Title: Loving You
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 turned over in bed, looking towards the door and hoping that Mike would walk through it soon. His boyfriend had a tough case that he needed to go over, and Ryan didn't begrudge him the time that he needed to spend working. He expected Mike to be immersed in his work at times.

Besides, it gave him time to lie here and think. His relationship with Mike had grown stronger in so many ways ever since he'd been able to tell his boyfriend about his rape; but the physical side of that relationship was still being rebuilt. They had a long way to go yet.

He wanted to be as physically close to Mike as he'd been before all this started, but he couldn't help wondering if that part of their relationship was over for good. He had a hard time even thinking about sex, much less letting Mike make love to him. He wasn't ready for that yet.

Would he ever be? Ryan closed his eyes, shuddering at the thought. He wanted to believe that they would get past this, even though it seemed an insurmountable barrier at the moment. He wanted to believe that they'd be as close -- or even closer -- than they'd been before.

They would be, he told himself firmly. He and Mike loved each other far too much to let this come between them. Even now, it hadn't separated them -- and the fact that they could still be together and love each other was proof that they would get past these problems.

He'd never expected that he would ever find someone like Michael Cutter. He had long ago given up looking for the perfect love; he had spent a long time thinking that love wasn't something he was meant to have, that he would have to settle for one-night stands and dates here and there.

Then Mike had come along, and his entire life had changed. It didn't seem possible that one smile, one touch, could have changed his life for the better in every way -- but it had. And now, he felt that he was letting his boyfriend down by not being able to leave the past behind hm.

It wasn't that he didn't want Mike to make love to him, Ryan thought, sighing as he turned over onto his side and closed his eyes. He did. He wanted that more than anything. But he simply couldn't shake the remnants of that fateful night when Stuckey had raped him, the memories that came flooding back.

He loved Mike. He loved his boyfriend with all his heart and soul. He should be able to put the past in the past, and move forward from here, with Mike's help. Holding part of himself aloof from the man he loved and had given his heart to was wrong, but he couldn't force himself not to.

The sound of footsteps in the hallway made him look up; Mike was standing there in the doorway, a slight smile on his face as he looked at Ryan. That look made Ryan's heart turn somersaults in his chest; he'd never seen such a look of love on anyone's face before.

And that look was there for him. This man loved him, more than he'd ever been loved by anyone. This was the man who he trusted with his life, the man who he'd given his heart to. How could he keep holding his physical self away from so much love and trust?

Sitting up, he held out his arms to his lover; it only took Mike a few seconds to cross the space between the door and the bed, sit down, and take Ryan into his arms. His kiss took Ryan's breath away, made his body feel as though his bones were melting into a pool of desire.

Within moments, they were both panting, holding onto each other as though they would never let go. Ryan knew that it was now or never; he had the feeling that if they didn't make love -- or at least move closer in the physical sense -- tonight, there would always be a barrier between them.

"Make love to me," he whispered, though his voice was trembling and he could barely get the words out. "I need you, Mike. I need to be with you. I need to know that what Stuckey did to me isn't going to stand between us forever. If it does, I'd never forgive myself."

"What he did to you isn't your fault, Ryan." Mike's voice was soft and husky as he spoke; he raised a hand to trace the outline of Ryan's upper lip, gazing at him with eyes full of love and compassion. "And I don't want you to rush yourself. I'm not going anywhere. We don't have to make love to keep me here."

Ryan couldn't help sighing in relief; he'd felt as though he was taking a chance, going out on a limb, unsure as to what both of them really wanted. "I-I just don't want you to .... to stop l-loving me," he whispered, his voice trembling even more, almost on the verge of tears.

"You don't really think I'd ever stop loving you, do you?" Mike asked, his voice soft and husky. "You don't ever have to worry about that, Ryan. I'll love you until the end of time, even if we never make love again. It's not the sex that makes me love you. You should know that."

"I do, I just ...." Ryan sighed, shaking his head, wishing that he could put his feelings into words. He didn't know how to express all that he felt; his emotions were so jumbled up inside of him that he wasn't sure just what he needed to say -- and he had no clue as to how to say it.

"Loving you is what keeps me alive," Michael told him, his voice barely a whisper. He pulled away from Ryan slightly, taking his lover's face between his hands and gazing into his eyes. "Ryan, I wouldn't be able to live without loving you. Being in love with you is like breathing to me."

"I love you, too," Ryan managed to choke out. The tears that he'd been trying to hold back were coming now, in a flood that he couldn't stop. He rested his head on Mike's shoulder, trying to stifle those tears, feeling like an idiot for breaking down so easily.

"Don't cry," Michael whispered into his ear, the words soft and loving. "There's nothing to cry about, Ryan. I'll love you no matter what. We'll get back to the physical side of our relationship one day. I don't have any doubts about that. It might just take a while, that's all."

Ryan nodded, wishing that he could feel as confident about their future as Mike obviously did. He wanted more than anything to be with Mike in the physical sense, but there were too many memories crowding into his head, too much panic rising any time their intimacy went past a certain point.

"I don't want you to think that I don't trust you," he managed to whisper, raising his head to wipe ineffectually at the tears that wouldn't seem to stop. "It's not that. I just .... I keep flashing back to him ...." He shook his head again, feeling frustrated that he couldn't put his emotions into words.

"I understand," Mike murmured, raising a hand to wipe Ryan's tears away with gentle fingers. "Ryan, there's nothing to worry about. Just the fact that you'll still let me sleep with you -- and I mean sleep -- says a lot. Most rape victims would even have a hard time with that."

"I'm trying my best to put the past behind me," Ryan told him, taking a deep breath and pushing back his tears. Crying wasn't going to do them any good, even though it did relieve some of his emotional upheaval. But he had to put those tears away, and try to be strong.

"I know you are, sweetheart," Mike said softly, sliding his arms around Ryan's waist to pull him close again. "There's no hurry, Ryan. We have all the time in the world -- and neither one of us is going anywhere. I'll still be here with open arms when you're ready to step across that line."

Ryan raised a hand to run his fingers through Mike's hair, feeling grateful that his boyfriend knew him so well and understood how he felt. Mike might not know what his experience had been like, but the compassion and love in his heart wasn't going to allow him to push for what Ryan wasn't ready to give.

"We'll get past that line," he found himself saying, his voice stronger than he'd thought it could be. "It might take a while, but I promise we'll be like we were before, Mike. I couldn't go through the rest of my life without loving you physically as much as I love you in my heart."

"I couldn't either," his lover answered, leaning forward to press a quick, gentle kiss to Ryan's lips. "And we're not just going to be like we were before. We're going to be stronger for having come through this -- both as people, and as a couple. I know it."

"So now that we've talked about this, I think we should go to bed and try to get some sleep," Ryan said with a tremulous smile. "We've both got a rough week coming up. You've got that new case -- and I've got to talk to Jack about the preliminary hearings."

Michael nodded, sighing as he released his hold on Ryan and stood up to pull his t-shirt off over his head. "I wish I could be there with you," he said, his voice full of regret. "But with our personal relationship, that would be way too much of a conflict of interest on my part."

Ryan nodded, sighing along with his boyfriend. "I wish you could be there, too -- but you'll be there by my side when the hearings start, and that's the most important thing to me. That I have your love and support through this whole thing. That means more than I can say, Mike."

He watched as his lover undressed, moving over to make room for Michael to get into bed next to him. When the light had been turned out and he was lying in his boyfriend's arms, he finally said the words that he'd been wanting to say ever since their conversation had started.

"Loving you is the most important thing in my life," he murmured, pressing a soft kiss against Mike's bare shoulder. "If I didn't love you, I'd be less of a human being -- and I'd be a lot less happy. You light up my whole world, Mike. Every minute of every day, you make me happy."

"You make me happy too, sweetheart," Mike whispered, moving one hand down Ryan's arm in a gentle caress. "Loving you is my whole life. If everything else disappeared and I still had you, I'd still be happy. You're all I need, Ryan. All I need, and all I want."

Ryan sighed contentedly, closing his eyes and resting his head against Mike's shoulder. Those words were all that he'd needed to hear to set his mind at rest, and his heart at ease. No matter what happened, he and Mike would still love each other. And in the end, love was really all that mattered.