Word Count: 10,468
Summary: What Mike learned from that—because there’s always something to be learned, when Harvey’s involved—is that there are two types of people in the world: those who get you off the hook, and those who put you on it. He’s running for his life down a corridor with an empty fishbowl under his arm when he wonders which kind the Doctor is.
A/N: Written loosely for a suits_meme prompt in which Mike gets fired and somehow ends up a companion. A Doctor Who crossover fic.
When Jessica fires him, Mike doesn't know what to do. He could blame Trevor—he does blame Trevor, at least partially—or he could blackmail the firm. He could beg for his job, or go back to school to try to earn it, but instead Mike leaves quietly and without arguing. He thinks that, on some level, he knew this was too good to be true. People who mess up like he did don't become lawyers for firms like Pearson Hardman, not even with all the luck in the world.
Harvey's there, in the hallway when Mike gets out, and for a second that stretches on forever, they just look at each other.
"I'm sorry I lied to you," Mike says. He didn't lie, and Harvey knows he didn't lie, but at least this way, Harvey knows what Mike said to Jessica, what story he stuck with, and that he did everything he could to make sure Harvey came out okay.
"Mike," Harvey says. That's it, just Mike, just his name.
And there's so much Mike wants to say back to him, Thank you, and, I love you, and, You'll be okay, but he doesn't say any of that because there's this look on Harvey's face that he's never seen before, not even when Harvey was accused of burying evidence, and it blindsides Mike for a minute. Harvey looks sad—looks beaten—and Mike hates that he helped put that look there.
So instead he says, "To boldly go where no man has gone before," and he gives Harvey a small salute.
"Mike," Harvey says again, and Mike leaves because he can't stand it.
He goes to a bar in Williamsburg that night because the only other thing he can think of to do is to smoke up, and he already broke that promise once. It's a dive, dark and run down, and he drinks his beer alone because he has no friends outside of work, and now he doesn't even have that anymore. But it's okay, Mike thinks, because a clean break is better than the alternative; less heartache down the road, he tells himself.
He’s not drunk when heads out to walk home, but he kind of wishes he was. A lanky man in a tweed suit falls into step beside him and he looks up at the stars as they walk; he's young and wearing a bowtie, and Mike thinks he looks impossibly sad.
The man glances at Mike for a second and then says, "The way I see it, life is a pile of good things and bad things, and you look like you are in need of some very good things."
"Something like that," Mike says. He doesn’t know how to say that he’s already used up all his good things, and so instead he says, “What about you?”
“I don’t know,” the man says. “Kick about for long enough and it becomes hard to keep track.”
Mike doesn't know what that means and so he just shrugs, and then the man shrugs, and something in the set of his shoulders makes Mike think that maybe he lost something, too.
"Mike Ross," Mike says, and he raises his hand in an aborted wave.
"The Doctor," the man says.
Mike doesn't ask, Doctor who? because he doesn't really care. Instead, he says, "Cool bowtie."
The Doctor smiles, and it changes his face.
"You know what else is cool, Mike Ross?" he asks. "The universe—all of time and space, every star that ever was and ever will be—is very, very cool."
"The TARDIS!" the Doctor says, throwing open the door to the police box, and Mike is stunned, forgets everything except for the right now and the laugh lines on Harvey's face when he smiles.
"But—it's bigger on the inside than it is on the outside," he says, and the Doctor smiles at him, raises his eyebrows like this is the best part of who he is and what he does.
"Very cool," the Doctor says, and then he walks to the controls in the middle of the room and throws a lever; the TARDIS jumps and Mike almost loses his footing. "Where to?"
And Mike has no clue what to say because this—this is amazing, and so he just looks at the Doctor and laughs a little. He thinks he might really need this, maybe, after all. It could be good to get away. "I don't know," he says. "Somewhere new."
"Somewhere new," the Doctor repeats, and then he's swept up in a flurry of motion, buttons and levers and switches, and Mike watches as closely as he can, because he's never seen anything like it, like the Doctor or the TARDIS. "Well, no one likes New Venus, so New Savanna it is—except not, forgot I'm not allowed back, not after the last time. Barcelona's a fantastic place with a silly name, and Docteria's silly place with a fantastic name, and Magla's both silly and fantastic but surprisingly not a place at all, so—"
He stops, doesn't say anything for a second.
"What?" Mike asks.
"We're going to be very busy, you and I," the Doctor says, and something about that makes Mike's heart feel lighter than it has in a long time.
Karas don Kazra don Slava is the most amazing place Mike's ever been to.
"Watch where you step," the Doctor says over his shoulder as they step out of the TARDIS. "The sand'll get smart with you if you don't."
"The sand'll—what?" Mike asks, only then as he steps out onto the beach in front of him, he hears from underneath his feet, Hey, lay off the pie next time, you oversized megaphalod! Mike looks down and there are mouths in the sand, hundreds and hundreds of tiny mouths, dotting the shoreline like shells. "There are—" he starts, but then changes tracks, asks, "What's a megaphalod?"
"Karas don Kazra don Slava!" the Doctor says, walking away and ignoring him. Mike has to jog after him to keep up. "The eighth planet in the Carras System—one C, two Rs, as opposed to—never mind. But it just so happens to be the only planet in the universe with intelligent sand and singing fish."
"Singing fish?" Mike asks. "Can we go find some?"
"Find some?" the Doctor asks, and he laughs. "Just listen! This whole planet is full of them! Can't you hear it?"
"Uh," Mike says, and then he pauses for a second, listening in case he missed something. All he can hear is the sand mouthing off and the crash of the waves on the beach. "No?"
"Yeah," the Doctor says, and he looks worried. "Neither can I."
Mike used to think about it a lot—still thinks about it—how when Trevor was in trouble with those two guys, Harvey fixed it, ironed out the wrinkles. Harvey went in there with nothing more than ten grand and came out with ten grand and Mike’s best friend. He didn’t do it for me, Trevor had said, and god, Mike had wanted to believe that, that Harvey would do something like that for him, but at the time it was laughable because he thought Harvey only cared about himself, and then later on—
Later on, Mike never got the chance to ask.
But what Mike learned from that—because there’s always something to be learned, when Harvey’s involved—is that there are two types of people in the world: those who get you off the hook, and those who put you on it.
He’s running for his life down a corridor with an empty fishbowl under his arm when he wonders which kind the Doctor is.
Before either of them finds the singing fish, Mike almost gets killed on two separate occasions by angry cyborgs while the Doctor flounders about and tries to save the day. And he does save the day, at the very last minute. Mike hopes that's not something he makes a habit of.
"I don't get it," Mike says afterwards, his shoes dangling from his fingertips as he lets the waves roll over his feet. "What did they want?"
"Oh, you know," the Doctor says from behind him. "Just the directions to Pan Haxico 2. Another beach planet, although that one is filled with women who have a strange affinity for metal."
"You're joking," Mike says.
"No," the Doctor tells him, but Mike can't see his face and so he's not entirely sure. "Listen. Can you hear them now?"
And Mike can. He can hear them over the insults coming from the sand and the waves crashing against the shore, and it's more and different than anything he could have ever imagined. Fish singing. It blows his mind and he feels oddly comforted by how small it all makes him feel.
The music is beautiful. He thinks of Harvey's vinyls.
“Don’t touch my records,” Harvey said without looking up from his paperwork, and Mike just looked at him before pointedly running his fingers over the album spines.
“Don’t touch your—? I’m sorry, you don’t want me to touch your Gloria Gaynor album?” Mike asked, plucking an album off the shelf, and Harvey’s attention snapped to him.
“I don’t have a Gloria Gaynor album,” he said.
“I didn’t think you did,” Mike told him slowly, flipping the album in his hands so that Harvey could see it was the Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington Reunion vinyl. “But judging by your reaction, now I’m starting to think that maybe you do.”
Harvey rolled his eyes and went back to his work, saying, “Get out.”
“Do you have an entire disco section, Harvey?” Mike asked. “The Trammps? KC and the Sunshine Band? Donna Summer?”
“No,” Harvey said, and he rolled his eyes again, repeated, “Get out and get to work.”
“Fine,” Mike sighed, and then when he was almost at the door, he looked over his shoulder, sang, “Oh no, not I! I will survive!”
And even now, Mike almost swears that Harvey was fighting back a smile.
They spend long hours in the TARDIS, sometimes, which Mike doesn't understand. He doesn't like staying still for too long, because then he gets to thinking, to remembering, and he'd rather try not to. So Mike reads everything he can, and the Doctor makes a game of it, gets Mike to recite things, quizzes him on the places that they've never been to, because he says it'll be useful in case Mike ever runs into trouble again and there’s not a Time Lord around to save his neck.
Mike doesn’t bother to point out that every bit of trouble they run into is the Doctor’s fault to begin with.
"Kegron Pluva," the Doctor says, sitting next to the controls, his feet propped up on the railing. He's wearing aviation goggles and he looks ridiculous.
"The weirdest ecosystem in the universe," Mike says.
"Inhabited by natives who communicate with eyebrows," Mike says, and he wiggles his own. He's not very good at it, and would probably insult them accidentally.
"Alzarius," the Doctor says, and then adds, "This is amazing; I forget things all the time, Mark."
"Funny. It's Mike," Mike says.
"Is it?" the Doctor asks, and Mike rolls his eyes.
"Alzarius," he says. "Dense forests and marshlands, and one of the few planets that experiences Mistfall. Also, and the odds of this are insane, it's got the exact same coordinates as a place called Gallifrey, only negative. Gallifrey—"
"Right!" the Doctor says, and he springs up, rubs his hands together. "Where to next?"
And Mike can see it because he knows what he's looking for. Gallifrey is off the table, categorically Not To Be Discussed, and Mike makes a mental note of that, puts it on the list alongside New Alexandria and New York and the Doctor's family and Mike's Harvey. He stands up, pulls a lever and grabs for the hand crank farthest to the right, gets the TARDIS started.
"I know I tossed the instruction manual into a supernova," the Doctor says, watching him do everything right. Mike's been watching the Doctor, too, for as long as the Doctor's been watching him right back, and he knows what he's doing, how to fly this thing. "It was the first thing I did… give or take a eight hundred years."
"What can I say?" Mike says. "I'm a fast learner."
Harvey never said it, but Mike knows that he was impressed with how quickly Mike learns and how much knowledge he can retain. People always are, and it’s got nothing to do with Harvey, nothing to do with Mike, nothing to do with anything except for that’s how people are.
The Doctor is not people.
Mike tries, all the time, continually, to impress the Doctor, but the Doctor’s been everywhere, seen everything and lived for ages, and so it’s hard, borderline impossible to impress him. Mike doesn’t really mind because it’s fun, because he has no expectations, and because the Doctor is the Doctor, and not Harvey.
The Doctor’s the last of his kind, yeah, but Mike’s never met anyone like Harvey before, and probably won’t meet anyone like him again. He knows that much.
The TARDIS takes its time getting them to Florana, as if it's taking them there begrudgingly. Mike's asleep on the floor when they finally arrive, a book open on his chest, and he only wakes up because the TARDIS jumps as it lands and then the Doctor is racing to the door, saying, "Come along, Ponds!"
"What is that?" Mike says, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. Transliterated: Ponds. Or maybe Pawns. Pons? He thought the TARDIS translated things telepathically for them. "Like, Judoon or something?"
The Doctor is standing by the door, his back to Mike and his head tilted as he looks out at something that's not there.
"Just a slip of the tongue," the Doctor says, and he sounds far away. When he turns around, the smile is back on his face and he looks like a kid in a candy store. "Florana! Where perfumed flowers carpet the land, the seas are made of warm milk, and the sand is as soft as a pillow. Geronimo!" He opens the door with one outstretched arm and doesn’t even pause before ducking outside.
Mike barely remembers to save his page before he's tossing the book and heading out after him.
Life with the Doctor is amazing, and Mike spends two months running around with him, visiting the swamps of Mina and Sinda Callesta's fifth moon, seeing first-hand the signing of the Declaration of Independence and accidentally knocking the nose off of the Great Sphinx. Mike learns more than he thought he could and sees more than he ever knew existed, and the only problem—the only problem—is that it's not enough, and it won't ever be enough.
Mike dreams about him, sometimes, about how a suit jacket sat on Harvey's shoulders or how his hair would lose its style after a long night at the office, and it bothers him, how simple it is at its most base level:
Mike misses him.
They go to the Alexandria, 415 AD, because despite his lack of degrees, Mike love to learn, loves to read, and the Library of Alexandria is massive and awe-inspiring.
"I don't understand why we're in here," the Doctor says, "when we could be out there. Who likes reading? Reading's boring."
"I like reading," Mike says, and he spends the entire day inside while the Doctor wanders the city. There are things on the shelves—scrolls, honest to god scrolls—that no one in Mike's time has ever read or will ever get to see. And he can't tell anyone about them, because no one in their right mind would ever believe him, but Mike reads them anyways, enjoys the feel of the parchment, like unchartered territory between his fingers.
The head librarian takes a liking to him; her name is Hypatia, which is familiar to Mike, but ultimately uninteresting when compared to everything else around him, and so he doesn't think much about it. She's smart, lawyer smart, and helps him out more than the average person would; it reminds him of Rachel, although they look nothing alike, and Mike realizes that while it hurts him, still, to think of Harvey, he can't say the same of Rachel, and that's progress.
The Doctor comes back for him just as the library's closing, a hand wrapped tight around Mike's wrist when he finds him, and he drags Mike back to the TARDIS.
"What are you doing, you psycho?" Mike asks, attempting to keep up and not lose an arm. The Doctor stops, makes Mike look at him with one hand on either shoulder.
"There are events," he says. "Things that cannot be changed."
"I know," Mike says, because he asked. His parents, his job, Trevor—the Doctor said things could be changed, technically, but they shouldn't be because he'd never just be changing the one thing; he'd be changing everything, and Mike's neither selfish nor stupid enough to do that.
"No," the Doctor says. "Fixed events. They cannot be changed." And then, softer, "I'm so sorry. We have to go."
And then Mike remembers her.
That night, when they're hurtling through time and space, the Doctor apologizes again, says, "I can take you home."
"It's not your fault," Mike says, because it's not, and he's not ready to go home to nothing, not yet. It's just that he's realized, suddenly, what it is that he's doing; he's meeting people that are already dead, or that haven't even been born yet, and Mike could change everything for them, only he can't. He knows he can't, and so Hypatia died, and his parents died, and one day, everyone Mike knows and loves will die, and he just needs time to take that apart and break it down into something that he can manage. Harvey would call him a bleeding heart if he were there, but Harvey's not there and if Mike were to be honest, that's the whole problem.
Harvey's never where Mike is.
Mike sleeps through the Ice Caves of Shabadabadon and the Groz Valley, and even though the Doctor swears up and down that the courts in ancient Athens will really wow him, Mike doesn’t get out of bed. When he finally does leave the TARDIS, it’s only because the Doctor makes him, wakes him up early and tells him that there’s something he has to see, and that he won’t take no for an answer.
"I have a friend who was never impressed by anything," the Doctor says, "but he asked to come back here all the time, every century."
They’re standing across the river from a city, a huge city with skyscrapers and flying cars, and the two moons in the sky are fading as the sun rises, turning the sky pink. It’s a view that makes Mike think of New York, makes him think of home. Harvey would have loved it.
“Have you ever loved someone so much,” Mike says, “that afterwards, you just wish you could do it again so you could do everything differently?”
The Doctor doesn’t answer him, and Mike supposes that he wasn’t really expecting an answer. It doesn’t matter if the Doctor has or if he hasn’t; Mike would do a lot differently, and that’s the whole point. He’d work a lot harder, win more cases and help more people. He’d tell Harvey. That’s the big one; he’d make sure that Harvey knew.
“Yes,” the Doctor finally says, as the sun clears the horizon. “More times than I can count.”
Things change after the sunrise New Earth. Mike and the Doctor find new footing to stand on, find new things to talk about. The Doctor tells him about Gallifrey, about Rose and Donna and the Ponds; Mike tells him about New York, about Grammy and Trevor and Rachel.
Mike says, “And what about your family?”
The Doctor says, “I am alone.”
Mike does not say, You have me, because the Doctor does, but only just, and who knows for how long.
They get in the habit of looking at the stars most nights, the two of them tethered to the TARDIS as they float out in the empty space of the universe. It relaxes Mike, strangely, knowing that he has one thin lifeline, and that if it snaps, he’s done for, lost forever. He never been in the habit of handing out trust easily, but he doesn’t even double check the Doctor’s knots.
“Why would you follow around a mad man with a box?” the Doctor asks. His hair looks different in zero gravity, and for a split second, he looks almost impossibly young.
“I’ve got nothing else,” Mike says, and he believes it.
“No,” the Doctor says, and he looks at Mike, the two of them out as far as their tethers will let them. “I know how nothingness sits in a heart, and yours doesn’t even come close. You have hope.”
“I have nothing, Doctor,” Mike says, because Harvey was always just out of reach, and now he’s out of sight, too.
“You have hope.”
But he doesn’t get it, and so Mike explains it to him, says, “My job was all I had.”
There’s a moment where neither of them says anything, and then the Doctor responds, “I once travelled with a man who said the same exact thing.”
“And what happened to him? Death by Silurian?” Mike asks.
“No,” the Doctor says, and he closes his eyes, still floating in outer space. “He found someone; that changes things.”
But Mike doesn’t want to find someone, not when he already found Harvey.
Having a TARDIS revolutionizes Mike’s take-out life. They’re in the control room eating kronkburgers from Satellite Five in the year 200,010, give or take, and they’re talking about food—which Mike can always get behind.
“You’d love Gumblejack,” the Doctor says around a bite of burger. “Had some on the TARDIS before; didn’t quite like how that worked out. We’d have to eat there.”
“I don’t even know what that is,” Mike says, “but it sounds disgusting.”
“I’ll have you know it was voted tastiest fish in Mutter’s Spiral 157 years running,” the Doctor says, and then the TARDIS jumps, and the two of them lose their footing.
“Does this thing ever listen to you?” Mike asks from where he’s fallen the floor. He’s referring to the TARDIS.
“Not usually, no,” the Doctor says, and he’s brushing his hair back, racing to the controls. He pulls some levers and turns some knobs, and then he looks at Mike and says, calm as ever, “We are going to crash.”
It’s not pleasant.
He and Harvey worked long hours every day, every week, but sometimes, they worked even longer. Mike would push himself because he knew—knows—that he was a reflection of Harvey, and Harvey’s reflection was always, always perfectly and purposefully tailored.
They’d work together, both of them in Harvey’s office, staying through the night and well into the morning, when Harvey would change into an extra suit, or head home to shower, and Mike would go put himself at the mercy of Louis Litt. And then one time—
One time, during the Piers-Haverford merger, Harvey was in his desk chair, turned away from Mike so that he could look out the windows.
“Nothing like New York at night,” he’d said, and that caught Mike off guard, because Harvey’s not one for idle talk. “No matter where you go, it’s always New York.”
“What do you mean?” Mike had asked, and Harvey swiveled around to look at him. And that’s all he did for a while, just looked at Mike.
“You look tired,” Harvey said finally, and there was a look on his face that Mike has never been able to place, like he was tired, almost, except for how it looked nothing at all like he was tired.
“I’m fine,” Mike said, because whatever Harvey needed, he’d get it done.
But Harvey just shook his head, still looking at Mike like that, and said, “Go home, Mike. Crash for a few hours. Come back in the morning.”
And Mike had, because Harvey said to do it, but the whole time he thought—
It doesn’t really matter what he thought.
The Doctor looks entirely too put out when he steps over a bit of debris and opens the TARDIS door.
“I’ve been here before,” he says, looking out at the people in the city square they’ve landed in. “Well, that’s boring.”
“It’s never boring,” Mike says, and he follows the Doctor as he steps outside and gets swept up by the crowd. “Things change constantly, every few years, so even if you’ve—”
“No,” the Doctor says. “I mean, I’ve been here. Here-now and here-place. Zaggit Zagoo on the planet Zog, and the last time I was here was—oh, interesting, because I didn’t even know what I looked like, so I couldn't have seen me, even if I was looking.”
“Uh,” Mike says. “What?”
The Doctor waves Mike off and later leaves him to his own devices.
He does that sometimes, just heads off to do his own thing, meet friends or change events, whatever. When that happens, Mike wanders, thinks a lot. Sometimes he goes to bars, or fairs, or wherever, just trying to understand how people live outside of twenty-first century Earth. And it’s nice, those times that he can be by himself, but it’s lonely; then again, it’s lonely when he’s with the Doctor, too, and so Mike doesn’t think about it.
He’s in a bar, waiting for the Doctor to find him, when a man walks up to him, tall, dark, and handsome. He’s wearing a greatcoat, and his smile when he sees Mike is almost blinding, all teeth and completely different from the way Harvey used to smile, even though their eyes crinkle the same.
“Boy, am I glad I found you,” the man says, climbing onto the barstool beside Mike. “A human could get lonely in a place like this.”
“And are you?” Mike asks. He’s not interested, but he’s bored. “Human?”
The man laughs at that, really laughs, throws his head back and exposes his neck and everything, and once he’s done, he says, “You must be one of the Doctor’s, then.”
Mike just shrugs; he supposes he is.
The man’s name is Jack, and the Doctor is surprised to see him.
“Slumming about on Zog again?” he asks, when Mike and Jack make it back to the TARDIS. “Really, Jack?”
“What can I say?” Jack replies, shrugging, and his smile is wide and just out of this world. “This is where you gifted me with Alonso, so I’ve got fond memories.”
Mike gets that they’re good friends, but he doesn’t know the extent of it. He wonders if they’ve had sex, if Jack knows more about the Doctor than he does, and if this means that the Doctor isn’t really as alone as he lets on.
“I can’t believe it,” the Doctor says, shaking his head a little, and then he smiles, too. “I haven’t seen you in a hundred years, and here you are. How long’s it been for you?”
Jack takes a second to answer, but when he does, he says quietly, “A lot less than a hundred years and a lot more like a day.”
The Doctor’s face falls and he says, “Jack.”
And Mike gets that he’s lost someone.
Jack stays with them, travels with them for a while, and it's nice, having a third person, even though it was nice just him and the Doctor. Jack's different, though, a completely different type of energy, and that makes the TARDIS feel new again.
Jack hits on Mike all the time, constantly, even though Mike will never say yes; Mike knows that Jack would never want him to, and that's the fun of it, for the both of them. Showing that kind of affection comes easy to Jack, and Mike likes it; it's so different from pulling teeth to get Harvey to admit that he cared about anything, and even though it's been weeks and weeks since then, Mike still needs this, the easiness of time with Jack.
Jack changes the Doctor, too. They're on Urbanka, just wandering for the hell of it, when Jack tosses an arm around Mike's shoulders and says, "Come on, you and me, Ross, and a radiation-free motel room. What do you say?"
And the Doctor doesn't waste any time, just says, "No, absolutely not," and squeezes his eyes shut, covers his ears with his open hands like a child. Mike thinks that looks good on him, the light-heartedness that only comes with having found some sort of adoptive family in Jack, even if the Doctor doesn't realize it yet.
Later, when Jack is asleep on the floor of the TARDIS wearing nothing but a dried grass skirt and a crown made of cracked plastic, the Doctor says to Mike, "Jack dies all the time, but never for very long. He's the closest thing to a constant in my life."
"Have you two ever--?" Mike asks, because he wants to know and he's never felt like he couldn't ask the Doctor anything before.
"No," the Doctor says, and he doesn't laugh, but he still sounds like he finds the idea laughable. "Although maybe it's inevitable, because he'll still be there even when everything else is gone. But for now? I'm nearly a thousand; I haven't the stamina to keep up."
And Mike thinks, Trevor was his one constant; he wonders if the way things panned out with them was inevitable, too.
They're on Earth in the 1992, and Calliopticon in the year 54 million, and Halergan Three in 115 thousand, and each time, the Doctor disappears.
"Where are you going?" Mike asks, or Jack asks, or they both ask, and every time, the answer is just variations on a theme. To save people in need of saving, he says usually, or, I promised the Queen I'd drink Floperian Nectar with her, or, Someone has to stop the universe from ending ninety-nine trillion years in advance, don’t you think?
They've just landed in the middle of a lightning storm in modern day Canterbury, Kent, when the Doctor takes off again, this time saying, "It's a lot of work, putting my things back in their place, but there’s no point to being me if you can’t help out a friend," and it makes Mike think about how he told Jessica that Harvey didn't know.
When it's just the two of them, just Mike and Jack, Jack looks out the door at the rain and says, "I vote we stay in and try to find the squash courts."
"There's a squash court?" Mike asks, because he's been on the TARDIS for ages, it seems, and he's never even heard the Doctor mention a squash court.
"There's whatever you want, if you know how to sweet-talk a lady," Jack says, and he strokes the TARDIS's main controls.
Mike rolls his eyes and fails to hold back a laugh.
Sometimes, before Mike falls asleep, he thinks about how similar Jack and Harvey are, how they're not two sides of the same coin like Harvey was with Tanner, but more how Harvey could have ended up like Jack if only things had gone differently for him. They're both smart, self-assured, sought-after.
But Mike can't imagine Harvey smiling easily like that and meaning every one.
He doesn't want to, either.
The first time Mike sees Jack die, he's not ready for it. He knows—of course he knows, they've told him—what Jack is, and how Jack is, but Mike is human and Mike is mortal, and so when the three of them are running from the Daleks, Mike just focuses on calling up the space station layout in his brain and trying to find them a way out and back to the TARDIS.
"Drop down that hatch and then make a left," Mike yells out ahead of him to the Doctor, and the Doctor listens. There's no room for discussion, not when the Daleks have anything to do with it, and Mike knows that much, knows about them and what they did and what they still can do.
Mike jumps down the hatch, and then Jack, and the two of them reach up to pull the hatch shut, only—
"What kind of hatch only closes from one side?" Mike asks, near hysterical.
"We'll run for it," Jack says, but Mike knows even as he's saying it that that won't work, not with the Daleks right behind them.
The Doctor says that, too, says, "That won't work," and then he and Jack just look at each other, have an entire conversation without saying anything.
"Actually come back this time," Jack says, and then he blows the two of them a kiss and pulls himself up, closes the hatch behind him. Mike yells at him the entire time, and keeps yelling even as the Doctor drags him down the corridor and into the TARDIS.
They step out barely five minutes or two days later. Jack's sitting on the floor across the room, his back to the wall and his legs crossed. He smiles when Mike stumbles over to him and slides down the wall to sit beside him.
"And for my next trick, I'll need someone from the audience," Jack jokes, and the Doctor just watches the two of them from the open TARDIS door.
"Don't do that again," Mike says, and Jack responds, "Kid, it's the only thing I'm good at."
He smiles when he says it, though, and so Mike doesn't argue it.
They worked this case once, he and Harvey, where Harvey's childhood-friend-turned-Fortune-500-Comp
They spent days, the two of them, turning down settlement offers and jumping through all the necessary pre-trial hoops when one night, when it was just them in the office, Harvey leaned back in his chair and said, "He didn't do it, but I don't know how to prove it."
He went home around eleven, early, and told Mike to head home, too, but Mike is a bleeding heart and so he stayed and went through three hundred pages of accounting figures, adding up and comparing every single transaction mentioned. And the thing was, they didn't add up.
The head of accounting received one set amount, and deposited something different, a fraction of a penny less for every hundred, and that added up.
Mike called Harvey and when Harvey didn't answer, he went over Harvey's condo.
"You did good, kid," Harvey said, and Mike remembers all of it, but it's how he said it that Mike thinks about most.
Mike doesn’t ask Jack because Jack doesn’t ask him, and they never talk about it until suddenly they do.
“His name was Ianto,” Jack says, "and he's a fixed event." They’re floating starfish in Great Lake Six of Pandatorea, and Mike almost doesn’t hear him because his ears are underwater.
“Mm,” Mike says. It’s noncommittal, meant to show interest while not showing anything else.
“He was flawed,” Jack tells him, but he says it like a good thing, like a great thing. Like he wouldn’t have Ianto any other way, even if that meant he could have Ianto back.
Mike is glad that Jack doesn’t ask him any questions. He doesn’t want to talk about Harvey; Harvey was so, so flawed.
Harvey was terse enough on a good day, but on a bad day, he got cranky. On those days, his hair would be immaculate and his tie perfectly knotted, not a single stray mark of pen on his fingers, and Mike would know: something had happened, because Harvey was trying too hard to make everyone believe that nothing had.
Mike would do everything he was supposed to on those days, as quickly and quietly as possible.
Harvey never said anything.
Jack dies six more times in the next two weeks—Gelth, Minotaur, Vashta Nerada, Toclafane, high temperature, and a sinking swamp—but is nowhere to be found the one time Mike really fears for his life.
The three of them are on Planet 84V in star system 4-X-Alpha-4, trying to find out what happened to an entire building-full of missing Gronbet workers, when Mike walks into an abandoned office and sees it: a man in a suit with a face straight out of Alien.
At first, Mike thinks that he’ll give the thing the benefit of the doubt, because maybe that’s attractive to his kind, but then the thing says to him, You will kill the Doctor, and that’s a bit much. The Doctor's beside him in a second, staring wide-eyed at the thing, and he wraps his fingers around Mike’s wrist.
“Here we go,” the Doctor says, never taking his eyes off of the creature. “Right, these things are called the Silence, and the problem with them is—”
There’s a giant crash out on the street below and both Mike and the Doctor instinctively look over their shoulders towards the noise.
“Mike!” the Doctor says brightly, turning back to him. “I’ve got a dead end, and Jack is making friends with the bartender across the street. Find anything?” And then he squints his eyes as he studies Mike’s face and says, “Are you okay? You look a bit worried.”
“Are you kidding me?” Mike says, backing them up slowly. The Silence takes one step forward for every step they take back. “What the fuck is that?”
The Silence just watches, passively.
“Oh, here we go,” the Doctor says, eyes trained on the Silence. “Right, these things are called the Silence, and the problem with them is—”
“Yeah, you’ve said that already,” Mike cuts him off. “It wants me to kill you.”
“Naturally,” the Doctor says, like it’s not really news, but then he perks up and says, “Wait—you remember that?” He looks at Mike for one second before his excitement smooths away into boredom. “Another dead end, I’d say. I haven’t found anything.”
“You’ve got to be joking,” Mike says, and the Silence watches.
You will kill the Doctor, the Silence says again.
Mike grabs the Doctor’s wrist and runs away.
The two of them make it back to the TARDIS, and Mike’s not proud of it, but for a second he thinks that the Doctor plans to leave Jack behind in the bar while they get the hell out of Dodge.
"You get us ready to go," Mike says, shoving the Doctor inside the TARDIS. "I'm going to go get Jack.”
"We can't just go," the Doctor says, and that's when Mike realizes that the Doctor isn't in the TARDIS to leave Jack on Planet 84V; he's there just to regroup. "There are loose ends here! Danger! Excitement!"
But Mike doesn't give a shit because he remembers the Silence, remembers them when no one else can, not even the Doctor, and there is a layer of terror that's sunk into his bones from that. The three of them don't owe anyone anything, and so Mike's not going to stick his neck out for nothing, not when there's no one who needs his help. He may not have much of a home to go back to, but he does plan on going back.
"I can fly the TARDIS," Mike reminds him, and there's nothing else that needs saying because the Doctor is smart enough to infer.
So Mike runs down the main street in the city to the bar that Jack is supposedly at. He doesn't see any of the Silence, and he doesn't see Jack, either, until he realizes that Jack's probably got someone pushed up against a wall somewhere out of the way. It's not that hard to find him after that, and he barely has to explain that they're leaving before Jack's the one dragging him back to the TARDIS.
"I've been forgotten before," Jack explains, and Mike thinks about five minutes ago. "Trust me, it's not pretty."
"Better to be forgotten than cut loose," Mike says, and Jack looks at him like he should know better.
"Aren't they the same thing?" he asks.
Mike supposes that he's right.
The Doctor paces the control room of the TARDIS as he tells them about the Silence—what he still knows from the last time, anyways—with one hand waving in the air like none of it is important.
“The Silence, who cares about the Silence? The Silence are boring,” he says. “What’s important is that you remember.”
“I remember everything,” Mike says.
“No one remembers the Silence,” the Doctor says. “That’s the whole point of them.”
"I'm not so sure I like not remembering them," Jack says. "The worst part is, I don't even know if I've seen them or not."
"It's not much better the other way around," Mike tells them, and they just look at him like they feel sorry for him.
"It's always better to remember," the Doctor says, hardly talking about the Silence anymore, and Jack adds, "Otherwise, what's the point of any of it?"
Mike doesn't know, and that's the point.
Harvey fell asleep once, when Mike was in his office with him one night, looking over case files for a smoking gun. At first, Mike couldn't believe it because it was Harvey, and Harvey would never, but there he was, head tilted back, asleep on the couch.
Mike walked over to him to wake him up, but once he got there, he couldn't do it, just stood there watching Harvey breathe evenly, his face unguarded and his eyelashes long against his cheeks. Mike wondered if Harvey ever looked like that awake: peaceful, calm. It looked good on him.
He let Harvey sleep for another hour or two, and only when he found something in the files did he wake Harvey up with fingers pressed to Harvey's wrist.
"Hey," he said. "Harvey, I've got something."
Harvey opened his eyes, just a little, and when he looked at Mike, the smallest and realest of smiles spread across his face.
"Hey," Harvey said back, and Mike's heart stopped because of how it sounded, and it sounded like everything Mike wanted.
Mike didn't know what to say, what he was supposed to say, and so instead he said, "They buried a clause," and then it was like Harvey really woke up. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes with the heels of his palms and then sat upright, looked at Mike again, differently. There was no smile on his face, no wrinkles at the corners of his eyes.
"Shit," Harvey said, his eyebrows drawn together as he frowned. "How long was I out?"
And all Mike could wonder was who Harvey thought he was at first, who it was that got to see Harvey like that all the time, and he wanted so badly to forget that Harvey could ever look that way, happy and relaxed and content, because he knew he'd never see it again.
He remembers it perfectly.