to pull the trigger three times, and one of those times, a bullet will be fired, killing either you Harvey, Jessica, or Mike."

"Why would you do this…" Jessica said so low that it was almost inaudible. "I'M DOING THIS SO THAT WHEN YOU WALK INTO THIS ROOM, FOR THE REST OF YOUR CAREER, THERE WILL BE A BLOODSTAIN ON THE GROUND THAT YOU CAUSED! A LIFE TAKEN IN EXCHANGE FOR MINE!" Bruce shook.

Louis was trying to steady his breathing, he looked over at Scottie who looked back at him. She reached over and took his hand.

Bruce cleared his throat and spoke in a growl. "I'm doing this because no matter which one of you gets the bullet, EVERYONE WILL SUFFER."

"So who is it Mike... you? Or Jessica?"

It was hard to breathe, hard to think, but it wasn't a hard decision.

Mike just stared at Harvey, and blinked at him slowly, like an apology. The gun was on Jessica.

"Me," he barely got out before the gun turned back towards him and he heard it click. He nearly jumped out of his skin, tears ran down his face.

"What a noble man…" Bruce said to Jessica, who was now visibly shaking. "You clearly don't deserve him."

"Stop this," Harvey said. "It's not too late…you don't have to do this."

Bruce just smiled. "That's what the great Harvey Specter has to say huh? Don't do it! What happened to the all-powerful persuader, New York's best closer? And that's all you've got?"

Mike was standing, waiting, trying to focus on something other than Harvey's face, but he just couldn't…Harvey was all he could see…all he wanted to see. He could drown in those warm brown eyes, and he'd willingly go.

"The question remains Mike…what'll it be?"

Mike's once blue eyes were blown black with panic, but there was a stillness beneath the fear, a level of acceptance. He knew that this could very well be the last decision he'd ever make. And there was no doubt in his mind about what he should do…about how he would answer.

The gun was pointed at Harvey.

"Me," Mike said, the gun turning back to him...

Chapter Text

It was a rash decision that was formed and executed in less time than it takes to exhale.

But Mike had to do it.

He knew…he just knew that the chamber was loaded. He knew that there was a very real bullet only moments away from his brain. So he moved.

Mike twisted his body, his chest up against Bruce's, the gun between them. He was trying to get it out of Bruce's cold, sweaty hand; but the man's bony fingers clung to the black metal. Mike's head was still spinning from the blows, his heart was skipping beats from the adrenaline.

It happened so fast.

The gun went off and a deafening roar ripped through the air. They fumbled around and Mike's back was up against the glass wall that separated Jessica's office from the hallway. And in an instant, a mass of black uniforms was flooding the room, pulling Bruce off of Mike. The weapon fell to the floor. Cops were screaming. Bruce was on the ground. And Mike's hand was…wet?

His hand was on his $300 gray shirt, and when he peeled it away it was bright red. Slowly his eyes rose to meet Harvey's. They were blown wide with terror, his mouth hung open in disbelief.

When Mike went to breathe, it felt like he couldn't. In what seemed like slow motion, he lurched forward. He thought he heard Harvey scream "NO!" And then Harvey was holding him, guiding him towards the ground, where he was already headed.

"MEDIC! WE NEED A MEDIC!" one of the cops screamed as they drug Bruce out of the room.

"Sorry…Harvey," Mike breathed, between wheezy rasps of labored breath. "No, no, no," Harvey said. "You're going to be okay Mike," he said, tears rolling down his face, voice hitching in his throat.

Mike was on the carpet, feeling the life literally seep out of him. His feet were towards the glass, Harvey was on his right side and Jessica, Scottie and Louis were on the sidelines; watching in horror.

It wasn't real. This couldn't be real. How could this be real? Mike really got shot, he was really lying on the floor, really bleeding.

Three medics rushed into the room. "Move," one of them said to Harvey, "sit at his head."

Harvey moved.

"'s not your fault," Mike croaked. Harvey was biting his lips, burning tears spilling from his face, "yes it is…yes it is," he whispered.

"What's his name?" one of the medics asked.

"Mike," Jessica answered.

"Well Mike, my name is Jeremy, and I'm gonna help get you through this okay?"

"I hate to do this buddy, but I'm going to have to cut up your shirt," another medic said as he took a scissors to the cloth. Mike could feel it pull and hear it rip. He just stared up at Harvey while Jeremy asked them questions about his allergies…his blood type.

"It's going to be okay Mike, you're going to be okay," Harvey said.

"Harvey…" Mike croaked, a drop of blood escaping out of the corner of his mouth. The sight made Harvey's blood run cold, but he tried to hold it together, lowering his ear to Mike's mouth so that he could hear whatever it was Mike was trying to say.

The paramedics were buzzing around the young lawyer, their hands furiously working to preserve his life.

When Harvey raised his head, after hearing what Mike had to say…he looked…surprised.

A loaded tension hung in the air between the murmurs of the medics and the deafening silence of the lawyers.

Louis couldn't breathe, his face was white. And Jessica's usually stolid expression gave way to grief, shock and fury.

These are the moments that Mike would never remember; the very same moments that the other four in that room would never forget.

"Does this building have a helipad?" one of the men asked, snapping Jessica from her daze. "Yes, yes it does." "Good," the man said in return, grabbing the radio on the left side of his chest. "This is John Schneider requesting communication with the Life Flight Comm Center," the man said.

The radio crackled. "Go ahead Schneider," a voice on the other end replied.

Mike tried to listen, but Jeremy interrupted. "Mike…I'm going to need to clear your airway okay? It's not going to feel too good, but it's going to help you breathe. Can you hold either side of his head - gently?" he pointed to Harvey.

"Yeah…" Harvey said, placing his hands gently against Mike's skull.

The medic snaked a tube into Mike's mouth and down his throat. It burned going in and made some queasy gurgling noises.

Louis couldn't watch, he felt sick.

Blood came out of one tube, the tube was pulled out, and another one was put in that delivered oxygen.

It was too much. The ceiling lights were so bright, Harvey's pained expression was too much, his head hummed in excruciating pain, his chest throbbed in agony, he couldn't breathe.

For a moment, he thought…this could be it. On the floor of Pearson Specter, beneath Harvey's broken gaze, as his colleagues stood and watched. But he was too young…too smart…he had too much to do. That was his last thought before Mike's heavy eyelids slipped shut.

He never heard Harvey screaming his name, right above his face. Never heard the blades of the chopper slice through the thrum of rush hour. Never heard Schneider tell Life Flight that he had a punctured lung. Never felt his body being gently moved onto the stretcher or brought into the elevator, and then the crisp spring air to be loaded into the chopper.

"I want to come, I need to come with him," Harvey said to a medic who's hand was on his chest, stopping him from moving forward. "You can't," the medic yelled over the noise. "There's only room for him and one paramedic. He's in the best hands, I promise."

Harvey felt like he was ready to break apart, shatter into a thousand pieces like glass being thrown violently to the floor. "I need…"

"You can meet up with him at the hospital," he said.

The door to the red and white chopper slid shut, and the convoy began to lift off the pad.

They got back into the elevator; Harvey, Jessica, Louis and the two medics. The ride was slow and Specter felt like there was no air in that fucking metal box.

When it dinged and the doors finally cracked open, Scottie and Donna were waiting in the foyer. Donna had all of Harvey's stuff in her hands, his jacket draped over her arm. Her face was ghost white with bright red streaks beneath her puffy eyes. "Out, out, out" she ordered to everyone in the elevator but Harvey.

"We'll see you guys there," she said, stepping into the elevator with Harvey.

The doors closed.

As soon as they were out of view, Harvey gasped in broken breaths, bracing himself against the elevator wall.

His pulse was beating in his ears, it was like he couldn't breathe, couldn't think. Donna's firm grip brought him back to the moment. "Harvey," Donna said in her most serious voice. "You have got…," she verbally stumbled, and cleared her throat. "You have got to hold it together," she said, eyes boring into his. She shook her head slowly, still gripping his bicep. "…If only for me. If you fall apart, I'll fall apart, and it'll all go to hell from there."

She rubbed his arm, staring at his face rather than his blood smattered shirt. "Breathe Harvey, just breathe. Slow…deep…breaths." He nodded, taking in carefully measured breaths. "He's stubborn as fuck, he'll be fine," she said, more to reassure herself than Harvey.

"I hope so," he said as the car came to a stop and the doors opened.

Chapter Text

The ride to the hospital was excruciatingly slow. It was around 4, so you’d think traffic wouldn’t be bad, but this is New York City…

“What the fuck is going on?” Harvey growled, his breath struggling past a tightening throat. “There was an accident sir, I’m trying my best…”

“It’s okay Ray,” Donna reassured. She turned back to Harvey and gave him a knitted brow of disapproval. “Keep your head Harvey.”

“Are you kidding Donna? Keep my head? Mike was shot!” he yelled, bringing a hand up to loosen his tie. The redhead clenched her jaw and averted her gaze to her lap. It was a rare thing to see Harvey Specter like this. She shared in his helplessness, but couldn’t afford to let herself succumb to emotion. If she did, she’d crumble completely.

“Got to get this fucking thing off” Harvey said, haphazardly yanking at the blue tie around his neck, to no avail. Then he stopped, and for a moment, Specter looked down at the piece of fabric he was struggling with.

The tie was brand new – he didn’t usually wear blue. But it wasn’t blue anymore. The azure tone had smatters of blood across it, turning the bloodied areas purple. It was a good thing that he hadn’t eaten lunch, because he could taste his stomach on the back of his tongue.

Donna looked up just in time to catch the look of realization and horror that flitted across her boss’ face. Not only was his tie marred with blood, but his gray suit was also awash in it. Flecks of red dotted his pants, covered his sleeves…

“Here, let me help,” Donna whispered, scooting forward and bringing shaking hands up to Harvey’s tie. She slipped it off easily enough, and began pulling his jacket off as well.

Deep breaths filled the small cabin of the car as Harvey once again felt the sensation that he couldn’t breathe. He had to remind himself that it was just an illusion – that he was fine.

The tie was off, as well as the jacket, but the vest also had deep red stains on it, so Harvey shucked it off.

Luckily, they were making some progress down the construction and accident riddled streets – but it was still taking too long.

“Harvey,” Donna’s voice snapped him back. “Stop looking out the window, it only makes it worse. Lean back and close your eyes.”

“Donna…I don’t need…” “Do it!” “Fine,” he resigned, leaning back and closing his eyes. But it didn’t make the situation better, because all he saw in the black darkness behind those heavy lids was the expression on Mike’s face. He could feel Mike’s weight against him as he fell forward into his chest, he could feel Mike’s hot breath against his ear when he whispered to him. He could smell the metallic blood as it pooled beneath Mike’s blonde hair.

Tears escaped from the confines of his closed eyes and slipped down Harvey’s hot cheeks. He balled his hands into fists and waited for the car to stop driving, for his world to stop spinning.

--------------

They reached the hospital an hour later; the first ones to arrive.

On the roof, Jessica told the pilot to take him to the best hospital…and they did, though it was a little further out.

Harvey barely waited for the car to come to a stop before he was out and jogging into the hospital. Donna tried her best to keep up in 5” heels.

The halls seemed to stretch on and on in an endless maze of fluorescent lights. The walls were an unassuming shade of algae green and the passageways smelled of disinfectant and desolation. There was a whole host of faces that passed by in a blur.

Finally, they made it to the correct desk.

“Mike Ross,” Harvey commanded, breathless, “where is he?”

“Are you his family?” The woman behind the fake wood, half circle desk asked nonchalantly. Harvey’s mouth was dry, and his wide eyes swung over to Donna.

“No, we’re his lawyers…and his employers, and his friends. Where is he?” Donna recovered.

“Let me see,” the woman replied, calmly clacking away on her keyboard. “Mr. Ross is currently in surgery.”

“Do you know anything about his condition? How long will the surgery be?” Harvey raced. “Who’s the doctor? Or doctors?” Harvey could barely catch his breath; he could feel his heart beating behind his eyes, in his throat, at the tips of his fingers.

“I know that there’s a lot going on right now Mr…”

“Specter.”
“Mr. Specter, so I’m going to give you this ‘authorization for release of information’ form to fill out, along with these patient information and insurance forms and have you take a seat in a private waiting room,” she said, shuffling a novel’s worth of papers together and straightening them out on the counter.

Just as Harvey’s mouth parted to protest, the woman said, “while you get started on these, I’m going to find someone who has more information than me, and I’ll send them in to talk with you.”

“Okay,” he said, nodding, reluctantly grasping the stack of papers affixed to the dirty brown clipboard.

“The waiting room is right over there,” the woman said, pointing to a room on the other side of the hall with glass windows looking in on the small space.

They walked over, entered, and Harvey gracelessly plopped himself into a stiff green chair. The arms were plastic, and he tried, and failed, to balance the clipboard on one of the arms. So he held it in his hands instead.

“God…Harvey,” Louis’ voice entered the room. He looked up to see Louis, Jessica and Scottie walking in. “What do you know?” Louis asked. “Nothing much,” Harvey said bleakly, “just that he’s in surgery.”

The trio took a seat. They looked ridiculous – dressed to the nines in a room with paper cups and peeling wallpaper. The space was warm, over-heated. Harvey put the clipboard on his lap and went to roll up his sleeves. But the sight of more blood stopped him.

Unbelievable. Mike’s blood had seeped through his jacket and appeared in spots on his white undershirt. It stood out starkly against the crisp white background.

He felt sick…thinking of what made that blood spill. It was so quiet in that damn room that he could almost hear the bullet tearing through Mike’s flesh. But when he returned to reality all that could be heard was the incessant ticking of the clock on the wall. It must have been a mirage, a lie, because time wasn’t actually moving.

Harvey tried to fill out the first form, but he couldn’t see straight, he couldn’t focus. When Donna saw his hands tremor, she took the pen from him. “Here, let me do it,” she said, taking the clipboard as well. Furiously she began scribbling in information.

Her pen and the clock were the only noises in the room.

They all raced there just so that they could hurry up and wait. Jessica was stone still, Scottie was rubbing her hands together and Louis was tapping his foot.

“This is ridiculous,” Louis finally broke the silence. “They still haven’t come to talk to you?”

Harvey looked up at the clock. “It’s only been fifteen minutes Louis.” “Yeah, fifteen minutes too long,” the man bolted up and out of the room. Someone was about to get a verbal ass whooping.

In his absence, the remaining troupe sat silently, and Harvey exchanged awkward pitied glances with both Jessica and Scottie.

After about seven minutes, Louis returned with a young doctor. He was probably a student, in the room to assist and learn about the surgery. “Sorry to keep you waiting,” he started. “Mr. Ross is stable for the moment,” he dove right in.

Harvey edged to the precipice of the flimsy seat beneath him, carefully caught on every word being spoken.

“He took one shot to the left lung. Luckily, it was the bottom area of the lung,” the young man brought a hand up to his own chest to indicate the location. “His lung collapsed and we’re working remove a very small area of the left lung. It’s a six hour surgery – at least.” He continued on after that… but Harvey was zoning out.

His lung collapsed. They took part of his fucking lung out.

Seeing the color drain from the lawyer’s face the man made sure to mention that it was a very small portion of the lung that they had to remove…maybe an inch, or two?

“I’ll let you know if anything changes,” the doctor said before disappearing out the door, leaving an ocean of disbelief in his wake.

Harvey gulped but his throat was so dry that it clung to itself. The room seemed smaller, and the lights brighter. It was as if the walls were closing in. “I need some air,” he said walking out into the hallway, not even noticing Scottie’s footsteps behind him.

He made it down a hallway and a half before she managed to get a hand on his shoulder. “Harvey!”

He turned and faced her. “Talk to me,” she breathed. “Tell me how you are.”

A beat of silence passed between them.

His face twisted up. “How do you think I am?” he said incredulously.

“What can I do?” she pled.

“Nothing,” he said bitterly.

“I can at least be here for you Harvey…”

But that’s not what he wanted. He wanted Mike. He wanted Mike to be there for him. That’s who he’d turn to if he were dealing with some other catastrophe. And it was his fault. It was his fucking fault that Mike was even here right now…in this situation. He wanted to take that bullet; he should have taken that bullet.

Harvey shook his head for a moment before looking up at Scottie with brown eyes drowning in defeat and despair. “I just want to be alone,” he said, turning, and continuing on down the hall – his shoes clacking against the green speckled linoleum floors until he was out of sight.

Chapter Text

This had to be the longest fucking day ever, Harvey thought to himself as he strode around the hospital. He needed to walk, to think, to breathe, but the stroll wasn't helping to subdue the steady hum of panic that vibrated just below his chest.

He wasn't gone for too long - maybe a half hour? If there was any news, he didn't want to miss it. But the fear of bad news is what kept him wandering about the halls. Every fiber of logic he possessed told him to prepare for the worst. That way, if the most terrible scenario played out, if Mike died, he could be ready.

But he couldn't…he couldn't even let his mind go there. A total breakdown loomed behind those thoughts. And even if he did run through that scenario in his mind, he doubted he would be any more prepared for the worst if it did happen. There existed no reality in which Harvey wouldn't crumble if Mike died.

Fluorescent light bathed his head and shoulders as he made his way back to the waiting room. His shoes sounded so loud against the speckled linoleum floor.

Turning the corner, he entered the familiar space and noticed that not much had changed. Everyone was sitting in the same spot they were in when he had left, with the same expressions of thinly veiled despair on their faces.

He resumed his seat and sat in silence with the rest of them. It was hard to ignore the tension that hung between he and Scottie, but he managed.

The sound of approaching footsteps caught his attention, but it wasn't a doctor. It was Trevor.

"Where is he? Is he okay?" the man asked breathlessly as he rushed into the room.

"Who the hell are you?" Louis asked incredulously. But his inquiry was met with Trevor's raised hand that clearly conveyed the "not now" message. "Is Mike alright?"

He was looking at Harvey, but it was Jessica who answered him. "We're not sure yet Trevor. He's in surgery, he is stable for now, and should be out in about three hours."

"What the hell happened?" Trevor demanded, fear and anger mingling in his facial features.

"He was shot," Harvey said simply.

"How the hell does a lawyer get shot in a downtown law office in the middle of the goddamn day?"

"Good question," Harvey muttered.

Trevor brought a hand down his face, that traveled to the back of his neck as his thoughts raced. He stood, barely inside the doorway, looking just as lost and shocked as everyone at Pearson Specter had earlier that day.

"He better have the best goddamn doctor in the city," he said, looking at Jessica.

"He does Trevor. We take care of our own."

The last sentence was sharp, and it needled at something precariously delicate inside of Trevor.

He glared back at Jessica, daring her with his eyes to say something more - to see what would happen if she did.

"Frankly, I'm surprised to see you here," she added.

"Now I really want to know who you are," Louis chipped in. "Clearly Jessica and Harvey aren't your biggest fans.."

Trevor turned to Louis, his hands on his hips, an exasperated look etched into his features. He was wearing an Armani suit - black - with a green tie. A gold watch glittered from beneath his cuffs. Any passerby would assume that he was with the rest of the legal team…but he wasn't.

"You want to know who I am?" Trevor said. "I'll tell you who I am."

It took him a moment to gather his thoughts, to push down the panic and sadness that threatened to ascend to his eyes.

"I'm Mike's oldest friend. I'm the one that stood beside him at his parent's funeral, I'm the one who spent every night with him for six months because all he could see when he shut his eyes at night were his dead parent's faces. I'm the one who beat the living shit out of anyone who even looked at him sideways in school. And he… he's the one who helped me study, helped me get through school when all I could think of was whether or not my Dad was going to toss me around when I got home."

Trevor halted. His words stung at his throat and pulled at the air in the room.

"There were times when all we had in life was each other," he turned his gaze to Jessica and then to Harvey. "And they," he pointed, "they witnessed the final moments of a dying friendship that lasted twenty-five years. All they know is that I betrayed Mike. But they don't know why. They don't know that it was because he broke my heart," his tone faltered.

Again, a hand came up to his face, rubbing the shock of vulnerability of what he had just said off his mouth.

"That's who I fucking am," he told Louis. "I am…a part of Mike. And he's a part of me, no matter what shit's gone down in the past. So you can all get over your disdain for me, because I'm staying," he finished, plopping down into an empty seat across from Louis, dropping his shoulder bag to the floor with a thud.

Once settled in the flimsy hospital chair he lent his head back against the wall with a smack and closed his eyes. If he had opened them, if he had looked at Jessica's face (or Harvey's), he would see a tinge of surprise. But it was too difficult to suppress the moisture pooling behind his heavy eyelids to keep them open.

Stable. Stable. Mike's stable, he kept repeating in his mind. How could this happen? What if Mike died? Died thinking that they…weren't friends…that he hated him?

Everything seemed so petty now. How could he have ever let Mike go? Let a woman get between them? What was he thinking betraying his best friend?

Mike couldn't die. Not because he wanted to say "goodbye." But because he wanted to say "I'm sorry."

"I love you."

Chapter Text

The fact that the Pearson Specter team was now sharing the waiting room with Trevor, undoubtedly added a level of awkward to the already strained atmosphere.

The wait seemed endless and a barrage of phone calls was beginning to wear Jessica down.

“You should get back to the office,” Harvey said after the 30th ring.

“It’s after hours,” she argued. But it was a weak argument. She knew that she had to leave.

The group had been there all night and once 5am rolled around, the chirpy dings and humming vibrations began. They hadn’t even wrapped up their work the day before, so there was doubly more to do today.

“We can’t leave our client’s waiting,” Harvey said coolly, his head cocked towards his fellow partner.

There was no denying that she should leave. Someone had to take care of the firm. The world didn’t care that the bloodstain was still fresh on her office floor.

“You’re right Harvey,” she said, standing. “Louis, I’ll need you to come back to the office with me. You too Scottie.”

The brunette glanced at Harvey whose gaze was distant and apathetic. He didn’t want her here anyway, so why stay?

She nodded, stood, and gathered her things, following Louis and Jessica to the door.

“As soon as you hear anything..,” Jessica said, turning just before she reached the door frame.

“…Of course. We’ll let you know,” Donna answered.

Jessica gave a slight nod and led the other two lawyers out of the room.

Now it was just Harvey, Donna and Trevor.

For about fifteen minutes they sat there in continued silence, listening to the shuffling feet of doctors and nurses passing by in the hallway. Then Trevor spoke. He sounded ragged, drained, exhausted.

“You guys should go get something to eat or a coffee at least.”

Once the words were spoken, Donna looked over at Harvey to gauge his reaction, but there was none. Then she looked back at the man in the two thousand dollar suit. “Coffee does sound good,” she conceded.

She patted Harvey’s wrist. “C’mon, let’s get something to eat.”

But Harvey didn’t move. His expression resembled that of a child’s whose mother just told him that he’d be attending summer school.

“We won’t be gone more than ten minutes, I promise,” she said, wearing him down. As if on cue, Harvey’s stomach growled. It was embarrassingly loud and just the ammunition Donna needed to shoot him the ‘you know I’m right, now get up’ look. So he did.

They left the crowded space and walked down the hall in silence, following the sea foam green signs that pointed in various directions, indicating the location of the distant cafeteria.

It was hard to eat. Hard to drink. The very act of bringing food up to his mouth made Harvey a little queasy. But he forced the blueberry muffin past his lips and drowned each bite with a thick gulp of rich black coffee that tasted more like tar.

Outside the rectangular windows that lined the cafeteria – the sun was rising. The city bustled beneath the building, and there were even people in the cafeteria smiling. It felt so odd. So off. Like the world should be more still, more quiet, more respectful of the fact that life was crumbling inside these cinderblock walls.

Donna was right, they weren’t gone but ten minutes. Once they’d finished eating, they walked briskly back to the waiting room, but when they reached it, Trevor wasn’t there. Instead, there was a bright white note on the seat where he had sat – his bag still lent against the leg of the chair.

Harvey rushed towards the note and snapped it up off the chair.

“Nurse came. Mike’s awake. Room 642.” Harvey read it aloud and then promptly followed the words with a piercing glare in Donna’s direction.

“Hey, don’t be mad at me!” she said. “We’re human, we need to eat.”

Harvey just sighed and practically pushed past Donna.

 

“God, it’s such a relief to see you awake and all right,” Trevor said, walking slowly up to Mike’s bedside, sighing heavily.

Make gave a weak smile. All of the spark in his blue eyes was gone, but at least they were open. At least he was alive.

“Trevor,” he said with a hint of surprise.

His estranged friend looked tired. Heavy bangs hung under his warm eyes and he was nervously biting his bottom lip. The suit he wore was all crinkled and creased.

“Surprised to see me?” Trevor asked.

“Yeah,” Mike said honestly. His head was a haze of warm drugs and jumbled thoughts. There was no point in lying.

“You shouldn’t be,” Trevor said. “I know we didn’t leave off on good terms,” he said, running his hand through his hair, “but Mike…we’re family.”

Now his hands were nervously playing with the blanket on Mike’s bed; his fingers swirling imaginary patterns in the starchy fabric.

Seeing him lying in that bed, pale and exposed beneath fluorescent lights made Trevor’s heart hurt.

“You could have died…” he whispered, tears gathering behind his voice.

“But I didn’t,” Mike said, trying to be upbeat.

Trevor laughed and Mike noticed that there were more wrinkles gathered at the corners of his friend’s eyes than he remembered.

A tear slipped out and slid down Trevor’s face. He took a sharp breath in and came even closer to Mike. “The thought of losing you Mike…” he started, but a thick lump formed in his burning throat.

“You didn’t lose me,” Mike offered.

“Yes…I did,” Trevor answered. “I lost your friendship,” two more tears tumbled down his face. “And this situation…it showed me…how fucking stupid I was. To have ever put you in danger, to have ever gotten you involved in my “business,” to push you away over Jenny and try to hurt your career when it’s all you’ve wanted your entire life. I’m so sorry Mike.”

He shook his downward head and knitted his eyebrows together. “I’m an asshole Mike,” he looked back up at his friend. “That’s why I need you,” he lifted his right hand and tentatively rested it gently on the top of Mike’s head. “Because you make me a better person.”

The blonde hair was greasy but soft beneath his fingers. The lawyer’s scalp felt warm and his smile blossomed as he recognized the sincerity in Trevor’s face. The relief in his friend’s voice was palpable.

Ever since they had their falling out, Mike had done his very best to put Trevor completely out of his mind. He focused on Rachel and work and when something would remind him of Trevor, he’d push it down and let the hurt fuel him later.

Seeing him now was like opening an old wound, but instead of rubbing salt into it, Trevor was rubbing aloe into it.

Mike let out a breath of relief and drifted his head further into Trevor’s hand as a token of acceptance. The man was lazily working his fingers into Mike’s scalp like a massage and slowly he brought his head down to kiss Mike on the forehead. The kiss lingered for a moment or two and then Trevor rested his forehead against Mike’s.

Neither of them heard the door open. It took Donna politely clearing her throat to alert Trevor that there was an audience.

Trevor abruptly removed himself from Mike and took a step back.

It was innocent enough right? A kiss on the forehead, a hand on the head. Yet…something about it made Harvey’s stomach ache. His throat was a knot and his face felt hot.

“Donna, Harvey!” Mike said, turning his attention toward the newcomers. There it was – the spark in his eyes, the life in his (albeit weak) voice. Mike grinned from ear to ear.

Chapter Text

"How are you doing Mike?" Donna asked with a smile. Her hands were full with a bouquet of sunshine yellow flowers. She attempted to dissipate the awkward tension that had built up in the room, and walked closer to Mike's bed. Harvey followed.

"I'm okay," he said with a yawn. "Just tired…and a bit sore…but okay."

"Thank God," Donna breathed, setting the flowers down on the nightstand next to Mike's bed.

She beamed with relief at Mike's seemingly good health, but her smile was soured by the stony face that remained still behind her.

"Hey Harvey," Mike said hoarsely.

"Hey Mike," Harvey said, his features unreadable as guilt ate him from the inside out.

Trevor had removed his hand from Mike and taken a step back, putting his hands in his pocket. Harvey looked at him with a searingly distasteful gaze loaded with jealousy, but only Trevor noticed, and responded by moving his eyes back to Mike.

In the quiet space, Harvey played with his own hand, swiping his index finger over his thumb. He looked at Trevor then Donna and then spoke.

"Uh, would you guys mind giving me a minute with Mike?" he surveyed the room.

"Sure," Donna answered for herself and Trevor, who reluctantly nodded, smiled at Mike and walked towards the door with the fiery redhead.

As soon as the door swished shut, Harvey grabbed a green chair from the corner and pulled it up next to Mike's bedside. It made the most hideous noise as it squeaked in protest against the linoleum floor. He sat.

For once, the usually suave lawyer seemed tongue-tied and conflicted. His bottom lip became a prisoner of his top teeth as a nervous hand massaged the back of his neck. Finally he gave up his internal conflict and let his hands and lips sit still.

"What the fuck were you thinking…" he whispered, his gaze lost in the fabric of Mike's bed sheet.

"Excuse me?" Mike asked, not sure if he just hallucinated that.

"You could have died," Harvey spoke, the words bitter like acid on his atrophied tongue.

"You're mad at me?" Mike huffed a chuckle.

"Damn right I'm mad at you," Harvey gritted out, leaning forward. "You nearly died for me Mike… What would I have done if you had? How would I make it through every single day knowing that I was the reason you were murdered?" his voice began to falter.

Tears clawed at the back of his eyes, but Harvey refused to let them fall. His hands now gripped one another in his lap so tightly that his knuckles turned white.

"It's always about you, isn't it," Mike replied. "How would you go on if I died? Sounds a little selfish doesn't it?"

Harvey's laser sharp gaze snapped up to meet Mike's, and for the first time, the young lawyer could see the insurmountable pain that resided behind those brown irises. He could see the unshed tears glisten beneath the harsh hospital lights.

"How could I live with myself?" Harvey choked. He shook his head and looked back down at the blanket. The tired hand that had rubbed his neck, unknotted itself from the left hand and had now moved on to massaging his jaw. He hadn't shaved in days and the faintest scratching sound could be heard in the quiet room as his smooth skin glided over the stubble.

"I've never been so scared in my entire life Mike."

"You? Scared?" Mike's face twisted into disbelief. "I don't believe it."

"Well, believe it," Harvey said, unwilling to let Mike lighten the moment. "When I saw you there on the floor, when I held you in my arms as you nearly bled to death…" he stopped, unable to continue on without compromising his emotional state. His head bowed.

"…doesn't matter Harvey," Mike said. "Because you're okay, and I'm okay and everything is going to be fine."

Silence engulfed the room once more as Harvey analyzed the ramifications of the week's events. He couldn't get (what could have been) Mike's last words out of his mind.

"Is it?"

Mike's features knitted in confusion.

"What do you mean?"

Both men's heads turned as they heard footsteps approaching. Mike's door slid open and a nurse entered with a tray full of goodies. "So nice to see awake Mr. Ross," she said as she walked around to Mike's other bedside.

"'s good to be up," he replied, smiling at the familiar stranger.

Harvey wasn't sure if he should be angry or grateful that their conversation got cut off. He reclined in the uncomfortable plastic chair and watched as the nurse readied a shot.

Her slender fingers flicked at the side of the plastic cylinder and she looked over at their audience. "I'm sorry Mr…" "Specter," Harvey finished. "Mr. Specter…but these aren't exactly typical visiting hours.

He could take a hint.

Harvey's hands gripped his knees for a moment before he stood and pushed the chair back to it's original location.

"When can I come back?" he asked, turning around and shoving his hands in his pockets.

Everything about him - his posture, his messed up hair and unshaven face, his words layered with meaning that Mike couldn't discern - none of it seemed like Harvey. This person who sat at his bedside and nearly cried, did not seem like Harvey. And it scared Mike.

"You can come back at 9am Mr. Specter," she said perkily as she shoved the needle into Mike's arm.

He winced and scrunched his eyes together, but kept his bleary blue focus on Harvey.

"I'll see you at 9 then," Harvey said, turning to walk out of the room.

"Harvey…" Mike's voice pleaded.

The older lawyer turned and looked over his shoulder.

"Everything is going to be fine. I promise," he smiled. "I wouldn't have done anything differently."

"I know," Harvey nodded, "that's what troubles me." He pushed the door open.

Mike watched as his mentor's form disappeared from sight. Desperately, he wanted Harvey to come back. He longed for the brunette to sit next to him, to wrap his hand over his own, to fill the room with the rare but warm smile that Mike constantly worked to produce.

He didn't want to talk or analyze, he just wanted Harvey to come back, sit next to him, and be the guardian at his side as he fell asleep.

Chapter Text

White moonlight mingled with the yellow glow of the street lamp and slipped into Mike's quiet room. The night was dragging on. A clock hung directly in front of Mike, reminding him of all the sleep he wasn't getting.

His left side was sore, and with every breathe he exhaled, a sharp sting of pain jolted through his body. He did his best not to think about the injury or how he got it. His own reassurance to Harvey played over and over again in his mind.

"You're fine, I'm fine, that's all that matters."

He knew that at some point he would have to deal with the trauma - really deal with it. But now was not the time, so he closed his eyes tight and tried to let the pain meds put him to sleep. However, when he finally came close to drifting off, the door would open and light from the hall would spill inside.

Nurses were in and out all night long, checking his vitals, testing his breathing, looking at the wound. The room was freezing, the ticking of the clock was too fucking loud, the air smelled like disinfectant and the constant interruptions made it impossible to relax.

By the time the sun rose, Mike managed to get an hour or two of sleep. Which didn't keep him from looking like shit when Harvey came around to visit.

"God, you look awful," Louis said bluntly as he followed Harvey, Jessica, and Donna into the small space.

Mike smiled, but didn't dare laugh.

"How do you feel Mike?" Jessica asked quietly, as if the noise of a solid voice would shatter Mike's already broken body.

"I feel…how I look," he croaked back.

"Well, we brought you some flowers," Donna said in attempt to cheer up the atmosphere. She brought over two dozen pink roses and set them down on a narrow cabinet.

"And a teddy bear I see," Mike beamed as he saw the fuzzy blue creature in Harvey's grasp. "Uh yeah…" Harvey said, putting the bear down next to the flowers. It had "Get Well" stitched on it's belly and a bandaid over it's left eye.

"Can't forget the card," Louis added, propping open a large card full of signatures and setting it next to the bear.

"I wish you guys could bust me outta here," Mike shifted uncomfortably in the bed.

"When can you go home?"

Just as Louis asked the question, the door slid open and a nurse came in.

"Good question," Mike responded.

"Hey…uh…nurse Clarke…"

"Yes Mike?"

"When can I go home?"

The thirty-something brunette looked at Mike and smiled with her ruby red lips. "You need time to recover Mr. Ross," she said, putting a blood pressure cuff around Mike's pale arm.

"Yeah…I know but…"

"The doctor should be in to see you this afternoon. My guess is that you've got about a week to go."

"God," Mike groaned loudly, throwing his head back on the mountain of pillows piled behind him. "I can't take it."

"Well, sorry to disappoint Mr. Ross, but you did have a bullet taken out of you and a thoracotomy. It's not like you scraped your knee."

The blonde sighed, his bright blue eyes disappearing behind heavy eyelids.

The velcro crackled as the nurse opened it and slipped it off Mike's arm. "Just be glad you have visitors. I'll leave you with them, but I'll be back in a few hours…you need an ABG and then we'll take you to X-ray."

"Oh goody."

"Don't be sassy with me!" she pointed a pink-painted nail at him.

"Hey, do I still have to wear this oxygen thing?" he asked as she opened the door. He pulled at the freezing plastic tube glued to his face. "It's cold and it makes my nose dry, it was bleeding this morning."

"What's worse, a nosebleed or not breathing Mr. Ross?"

He let out another defeated groan.

"Guess that's a yes…" he said to himself.

"When will the doctor be in?" Harvey asked her.

"Two o'clock," her already distant voice answered as she disappeared into the hallway.

"We're going to stick around Mike," Donna said.

"No, you don't have to," he protested. "Being here is a monumental waste of time."

"Being with you is never a waste of time," she replied.

Mike smiled.

"I'd like to stay for your doctor's visit," Harvey added. The others turned toward him, giving confused side glances, but Harvey didn't notice - or pretended not to.

"I…I don't know if they'll let you stay…"

"So tell them I'm your lawyer."

"Really guys, none of this is that fascinating."

"We just want to make sure that you're okay Mike," Jessica said, putting a hand on Mike's arm. Her features were soft, and hinted at her level of concern. Her fingers were warm, and the whole interaction was weird. It was like Mike had awoken in a parallel universe.

He nodded. They stayed. Since it hurt for Mike to talk, he didn't say much. They just stood, taking turns sharing the two open seats in the room, and focusing their attention on the TV mounted in the upper right corner.

The hospital didn't have an abundance of channels, so they ended up watching Wall-E and talking about intellectual property laws.

After a while, the group disbanded with well-wishes and promises of return.

The only person left was Harvey.

As the door closed, leaving them together, a heaviness seeped into the sterile space. The lawyer turned to look at Mike, his hands in his pockets.

The young man was pale, his features stark beneath the wash of fluorescent lights. Even with the warm orange sun reaching into the room, the space felt cold and austere. Mike looked tired.

"Hey…uh…I'm going to give you some time to catch some rest, and then I'll be back for your 2:00 appointment."

"Harvey…"

"Don't even argue with me," the older lawyer said as he walked towards the door. "Get some sleep."

And with that, he was gone.

Mike felt more relaxed, just knowing that Harvey would return, so he closed his eyes and attempted to sleep. The pain was still a bitch, and he was a side sleeper who was flat on his back, so it wasn't easy. But after twenty minutes had passed, he slipped off into a dream.

Mike managed to sleep off a good chunk of the day.

When he finally awoke, Nurse Clarke came in to take his vitals before calling transport to take Mike to X-Ray and to do his ABG.

Once the tests were over and Ross was back in his room, it was 1:50 and Harvey was sitting in the chair in the corner waiting for him.

Of course the doctor was late, which meant that the two men sat with an uncomfortable silence between them. It was an uneasiness that Mike had never experienced before with Harvey.

Finally, Dr. Rashaad came in. He talked to Mike about his injuries, he pulled the blanket back and looked at the wound, he checked Mike's results, and finally asked the pair if they had any questions.

The very first thing out of Mike's mouth was, "when can I go home?"

Rashaad chuckled. "It's a good sign that you have so much gusto Mr. Ross, but your body needs time to heal, your lung needs time to heal. You've only been here for two days."

"I'm going to go stir crazy."

"Well, have your friends bring you your laptop. Keep your mind busy, get through your Netflix cue. There are plenty of ways to pass time Mr. Ross."

"And I can go…"

"You will probably be ready to go in about a week."

Mike's head rolled to the side, he stared at Harvey in despair. "I can't take it."

"Well, it's better than being dead isn't it?" Harvey quipped.

"I'm not so sure..have you seen the jello?"

"Oh, be quiet, you're not even eating, you have an IV."

The doctor smiled, clearly enjoying the exchange between the two lawyers.

"Listen Mike…when you do get released, we don't recommend that you go home alone. Do you have a roommate or significant other?"

Mike gulped, looking down at some distant point beyond his chest. "My girlfriend and I just broke up," he muttered, avoiding whatever look was flitting across Harvey's face. He never had the chance to tell anyone about it.

"Well, we can't release you unless you've got someone to stay with."

"C'mon doc…" Mike whined.

"You can stay with me," Harvey offered, before his brain really had a chance to catch up with the words coming out of his mouth.

Mike looked over at Harvey, he seemed surprised.

"Well, you have a week to figure it out," the doctor said, breaking the silence. He closed Mike's folder and put it in the metal holder at the foot of his bed.

Once the doctor was gone, Mike met Harvey's gaze.

"Really Harvey, I'm not asking you to take care of me."

"I know, and I'm not going to," he lied. "But you need a place to stay if you're going to get out of here, and as your friend, I want to offer you the option to stay with me."

"Is it an option?"

"No."

Mike smiled.

"Sure you're not just offering because you feel guilty?"

The light mood in the room disappeared as the words slipped off Mike's tongue.

Harvey's expression was serious - solemn.

"I'm sorry…I didn't mean…"

"Don't worry about it," Harvey said, standing. "Look, I know you're going nuts in here, so I'll have Donna bring some of your things to you. I'll see you tomorrow Mike."

"Yeah, see you tomorrow," Mike replied, trying not to let his disappointment seep through his words. The last thing he wanted was to face more lonely hours waiting for Harvey's next visit, but he couldn't ask Harvey to stay.

Harvey took one last look at him before pushing the door open and walking through it.

Mike wondered what Harvey saw. He wondered what Harvey thought…what Harvey felt. He'd give anything to climb beneath those hickory brown eyes and pick the brain that lay behind them. Did it hurt Harvey to leave as much as it hurt Mike to watch him leave?

Chapter Text

The days of the week trickled by slowly. Mike was desperate to keep up with what was going on at the firm, but Pearson, Specter, Litt wouldn't have it.

So Mike watched more movies than he cared to count (32), he endlessly perused the internet, and even wrote a research paper.

It was in the dim hours of the night that he struggled the most. When Mike closed his eyes he would see Harvey's pained expression hovering over him, or hear the haunting echo of the gunshot.

During the day he tried to keep busy, to not think about it. He still hadn't even begun to deal with the reality that he had faced death. During the day he was all smiles with the visitors, but he knew, and they knew, that it was a facade.

By the grace of God, the week came and went. It was finally time for Mike to go home…well, go to Harvey's home.

The thought sparked a flame of excitement somewhere deep within him, but he didn't want to analyze it.

Instead, he carefully got out of bed and began to pack his few belongings.

Harvey was early, as usual, and he stood silently near the door as Mike signed the final forms.

Instinctually, Mike reached for his bag, but a sharp "uh uh uh," stopped him. Harvey was next to him in an instant, picking up the heavy bag.

"I'm not helpless you know," Mike said as he walked towards the door. "And there's no way I can stay with you if you treat me like I am."

"I won't Mike, I promise, but you have to promise to do what's smart. Don't over do it just to prove your fine."

Mike huffed a laugh, "I won't."

They made it down to the car port where Ray was waiting with the car. "Nice to see you up and well Mr. Ross."

"Thanks Ray," Mike smiled, walking past the man and leaning to get into the car. Harvey was already in. Unfortunately, Mike couldn't conceal his pain as he folded his body to get into the vehicle. He let out an involuntary hiss and Harvey tried not to look at him with concern.

"You alright?"

"Yeah…yes…" Mike lied.

Ray shut the door.

The ride was pretty quiet.

Mike focused his attention out the window, staring at the city that had gone on without him for the past week. He could feel the heat of Harvey's gaze on his face, he could feel the weight of Harvey's presence next to him in the car.

When they rolled to a stop, Mike was grateful for the chance to get out and take a deep breath of fresh air.

He watched as Harvey came around the car with his bag and he smirked. "You know, I could get used to this."

"Don't," Harvey snapped with a faux glare.

The elevator opened for them and closed behind them.

Harvey's place was immaculate. "Are you sure you actually live here?" Mike asked.

"Cleanliness is next to godliness," Harvey answered, walking over to the living room and dropping Mike's bag next to the sofa. "Is this where I'm staying?" Mike asked.

"Yup."

"Are you kidding me? You have a whole fucking penthouse and no guest room?"

Harvey stopped fluffing the down pillow that was on the couch and looked over at Mike. "It's a nice couch!"

"It may be," Mike said, moving closer to Harvey, leaning against the arm of the sofa. "But it's pretty narrow…I mean…what if I fell off?"

"Are you serious?"

"Dead serious."

Harvey scowled.

"What? Too soon?"

"Yes, too soon Mike," he forcefully threw the pillow back onto the couch. "So what are you suggesting exactly?"

"Oh, I don't know…I'm sure your bed is pretty comfy."

The look on Harvey's face was absolutely priceless."Are you fucking kidding me?" he nearly yelled. "I don't know how this is going to work, because I refuse to sleep anywhere but my bed for the next week."

"I bet we could both fit," Mike smiled.

Woah, where the hell did that come from? Mike wanted to blame it on the meds, but it originated from somewhere deeper than that.

Harvey's cheeks promptly turned a beautiful shade of rose.

"Look Mike, it's late, and I'm exhausted. I spent the day doing a week's worth of work so I could take this time off."

"Are you trying to guilt trip me?"

"No, I'm trying to tell you that for tonight, I will concede and take the couch."

"Can you say that again?" Mike asked, pulling out his phone. "You just need to say that last part, that 'I concede' part."

"Not gonna happen. Take your stuff and get ready for bed," Harvey said, pulling out some boxers and a t-shirt from Mike's bag and extending it towards his mentee.

"Yes sir," Mike saluted, taking the items and walking slowly towards the bathroom.

Ten minutes later, he emerged to the sight of Harvey sitting on his bed.

An unexpected shot of adrenaline pumped through Mike's tired body at the sight of Harvey Specter sitting on thousand dollar sheets, looking at Mike expectantly.

He took a deep breath and walked towards the bed. "You don't need to tuck me in you know…not that I'm complaining."

Harvey was taken aback a bit by Mike's mild flirting, but he didn't let it show. He chocked it up to the meds and let it go.

The seasoned lawyer stood, and pulled the sheets back. "Get in."

"Do you have a bell I could ring if I need you or something?"

"Yeah…no. If you need something, just call me," Harvey said, tossing the sheet up and turning to walk out of the room.

"Harvey wait."

"Yeah?"

"I want to seriously ask you a question…"

"Shoot."

His lips parted, closed, and then opened again as he struggled with the words. "Would you really rather I have said "you," instead of "me?" Would you rather I let you get shot instead of taking the bullet?"

"Yes Mike."

The young man shook his head. "I don't understand. Why?"

"You said 'a' question Mike, not two questions. Goodnight," he pulled the door shut, but left it open a crack.

Mike sunk into the feather-soft mattress, turned his head to the right and took a deep breath. The sheets didn't smell like Harvey at all. He changed them while Mike was getting ready for bed, but Mike wished he hadn't.

The room was comfortable and knowing that Harvey was just outside made it easier for Mike to slip into sleep.

It was with a shout that Ross awoke. A near scream twisted in Mike's throat as his mind struggled to process the amount of pain coursing through his body.

He didn't even have to twist to turn the light on. Suddenly, the room was lit and Harvey was at the bedside. "Mike, what's wrong?" he asked, panic in his eyes.

Tears streamed down Mike's face and he struggled to suppress yelps of pain. "Side…" he whispered. "I was on my side…"

"When was the last time you took the pain meds?"

"Seven p.m."

"It's 4 a.m. Mike, you should've taken them an hour ago! I'll go get them," he said, quickly disappearing and reappearing with a bottle in his hands.

Mike's hands clutched his left side and his head was thrown back against the leather headboard. Sweat beaded on his forehead and his face was scrunched up in agony. Harvey twisted open the bottle and put two pills into Mike's open mouth. He held a glass up to the cracked lips and watched Mike's adam's apple bob up and down as he swallowed them.

Harvey put the glass down on the nightstand and gently sat on the edge of the bed. He watched tentatively as Mike struggled to breathe.

"Talk to me Mike."

"Hurts. Hurts to breathe. Hurts to move."

Harvey nodded, he felt completely helpless. "What can I do?"

Mike's eyes had slammed shut, his hands were still clasped over his side.

Harvey saw that red was slipping between Mike's fingers and he brought a hand to the fortress of fingers. "Let me see," he gently prodded.

Mike removed his hands and revealed a considerably sized dark red spot on the blue shirt.

"Let's get this shirt off, I want to see the wound."

Mike shook his head in protest, but Harvey was already peeling the fabric away from Mike's body. Mike leaned close to Harvey and groaned into his shoulder as the shirt was gently tugged off.

Finally he leaned back, a whimper rising from his throat as he fought the urge to roll up into a ball and scream in pain.

The bandages were soaked through, so Harvey went to get new ones.

Mike banged his head on the headboard to focus on something other than the pain, but it wasn't working.

"You already bled all over my bed, now you're trying to break the headboard?" Harvey smiled weakly.

"I'll buy you…new sheets," Mike said through gritted teeth.

"I was kidding Mike," Harvey said softly as he peeled off the soaked bandages.

The sight of it made him want to vomit. He couldn't stand that Mike was in pain, he couldn't stand that it was his fault, he couldn't stand seeing a stitched up hole in Mike's body. Atleast the stitches had held, although Mike had pulled on them considerably.

He cleaned up the area the best he could. Mike turned his head away so that Harvey wouldn't see him cry. Even though it was a little late for that.

"Those pain meds kicking in yet?"

Mike nodded gently, causing the beads of sweat to drip down his face.

His eyes were shut, but he could feel the weight of the bed shift as Harvey got up. He heard water running in the bathroom, then the bed shifted once more as Harvey sat back down.

"Come here," Harvey said, bringing a hand to Mike's chin, turning his face towards him.

The cool washcloth met Mike's hot face and it felt so damn good.

"From now on you need to set an alarm to wake up and take your pills."

"Didn't think I'd fall asleep," Mike said honestly.

"Well you did," Harvey said, continuing to dab Mike's broiling flesh with the cloth. He dabbed Mike's face, then his neck, sliding over his collarbone and descending down his chest.

Through bleary bloodshot eyes Mike studied Harvey's features. The older man was intently focused on the task at hand. He knew that beneath Harvey's cool facade was a gathering storm of emotions.

Harvey reached over and got a second rag to clean up the blood, first swiping it off Mike's body.

As Mike watched his mentor basically give him a sponge bath, the blood flow to his nether-regions really picked up. He was embarrassed. Harvey was his boss, his friend, he was cleaning him up and this was turning Mike on?

He felt mildly disgusted with himself, and glad that the sheets covered his burgeoning erection.

"You should take those boxers off too," Harvey said, breaking the silence.

"I'd rather keep them on."

"Okay, but at least let me get you new sheets," he said, pulling back the sheet that hid Mike's attraction.

"No…uh…" Mike said, snapping the covers from Harvey to pull back over himself. But it was too late, his reflexes were shit. Harvey was looking down as he pulled the sheets back, and Mike had on a pair of silk boxers. His erection was obvious.

"I'll just scoot over, and you can roll up that side," he offered, his face was blazing red. At that moment he just wanted to die of embarrassment and get it over with. Harvey could see the pained expression on Mike's face, so he agreed. Mike scooted over and Harvey rolled up the sheets on the stained side of the bed.

"Mmm so sorry Harvey," Mike said, his face away from his boss. "Ruined your sheets, probably your mattress. Woke you up."

"Don't be ridiculous Mike, I haven't slept since the day you were shot. And no, the mattress isn't ruined. It has a mattress cover, it's fine."

The rustling of the sheets stopped once Harvey was finished. And Mike could again feel the heat of Harvey's gaze on his face.

"Are you alright Mike?"

"Yeah…" Mike squeaked. "Goodnight."

A long beat of silence passed before Harvey returned the "goodnight," and left the room.

Chapter Text

Rays of sunlight had slipped past the curtains and trickled into Harvey's bedroom. Mike took a deep breath and flushed a bright shade of red as the events of last night came back to him. He lay stone still, trying not to go over every detail of the last twenty-four hours, but failing.

In the distance he could hear the clanking of silverware, the brief sound of running water, the sizzle of food on the stove. Soon after hearing it, the smell of bacon wafted into his room. His stomach growled in response, urging him out of bed, despite his intense desire to stay there and hide.

God forbid he did remain in bed and Harvey showed up with a breakfast tray. The thought of appearing so helpless urged him to sit up slowly and swing his legs over the side of the mattress.

A whirl of cold air hit his bare chest as the covers fell away. He surveyed his blood covered boxers and the crimson stained sheets beneath him.

"Fuck," he whispered to himself as he realized that he had soiled a king sized Egyptian cotton sateen sheet set that probably cost more than $500.

Carefully, Mike planted his feet on the floor and stood. His wound ached, but nothing compared to the agony of last night. For all of his intellect, how could be so damn stupid? All the pain and embarrassment of last night could have been avoided if he had just set an alarm to wake up and take those pills.

Despite it being cold outside, Harvey's wooden floor was warm. Mike traversed the space, coming to the door, and opening it just enough to stick his head through.

"Hey Harvey," he said to the man standing at the stove.

"Hey Mike, how are you doing?"

"Fine," he said curtly. "Hey, I'm going to take a shower and then I'll be out for breakfast."

"Well make it a quick one, don't want the bacon and eggs to get cold," Harvey replied with a smile.

Mike couldn't help but laugh. It was so weird seeing Harvey stand in the soft light of the morning, spatula in one hand, pan handle in the other, a gentle smile gracing his face. Guilt and concern ran like a current beneath his actions, but all Mike could focus on was how damn breathtaking his mentor was.

"Alright Giada," Mike said, "I won't be long." He could hear Harvey's faint chuckle as he turned and closed the bedroom door.

Unfortunately, the bathroom was just as luxurious as the bedroom. Staying at Harvey's was definitely ruining him. How would he return to his life of average opulence after this?

The towel rack and floors were heated, the crisp white tile glittered behind the modern countertop-mounted sinks, the shower had eight heads, there was a TV in the mirror and the towels that Harvey had set out for him felt like they were spun from the finest of clouds.

Mike peeled off his boxers and threw them in the trash. He turned on the shower and stepped inside the microcosm that emulated the most relaxing rain storm.

Water cascaded down his body and it felt so fucking good to take a real shower, like a real human being. He felt alive for the first time after leaving the hospital.

Once he washed his hair and body, carefully working around his waterproof bandaged wound, he allowed himself to stand there with his eyes closed. His hands clasped one another behind his back as he simply drank in the sensation of being in that moment.

His mind tried to offer flashbacks of being shot, lying on the ground, looking up at Harvey. But he pushed those things from his thoughts and focused on the sound of the water hitting the back of his neck.

Apparently he had stayed there too long because his fingers had turned to prunes and the back of his neck burned from the hot water.

Shit…breakfast must be cold.

He turned around and shut off the water. Stepping out of his little thought bubble, he toweled himself off quickly and rushed in to the bedroom to get dressed.

A few minutes later he emerged to a dissatisfied Harvey who sat at the dinet table. "I thought you were going to be expedient," he said behind a stolid expression.

"I know, I'm sorry," Mike offered, walking towards the table, taking a seat, and shoveling the cold food into his mouth. "Thanks for breakfast Harvey," he offered between bites.

He looked over at Harvey and his plate. "Why didn't you just eat without me?"

"Because I have manners," Harvey replied, putting a forkful of egg into his mouth. "Unlike you," he hissed. "You have as much food on your face as there is on the plate."

Mike's cheeks were full of delicious food, but he still managed a smile. "Sorry, I'm starving. That hospital food was shit. I'm going to have nightmares about jello for months."

Mike was successful in making Harvey laugh, and he enjoyed studying the man's face as it relaxed. It was a quick laugh but it still filled a warm spot in Mike's soul.

Nothing was better than Harvey's laugh - the way the skin around his eyes would crinkle, and his mouth would stretch wide across his face, which only further defined his cheek bones. He had different levels of laughs. Some would come from his throat and tapered off quickly, while others originated in his chest and echoed for a long time.

It got to the point at work where Mike would try and say anything to get Harvey to laugh. It was a rare thing, since the stony-faced lawyer had to keep up his hard ass appearance at the office. But here, they were free.

"What, do I have something on my face?" Harvey asked, and Mike realized he had been looking at his boss for a bit too long. "Oh, uh no," he said, bringing his eyes back to his plate.

"So what's the plan for today?" Mike queried, dropping his fork and knife onto the center of the plate.

"I don't know," Harvey stood and took their plates to the kitchen. "You should stay here and take it easy, at least for a day or two."

"I can do that," Mike said. "But you don't have to stay here every second and baby sit me."

"You trying to get rid of me?"

"No…of course not," Mike said a little too quickly.

"I just don't want you to feel tied down because of me."

Harvey wandered back towards where his associate sat. "C'mon Mike," Harvey said, wringing a towel in his hands, "keeping you company is the least I can do."

Mike looked up into Harvey's eyes as they travelled to somewhere distant. His brows were knitted as he looked down at the towel in his hands.

"You're going to have to let go of that guilt," Mike said, shifting the atmosphere from jovial to serious.

The change was jarring and unexpected. Harvey's stomach turned, he didn't want to talk about this right now.

"I'm going to go take a shower," he said finally, looking at Mike before turning back towards the kitchen to deposit the towel on the rung.

"Clicker's on the ottoman," his voice trailed as he disappeared into his bedroom. Mike heard the bathroom door shut and the water turn on.

He stayed seated at the breakfast table, looking out the expansive windows that provided a sweeping view of the city.

Where did he get off telling Harvey to get over his guilt when he hadn't even dealt with the trauma himself?

Oh well, it was too late to take back his words now. All he meant by them was that…everyone had suffered enough, he didn't want Harvey to suffer anymore. He made a choice that day, and if he had the chance to go back and do it again, he would make the same choice. After all, he was alive, Harvey was alive, and that's all that mattered.

Chapter Text

The next day was exceedingly awkward and consisted mainly of Harvey trying not to be too obvious about his watching over Mike.

He put Mike’s assortment of pills into a long blue pill case and had timers set on his phone and everything. Mike knew that he felt incredibly guilty for what happened, and he wasn’t sure how to assuage that guilt.

What happened was not Harvey’s fault, but any time that Mike even thought of bringing it up, he couldn’t put his feelings into words. And the realization that Harvey would have rather taken the bullet than let Mike get hurt…well, that really said something. And Mike wanted to say it back.

They struggled in this sort of limbo for a week. Harvey would work in the living room. They’d order food in or he’d cook. They’d go for short walks or just sit around watching movies. And while there moments when the awkwardness seemed to dissipate, there was an unspoken tension right beneath the surface.

It gave Mike the same feeling he’d have as a kid when he went ice skating, but he knew it was too warm out. He would convince himself the ice could hold, ignoring the bubbles of air and swirling mass of liquid just below. It was dangerous, thrilling, potentially deadly, and so was this situation with Harvey.

If Mike came right out and told Harvey how he felt, told Harvey that he needed him like oxygen, what effect would that have on their dynamic? Would it even matter at this point? They were practically domestic.

But it would risk their work, their friendship and possibly Mike’s sanity. And even worse, what if Mike came clean about his feelings and out of pity Harvey appeased his desires? He didn’t want pity. He also didn’t want to put Harvey in any more impossibly awkward situations.

So they continued this dance for nearly two weeks.

Mike was set to return to his apartment in two days and he dreaded it. Harvey offered to extend his stay, but he couldn’t possibly accept.

He dreaded returning home. He dreaded opening the door to that empty apartment and being swallowed by silence. But it was his reality, and he would face in 48 hours.

The ice seemed to be getting thinner and thinner. The tension between Mike and Harvey was practically palpable as they both grappled with Mike’s leaving in a few days. Neither of them really knew how to handle any of this.

And the dread of the looming familiarity of reality that hung over them both was what was keeping Mike up tonight.
He lay in bed, eyes open, staring up at the dark ceiling, listening to his own breathing. He couldn’t lay on his side so he couldn’t physically toss and turn, but he could mentally. And by the end of the night he decided that there was no way he could tell Harvey how he really felt.

He would get through the next two stifling days and then return to work and try to regain some sense of normalcy.

It was a miracle that Mike survived the shooting, an event that provided him with nightmares every time he closed his eyes. But if Harvey weren’t to return the feelings that Mike had for him…well…that would be one trauma that Ross would not recover from.

He let a sigh out into the pitch black room and closed his eyes tight, praying that this in fact was the nightmare, and that when he awoke, he would be in Harvey’s arms.