His neighbor had warned him that Buster was a wanderer, but Harvey hadn’t exactly taken it to heart because, firstly: his neighbor is 87 years old and known to forget things, so it’s very possible that she’d actually wandered off from Buster and not the other way around, and secondly: Harvey isn’t incompetent. He can keep an eye on a dog for an hour or so.
Except it turns out she was totally right. All it took was the leash being unclipped and Harvey looking down for a half a second to bundle the leash and Buster was gone.
Which means Harvey is screwed, because this dog is the love of Betty’s life.
He turns a slow 360, eyes tracking every dog in his sight line in the hope that one of them will answer to the name Buster, but he’s out of luck, and Buster is nowhere in sight. So he takes a path and starts jogging down it, calling out Buster’s name, asking people he passes if they’ve seen a golden retriever run by this way.
New Yorkers are not helpful people.
He’s been running around the park for 30 minutes and he’s just about to lose hope when he turns a corner and spies a dog that looks suspiciously like Buster sitting in front of a man seated on a park bench, watching the man happily as the man reads to him.
Harvey isn’t close enough to hear the man speak so he moves closer, stops when he’s still a fair distance away. Buster’s mouth is open in a grin and a light pant, and when the man pauses speaking, Buster nudges his hand with his nose.
He laughs, reaches forward and scratches Buster as he says, “Okay, I get it…don’t stop.”
When he starts to read again, Harvey almost does a double take. Harry Potter?
It’s a well-loved, paperback copy, creased and bent. And when he speaks he gets into it, leaning forward toward Buster.
“The storm raged more and more ferociously as the night went on. Harry couldn’t sleep. He shivered and turned over, trying to get comfortable, his stomach rumbling with hunger.”
Buster whimpers and the man stops, looks up, reaches forward and pets him.
“I know. But Hagrid’s coming soon. You’ll like him.”
Harvey smiles to himself, walks over. “I think you have my dog.”
The man looks up, taken aback. He looks down at his book briefly and starts to blush, the color rising in his cheeks. “Sorry…he just…uh…walked up and sat there. And then he nudged the book so I thought he might like it if I read to him.”
Harvey shouldn’t feel so charmed, but the guy is reading his book in the middle of Central Park to a damn lost dog.
The man points the book at him. “Hey, Harry Potter is a new classic, appropriate for all ages and…species.”
“If you say so.”
“Your dog agrees with me.”
“It’s not actually my dog, which explains its suspect taste level.”
The man looks at him strangely, as if Harvey is some deviant with a leash who wanders the park, claiming random, misplaced dogs just to strike up conversation.
He rolls his eyes. “It’s my neighbor’s dog.”
“And you’re walking her dog as a favor in the hopes of getting in her pants?”
“No, she’s too old for me.”
He raises an eyebrow. “Yeah?”
Harvey nods. “She turned eighty-seven last month.”
A slow smile is beginning to grow on his face. “And that doesn’t do it for you?”
“Well, she’s pretty spry so I might’ve gone for it, but she’s always calling me Morty, and really…I deserve better than to live in her dead husband’s shadow.”
The man barks out a laugh and throws his head back and Harvey grins.
“I’m Harvey, by the way.”
Buster leans forward and nudges the book in Mike’s hand. Mike looks down and pets his head but stands, looks at his watch. “Sorry, buddy. I’ve got somewhere I need to be.”
It’s clear he’s not just talking to Buster when Harvey detects the regret seeping into his voice, the sudden downturn of his mouth.
“You’re really going to do that to poor Buster just when Hagrid was about to show up? You’ve got him interested now.”
Mike smiles, slow and wide, and looks away for a moment before he says, “Well…maybe Buster and I should make a date to meet up again. Is he free next Saturday? Same time?”
“I’ll check his calendar.”
Mike nods. “You do that.”
He walks away, down the path, looking over his shoulder once with a smile and shake of his head before he disappears around the bend. Harvey reaches down and clips the leash onto Buster’s collar and says, “Well done little Weasley.”
Betty gives him a bit of a hard time when he asks to walk Buster again the next Saturday, but it’s worth it when they come around the bend in the path and see Mike sitting there on the bench, waiting for them, two cups of coffee sitting on the bench next to him, the book curled in half between his hands. Harvey lets Buster off his leash and Mike looks up and stands when the dog comes bounding toward him, a smile splitting his face. Harvey walks slowly forward, returns Mike’s smile with one of his own.
“So Buster had room in his schedule after all.”
“We squeezed you in.”
They share a grin, hands reaching down blindly to pet Buster when he noses at their hands for attention.
“Besides…he was dying to know what comes next. And I didn’t want to disappoint him. What comes next, Mike?”
Mike bites his lip, looks down at the book in his hands then back up at Harvey.
His life didn’t flash before his eyes. There was no white light. In the end it was just the few seconds he could see the oncoming car and then … nothing. No pain, no feeling, no anything.
Heaven was also not at all like Mike imagined it, and yet he couldn’t help the rueful smile. He opened his eyes to find himself standing in the middle of Harvey’s apartment. Of course. This wasn’t his heaven because of the slick lines or the sparkling city view. It was his heaven because this was the place he’d felt the happiest, the most at home.
He wandered around the space for a while. It was such a perfect facsimile that he felt like he was really there, standing in Harvey’s actual apartment. He didn’t feel much different than from when he was alive. Where were all the answers he was promised? If this was indeed his heaven why were there no pearly gates or choirs of angels or even just someone - anyone - to greet him?
Where were his parents? Grammy?
The sound of a key in the front door lifted his spirits. That must be them now. Grinning, he rushed to the entryway. But when the door opened it wasn’t his parents or Grammy. It was Harvey, and he looked … there was no other word for it, he looked wrecked.
Mike was confused. If this was his heaven and Harvey was here, shouldn’t he be happy to see Mike? But then he walked straight past Mike as if he wasn’t even there, as though he couldn’t see him at all.
“Harvey?” Mike asked tentatively as he trailed after him.
Harvey went straight to the wet bar, poured himself a scotch, and drowned it in one go before pouring another. He took the second drink over to the lounge, collapsing in the chair and drinking it, albeit slightly slower this time.
Mike sat down beside him. He said Harvey’s name again and again and again but there was still no reaction. Harvey was just staring off into space, looking utterly devastated. Something was wrong. Harvey was right there, close enough to touch, except when he tried, when he reached out his hand couldn’t connect, just moved right through him. Harvey couldn’t see him, couldn’t hear him.
Maybe he wasn’t in heaven. Maybe he was in hell.
Mike didn’t know how long they stayed like that; Harvey staring off into space with glassy eyes, Mike hovering uncertainly by his side with no idea what was happening. The impasse was broken by the sound of Harvey’s phone. It was the text alert tone, and when Harvey pulled it out from his pocket Mike tried to angle himself to see what it said, in case it gave him some clue as to what was happening. But Harvey was too quick, throwing the phone aside after reading the message, and then hunching over, his head in his hands.
Mike reached out to put his hand on Harvey’s back. Not that it made any difference.
In the silence that followed Mike started to mourn for the loss of his life. There were still so many things he wanted for his life. He’d never travelled overseas. He’d never made it to name partner. He never saw the Mets win the world series. He never went to Comic-Con. He’d never won a landmark case or set any precedents. He’d never gotten married.
So many things he wanted to do and never did. Too many. But the worst of it was Harvey. Mike was desperately in love with him, and he’d never gotten the chance to tell him.
So he did it now. Because what could it hurt? This wasn’t real, he was in some kind of hell or purgatory or something. The real Harvey would never get to hear these words, so why not say it to this fake one?
“I love you, Harvey,” Mike murmured.
Harvey’s head snapped up, looking around the room as if he’d heard something. Mike froze, hope flickering in his chest, but when Harvey’s eyes passed over Mike there was no recognition. Mike hated himself for hoping, he hated God or whoever was responsible for this torture, he hated the driver who killed him and took him away from the man he loved.
The sound of a door opening and closing stole both their attention. Donna walked slowly into the apartment. She didn’t look that great. Mike wanted to make a joke, smile and say jeez who died and get them both laughing, but even if he could, even if they could hear him, he knew it wouldn’t work. Because he was the one who died, and the afterlife was taunting him over it.
“Harvey,” Donna said gently, but Harvey stood, taking a few steps away, his back to her as he stood at the empty fireplace.
“I can’t. I can’t go there. I can’t see…”
Mike looked between them, confused. Donna didn’t shy away, she walked right up to him and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. There was nothing sexual or romantic in her touch, but Mike felt the jealousy flair nonetheless. How come this fake Donna could touch this fake Harvey and yet Mike, who was the only real thing here, couldn’t?
“I know how hard this is for you.”
“No, Donna, you don’t,” he snapped, whirling around and shaking off her hand. “You have no idea how this feels. How angry and scared and useless I feel. How this is the one thing I can’t fix and it’s killing me. How all I can think about is how I wished it was me and not - and not…”
Donna wrapped her arms around him, and Harvey let her. Mike stood and walked away, attempting to give them some privacy. The moment felt too intimate, and even though he had no idea what they were talking about he knew it wasn’t good, and Harvey wouldn’t want Mike seeing him like this.
“I know you’re scared,” Donna said. “I am too. But Harvey, he’s not gone. He needs you.”
“I can’t. I can’t see Mike like that.”
What? Mike turned, taking a few steps toward them. What were they talking about?
third time isn’t lucky when it’s meant to be (harvey/mike)
The first time it happened, Harvey saw it coming even before Mike did.
When Harvey arrived at the church he told Ray that they just needed to wait for a bit, that they’d be making a cross state trip within the hour. He didn’t even bother walking into the church, he just stepped out of the car and waited, right there on the sidewalk.
The only surprising thing about the day was how long it took for Mike to come rushing out of the church doors. Harvey thought they’d be on the road by now, but he didn’t begrudge Mike in the least. This was the hardest thing Mike was ever going to have to do, of course he wanted to take all the time he could, while he still had it.
When Mike emerged and saw Harvey standing there waiting for him, there was a flash of surprise before his face melted into rueful acceptance. “How’d you know?” Mike asked.
Harvey just looked at him, incredulous. “I know you,” Harvey replied, and it was enough.
They got in the car and Ray started driving, already knowing the destination. It was going to be a long drive, ninety minutes of the nerves and anticipation ratcheting up to boiling point. Harvey wanted to distract Mike, but every idea he came up with was too lame to say out loud, so in the end he left it up to Mike.
“Talk to me,” Harvey said gently.
Mike huffed out a laugh. “That must be the first time you’ve ever asked me to tell you about my feelings. Normally you run for the hills whenever I get within five feet of the topic.”
Harvey smiled slowly. Even in his darkest moment Mike was giving Harvey shit. It was stupid, but it somehow made Harvey think that maybe things would be okay. “Well, you’ve got-” he checked his watch, “-seventy minutes to spill feelings all over me without me complaining. When are you gonna get an offer like that again?”
Mike smiled weakly at him, but didn’t reply straight away, so Harvey started to worry it was all for naught.
“Rachel’s going to hate me.”
Harvey rolled his eyes. That girl was crazy about Mike and anyone could see it. “No, she won’t.”
“I’m not going to ask you to look after her while I’m gone, because that would be patronizing and she doesn’t need it. But … just, look out for her?”
Mike spent the next few minutes looking out the window. “I’m scared,” he whispered, and Harvey could feel his heart splitting into a thousand pieces.
Harvey wanted to tell Mike that everything was going to be fine, but he couldn’t lie to him like that. He wanted to tell Mike that he was scared too, that he was terrified that prison was going to change Mike. And for all that Harvey gave Mike crap in the early days of their relationship, as much as he tried to mould and better Mike, the truth was that he didn’t need it. Mike was perfect the way he was, flaws and all, and he didn’t want prison to beat the goodness out of Mike like it had so many others.
But he didn’t say any of that. This was about Mike, not Harvey, so instead he slowly reached over to where Mike’s thumb was continually tapping against his thigh. He covered Mike’s hand with his own, squeezing it, and before he could pull away Mike gripped back, holding onto Harvey like a lifeline.
They stayed that way for the remainder of the drive.
When the car stopped outside of Danbury Mike immediately got out of the car, like a man on a mission. Harvey, confused, hustled to catch up, and he was barely out of the car before Mike was there, throwing his arms around Harvey in a hug. Harvey immediately wrapped his arms around Mike, holding him tight.
“I’m sorry for hitting you,” Mike murmured.
“Don’t worry about it.”
“And I need you to know, no matter what happens in there, I don’t regret it. Not a single day. Meeting you was the best thing that ever happened to me, and it was worth everything that’s happened since.”
Harvey felt himself welling up, but he tried to push it back down. He needed to be strong, for Mike. “I’m getting you out of there, Mike. I swear it.”
Mike nodded, said, “Okay,” and then he pulled away, turning and walking into the prison without looking back.
The second time it happened, Harvey was completely blindsided.
The wedding, though small, had been planned for months. The caterer had been booked, dresses and suits carefully chosen, an uncle of Rachel’s had been enlisted to perform the ceremony, Harvey had combed through his record collection to find the best music to be played at the party…
Mike never said a word.
Harvey had taken Mike to Vegas for a five day bachelor party two weeks prior to the big day. It was just the two of them, and they’d spent their days exploring, going to the Grand Canyon and the Neon Museum and Red Rock Canyon. Harvey even managed to get Mike onto a golf course, which of course he sucked at, much to Harvey’s delight. And then they spent their nights on the town: eating fabulous food, drinking, gambling with obscene amounts of money and winning more often than not because of Mike’s genius brain. There might have even been a tipsy skinny dipping session late one evening in the hotel pool. They had an amazing vacation, and throughout all that, the days and nights they spent together, the copious conversations that they had, Mike never once mentioned that he was having second thoughts.
Their first kiss is nothing like Mike expected it would be.
When he imagined it, and he did - a lot, so sue him - he always imagined it would come in an explosion of clashing teeth, in fingers and hands so desperate they stretch and grab and claw but never catch a hold of anything.
But that’s not how it goes.
Harvey is gentle, calm, sweet when he presses his lips to Mike’s for the first time. It isn’t some instantaneous, knee-jerk of a decision - Mike can see the resolved intent in Harvey’s eyes. This was a plan, one he didn’t involve Mike in. When their lips touch, it isn’t like fireworks explode - if anything it makes Mike feel warm and settled. It makes the world go a little quieter - like it’s stopped, just for them, just for this moment.
Which says a lot, actually, because when Harvey kisses him for the first time, he does it in a room full of their coworkers.
That’s another thing he never would have expected.