fox_confessor: (Moony)
fox_confessor ([personal profile] fox_confessor) wrote2014-07-03 10:15 pm

Fic: Everybody Pays As They Go (Suits: Mike/Harvey)

Title: Everybody Pays As They Go
Author: [livejournal.com profile] escribo
Fandom: Suits
Pairing: Mike/Harvey
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 6670
Summary: AU. Mike is Harvey's masseur.
Warnings: None


The club was exclusive, all shiny white tile and stainless steel, with the latest equipment, tennis courts, two swimming pools, a golf pro named Devin, a smoothie bar to hook clients up with all their wheatgrass needs, mudding facilities, and, luckily for Mike, a day spa where he was lucky to work four mornings a week for a fair salary plus tips. He'd been there six weeks, long enough to gain a couple of regulars and a few friends. He liked working there. Today, stepping into one of the sleek private rooms and seeing his latest client stretched out on a massage table, he liked it even better.

Mike adjusted the sheet around the man's hips before he reached for a hot towel to drape over his back. He usually approached massages with a clinical detachment, keeping to the idea that the human body, no matter what it looked like, deserved respect and care. He was careful to never let a session devolve into anything even slightly sexual, taking great care to make sure everyone felt safe and supported. He was a professional, after all, and knew that some men got weirded out by a dude masseur.

Mike was also human, though, and this was a very beautiful man laid out before him, all smooth skin and muscle, built but not ridiculously so. He clearly worked hard to look this good and Mike took just a moment to appreciate that before he started.

Smoothing out the still steaming towel before removing it, Mike reached for the lotion, choosing one with very little scent, warmed it between his hands. "Did you want me to focus on anything in particular, Mr. Specter?"

"You're not Allison."

"No. She's running late this morning with another client and we know you have a tight schedule." What Mike didn't say was that Mike suspected that Allison was taking pity on him by letting him take this appointment. Everyone on staff knew Harvey tipped insanely well, and that Mike needed the money. It was nice of her, if that was her intention, but it didn't mean the client had to go along. "I can get someone else if you prefer."

His client, Harvey, lifted his head and eyed Mike for a moment and Mike fought not to shift nervously but strove to exude confidence and competence. He was good--he knew he was good, but he also knew he looked young--inexperienced. Lifting his chin slightly, not wavering under the steady gaze, he tried to hide his sigh of relief when Harvey finally laid back down.

"My right shoulder's been tight. See what you can do with it."



***

"Donna? Where are the contracts that were supposed to be on my desk by the time I got in this morning?"

"They're right in front of you."

"If by in front of me, you mean on your desk—"

"I mean, in my hand. Here. Kyle dropped them off this morning."

Harvey frowned at her, holding his hand out, nearly all the good will he'd gathered earlier in the morning evaporating at the thought his associate."If by this morning, you mean five minutes before I walked in the door—"

"Ten. He's getting better."

"Marginally. And the research on the Drysdale case?"

"He's working on it."

Harvey rolled his eyes but didn't say anything. Kyle was… adequate, and chomping at the bit to prove his litigation skills, but Harvey had no intention of letting him anywhere near a courthouse until he'd earned it. Until then, he had to do all the things that Harvey didn't want to do but did them very begrudgingly. Harvey wished, not for the first time, that he could have found someone better—different—during the interviews.

"Quit looking so grumpy." Donna sat on the arm of his guest chair and smiled at him in a way in a way that wasn't meant to be the least bit comforting. "You looked particularly relaxed this morning when you came in. Good workout?"

"Great workout."

"That's not it, though." She eyed him from his full Windsor to his freshly polished brogues while he studiously tried to ignore her. "Did you try the blueberry coconut kombucha smoothie?"

"I had a bagel and coffee in the car. "

"Did Allison hit all your sweet spots?"

Harvey hesitated for just a moment before answering, weighing the dangers of giving Donna too much information. "She wasn't there today."

"Wasn't there?"

"There was a new guy."

"You hate new guys."

"I liked this guy."

"Was he hot?"

"He had good hands."

"Is that code?"

"No. It means he gave a good massage." Harvey finally glanced up at her, trying to convey in one look that he thought, in this moment, she represented everything that was wrong and salacious in the world. She just smiled more brightly, impervious after all their years together. He sighed and sat back in his chair, making a get it over with motion with his hand.

"You came through the door humming," she said, ticking her points off on her fingers. "You said good morning to Louis without a trace of irony. You didn't have to stop and count to ten when I told you the research wasn't ready. You like this guy."

"I said I liked him."

"No, no, Harvey. You like him."

"Don't worry. I won't ask you to pass him any notes during class."

"It's alright. I won't tell anyone that you met a nice boy but couldn't close the deal."

He pictured Mike, his bright eyes and strong hands, in something other than his uniform—tight jeans and even tighter t shirt, maybe. Imagined for just a moment picking him up in a bar and taking him home. "I could close the deal if I wanted to."

"I'm listening."

He rolled his eyes. “Go get my research from Kyle."

"And then you'll tell me about his hands?"

Harvey pointed toward the door and tried to block out the cackling sound of Donna's laughter as she left.

Mike did have good hands, and Harvey's shoulder did feel better than it had in a long time, ever since he'd wrenched it at the batting cages last month. The kid was a professional and would probably freak out if he'd known the depth of Harvey's impure thoughts during the massage. It was best, he decided, to stop thinking about it and get to work. Allison would be back next time, and this kid would just be a fond memory in Harvey spank bank for the rare time when he’d have to make do with his right hand.

***

Mike worked at the gym Monday through Thursday from six in the morning until three in the afternoon, with one hour to gulp down lunch while he furiously studied from his anatomy text. From four to nine Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and all day Saturday, he worked at a rehab hospital as an aide. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, he took one class per semester, moving through earning his bachelor's degree at the glacial speed of three classes a year at a small college in the city. In his spare time, he picked up hours at a coffee shop near campus.

He was twenty four and alone, except for his grandmother, who was sitting across from him, waiting for an answer to the question she asked almost every week. He didn't hate his life. He was just so fucking tired. He wanted to put his head into her lap and cry like he did when he was little so that she could tell him that everything was going to be okay, and he could believe it. He thought maybe she knew that about him, but she was a big believer in boot straps and the pulling up of one's self.

Mike thought being an adult sucked, not worse than being a teenager with a bad attitude and a juvenile delinquent for a best friend who had led him into more trouble than could be expunged from his record. That had really sucked, and he was just getting his life back on track after years of wading through the dark times, but being an adult still really sucked. Especially when he got the feeling that no one thought he was doing it right.

"You should be a doctor by now."

"I like being an aide," Mike answered steadily, keeping his eyes on the chess board in front of him. He really did like being an aide. It gave him a sense of purpose, even if the pay was abysmal, which reminded him of his second job—the one that actually paid slightly more, especially with tips. Which then reminded him of his newest client, Harvey, who, with the scar tissue on his trapezius, some pretty hefty postural imbalance, and a really great ass, had become one of his regulars these last few weeks. "I like the massage work, too."

"Bull shit."

"Grammy."

"You need to go back to school."

"I am in school."

"For real, Michael. Full time."

"I will."

"When? Don't think I don't know that you're working three jobs to keep me in this hell hole."

"I thought you liked it here."

Edith rolled her shoulder and sniffed, looking around the dayroom. It was clean and full of light if a bit clinical. The tiled floors had recently been scrubbed but over the faint scent of pine, Mike could smell the scent of the powder his grandmother used and something that smelled like beef stew, which he supposed was dinner. The look on his grandmother's face said she wasn't impressed. "I liked my apartment back in Brooklyn."

"I know."

"I liked being able to go down to the bodega when I wanted to get fresh fruit and those little cakes, you know the ones I like."

"I brought you some last time."

"I lost them."

"Lost? Did someone take them?"

"Lost, Michael. I played cards Thursday nights with the ladies two floors down and usually I can clean them out. I got an entire box of Italian cookies from Manzetti's three weeks ago that Sheila's daughter got for her special but last time they brought in a ringer. The lady up on the third floor with the sciatica, you know the one."

"Mrs. Fisher?"

"She has a new roommate. Woman used to deal blackjack down in Atlantic City. Took me for two packages of cakes, my good set of knitting needles, and a mini bottle of gin I won off Mr. Haversham. I was saving that."

"Never bet more than you can lose. You taught me that."

"And now I have no cakes."

"I'll bring more."

"And the gin?"

"Not a chance."

"Checkmate. I win. That's three in a row, and don't think I've forgotten. You need to go back to school. Get a real degree and a real job."

"I've got three jobs and they're all real enough."

"Get your doctorate and have one. Give me something to brag about."

Mike stared at his hands as he set up the board for another game, taking his time. He knew she hadn't meant it the way it sounded. He was doing his best, and she knew it, but it hadn't always been the truth. He felt the old sting of guilt settle deep in his gut and rounded his shoulders against the pain.

Edith sat back in her chair and looked around the room. After a few moments, she leaned in to whisper to him as she took her turn. "There's Angie Litt. Her son's some big shot lawyer. Smarmy bastard." Mike glanced up, not sure if Edith was talking about the woman or her son but he supposed it could apply to both. "You wanted to be a lawyer once."

"I also wanted to be a fireman, an astronaut, and, as you never let me forget, an octopus when I was six years old."

"You would have been a good lawyer."

“And an even better octopus.”

"Michael."

"I could have been a great many things, but I'm happy with what I am, Grams," Mike snapped, immediately feeling bad about his tone, but he really was very tired. He rubbed a hand over his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose whispering sorry, sorry before he leaned his arms back on his knees and stared some more at the game board. "I'm good at it."

Edith had turned back to him, studying him with a look he remembered receiving more than once as a surly sixteen year old, and he tried not to squirm under the attention. He was expecting a lecture about respecting his elders and so was completely surprised when she finally spoke.

"I'm proud of you, Michael," she said, reaching for his hand.

He rested the back of his hand on the table and squeezed her fingers gently in return. Her skin was soft and wrinkled but there was still strength in them, the kind that comes from baking cookies for afterschool treats, smoothing his back after the nightmares that plagued him for years, and, occasionally, justly punishing him when he'd gone too far as a kid trying to find his boundaries.

"It's alright," he whispered, ashamed that he'd spoken to her like that. It may be hard but the fact is, he is an adult and she raised him to be respectful and hardworking.

"No, it's not. I've hurt your feelings."

"It's okay."

"It's not okay. I've made you feel less than, and I'm sorry. When you get old, you forget what it was like to be young. After your parents died, I wanted the best for you but I didn't know how to help you. Your father was easier to raise."

"I'm sorry," Mike said again, and he was.

"Don't be sorry for who you are. You're a good man, and smart as a pistol, always were, and now you're growing up, taking care of me. I'm proud of you, and I want the best for you. That's what I should have said."

"If I hadn't got kicked out of school—"

"Could've should've, Michael. The past is the past. Leave it there. You're doing good now. I'm not saying it because I feel bad for hurting you, though I do. I mean it. I'm proud of you and of how hard you work."

She squeezed his hand again and then made another move on the chessboard before sitting back in her chair. Mike lowered his head, considering his move, biting his lip as he thought about it. When he finally moved his knight forward, he sat back, too, and smiled at her. "I still would have made a great octopus.”

"There's always time to be who you want to be."

***

"He asked for you again," Maria singsonged at Mike the moment he came through the door from his last client. She was grinning at him, twirling a pen between her long, glittery pink tipped fingers as she pointed at the screen for his next appointment.

Mike came behind the receptionist’s desk to lean over her shoulder to look at the screen. “Who?” He asked, though he knew and was only slightly embarrassed by the flutter of butterflies in his stomach. Maria laughed at him.

"Captain America. Who do you think?"

"He's Allison’s client."

"After six weeks of seeing you nearly exclusively? Besides she's in with Mr. Keller. He asked if you were available."

"Mr. Keller?"

"Mr. Specter."

"Really?" And honestly, Mike felt pretty stupid to be so pleased at the request. Lots of people asked for him now. Harvey was just one of many wealthy clients who could afford to have a massage after a hard workout. There was nothing special about him. Mike thought he might even believe that if he kept telling it to himself a few more times.

"Yeah," she answered, not even bothering to try to hide her grin. "I set him up in room three."

Mike paused just outside the door, smoothing down his crisp white polo and surreptitiously cupping his hand over his mouth and nose to check his breath. He knocked on the door before slipping inside. Harvey was lying face down on the massage table, the thin sheet tucked low on his waist, leaving the smooth expanse of his back bare. He was beautiful and Mike just looked at him for a moment, as he always did, before moving forward into the room. He tried to remind himself that he was a professional. That this was just another client with tight shoulders and a tendency to overwork his hamstrings. That this wasn’t seventh grade and Amber Kripke with her long legs and short skirt offering to let him kiss her beneath the bleachers. Not that Harvey wouldn’t look great in a short skirt.

Mike ghosted his hand over Harvey's spine, tugging the sheet up a bit farther before he pulled a warm towel from the heater. He draped it over Harvey’s neck, laying it over his back and letting it warm his skin.

"Any special requests today, Mr. Specter?"

Harvey tilted his head and opened one eye to look Mike up and down before he grinned. It did really nice things to his eyes, if Mike was noticing these things. Which he wasn't.

"I won a big case yesterday and you're part of my treat, so have at it, kid."

Mike knew--or thought he knew--that Harvey meant he was indulging himself with an hour long massage for a job well done, but he couldn't help the shot of raw desire that ricocheted through him at the invitation. He turned away to pool some oil into his palm, mixing it carefully with an unscented cream, taking his time, breathing through his yearning and berating himself for feeling it in the first place. As if that was going to stop it.

He focused on the massage, silently reciting the bones and major muscles groups to distract himself as he began the massage (tibialis anterior, soleus, gastrocnemius), using his forearms and elbows to work at the tight muscles in Harvey's shoulders and neck (deltoid, trapezius, sternocleidomastoid), easing his way down and over Harvey’s body external oblique, gluteus medias, gluteus…. Harvey really did have the best ass.

Mike had never sexually satisfied a client during a massage, though he'd been asked to, promised big tips for it. He had never once been tempted, not even when the tip would have made the difference between ramen for a week and actual food. He would lose his job if he was discovered, and it wasn't worth the risk. Harvey was different, mostly because Mike suspected that Harvey would never ask.

Mike lifted one of Harvey's feet, rotated his ankle back and forth, and then began to knead his foot, taking his time as he considered the problem. He was really attracted to Harvey, like insanely so, even though he knew that Harvey was completely out of his league. He wasn’t even sure they were playing for the same team, or even the same game. Still, Mike was tempted for the first time in his career to just offer and see it where it led him. The worst part was that it didn’t even really feel like a dilemma.

Harvey, lying on his back with his eyes half closed, watching Mike, seemed to be aware of it, though Mike spent several minutes as he worked on Harvey’s calves trying to convince himself that it was just wishful thinking. He blushed at the thought, and moved to stretch the muscles in Harvey’s thigh, positioning the sheet carefully to preserve what remained of Harvey's modesty, though Mike thought it likely that there hadn't been much to begin with.

"All finished," Mike whispered after a few minutes, taking a step back. "How do you feel?"

"Fantastic." Harvey’s voice was a rumble deep in his chest, sounding sleepy and blissed out.

Mike snapped his eyes shut, definitely not thinking about how that’s probably the way Harvey sounded after sex. "I'll get you a glass of water."

Mike turned away from Harvey and wiped his hands on a towel before he grabbed the small pitcher on the cabinet. Harvey was sitting up on the edge of the table when Mike turned back around to hand him the glass. Harvey took it, letting their fingers meet. Mike resolutely did not watch as Harvey tipped his head back to drink.

"You're very good,” Harvey said after a moment of weird silence between them.

"Thank you."

"How long have you been a masseur?"

"Less than a year. I-- It's a side job. I'm a physical therapist aide over at St. Joseph's."

"An aide?"

"I'm going to school," Mike said, the words out of his mouth before he could think of them, and he wondered at the force of them. "I mean, just part time. Not even that really.”

"To do what?"

"Eventually to get my doctorate in physical therapy but right now it's just undergrad."

"Where?"

“Community, over in Alphabet City.” Mike felt his blush return as he said it, wondering which ivy league school diploma was hanging from Harvey’s wall.

"It's a good goal. You're working two jobs?"

Mike nodded then corrected himself. "Three. I work some shifts at a Starbucks near campus."

"Do you have a wife and kids?" Mike laughed, startled by the question, and shook his head. "Gambling addiction?"

"What? No."

"So what's stopping a guy with three jobs from going back to school full time?"

“God, you sound like my grandmother.”

“She probably just wants the best for you.”

“Yeah,” Mike rolled his eyes but he was smiling. “She does, actually. I know. It’s actually because of her the jobs and school. She raised me, kept me in line after my parents died.”

"I'm sorry."

"It was a long time ago." Mike shrugged. It had been a long time ago but the pain was still fresh sometimes, especially at times like this when he was alone, in debt, and had no idea how to be an adult yet. "No, you know what? It sucks. I miss them. But I had my grandmother and she gave up everything to raise me, which wasn't easy. I was a brat."

"I can't imagine."

"Fell in with the wrong crowd. She managed to see me get accepted into Columbia and then kicked out my first year for selling the answers to a math test. Stupid."

"Absolutely."

"Thanks."

"I had my share of really stupid moments at eighteen."

"And look at you now."

Harvey spread his arms wide, the sheet slipping a bit on his hips, and smirked. “Living testimony to the power of clean living."

"Why do I not believe that?"

"Go on. I'm waiting to see how you ended up here and not where you wanted to be."

Mike twisted his mouth, hesitant, wondering how he got so far into this conversation to begin with. No one had bothered asking about this in a really long time and it felt weird—good weird—to be telling this to someone who seemed liked they cared. Mike shrug one shoulder, meaning to sound dismissive—to make a joke that would somehow make it easier to talk about but Harvey looked so earnest that the joke died on his lips. “I got knocked off the right path and never found my way back,” he finally said and Harvey just nodded.

"Because you didn't want to?"

"No, I do."

"Then what happened? Smart guy--"

"You don't know I'm smart."

"Call it a hunch. Also, you have a copy of Alan Ginsberg's poems in your bag there. Not exactly light reading."

"Maybe I'm a beatnik."

"Last time it was eighteenth century German philosophers."

"I like to read."

"Articulate. Funny."

"Stop. I'm blushing."

"So, what happened?"

"My grandma got sick. She had to go into care. It was either sell everything I own, work three jobs, and take up couch surfing, or send her to a state home."

"And you couldn't do that."

"She didn't do it to me."

Harvey nodded, stared at Mike thoughtfully for a few minutes. "I have to get to work."

"Yeah, of course."

"I'll be in a week from Monday. I'd like to see you again."

"See me... Yeah sure. Massage."

"Yeah," Harvey agreed but there was a strange look in his eyes as he stared at Mike for a second longer.

***

It had actually ended up being nearly a month and a half before Harvey saw Mike again. There was a case that turned from simple to disastrous in the blink of an eye. It’d ended up becoming one of those strange things that left him questioning everything in his life that made him Harvey Fucking Specter and he couldn’t quite bear the thought of calling his brother at three in the morning again just to take whatever terrible comfort he found in the raw concern he could hear Marcus’ voice. Marcus had a wife and a new baby and didn’t need to watch his brother come apart at his carefully tailored seams.

Which is how Harvey found himself sat in the back of his hired car for thirteen minutes, staring at the door to the café where Mike worked. It felt weird being here, so he knew it must be, in actuality, weird. He was doing a weird thing. He was sure that Batman would never stop in the middle of his day of being awesome just to see how Robin was getting along. Not that Mike was Robin, because that analogy didn't even work.

He liked Mike, that was his reasoning. He liked Mike, and his day hadn't actually been all that awesome because his client was an amoral asshole, but that wasn't going to stop Jessica from yelling at him the minute he got back to the office. He wasn't afraid of her, he respected her, which made it worse, but he could do without that today. He liked Mike because Mike made him feel better and not just with his magic hands, and he hadn't been able to make it to the gym in nearly three weeks and the massages were just a pleasant memory he used sometime to help him get to sleep when whiskey wouldn’t do it anymore. His shoulder hurt, and his day was crap, and he liked Mike. That was reason enough.

"Circle the block, Ray. I'm just going to get a cup of coffee."

Ray had that look in his eye that said he knew better than that but that he was giving Harvey a pass.

Mike's whole face brightened when he looked up and recognized Harvey coming through the door. He was wearing jeans and a blue t shirt beneath his green apron that did great things for his eyes. He wasn't even trying to bite back his smile like Harvey was doing because crushes were for twelve year old girls. Still, he could see Mike looking him over from head to the handcrafted Italian leather toe of his brogues and it made him feel warm all over, calmed, satisfied that he hadn't read Mike wrong.

"What are you doing here?" Mike asked, still grinning.

"I was in the neighborhood."

"In this neighborhood?"

"Don't bust my chops, kid. I wanted to see a friendly face, and you're not the only one with a good memory."

Mike's smile grew wider. "I have a fantastic memory."

"So I've heard."

"And you like my face."

"Don't push it," Harvey said but Mike's smile didn't abate.

"Do you want coffee?"

"Yeah. Can you talk for a few minutes?"

Mike leaned over to confer with his coworker who was giving Harvey and his slick suit a sidelong look but still nodded and waved Mike off.

Mike took his apron off, twisting it in his hands before he tossed it beneath the counter. He poured a cup of coffee into cup and handed it over to Harvey. He waited at the side bar, leaning on one of the tall stools there, until Harvey stirred in sugar and cream.

“So, what's wrong?" He asked as soon as Harvey started to walk back over.

"Bad day. Bad month, really, but today." Harvey shook his head and took a sip of his coffee. "I shouldn't talk about it."

"How's your shoulder?"

"Tight."

"You bunch up." Mike drew his shoulders in an exaggerated imitation. "Take your jacket off."

"What?"

"Your jacket. C'mon. No one's going to think anything of it. I do it all the time."

"Massage with that coffee, sir?"

"Something like that. I give good advice, too."

Harvey stared at Mike for a few minutes and then looked around the room: co-eds furiously studying in the corners, a couple having a muted argument by the front window, a guy in fatigues with his headphones plugged in as he stared at the laptop in front of him. Mike was probably right. Still.

"What time are you through here tonight?"

"Nine."

"Are you still couch surfing?"

"I rent a room in Flatbush from a guy who runs an herbal supplement business out of his kitchen."

"Herbal supplement?"

"He sells weed on campus." Mike held his hands up at Harvey's look.

"You should know the risks."

"I read Freakonomics. I know but times are tough all over, dude."

"Don't call me dude."

"I've known him forever and the rent is cheap. Were you going to proposition me?"

"I guess you'll never find out now."

"Let me guess. You live in a penthouse on Fifth Avenue and if you take me back there, your doorman will think you've hired a prostitute."

"My doorman wouldn't blink an eye, but I was going to hire you. Don't look at me like that. My shoulder really does hurt like hell but I've court every day for the next week. No time to visit but it's a helluva long way for a guy working three jobs and going to school part time."

"So, take off your jacket."

"I need to get back to the office." Harvey said as he took another look around the room. The only person showing any interest in their conversation Mike’s coworker, a girl with bubblegum pink hair standing behind the counter with her arms crossed. Harvey slid his jacket off and draped it over the back of the stool next to him. "Your hands better be clean."

Mike waved his fingers, smiling slightly, before he stepped to stand behind Harvey and began to work on Harvey’s shoulder. After a minute or two, Harvey dipped his head, his eyes closing, happy to let Mike take care of him for a few minutes before he spoke. "Let me ask you something."

"Yeah?"

"Let's pretend I've got a client who I know is guilty but I'm going to get him off."

"Maybe you won't."

"Let's suppose also that I'm really good at what I do."

"Are we talking murder or—"

"We're talking a maximum sentence of five to seven in a minimum security prison though he could probably plea bargain down to three without my help. With my help, he'll walk."

"So, not violent."

"He still has victims, though some of them probably don't realize they're victims, or at least won't for a long time."

"Somebody noticed."

"The government noticed."

"And so he gets a trial and he's entitled to a lawyer. Why does it have to be you?"

"His company brings in a lot of money to our firm."

"And you're good at what you do."

"Just like you."

"Does it feel better?"

Harvey put his hand on his shoulder and moved it around. It did feel better. "Yeah."

“Let me do the other and then you can go back to being awesome.”

Mike moved and a couple came in carrying a toddler. Pink bubblegum took their order, their money, and started on their drinks while Mike worked quietly. “So what’s the problem?”

“Hmm?” Harvey hummed. His eyes were closed again and when he opened them, the toddler—a little girl holding a juice box in one hand a cake pop in the other—smiled at him. He smiled back, surprised at himself. Surprised that he felt a lot better than he had in weeks. He sat up, his heart pounding, and twisted out of Mike’s hands. Mike let him go.

“Your asshole client,” Mike prompted, dropping his voice on the curse, eyes on the family as they take their drinks to a table in the front. “The reason you came to see me. You were going to ask me something.”

“I was,” Harvey said. Nodded. He stood and stretched his arms, circled his shoulders, and dug up a smirk to pass as a smile. “You’re really good at this, Mike. You need to be in school.”

“I’ll introduce you to my grandma and the two of you can form the Mike, Get Your Life Together club.”

“Will there be cookies?” Harvey deadpanned as he shrugged into his jacket and buttoned it up.

“I’m trying as hard as I can.” Mike’s smile froze a bit on his face, looking fragile enough to break at any second.

Harvey shook his head, softened enough to touch Mike’s elbow, his shoulder, though he stopped before he could cup Mike’s cheek like he wanted to just then, drawing his hand back. “No one said you weren’t. You can do in ten minutes what two surgeries and weeks of physical therapy haven’t been able to accomplish. I just want you to use your powers for good.”

“Why do I get the feeling that you’re about two seconds from offering me the choice between the red and the blue pill.”

Sooner or later you’re going to realize just as I did that there’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.

“That’s a terrible Laurence Fishbourne.”

“That’s was a fucking awesome Laurence Fishbourne.“ They smiled at each then, looking for just a minute too long, before Harvey stepped back, headed toward the door as he dug his phone out of his pocket. “I need to go.”

“Wait a minute. What were you going to ask me?”

“Give me a few weeks to get out from under this trial and I’ll ask you then.”

“Do you promise?”

Harvey looked down at his phone as he texted Ray, then out along the street, and then back to Mike. “Yeah. I promise.”

***

It had ended up being more than a few weeks before Mike saw Harvey again, though Mike was having a hard time remembering he was pissed about that with Harvey stretched out on the table beneath him, naked and pliant. It was the beginning of a long, hot summer, and Harvey’s shoulders were tight again. Mike worked him hard, punishing him slightly with pokey fingers and a deep tissue massage that he knew Harvey was going to feel for days. They were both sweating and breathing a bit hard by the time he was done and handing Harvey a glass of water with slightly shaking hands.

Harvey took it, sitting up on the end of the table to drink it, and Mike didn’t look away. He waited until Harvey handed the glass back to him before he spoke, turning to straighten the bottles on the shelf behind him so that he didn’t have to look at Harvey’s face.

“So, a strange thing happened to me last week."

"Your grandma finally explain where babies come from?"

"Ha ha. You’re a funny guy. I got an offer from Columbia. Full ride."

"That's fantastic news, Mike."

"No, it's not."

"How's a full ride not great news?"

"Because I haven’t set foot on the Columbia campus in six years?” Mike said, trying not to shout as he rounded back on Harvey, surprised to find him standing so closely with a towel wrapped around his waist. He was momentarily distracted by the shape of Harvey’s body, by the ink on his pectoral that never failed to surprise Mike even though he knew it was there. He hated that it’d be easier to be angry at Harvey if he didn’t want to kiss him so badly. “Because nobody is going to offer me a ticket out."

"Someone did."

"I've looked into everything a hundred times, Mr. Specter--"

"Harvey."

"Nothing could give me what I need even if something like that existed. There are no scholarships for screw ups. People don't get second chances."

"It happens all the time."

"No it doesn't. It happened now because you pity me."

"I don't pity."

"Then you feel bad for me."

"I have a strict policy against having feelings. But even supposing for a minute that it's true, would that be so bad? It's a chance, Mike. Take it."

"The Harvey Specter's a Benevolent Asshole scholarship?

"If you like."

"Why are you doing this?"

"I find you interesting."

"You're Harvey Fucking Specter. You're surrounded by interesting people all day."

"I'm surrounded by lawyers all day. CEO's, bankers, accountants. Judges."

"Fantasy football moguls, entrepreneurs, doctors who are curing diseases. I'm your masseur."

"You'll be a doctor someday."

Mike shook his head. He couldn't even contemplate what Harvey was offering.

"I find you interesting," Harvey repeated.

"Your masseur is more interesting than all those people."

Harvey took a step closer and nodded his head once. "Take my offer, Mike."

"Is this to get me to sleep with you? Because I've got to be honest and say it would take way less effort than this."

"It's not-- Really?"

Mike looked away, blushing.

"Let's table that discussion for the moment, but we're coming back to it. You don't have to sleep with me. I'll pay for your grandmother's care and your tuition. You can keep one of your jobs, enough to pay for rent and food. It's not a free ride. It'll be a lot of hard work."

"What do you get out of it?"

"An investment in your future."

"That's such a douche bag lawyer thing to say."

"Your future isn't worth the risk?"

"I-- You don't--"

"Take the offer, kid."

"I can't believe we're having this conversation with you in a towel."

"I could take the towel off."

Mike's eyes dropped down to where Harvey's fingers tugged at the thin terry cloth.

"Don't. I mean, I want to but not-- I'm being serious."

"So am I. Take the offer."

"I can't-- If I took it…"

"A year and a half. That's how long it would take you to complete your degree if you could take a full load. A year and a half, Mike. Your salary doubles with a bachelor's degree. It'll double again with your doctorate. You'll have more time to take care of yourself and your grandmother.”

“I don’t— This feels like what you do.”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t want to be closed. I’m not a case. I’m not a client.”

“That’s not what I’m doing.”

“Then what are you doing because I don’t know how this works.”

“It works like this. I like you. I’m in a club with your grandma. She likes me, too.”

“She’s never met you.”

“Women find me charming, and I’ve got a thing for her grandson. I think she’ll like me.” Harvey smiled, and he was charming, and Mike took a step forward—toward him. “Just take the offer, Mike.”

Mike bit at his lip, thinking it over, thinking fast. “This is like Give a Mouse a Cookie.”

Harvey cocked his head, looking confused. “What do you mean?”

“You’ve offered me everything and I want more.”

Harvey took a step forward, close enough that Mike could feel the heat of his body and sway into it.

“Tell me what you want, then,” and it was that deep rumble again, the one that said Harvey was pleased with his world—pleased with Mike—but this time Mike could feel the vibration of it through his own chest, through his hands where they rested on Harvey’s waist, toying with the towel.

“You,” he whispered against Harvey’s lips, his eyes falling shut, but he was smiling as they kissed.

“You can have that, too.”

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