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a truth so loud

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Mike knows that he’s staring, that his jaw has dropped from shock, and most ridiculously of all in the silence that follows Harvey’s declaration the only thing Mike can hear in his head is Mary Poppins’ voice saying close your mouth please, Michael, we are not a codfish.

So Mike makes the concerted effort to close his mouth, and then after a few more painfully awkward seconds Mike says, “I’m sorry, can you repeat that?”

Harvey sighs heavily. “I think we should get married.”

Mike nods absently, and then ends up shaking his head. “Nope, still not making sense. We’re not dating and we’re not in love, so why do you think we should get married? You certainly don’t need the tax break. Why else - oh God, are you sick? Harvey, are you dying?”

Harvey, of all things, laughs at Mike. “No, Mike,” he says, voice gentle but still tinged with amusement, “I’m not dying.”

Mike lets out a shaky breath, relieved. But that still leaves him back at square one, with Harvey telling him they should get married and Mike having no idea why.

This was not at all what Mike pictured when Harvey told him to come over to his apartment. He’d anticipated a few relaxed drinks at best or a new case at worst. Harvey proposing marriage wasn’t just out of left field, it was a good ten miles outside the stadium.

Harvey got up from the chair and went to the kitchen, grabbing two bottles of beer from the fridge and handing one to Mike. He sat down, not back in the chair opposite Mike but beside him on the couch.

“Do you remember when Jessica found out your secret and you were all panicked about not having a backup plan or exit strategy? Well, I’ve been thinking about it and I’ve come to realize there is no exit strategy. Not really. Short of you quitting before being caught out, if something ever happened and we were discovered, yes we’d fight it but there’d be no magic loophole to exploit to save you. The closest one I can think of is spousal privilege.”

Mike’s starting to understand. “You couldn’t testify against me.”

“Nor you me. Unless they had some hard proof - and it’s difficult to prove a negative - then their case would be a matter of testimony. They’d try to break us, to use us against each other, but if we were married then they wouldn’t be able to.”

“But what if they realized the truth? That it wasn’t real. Sure, we could produce a marriage certificate, but then they could drag Jessica or Donna or literally anyone from our lives to testify that they didn’t know anything about this and our marriage would be called into question and they could use that to loophole us into testifying.”

“Which is why it would have to look real. We’d have to tell people. We wouldn’t have to tell everyone , but yes, people in our lives - friends, family, colleagues - would have to know. And they’d have to believe it was real.”

Mike takes a long swig of his drink. If he’s following this correctly - and he is, ‘cause  he’s a fucking genius - Harvey was willing to marry Mike and uproot his whole life, just to keep Mike safe.

“I could just quit,” Mike offers. “I could get out before it even becomes an issue.”

“Could you?” Harvey challenges, and Mike hates that Harvey knows him so well. (Okay, that’s a lie, he loves that Harvey knows him better than anyone, but that’s a thought for another time.)

Mike lets out a long sigh. “I don’t want to. I love what I do, what we do together. I don’t want that to end.”

“Neither do I. I know I never say it, despite how much you try and needle me into admitting feelings, but you’re important to me, Mike. And I protect the people that are important to me in any way I can.”

“But have you really thought this through?” Mike can’t help but ask. “People are going to think you’re gay.”

Harvey rolls his eyes harder than Mike has ever seen. He kinda wants to laugh at how exaggerated the reaction is but can’t quite get there. “The word is bisexual, and they wouldn’t be wrong.”

“You’re bi?” Mike asks, surprised.

“Is that a problem?” Harvey asks, a slight edge to his voice.

“No, of course not. It’d be pretty hypocritical if it was considering I’m bi too. I’m just surprised is all. You’ve never told me.”

“And you’ve never told me,” Harvey points out, and Mike starts to question the notion that they know each other better than anyone else.

Mike gets up from the couch and walks over the windows. New York City sparkles before him. He’s always loved this view, feels calmed by it, and that’s something he needs right now. His whole world feels topsy turvey and his brain can’t process anything correctly.

How did this become his life? How did stumbling into that hotel room lead to him being proposed to by his boss for what at best would be a marriage of convenience, all for the purpose of preventing a future felony (because obviously if the scenario Harvey is predicting came true Mike would have no compunction about perjuring himself to protect Harvey)?

Harvey comes and stands by him at the window.

“I can’t,” Mike whispers. “We can’t. You shouldn’t have to do this for me.”

Mike ,” Harvey says, and Mike can’t understand how he can make the word sound so impossibly fond. “I don’t have to do anything. But I’m offering, because I think it will be the best thing for both of us. But it’s a big decision. So just promise me that you’ll think about it.”

Mike should just say no. It isn’t fair to Harvey, and there must be another way to deal with this. It’s selfish, it’s so fucking selfish, choosing his career, fraudulent as it is, over Harvey’s personal life. And yet, Mike turns to Harvey and says, “Okay. I’ll think about it.”

 

 

*

 

 

Mike can’t stop thinking about it.

It’s utterly ridiculous, this idea of getting married as a precautionary measure, and more than that it will change their whole lives. He’ll have to move in with Harvey (because lord knows Harvey wouldn’t move into his tiny shoebox in Brooklyn). They won’t be able to see anyone else (because if they’re doing this to make it look real then having sex with other people won’t exactly help that cause). People that they work with, their friends and family, are going to think that they’re in love and married - and he and Harvey will have to completely commit to that to try and sell it to them.

It’s ridiculous, and yet there is a certain logic behind Harvey’s idea. Because it will give them an extra layer of protection around Mike’s secret, and that is not something Mike takes lightly.

And Mike can’t deny the warmth that flickers in him at the idea of being married to Harvey. It’s nothing romantic or sexual - and yes, Mike has functioning eyes and knows that Harvey is fucking hot - but the truth is that despite his friendship with Jenny and how well he gets along with the people he works with like Harold and Jimmy and Rachel, Harvey is still his favorite person in the world. And he could get to have Harvey in a way no one else can.

He thinks about it all night, can’t sleep as his mind races with the implications and possibilities, and he goes into work absurdly early because he’s clearly not going to get any sleep. The hallways are empty and on instinct he heads towards Harvey’s office, surprised to find him already there. Mike enters the office and even though Harvey’s focused on his laptop Mike thinks he can see some dark circles beneath Harvey’s eyes.

“Okay,” Mike says, sitting on the leather sofa, “if we’re going to do this I have three conditions.”

Harvey glances at him for a moment, his face impassive, before hitting a few keys on the laptop and closing the lid. He sits in the chair next to the sofa and says, “Shoot.”

“One, I’m nowhere near the office when you tell Jessica. Pretty sure her reaction isn’t going to be pretty and I want nothing to do with that.”

Harvey smiles slowly. “Damn, and here I was hoping we could rock-paper-scissors for who got to tell her.”

“Nope, as the senior partner and person who is least likely to get murdered when she hears the news, that’s all on you.” Mike grins at him. “Two, I don’t expect things to change at work, but you do need to let me hide out in your office once in awhile when I’m sick of the bullpen or I’m hiding from Louis. In fact, I never have to work on one of Louis’ cases again unless I want to.”

Harvey laughs. “I can work with that. And three?”

“Three … I don’t know. Guess I actually only have two conditions.”

Harvey chuckles. “Okay, well let me know if you think of something.”

They sit there together for a moment, a slight tension humming in the air between them. “So we’re really doing this?” Mike asks.

“We’re really doing this,” Harvey nods.

“Not gonna lie I feel kinda cheated. I’m getting married and I had someone propose to me in the most boring, matter of fact way possible. No declarations of undying love or quoting of cheesy poems. Kinda disappointing to be honest.”

Harvey glances to outside his office, and obviously satisfied he turns back to Mike with a grin. And then he slides down onto one knee.

“Harvey!” Mike exclaims, half horrified and amused. “What are you doing?”

“What does it look like?” He takes Mike’s hand in his, clears his throat, and says, “As morning hues of sunswept fire caress your passioned face, alone with thee a pure desire to worship untold grace.”

Mike laughs. “The Three Musketeers? Really?”

“It was the first thing to come to mind,” he grins. “Would you prefer some Shakespeare? I burn, I pine, I perish.”

Mike wants to stop laughing but he can’t. “You’re an idiot,” he says, not even bothering to mask his fondness.

“Okay, how about this. From the moment you spilled a briefcase full of weed at my feet I knew I couldn’t be without you, and I would do anything to keep you safe from those who mean you harm. So, Michael James Ross, will you do me the honor of becoming my husband?”

Mike isn’t laughing anymore. His heart is pounding against his ribs and his palms are sweating and this isn't real, obviously, but just for a moment it feels that way.

It’s always a yes for you, Mike can’t help but think. But because he hasn’t lost complete control over his faculties he just nods. “Yes,” Mike tells him softly, and for some reason Harvey smiles at him as though the answer had just made him the happiest man alive.

 

 

*

 

 

Despite his exhaustion from a long day of writing contracts on practically no sleep, Mike heads straight from Pearson Hardman to Jenny’s apartment.

She smiles brightly at him when she answers the door, and Mike just blurts, “I’m getting married.”

Jenny’s face falls. “I’m sorry, what?” she says, clearly confused.

“I’m getting married,” Mike repeats. This is the first time he’s said it out loud. It’s fucking surreal.

Jenny just opens the door wider and heads back into the apartment. Mike follows her and wonders how the hell he’s going to lie to her about this. But then again, he supposes he better get used to it. This is going to be his whole life from now on. You’d think it would be easier, almost second nature at this point, given how often he has to lie during the working day about his life and his qualifications. This should be easy. He can do this.

“Drink?” Jenny asks, and Mike shakes his head. He’d love a drink right now, but given his lack of sleep it’s probably not a great idea. They sit on the couch and Jenny still just looks at him, confused.

“You’re getting married,” Jenny says, and despite the lack of inflection it’s so obviously a question. Mike nods, and she adds, “I didn’t think you were seeing anyone.”

“Yeah, I know. We had to keep it quiet for reasons that will become obvious when I tell you who it is.”

“It’s Harvey, isn’t it?”

Mike’s jaw doesn't drop but it’s a near thing. “How did you know?”

Jenny smiles softly at him. “Because I know you. And I’ve met Harvey.”

Mike waits for her to elaborate but she doesn’t. That’s it. That’s her entire process of deduction - knowing Mike and having met Harvey once for a grand total of five minutes - and Mike honestly doesn’t know what that says about him, and his and Harvey’s relationship, but it probably isn’t good.

“Yeah, yeah it’s Harvey,” Mike says, somewhat redundantly, and Jenny just keeps smiling at him.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were together? I mean, I know why you’d have to keep it quiet at work, but why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because I wanted to be certain, I wanted to know that it was real before I told anyone. It was like a dream, Jen. A dream I was convinced I was going to wake up from because no way would Harvey ever chose me. But he did. And truth be told we haven’t been together that long -” understatement of the century, Mike couldn’t help but think, “- and maybe we’re rushing into this but I don’t care. He proposed and I said yes.”

Jenny looks intently at him for a moment. “You love him,” she says, and it’s not a question.

“I do,” Mike replies, and he isn’t lying. He does love Harvey. Harvey saved him from a life he didn’t want and he’s taught him so much and he can drop a Top Gun quote into an argument with opposing counsel. What’s not to love?

Jenny hugs him, and Mike happily returns it, pressing his face into her shoulder and just holding on. “I’m really happy for you,” Jenny says.

“Thanks.”

“And you know what?” Jenny adds, pulling back from the hug. “Grammy would’ve been thrilled. I mean, she would’ve threatened Harvey’s life the second she found out and told him if he hurt you he’d have to answer to her, but after Harvey was suitably cowered she would’ve hugged you both and demanded she get to walk you down the aisle.”

Mike barks out a laugh that is wet with tears. Jenny reaches across and they tangle their hands together. Mike misses his Grammy every day and he doesn’t know if he’s sad she can’t see him get married or happy she didn’t have to witness him living another lie. But one thing is for sure: both Grammy and Harvey were forces to be reckoned with, and though they only met twice it was a quality they both admired in the other.

Mike nods, managing a smile. “Yeah,” he says, swiping at his face, “she so would have. I don’t think I can have anyone walking me down the aisle that isn’t her. But hey, I still have a spot open for best man if you’re interested.”

Jenny squeals with delight, throwing her arms around Mike again. “Yes, of course. I’m in.”

Mike grins, and when Jenny releases him she immediately goes for her laptop so they can start looking at venues.

 

 

*

 

 

In what little spare time he has between long days at work, Mike starts packing up his apartment. There isn’t much there to begin with, and even less that he really cares about keeping, so it doesn’t take too long. He organizes the movers and pays out his lease and with absolutely zero fanfare he moves out of the shitty apartment that will always remind him of Trevor and the time before he met Harvey and got his life on track.

He moves into Harvey’s place on a Sunday. Harvey is off telling Jessica about their engagement while Mike deals with movers who overcharge and have a shitty attitude and drop a box of his stuff down the stairs. Mike still thinks he has the better deal.

Harvey has a guest room that Mike’s moving into. It already has a bed that Mike loves and can’t wait to sleep in on a permanent basis, and Mike’s belongings scatter themselves around the bedroom and the rest of the apartment. He hangs the Chinese Panda picture above his dresser, and is admiring his work when he hears Harvey walk in the front door.

Mike heads out into the apartment and sees Harvey at the fridge, pulling out a bottle of water. “Well, you’re still alive, that’s a good start. I guess the next question is: do we both still have jobs?”

Harvey nods, taking a gulp of his drink. “She took it surprisingly well.”

“Really?” Mike asks doubtfully. Because of all the reactions he expected Jessica to have none of them were positive.

“She wasn’t thrilled about it, obviously, and is worried about the consequences of a marriage between ranks in the office, but apart from that … she didn’t actually seem that surprised.”

Nope, Mike wasn’t touching that comment. He wasn’t even going to think about it. It was far too heavy and loaded and Mike can’t deal with that now.

“So I see you’ve moved in okay,” Harvey continues, and Mike’s grateful that he isn’t going to press on the subject of Jessica’s tacit approval any further.

“Yeah,” Mike nods, looking around. The area is mostly unchanged, but there are a few of Mike’s belongings taking up space here and there, and a stack of flattened moving boxes by the kitchen counter.

“You must be hungry. Pizza?”

“Fuck yes,” Mike groans, realizing just how hungry he is now that Harvey’s bringing it up.

Harvey orders from their favorite pizza place and they watch a random episode of Law & Order while they wait for it to be delivered. Mike’s stomach grumbles in anticipation when it arrives, the scent hitting his nose and making his mouth water. He eagerly pulls a slice from the box and can’t help but be surprised by the cheese in the crust.

“Best fiancé ever,” Mike says.

Harvey grins at him. “Bet your ass I am.”

 

 

*

 

 

Living with Harvey is, weirdly, not weird at all.

Mike has always thought of Harvey’s apartment as a home away from home, and it takes him no time at all to adjust to living here. Harvey is always already up when Mike wakes in the morning, and he’ll pad out to the kitchen to find Harvey has assembled a breakfast that is equal parts healthy cereals and juice and unhealthy danishes and coffee. Mike will pick at it as they discuss their day, and then Mike heads into the office while Harvey lounges around the apartment a bit longer, because as Senior Partner he can turn up at the office after nine am and no one bats an eyelid. In the evenings Mike will cook if he’s home first, but more often than not Harvey will either cook something or bring some take out home. The nights when Harvey cooks are Mike’s favorite, because as someone who is able to make a meal solely for the purposes of sustenance it’s a real delight to have a home cooked meal by someone who has an actual talent for it.

They spend a lot of their time at home working still, which Mike isn’t the biggest fan of. The point of going home is to not be at work, but that’s not an option living with Harvey. But then again, it wasn’t really an option when he lived in Brooklyn either. The only difference is that now Harvey just has to walk to another room instead of driving across the city whenever something happens and they need to get to work.

But there are also quiet nights on the couch, marathoning something on Netflix neither of them have seen and falling in love with the lead character together. There are weekends when they go to Fairways and push a shopping cart down each aisle and argue good naturedly about whether they actually need that packet of chocolate chip cookies or that third type of cereal (and obviously Mike’s answer is always yes and Harvey gives in with an indulgent smile). There are afternoons where they move around each other, doing different things in the same room, music filling the otherwise silent but comfortable space. And, perhaps most notably of all, there is a morning when Harvey skypes with his brother Marcus, who is on location in Europe, and as Mike tries to pass behind Harvey he’s grasped by the wrist and pulled onto the couch. And that’s how Mike meets Marcus, through a laptop computer screen, the three of them chatting away for nearly an hour.

Living with Harvey isn’t weird at all. In fact, nothing has ever felt so right.

 

 

*

 

 

“I think we should elope,” Mike declares.

It’s been a month since they agreed to get married, and unsurprisingly Harvey has delegated the task of organizing the wedding to Mike. Like Mike has the time to plan a wedding with the insane hours they both worked. Still, he’d started researching options - with enthusiastic help from Jenny - but nothing they looked at seemed quite right. He couldn’t really put his finger on why at first, but when Jenny asked him to close his eyes and picture marrying Harvey - “Think about standing up in front of all your friends and family and saying your vows. Tell me what it looks like.” - well, the reason became all too clear.

Harvey looks at him strangely. “Why?”

“It’s just … have you thought about what a wedding actually entails? It’s standing up in front of everyone we know and declaring our eternal love. It’s an entire day of pretending like we’re completely in love with each other: kissing and holding hands and slow dancing and whatever other romantic traditions there are. Are you really sure that’s a good idea? Because the bigger the wedding, the more people who are there, then the bigger the chance that someone will work out the truth. That we aren’t really in love. And eloping solves that problem.”

Harvey nods absently. “But eloping doesn’t solve the problem of people needing to believe it’s real. I think getting married in front of people we know would be better, strategy wise.”

“But are you really okay with all that entails?” Because Mike can totally call on his junior high theatre club training and act the shit out of marrying Harvey, but still, it seems like a big risk. And to be honest he doesn’t know how Harvey could stand it, having to pretend to be in love with Mike in front of everyone he knows.

“It was my idea, wasn’t it?” Harvey says, but he still has this strange look on his face which Mike can’t read. Which is strange, because Mike thought he knew all of Harvey’s looks.

“How about a destination wedding,” Mike suggests. “You, me, and a dozen of our nearest and dearest fly off to Hawaii or Napa or somewhere and we get hitched that way. We have witnesses to back up our story but we don’t have a massive to do about it.”

“Seems like a lot of work,” Harvey points out.

“It’s not like you’re going to be the one doing all that work,” Mike counters, and Harvey laughs, the tension that had been lining his features since Mike started this conversation finally melting away.

“Well, shouldn’t I, as your fiancé, be concerned about how much work needs to go into the planning of our wedding?”

“Yes, yes you should. But I’m yet to hear a viable alternative.”

“Okay, how about this. We get married here, in New York, at City Hall. You, me, and two witnesses. Then we have a party afterwards. Not a traditional reception - a party - so no cake cutting or first dance or anything. Just a celebration. We’ll probably have to make a speech and kiss a few times, but that’s about it.”

Mike nods, thinking it over. It certainly seems like the best option so far. “Can we cap it at a hundred guests?”

“Two hundred,” Harvey replies.

“One-fifty. Final offer.”

Harvey laughs. “Deal,” he says, holding out his hand, and Mike grins, shaking Harvey’s hand and becoming so distracted by Harvey’s blinding smile that he forgets to let go.

 

 

*

 

 

If there is one thing Harvey has taught Mike - which obviously there isn’t, because Mike has learnt more from Harvey than anyone he’s ever met - it’s to delegate wherever possible.

So Mike hires a party planner.

He finds the best one Harvey’s money can buy. Her name is Evelyn - “Call me Evie” - and she has bright green eyes and cotton candy pink hair. Mike likes her immediately.

The three of them meet back at the apartment one night, because they still haven’t told anyone at work about their engagement. Mike has come up with the genius idea of not telling anyone that they were getting married but just springing the news on them at the party, and Harvey, being the enigmatic and smug (but lovable) bastard that he is, embraced the idea wholeheartedly.

The three of them make themselves comfortable in the living area, Evie sitting on the single chair while Harvey and Mike sit on the couch opposite. Mike thinks it’s a good time to practice being a couple in front of someone, so he sits close enough that their arms and thighs brush together.

“So, Mike, Harvey,” Evie says, pulling a tablet from her bag and resting it on her lap, “what can I do for you?”

“Well like I said on the phone, we’re having a party to celebrate our marriage. We don’t want a traditional reception, just a party where we can celebrate without all the usual trappings.”

“Okay, do you have a date in mind?”

“We’d like it to be as soon as possible,” Mike says, glancing to Harvey who nods in agreement. “But we know venues book out in advance.”

“They do,” Evie agrees, “but I can work my contacts and see what I can find. Would you be open to taking a last minute spot if something opened up due to a cancellation?”

Mike hadn’t thought about that as an option, so he turns to Harvey to see what he thinks. Harvey looks at him for a moment before looking back to Evie and saying, “Yes. Ideally we’d like it to be sometime in July, but if something opens up earlier we’ll take it.”

“May I ask why July?”

“My brother is a highly sought after photographer,” Harvey tells her, and Mike can’t help but smile at the borderline boasting Harvey does whenever he talks about Marcus. His pride in his younger brother will never be anything but adorable. “So he’s overseas for the better part of the year but he’ll be home for most of July, and I’d like him to be there. But I know it’s only two months away, and it’s a small timeframe, so like we said, we’re flexible.”

Evie nods, making more notes, before looking up to face them. “Now, whenever I do anything wedding related I like to get a feel for you, both as individuals and as a couple, to try and help me figure out what you might like. So do you mind if I ask you some questions?”

“Sure,” Harvey replies.

“Good. Okay, how did you meet?”

Mike can’t help it: he bursts out laughing. He really wants to tell her the truth, imagines telling her well, my best friend essentially blackmailed me into doing a drug deal for him but I knew the cops were onto me so I ran and stumbled into Harvey’s hotel room where he was interviewing potential associates and despite my lack of law degree he hired me anyway and the rest is history. He can’t imagine how freeing it would feel, to tell the truth just once. And then, as if sensing Mike’s thoughts, Harvey rests his hand over Mike’s, and any words Mike had been contemplating disappear at the touch.

“We work together,” Harvey says simply.

“Doing what?”

“Harvey’s a Senior Partner in a law firm and I’m his associate.”

“Interesting,” Evie says, even going so far as to inch forward in her chair slightly. “So Harvey’s your boss?”

Mike nods.

“And how did people react when they found out you were together?”

“They don’t know yet.”

Romantic. Secretive,” she says, making more notes. “I can work with this.”

“We’re telling people it’s an engagement party but then announcing that we’re actually married at the party,” Mike volunteers.

Evie’s smile widens. “Bold. Cheeky. Okay, this is good. So, how long have you been together?”

“Six months,” Mike says, looking to Harvey. They haven’t really created their backstory yet, which in hindsight was probably a mistake, but then again they’re used to improvising and pretending like they are certain of something they just pulled out of thin air. He told Jenny they hadn’t been together long and it’s probably best to remain as consistent as possible.

“That’s quick.”

“Well, when you know you know,” Harvey says, still looking at Mike, and Mike can’t help but smile softly in return.

Decisive. Optimistic. Okay, I have some ideas already. So, let’s talk logistics. Where did you want the party? Manhattan? Brooklyn?”

Mike opens his mouth but before he can speak Harvey cuts in with, “Don’t even say it.”

Mike laughs. “Come on, Harvey.”

“Nope, you toe the line of hipsterdom enough, we are not having our wedding party in Brooklyn.”

“You're such an old man sometimes,” Mike teases.

“But I have the stamina of a twenty year old,” Harvey retorts, complete with a wink, and Mike would love to make a reply but to be honest his brain is short circuiting and he can’t come up with anything witty enough.

Evie chuckles at them, and when they’ve stopped their bantering says, “So I’m assuming its Manhattan then. Any area in particular?”

They both shake their heads.

“Now what do you want the feel to be: casual, semi-formal, black tie?”

“Casual,” Mike replies, at the exact same moment as Harvey says, “Black tie.”

Mike laughs.” Of course you do.”

“Can you blame me - how often am I able to get you into a tux?”

And for some reason Mike’s brain traitorously supplies a visual of Harvey taking him out of a tux. But he pushes the idea aside and instead says, “Compromise? Semi-formal?”

“Semi-formal,” Harvey agrees, and Mike nudges his shoulder playfully.

“Look at us,” Mike says happily, “being actual adults for once.”

“Had to happen sooner or later,” Harvey grins

They spend nearly an hour with Evie, going through some of the specifics - guest numbers and budget and food and all the details they can think of, Evie noting everything down with rapidly flying fingers - and Mike makes a concerted effort to look like a man in love: he squeezes Harvey’s knee and tangles their fingers together and looks at Harvey with nothing short of adoration. And then when it’s done she says she’ll start investigating options and be in touch. They walk her to the door and she shakes their hands affably and says, “I look forward to working with you.”

“Likewise,” Harvey replies, and Mike can tell it’s genuine.

She disappears down the hallway and they close the door behind her, alone again.

“Think she bought it?” Mike asks, and Harvey simply smiles in return.

“Definitely.”

 

 

*

 

 

“We need a code name,” Mike says two days later as he walks into Harvey’s office.

Harvey doesn’t even look up from the file he’s reading when he asks, “Why’s that?”

“Because it’s fun. And because odds are we will need to discuss…” Mike looks around and sees Donna otherwise engaged with Louis, so whispers, “wedding details,” before returning to his normal speaking voice, “during work hours. So, a codename. I vote for Project Elrond.”

Harvey laughs, looking up from his paperwork. “Okay Watney.”

“Hey, that movie was awesome.”

“It was a movie?” Harvey asks with faux innocence, and Mike chuckles, sitting in the chair on the other side of the desk.

“Evie sent me some options,” Mike says, handing over his tablet so Harvey can have a look. “I had a look and they’re both great. One is free on a Friday in August and the other on a Saturday in September. She says if we like either of them we can book it or she can keep looking. And that for any place we like we can leave our details in case they have a cancellation and we’re still okay with a last minute thing.”

“Are you still okay with a last minute thing?”

“Are you kidding? It will probably limit the number of people coming and we might just have a normal sized reception. I’m all for it,” he grins.

Harvey scans through the pictures of the venues: one is a large open rooftop space with views over the Hudson and the other is a sizeable loft with exposed brick walls and a vaulted glass roof. They’re both great, but if Mike’s honest he has a preference for the loft.

“I like the loft,” Harvey says, and Mike smiles.

“Me too. But big surprise-”

“That’s the one that’s not available until September,” Harvey guesses.

“Got it in one.”

“Well, they’re both great. Did you want her to keep looking or should we just pick one?”

“I say we just pick one.”

Harvey nods, handing the tablet back. “I agree. Call Evie, tell her to book the rooftop venue. Gotta get Project Elrond up and running as soon as possible, right?”

Mike grins. “Right.”

“Project Elrond?” Donna asks, striding into the room. “What are you two nerds talking about now?”

Mike looks at Harvey and tries to hold his laughter in. It must kill her to not know everything.

“That’s for us to know and you to find out,” Harvey says, because he’s a dick like that, and Mike winks at him before standing and leaving the office. Harvey can deal with Donna trying to needle the truth out. He has a phone call to make.

 

 

*

 

 

The only thing Mike really wants to do for himself is choose the rings. The only thing Harvey really cares about is the suits. So two weeks later they spend the day shopping together.

Evie has booked the venue, is dealing with the caterers, and they are planning to obtain their marriage license later in the week. The planning is coming together with ease and Mike wouldn’t trust how little has gone wrong if they weren’t paying a hefty fee for the privilege.

They go to a jewelry store that Harvey suggests and it’s so fancy even the sales people wear tuxedos. Mike starts to regret wanting to go shopping for wedding rings. Maybe cheap, plastic rings out of a cereal box would be better.

“Come on,” Harvey says warmly, a hand to the small of his back as he guides Mike deeper into the store.

Mike didn’t think there would be so many options for them but fuck there are hundreds of different designs. He hadn’t really thought anything beyond wanting something in platinum, but the sales assistant is friendly and doesn’t rush as Mike roams his eyes over a hundred different rings, looking for something that speaks to him.

“That one,” Mike says, pointing to a ring towards the right side of the display. It’s simple, rounded in shape, the band of a medium width. It’s matte but not dull, and Mike doesn’t know why it jumps out at him, it just does.

The sales assistant pulls the ring from the display, giving it a quick clean with a cloth, and places it on the counter for them to look at.

“What do you think?” Mike asks.

Harvey smiles at him. “I like it.”

Mike picks it up. The band is thin and the ring is light in his hand, and he looks at it for a few moments, surprised by how surreal the moment feels. It shouldn’t be surprising, that this is really happening, because they’ve been talking about getting married for weeks now, and something as simple as putting on a ring shouldn’t affect him. But it does, and he has to take a deep breath before putting it on. The fit is a little loose, but that’s not what’s important. He likes the way it looks on his finger, and he’s smiling when he takes it off and leaves it on his palm for Harvey to collect.

Harvey picks up the ring, slides it onto his left ring finger. And Mike is overwhelmed by the complete lack of hesitation Harvey exhibits in the motion. Even Mike needed a moment, his mind whirling with the circumstances, but Harvey just puts it on like he had absolutely zero doubts that it belongs there.

Harvey looks at Mike, smiling, and Mike says, “We’ll take it.”

The sales assistant can’t hide her surprise. “Are you sure?” she asks. “You don’t want to try on anything else?”

“When you know, you know, right?” Mike says, glancing back to Harvey, who chuckles as he hands back the ring.

They get measured for their ring size and then she disappears out the back to get their rings and five minutes later they’re leaving the store, two wedding bands secure in Mike’s pocket.

 

 

*

 

 

Suits are definitely Harvey’s area of expertise, so Mike lets him take the lead. And he does. He has Rene pull over a dozen suits for each of them, and Mike looks over the rack of materials; the different colors, the crisp shirts and the frankly dizzying array of different ties.

“Harvey?” Rene asks as Harvey slowly combs through the racks. “Thoughts?”

“This is gorgeous,” Harvey replies, running his hand down the sleeve of a black suit jacket. “But I think we should keep away from black.”

“Agreed,” Rene says.

“And since it’s not going to be as formal as I’d like,” Harvey adds, with a pointed look at Mike, which Mike laughs off, “maybe we should get rid of the jackets too, being a summer wedding and all. What do you think, Mike?”

“I think you have my blanket permission to go as casual as you can at any opportunity.”

Harvey smiles at him, then turns to Rene. “Any ideas?”

Rene’s smile is so big it makes Mike worried. “A few.”

Since they are looking for suits that are complementary but not the same Rene decides they should both try on options at the same time and they can play with different colors and options until they hit on a combination they like. Mike tries on three different options - a dark charcoal pants/vest combo, white pants and black shirt with a white tie, and a sandy colored suit complete with a bowtie - before he steps out of the dressing room in a pair of steel blue pants and a fitted white shirt.

Rene smiles like he already knows the answer when he asks, “Well?”

Mike nods. “I love it.”

Rene pulls a tie from the nearby rack and is in the process of tying it when Harvey steps out of his dressing room. Rene is blocking the view and Mike jostles nervously, silently willing him to hurry so he can see Harvey in his latest suit. To be honest all of Harvey’s suits have looked amazing, but Harvey had claimed none of them were quite right. Mike can’t help but wonder exactly what it is that he’s looking for.

Rene steps aside and Mike can see Harvey. He’s wearing a suit that seems to have a light mint green tinge to it, and Mike can’t help but think that it would look ridiculous on anyone else but Harvey, somehow, manages to make it work. But then Mike looks at Harvey’s face. Harvey has his eyes firmly locked on Mike and Mike feels unnerved by the unwavering attention.

“Harvey?” Mike asks uncertainly.

“It’s perfect,” Harvey says with utter sincerity. Mike starts to smile, but then Harvey tilts his head and says, “Well, almost perfect. Take off the tie.”

Confused, Mike does, as Harvey goes to the rack of many ties and searches through it until he finds what he’s looking for. Mike can see the one he chooses and it honestly doesn’t look that much different from the one he just had on. But then Harvey stalks towards him, taking the tie from Mike’s hand and throwing it over his shoulder before placing the new tie around Mike’s neck. Harvey’s hands move easily, doing what Mike imagines is an overly complicated knot, but all Mike can see is Harvey, his eyes practically sparkling with mirth.

“There,” Harvey says, grinning. He takes a small step back and Mike finally looks down at the tie, his face breaking out into a slow grin.

“A skinny tie?” Mike says, incredulous.

“It’s more you, right? And I’m promising to take you as my husband, faults and all, and your love of skinny ties is definitely a fault. But it’s one I can live with.”

And then Harvey presses a light kiss to Mike’s cheek before turning and crossing back to Rene like nothing happened. Mike feels his skin tingle and he knows it’s futile to try and stop a subconscious reaction but he does anyway, tries to focus on anything but the ghost of Harvey’s lips on his skin.

“I have an idea,” Harvey says to Rene, and he looks through the suits until he finds what he’s looking for. All Mike sees is a flash of grey before Harvey’s heading back to the dressing room.

The wait is interminable, and when Harvey finally steps out of the room Mike feels his mouth go dry. Harvey’s wearing a light grey suit, the pants and vest slightly more fitted than those he wears at work, and the vest is cut differently too, more casual and trendy. There is a subtle plaid pattern in white on the pants and vest, and he’s wearing a simple white shirt and the tie he’d taken from Mike.

“What do you think?” Harvey asks.

Mike just nods, not trusting his voice right now. The suit looks like it was made for him. Nothing else will compare.

“Excellent,” Rene says, clapping his hands. “Harvey, go stand by Mike so we can look at them together.”

Harvey does, and Rene appraises them for a moment before nodding and turning the nearby mirror so they can see what they look like together. Mike looks at the reflection and smiles. They look pretty damn good, if he does say so himself. And Harvey must agree if the smirk on his face is anything to go by.

“What is it?” Harvey asks Rene, and when Mike looks over he can see Rene looking at him with a quizzical expression.

“I just - Mike needs - yes, I have it.”

Rene ducks away into another part of the store, and Mike turns to Harvey, who simply shrugs in reply.

“Okay, Harvey, close your eyes,” Rene calls.

Harvey rolls his eyes. “I’m not five, Rene,” he calls back, but he closes his eyes anyway.

“Okay, his eyes are closed,” Mike confirms, and then Rene comes back into view with a smile on his face and a pair of suspenders in his hands.

Mike grins and nods, and Rene helps him put them on. Mike looks at himself in the mirror. It’s the final touch he didn’t know he needed, and he glances back at Harvey to see that he still has his eyes closed.

“Shall we show Harvey now or leave it as a surprise for the day?” Rene asks.

Mike considers it for a moment, but thinks since this isn’t a real marriage and Harvey’s already seen the rest of the outfit there’s no point hiding it. “You can open your eyes, Harvey.”

Harvey does, and he takes in Mike, standing there in his blue pants and skinny tie and suspenders, and his voice is full of fondness when he says, “Hipster.”

“Old man,” Mike counters, and then they both smile.

 

 

*

 

 

Mike has a rare night off, leaving the office before the clock hits six. Since Harvey has a dinner meeting (which Mike has no complaints about missing out on, because the guy Harvey’s meeting with is a pretentious douche) Mike calls Jenny to see if she’s free to hang out.

She comes over to his place with bags of Chinese food in hand. He takes them from her and puts them on the counter as she wanders around the space, eyes wide. Mike chuckles, thinking back to his own first time in the apartment, and lets her explore as he pours the food into bowls for them. She doesn’t venture beyond the living space, which Mike is thankful for, because if she discovered Mike’s room there’s no way he could pass it off as a guest room. Not to her.

“Wow,” Jenny says.

“I know.”

“You’ve certainly moved up in the world. I like it. It suits you.”

Mike shrugs. “It’s Harvey’s place. I think it’ll always be Harvey’s place.”

Jenny furrows her brows at him. “Well that’s not right. This is your home too.”

“I know. And it’s not that I don’t like living here, because I do. I feel at home here. But I think part of my brain will just always think of this as Harvey’s apartment, since he was here for so long before we even met, let alone got together.”

Jenny nods, taking the bowl of steaming food Mike holds out for her. “Maybe you should get a new place then. Together. Something that both of yours.”

“Maybe. We’ll see. Maybe after the wedding and things calm down.”

“Speaking of,” Jenny says, as they make their way to the couch, “I found a dress to wear.”

“That’s good. What’s it like?”

“Strapless, flowy, a kind of watercolor print in light blues and whites. It’s really pretty.”

“Sounds gorgeous. Can’t wait to see it.”

“Well I can’t wait to see you and Harvey in your suits. Are you sure you can’t tell me what they look like?”

Mike shakes his head. It’s silly, not telling her, but for some reason he wants to keep this between him and Harvey for now. Which is ridiculous, because everything is just between them so far, but it is what it is. Mike’s done trying to rationalize anything when it comes to him and Harvey, because they are two people who shouldn’t work together and yet there is a connection between them like none he’s ever felt, and he can’t explain it, all he can do is be grateful for it.

“So, what do you wanna watch?” Mike asks, loading up Netflix and handing Jenny the remote to find something.

Jenny picks a movie they’ve both seen before, mainly so they can keep talking through it. They’re both people with busy work lives and personal commitments, and though they try and text and call each other every couple of days they haven’t actually seen each other since the day Mike told her he was getting married. He misses the days when they were kids; living down the block from each other and all it took to see each other was a quick stroll down the road.

Life is infinitely more complicated these days.

So he’s revels in the feeling of being with Jenny, catching up on things and talking random nonsense and laughing at everything like they always do. They put on a second movie and Mike cracks open a pack of M&Ms that Harvey doesn’t know he stashed in the back of the pantry. He’s probably going to regret all the food he’s eating in the morning but that’s a problem for future Mike to deal with. He just takes a handful of the candies and passes the bag to Jenny as the second movie starts up.

Harvey comes home ten minutes later. He looks weary as he walks in the door, and Mike pauses the movie to greet him.

“Hey, meeting go okay?”

“As well as I expected,” he replies. Then he turns to Jenny and smiles warmly. “Hi Jenny. It’s good to see you.”

“Hey, Harvey. You too.”

“I’ll leave you to it,” Harvey says, but before he can leave Mike says, “We’re watching Jaws if you wanna join us.”

“Maybe another time,” Harvey replies wearily, and he heads to the bedroom.

Jenny turns to Mike with a look of concern. He meets her gaze but says nothing, just resettles himself back on the couch and presses play. They watch the movie for a few minutes, but Mike’s brain can’t stop thinking about Harvey, so he says, “I’ll be back,” and gets up from the couch, heading to Harvey’s room.

The door is mostly closed, but he doesn’t knock, worried Jenny will hear and wonder why he would be knocking on his own bedroom door. He just pushes the door open slowly, hoping it will give Harvey enough warning if he isn’t decent or isn’t interested in seeing Mike.

When the door is completely open he sees Harvey in the middle of the room, pulling a t-shirt over his head. He’s changed out of his suit into a pair of soft looking pants that Mike has only seen Harvey wear around the apartment, but he'd bet his prized panda picture that they cost more than Mike's first suit. Harvey has bare feet and messy hair. Seeing Harvey striped down like this will never not feel like a privilege.

“What’s wrong?” Mike asks, closing the door and stepping into Harvey’s bedroom.

“Nothing,” Harvey says. “I’m just exhausted by Jovic and his theatrics. And I know you don’t get to spend much time with your best friend and I don’t want to intrude.”

Mike feels a wave of something he can’t name come over him, and before he even thinks it through he’s crossing the room and throwing his arms around Harvey. He can feel Harvey stiffen in surprise, but then his hands press into Mike’s lower back as he returns the hug.

“Harvey, Jenny may be my oldest friend, but she’s not my best friend, not anymore. That title belongs to you, has for a while now. Which you’d know if you didn’t abhor me spilling feelings onto you at any point.”

Harvey chuckles, and he grips Mike tighter. Mike realizes that they have never actually hugged before, and he’d thought their first hug would’ve been more awkward, or it would’ve been because of a more dire situation and not just because Harvey was an idiot who didn’t realize that he was Mike’s most favorite person in the world.

“So,” Mike says when they pull apart, “wanna come watch some shark attacks? We have peanut M&Ms,” he adds.

“You’re such an enabler,” Harvey says, pretending like he isn’t salivating at the thought of eating his favorite candy.

“Um, I think the words you’re looking for are ‘best fiancé ever’,” Mike grins, not even waiting for a response before turning and heading back out of the room. But before he can get to the door Harvey says his name, and Mike turns, curious.

“You’re my best friend too.”

Mike smiles softly at him, then tips his head to get Harvey to follow him before heading back to the living room.

Jenny has paused the movie, and she looks over at Mike as he re-enters the room. “Okay?”

Mike nods. “Harvey will be joining us in a minute.”

“Should we wait?”

“No, it’s fine. He’ll be here soon.”

Not long later Harvey emerges. He detours to the kitchen to grab a drink before joining them on the couch. He sits on the other side of Mike, grabbing the bag of M&Ms from the table.

Harvey asks Jenny how her work is going. She starts telling them about the latest drama with her boss, and the three of them spend the next two hours talking and eating candy and it’s awesome.

 

 

*

 

 

Mike has been working in Harvey’s office all day. He likes it. There’s no constant wall of noise from the other associates scattered around the bullpen, bitching to each other about their clients or yelling down the phone or trying to seem much more important than they are. Instead he gets Harvey’s easy and quiet companionship, and some great blues records playing in the background.

Mike wonders if he can just move his computer in here and set up camp permanently.

It’s late, and he really just wants to go home but these briefs need to be done by tomorrow, and he’s pondering what they should order for dinner when his phone rings. It’s Evie. He picks up the phone and crosses the office, showing Harvey the caller ID as he sits on the other side of the desk. He answers the call with a swipe of his hand, putting the call on speaker.

“Hi Evie. You’re on speaker with me and Harvey.”

“How you guys doing?” she asks cheerfully.

“Good, thanks,” Mike answers. “What’s up?”

“So you know the venue you loved that wasn’t available until September? Well they’ve had a cancellation and it’s yours if you want it.”

Mike looks to Harvey excitedly. “When’s it for?”

“Friday the 17th.”

“Of this month?” Mike asks, surprised.

“Yes.”

“That’s less than two weeks away,” Harvey exclaims, eyes wide.

“I know,” Evie says sympathetically. “It’s a short turnaround time, but I can make it work if you can. I have your guest list, so invites will need to go out asap, tomorrow if the printers can get them done in a rush, and I’d recommend couriering them out to make sure everyone gets them in time. Did you look at your suits?”

Mike nods, even though she can’t see. “Yeah, the suits and rings are taken care of.”

“We can definitely do this. But only if you want to. If it’s too soon-”

“No,” Harvey says, “it’s not too soon.” He looks at Mike, eyebrow quirked in question, and Mike nods, “Book it, Evie.”

“Great,” she replies, incredibly enthusiastic for someone who just got a whole lot of work dumped on their shoulders. “I’ll get straight to work. Talk to you soon.”

“Bye, Evie,” Mike says, and hangs up the phone.

So, that happened. Their wedding just got moved up by two months. They’re getting married in less than two weeks. Mike feels equal parts nervous and excited and he tries to pretend he doesn’t know why.

 

 

*

 

 

“We should kiss,” Mike blurts.

He immediately winces at how utterly smooth that wasn’t. Harvey glances back at him, briefcase in hand ready to leave the apartment for a breakfast meeting, and Mike remains standing still in the kitchen, cursing himself for not easing into this or finding a better way to bring it up.

“We should kiss,” Mike continues, desperate to explain, to rationalize his outburst, “because we’re going to have to kiss in front of the celebrant and Jenny and whoever you choose as your witness, and we’re going to have to host a party for a hundred people who think we’re happily married, and they’re going to expect us to kiss and hold hands and be all over each other. And if we have to do it for the first time in front of people, it might be weird and it could give everything away, so….”

Harvey continues to stare at him, until finally he steps forward and places his briefcase back on the kitchen counter. “A hundred and fifty,” Harvey says, and Mike doesn’t get it for a moment, because what the hell is he talking about? “We’re going to have to kiss in front of a hundred and fifty people,” Harvey clarifies, smirking.

Mike can’t help it, a short laugh escaping his throat. “Well, you never know. With the short notice maybe people won’t be able to make it and we’ll have a reasonably sized reception after all,” he says, smiling.

Harvey smiles softly at him, but it soon fades and he just stands there, looking at Mike and not saying anything. Mike feels like an idiot. It was a stupid idea. Of course Harvey isn’t going to want to kiss him unless he absolutely has to.

“Never mind,” Mike says, turning back to the counter to make his breakfast. “It was stupid.”

He grabs a knife and cuts a slice of bread from the multigrain loaf Harvey buys that Mike totally scoffed at at first but now loves. He’s about to open the tub of butter when Harvey says his name. Mike turns, looking up to see what Harvey needs, and Harvey walks forward and kisses him.

It’s a simple pressing of lips that lingers for a moment but is over before Mike can even get around to closing his eyes. It’s an embrace so chaste it doesn’t feel like a first kiss but instead like one of thousands, as though this was something they did every morning, and had for years.

When Harvey pulls back he says warmly, “I’ll see you at work.”

And then Harvey turns and grabs his briefcase off the counter before walking out of the apartment without another word.

 

 

*

 

 

Donna is the first person to get the invitation. Mike knows this because he’s in Harvey’s office when she receives it and she strides into the room with the crisp, white invite in hand.

“Are you serious?” she exclaims.

“Not really. Mike is actually a Russian national and he needed to get married to stay in the country,” Harvey says without missing a beat, and Mike turns to him, incredulous, because they aren’t serious about getting married, not really, and he can’t believe Harvey is saying as much, even if it’s sarcastically.

Donna deflates slightly, stepping forward and sitting in the chair beside Mike. “Why didn’t you tell me?” Donna asks Harvey, her voice tinged with sadness, and Mike really doesn’t want to be here for this but he doesn’t think he can make an exit without them noticing.

“Donna, you know I love you, but there are some things in my life that are private, even from you. Mine and Mike’s relationship is ours and no one else gets to know about it unless we want them to. And now we do.”

Donna nods, looking down at the invitation. “You don’t waste any time, do you?”

“When have you ever known me to not go after something I want wholeheartedly?” Harvey replies.

Mike looks away, overpowered by Harvey’s words. He knows it’s not real, that Harvey is just playing a part, that it’s about protecting Donna by not telling her the truth as much as it’s about the lie of their marriage saving Mike, but still. Mike can’t help but wonder what it would be like, to be an object of Harvey’s affection, to have Harvey pursue him with all that he’s got. It must be heady, and Mike thinks it would take a stronger person than him to resist.

“Well, I guess since we’ve been fake married for nearly ten years we should get fake divorced,” Donna jokes, and Mike very nearly chokes on air at her mention of fake marriages, but she and Harvey and smiling good naturedly at each other, so he hopes they haven’t noticed.

“Now, Mike,” Donna says brightly, turning to him, “I know you don’t have any meetings today-”

“How do you know that?”

“- and since you’re getting married in just over a week and have left me no time to prepare we need to go find a dress for me to wear to the wedding. I assume I’ll be stepping in for Marcus as your best man,” she adds to Harvey, who looks incredulously at her.

“How did you know we’re actually getting married on that day?”

Donna just smirks, clearly pleased to get the upper hand back. Mike expects her to make some kind of witty remark, to lord it over Harvey, but she doesn’t, she just holds out her hand. “Credit card,” Donna demands, and Mike can’t believe Harvey hands it over without a single protest. “Okay, rookie, let’s go. Couture waits for no man.”

She gets up and strides back to her desk and Mike turns to Harvey, feeling suckerpunched. “Seriously? Am I really going dress shopping with Donna?”

“Not if you don’t want to,” Harvey says easily. “If you're okay with saying no and suffering through Donna’s wrath if you refuse her, then by all means tell her you can’t go.”

Mike thinks about it for a grand total of three seconds before standing and running out the room, calling to Donna, “So, where are we going?”

Mike pointedly ignores Harvey’s laughter.

Turns out Donna didn’t want him to go with her for his fashion advice - which shouldn’t have been surprising given how amazing she looked at the office every day - but so she could grill him about his and Harvey’s relationship. He really should’ve seen it coming. So he answers her questions as best as he’s able, whipping out the old “that’s private” as an excuse as often as he thinks he can get away with it. She wants to know how long they’ve been together and who made the first move and how they managed to keep it secret, and some things he answers with the story he and Harvey made up for when people inevitably asked while others he makes up on the spot. It almost feels like a case, thinking on his feet, changing tack when he needs to, and just like at the office he’s excellent at what he does.

“So,” Donna says from the other side of the dressing room door. This is their third store, and Mike thinks Donna looked perfectly lovely in the dozen dresses she tried on between the two previous stores, but she was never satisfied. Clearly she was looking for something, but Mike had no idea what. “Who proposed?”

“Harvey,” Mike replies, smiling around the word as he thinks about Harvey’s deadpan and completely out of the blue declaration that they should get married.

“Of course he did. Was it romantic?”

It’s so tempting to mess with her and say no, but instead he replies, “He recited poetry.”

Donna is laughing as she exits the dressing room. She looks gorgeous. She’s wearing a dress in a blue so dark it’s almost black. It has twisted straps, both of which go over her left shoulder, leaving a thin peek of flesh on her chest, and the soft material flows down to the floor.

“Beautiful,” Mike tells her.

Donna smiles the most bashful smile he’s ever seen from her. “I think this is the one.”

“Me too.”

Mike pulls out his phone and takes a picture of her in the dress.

“What’s that for?”

“To send to Jenny,” he says, as he proceeds to do just that. “As soon as I tell her Harvey’s best man is actually a woman she’ll demand to know what you’re wearing so you don’t clash or anything. I’m going to head her off at the pass by texting this to her.”

“What’s she wearing?”

“No idea.”

Donna turns back into the dressing room to change, and when she emerges they head to the counter. Jenny texts him back, and Mike opens the message as Donna hands over Harvey’s credit card to pay.

“What did she say?”

“That you look like a goddess and how come everyone I work with is so gorgeous?”

“So clearly she hasn’t met Louis,” Donna laughs. Then she takes the phone from Mike’s hand. Mike absolutely doesn’t let out a high pitched noise in surprise.

“What are you doing?”

“Sending her my number, obviously. Anyone who calls me a goddess obviously has excellent taste and is someone I’d like to get to know.”

Mike wonders if introducing Donna and Jenny is really the best idea - not because he thinks they won’t get along but he’s worried they’ll get along too well - but then remembers that they’ll be meeting soon at the wedding and better to get it over and done with. This marriage between him and Harvey, fake as it is, will have real world consequences. Their lives are going to merge in ways they didn’t anticipate, and that includes having their friends meet, so Mike figures it’s best to just let it happen.

Donna hands back his phone and collects Harvey’s credit card and takes the garment bag from the sales person. They head out of the store and catch a cab to go back to work. “Not a bad day's work, if I do say myself,” Donna smiles, and though this is not how Mike imagined spending his afternoon when he got up this morning, he can’t help but smile back.

 

 

*

 

 

The days leading up to the wedding go by with surprising speed.

Work doesn’t slow down for them, and in addition to demanding clients he gets the associate’s subtle comments and Louis’ not so subtle comments about his and Harvey’s engagement. He thinks Harvey would be quite proud of how well he’s ignored said comments and not raised to the bait, but he hasn’t mentioned it because he can only imagine how epic Harvey’s reaction would be. And as much as he doesn’t like Louis or most of the other associates it would be better if they remained functioning humans, which they might not if Harvey got his hands on them.

In addition to work he also gets calls from Evie multiple times a day as she updates him on everything: the RSVPs are trickling in (more people are coming than Mike expected) and they finalize the menu and she organizes a photographer friend to help out on the day when their original photographer couldn’t make the new date.

And then the wedding day arrives.

Harvey and Mike have a quiet morning together, spending the time going back over their story, what they’ve told people about their relationship, some cute dating stories that they can use when the occasion inevitably calls for it. And Mike can’t help but say, one last time, “Are you sure ?” Because this might have been Harvey’s idea but it still feels like Mike’s responsibility, and it’s not too late to change their minds, but Harvey just squeezes his hand before picking up their plates and taking them to the kitchen.

After lunch Jenny and Donna arrive with garment bags thrown over their shoulders and two strangers trailing behind them into the apartment. They’ve become firm friends this last week, and they took it upon themselves to find a makeup artist and hairstylist to get them ready for the ceremony.

“You should let Kaylee do your hair,” Jenny suggests to Mike, as Kaylee works on curling Jenny’s long locks.

“Good idea,” Donna chimes in. “Maybe she can do it in a way that makes you look older than twelve years old.”

“Come on, Donna, that’s not fair,” Jenny says, and Mike beams at her. He’s always loved Jenny best. “He looks at least fifteen.”

Mike takes it back. Jenny is the worst.

Harvey magically reappears from the bedroom. He’s freshly showered and dressed in his suit pants and shirt, but he hasn’t added the tie or vest yet. He looks amazing. Harvey presses a quick kiss to Mike’s cheek as he passes and tells the girls to, “Leave my husband alone.”

The word has its intended effect, Jenny and Donna squealing in delight, and as a way to move the attention from Mike it works beautifully. But what Mike hasn’t anticipated was the way the word would make him feel. Husband. He’s going to be someone’s husband . And not just anyone. Harvey’s . He and Harvey are going to be husbands and he doesn’t know why this is suddenly making him feel flushed and antsy but it is.

“I better go shower,” Mike says, grateful that his voice doesn’t betray the way his insides are currently playing host to a kaleidoscope of butterflies.

“Let me know if you need any help,” Harvey says with a wink, flirtatious for everyone else’s sake rather than Mike’s, and Mike manages a smile before disappearing from the room.

When he emerges half an hour later they’ve been joined by another person. Jamal, their photographer, introduces himself with a bright smile and firm handshake and Mike immediately feels at ease. Mike sees Donna and Jenny, resplendent in their dresses, and he smiles at them, mouths, “Beautiful,” to Jenny when he catches her eye.

Jamal takes photos for nearly an hour. They take photos in all different combinations, some staged and others natural, Jamal sneaking a photo when he sees something he likes. There are photos of Harvey doing Mike’s tie (he has to wonder if Harvey requested this one given his smirk as Harvey steps forward, hands raised) and Mike buttoning Harvey’s cufflinks (they are silver, square in shape but with a music note engraved in each, and Mike knows without Harvey saying anything that they’re his dad’s, so he takes extra care).

The last photo is Mike’s suggestion. He whispers his idea into Jamal’s ear and he nods, smiling. So Mike grabs Harvey's hand and pulls him over to the window. They stand there, looking straight ahead out into Manhattan, their arms a wide v shape between them as they hold hands.

“You ready?” Harvey whispers over the click of Jamal’s camera.

Mike grins, but keeps looking forward. “Yes.”

Once the time comes they all head downstairs. A car is waiting and they all climb in and head down to City Hall. Because Harvey is Harvey he’s organized a time for them to be married, even though that technically shouldn’t be possible, so they don’t have to wait around before heading into the West Chapel.

The celebrant welcomes them with a smile and introduces himself. They all get into position, the four of them standing in a row - Jenny, Mike, Harvey, Donna - and Jamal circles them, looking for the best angle before the clicking of his camera starts.

The officiant starts talking and Harvey reaches over and takes Mike’s hand. Mike squeezes it, grateful. Less than a minute later the officiant is done and asking if they would like to recite their vows.

It’s all happening so quickly, but it doesn't bother Mike. He thinks it’s rather fitting really, given how quickly their lives changed when they met. And in keeping in that theme, Mike thinks he’ll keep his vows relatively short too.

“Harvey, you are like no one I’ve ever met. The things you’ve done for me, that you continue to do for me, the way you help me and protect me and love me, it’s more than I ever dreamed of. You are the best part of my life, and all I want is the chance to be the best part of yours. So, today I take you as my husband, knowing we’ll have a lifetime for me to try.”

Harvey’s face is soft as he smiles at Mike. He doesn’t even wait to be prompted by the celebrant, he just launches right into it.

“I don’t believe in fate, never have, but you make me think that maybe it could be possible. You constantly do that; surprise me and make me question everything I thought I knew. You’ve defied every expectation I’ve ever had in my life, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. You’re the most intriguing and interesting and beguiling person I’ve met. Mike, you’re the most important person in the world to me, and I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t have you in it. And I’m so glad that now I never will.”

Mike can hear someone sniffling but he doesn’t know who it is, and he won't find out, because he refuses to look away from Harvey. The celebrant says some more words and then they are sliding their rings onto each other’s fingers (Mike’s proud of the way his hands don’t shake) and it’s over, they’re married, and Mike doesn’t hesitate, closing the gap between them to kiss Harvey. It’s only their second kiss, and their first in front of anyone else, but Harvey’s lips are soft against his, and they linger, mouths moving together in a gentle rhythm that doesn’t need to be hurried or deepened to be better. Harvey’s hand rests on the back of Mike’s neck and Mike can’t help fisting his hand into the material at Harvey’s chest and it’s perfect, so utterly perfect, and for a moment Mike forgets.

 

 

*

 

 

They have a brief photoshoot on the streets of New York. Harvey and Mike don’t really want one, but with Donna, Jenny and Jamal they’re outnumbered, and Mike figures it would help sell the lie, so he agrees too and then Harvey has no choice.

Once they’re done they head to the venue. The party is due to start in about half an hour, and the first person they see upon entering is Evie, talking to what Mike assumes is a member of the wait staff based on their all black clothing. She sees them and brightens, excusing herself and coming over to greet them with a swift kiss on the cheek.

“Congratulations,” she says happily. “You look wonderful.”

“Thank you,” Mike replies.

“How are things here?” Harvey asks.

“Great. Pretty much ready to go.”

Mike wanders off while Harvey and Evie go through some last minute developments, looking around the space. It looks gorgeous. The area is flooded with natural light through the glass roof, but in about an hour when the sun starts to set the room will be lit with fairy lights strung back and forth above them. The walls are exposed brick and there are bits of greenery dotted around the room so it’s not too cold and clinical. Soft music is already playing from somewhere - Mike knows Harvey made up the playlist for this evening, and he fully expects it to be an eclectic mix of genres. There are a few chairs here and there but mostly it’s one large, open space.

Mike unconsciously twirls his wedding ring around his finger as he takes it all in, and Harvey appears by his side a few minutes later, a hand pressing lightly into his lower back.

“Nervous?” Harvey asks, because of course he knows, even without Mike saying a word. Yes, this is their party, but the guest list is made up mostly of people that Harvey knows - old college friends and important clients and extended family - while Mike’s few friends, both personal and work related, make up about twenty percent of the attendance. Mike always knew that this is what would happen, that if he ever got married his side of the aisle would be much emptier than his partners. But Mike is about to be overwhelmed by people that are important to Harvey, and Mike doesn’t want to let him down.

Mike doesn’t nod or speak, but he doesn’t need to.

“You’ll be fine.” Harvey tells him. “Just be your normal charming self and they’ll all love you.”

Mike makes a scoffing noise before he can stop himself. “You’ve described me a lot of ways over the years but never really charming.”

“Really? Well, you charmed your way into my hotel room the day we met, didn’t you?”

Mike laughs then, finally turning to Harvey. “You’re lucky no one else heard that, because without context that sounded really bad. And anyway, that wasn’t me charming you, that was me running from the cops and trying to save myself.”

“Should I call in a favor from the NYPD and have them chase you down now?”

“You’re ridiculous,” Mike says.

Harvey smirks at him. “That I am. And you’re stuck with me now.”

Mike smiles warmly in return. “True. I guess there are worse fates.”

 

 

*

 

 

Jessica is the first person to arrive, which surprises Mike. He thought Harvey’s whole ‘rock up ten minutes late and make an entrance’ shtick came from her, but she walks into the room right on eight o’clock, looking stunning in a little black dress.

Harvey is in the corner of the room on his cell phone - his cousin, who lives in the Midwest and came to New York just for the party, called because she misplaced her invitation and couldn’t find the building - and Donna and Jenny are at the bar getting a drink, so Jessica hones straight in on Mike. He swallows audibly as she approaches. Ever since Harvey told her they were getting married his interactions with her have been minimal and always work related, so he has no idea what’s coming.

When she reaches Mike she just looks at him for a moment. Her expression is inscrutable and Mike can’t help but brace himself.

“You better be worth it,” Jessica tells him. It’s a simple statement, there’s no threat in her voice, and he figures it’s as close to approval as he’s going to get.

“I’ll try my best,” he replies honestly.

She nods, satisfied, and then heads off to the bar. Mike lets out a deep breath. He lives to fight another day.

Jessica’s arrival seems to open the floodgates, and soon streams of people are pouring into the room. The music is turned up and waiters start circling the room with silver platters of food and Mike is overwhelmed by people.

Mike loses Harvey in the crowd, but whenever he thinks about trying to track him down he’s seized by someone else wanting to give Mike their congratulations. Mike talks to partners in the firm he had previously only known by name. He hangs out with his old high school friends and neighbors. The hours seem to zoom by and despite the lie for which they are all gathering, and the fact that despite the numerous wait staff he’s only managed to snag one mini cheeseburger and one peking duck pancake, Mike finds he’s actually having a good time.

Harvey appears by Mike’s side after the sun has set and the room is bathed in soft light, and Mike can’t help but think, yet again, how amazing Harvey looks in his grey suit. Mike smiles at him and without even thinking leans over and presses a quick kiss to the corner of his mouth.

“Hey.”

“Hey yourself,” Harvey grins at him. Then he turns to Harold and says, “I need to steal Mike for a second.”

“Sure, of course,” Harold says, and Mike’s quite proud of the fact Harold managed to make it through the whole sentence without stammering. He’s still so intimidated by Harvey. Mike finds it hilarious.

Harvey takes Mike's hand and leads him towards where Evie had organized a small stage be set up in the corner of the room.

“Ready to tell everyone?” Harvey asks.

“Too late to change my mind now,” Mike grins.

Harvey squeezes his hand and they step up onto the stage. Mike notices that Harvey’s tie has become loosened, and that it’s sitting slightly to the left, so before Harvey can grab the microphone Mike tells him to wait and fixes the tie for him. It only takes a few seconds - and he can practically feel Harvey’s smugness radiating over Mike caring about how a suit looks - but in that time someone sees them and makes a whistling noise. Mike lets out a laugh, and when he looks up at Harvey, task done, Harvey is smiling indulgently at him.

“Am I presentable?” Harvey asks.

“Eh,” Mike shrugs, “you’ll do.”

Harvey collects the microphone from the stand in the corner, turning it on and getting everyone’s attention. Mike feels the weight of over a hundred and fifty pairs of eyes on him, but Harvey just slides his fingers through Mike’s and already he feels better, more grounded.

“Good evening everyone,” Harvey says, and Mike can’t believe how at ease Harvey seems. Mike feels like he’s about to vibrate out of his skin. “Mike and I would like to thank you all for being here this evening. It means a lot that you made it, not only because of the short notice but because I’m sure you were all surprised by the invitation. We had our reasons for keeping our relationship private, and we appreciate your understanding in not telling you sooner. But your acceptance and well wishes have been greatly appreciated. Now, I know we’re all here to celebrate our engagement, but there’s something you should know. Mike, would you like to tell everyone the good news?”

Mike immediately shakes his head, unbelieving that Harvey even asked. They’d agreed Harvey would tell everyone, even though Harvey tried to get Mike to make part of the speech, arguing it was just as much about Mike as it was about him. But Mike’s never been great with public speaking, not on this scale anyway, and Harvey’s a natural at it. Why mess with that?

Harvey smiles at him before turning his attention back to the crowd. “He’s shy, it’s adorable.” Mike playfully slaps him on the arm, getting a few chuckles from their audience. “Okay, so Mike and I would like to inform you that this isn’t really an engagement party. We actually went to City Hall and got married. Today.”

There are surprised gasps that soon roll into cheers and applause. Mike can’t help the grin that spreads over his face, and he squeezes Harvey’s hand.

“So thank you for coming to celebrate our marriage with us. And have a good night.”

The applause is still going as they step down from the stage, and the first people they are met by are Rachel and her husband, Logan. Rachel hugs Mike warmly, then proceeds to chastise them both for keeping everything so secret.

It’s a pattern that repeats itself repeatedly as the evening progresses. Harvey and Mike spend the time mingling together, and they hold hands and laugh and talk to their guests, most of whom fake outrage at not being invited to their wedding but are mostly just happy for them. The only one who doesn’t seem surprised is Benjamin, which just reminds Mike that Benjamin still monitors everything and he needs to be more careful about what he emails in the future.

Harvey and Mike put on a good show. They exchange the occasional quick kiss and join their coworkers who have improvised a dance floor (Mike suspects Donna and Jenny) in dancing a few songs, both fast and slow, and they pretend to be happily in love newlyweds.

It’s not difficult.

They have the venue until one am, but just after midnight Harvey and Mike sneak out. It’s been an amazing evening, but Harvey has always adhered to the old ‘leave them wanting more’ adage and so suggests they let everyone carry on without them. Mike readily agrees.

They catch a cab back to the apartment and the still space is a bit of a shock to the system after the loud music and press of bodies for the last few hours. Mike feels a bit wired actually, and he goes straight to the fridge.

“You’re not hungry, are you?” Harvey asks incredulously, because they spent a frankly ridiculous amount of money on food for the party.

“Starved,” Mike replies. “I don’t think the wait staff got the memo that I was the groom because I somehow always managed to miss out on the food.”

“You’re ridiculous,” Harvey tells him, but the words are delivered with nothing but fondness. Must be the alcohol taking effect. “You want to order a pizza?”

“Oh my god, I love you, yes, please, order me the biggest pizza there is,” Mike says in a rush, his stomach growling at the mere thought of impending hot pizza.

So Harvey orders and they change out of their suits into more comfortable clothing and camp out on the couch. They’re twenty minutes into True Lies when the pizza arrives. It’s tempting to just dive right in and start eating in the doorway, but Mike manages to hold off until he’s back on the couch. He doesn’t wait for Harvey to finish getting their drinks, just pulls a slice out of the box, ridiculously pleased to discover cheese in the slice.

When the movie is done, even though he knows they should just go to bed, Mike suggests they continue with the Schwarzenegger theme and watch The Terminator. He has no idea why Harvey agrees, because he saw Harvey’s eyes droop more than once during the first movie, but Harvey says yes and Mike puts on the movie. They sit pressed together, Mike slouched halfway down the couch, and Harvey nods off halfway through. Mike manages to last until the end of the movie, the sky outside the windows starting to brighten into a new day. He knows he should get up and go to bed but it seems so far away, so he finally lets go, resting his head against Harvey’s shoulder and closing his eyes.

 

 

*

 

 

They spend the weekend lounging around the apartment, watching movies, reading books, eating bad food. It’s not exactly how Mike thought he’d spend the first forty-eight hours of married life, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not practically perfect.

 

 

*

 

 

Married life is, surprisingly, not all that different.

Sure, he has to endure the stares and questions when he goes back to work on Monday as news of his and Harvey’s marriage travels to people who weren’t at the party. But it only lasts a few days, and then things pretty much go back to normal. If anyone has any particularly strong (read: negative) feelings about their marriage they keep it to themselves. Mike absolutely envisioned it being a bigger deal than it turns out to be - especially considering how rampant the rumor mill at Pearson Hardman can get - and he doesn’t know if Jessica has warned everyone not to say anything, but for whatever reason it’s happening, Mike will take it.

Most of the comments he does get are along the lines of “I’m not surprised”, and Mike really doesn’t know what to do with that.

But things between them at work are still the same. Harvey is still a hardass with the clients, and Mike has to remind him of the humanity Mike knows is buried deep within. Mike still fucks up, and Harvey treats him the same as he did before: chastising him in such a way it just makes him want to prove Harvey wrong. Mike still inspires ideas in Harvey for how to solve a case, Harvey still teaches Mike more about the law than he could ever learn at law school. They still banter as they walk the hallways and work long past the sun has set with Harvey’s jazz music filtering through the air.

Things at home are just as good.

Mike hasn’t lived with anyone since he and Trevor were twenty and sleeping on mattresses on the floor of a tiny apartment, but that wasn’t so much living together as it was crashing together. That wasn’t a home, not like he has with Harvey. He and Harvey share the space with ease, able to spend time together by having dinner or watching a movie, but also able to spend the evening apart - even within the apartment - without it putting any strain on their relationship.

Mike thought he had a pretty good idea of what he was getting himself into when he agreed to marry Harvey, and for the most part he was right. But there are things he really wasn’t prepared for.

Harvey is suddenly so much more tactile. He starts guiding Mike into a car with a hand to the small of his back. Their fingers brush when he hands Mike a cup of coffee. He squeezes Mike’s shoulder reassuringly when Mike’s hunched over a file in Harvey’s office.

Mike also wasn’t prepared for how it feels to watch someone hit on Harvey. They go out to dinner, in one of those upscale restaurants that Harvey loves and Mike never stepped foot in before they met. It was the kind of place Mike would have actively avoided even if could’ve afforded to eat there, but now he gives in to Harvey without making a fuss. And they sit at the table and eat and talk and laugh, and when one of the wait staff inevitably hits on Harvey he holds up his left hand, silently showing them his wedding ring. If they are particularly insistent Harvey will take Mike’s hand and say his husband probably doesn’t appreciate their actions. And really, Mike shouldn’t care, because of course these men and women are drawn to Harvey, and yes they are officially married but really, Mike has no claim on Harvey. Not in the real sense of the word. But truthfully he does care. He’s surprised by the sharp spike of vehement jealousy he feels when he watches someone smile and flirt with Harvey. And he’s embarrassed by how unbelievably pleased he is when Harvey continues to send them away.

 

 

*

 

 

“When’s Marcus arriving?” Mike asks, even though Harvey has already told him three times before.

“Saturday,” Harvey replies with what is clearly a forced attempt at patience. “And he’s staying for a week,” he adds before Mike can ask the inevitable follow up question.

Mike nods, bouncing excitedly. He can’t wait to meet Marcus. They’ve chatted a few times over Skype but it will be great to finally meet him in person, to get a peek at a different side of Harvey he just knows will come out in the presence of his little brother.

“So I was thinking...” Mike says.

“Always a worry,” Harvey jokes, and Mike dutifully ignores him.

“We never took time off work after getting married. Maybe we should take the week off that Marcus is here so we can spend some actual time with him and not just a few hours each evening.”

“You want to spend our honeymoon with my brother?” he asks dryly.

Mike laughs. “Well, it’s not like we’ll be spending our honeymoon having sex twenty-four seven like every other couple,” he replies, and the offhand comment turns out to be a mistake because he’s suddenly overcome with a vision of him and Harvey having sex, Harvey’s hands reverently gliding over his skin, their mouths open and wet, bodies moving together in an absolutely exquisite way. It’s visceral and explicit and yeah, okay, Mike can admit he’s probably more attracted to Harvey than he should be, but this, this is something else entirely.

“Mike? Mike.”

Mike comes out of his daze to find Harvey looking at him, face etched with worry. “Are you okay?”

“Fine,” Mike replies, and he picks up his still half full plate and takes it to the kitchen. He’s suddenly not hungry.

“You sure?”

Mike nods, doesn’t look at Harvey. He scrapes the leftover food into the bin and rinses his plate at the sink. He can feel Harvey’s gaze on him, heavy with concern, but he ignores it.

“I’m going to turn in early,” Mike says, even though he knows it’s ridiculously early. He just can’t be in the same space as Harvey right now. He feels guilty and embarrassed, certain that Harvey’s going to look in his eyes and just know what Mike had been thinking about. And for all that he thought this idea of getting married was ridiculous when Harvey first suggested it, Mike actually kinda loves being married to Harvey now, loves that he gets to be around his favorite person in the whole world, and he doesn’t want to ruin that with desires Mike is only just starting to acknowledge. So he spends the evening sitting on his bed, reading and wishing he was brave enough to go back to the living room.

 

 

*

 

 

“Fuck,” Harvey breathes.

Mike, who had been reading the case file as they made their way downtown to their client’s office, looks up at Harvey, immediately worried. “What’s wrong?”

“Marcus is coming to stay.”

Mike waits, expecting there to be more, because obviously that statement alone shouldn’t be cause enough for that reaction. But Harvey isn’t any more forthcoming, and Mike doesn’t know what he’s missing. “Okay…?” Mike says slowly, because they knew this and he doesn’t see what the problem is.

“He’s coming to stay here, with us. In the apartment.”

Mike still isn’t seeing a problem.

“He’s visiting because he thinks we’re married. So he’ll be coming to stay in the guest room.”

Oh ,” Mike breathes, in almost the exact tone of Harvey’s recent expletive. Marcus will need to stay in Mike’s room. And Mike will need to stay in Harvey’s room. With Harvey. Where there is only one bed.

“Are you okay with this? Because if you aren’t I’ll just put him up in a hotel, tell him we’re renovating the guest room or something.”

“No, it’s fine,” Mike says urgently. He doesn’t want Harvey to think he can’t handle a few nights of them sharing a bed, not after everything they’ve done up until this point. And really, it shouldn’t be a big deal. They’re friends, and they are both adults, and he tells himself it’s going to be totally fine.

Even the thought feels like a lie.

 

 

*

 

 

Mike keeps looking at his watch. Harvey keeps laughing at him. Harvey’s a dick like that.

“Shut up,” Mike grumbles, after the fifth time he’s heard Harvey chuckle from across the room.

“I don’t know what it says about you that you were less excited to meet Michael Jordan than my brother, but it probably isn’t good,” Harvey teases.

“You mean you haven’t worked out yet that I just wanna get embarrassing childhood stories out of him to hold over you whenever you give me boring contracts to write up?”

Harvey’s face goes slack with concern, and Mike cracks up. He crosses the room and sits beside Harvey on the sofa. “Kidding, Harvey, don’t worry,” Mike says, knocking their shoulders together. “I promise I won’t ask Marcus for any embarrassing stories.”

“Even if you don’t, it doesn’t mean he won’t tell you them of his own accord,” Harvey says with a grumble.

Mike can’t help but smile indulgently at him. “You’re my family, Harvey,” Mike admits, the words made easier by avoiding his gaze. “I haven’t had that in a really long time. It can’t honestly be that surprising to you that I want to meet him.”

Mike knows how stupid it is to be so obsessed with meeting Marcus. But the first thing Harvey ever told Mike about him was how when they were kids Marcus was being bullied and how Harvey stopped it, and even though Harvey had been in his corner since day one it was still a revelation, like a puzzle piece slotting into place. Harvey was a big brother. Mike had suddenly seen Harvey in a completely different way, and he was nothing but intrigued. Since then Harvey has dropped mentions of Marcus into conversation here and there, but Harvey always made a point to keep Marcus as far away from his work life as possible, and back before this whole fake marriage thing started Mike didn’t think Harvey would ever let Mike in enough to meet him. They might be living together and legally married, but for Mike, Harvey introducing Mike to his brother, that’s the biggest thing Harvey could do to show that he really wants Mike in his life.

Mike feels Harvey’s fingertips light on his hand, and Mike doesn’t hesitate to tangle their fingers together. Mike looks up and when he meets Harvey’s eyes he can tell that Harvey gets it. Harvey doesn’t say anything, because he doesn’t need to. He’s letting Mike in, in the most significant way he knows how, and no matter what happens with Mike’s secret or their marriage there is no going back from this.

There’s a knock at the door, and Mike’s excitement instantly melts away to be immediately replaced by nerves. What if Marcus doesn't like him? What if their personalities clash or they have differing political views or Mike accidentally insults something Marcus loves? What if all of this was just a big mistake and Harvey has to choose between them and of course he’s going to choose Marcus because he’s his brother but where does that leave Mike?

“Hey,” Harvey says, squeezing Mike’s hand to pull him out of his reverie. “Just be yourself and he’ll have no choice but to love you.” And then Harvey stands, pressing a quick kiss to the top of Mike’s head, and he crosses the room to answer the door.

Mike watches as Harvey and Marcus greet each other, Marcus placing his bags by their feet and pulling Harvey in for a warm hug. He somehow looks younger in person, but seeing them side by side makes the familial resemblance even stronger. Mike gives them a few moments before standing and heading in their direction.

“Mike!” Marcus exclaims happily, and he leaves Harvey and meets Mike halfway, throwing his arms around him in an enthusiastic hug. “It’s so great to finally meet you.”

“You too,” Mike says, the words laced with laughter. He doesn’t know why he was worried. He just knows everything’s going to be fine.

Marcus pulls back and looks Mike up and down. “You look even younger in person.”

Mike laughs. “I was thinking the same thing about you.”

“Yeah, but you look really young. Like I’m getting slightly worried that my brother might’ve gone cradle robbing when my back was turned.”

“I would never,” Harvey interjects indignantly.

“Oh yeah?” Marcus turns to him. “Exactly how many years are there between you and Mike? You never said.”

Harvey looks at him for a moment before quickly turning and grabbing Marcus’ bag, taking it to the guest room without another word. Mike and Marcus both laugh as they watch him go.

“That many, huh?” Marcus asks Mike.

“More than he’d probably like,” Mike admits.

“Fifteen?”

“Close. Sixteen.”

Marcus shrugs. “I’ve seen relationships with bigger age gaps work. There comes a point where it really is just a number. So, Mike,” Marcus says, heading to the kitchen and opening the fridge, making himself at home. Mike’s glad to see it. He’d hate to think that Mike’s presence here would change how Marcus felt about visiting his brother. “Tell me everything about yourself.”

Mike laughs. “Everything?”

“Yup, everything.”

Harvey comes back into the lounge, and Mike tells him, “We should order some dinner. It’s going to be a long night.”

 

 

*

 

 

It’s nearly two am by the time they decide to call it a night, and Mike is grateful that Harvey got them both the week off because he would not want to get up in four hours time and attempt to read a thousand page legal document.

Marcus is great. They talked like they’d known each other for years, which maybe in a way they did; because Harvey has told Mike things about Marcus, and based on a few comments Marcus made here and there, Mike thinks that Harvey has told Marcus about him, and not just since the whole marriage plan was concocted.

Mike’s in such a good mood he forgets. He’s loading the dishwasher and Marcus tries to help but Mike sends him off and Marcus relents, bidding them both goodnight, and then as Mike watches him depart he remembers.

He’s sleeping in Harvey’s bedroom.

They’d already removed all of Mike’s personal things from his room so as not to arouse any suspicion in Marcus. The room had been turned back to almost the exact previous state, and now Mike is faced with the reality of sleeping with Harvey.

Once they’ve cleaned up they silently head to the bedroom. Harvey walks to the other side of the bed and starts unbuttoning his shirt. Mike turns his back, feeling awkward and intrusive, and heads to the en suite. He turns on the shower and lets it run until the temperature is right, stripping out of his clothes as he waits. When ready he steps into the shower, putting his head directly under the spray. He can do this. He and Harvey spend every day together, in Harvey’s office or the back seat of a taxi cab or sitting next to each other in a conference room. It’s only going to be weird if he lets it, and he doesn’t want to be the one to ruin what he and Harvey have, so therefore he’s going to get over it and get dressed and get into bed with Harvey and it will be fine.

So he does just that, wrapping a towel around his waist and crossing back into the bedroom. Harvey’s already in bed.

“You okay?” Harvey asks as Mike heads into the walk-in.

“Fine,” Mike replies. Mike’s always been conflicted about Harvey’s one percent lifestyle but at the moment he’s glad of it, because he can get changed in the privacy of the walk-in and have it not be A Thing that he’s not getting changed in the bedroom, in front of Harvey.

“Marcus is great,” Mike says as he exits the walk-in, and he stops short at the sight before him, Harvey lying there, eyes closed, snuggled into the bed. Mike can’t help the indulgent smile that crosses his face, but he figures since Harvey can’t see it then who does it really hurt?

“The best,” Harvey replies slowly, eyes still closed.

Mike turns out the light and slides into the bed. He tries a few positions, trying to find one that is not only comfortable but doesn’t stray too close to Harvey’s side of the bed, because that way lies danger.

When he finally stops moving, lying on his side and facing Harvey, Harvey murmurs, “Comfortable?”

“I am now,” Mike replies, voice just as low. Mike knows he should close his eyes and go to sleep, but he thinks the moment he stops talking his brain will start to process the fact that he’s lying mere inches from Harvey and nothing good can come from that. So even though Harvey’s half asleep Mike says, “Do you miss him? Marcus living in Oregon and spending so much time travelling?”

Harvey doesn’t reply at first, and Mike thinks maybe he’s already asleep. But then his soft voice says, “I do, but we haven’t lived in the same place for decades now. We’re close, but have very different lives, and always have. So, as much as I miss him, it’s probably not as bad as you’re imagining.”

Mike nods, eyes starting to droop. “I wish I had a sibling,” Mike admits quietly into the dark. “If I ever have kids I don’t think I could have just one. They deserve a sibling, to not grow up alone.”

Harvey makes a vague noise of acknowledgment and says, “Noted.”

Mike’s asleep before he can think of a reply.

 

 

*

 

 

When Mike wakes up in the morning Harvey is still sleeping soundly beside him, and the scent of something delicious is tickling at his nose. Mike takes a moment to watch Harvey, because who could resist that view, before carefully sliding from the bed, not wanting to disturb Harvey. He follows his nose into the apartment and finds Marcus in the kitchen, cooking away.

“Morning,” Mike rumbles, patting down his bed head.

“Good morning,” Marcus says brightly. Clearly being bright eyed and bushy tailed is a Specter family trait. “Sleep well?”

Mike nods. “You?”

“Yeah, good. That bed is like sleeping on a cloud.”

Mike knows this all too well, but thinks it’s better not to say as much. Instead he takes a seat on one of the bar stools and asks, “I thought it would’ve been a step down from all the five star hotels you’re used to sleeping in.”

“Well, they are still hotel beds, so they get well used. Not like that ,” Marcus adds when Mike smirks at his wording. “Well, yeah, like that too, but it’s not like they are getting replaced regularly. They’re still beds that are occupied every night for years. And really, you’d be surprised, there really isn’t that much difference in beds despite the change in star ratings.”

Mike nods, deferring to Marcus’ better judgement on that. He’s starting to wake up, and he finally takes in the sight before him. “Whatchya making?”

“Strawberry pancakes. Everyone has their specialty and this is mine.”

“I didn’t even think we had strawberries,” Mike says, even though he can see a punnet sitting on the kitchen counter.

“Harvey probably bought them in your last grocery shop just for me to make these.”

“Big fan, huh?” Mike asks, grinning.

Huge . Just you wait, he’ll probably come out of the bedroom rubbing his hands together like a little kid.”

They settle into a comfortable silence as Mike watches Marcus move easily around the kitchen. He obviously knows it well, and it’s a surreal feeling for Mike, seeing someone else, who he barely knows, move around the space Mike considers home. No one’s ever really moved around his apartment like that - even when he lived Brooklyn Jenny would ask before getting anything out of the kitchen - and he likes it, likes having a home that’s more than just his, sharing the space in every sense of the word.

It doesn’t take long for Harvey to be drawn out by the scent of pancakes floating on the air. Marcus laughs and Mike turns to see Harvey approaching excitedly. If Harvey was a cartoon character he’d have hearts for eyes and a tongue lolling out the side of his mouth. He looks like a kid on Christmas morning and Mike’s heart aches with a burst of something he’s hesitant to name at seeing Harvey like this, young and happy.

Harvey shifts his gaze to Mike and his expression remains unchanged. “Morning,” Harvey murmurs.

“Hey,” Mike replies, just as soft, and Mike feels like he should’ve expected it but it’s still a surprise when Harvey leans down and presses a soft kiss to his lips. It’s feels like it’s over before Mike has time to respond, and he looks away, flushed, knowing that if he’d responded he might not’ve been able to control himself.

“I see you got my present,” Harvey is saying to Marcus, and when Mike finally composes himself he sees the two brothers grinning at each other.

“You mean the present you bought for yourself,” Marcus returns with a laugh.

Harvey putters around the kitchen, making coffee, and Mike marvels at how easily they can move around each other and not bump into each other once. Sure, the kitchen is roomy, but it’s not that big and they aren’t even looking at each other, just focusing on their own task as they move around the kitchen. Must be some kind of internal genetic GPS.

“So what’s the plan for today?” Mike asks.

Marcus loves museums, and New York has some of the best in the world, so he wants to visit a couple while he’s here. Mike is more than onboard with that plan. He hasn’t played tourist in the city in forever, and it sounds fun doing some exploring.

“Thought we might start with the Museum of Natural History,” Marcus says.

Harvey sets a cup of steaming coffee down in front of Mike, who accepts it with a grateful smile.

“Are you sure you aren't twelve years old?” Harvey smirks at Marcus.

“Dinosaurs, Harvey,” Mike points out, because last night as soon as they started talking about different museums and exhibits currently showing around the city Mike got on his phone to see what was on, and immediately got excited about their current exhibit.

“Are you sure you aren’t twelve years old,” Harvey grins, turning to Mike. And without skipping a beat Harvey turns back to Marcus and adds, “Don’t say it.”

Marcus mimes zipping his lips, then mimes unzipping them and says, “Cradle robber.”

Harvey looks to Mike for sympathy, who just holds up his hands and says, “I’m staying out of this.”

Marcus laughs. “Cheer up, old man. Pancakes will be ready soon.”

Harvey seems to consider this for a moment and then he slides onto the seat next to Mike and tells Marcus, “You’re forgiven.”

Mike gapes at Harvey. Sure, he knows they weren’t being serious, but he expected Harvey to keep pushing for a bit longer. Those pancakes must be something else. “Hey Marcus, before you go I’m gonna need that recipe. If it makes Harvey give in that easily I need it to help me win all our arguments.”

Marcus pours the batter into a pan, smiling. “Pretty sure you won’t need it actually,” he says, and Mike furrows his brows, confused. When he glances to Harvey his husband is very studiously not looking at him, but before Mike can let his mind wander down this path Marcus adds, “So, Mike, tell me more about the wedding. Did Harvey cry? He totally cried, didn’t he?”

Harvey’s glare is just as exaggerated as Marcus’ teasing was, but Mike reaches over and squeezes Harvey’s hand in a show of husbandly support. “It was perfect…”

 

 

*

 

 

After breakfast - which Harvey with his heart eyes and lolling tongue still somehow managed to undersell because damn those pancakes were delectable - they head out to the museum.

Mike and Marcus would’ve been perfectly happy to walk, but Harvey of course insisted they catch a cab. This turned out to be quite fortuitous when Harvey’s phone rings just as they are pulling up to the curb on Central Park West. Harvey pulls the phone from his pocket. “It’s Jessica,” he tells Mike.

“Don’t answer it,” Mike pleads. Harvey looks conflicted, and Mike knows as soon as he picks up the phone he’ll be gone. “Please. We’re on vacation, Harvey.”

Harvey looks genuinely apologetic about it, but he picks up the phone nonetheless. “Jessica, this better be important.”

Mike knows that Harvey won’t be coming with them now, so he turns to Marcus and tips his head towards the sidewalk. Marcus and Mike climb out of the car as Harvey talks to Jessica, and the fact that Harvey doesn’t get out of the car but simply slides across the bench to the seat closest to the curb speaks volumes.

“I’m sorry,” Harvey tells them as soon as he has ended the call. “This can’t wait.”

Mike knows it’s childish and petty, but he can’t help but be annoyed. It’s their first day off together for what everyone else thinks is their honeymoon, neither Harvey or Mike have taken any vacation time in years, and still Pearson Hardman couldn’t last one day without Harvey and felt the need to call him into the office?

Mike nods, grits out a, “Fine,” and walks away without looking back.

He’s halfway up the museum steps when Marcus reaches him. He just falls in step beside Mike and doesn’t say anything. Mike’s grateful for it.

Once they’re inside he’s able to shake off his mood. Mike hasn’t been here since he was a kid, and it’s like looking at it with new eyes. He and Marcus spend several hours slowly wandering the halls, Mike soaking up the knowledge like a sponge and Marcus taking photos of anything and everything that catches his fancy. It’s easy, spending time with Marcus like this, even without Harvey. They point out interesting facts and exhibits to each other and talk about random things and Mike feels like he’s known Marcus forever.

It’s decidedly warmer when they leave the Museum. The sun is shining down onto them, a beautiful blue sky stretching as far as the eye can see. Mike suddenly misses Harvey so much it hurts.

“Hungry?” Marcus asks.

Mike nods. “Starved.”

They walk down the block to Shake Shack, because Marcus has a craving for their burgers. It’s right in the middle of the lunch rush, but they don’t mind, though to be honest that might’ve been a different story had they not managed to snag a table as soon as they walked in.

“So, how did you get into photography?” Mike asks when Marcus removes the camera from around his neck and sets it on the table. “I don’t think Harvey ever told me.”

Marcus laughs lightly. “It was because of Harvey, actually. When I was a kid I was going through a rough time and, for no discernable reason I could think of at the time, Harvey bought me a camera. It was a tiny, cheap thing, but I loved it. It was something that was just mine. I started going to Harvey’s baseball games and photographing it - not just the game, but the people in the stands, the ground itself, everything really. My dad saw the results and encouraged me to keep going with it. He was someone who was creative, and I think he liked that we had that in common. He bought me a better camera, introduced me to a photographer friend from the label to give me some pointers, and I never looked back.”

“Did you study?”

“I did. I went to the Royal College of Art in London.”

“Wow.”

“Yeah, it was … an experience. I’d never even been outside America before and there I was, eighteen and moving to a new country. But it’s an incredible school. I was really lucky to go.”

Mike smiles sadly. He could never resent Harvey or Marcus for their upbringing, and Mike knew better than most that it wasn’t all rosy, but sometimes Mike wonders if his parents had been around if things could’ve turned out differently. Maybe without needing to look after Grammy he wouldn’t have agreed to sell those tests. Maybe his parents would’ve seen Trevor for the bad influence he was and been more proactive in separating them. But then again maybe if they were still here things would’ve ended up the exact same way. He has to take responsibility for what happened, and truth be told, if those things didn’t happen he probably wouldn’t have stumbled into Harvey’s interview room that day, and he can’t say he regrets that in the least.

“So you’ve just been on a shoot in Europe?”

Marcus nods. “Bucharest. You ever been?”

Mike laughs loudly. “No, never.”

“It’s beautiful. Before that I was in Prague, and before that Nice.”

“And Harvey said you’re going to Africa soon?”

“Yeah, next month. I haven’t been there in years. I’m excited to get back.”

“It must be nice, getting paid to travel the world.”

“Yeah, definitely. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there are downsides: I hate spending so much time on planes and airports, the constant travelling can be exhausting, and trying to have interpersonal relationships when I’m home for a month or two a year at best is nearly impossible. But I’m lucky. I get to do what I love and be paid well for it. And I get to meet amazing people and have the opportunity to see places all over the world that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to.”

“I’ve always wanted to learn,” Mike admits shyly. “Photography, I mean. It’s always fascinated me.”

“Really?” Marcus asks brightly.

“Don’t tell Harvey, but I’ve already bought a few photographs for when I eventually get my own office.”

Marcus grins at him. “I think that’s great. Hey, I should teach you while I’m here.”

“Oh no, no it’s fine,” Mike hastily says, because he wasn’t angling for a photography class when he mentioned it. “I’m sure you don’t want to spend your vacation teaching me photography.”

“I’d love to teach you, Mike. Besides, it’s not like I can really let my job go even when I’m vacationing,” he adds, waving to his camera, and Mike has to concede the point.

So after they’ve finished eating they head back towards Central Park. Marcus thinks nature photography is a good place to start, and Central Park is so photographic they can just focus on the camera settings. Marcus puts the camera in Mike’s hands. It’s a Pentax K-50 DLSR and Mike’s surprised by the weight of it. He automatically lifts the camera to his face to look at the view from the LCD screen, but it’s black. He barks out a short laugh before looking through the viewfinder, sweeping the camera across the view in front of him, looking for the best option. When he finds something he likes Marcus points out the various features and settings of the camera, and then explains the basics of depth of field and how best to focus. He talks Mike through the lens settings, the size of the shutter opening and how it affects the depth of field, as Mike spins the back dial, playing with the dial for the aperture. Mike listens with rapt attention, asking a question here and there, as Marcus continues to point things out, like how the front dial controls the shutter speed and the pros and cons of a high ISO setting.

And then Marcus says, “Go for it.”

Mike lifts the camera to his face and clicks the shutter button, smiling.

They spend the afternoon taking photos. Mike continues to ask him questions almost non-stop, and Marcus will give him pointers on everything from camera settings to composition and framing. Mike loses count of how many photos they take, and when they get back to the apartment Marcus attaches his camera to his laptop and they go through them. They’re mostly just okay, perfectly adequate photos, but once in awhile there will be a flash of something more - where the elements come together in such a way that it elevates the photo to another level. Mike’s favorite photo is one he took of a family walking along an otherwise deserted path, the little girl no more than three years old, walking between her two dads and holding each of their hands. The photo was taken from behind, the young family towards the left of the frame so that the right half is filled with blue skies and the green trees and grass of Central Park.

Marcus sits back in his chair and looks at the photo, quiet, for a really long time. Mike feels his nerves escalate the longer the silence stretches.

“It’s perfect,” Marcus tells him, his voice soft with pride.

Mike breaks out into a large grin, a rush of joy flowing over him. He did that. He captured a perfect moment in time and he doesn’t want to stop, he wants to learn more. He wants to try long exposure photography. He wants to capture the city at night with all the sparkling lights it has. He wants to take photos of anything and everything he sees as he walks around the city.

“When can we go again?”

Marcus laughs. “Whenever you like.”

 

 

*

 

 

Marcus’ phone beeps, and a frown crosses his face when he looks down at it. “Harvey says he won’t be back for dinner and not to wait for him.”

“Okay.”

“Why is he texting me and not you?” Marcus asks, confused.

Because as his brother you rank more highly than me as his fake husband, Mike thinks. He just shrugs, says, “Probably thinks I’m still mad at him for bailing on us this morning.”

“Are you?”

“Yes and no. I knew what I signed up for when I married Harvey, but still, it would’ve been nice to make it through one day away from the office before they called him back in.”

“I’m sure he would’ve preferred to stay with you,” Marcus says diplomatically.

Mike smiles at him, touched by his concern. “Yeah, I know. Anyway, since we don’t have to wait for Harvey, I’m starved. What do you feel like for dinner?”

Marcus ends up cooking, which Mike tries to persuade him out of, since he’s on vacation and all. But Marcus insists getting to make a home cooked meal in a kitchen as wonderful as Harvey’s is like a vacation after months of take out and catered dinners and craft service food. So Mike lets him run wild and is rewarded with a delicious steak and potato gratin dinner. They find a movie to watch on Netflix and have a quiet and enjoyable evening in.

By the time Mike heads to bed Harvey still isn’t home. He’s equal parts annoyed that Harvey is working so late and worried that something has gone seriously wrong, maybe not with a client but within the firm, and then he starts to feel guilty for not even offering to go in with Harvey when he got the call that morning.

Mike is lying in bed, a couple of chapters into his book, when Harvey enters the bedroom. The door opens slowly, like he’s worried about waking Mike, but when he peers around the corner to see Mike already awake he smiles wearily at him for a moment before turning and closing the door. He’s wearing a suit, the one Mike knows he keeps at the office for emergencies, and he looks exhausted.

“Is everything okay?” Mike asks, putting his book onto the bedside table.

Harvey nods, shedding his jacket and leaving it on a nearby wingback. “Trouble with a client, but we got it sorted.”

“Must’ve been bad, since you were gone all day.” Mike honestly doesn’t mean it in a bitter or judging way, and he’s not saying it to bait Harvey into an argument. If anything he’s worried about what kept Harvey at work for so long.

Harvey nods. “It was, but I wanted to get it all done so they wouldn’t have an excuse to call me in tomorrow. I told Jessica she could call me if our entire client roster decided to jump ship or if all the employees started to mutiny or if she got arrested, but beyond that I wouldn’t be in the office until next week.”

Mike smiles slowly. “You did?”

Harvey nods, undoing his tie and dropping the material onto his discarded jacket.

“I’m sorry about this morning,” Mike says before he loses his nerve. “I shouldn’t have just walked away like that.”

“It’s okay,” Harvey says gently, and Mike believes him. “I don’t blame you. I was mad at Jessica too.”

“Still, I shouldn’t have taken it out on you. I was just looking forward to spending the day with you. And I think … sometimes I forget. I get caught up in everything and just for a moment even I believe our lie. And I need to remind myself that you aren’t really my husband, and I don’t get to feel annoyed when you pick work over me. So, I’m sorry.”

Harvey is staring at him with an expression Mike has never seen before. He takes a step towards the bed. “Mike-

But Mike desperately doesn’t want to talk about this. He doesn’t want to hear Harvey try and gently let him down, remind him that their marriage isn’t real, that it’s just to save their careers, like Mike doesn’t already know that. So Mike doesn’t let him, cutting him off with a, “Good night, Harvey,” before sliding under the covers and lying down on his side, his back to Harvey.

The room is quiet for a few moments, and then Mike hears Harvey softly say, “Good night, Mike.”

 

 

*

 

 

Harvey decides that since he got called into work the previous day that he’s going to choose the day’s activities.

“No. Harvey, no,” Marcus says.

“You don’t even know what I’m going to say,” Harvey says indignantly, though his evil smirk tells Mike that whatever Marcus thinks Harvey is going to suggest is most likely right.

“I know exactly what you’re going to say.”

“What’s he going to say?” Mike asks Marcus.

“Baseball,” Harvey and Marcus say simultaneously, Harvey with uncontained glee and Marcus with a groan.

Mike can’t help but laugh at the dichotomy between the two brothers. “Why do you hate baseball so much?” Mike asks.

“I don’t hate it,” Marcus says, “but growing up with a baseball obsessed brother who made me throw pitches to him day and night took the shine off it slightly. But,” he adds, turning to Harvey and cutting him off before he can make any objections or retorts, “I’ll agree to go play baseball with you today, simply because I know you just want to show off and impress Mike with your mad skills.”

“Mike already married me,” Harvey points out. “Pretty sure I don’t have to impress him anymore.”

“Really?” Marcus asks, his voice a strange mixture of innocence and disbelief. “Well, okay then. So, where we going?”

After a brief detour to Harvey’s basement storage locker where he keeps his own baseball gear - because of course he does - they head off to Central Park to find a spot to play. It’s a beautiful summer day, and the park is by no means empty, but they manage to find a deserted field. Harvey strides right up to the pitcher's mound, dropping the bags and starting to pull out a seemingly never ending array of baseball bats and balls and mitts. Marcus wanders off slightly, his ever present camera in hand, presumably scanning the vistas for a photo opportunity.

“Are you sure we’re allowed to play here?” Mike asks, because he figured they’d just find a free patch of grass and have a low key hit, not set up on an actual baseball field.

Harvey chuckles, and without looking at him replies, “Well, considering how much money I donate to them, I’m sure they won’t mind.”

Once the bags are emptied Harvey stands, a bat in his hands. He gives it a few swings and then, seemingly satisfied, nods to himself. Harvey calls out to Marcus, who dutifully comes trotting back.

“Think you can strike me out?” Harvey asks him.

“Nope,” Marcus replies, smiling, but he picks up a ball anyway. “But I’ll give it a red hot go.”

“Mike, you’re our fielder.”

“Ugh, how come I get the lame job?”

“Because you’re youngest and that’s just how it works,” Marcus points out. Then he turns to Harvey, grinning. “I can’t believe I finally get to use that line after hearing it for my entire childhood. I love having a little brother.”

Mike’s happiness at Marcus thinking of him as his brother totally outweighs any annoyance he feels about being stuck as fielder.

“Don’t worry, Mike. You can be batter next and we’ll make Marcus field.”

“Oh so that’s how it’s gonna be huh?” Marcus says. “The two of you are gonna gang up on me.”

Mike knocks his shoulder. “Don’t worry, I’ve got ya back. We can make Harvey be drinks runner or something while we’re in the outfield.”

“Yessss,” Marcus says, holding up his hand for a high five, and Mike more than happily obliges. And he doesn't even have to see Harvey to know he’s rolling his eyes at them.

“Okay, let’s play,” Harvey says, heading to the plate.

Harvey is really good. Sure, Mike knew he played as a kid, and they he had potential, but that was twenty years ago now. Mike honestly didn’t expect him to still play so well. In fact, Mike can’t help but wonder if he plays in the local league and never mentioned it, because surely even Harvey can’t remain this skillful with sporadic hits at a batting cage.

Mike gets a workout, chasing after all the balls Harvey hits with astounding precision, but he doesn’t mind. He’s still close enough that he can hear Harvey and Marcus shit talking each other good naturedly, and the view of Harvey moving in his tight baseball tee isn’t the worst thing he’s ever seen.

After about twenty minutes they decide it’s time to switch.

“Come on, Mike,” Harvey calls, holding out the bat.

They all move around - Mike drops his mitt and the few balls he has at the pitcher's mound as he passes on his way to the plate, Harvey passes him the bat as he heads to the mound, and Marcus heads out to the field, grabbing his camera as he goes. Marcus leaves it by his feet, and Mike can’t help but worry it will get damaged, but figures Marcus knows what he’s doing.

Mike grips the bat, gives it a few quick swings to test the weight in his hands. He doesn’t like it, so he heads over to where the bags of equipment are sitting near the fence line and picks up a different bat. This one feels much better, so he goes back to the plate.

Harvey’s first pitch is a strike.

So is the second.

“Are you sure you’ve played before?” Harvey teases.

Mike makes a face at him. “Yes, of course I have. I just didn’t grow up playing it like some people.”

Harvey throws the ball, much slower this time Mike can’t help but note, and Mike hits it. It’s a foul ball.

Mike expects Harvey to be frustrated at how bad Mike’s skills are, but when he chances a look at him Harvey is amused.

“What?” Mike asks.

“Even with your genius brain you can’t hit the ball worth a damn. I love it. You’re normally brilliant at everything you do, it makes a nice change.”

“I aim to please.”

Harvey throws a few more pitches, which Mike attempts to hit with varying degrees of success, when Harvey give up. “Okay, time out,” he says, actually making a T sign with his hands.

Mike’s confused. “What’s going on?”

“I’m going to teach you to hit, that’s what’s going on,” Harvey tells him as he strides right up to Mike. He stops a couple of steps away, running a critical eye over Mike. Mike suddenly feels nervous under his gaze.

Harvey reaches over and runs his fingers over Mike’s hand. “Loosen your grip a bit. Not too much,” he cautions, when Mike’s hold loosens too much and the bat wobbles slightly. Mike resets his grip, and Harvey nods in approval.

Harvey then starts looking at his body, walking in a slow circle around him.

“Lower your shoulder,” he says, his hand light on Mike’s back shoulder. Mike does, and then the touch is gone. “Good.” He moves behind Mike, hands cupping Mike’s hips lightly, his body pressing into Mike’s back.

“Okay, open up your hips a bit,” Harvey says, squeezing Mike’s left hip slightly. His breath tickles the back of Mike’s neck, and Mike’s heart pounds in his chest, so loud he thinks Harvey must be able to hear it. Mike shifts his leg back a touch, changing the angle of his body.

“Better. Now, you’re swinging just a touch too soon. Be patient, wait for the moment to present itself. When you swing, you need to twist your body like so.”

Harvey wraps his arms around Mike from behind, his hands settling over Mike’s on the bat, their bodies pressed so tightly Mike wouldn’t be able to tell where one ended and the other began. And then Harvey swings, taking Mike along with him. He does it a second time. “Feel the difference?”

“Yeah,” Mike says, breathlessly. “For one I have a forty-something male attached to me like a limpet as I swing.”

Harvey laughs. They take a few more swings together.

“You're actually not that bad,” Harvey says, with a little too much surprise in his voice for Mike’s liking.

“Shut up, Mulder, I’m playing baseball,” Mike says, and Harvey laughs, Mike feeling the movement down his back.

“Okay, ready for a real hit?” Harvey asks. Mike nods, so Harvey leans back slightly and yells, “Marcus, come throw a few pitches.”

Mike looks over, having completely forgotten Marcus was even there, to find Marcus no longer in the field but much nearer to the pitching mound, his camera in hand. He sets the camera out of the way and picks up a ball.

“Give us an easy pitch,” Harvey tells him.

Marcus throws the ball, and Harvey guides the swing of the bat. It connects with a satisfying sound and goes flying straight towards Marcus. It’s not the most powerful hit, but it’s definitely the most accurate one Mike has made so far. Mike beams, yelling, “Yes!”

“Okay?” Harvey asks, his hands on the bat loosening, and Mike quickly says, “Maybe one more.”

Harvey chuckles but doesn’t move away. He repositions the bat in anticipation, and this time they hit the ball towards third base.

“Alright,” Harvey says, dropping his hands and stepping back. “Show me what you got.”

Harvey replaces Marcus at the mound, and Marcus gives him a thumbs up before heading into the field. Mike still isn’t anywhere near Harvey’s level, but he’s definitely hitting better. Harvey smiles proudly at him after each hit, and Mike can’t help the way it warms his insides. It’s somehow even better than impressing Harvey at work.

Mike bats for about fifteen minutes before he hands it over to Marcus. Harvey tosses a baseball to Mike, who tosses it straight back. He’s probably worse at pitching than batting, and he doesn’t want to inflict that on Marcus, so he doesn’t mind heading into the field.

He isn’t prepared for the playful swat on his ass from Harvey as he walks by though. “Good hitting. We need to get you out here more often.”

“Maybe,” Mike concedes with a smile.

Marcus is way better than Mike, though still not as good as Harvey. Mike spends the next half hour chasing down baseballs and loving every minute of it.

When the heat gets too much they decide to call it a day. Harvey and Mike pack everything up - Marcus is distracted with a photo opportunity - and when they’re done the three of them head back to the apartment. The air conditioning is a cool rush of relief, and they take it in turns showering. Mike feels infinitely better without the sweat and dirt clinging to his body, and once Harvey and Marcus are done they look similarly relaxed.

“So,” Mike says, as the three of them lounge around the living area, Harvey and Mike at opposite ends of the couch with their legs entwined in the middle and Marcus sprawled over the single chair in the corner. “You wanted to decide what we were doing today, Harvey. What's the plan for the rest of the day?”

“As little as possible,” Harvey says.

“Seconded,” Marcus adds, his eyes still closed as his hand shoots up in the air like he’s casting an actual vote.

Mike smiles. “Well, no objections here.”

 

 

*

 

 

This is the first time Harvey and Mike ready for bed at the same time, in the same room.

Mike does briefly consider fleeing to the walk-in to change, but after the wonderful day they’ve had that feels cowardly, and maybe even slightly telling. So he strips off his clothes in the middle of Harvey’s bedroom, Harvey a few feet away on the other side of the bed.

All Mike can think about is how it felt to have Harvey against him, the length of their bodies pressed together. He wonders how it would feel to have Harvey’s body against his with nothing between them, the weight and warmth of Harvey as he presses Mike into the mattress, slick skin and roaming hands as they move together in perfect motion.

When Mike glances over Harvey is turned away from him, the smooth planes of his back on full display, and Mike really just wants to go over there and kiss his way down Harvey’s spine.

“I had a good day,” Mike says into the silence. If he talks maybe his mind will stop thinking about things he really shouldn’t be thinking about.

Harvey smiles at him over this shoulder. “Me too.”

“So, just how good a player were you?” Mike asks as he continues changing. “I mean, I know you played in high school, but I’m starting to get the sense it wasn’t just for fun.”

“No, I was very serious about it back then. And I was good. My batting average was 0.385.”

“Holy shit,” Mike exclaims, looking over to Harvey, who has just changed into pajama pants and is smiling bashfully. Mike didn’t even think Harvey knew the meaning of the word, but he definitely has a bashful expression on his face. It’s adorable.

“I wanted to go pro. My coach told me I was one of the most talented players he’d ever seen, and that he knew I could do it, that I was good enough. We were playing in the state championship game, and I knew there were going to be scouts there. I was obsessed with practicing, making sure I was fit and ready for the game. And I ended up blowing out my shoulder two days before the game.”

Mike winced in sympathy. “I’m so sorry. That must’ve been awful.”

“It was, but it wasn’t the worst bit.”

“What could possibly be worse than that?”

“My team won the game without me. I used to think that they needed me, that I was the one that got them to that point. Turned out they didn’t need me at all.”

Mike sits on the bed, sliding his legs beneath the covers and leaning on the headboard. “You know, I’d been trying to reconcile the Harvey I know with the idea of a teenage, team player Harvey. I think you’ve just fixed that problem. Even on a team you still thought you were the best.”

Harvey laughs, but there isn’t anything dark or offended by it. “I’ll have you know I was an excellent team player,” he says, grinning.

“Yeah? Did you give pep talks and help coach the newbies?”

“Of course not, that wasn’t my job.”

Mike cracks up laughing. Harvey grins at him, pleased, as though his only reason for telling Mike was to make him laugh, and then he climbs into bed. They take a few moments to get comfortable beneath the sheet, and when they’re done they are both lying on their sides, facing each other, Mike with his arm tucked beneath his head.

“Do you miss playing?”

“Sometimes,” Harvey admits. “I try not to dwell, and it’s not as though I haven’t done well for myself since then, but yeah, sometimes my finger will itch with the need to have a baseball bat in my hands. And I’ll wonder what my life would’ve been like if I hadn’t been injured, if I’d made it.”

“Hmmm,” Mike says, considering. “You would’ve made it to the big leagues. All the teams would’ve wanted you, but you would’ve been loyal to the club that first picked you and stayed with the Mets.”

“Yankees,” Harvey interjects.

“Yeah, the Mets would’ve been good to you,” Mike continues, unabashed. “The fans would be split down the line, people who love and hate you, but they all would’ve respected the hell out of you. You would’ve made millions, bought a fancy loft, had an active social life and slept with whoever you wanted. So … basically it would be exactly the same.”

Harvey smiles warmly at him. “You think so?”

“I know so.”

“Well, it wouldn’t be exactly the same as it is now.” At Mike’s confused look Harvey elaborates with, “You. I wouldn’t have met you in that life.”

“True,” Mike says, suddenly glad that seventeen year old Harvey hurt his shoulder one random Thursday, because if he hadn’t there was no conceivable way that they would have met. In fact, short of the circumstance that led them both into that hotel room, Mike can’t conceive of any other scenario in which they would’ve met, at least not in a way that kept them in each other’s lives. But still, as much as Mike loves knowing Harvey and wouldn’t want it to be any other way, he can’t deny the complications knowing Mike had bought into Harvey’s life, not least of which was evidenced by the rings they both wear on their left hands. Suddenly overcome with guilt and sadness, Mike can’t help but say, “Probably would’ve been better though, living your own life, not having some random kid making you put your career and reputation on the line just because they were a fuck-up who couldn’t get anything right.”

“No,” Harvey says, shaking his head vehemently. “Mike, no. I don’t regret hiring you, you have to know that.”

Mike’s touched, but still. “Your life would’ve been easier without me in it though.”

“Maybe,” Harvey concedes. “But easier isn’t necessarily better. And my life is so much better with you in it. I will never regret you walking into my interview room that day. Not ever. I meant what I said when we got married. I can’t imagine my life without you in it.”

Mike wants to say something, to tell Harvey how much he means to him, how grateful Mike is that out of the millions of people in New York City it was Harvey that Mike met that day. But he can’t. His throat feels thick with everything he can’t say, but Harvey seems to understand, reaching over and squeezing his hand, his fingertips brushing lightly over Mike’s wedding ring for a moment before he withdraws.

“Tell me more about your teenage years,” Mike says, because it’s easier than talking about their relationship any more. “What was your team called? What were your teammates like? Oooh, did you know you were bi back then? Did you have a secret love affair with the team captain? You totally did, didn’t you. I can see it now; private ‘practice sessions’, secret makeout sessions in the locker room...”

Harvey bursts out laughing, and Mike grins to see it. “I don’t know how your mind works sometimes. But no, I didn’t have a secret relationship with my captain.”

Mike makes a sound of disappointment.

“The male captain of the cheer squad however…”

 

 

*

 

 

Mike is genuinely starting to consider the possibility that Harvey is trying to kill him.

It’s like Harvey has decided that, since they don’t really need to sell their relationship at work - where everyone believed them a little too easily and it’s not really appropriate to act any differently anyway - now that Marcus is here he’s really going to commit to the notion of them as a married couple. Like if they can fool Marcus they can fool anyone.

So for the whole time Marcus is visiting, Harvey acts like the perfect husband.

And it’s driving Mike crazy.

It isn’t too bad at first. The three of them visit the Met, and Harvey takes Mike’s hand as they enter and doesn’t let go. The whole time they’re there. Which is for three hours.

The next day Mike and Marcus discuss different forms of art and Mike mentions in an offhand way that one of his favorite pieces of art ever is Masstransiscope , the vertical zoetrope seen from the subway on the B and Q line, and Harvey suggests they go see it. Harvey voluntarily suggests they go on the subway to Brooklyn . Mike actually starts to question if Harvey’s been replaced by a pod person, but when quizzed on something only Harvey should know - “You played Hearts during your job interview, which I’ve never understood because that’s a stupid game, why are you even asking me this?” - Mike lets it go. So they hop on the subway to Brooklyn, seeing Masstransiscope as they go, and end up in the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.

Marcus continues teaching Mike about photography, and Harvey just stands back and patiently lets them take as long as they want as they photograph anything and everything. He even lets Marcus push and prod him into different photos, the last one a picture of Harvey and Mike, their arms wrapped around each other as they stand in front of the Tropical Pavilion.

The next day Marcus decides that he wants to go check out the Museum of the Moving Image, because he’s never been before, and Mike enthusiastically agrees because they’re having an exhibit on Chuck Jones and Mike can’t be friends with anyone who doesn’t love Loony Tunes. They catch a cab to Queens - because Harvey is still Harvey - and explore the museum. And when Mike takes a seat on the floor at the back of audio visual room, watching various clips from What’s Opera, Doc? and The Dot and the Line and Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Harvey joins him, sitting on the floor so close to Mike that he can feel the line of Harvey down his arm, their feet knocking together as they watch in silence.

It continues like that for days. Harvey will touch him like it’s the most natural thing in the world. He’ll kiss Mike - quick pressing of his lips on Mike’s mouth, cheek, forehead - whenever Marcus is around but for no other discernible reason. He’ll get Mike a drink without being asked and brag about Mike’s accomplishments to Marcus and give Mike his undivided attention whenever he speaks.

And then, when it’s just the two of them, alone in bed at night, Harvey will talk. He’ll talk about any random topic that comes into his head no matter how important or trivial, he’ll share stories about his father, he’ll ask Mike about his childhood and his Grammy and his life. They’ll talk for hours, and Mike always falls asleep with cheeks that are sore from smiling so much.

Mike feels like he can’t breathe around Harvey anymore. His stomach is constantly tying in knots and he’s sure he has a permanent flush on his cheeks. If he’d been in any doubt before, there’s no denying it now:

Mike’s completely in love with his fake husband.

 

 

*

 

 

It’s Marcus’ last night in New York. He’s flying back to Oregon at an insanely early hour the next day, and even though Harvey offers to take Marcus out anywhere he wants to go Marcus says he just wants to stay home. So Harvey makes a crispy skin chicken that is, quite frankly, one of the best things Mike has ever put in his mouth, and they have a quiet night in.

After they’ve finished eating Harvey heads over to his overly complicated stereo system to put on some music. Mike smiles when the sounds of Damien Rice start floating through the air. When Mike first moved in Harvey wouldn’t let him anywhere near the stereo - not because he didn’t trust Mike with it, but because he didn’t trust Mike’s taste in music and was pre-empting having to turn off Mike’s ‘inevitably hipster taste in music’. Then one day, when Harvey was working late, he came home to find Mike reading a book on the couch, as Damien Rice played from his ipod. Harvey asked who Mike was listening to, and after Mike told him Harvey went out and bought his three albums on vinyl.

Mike suspects Harvey loves his music even more than Mike does now. He doesn’t mind. At least it proved to Harvey that not all his music taste was terrible.

“So, any plans for when you get home?” Mike asks Marcus.

“Not really,” Marcus shrugs. “The house probably needs a bit of a spring clean, but I’m just looking forward to relaxing before I head out again.”

“When’s that?” Harvey asks, re-joining them at the table.

“Next month. I have a shoot in Nairobi, and after that I’m off to Tokyo.”

“Yeah? I’ve always wanted to go,” Mike says.

“Well, maybe you should get Harvey to take you one day. Have a proper honeymoon.”

“If I took Mike everywhere in the world he wanted to go we’d never come back,” Harvey laughs.

“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” Marcus frowns. “You don’t have to be imbedded into New York like an immovable rock, you know. There’s a whole world out there for you to see.”

“Maybe one day,” Harvey says, but even Mike knows he’s just placating. Mike can’t picture Harvey living outside of New York any more than he can picture Marcus staying still for more than a few weeks. For all their similarities they can be profoundly different, and Mike idly wonders if Marcus’ wanderlust came from their mother or father, and why it was Harvey didn’t feel it.

“Excited to be going back to work?” Marcus asks in a change of subject.

“No,” Mike groans, at the exact moment Harvey says, “Yes.”

Marcus cracks up laughing. “Sometimes I wonder how you two ended up married.”

“Fate,” Harvey says, turning to Mike and throwing him a quick wink. Mike smiles slowly at him in return.

“Hey, Mike,” Marcus says excitedly, “it just occurred to me that I’ve been here a week and I haven’t told you any embarrassing childhood stories about Harvey. Seems remiss of me to not embarrass my big brother and give my new brother-in-law some blackmail material for a rainy day.”

Marcus is practically bouncing in his chair with excitement, making Mike laugh. But when he chances a look at Harvey he doesn’t look quite so thrilled about the prospect. So despite how curious Mike is about Harvey’s youth, and he’s sure Marcus could tell him some whopping tales, he has to decline. If he’s going to find out more about Harvey’s past - and Harvey has been slowly letting him in, those late nights where they lie in bed and whisper stories and secrets into the dark - well, he wants it to come from Harvey himself. He wants to know because Harvey wants to tell him.

“Thanks,” Mike tells him with a smile, “but that’s okay. I don’t want to make Harvey uncomfortable. Maybe another day.”

Marcus looks between Mike and Harvey, his gaze going back and forth like he’s trying to puzzle something out, and then he says, completely out of nowhere, “I want ice cream.”

Mike furrows his brows at this random declaration, and Harvey appears similarly confused. “What?” Harvey asks, laughing.

“Ice cream, Harvey. We need ice cream.”

“We do?”

Marcus nods. “I’m thinking Chubby Hubby”

And of course Marcus had to choose Mike’s favorite flavor. Mike moans, says, “That does sound pretty good actually.”

Marcus gives Harvey the biggest puppy eyes Mike has ever seen. It’s impressive, actually. “Come on, Harvey. Go get your baby brother some ice cream before he leaves.”

“No,” Harvey says.

“Come on, Harvey,” Mike joins in, clasping his hands and giving him his best puppy eyes. “Your hubby could use some Chubby Hubby.”

There’s silence for a good five seconds before all three of them burst out laughing.

“Oh God, I did not think that through. I swear I didn’t mean it like that,” Mike says, still laughing, and it just makes the others laugh all the more.

“Okay,” Harvey surrenders. When he gets his laughter under control he stands from the table. “I guess I can’t really say no after that, can I?”

Mike nods at him, still grinning stupidly, and Harvey looks at Mike with so much fondness it makes Mike’s heart hurt. Harvey leans down and presses a kiss to Mike’s lips before grabbing his wallet and heading out. Mike watches him go, and when the front door closes and Mike returns his attention to Marcus he finds Marcus looking at him, a strange expression on his face.

“I’m glad we have a chance to talk, alone,” Marcus says, sitting straighter in his chair, and Mike suddenly feels worried.

“Is something wrong?” Mike asks. His mind always goes to the worst case scenario. He tries to stop it but he can’t, it’s just how he’s wired. And really, given the number of secrets he is living on a daily basis, he thinks it’s probably a perfectly reasonable response.

Marcus shakes his head, relieving Mike somewhat. “I just wanted to say … I think you should know that Harvey really cares about you.”

“Well, yeah, he’s my husband,” Mike says dismissively. “I’d think he’d have to care about me just a touch to marry me.”

“No, Mike, you don’t get it. He cares about you.”

Mike furrows his eyebrows, still confused. Marcus says it as if it’s significant, as if it means something, and it takes a few seconds but the penny drops, and Mike’s heart sinks.

He knows.

“Did Harvey tell you?” Mike asks, voice low, as though if he whispers it then it still won’t be real.

“Of course not. Despite how close we are, Harvey isn’t loyal only to me. I don’t know why you’re both doing this, but I know you must have your reasons, and whatever they are Harvey would never betray that by telling me that it wasn’t real.”

“Then how do you know?” Mike asks. Because despite everything, how hard they both tried to pretend they were deeply in love, Marcus saw through it. And if he can, what if everyone else does too?

“There were a few things that weren’t adding up: Harvey never mentioning he was dating someone until he told me you were getting married, him getting married at City Hall and not in front of a thousand people like the show-off he is. But I figured he had his reasons for that. And when I got here I realized he did. You were his reason. He did it for you.”

“Don’t you want to know why?”

“It doesn’t matter why. It’s none of my business, and I’m guessing if you wanted me to know then Harvey would’ve said something by now. But Mike, for what it's worth, he really does care about you. I’ve never seen him look at anyone the way he looks at you.”

“Yeah, that’s part of the act,” Mike points out.

And Marcus smiles warmly at him. “Not when he looks at you that way, even when he thinks no one is looking.”

Mike shakes his head sadly. “No, it doesn’t mean anything. He’s just trying to protect me.”

Marcus sits back in his chair, hands raised in surrender. “Look, I’m not telling you what to do, I just thought you should know that I know. What you do with this information is up to you. But for what it’s worth, I love Harvey and I want him to be happy, and something tells me you’re an integral part of Harvey’s happiness.”

 

 

*

 

 

Mike manages to put his and Marcus’ conversation out of his mind, somehow.

When Harvey returns with not one but three tubs of Ben & Jerry’s Mike eagerly takes a tub from his hands, pressing a kiss to his cheek as he does. They adjourn to the living room and stay up past midnight, eating ice-cream and talking and laughing so much Mike’s sides hurt. And when it’s getting too late to go on, Marcus calls it a night.

“What time are you leaving?” Mike asks, standing with Marcus in the living room as Harvey clears all the tubs and spoons, taking them to the kitchen.

“I have a car picking me up at six.”

“Well, no offense, but I won’t be seeing you in the morning.”

Marcus laughs. “None taken.” And then he steps forward, wrapping his arms around Mike in a warm hug, an embrace Mike happily returns. “No matter what,” Marcus says softly, “I’m glad Harvey found you. And that I get to call you my brother.”

“Me too,” Mike replies, voice thick with emotion.

When the pull apart Marcus says quietly, “And your secret is safe with me.”

Mike nods, smiling shakily at him. “Thanks.”

“Everything okay?” Harvey asks as he joins them, a concerned expression etched on his face.

Marcus turns to him, nodding. “You picked a good one, Harvey.”

Harvey glances briefly to Mike and says, “I know.”

“Will I see you in the morning?” Marcus asks, as they head towards the bedrooms.

Harvey nods. “I have an early meeting to prepare for, so yeah, I’ll be up.”

“Okay, well, good night you two,” Marcus says, and with one last nod he disappears into his bedroom. The bedroom that Mike will return to when he’s gone.

Mike watches the door close and feels a sadness come over him. With Marcus gone things are going to go back to normal. Not that there was anything particularly wrong with how it was before. On the contrary, working and living with Harvey is amazing, and he doesn’t see a reason why that would change. But this week, having to pretend in front of Marcus, has been like a peek into what could be, if only Harvey felt like Mike did. Because despite Marcus’ implication, Mike knows that Harvey doesn’t feel that way about him. No matter how much he wishes otherwise.

Harvey and Mike head to their bedroom - Harvey’s bedroom - and quietly ready for bed. When they climb in and turn off the light, they don’t spend the hours talking in hushed tones like they’ve been doing all week. Instead, Harvey whispers, “Good night, Mike.”

Mike feels a tear leak from the corner of his eye, over the bridge of his nose, as he replies, “Good night, Harvey.”

 

 

*

 

 

Mike wakes alone, in an empty bed. He reaches an arm out to the other side but the sheets are cold. Harvey is long gone.

He supposes he better get used to it.

Mike heads straight for the en suite, showering and dressing for the day. The apartment is empty, Harvey having already left for his meeting, and Mike wanders listlessly around the too quiet space, feeling lost.

And then he sees it, on a coffee table in the living room. Marcus’ camera. He must’ve forgotten it, Mike thinks as he crosses the room, and then he sees it’s sitting on top of a sheet of yellow legal paper.

Mike,

I expect you to get good use out of this.

Marcus.

 

 

*

 

 

When Mike gets into Pearson Hardman the rush of noise and activity is like a slap to the face, and it sobers him in an instant. It’s like he has woken from a dream, and is now returned to normal life. He sits at his cubicle and dives right into work, because that’s the only way he knows how to cope.

Harvey summons him after lunch for a new case. It’s jarring, seeing the buttoned up work version of Harvey after getting to spend the week with what he privately considers the real Harvey. But Mike doesn’t dwell, just accepts the folder from Harvey’s outstretched hand, and gets to work.

When he returns a couple of hours later and tells Harvey what he’s found, Harvey is short and snappish. He blames Mike for things that are out of his control. Mike fights back, because he’s not taking that from anyone, especially not Harvey, and then he storms out, ignoring Donna’s concerned gaze on the back of his neck.

He leaves work as soon as he’s able, unsurprised when Harvey isn’t home. He strips out of his suit, and then spends the next half hour moving his clothes out of Harvey’s walk-in back into his bedroom and changing the sheets on his bed. He makes dinner, eats it alone, watches a couple of episodes of Absolutely Fabulous on Netflix.

When he goes to bed, Harvey still isn’t home.

 

 

*

 

 

“I’m sorry.”

Mike is barely awake and still in his pajamas. It’s too early for surprise apologies.

Harvey is standing on the other side of the counter, dressed in a different suit than yesterday, looking freshly showered and wide awake. Mike wonders how he manages to survive on so few hours sleep.

“What for?” Mike asks, neutrally.

Harvey gives him a look, because they both know what for, but Mike rises an eyebrow at him, makes him say the words.

“I’m sorry for how I treated you yesterday. You didn’t deserve it.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“I was just stressed, trying to catch up on everything that happened while we were away.”

Mike collapses onto the bar stool and looks at Harvey earnestly. “I understand, but Harvey, that’s what I’m here for. I want to help you, if you’ll let me.”

Harvey nods, and Mike can feel some of the tension draining from his body. “Okay.”

Things should’ve gotten better after that, and probably would have, were it not for Jessica cornering him a mere twenty minutes after he gets into the office and dropping a bomb on him.

“Have a good break?” she asks sweetly, but he’s heard her use that tone before, and he knows this won’t end well.

“Yes, thank you,” he replies neutrally. He won’t give her any ammunition for whatever this is.

“Good. I’d hate to think we’d lost an important client for a vacation you didn’t even enjoy.”

Mike stops dead in his tracks, and Jessica continues for a few steps before she realizes he’s no longer beside her. She turns, her face a mask of professionalism.

“What are you talking about?”

“Harvey didn’t tell you?” she asks, fake innocence dripping like venom from her voice. “Johanna Westcott is now seeking alternative representation because Harvey refused to come in to the office for one little meeting while you were on leave.”

To say Mike is shocked would be slightly underselling it. Still, if Harvey has taught him anything it’s the value of a good poker face. “That was his choice, it had nothing to do with me.”

“Oh, I think we both know that isn't true,” Jessica replies, turning and walking away.

Mike just stands there, dazed. He doesn’t know how long he stands frozen in the middle of the hallway, but it’s Harvey who finds him. He must’ve been calling Mike’s name a few times, because when Mike finally snaps out of it Harvey is looking at him, clearly worried.

“Are you okay?” Harvey asks.

Mike nods. “Uh huh,” he replies, still shaken. But he can’t seem to focus. All he can think about is how badly he continues to fuck up Harvey’s life, when that’s the last thing on this earth that he wants.

Mike starts when he feels Harvey’s fingertips on his hands, stilling him from constantly turning his wedding ring around his finger. He didn’t even realize he was doing it. Still, Harvey’s touch helps focus him, and Harvey squeezes his hands and says, “Are you sure?”

Mike nods, stepping back and out of his reach. “I should get back to those briefs,” he says, hooking a thumb over his shoulder in the direction of his cubicle.

“Why don’t you bring them and work in my office,” Harvey suggests in a tone that clearly says it’s not actually a choice.

“Okay,” Mike says, and he grabs his files and sets himself up in Harvey’s office and does his best to get through them. It isn’t easy, not with his mind racing over Harvey’s actions, and not with Harvey sitting in the same room, sending him all too frequent concerned glances.

After Harvey’s apology things should’ve gotten back to normal, but Mike thinks the tension between them might be even worse than before.

 

 

*

 

 

Marcus emails him the next day.

There’s no comment about the revelation of Harvey and Mike’s fake marriage, just a quick email telling Mike about his flight home and his plans for the rest of the week. Mike reads it with a smile, taking it for what it is, an extension of friendship.

He’s attached a photo to the email. He makes no reference to the attachment in the body of the email, nor is the photo file named with anything that might give away its contents. Mike glances around, making sure he’s alone, because although Mike’s sure Marcus wouldn’t send him anything that wasn’t appropriate to open at work, he still has no idea what it is, and might not want his fellow associates seeing it.

It’s a picture from the day they played baseball in Central Park. Harvey is pressed to Mike’s back, their fingers wrapped around the bat, their faces cheek to cheek. They’re both looking ahead, and though Mike is smiling in the picture it’s nothing compared to the joy and happiness coming from Harvey. Mike doesn’t think he’s ever seen that expression on Harvey’s face. But oh, how he wants to.

Mike hits reply and starts typing. He doesn’t mention the photo either, just responds to Marcus’ email and tells him about how annoying his fellow associates are and how much work he’s buried under. He does thank Marcus for the camera, which he’s sure Marcus won’t comment on when he replies, but still, Mike was touched by the gift, and he wants Marcus to know. His reply is brief, but he knows Marcus won’t mind. He also knows it will be the first email of many.

 

 

*

 

 

Mike had thought going back to work would be a relief. That it would be returning to normality, and no longer having to pretend to be in a real marriage with Harvey would be a welcome reprieve. He isn’t prepared for how much he misses the illusion. He never thought pretending to be somebody's husband would come a million times easier than pretending to be an actual lawyer. And now, throwing himself back into work, doing the one thing he used to thrive on, somehow feels less than before.

 

 

*

 

 

The week goes on and Mike is exhausted.

Apparently being away for one week is like a lifetime in the legal world, because they spend the week in catchup mode, trying to appease clients who wanted something done while they were away, as well as dealing with whatever new crisis each day brings. The hours are long, and though things between Harvey and Mike are better than they were on Monday their relationship still feels slightly strained. Mike supposes it’s his fault. Wanting more with Harvey is probably infecting the perfectly good friendship and working relationship they have, but even so, Mike doesn’t know how to make it stop.

By tacit agreement they go into the office on Saturday. There’s still so much to do, and the office is much quieter than normal, which helps considerably. They get a lot done while they’re there, Harvey’s jazz filling the silence between them, and when they leave at the end of the day Mike feels like they are finally doing more than just treading water.

They get pizza on the way home, and while Harvey is rummaging around in the kitchen for napkins Mike sits on the couch, his head in his hands.

He feels Harvey cup a hand around the back of his neck, squeezing briefly. “You okay?”

Mike nods, sitting up. ”Just tired is all.”

Harvey sits beside him on the couch and opens up the steaming boxes. Harvey hands Mike a napkin, which he accepts with a smile. “Been sleeping okay?”

Mike shrugs. “Not really. I can’t seem to get comfortable in that bed. I spend hours tossing and turning before I can get to sleep.”

Harvey nods, but doesn’t say anything. They turn on the TV and flick through the channels until they find something to watch.

“Did you want to sleep in my bed tonight?” Harvey asks with forced nonchalance, his eyes forward and glued to the television screen.

Mike should say no. It’s such a bad idea. But he wasn’t lying when he told Harvey he couldn’t sleep in that bed anymore. It feels strange sleeping alone in that room now, and even though Mike knows he needs to get used to it, he craves a good night's sleep more. As dangerous as it is, Mike finds himself softly saying. “Yes.”

 

 

*

 

 

They don’t talk and they don’t touch. They just turn off the lights, silently slip into bed together, and go to sleep.

And Mike sleeps better than he has all week.

 

 

*

 

 

When he wakes in the morning the bed is empty. Because of course it is. Mike knew it would be too much to ask to get this one last thing, to be able to open his eyes and see Harvey beside him, a constant and comforting presence. But it’s probably better this way. Waking up beside Harvey will only make him long for it more.

Mike slowly climbs out of bed. He pads out to the living room, and because perfect timing is just one of the many traits Harvey is blessed with, as soon he’s there he can hear the front door opening and closing.

Harvey is dressed in blue jeans and a plain white tee, and he’s carrying a brown paper bag in one hand and a tray with two coffees in the other. He smiles when he sees Mike. “Hey, you’re up.”

Mike nods. “Where’ve you been?”

Harvey sets everything down onto the counter. “I … I went to that place you like on 59th. I know you’ve been having a rough week, and that you don’t want to tell me why, so I thought I’d buy you breakfast to try and cheer you up.”

Mike takes a step closer. “Is that-?”

Harvey nods, ducking his head slightly. “Yeah, it’s croque monsieur.”

Mike can't believe this. Harvey went out and bought Mike one of his absolute favorite foods, just because he could, to make Mike happy, and Mike doesn’t know if this is going to be the worst or best thing he ever does, but he can’t stop himself. He crosses the room and takes Harvey’s face in his hands, kissing him.

Harvey doesn’t hesitate, kissing Mike back like his life depended on it. It’s nothing like the chaste and tentative kisses they’ve shared before. It’s raw and desperate and Mike feels it down to his toes.

Harvey slips a hand beneath Mike’s tee, fingers pressing into his flank. Mike presses closer, needs more, and when Harvey breaks their kiss to move his mouth along Mike’s jaw line in a series of open mouthed kisses Mike says, “Take me to bed.”

Harvey pulls back, looks at Mike then. He doesn’t know how he looks but Mike knows how he feels: flushed with arousal, his skin tingling with anticipation, and he doesn’t want to stop, doesn’t want to think, he just wants to be with Harvey, to feel his hands and mouth all over his body.

The truth of it is he wants Harvey more than he’s ever wanted anyone or anything in his whole life.

Harvey’s eyes are dark as he looks Mike over, but whatever he sees must please him, and he wraps his fingers around Mike’s wrist and leads him to his bedroom. As soon they stop they’re in each other's arms again, and Mike wastes no time, pushing Harvey’s tee over his head. Mike kisses Harvey, unable to stop a moan escaping his throat at the touch of Harvey’s tongue. He knows he can’t miss something that he’s never had, but that’s how it feels when they kiss, deep and languid and so fucking perfect, like he’s remembering something completely intrinsic to who he is and he can’t believe he had forgotten it in the first place.

Mike doesn’t know how long they stand there, kissing each other, fingertips roaming lightly over warm skin, hands pushing annoying material out of the way to get at more flesh. It’s difficult to strip each other when neither seems to want to separate long enough to do so, and eventually Mike has to tear himself away to do the job himself. Harvey, of course, catches on pretty quickly, and they shed all their clothes expeditiously. Mike, who is still in his pajamas and therefore wearing less clothes, is done first, so he crawls onto the bed, lying in wait.

When done Harvey looks like he’s about to quickly follow, but instead, after taking a couple of steps forward he doesn’t drop down onto the bed as Mike was expecting but instead comes to a quick stop, standing there naked beside the bed. He looks down at Mike, his eyes roaming over Mike’s form, and Mike doesn’t feel self-conscious or awkward. Harvey’s face is bright with desire and, dare Mike think it, love.

Harvey moves at a near glacial rate, slowly lowering himself down onto the bed, draping his body over Mike’s and kissing him. The feel of their naked bodies pressing together is like a spark, and Mike groans as a new wave of desire rushes through him. He needs Harvey.

Time seems to slow, and they just lie there together, naked and wrapped up in each other’s bodies as they kiss. And when Harvey finally does move it’s with a slow but deliberate roll of his hips, their cocks sliding together. Mike gasps at the sensation, arching into the touch. Harvey chuckles, putting his face to Mike’s neck, kissing along his collarbone. Mike wraps his legs around Harvey’s waist, needing him closer, and their bodies move together in a perfect rhythm.

“You feel so good,” Harvey murmurs into Mike’s skin. “You’re amazing.”

Mike squeezes his eyes shut, head thrown back as he surrenders to the sensations. Harvey’s the amazing one, and Mike’s brain, all too often going in ten directions at once, feels clear for the first time. Because all he can think is Harvey, all he knows is the feel of Harvey’s mouth on his skin, all he wants is to be one with Harvey.

“Fuck me,” Mike whispers into the room, his voice rough with need, and if he didn’t recognize the words from the way they are echoing in his head he might not have recognized his own voice, he sounded that far gone.

Harvey stops kissing his skin, and Mike opens his eyes to see Harvey looking curiously at him. They lie there, silently staring at each other for a moment, and then Harvey shifts his hips, the friction making Mike groan. And though generally he’s by no means opposed to getting off like this, he needs more this time. He needs to feel connected. So he says it again. “Harvey, fuck me. Please.”

Harvey nods, and Mike thinks he only does it because he can’t speak. It makes his lips quirk into a smile, and Harvey rushes forward and kisses him.

When Harvey climbs off the bed to get everything they need Mike rolls over and crawls up the bed. He moves his pillow out of the way and lies down on his stomach, his legs spread and one knee pulled to his chest.

He knows when Harvey has seen him, because he breathes out a low, “Fuck,” which makes Mike smile. And then Harvey’s hand is on his back, moving up and down his skin. Harvey presses a kiss to the dip at his lower back, and then Mike feels his finger pressing in.

Harvey’s mouth moves everywhere as he prepares Mike; kissing his thighs, biting lightly into the flesh of his ass, his tongue gliding up Mike’s spine. His fingers feel amazing in Mike, and Mike groans impatiently as he arches his hips, wanting more. But Harvey won’t be rushed, and the torture is delicious.

“Come on, Harvey,” Mike begs.

Harvey kisses Mike’s shoulder blade, moves his mouth across his body and takes Mike’s earlobe between his lips. “Does it feel good?” he asks, his breath warm on Mike’s skin.

Mike hopes his guttural moan and the desperate thrusting of his hips is answer enough.

“Do you want more?”

“I want everything,” Mike replies honestly, and this time it's Harvey who lets out a groan.

And then Harvey’s gone, Mike can no longer feel his body hovering above his own. Harvey’s fingers pull out of him, and Mike makes an involuntarily whine, bereft at the sudden loss. But then Harvey makes a soothing sound, briefly running a hand down Mike’s ass and thigh, and Mike squirms impatiently.

When Harvey pushes into him it feels like coming home. He lets out a cry that is so satisfied and contented that he would probably be embarrassed by it if he had the brainpower required to be in any way self-aware. But he doesn’t. All he knows is the sound of Harvey moaning as he moves, and the fact that he still wants more.

Harvey’s thrusts are slow but rhythmic, and he feels so good in Mike. He’s holding himself above Mike, his hands flat into the mattress by Mike’s shoulders, Harvey’s thighs pressing into Mike’s with every movement. But Mike wants to feel him even more. So he wraps a hand around Harvey’s forearm and squeezes.

“Come closer,” he says roughly, and Harvey does.

Harvey slowly lowers his body so Mike can feel him along the length of his own. The weight of Harvey’s body feels amazing, like a physical manifestation of the comfort and safety he always feels with Harvey. Harvey starts moving again, and the angle is different but possibly even better.

“Yes,” Mike moans. He braces himself with a hand to the bed headboard and tries to meet Harvey's thrusts as much as he’s able given how close their bodies are pressed together.

“Fuck,” Harvey cries, his movements becoming more erratic. Mike loses himself in the sensations, beautifully long minutes of getting lost in the moment, of knowing nothing outside of the way Harvey is fucking him like he needs it to survive.

Harvey presses his face between Mike’s shoulder blades for a few moments. “Mike.”

Mike’s best response is his panting breath. He’s rubbing into the sheets and it feels amazing but it’s not quite enough. But then he can feel Harvey start to tense, his thrusts losing all finesse, and Mike whispers encouraging words, practically demanding Harvey come for him. It’s a wondrous thing, the sounds Harvey makes, and then Harvey’s body completely gives out as he collapses on top of Mike, his chest pressing into Mike’s back as he tries to catch his breath, his face buried in the crook of Mike’s neck.

Mike doesn’t hesitate to run his fingers through Harvey’s hair. He only does it a few times before Harvey gets his breath back enough to start kissing him, light kisses on his shoulder and cheek. Mike smiles, turning his head slightly, and Harvey eases off him enough that Mike can turn his head and kiss Harvey, his tongue sweeping through Harvey’s mouth.

When they pull apart Harvey slowly eases out of Mike. He quickly ties the condom and leaves it god knows where, too busy easing Mike over onto his back. Mike smiles lazily at him, and then Harvey leans down and kisses him. It’s too brief, but Mike doesn’t complain when he moves down Mike’s body, pressing light kisses down his chest and stomach before he takes Mike’s cock into his mouth.

Mike doesn’t know how it’s surprising, but his body arches up in shock at the touch. Harvey doesn’t seem to mind, looking up at Mike with what is somehow an amused expression. And then he twirls his tongue around the head and Mike loses it, collapsing back onto the bed with a groan.

Mike really isn’t going to last long, but he doesn’t think anyone could blame him, not with how Harvey is using his mouth with a single minded determinedness, like his life’s ambition is to get Mike off as soon as he can. And it’s not just the feeling of his tongue on him, or the absolute perfect level of suction he has. It’s that he pulls off completely and runs his fingertips and down Mike’s shaft, Mike’s cock glistening from Harvey’s saliva, his eyes fixed on Mike’s the whole time. It’s that he takes Mike into his mouth as deeply as he can go, squeezing Mike’s hip as if to encourage Mike to thrust into his mouth. And when Mike does, Harvey moans like he’s the one getting turned on by it.

But the last straw, the absolutely breaking point, is when Harvey’s left hand glides up Mike’s stomach and rests flat on the center of his chest, fingers splayed wide like he wants to touch as much of Mike as he can. Mike looks at Harvey’s hand on his pale skin and sees Harvey’s wedding ring, that simple band that tells the world that Harvey is Mike’s and Mike’s alone. And seeing it there and knowing, finally, that it’s true, that they belong to each other in every way possible…

Mike comes with Harvey’s name on his lips.

When Mike manages to get his brain back online and his heart rate down to a reasonable rate, he looks down to see Harvey still there between his legs. He’s pressing light kisses to Mike’s hips and stomach, and when Mike says his name Harvey looks up, smiling. Mike couldn’t stop from grinning in return if his life depended on it. Harvey’s hand is still flat on his chest and Mike places his own on top of it, sliding his fingers between Harvey’s.

Harvey leans up and kisses him, a soft but lingering kiss, before he collapses on the bed beside Mike. Mike reluctantly lets go of Harvey’s hand, and they resettle themselves in the bed, Harvey giving Mike his pillow back, lying on their sides and facing each other.

They just lie there for a few minutes, looking at each other. It’s like Mike has never seen Harvey before, not really, and he wants to soak up every detail.

Finally Mike breaks the silence with, “This is real, isn’t it?” Because as much as he felt Harvey with him in the moment, it could just be the amazing sex muddling his brain. Maybe Harvey just got caught up in the moment. Maybe he wants them to be fake husbands with benefits. Maybe he doesn’t feel the way that Mike does.

But then Harvey smiles at him and says, “Yes. It’s real.”

Mike grins relieved. He leans over and kisses Harvey, just because he can.

“Do you remember when I agreed to marry you?”

“Of course,” Harvey replies, though he looks confused as to where this is going.

“Remember how I had two conditions and you said to let you know if I ever came up with a third?”

Harvey nods slowly.

“Well, I know what my third condition is.”

Harvey looks nervous, but he still says, “Okay. What is it?”

Mike reaches over, runs his fingertips down the side of Harvey’s face, before brushing the pad of his thumb across his lips. “My third condition is that we kiss, and fuck, and fall in love. We have kids, create a family of our own. We have a real marriage and we live happily ever after.”

“I can agree to that,” Harvey says, smiling. “I’ve been in love with you since you crashed my interview room. I didn’t think I’d get to have the rest of it with you, but now that I know I can, I can promise you that I will do everything in my power to make sure we live happily ever after.”

Mike can’t think of any words that would be able to convey what he’s feeling, so instead he shifts forward, slipping an arm over Harvey’s side, pressing their bodies together as he kisses him. He can feel Harvey smiling against his lips, and when Mike presses forward Harvey happily falls back, lets Mike settle on top of him.

“Wait,” Mike says, breaking the kiss as he is finally able to process Harvey’s words, “does that mean you asked me to marry you not for spousal privilege but because you were secretly in love with me and couldn't just ask me out on a date like a normal person?”

Harvey laughs. “No, though I know how much you wish that was true just so you could lord it over me. I didn’t exactly realize my feelings for you until later, but when I did, I knew they’d been there from the start.”

Mike thinks about that for a moment, then nods and says, “Okay,” before kissing Harvey again. Harvey slides a hand up Mike’s back and though he isn’t a kid anymore Mike thinks they definitely need to make round two happen sooner rather than later. And then round three. And then once they are completely brain dead from all the sex maybe they can think about getting out of this bed and starting the rest of their lives.

“Wait,” Mike says, breaking the kiss. Harvey groans in frustration. “I have a fourth condition.”

“Mike, you do know, as a lawyer, that conditions come before the contract is signed. As your boss I‘m getting slightly concerned here.” Mike pouts at him, and just like he knew he would, Harvey relents with, “Fine, what is it?”

“We look for a new apartment.”

Harvey looks slightly crestfallen. “But I thought you loved our apartment.”

Mike can’t help but smile softly at that. “I do love it, I love living here with you, but to me it will always be your apartment. I want us to have something that's ours. I want us to build a life together, one without any shadows from our past lingering over us.”

Harvey seems to think about it for a moment, then says, “You know, I’m getting slightly concerned that this is setting a precedent for our marriage: me constantly giving in to you whenever you want something.”

Mike brightens. “So is that a yes?”

Harvey lightly brushes a thumb over the arch of Mike’s cheek and says, “Mike, for you, it’s always a yes.”