Author's Note: This is definitively the last chapter of this fic. There shall be no more! Thank you for coming along the journey with me! It was a pleasure writing it for your enjoyment. =)
Edit: I've noticed a lot of people clicking directly to this chapter. There is a new chapter before this. You got two new chapters, so don't forget to click back first!
Epilogue : Returned
Going back to work was a surreal experience. Everyone stared at them as they walked off the elevator to head to their respective offices. Harvey did his best to try and ignore them, but Mike had squirmed under so much attention and kept his head ducked as he followed his boss. Just as he was about to head down the hall that led to the associate's bullpen, Harvey called to him, "Mike, I have contracts I need you to draw up." So Mike slunk off after to him, trying to brush off the feeling as everyone continued to stare. "Don't you all have work to do?" Harvey snarled, causing most of the eyes to immediately fall back on their appointed tasks.
Donna was already sitting at her computer when they approached. She gave Harvey a cool look, but smiled gently enough at Mike as she put the contracts at the top of her cubicle for him to pick up.
"This isn't everything I wanted him to do," Harvey said, glancing at the small stack that was barely an inch thick.
"It's your first day back. He is not going to stay late like it was any normal day."
"It is a normal day, Donna. He needs to get back into routine."
"I think otherwise and so does Jessica," she replied with a fierce look that was just begging for a fight with him.
Harvey scowled, but then turned to Mike and said, "I want those on my desk by noon and then you're going to get something to eat or Donna will force feed you."
Mike flicked his eyes over to Donna who still held her warm smile for him, but there was a glint in her eye that suggested she was not above doing that on Harvey's orders. "Just so you know, Harvey, I cleared your afternoon up so that you don't have anything to do and you can go home and rest."
"I'm fine," the lawyer bit back with a glower.
The associate tried to appear absorbed by the contracts he was looking over as he ferociously bit his lip trying to keep from mentioning to Harvey that he still looked quite ill. Once out of the hospital and after hours and hours of sleep, the older lawyer looked leagues better than he had the last time Mike saw him, but there were still dark circles under his eyes and he could tell that Harvey was still congested just by the inflection in his voice.
"You can't get over pneumonia in just five days, Harvey. It takes at least two weeks," Donna replied, reminding him of what Mike had said to him not three days earlier.
"I don't have two weeks!"
"You're right, but you can take it easy for a little while. I promise that resting will not kill you."
"And you call me the slave driver."
"Well, if I only have four hours to do this, then I'm going to get started," Mike said loudly, hoping to make a clean break and distract them enough to keep them from sniping at each other. Instead, they just ignored him, so he decided to make a quick retreat before either one of them could pull him into their argument.
"Hey look, it's Ross! Dun dun dun! The mighty waste of space makes his comeback. Is it true the reason you got kidnapped was because you made eye contact with a mob boss?" Gregory called out as soon as Mike came into view.
He closed his eyes, trying to keep the agitation down. He really thought they might cut him some slack from their teasing after he starved for four days in a shipping container, but a little human dignity appeared to be a bit much to ask for and he sighed. Now he almost wished he was back in the shipping container, as boring as it had been, he at least did not have to listen to the other associates' harsh words. He sat down behind his cubicle without answering, in the hopes that they might give up their fishing, but after nearly a week deprived of their favorite target, they were chomping at the bit to release some of their pent up vitriol.
"That's what you heard? I heard he said something stupid, as usual. You know how he is, wrong place and wrong time all at once," Kyle said. He, Greg, and a few of the others who were especially evil to him were now crowding and hanging over his desk, even as he reached for the first contract to begin his work.
Steve made a show of sniffing loudly and said, "Four days in a shipping container? You stink like a skunk on a regular basis, but you must have smelled like rotting meat after you got out. No wonder Mr. Specter sent you home the minute he woke up."
Mike did his best to appear like the words were not affecting him, but he subconsciously drew his shoulders up as he ducked his head even further down and his ears grew warm from embarrassment.
"I heard he got sick with pneumonia and yet, somehow, you didn't. This proves my suspicions all along that you really are a walking disease," Kyle said with his characteristic evil smirk.
The low hum of the associate's chuckling as one smart remark after another rained down on him, but he continued on with his work, shutting them out. It was only when he felt a certain presence that he glanced up, startled and asked, "Harvey, what are you doing here?"
A deathly silence fell over the five associates as they all turned around to find themselves standing practically toe to toe with Harvey Specter, was glaring down at them all with energy Mike hadn't seen since before the shipping container. "You five. Follow me," he said and he began walking back in the direction of his office, not even glancing back. There was no way a single one of the hapless associates would duck out on Harvey freaking Specter and they followed him, trembling from head to toe.
Mike couldn't keep a pleased smile from spreading over his face as he watched them go, pale and shaky, but he did feel a pang of disappointment that Harvey had not ripped them a new one in front of all the other associates.
"Where the hell is everybody?"
The associate glanced up in surprise to find Louis looking in vain at all the empty desks that would normally be filled with his lackeys practically falling all over themselves to his bitch work.
"Harvey's…lecturing them," Mike replied dully.
"Well, then you can do these. On my desk, tomorrow morning," Louis said, walking around his desk to stack a foot high stack of briefs. "Happy proofing." He left with a particularly nasty smile and Mike tried to keep from groaning. He was going to need another entire pot of coffee to get through the day, but first he would get through Harvey's contracts.
Barely two minutes later, Harvey returned with all five the associates and his own stack of papers and then he turned to face them all. Using Mike's cubicle as a prop he placed his papers on, he dug out a stack of papers twice as big as Mike's and shoved them into Kyle's hands. "See these contracts? I want them done by the end of the day, in my office."
"Wha – ? But – but, there's no wa – "
"Mike could do it," Harvey said, lowering his eyes to a threatening glare. "You want to be my associate, then you better goddamn prove you have what it takes."
Kyle paled and accepted the papers without further complaint.
He dug out another stack, bigger than Kyle's and promptly shoved them off into Greg's hands. "The Pentium briefs. There better not be a single comma out of place when you put these on my desk at the end of the day."
Greg's eyes widened comically and he worked his mouth like a fish as though he were daring to protest, but then he glanced at Kyle and glumly accepted the stack.
One by one, he handed each of them a stack of papers that was far more work than the deadlines he was giving them. "Now, you will do these assignments in the time allotted or I will tell Jessica exactly what you said to my associate. Now, I will be in meetings for the rest of the day and you are all expected to report to Donna. She knows to expect you." Harvey said with a wicked smirk. Just as they turned to go to their respective desks, the senior partner said, "Oh and Kyle," he reached over Mike's cubicle and picked up the briefs that Louis had just dumped on him, "Louis needs these by tomorrow morning."
Kyle looked about ready to faint as he added the extra one thousand pages to his already large stack of paperwork and trotted off without another word.
Harvey turned to Mike. "What are you smirking at? You still need to get those contracts done before noon."
Mike just grinned up at him knowingly. "I'm sure that's the only reason."
"Damn right it is. I could see how quickly you were getting them done with them looming over your cubicle. We already have a shit ton of work to do, so I'm feeling even less tolerant of screw-ups."
The look he received from Mike alone was enough to convey his thought, Because you were so tolerant before the shipping container…
"Don't roll your eyes at me. Remember, I've got Donna watching your ass too."
Mike just snorted. It certainly hadn't taken long to get back into the swing of things. It was not quite a normal day at Pearson Hardman, but he had a feeling it would only be a few days before it was.
His nightmares had already started to fade.