Author's Note: This story was written for Jet's 25 Prompts.


THE TROUBLE WITH TRIBBLES

"Hey, Harvey," Mike says breathlessly, trotting into Harvey's office like Harvey didn't expect him an entire half hour ago. Harvey can just make out the sound of this morning's drizzle dripping from his associate and onto the office's immaculate floor.

"Nice of you to show up," Harvey says, continuing to scan the brief in front of him. And yes, he knows the kid rides a bike, but would it kill him to be on time once in a while?

"Sorry; you know how it when it rains, and - "

"Forget it; come here," Harvey commands, waving him forward. With a beleaguered sigh, Mike moves closer, and Harvey sniffs and frowns. "On second thought, don't. You smell like wet dog."

Mike doesn't roll his eyes, but Harvey can tell he wants to. "Yeah, I know; that's what I've been trying to tell you."

"Wouldn't it be better just to shower?" Harvey asks, leaning back in his chair as his associate reaches into his coat and pulls out what resembles a gigantic hairball. "What is that?" It's one thing for the kid to show up to work with a briefcase full of weed. But this…

Mike stares at him. "It's a puppy, Harvey," he explains carefully, as if suddenly realizing Harvey is deficient. On perfect cue, bright, brown eyes peek from beneath the matted coat and a small, pink tongue flicks to its muddy nose.

"I know it's a puppy. What's it doing here?"

"Look, I found him on the way to work, and I was just - "

"Yeah, don't care," Harvey tells him. "Donna?" he says, glancing out the glass walls of his office toward his assistant, but she's pointedly ignoring him. Great.

"No!" Mike blurts, then looks sheepish when Harvey raises a brow. "I mean, can't we just - "

"Do we really need to have the conversation where I tell you why you can't keep the puppy?" Harvey drawls, as Mike unconsciously brings the puppy closer to his chest.

"No, but - "

"Good. Puppies are a lot of work, kid," Harvey persists, when Mike looks like he might further protest. "He might look like fun now, but when you get him home, it's a whole different story," he assures his associate. "He expects food and water and for you to take him out all the time. He chews up your carpet and runs off at the park, his barking keeps you up all night, and when suddenly he's old enough not to do those things anymore he gets sick and dies."

Mike blinks, apparently not having considered the gravity of the situation. "Wow."

"I know," Harvey replies, rising from his desk and steering the kid out the office doors. He pauses in front of Donna's desk, waits for back-up from his assistant. It doesn't come; apparently Harvey's on his own this morning. Fine; he knows how to handle this. "Okay, hand over the dog, and go file that patent I gave you last night," he instructs Mike, holding out his hands for the puppy.

Mike's blue eyes glance anxiously between the little mutt and his boss. "Maybe I should - "

"Mike." It's a single syllable, but Harvey can do a lot with it. Mike sighs again, but holds out the squirming puppy for Harvey to take. It's wet and matted and possibly diseased, and Harvey places one reluctant hand under its rump while the other holds him by the scruff. "Good boy," Harvey tells the kid, and Mike shoots Donna a long-suffering look before trudging damply toward his cubicle.

"You took away the boy's puppy? Really?" Donna finally asks from her desk, her slim brows arching in a way that tells Harvey she's both amused and mildly disappointed.

Harvey thrusts the puppy toward his assistant before he can change his mind. "Just take care of it, will you, Donna?"

"Take care of it?" Donna shakes her head, even as she reaches for the little dog with her perfectly manicured hands. "What do you want me to do?" she asks, turning the puppy in her grasp and considering the creature from all angles.

"I don't know; make a call."

Donna sets the puppy carefully in her lap. "Right. Maybe I can try that tall redhead who's buying up all the Dalmatian puppies," she suggests sweetly.

Harvey smirks. "That's cute."

Donna hums as she picks up her phone and dials. Harvey's about three steps away when he recognizes the jazzy stylings of Cruella DeVil.

It's going to be a long day.

*************************************

Snuffling. In his office.

Harvey looks up, expecting to see an allergy-afflicted Louis. Instead, a freshly-groomed brown and white puppy scampers across his office like Harvey's working in a goddamn meadow or something. Harvey's eyes immediately scan the floor, seeking potential deposits. "Donna!" Harvey barks, and the fluffy puppy glances up and wags its tail, barks back. Harvey is underwhelmed.

"Yeah," Donna says, now hovering innocently in Harvey's threshold.

Harvey jerks his chin toward the puppy, who's presently frolicking by Harvey's conference table. "This is your idea of taking care of it?"

Donna folds her arms. "What did you expect me to do, Harvey?"

"Your job?" he suggests, but she's already shaking her head.

"Not this time; you want him taken to the pound, you do it," she insists, nodding at the puppy for emphasis before pivoting on her high heel and returning to her desk.

"You think I won't?" Harvey demands, knowing damn well she can hear him through the intercom. "I will, you know. I won't lose any sleep over it," he warns, rising to his feet, but she's already taken her seat and is pretending to type away. Harvey walks over and scowls down at his tiny nemesis. "I bet you think you're pretty smart, don't you?" He scoops up the puppy, trying to ignore the enthusiastic licks to his chin as he carries it back out to Donna. "Fine," he grits. "Just put him somewhere until I can take care of it."

"Suit yourself," Donna says primly, taking the puppy from him. And that's the end of it. Or so he thinks.

************************

"Donna! That dog is in here again," Harvey growls, as a ball of fuzz bounces in his peripheral vision. Harvey keeps his head down and avoids engaging.

"Shit - he keeps getting out of his box," Donna explains.

"Have you tried staples?" Harvey snaps, before turning his gaze on the puppy, who's chewing on the corner of his leather briefcase. Harvey picks up his Wall Street Journal and leans over, swatting the rolled paper carefully against the puppy's furry backside. The puppy jumps with a small, high-pitched yip of surprise before turning accusatory eyes on Harvey.

"Don't look at me like that; actions have consequences," Harvey informs him sternly, sitting back up in his chair and returning to his file. A moment later, he feels a tug at his laces. He glances down to find the puppy chewing happily on the fine cord.

"You don't give up, do you?" he asks, exasperated. "Fine." Harvey relents, reaching down and snatching up the puppy. He plops it into his lap. "But only because I'm not getting any work done," he cautions, as the puppy looks up at him with hopeful eyes. "Don't get comfortable."

*******************************

" - and that's when they transport all the tribbles into the Klingon engine room. You're impressed, right? You should see me in court, I - " Harvey pauses, sees Mike's number on his cell phone. "Excuse me," Harvey says, with a slight eye-roll as he picks the phone up from his desk and flips it open. "Did you file the patent yet?"

"Yeah, and now I'm running an errand for Louis. Harvey, about the shelter - "

"You're still on the puppy? Seriously?"

"How do we know they won't euthanize him?"

"Look, if you want to make it in this business, you need to toughen up," Harvey reproves, scratching the base of the puppy's wagging tail as it nibbles at the top button of Harvey's waistcoat. "It's a dog eat dog world, kid," he says, making a face of mock surprise at the puppy's antics. "Stop worrying about your charity cases and start worrying about you. Got it?"

"Yeah, but - "

"See you when you get back." Harvey snaps the phone shut and sets in on his desk, shakes his head before lifting the puppy from his chest. He holds it above him, jostling it lightly as it pants into his face with obvious glee. "Now, where were we?"

********************************

Mike shows up at the end of the day, just as Harvey's leaning over Donna's desk. "He's going to need day care, an on-call dog sitter, and an appointment at the vet's."

"Already done," Donna replies with a knowing smile, and Harvey wonders again why he hasn't married her already. He ignores Mike's slack-jawed expression in favor of tucking his puppy beneath his arm and picking up his briefcase again.

"Come on, Tribble," he says to the puppy. "Places to go, people to see."

"Wait, wait, wait," Mike says, holding up a hand. "You're keeping the puppy?"

"Potential tax exemption," Harvey tells him. "Besides, women love him."

Mike's eyes narrow skeptically. "I thought puppies take up too much time?"

Harvey shrugs. "So do associates, but you're still around."

"Good point," Mike concedes quickly. As he should, considering all the trouble he causes.

"Are you holding a puppy, Harvey?" Shit. Harvey hasn't seen Jessica approach, although the smug look on Donna's face suggests she has. He turns, his lips curling into an easy smile.

"It's the kid's - was the kid's," he amends smoothly. "I'm just going to drop him at the shelter."

"I don't think so; give him to me."

Harvey blinks. "What?" he asks, but Jessica has already reached to lift the puppy from his grasp. It wriggles happily in her arms as the Managing Partner runs her fingertips through its soft fur.

"And what's your name?" Jessica coos in a tone Harvey's never heard before.

"Tribble," he replies, still uncertain what's just occurred.

Jessica throws him a beaming smile. "That's terrific," she says. "I want to see you in my office tomorrow morning to go over the Stanton-Griggs merger," she adds in afterthought, moving to leave.

"But I - "

The woman spins around, brows drawing together in concern. "Are we really going to have a conversation about why you can't take care of a puppy right now?"

"No," Harvey finds himself replying, as Mike coughs suspiciously behind him. "But - "

"Besides," Jessica continues, nodding meaningfully at Harvey's associate. "I think one puppy at a time is all you can handle, don't you?" She smiles again, and Harvey knows she's got him.

"Right," he agrees with a nod, watching the woman walk off, snuggling the puppy against her designer suit.

"Goodnight, boys," Donna bids dryly, slipping past them with her purse and heading for the elevators. Harvey shoves his hands into his pockets, more than a little disgruntled at the unexpected turn of events. So he's surprised when Mike's hand claps him on the shoulder.

"Don't feel bad; you've still got me."

"Great. I'll make sure to ask Donna for the name of that groomer," Harvey drawls.

"That's hilarious," Mike tells him. "Did you learn that in your copy of How to Make Friends and Influence People?"

Harvey smirks and gives the kid a light shove toward the elevators. "I ever tell you about the time Captain Kirk answers a priority-one distress call from Deep Space Station K-7?"

"Ah, no," Mike replies warily.

"Well, that's his first mistake, because you don't take unsolicited distress calls."

"You do realize that Star Trek was just a television show, right?" Mike asks, and Harvey resigns himself to filling in yet another of his associate's educational gaps. Maybe Jessica's right, and Mike really is all Harvey can handle.

Obviously, his puppy still has a lot to learn.

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