Title: Now Or Never
By: angstytimelord
Rating: PG-13
Fandom: Law & Order
Pairing: Michael Cutter/Jack McCoy
Disclaimer: This is entirely a product of my own imagination, and I make no profit from it. I do not own Michael Cutter or Jack McCoy, just borrowing them for a while. Please do not sue.


Mike stared at the closed front door of Jack's house, taking a deep breath. Why was he hesitating? He should be pressing the doorbell already, listening to hear Jack's footsteps in the front hall, his muscles tightening in anticipation of the evening.

He knew what would happen when he heard those footsteps. His heartbeats would quicken, his breath would come faster, and he'd almost feel choked until the moment that Jack opened the door and he saw the other man's face.

What was it about Jack that could take his breath away, that always made him feel as though he was drawn towards the other man? He couldn't quite put his finger on it; it was a kind of magnetism that Jack seemed to exude.

Maybe that magnetism was what made him such a successful DA, Mike told himself, a wry smile crossing his face. Of course, a lot of people disliked him as well, but everyone knew that he was a fair man and that he cared about justice.

But he wasn't here as Jack's cheerleading squad, he thought, sighing and raising his hand to the doorbell again. This time, he pressed it firmly, then held his breath as he waited to hear those familiar footsteps echoing through the foyer.

There they were. Slow, measured steps, approaching the door in what he imaged was a relaxed stride. Mike could feel his heart constricting in his chest, his senses preparing for the onslaught of emotion that always hit him these days when he looked at Jack.

When the door opened, the breath seemed to go out of him; it was as though his lungs were being squeezed, constricting in his chest. Jack always had that effect on him when they were away from the office -- though not when they were at work.

He held the door open for Mike to come inside, an enigmatic smile on his lips. He always looked like that on these nights that they spent together, Mike thought to himself, as if he was a cat that had just dined on a bowl of very expensive cream.

Or a cat that had managed to trap a particularly tasty canary under its paw. Yes, that was more what the look on Jack's face was, he though, trying to ignore the triphammer beat of his heart as he shrugged out of his coat and hung it on the rack just inside the door.

Turning back to his lover, Mike found that Jack was studying him with a speculative look on his face, that small smile still lingering around the corners of his lips. Mike couldn't hold back a smile himself; there was something about Jack's smile that always made him respond in kind.

"What are you smiling about?" he asked, forgetting for a moment that when he was here, in this house, Jack was the master and he shouldn't speak out of turn. But Jack didn't seem to mind; his smile grew, and he indicated with a nod of his head that Mike should precede him into the living room.

"I was thinking about our relationship," the other man said, following Mike into the large, comfortably appointed room and waiting for the other man to take a seat on the couch. "About how I said that it wasn't going to be taken into our work space."

"We jumped the gun on that a little, didn't we?" Mike said, leaning back against the comfortable couch cushions and crossing his legs. He was nervous and jumpy; his hands were shaking a bit, and he had to clasp them in his lap to stop their trembling.

Why was he this nervous? Was it because there was a sense of anticipation in the air, or because of that smile still lingering on Jack's lips? That smile could mean several different things, and he wasn't sure that he wanted to know what any of them were.

The worst-case scenario would, of course, be if Jack simply told him that their relationship was at an end, that he'd either found someone else or wasn't interested in being with Mike any more. That was something that he definitely didn't want to hear.

But that might not be it at all. Jack might be merely toying with him, trying to throw him off-balance. It wouldn't be unheard of; Jack was good at tossing him little unexpected surprises, and he was getting used to coping with them.

"I don't think we did." Jack's voice cut through his thoughts, making his head jerk up; he met the other man's eyes with a startled gaze. "It was going to happen sooner or later, even though I said it wouldn't in the beginning. It was inevitable."

Mike found himself nodding, feeling relieved that Jack didn't seem to have any regrets about what was happening between them spilling over into their work relationship. So far, they'd managed to keep the two sides separate. Maybe they could keep on doing that.

"How do you feel about it, Mike?" Jack asked softly, tilting his head to the side and fixing Mike with a penetrating stare. "If it makes you uncomfortable for this to be taken into the office, we can confine it to our off hours. It's up to you."

"Me?" Mike blinked, surprised that Jack would put that choice into his hands. He'd expected this man to take the lead, to tell him what would -- and wouldn't -- happen within the boundaries of what they shared. He hadn't expected to be given control.

"Yes, you." Jack's smile became a laugh as he leaned back in his chair, still studying Mike intently. "I think you're the one who should make the decision about letting our personal relationship color our professional one. I'm leaving this up to you."

"I don't want it to stop." Mike was almost shocked at how quickly the words came to his lips -- and at the fact that he couldn't have kept them back even if he'd tried to. "It's kind of a rush to know that we could get caught any time."

Jack shook his head then, a slight frown growing between his brows. "I don't want us to get caught. That would be disaster for both our careers. But there's times at work when I feel like I've got to have you. I just want to make sure you're comfortable with that."

"Yeah, I'm okay with it." Mike couldn't quite believe how blasé he sounded; he rushed on, not wanting Jack to think that this wasn't an important subject for him. "There's times when I want you too. So bad that it's all I can think of."

"Good." Jack raised an eyebrow at him, the smile still in place. "Because I'm comfortable with it, too. But I'd hate to think that I was forcing you into something you didn't want. You do want this, don't you, Mike? You're not having any second thoughts?"

Now was the time to say what he felt; it was now or never if he wanted to tell Jack that he wanted more out of their relationship. Now was the time to say that he didn't want to be a plaything, that he wanted to be an equal partner in what they shared.

But didn't Jack already consider him a partner? He didn't push Mike past his limits; he didn't demand anything that he knew his submissive wasn't ready for. There wasn't anything in their relationship that made Mike feel he wasn't wanted.

He couldn't say the words. Somehow, they stuck in his throat, unable to force their way out. He couldn't tell Jack that he wanted more of an emotional investment in what they had; somehow, he was sure that would push further than the other man was ready to go.

And the last thing he wanted to do was to lose Jack McCoy. He hadn't come this far to say something on the spur of the moment that would tear down all that they'd so precariously managed to build up, and were still working on constructing.

So he merely nodded, smiling and hoping that Jack wouldn't keep questioning him. "No second thoughts here. I wouldn't be in this if I didn't want it, y'know." He sounded so casual, Mike thought with an inward sigh. He'd never know how he managed to keep that tone of voice.

"Come on, then." Jack stood up, then held out a hand to pull Mike to his feet. "Let's get you out of those clothes and get into the bedroom." He leaned close to the slightly taller man, his voice husky in Mike's ear. "I have a few new toys we might want to try out."

Mike let Jack lead him out into the hallway, then up the steps that led to the bedrooms on the second floor. The chance for him to say what he felt was gone -- for now. But he couldn't help thinking that there would be other chances -- and hopefully, he'd be more able to speak up then.