Rating- PG-13 overall for now
Genre- slash, first-time, domestic/family/kid fic, fluff, drama, plotty
Wordcount- 9000 (3600 part b)
Disclaimer- I do not own Suits. Harvey and Mike belong to their creators, but Kayla, Amy, Malcolm, and Janet are all mine!
Overall Summary- Mike and Harvey both deal with family issues, while on the way forming a family of their own.
Chapter Summary- Mike and Harvey decide how to respond to Amy's petition for sole custody of Kayla.
A/N- originally written for a kidfic prompt here at suitsmeme.
*** Previous Chapter *** Master Post ***
Four hours later, Harvey had called together their client Mrs. Beckford, the owner of the tabloid that had printed a story about her using drugs, and the owner’s lawyer, and had gotten the tabloid owner to agree to pay the amount that Mrs. Beckford wanted for defamation of character. The case was over, and so was his work day. Harvey called Ray to drive him and Mike to Kayla’s daycare center to pick her up
Kayla, oblivious to the custodial tug-of-war that had begun in which she served as the rope, was overjoyed to see them. She proudly showed Harvey the drawing she had made while Mike explained to Mrs. Hood, Kayla’s teacher, about Amy’s petition for sole custody. Harvey didn’t try to involve himself in the conversation but watched them talking from where he stood with Kayla at the other side of the room, wishing he could hear what was being said. He gathered from Mrs. Hood’s reaction that whoever had come wanting to see Kayla must have seemed very determined to get her, and he wondered if it would be safe to leave her at the daycare.
“Uncle Harvey!” Kayla whined, tugging at his arm. “Liiiisten to Kayla!” Harvey tore his eyes from Mike and looked down at the little girl. He smiled as he knelt down to be on her level, a more genuine smile than the one he’d been forcing since he entered the classroom.
“I’m sorry, baby. Uncle Harvey has a lot on his mind right now.”
“Look at my picture,” she insisted, shoving it into his face. Harvey took the sheet of paper in his hands and held it back far enough that he could see it clearly. He smiled when he recognized what it was, even in a child’s proportionally-challenged rendering: the bedroom Mike had described in the bedtime story he told Kayla after they had brought her home from the hospital, bright orange walls with green polka dots on them, and a red racecar bed. A stick figure with blonde hair and blue eyes and another with what looked like antennae coming off of its head –presumably Kayla and her stuffed bunny Ruffles- stood next to the bed.
“It’s beautiful, Kayla,” Harvey told her earnestly.
“Daddy says we’ll move soon, and I’ll get my own bedroom,” Kayla told him. “It’s gonna be just like in the story!”
“Yeah? Will you have seven bedrooms like in the story?” Harvey asked playfully.
Kayla frowned at him. “Course not, silly! It won’t be a castle.”
Harvey put a hand to his mouth to keep from laughing. “You’re right, Kayla, of course it won’t be a castle.”
“But I’m gonna have a pony,” Kayla insisted.
“Did Daddy tell you that?” Harvey asked, struggling to keep the grin from his face.
“No, but I will,” the little girl replied. “’Cause I want one.” Harvey couldn’t stifle his laughter as he listened to Kayla’s straight-faced proclamation. He chuckled softly and pulled her close in a hug.
“And of course Princess Kayla gets everything she wants,” he teased, but it went over the little girl’s head.
“Noooo,” Kayla whined, pulling back. “Not Princess Kayla. I told you, it’s not a castle. Just Kayla, not a princess.” Harvey shook his head at her, a wide smile pulling at his lips. Kayla turned her attention to her canvas tote bag, stuffing the bedroom drawing into it and pulling out another. “Look,” she said, “I drew the king and queen and the mermaid.”
Kayla held the second drawing out to him, and Harvey took it. There were four stick figures, one of which he recognized as Kayla’s representation of herself. On one side of her stood two figures with a series of yellow spikes protruding from their heads, presumably the king and queen wearing their crowns. To the other side was a figure with a zigzag of green lines where its legs should have been and spirals of red curly hair coming from its head, the mermaid. But what interested Harvey most about the artwork wasn’t the awkward execution, but the way Kayla had drawn the two crowned figured, the king and queen, her parents in the story. Neither wore a dress like he would have expected a child to draw on a queen. Instead, both were wearing what he recognized as Kayla’s interpretation of suits. Both had short brown hair, and one had blue dots for eyes and the other brown.
“What’re you two laughing about?” Mike asked as he came to join them, probably trying for cheerfulness in his tone but falling somewhat short. Harvey wordlessly thrust the drawing into Mike’s hands.
“It’s Princess Kayla, the king and queen, and the mermaid,” Kayla explained to her father. Mike looked over the picture, presumably spotted exactly what Harvey had, and met his eyes with a curious look.
“You must be the queen,” Harvey said. Mike raised his eyebrows incredulously, but the affronted expression was ruined by the blush on his cheeks.
“I am so not the queen. You’re the queen.”
“No, you’re the queen,”
“No, you are!”
They continued their good-humored bickering back and forth as they took Kayla from the daycare, each of them holding one of her little hands as they walked across the parking lot, and finally loaded her into the car. When they had finished strapping Kayla into the infant seat, instead of the usual, “No, you are” comeback Mike turned to his daughter, who had been watching their exchange delightedly, and asked her, “Kayla, baby, who’s the queen and who’s the king in this drawing?” He held it out to her and she took it in her hands. Her little face scrunched up in thought as the two men waited eagerly for their answer.
“Weeeeell,” she said at last, the word slow and drawn out, “Daddy is Daddy…” Then her face lit up as if it all made sense. “So Uncle Harvey must be Mommy!”
Harvey’s jaw dropped at the statement. He felt on some level that he ought to be insulted, but Kayla looked too pleased with herself for him to even attempt to correct her. On her other side, Mike was laughing hysterically, the tension that had built up throughout the day finally breaking apart.
The laughter subsided into giggles and finally ceased altogether, and Mike looked up at Harvey with a huge grin plastered across his face. “Told you you were the queen,” he said. Then he turned to Kayla and held out his fist to her. Harvey watched in amazement at the little girl touched her tiny fist to Mike’s knuckle and giggled when he spread out his fingers and made an explosion noise with his mouth.
“I can’t believe you’re teaching our daughter how to fist bump,” Harvey said, shaking his head in mock-disapproval.
“It’s a valuable life skill,” Mike replied, still grinning. He didn’t comment on Harvey referring to Kayla as their child. After Kayla had stated outright that she thought of them as her parents, it seemed that there was no need to comment on it.
* * *
Mike didn’t say anything when Harvey sent Ray away after the three of them got out in front of Mike’s apartment building. If Harvey had sent Ray home, it meant that he intended to stay with Mike, for a little while at least, and Mike was glad for that. Having Harvey around always helped steady him, and he knew he would need it now.
As soon as Mike had the door to his apartment opened, Kayla squeezed through and dropped her bag next to the door before running inside to grab Ruffles off of the bed. She’d gotten to the point where she didn’t feel the need to take him to the daycare, but she liked to have him with her whenever she was home. Mike followed Harvey into the apartment and locked the door behind them, then let his messenger bag fall to the ground next to Kayla’s little canvas bag decorated with glitter and fabric paint. He turned to Harvey, the smile he’d been wearing since picking Kayla up melting away from his face.
“What’re we going to tell her?” he asked. His voice sounded hollow and worn to his own ears.
“She’s three years old,” Harvey murmured, glancing over at Kayla as if to make sure they weren’t being overheard. “How much do you think she’ll understand?”
“We have to tell her something,” Mike reasoned. “I don’t want her being caught off guard if… if she has to leave here.” Mike looked over at his daughter, struck by the sudden need to make certain she was still there. She was sitting on his bed talking to her stuffed rabbit, completely unaware of what was happening between her parents. He wished he could let her stay innocent, but he knew it would be more cruel to keep her from knowing what was going on until Amy came to take her away. “And besides,” he said, turning back to Harvey, “after she called you ‘Mommy’ earlier, I want to make sure she at least remembers who Amy is.”
“Alright.” Harvey nodded. “Whatever you think is best. She is your daughter.” Mike could feel the shift in in Harvey’s manner like a sudden drop in temperature, the change from “our daughter” to “your daughter” painfully obvious. He bit his lip as he looked over at Harvey, but couldn’t think of anything to say to make things right between them. He wasn’t even sure what would constitute “right” between them at that point.
“Kayla, can you come over here a minute?” Mike called to his daughter. She looked over at him, smiled, and jumped up from the bed, running over to hug his leg and grin up at him. Mike smiled sadly and knelt to pick her up. He sat on the couch with Kayla on his lap, and saw from the corner of his eye Harvey come to stand behind the couch at his side. “Kayla, you remember your Mommy, don’t you?”
Kayla nodded. “Uncle Harvey is Mommy.”
Mike exchanged a worried look with Harvey. “No, Kayla, I mean your real Mommy. Amy. You remember her, right?” he asked hopefully.
Kayla nodded again. “Mommy dropped me off here.”
Mike let out a soft sigh of relief. “That’s right, baby, Mommy dropped you off here. And now she wants to see you again.”
“Mommy’s coming?” Kayla asked. She seemed more curious than excited, which seemed a bit off to Mike. He thought of hos little Kayla had seemed to miss Amy when she’d first been dropped off with him, and wondered not for the first time how Amy had treated Kayla during those five months she’d been gone.
“Not exactly,” Mike answered slowly, trying to think of a way to explain the situation that his daughter would understand. “Mommy wants you to live with her.”
“What do you mean, when?”
“I lived with Mommy and Daddy, then only Mommy, and now Daddy and Uncle Harvey. If I live with Mommy, when do I come home with Daddy and Uncle Harvey?”
“I don’t know, baby. Right now your mom wants you to be with her all the time.”
“I wouldn’t see you, Daddy?” Kayla asked, her eyes going wide and her voice rising with horror.
“That’s what your mom wants, sweetheart,” Mike explained. He wondered if this constituted turning a child against their other parent. He didn’t want to prejudice Kayla against Amy, even if Amy was trying to take her away, but it was difficult to find the middle ground between telling her the truth and saying too much.
“No!” Kayla cried, and Mike’s breath caught in his throat when he saw the tears beginning to fill her big blue eyes. “No! I wanna stay with Daddy! I wanna stay!” She wrapped her hands in Mike’s shirt and buried her face in his chest, whimpers growing into outright sobs that wrung Mike’s heart. He looked up at Harvey for assistance, and the other man met him with a deer-in-the-headlights expression that Mike was sure matched his own.
He laid a hand on Kayla’s back, rubbing in circles that were meant to be soothing. “It’s okay, Kayla, it’s okay,” he murmured gently. Harvey stepped around to the front of the couch and sat next to Mike, placing his hand alongside Mike’s on Kayla’s back.
After what seemed to Mike to be hours of heart-wrenching weeping, Kayla’s sobs faded into sniffles until finally she pulled away from him, wiped her nose on the sleeve of her shirt, and looked up at them, her eyes and face red, her hair disheveled. “I don’ wanna go,” she said in a tiny, hiccupping voice. Mike didn’t have the heart to say that she might have to.
“Kayla, your Daddy doesn’t want you to leave,” Harvey said gently. “And neither do I. But don’t you want to see your mother again?”
The little girl shook her head furiously, her hair flying everywhere. “Nuh-uh! Stay with Daddy alla time!”
Mike sighed. He knew there would be no talking with her about it now, not when she was still too upset to consider things rationally. But then, perhaps wanting a three-year-old to think rationally was too much to ask in the first place. “Listen, Kayla,” he said softly. “I think you miss your Mommy, and I think that you want to see her again.” Kayla opened her mouth, probably to deny it, but Mike put a finger to her lips. “Listen to Daddy, baby. I think you should spend time with both your parents, understand? With Mommy and Daddy. Don’t you want to see Mommy again?”
Kayla shook her head again, and Mike sighed in frustration. “Listen, Kayla,” Mike said, a little more harshly than he’d meant to. He was getting annoyed, with Kayla for throwing a tantrum and making things difficult and also with himself for not knowing what to say. He didn’t want to turn Kayla against her mother, but he was going to say it how it was, and she could draw whatever conclusion she wanted. “Your mother wants to keep you with her all the time, so that we wouldn’t see each other. I want you to spend time with both of us. But it’s up to a judge what happens.” He didn’t bother asking what Kayla wanted. He knew that at this point she would only say that she wanted to stay with him permanently, even though he was fairly certain that she did want to see her mother again and spend time with her.
“Alright, Kayla, Daddy’s done talking,” Harvey murmured. “Why don’t you and Ruffles go play?” Kayla nodded and slipped down from Mike’s lap to the floor. She walked slowly back to the bed where she sat down, clutching her doll to her chest and sniffling. Mike buried his face in his hands.
“It’s alright,” Harvey said gently, placing a hand on Mike’s back. “Sometimes kids throw tantrums. There’s nothing you can do about it, and it doesn’t make you a bad parent.”
“I still feel like one,” Mike mumbled into his hands. “I made her cry. I mad her hate her mother.”
“She got mad at Amy on her own,” Harvey reasoned. “And she’ll calm down on her own, too. By the time we have our first meeting she’ll probably be happy to see her mother again. Hey, look at me.” Harvey put a hand on Mike’s shoulder and gently pulled him up. Mike met his gaze, feeling emotionally exhausted. He knew Harvey probably felt the same, and that it wasn’t fair for him to be relying on Harvey to make him feel better when Harvey probably needed comfort just as much as he did, but he couldn’t stop himself from looking to Harvey to help him.
“Listen,” Harvey said gently, “what you said about her wanting both of her parents is right. Unless one of the parents is a truly awful person, no kid wants to grow up not knowing their mother or father. You’ve got Kayla’s best interests at heart. If Amy’s trying to take her away from you, then she’s only looking out for herself, not for Kayla. You are a good parent, Mike. Trust me on this.” Mike nodded and forced a smile, feeling relieved.
“Every parent over the course of raising their child has one of those days when they’re in the middle of a crowded store and their kid’s screaming and they just stand there staring at them because they’re exhausted and overworked and they’re not sure what to do,” Harvey said, a smile playing at the edges of his lips. “Most parents have more than one. This was mild compared to half the things you’re going to have to deal with before she’s grown. If you don’t plan on giving her to Amy, you’d better get used to it.”
Mike laughed softly. “I guess so,” he said. He looked over at Kayla, who seemed to have calmed down and was once again talking to Ruffles, her nose pressed up against the rabbit’s as she whispered secrets to it. The scene couldn’t fail to put a smile on Mike’s face, no matter how drained or stressed he felt. “I’m not worried, though,” Mike said, turning back to Harvey. “As long as you’re helping me, everything will turn out fine.” He held out his hand to Harvey, and the older man took it without hesitation.
“She’s a great girl,” Harvey said. “She’ll grow up just fine.”
“Yeah,” Mike smiled. “I think you’re right.”
Several hours later, Kayla had, as Harvey promised, gotten over her tantrum and returned to being the bright, sweet girl that Mike knew and loved. She had come over and climbed up on the couch between them, gabbing happily as if nothing had happened, and they had watched a few hours of mindless children’s programs on TV together, which Kayla was enthralled by and Mike and Harvey made jokes about over her head. Then Harvey had gone through Mike’s kitchen, declared it woefully under stocked, and yet still somehow managed to cook a delicious meal from the meager supplies at hand. They had gotten Kayla bathed, put her to bed, and cleaned the kitchen together, Mike washing and Harvey drying because Mike’s apartment didn’t have a dishwasher. Now it was late, and Mike could tell by the way Harvey was glancing at his watch and at his briefcase lying by the door that he was thinking about heading home.
“Well,” Harvey sighed at last as he rose to his feet, “Jessica will probably have another case for us tomorrow, so we should both get a good night’s sleep.” Mike sighed softly and rose to walk with him to the door. They stood together in the doorway without speaking, Harvey giving him one last long, sad look before reaching for the door handle. Without thinking, Mike put out his hand to stop him. Their eyes locked, though neither of them had the courage of the eloquence to say what they were thinking. This was the exact situation they had been in two nights earlier, and Mike remembered all too clearly the awkwardness that had resulted from the unacknowledged but painfully obvious feelings Harvey had displayed that night. He knew he shouldn’t encourage Harvey, knew he had more than enough on his hands and didn’t need more drama, but all the same… He wanted Harvey to stay. Not to sleep with him, certainly, with Kayla in the same room; not even necessarily to kiss him or say that he loved Mike, but just… to stay.
Mike took his hand back from Harvey’s slowly. “You, ah, you don’t have to go, you know,” Mike said. He licked his lips, glancing away from Harvey and then back apprehensively. “I mean, I know you have a place,” Mike continued, starting to ramble in his nervousness, “and I know it’s nicer than mine, and you’d probably rather stay there. And of course there’s no reason why you should want to stay here, since all I have is the bed and the couch and probably neither of us can use the bed anyway since we’d wake Kayla up if we tried, but all I’m saying is, if you want…” he trailed off, looking into Harvey’s eyes half hoping the other man would silence him before he embarrassed himself further, then took a deep breath and finally said, “You can stay here.”
Harvey smiled tenderly and shook his head. Mike knew him well enough to see the sadness that tinged that smile. “Like you said, Mike, I’ve got my own place. I don’t want to intrude. I know there isn’t room for me.”
Mike nodded, ducking his head to hide his disappointment. It was true that there wasn’t room, and he knew it. But he also knew that Harvey meant more than that by those words. He watched Harvey open the door and step out into the hall, turning back to say goodbye one last time. “Harvey,” Mike said, catching his eye once more. “I just want you to know… what Kayla said before, it’s the truth. You are a part of this family. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
Harvey’s smile seemed more genuine this time. “I feel the same way,” he said softly. “Goodnight, Mike.”
“’Night,” Mike murmured as he watched Harvey turn and walk away. He stood at the door watching until Harvey got into the elevator and the doors closed behind him. Then he stepped back into his apartment, locked the door, and leaned back against it with a sigh. Mike ran a hand over his face and back through his hair, wondering what he was doing, and what he was going to do.