Title: 4 AM Forever
By: angstytimelord
Pairing: Michael Cutter/Ryan O'Halloran
Fandom: Law & Order/Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Rating: PG-13
Warning: previous non-con
Disclaimer: This is entirely a product of my own imagination, and I make no profit from it. I do not own the lovely Michael Cutter or Ryan O'Halloran, unfortunately, just borrowing them for a while. Please do not sue.


Ryan threw back the covers, sliding out of bed carefully before pulling the sheets up around Mike's shoulders. He'd been restless and unable to sleep for most of the night, but he didn't want to disturb his boyfriend's rest; he knew that Mike had a big case in the morning.

He'd had a hard time sleeping ever since the suppressed memories of the rape had come back to him; even though Mike understood why he was tossing and turning, he didn't want to wake his boyfriend and make him worry. Mike worried about him enough already.

It was better if he simply got up and went into the living room, settled down with a book and tried to read until he got sleepy enough to go back to bed. If Mike awakened during the night before he went back to bed, then he could explain the problem to his lover.

But he doubted that would happen. At least, he hoped not. Ryan shook his head, feeling guilt seep through him. Mike would probably be a lot better off with somebody who didn't have such a multitude of problems that weighed him down. His boyfriend had enough to deal with as it was.

Sighing softly, Ryan made his way to the picture window, pulling back the curtain slightly and leaning his head against the glass. He searched the street far below, not caring that he was naked except for the thin boxer shorts that he'd begun wearing to bed.

If anybody saw him, they would be too far away to see his face -- and he wasn't completely nude, so it wasn't as though they would get an eyeful of anything they shouldn't see. They would more than likely just wonder why he was looking out of the window so late at night.

He wasn't entirely sure himself just why he was here. He hadn't wanted to wake Mike with his restlessness, but there was mroe to it than that. He wasn't just physically restless -- that uneasiness reached deep within him, a feeling that he couldn't escape from.

It wouldn't be much longer before he had to face Stuckey in a court of law, look into that horrible face again and endure the other man's smirking countenance. It didn't matter that Stuckey wouldn't ever be able to touch him again; he'd already done so, and gotten away with it.

Jack McCoy had taken on the case; he'd determined that even though he was Mike's boss, it wasn't a conflict of interest for him to represent Ryan, as the two of them didn't know each other well. There was no personal relationship there, and he trusted Jack's judgment.

If he was honest with himself, he didn't really want Mike representing him. He knew that his boyfriend was good at his job, and he trusted Mike's professional prowess, but it would put his lover through too much stress to deal with this situation as his lawyer.

Their emotions would be running high as it was; having Mike as his legal counsel would only complicate things more than they needed to be. Fortunately, Mike seemed to understand his reasoning, even though Ryan was sure that he wanted to be in the thick of things nonetheless.

But he wasn't going to let Mike do that to himself. Their relationship wasn't going to be put under that kind of stress, not if he could help it. People would be looking at them through a microscope as it was; he didn't need to make things even more tense.

He glanced up at the clock on the wall; somehow, it always seemed that whenever he was restless during the night, it was at around the same time. It was four in the morning, the time when he always seemed to feel the most alone and vulnerable.

Lately, it had seemed as though it was four a.m. forever. Even when he had Mike by his side, when he was in his boyfriend's arms, when they were as close as they could be, he could feel a barrier between them, one that he didn't know how to cross or knock down.

That was a terrifying idea, the thought that he might never be able to scale that wall that now seemed to exist between himself and the man he loved. He didn't want to believe that it would always be there; feeling separated from Mike was crushing the life out of him.

Maybe this was what Stuckey had wanted all along, he thought, feeling unwanted tears rise and blinking them back. Maybe he had wanted his victim to feel alone, naked and vulnerable, afraid to let anyone touch him or get close to him. That was certainly the effect he was having.

Stuckey had somehow managed to come between him and Mike without even trying. The thought made Ryan clench his hands into fists, wishing that he could pound those fists into Stuckey's face. He wanted to kill that little bastard, eradicate him from the face of existence.

Of course, he couldn't do that. Resorting to violence would make him no better than Stuckey; he wouldn't sink that low, not for any reason. But he had every right to be angry about what had been done to him, and he wasn't going to tamp that anger down.

He had to find a way to come to terms with it, though that wouldn't be easy. If he didn't have Mike beside him, he probably would never be able to find a way to do that; if he'd been alone when those memories had come flooding back, they would have overwhelmed him.

But he did have Mike, Ryan reminded himself. He wasn't alone, and he never would be again. Mike wasn't going to back off or turn away from him just because he'd found out something about his past that wasn't entirely palatable, or because they were having a few problems.

Closing his eyes, he brought an image of his boyfriend to his mind -- Mike smiling and taking his hand, Mike holding him after they'd made love, Mike laughing at something he'd said. The mere thought of his lover could make him feel calmer, more settled, less restless.

Why was it that he always felt like this at the same time of the night? Maybe it was because he knew that Mike wouldn't be awake then, and he wanted to avoid putting more stress on his boyfriend at all costs. It was easier to deal with his restlessness alone; after all, he'd always done that.

A little voice in the back of his mind kept insisting that he should go to Mike and talk to him about how he felt -- that was part of being in a relationship, wasn't it? He should be sharing his problems and his worries with Mike, not trying to hide them.

No, he couldn't do that, Ryan thought with a soft sigh. Mike had enough to deal with -- and he was helping with those problems simply by being here, by loving him, by being his rock and giving him a safe haven, by letting him know that he wasn't alone.

These four a.m. forays into his own little world, a world that he felt he couldn't share with Mike, had to stop. He needed to share his feelings with his lover, needed to let Mike in completely. His failure to do that was one of the things that was putting up walls between them.

But after being on his own and dealing with his problems by himself for so long, it was so hard to let anyone in -- even the man he loved more than life itself. Maybe it would be four a.m. forever in his world, and in that infinite space of time, he would always be alone and apart.

That wasn't true, he told himself fiercely. He had Mike; he wasn't alone. But if he didn't let his boyfriend into his thoughts, if he didn't make an effort to tell Mike everything, then he would be more alone within himself than he had been when he didn't have Mike in his life.

It was past time for him to share his feelings with Mike in every way. He should have been doing that all along, Ryan told himself ruefully. Maybe then, this barrier wouldn't have built up between them, holding them apart when they should be even closer than they already were.

Slowly, Ryan let the curtains fall back into place, though he didn't move away from the window right away. He didn't feel that he could go back into the bedroom yet; he was still too restless, still too capable of waking Mike and not knowing what to tell his boyfriend.

Mike might want to talk, and he had no idea what to say. But he had to open up to his lover sometime -- and it might as well be tonight as any other time, he told himself, trying to keep his inner voice strong and firm. If Mike woke up when he got back into bed, this might be the best time for it.

He might not know what to say, but something told him that when he was back in Mike's arms, the words would come more easily. He couldn't let it stay four a.m. forever; he had to banish this restlessness and take more firm control of his life and his future.

Turning towards the back of the apartment, he padded silently across the carpet, heading for their bedroom. If Mike didn't wake up when he slipped back into bed, then he'd simply try to go back to sleep -- but if he did, it was time for them to talk, even if it was the middle of the night.