“You see? This is why I don’t have associates.” Harvey walked determinedly (Harvey Specter did not stomp or burst) into Jessica’s office.
Jessica raised a brow slightly, but otherwise gave no other outward reaction. Not that Harvey had noticed; he was too busy pacing and wearing a trail in her $3,000 carpet as he continued on his tangent about green associates who don’t know an opportunity when its yanking him around by the skinny tie.
Jessica had been expecting this conversation since Harvey had unexpectedly yielded and found a new associate not only the first day of interviews, but that morning. She had expected him to drag things out, just to make a point (despite his temporary run of good behavior for being promoted over Louis). So when the email alert popped up on her screen, stating that Mike Ross was Harvey Specter’s new associate, Jessica had made a quiet point of checking the kid out.
Young, good looking, charming, confident. Well spoken, but with a slight occasional stiffness and hesitancy that suggested he had worked hard to lose a natural accent or slur to his speech. Passable sense of style for a college kid, but she knew Harvey would upgrade that soon enough.
Smart, sharp as a tack, and quick on his feet–when he wasn’t stumbling over his own naivete and idealism. And that’s what had triggered her first alarm; most law students lost that wide-eyed sense of idealism in their first or second year of law school, especially one as stuffy and cut throat as Harvard. One of the first lessons you learned (usually taught by your fellow peers) was to not trust anyone at face value, not even your class mates, because some day they might be opposing counsel.
Harvey himself had lost that innocence to a worldly sense of cynicism a long time ago, and he didn’t have the patience to be around someone who didn’t already know the rules to the game. Everybody knew this. Which made Mike Ross that much more intriguing, since somehow he had managed to get under Harvey’s skin enough to be hired.
So Jessica had looked further. All associates were encouraged to have at least one letter of recommendation from a Harvard professor or alumni. Mike Ross did not have such a letter. From anyone. Jessica had almost gone to to confront Harvey at that point, but had instead decided to sit back and watch to see how things played out. She had a feeling that there were too many things in Mike Ross’s history that had resonated with Harvey’s own life, but their futures ran side by side, not on the same path.
“You know how parents half-jokingly tell their children, ‘I hope you have a son or daughter just like you, so you can know what I went through’?” She commended idly, after a moment. Her smile widened as Harvey’s forehead creased slightly in puzzlement, waiting for the punchline. “I told you to find me another exception, Harvey. I didn’t expect for you to find a mini-me.”
“Mike? Like me? Hardly.” He scoffed. “I think today clearly illustrated the many differences between us.”
“Exactly.” Jessica’s smile and the glint in her eye hardened. “You hired an associate, Harvey, not a minion, and certainly not the ‘usual Harvard douche’, as you so eloquently put it, who is intent on becoming ‘Harvey junior.’ Mike Ross has the potential to be something great, or else you wouldn’t have taken a chance on him. But he’s still his own person. So stop trying to force your methods and mannerisms on him, because obviously they aren’t working as you would prefer.”
“Don’t play the facts, play the man.” Harvey murmured, and stopped pacing to look at her. “That’s it.” He turned smoothly and strode away without another word.
Jessica rolled her eyes at his retreating figure, and returned to the file in her lap. Harvey was one of the best she had ever taught, and she had a feeling Mike Ross would someday exceed even Harvey’s expectations, but they would never realize that it was Jessica who called the plays, pushed and praised and bullied her players to do her bidding.
Play the man, indeed.