Title: Gift Exchange
By: angstytimelord
Pairing: Michael Cutter/Ryan O'Halloran
Fandom: Law & Order/Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Rating: PG-13
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, just borrowing them for a while. Please do not sue.


"So, have you decided when you're going back to work?" Mike asked Ryan as he lifted the remote to turn down the volume of the television. The show they'd been watching was just going off, and it was time for them to kick back and have a conversation.

"Yeah, definitely after Christmas," Ryan told him, raising a hand to stroke his boyfriend's hair. Mike's head was in Ryan's lap, his lean body comfortably lying on the couch. Ryan leaned back against the cushions, his long legs stretched out in front of him.

"Did the doctors say that it was all right for you to start working again?" Mike knew that it had been a while since Ryan had been working, but he wanted to be sure that his boyfriend was medically cleared before he began spending long days in the lab again.

"They say I'm fine, but that I should take the holidays off," Ryan said with a sigh. "I'm going nuts, Mike. I want to be back at work. I know the new lab is a different place, but the work is the same. And I miss it. I'm ready to go back now."

"Don't rush back into it when you can enjoy some time off," Mike laughed, his blue eyes sparkling as he looked up at the other man. "Enjoy it while you can. You're going to be up to that gorgeous neck in forensic evidence soon enough."

"I'm looking forward to it," Ryan said with a sigh, his gaze meeting Mike's. "I've been sitting here on my ass for over a month now, Mike. That's past time for me to be recovered from what happened. I'm okay. And I need to go back to work to prove that to myself."

"As long as you're not working in the same place, then I'm happy," Mike told him. "I don't want you to have to deal with those two clowns who very nearly cost you your life." His jaw clenched; anger rose in him every time he thought of those two so-called "cops."

"Don't worry about them," Ryan assured him, his own voice still carrying residual anger, though he was obviously trying his best not to show it. "I'll never have to deal with them again, unless they go out of their way to come to the lab I'll be working in."

"That's good to know." Mike let the subject drop; he really didn't want to talk about something that they both found so unpleasant. "Hey, what do you want for Christmas, anyway? You haven't told me yet, and I need to get the rest of my shopping done."

"You haven't gotten all your Christmas shopping done yet?" Ryan asked in mock surprise, rolling his eyes. "Geez, Mike, don't you know that waiting until the last week just makes you an easier target for overpriced commercialism?"

Mike couldn't help laughing at the expression on Ryan's face, as well as at his words. "Commercialism or not, I hardly ever have time to go shopping," he pointed out. "It's statistically proven that there are more crimes committed around the holidays than at any other time."

"Especially in a place like New York," Ryan agreed. "All right, I'll give you that. But you really do need to get your shopping done earlier. It'll make for less worry, and be eaiser on you in the long run. And you should know what I want for Christmas, anyway."

"No, I don't!" Mike protested, shaking his head. "You haven't told me yet. I've asked, but I've never gotten more than a vague 'I'll tell you later' kind of answer. So come on, tell!" he urged, sitting up and turning to his boyfriend. "What do you want for Christmas?"

Ryan's eyes were sparkling with laughter as his gaze met Mike's, but there was something other than mirth there as well. Mike could read that emotion in the depths of those dark eyes. It was desire, a desire that couldn't be held back or quenched.

"You," Ryan whispered, leaning so close to Mike that their parted lips were almost touching. "I want you. Naked under my Christmas tree." He pulled back a bit, laughing softly. "Well, preferably naked in my bed. Under the tree might be a little uncomfortable."

"You've already got me," Mike whispered, his throat tight. If that was all Ryan wanted, then it was a gift that he would get every day and night for years to come -- hopefully for the rest of their lives. "That doesn't seem like much to ask for."

"That's the greatest gift I could possibly get," Ryan told him, his voice husky and seductive. "That's all I really want, Mike. You. Well, not just your body. I want your heart. I want you to fall head over heels in love with me -- like I have with you."

Mike's eyes widened at those words; he'd known that Ryan was fond of him, and the younger man's desire for him was obvious. But love? He hadn't expected to hear that, and he wasn't sure of what he himself was feeling.

Was his own overwhelming desire for Ryan love? It could easily grow into love -- or so he thought. He'd always tried to cut himself off from that emotion, declaring to himself that it was one thing he didn't need in his life. It only caused him heartache and pain.

He'd never been able to sustain a relationship, even when he'd been in love and the other person had claimed to love him as well. His work had always gotten in the way, and he couldn't help thinking that it always would. No one would understand his dedication to his job.

But Ryan would. Ryan had the same dedication, even though they worked in different parts of the law enforcement process. Ryan would understand the late nights, the need to bring work home with him at times, the driving force behind what he did for a living.

This was a man he could build a life with, a man who could understand him in more ways than anyone else he'd ever been with. And Ryan was offering himself -- his life, his trust and his heart. Could there be a better Christmas present than that?

"What are you thinking?" Ryan's soft voice broke into Mike's thoughts, bringing him forcibly back to the present. "You looked so serious for a few minutes, I thought for a second there that you might be getting ready to get up and walk out on me."

"Never," Mike said softly, raising a hand to place it on Ryan's cheek. "I'll never walk out on you, Ryan. I've had too many people do that to me because they couldn't deal with my dedication to my work. That's what I was thinking about, actually."

"I don't have a hard time with your work," Ryan told him, his voice soft. "I understand what it's like to be driven, Mike. I might not be in the same type of law enforcement that you are, but I work for justice the same way you do. I know how important it is to you."

"You know, I think you just might be getting what you want for Christmas," Mike told him, a smile on his lips. "But you'll have to wait until Christmas to get it. Or maybe Christmas Eve. That would be the best time to give you that present, wouldn't it?"

"I have to wait all that time for my present?" Ryan pretended to sulk for a moment, then laughed and slipped his arms around Mike's waist to hug the other man close. "I don't mind waiting a few more days. That's a present that's going to be well worth waiting for."

"I think the only stipulation is that I give it to you in the bedroom," Mike told him, his eyes dancing with laughter. "It'd be way too uncomfortable to let you have it under the tree. Unless you intend to put a mattress there. Or a faux fur rug. That might work."

"You're giving me some great ideas on how to decorate the tree," Ryan told him, his arms tightening around Mike's waist. "And how to decorate the bedroom, too. Faux fur, hmmmm? That's something I might have to add to my decor, just to make you happy."

"Yeah?" Mike couldn't help laughing aloud at the bemused expression on Ryan's face. "How about having a leopard skin faux fur rug in front of the coffee table?" he asked, winking at his boyfriend. "Or would that be too much for your eyes to deal with?"

"I think my eyes can cope with that -- as long as I get to see you naked on that leopard fur," Ryan breathed in his ear, one hand moving down to Mike's hip. "Waiting isn't gong to be easy, but at least it's only for a few days. I'll try to be patient."

"Now do I get to tell you what I want for Christmas?" Mike asked, nibbling delicately at Ryan's ear. He was sure that this was going to be a very interesting gift exchange -- and he'd definitely never looked forward to one more in his entire life.