Turns out it was actually pretty easy to have a crisis while bouncing a five year old on your knee. All it took was putting your panicked energy into entertaining the child and keeping your voice in check and hey, no one would ever know that you were currently suffering a revelation that redefined your entire understanding of the world.
Because honestly, on the very, very long list of all the hypothetical secrets Harvey could have kept from him, Children were so far down the list that Mike hadn’t even considered it a legitimate possibility.
Like, at all.
He had put Actually being Batman above children.
That was how far down the list of possibilities his current reality was.
“Mikey what’s your favorite color?” Rosemary asked. She was sitting perched on his knee, digging through her little Captain America Backpack.
“I like blue.”
She nodded, her little round face contorted in serious focus. Mike watched her dig around in her bag before she pulled out a long piece of shiny blue ribbon. She frowned at Mike, soft brown eyes narrowed and so very much like her father’s, but then she smiled.
“Your hair is so short. Just like Papa’s.” She said, waving the ribbon at him.
Mike glanced at Harvey, who was seated at his desk, trying to skim through the paperwork for the FBI meeting. Ella was out at Donna’s desk, helping her “organize” her folders. She had a stack of stickers and one was carefully placed on each folder.
“If I had long hair it’d just get in the way,” Mike explained. “Besides I don’t look as pretty in pigtails as you do.”
“I think you would,” Rosemary assured him.
Mike saw Harvey grin behind his hand. The bastard was loving every second of this, Mike was sure.
“So what’s the ribbon for?” Mike asked, instead of giving into the urge to mock Harvey.
“It’s for you. Ella and I wear ribbons for good luck. You should wear a ribbon. But I don’t know where to put it,” Rosemary mumbled. Mike was about to offer his wrist when she made a noise of victory and grabbed his tie.
For a five year old she was surprisingly good at tying bows. It was only a little lopsided, sitting just under the knot of his blue tie. The ribbon was nearly the same shade as the fabric and Rosemary beamed at him.
“Now you can be lucky,” she declared. “Papa do you like Mikey’s ribbon?”
Harvey, who usually took a few minutes to do anything that wasn’t top priority while he was working, was out of his chair and crossing the room in seconds, crouching down so he was eye level with where Rosemary sat. He smiled at Mike, eyes traveling down to the bow and back up to his reddening face.
“I do like it. You’re getting very good a tying bows, sweetheart,” Harvey said in a voice Mike had never heard before. It was tender, soft, and filled with such warmth it made Mike feel safe. “Can I straighten it?”
Rosemary nodded and Harvey reached out, careful fingers adjusting the bow so it sat perfectly center and straight against Mike’s tie. “Perfect.”
“Where’s your bow Harvey?” Mike asked, hoping to catch him off guard.
Harvey, without missing a beat, pulled up the sleeve of his jacket to reveal a red ribbon, tied in a neat bow around his wrist. Mike laughed.
“It suits you.”
“I like to think so.” He kissed Rosemary’s cheek. “Did you give one to Aunt Jessica?”
“Ella tied a purple one in her hair,” Rosemary said, leaning into Harvey. It made Mike realize how close Harvey was, that Rosemary who was sitting on his knee, could easily press her face into her father’s shoulder without toppling over.
“Ella said she would help her pick one. But Donna doesn’t need luck. She’s Donna.”
Harvey chuckled and kissed Rosemary’s forehead. “That’s very true.” He stood, offering Mike a smile, before heading back to his desk.
“When are the uh-” Mike began to ask.
“They should be here after lunch. Speaking of,” Harvey settled back into his chair. “Rosie do you want to invite Mike to lunch?”
“Lunch?” Mike echoed. He was an associate. They didn’t get lunch breaks.
“Mikey come to lunch with us.” Rosemary grabbed his face in her hands. “Promise you’ll come to lunch with us.”
“Rosie that isn’t how you ask,” Harvey chided.
The little girl let out a put upon sigh, one Mike had heard from Harvey countless times. “Mikey will you please have lunch with us?”
“If it’s okay with your dad,” Mike said, his voice muffled from the little hands squishing his face.
“Of course Mike can come.”
“Papa said you can come,” Rosemary told Mike, who tried to smile despite her hands on his face.
“Ella!” Rosemary shouted. Her sister looked up from the folder she was very carefully pressing a Ninja Turtles sticker to. “Mikey’s having lunch with us!”
“I want to sit next to him!” Ella called back.
“No I want to!”
“You can both sit next to Mike,” Harvey said quickly. “Now stop shouting.”
“Sorry, Papa.” Ella went back to her stickers, Donna smiling at them over her shoulder. Harvey shook his head with a quiet laugh, turning his focus back to the summaries, leaving Mike with Rosemary.
The little girl set her bag down and curled into Mike’s chest, taking off her tiara so she could rest her head under his chin. “Here you can wear it.”
Mike, under any other circumstance, probably wouldn’t have worn the tiara. But he took it carefully from her fingers and set it atop his head. Harvey glanced up and his face contorted with the effort it took not to laugh. Those pretty lines appeared around his eyes, his cheeks turning red, his lips pulled tight together. It was something Mike never got to see. He, because apparently he had developed the maturity of a five year old in the short amount of time he had been around them, just stuck his tongue out at Harvey, who had to cover him mouth to keep from laughing.
“Well, Mr. Ross don’t you look pretty,” A voice commented from the door. Mike paled when he looked up to see Jessica leaning against the door frame.
“I uh… Well she uh…” Mike just shrugged, jostling Rosemary a little. She mumbled something and pressed her face into his shirt.
“It’s okay, I understand. “Jessica indicated the purple ribbon tied by her ear. “Harvey I should be free around 11, if you want to get lunch.”
“That works. Is it alright if Mike comes?” Harvey asked, glancing up at her.
“He’s your boy it’s your call. So long as I get to be the favorite Aunt I have no problem with it.”
“If you’re the favorite Aunt then what’s Donna?” Mike asked.
“Donna is Donna,” Rosemary said, like it was the most obvious thing.
Jessica smiled, which was weird, because it wasn’t her usual I’m-going-to-rip-out-your-throat kind of smile, but a genuine smile filled with fondness and adoration for the little girl in Mike’s arms.
“I’ll explain at lunch, kid. Till then Harvey, be good,” She said, turning to go.
“Rosie, why don’t you show Mike your new books?” Harvey suggested.
Rosemary nodded and squirmed out of Mike’s grasp to get the books from her bag. One of the was a copy of Peter Pan, Mike’s favorite book as a child. He had a worn old copy at home that his grandmother had given him, with pages falling out from how many times he had read it. This one though was much shorter and even had pictures.
“Have you heard this story?” Mike asked. Rosemary shook her head and curled back up against his chest. “Has your sister?” Another shake of the head. “Ella?”
Ella looked up. “Yes?”
“Would you like to hear a story?” Mike asked. Ella beamed and was climbing onto the couch next to him in seconds. Harvey was watching with surprise written all over his face. Clearly he had just expected Rosemary to brag about the books, not have Mike take some sort of initiative.
With Rosemary curled into his left side, and Ella curled into his right, Mike sat back against the couch and opened the book. He knew all the words by heart, but there was a certain joy that came with reading the words right off the page.
“All children, except one, grow up,” Mike began. “They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs. Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, "Oh, why can't you remain like this for ever!" This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end.”
While Mike read, the two girls sat quietly against him, eyes fixed on the pictures in the book. He’d never imagined a pair of five year olds could be so quiet, but they were wrapped up in his words, in the story of the one little boy who never had to grow up, just the way he had been when his Grandmother had sat him down the day his parents had died and started reading him the very same book. It had made Mike feel safe, hopeful, the idea that he might run away and be a child forever, never have to die, or be left alone again. He had wanted to be a pirate for a while, to fight Captain Hook, maybe even find a fairy like Tinker Bell.
Instead, he had gotten Trevor and a life of hardship, mistakes, and loneliness.
Somewhere around the third chapter, Mike failed to notice that Harvey had stopped scribbling notes on the summaries scattered across his desk and that Donna had stopped typing out emails. He failed to notice that the intercom had been switched on, the little red light blinking on Harvey’s desk. He failed to notice that Harvey’s eyes had gained a distant quality to them as he pretended not to listen to Mike read, pretended not to watch the way his associate held his daughters close like they were his own.
Mike also didn’t notice the fact that Harvey had just taken that final, fatal step and had fallen completely, if not thoroughly and desperately, in love.
Lunch was a frankly chaotic affair.
The restaurant they had chosen wasn’t far from the office and was casual enough that the kid’s menu had grilled cheese and french fries, and the menus came with crayons and activity sheets. The girls had tried to talk Donna, with her yellow Bow tied in her hair, into coming with them, but she had to stay behind and keep the office together. Not to mention get ready for the meeting with the FBI, seeing as she was technically a key part.
So Mike followed Harvey and Jessica out to the street, the girls arguing about who got to hold Mike’s hand, until Harvey reminded them that Mike in fact had two hands which meant they could each hold one of them. They were a sight to see he had no doubt, the twins in their dresses, Mike still wearing the tiara because Rosemary was under the impression that it suited him better and she couldn’t do cartwheels while wearing a tiara anyway. She did three cartwheels without falling over before Harvey scolded her lightly and asked her to stop so she wouldn’t hurt herself.
About two blocks away from the restaurant, Harvey took the girls from Mike, leading them in an improvised game of “I Spy”. That gave Jessica the chance to fall into step next to Mike and ask-
“So are you still in shock or are you just taking this extremely well?”
Mike shrugged. “I’m wearing a tiara on my head. Which do you think it is?”
That made Jessica laugh. “I’m hoping both or I may have to make your future at the firm very, very miserable and pointless.”
“My feelings on whether Harvey has children don’t matter. Harvey has children, I know that now, end of story.”
“And what are your feelings on the fact that Harvey has children?”
Mike wanted to tell her that it made absolutely no sense and the fact that Harvey hadn’t trusted him enough hurt but hell, he shouldn’t have expected any different from his boss. “That I want to make sure they’re happy and taken care of.”
And he found that was the honest truth.
Jessica arched an eyebrow and a small smile curled her lips. “Well I suppose you have questions.”
“I can answer a few.”
“Harvey okay with that?” Mike asked, nodding to where Harvey was walking ahead with one girl holding each of his hands. It was a beautiful little moment, a photo Mike wanted to keep forever.
“Considering I was there when they were born, I think he would be,” Jessica said frankly and that make Mike look away from the family to her mildly smug smile.
“You were… Seriously?”
“Donna and I were both at the hospital with him, though Donna didn’t make it until after they were born. She came rushing in to find Harvey holding one of the twins and crying, it was quite a sight.”
“When you have kids you’ll understand,” Jessica said. There was something about it that made Mike want to ask if she understood, how she understood, but he just nodded.
“She’s a lawyer too. In California I believe. One of the best damn Lawyers New York has ever lost let me tell you.”
“Is that why she didn’t want the girls?”
Jessica shook her head. “It’s not that she didn’t want them, Mike. She was afraid. You have your whole life planned and suddenly you’re faced with something that will change everything and well, I’m sure you have some understanding of what that’s like.”
He did. “So Harvey just decided Fatherhood was the best option?”
“His reasons are his reasons, you have to ask him. But he never seemed to regret his choice. Loved the girls the moment he saw them and he hasn’t stopped since. Donna and I are the only other family they have, besides their Uncle Marcus.”
“You two are on the birth certificates?”
“Godparents. We’re considering pulling some legal strings to get that changed.”
“To Aunts?” Mike asked.
“Someone has to be.” Jessica said. “Trust me that boy could not have raised those two trouble makers on his own, not in a million years.”
“I’m glad,” Mike said after a moment, the restaurant coming into sight.
“That he had you.” Jessica seemed surprised. “That he had you and Donna. That the girls still have you and Donna. I just… I’m glad. I’d hope for nothing less, you know?”
She considered him a moment, as Harvey and the girls disappeared into the restaurant. Then she smiled, a real smile and patted his shoulder. “Well you’re on the team now too, kid. Treat them well and we’ll have no problems.”
When Mike saw Harvey herding the girls into their seats though, when Harvey looked up at him and smiled like he’d never been happier than in that moment, Mike knew that he’d never be able to do anything less than treat them well. He had this strange and new found urge to give them everything, anything they wanted, even if it was beyond his reach. Well he’d already felt that urge for Harvey, had for ages.
Now it was just spread equally between him and his girls.
And Mike was definitely okay with that.
Lunch went well. The meeting with the FBI could have gone better. But Harvey didn’t punch anyone, Donna didn’t cry, and Jessica didn’t set the agents aflame, so all in all it was a good meeting. Mike was left in charge of the twins while the others gathered in Conference Room C.
“Oh there you are,” a voice commented from the doorway. Mike looked up to see Rachel standing there. She froze when she saw Rosemary curled up in Mike’s lap, asleep, and Ella who was busy drawing at Harvey’s desk. “What in-”
“It’s a long story, but I’m babysitting,” Mike said quickly.
“Who’s kids?” She asked.
Mike just nodded at the door where Harvey’s name was etched in the glass and she laughed. “No seriously, who?”
Mike didn’t reply, just shushed her so Rosemary wouldn’t wake up.
“Oh my god seriously?” She hissed.
“Who are you?” Ella asked before Mike could answer Rachel’s surprised question.
“Uh I’m Rachel,” Rachel turned to her with a smile. “And you are?”
“Ella. Do you work here?”
There was something a little unsettling about being stared at with those large hazel eyes. Ella was still, her face passive, eyes wide. Mike could almost feel Rachel grow more and more nervous.
“I do, yes.”
“Do you work with Mike?”
“Do you work with Papa?”
Rachel glanced at Mike for help. “Sometimes she does,” Mike offered.
“Fascinating.” It wasn’t said with any sort of mockery, Mike didn’t think so anyway, but with quizzical precision that did not belong in the voice of a five year old. Ella smiled then and went back to her drawing. Rachel stared at Mike in confusion.
“I’ll talk to you when you’re finished babysitting then,” she said quickly and with that turned to go, leaving Mike in silence with the girls.
“You’re very smart, Ella,” Mike said and she looked up.
“Thank you Mike. You are too.”
“Do you read a lot?”
“I’m still learning,” Ella started coloring again. “But Papa buys me books to listen to on car rides and stuff.”
“What’s your favorite?”
“I have a lot of favorites.” She looked up again. “What’s yours?”
“I like Harry Potter.”
“Papa says I should wait to read that till I’m older.”
“And what do you think?”
“That he’s silly.”
Mike laughed and knew what he was buying Ella for her next birthday.
“Everyone okay?” Harvey asked, striding in a moment later. He went straight to Ella, leaning in to kiss her head while she kept working, before coming to join Mike on the couch.
“Yeah. How did-” Mike began to ask but Harvey shook his head with a scowl and instead gathered the half asleep Rosemary in his arms. She clung to him like a monkey.
“You girls ready to go home?” Harvey asked, petting his daughter’s hair. Ella seemed disappointed since it was barely two in the afternoon, but she nodded and began packing up her things. “You’re done for the day too, Mike.”
“No, we’re both done.” Harvey said and Mike could see him growing wearier with every moment wasted. “Go home and rest or spend the day doing whatever you want, just not working.”
“Can he get ice cream with us, Papa?” Rosemary mumbled.
“If you ask him nicely.”
She flopped back onto Mike’s lap, Harvey’s arm still around her. “Ice cream, Mikey.”
“Okay, Rosie. Let’s get ice cream.”