Title: Candy in the Sun
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.


"You're treating me differently."

"What?" Michael raised his head from the treatise he was reading, regarding Ryan with a slight frown. "No, I'm not, Ryan. I'm not treating you any differently than I have since we first started seeing each other. What's different about our relationship now?"

"Everything." Ryan didn't look at Mike as he got up and crossed the room to stare out of the window; his movements were slow, as though he had to force himself to stand up and walk away from where the two of them had been sitting on the couch.

Mike repressed the urge to sigh; he had known that Ryan would be going through a period like this sooner or later, and he was determined to see his boyfriend through it. Ryan was going into the anger stage, and he'd need all the support he could get while he was there.

He didn't blame Ryan for lashing out at the people around him; Mike didn't know what it was like to feel the helplessness that his lover must be going through, but he'd seen enough victims who were in this stage to be able to sympathize with it.

It cut him to the quick to think for even a moment that Ryan could actually mean what he was saying; he was going to have to remind himself several times that this was his boyfriend's anger speaking, not his rational mind. Ryan needed compassion, not arguments.

He stood up slowly, not wanting to startle Ryan but knowing that he needed to hold his boyfriend, to be close to him. He moved behind the younger man, gently sliding his arms around Ryan's slender waist and standing close to him in front of the window.

"I don't mean to treat you differently, sweetheart," he said softly, closing his eyes for a moment and resting his cheek against the softness of Ryan's dark hair. "You know I don't. If I am, then I don't realize it, and I'm sorry. I just don't want to rush you into anything, Ryan."

Ryan sighed, leaning back into his arms and placing his hands over Mike's where they rested at his waist. "I know you don't. And I don't mean to lash out at you like this. I'm just .... I'm pissed off, Mike. I need to be able to blame somebody."

"You know who to blame," Mike said quietly, keeping his voice calm and on an even keel. "Stuckey was the one who did this to you, and we're going after him with everything we have. We just have to get him to confess to the first rape. He's already confessed to the attempted one."

"I don't think he's going to be stupid enough to incriminate himself as a rapist," Ryan said, his tone bitter. "He's already going to do life for trying to murder a police officer. I don't think the fact that he tried to kill me had anything to do with that decision."

Michael hated to agree with his lover, but he knew that Ryan was more than likely correct about that. All of the people on the jury that had convicted Stuckey, and the judge as well, seemed to think that Stabler's life had been much more important than Ryan's.

But not to him, Mike told himself fiercely. Never to him.

Ryan was the center of his universe, the most important person in his life. The thought that if none of this had ever happened, he wouldn't have met this young man and fallen so deeply in love, still ate into his soul at times; it was hard to believe that they'd never crossed paths.

He didn't need to think about that, Mike told himself sternly, pushing that thought into the back of his mind and slamming an imaginary door on it. The important thing was that they had met, they had found each other, and they were together now.

"We'll get him on rape charges, Ryan," Mike whispered, hoping as he spoke that he was telling the truth. "Jack McCoy is the best prosecutor you could possibly get. I just wish that I could be the one who gets to nail that bastard to the wall."

"If you tried to prosecute him, the defense would tear you apart because of our relationship," Ryan said with a sigh, shaking his head. "I wish you could be the one to put him away too, but it's impossible. I just wish I had been able to bring back the memory before we got serious."

Michael didn't want to agree openly with Ryan about that, but privately, he felt the same. If only Ryan had been able to dredge up that memory from the depths of his subconscious mind before the two of them had started seeing each other, he could have been the prosecutor on the case.

But it hadn't worked out that way, he reminded himself. And maybe that was for the best. Even before they'd started dating, he had known that he had feelings for Ryan from their first meeting; he wouldn't have been able to stay unbiased during the trial.

His thoughts returned to Ryan's first words, the words that had made his boyfriend get up and stare out of the window with that lost, sad expression on his face. He hated to think that he was treating his lover any differently than he ever had -- but maybe he was.

He'd been acting as thought Ryan was made out of porcelain, or spun sugar. He hadn't been able to let Ryan make love to him for over a week now; he'd felt as though it would bring back too many memories for the other man, that he would be rushing Ryan into something he wasn't ready for.

That had to change. And it had to change tonight.

Ryan wasn't going to melt away like candy in the sun if they made love. He was a strong man; Mike had known that from their first meeting, even when Ryan had been lying in a hospital bed. He would get through this, and he would be stronger for having survived.

"I'm sorry if I've been treating you differently than I should be, Ryan," he whispered into his lover's ear, his hands moving down Ryan's body to rest on those slender hips. "I've been feeling as though I might be rushing you if I said that I wanted to make love."

"I've needed to make love to you," Ryan said hoarsely, turning in Mike's arms to look at the older man, their gazes meeting and holding. "And I do want you to make love to me. I want to get past what he did to me. I want to leave that in the past and start a new life with you."

"You can make love to me any time you want to," Michael told him, his pulse leaping in his throat, his heart starting to beat in triple-time. "And whenever you're ready for me to make love to you, just say so. I want to, Ryan. I'm just waiting for your word."

"I want you to," Ryan whispered, his voice barely audible. "But I'm not ready yet, Mike. I know it'll happen eventually -- I'm just too tense and wound up about the trial right now. I'm too worried about how things are going to turn out to be able to let myself go."

Michael nodded, sliding his arms around Ryan's waist again and pulling the other man against the warmth of his body. He could understand why Ryan felt that way, and he was more than willing to wait. Besides, waiting and anticipating would only make it better for both of them in the long run.

Unless, of course, it only gave Ryan more time to let his fears build up. Mike couldn't help but admit that he was worried about that, too; but he was also willing to work their way through such a problem, if that was how Ryan eventually ended up feeling.

Whatever happened, they would be together -- and they would face their problems together. Stuckey might have been able to take away Ryan's peace of mind, at least for a while, but he would never be able to hurt him again. Mike was going to make sure of that.

He wanted to take Ryan to bed right now, to throw caution to the winds and make love to this beautiful man, to push those bad memories away from him and create good ones to replace them. But he knew that wasn't possible -- at least, not yet.

Ryan might not melt away from him like candy in the sun, but he was still fragile, and Mike had to move slowly and carefully. But he wasn't going to keep treating Ryan like a precious piece of china; there was no need for him to feel that his lover could break at the slightest touch.

With that thought in mind, he leaned forward to brush his lips against Ryan's, gently at first, then with more pressure. He could feel the tensing of his boyfriend's muscles, the response that flared through the other man's body, the desire that sparked between them.

Maybe he was the one in danger of melting, not Ryan. And he loved every second of it.