Title: No Choice At All
By: angstytimelord
Rating: PG-13
Fandom: Law & Order
Pairing: Michael Cutter/Jack McCoy
Table: 61, 5_prompts
Prompt: 3, If I choose now I'll lose out
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.


Michael looked down at the letter on his desk, feeling uncomfortable. It had come from out of the blue, unexpectedly, and it was something that he didn't want to have to deal with at this stage of his life. Or, if he was brutally honest, at any stage.

He was a good lawyer. He knew that. He had to have that kind of confidence in himself, or there would be times when he'd never be able to face the judges and juries that he dealt with every day in court. Others might think that he was egotistical, but that was their problem.

Still, he hadn't expected a letter asking him to join a highly respected firm of lawyers, one that he probably have sold his his soul to get into before he'd been offered the job as ADA. It put him on the fence, made him feel as though he should reevaluate his life and his goals.

If it had merely been a question of his career, he would have taken the job right away. There was no doubt that it would add to his prestige, offer him a challenge, give him cases that he otherwise would never be able to try. It was a dream job for any lawyer.

But taking it would mean leaving the DA's office for good. Leaving Jack. And while they might still be able to continue the relationship they had outside of the office, it would be much harder to do so, as they might not be on the same schedule any more.

And other, more subtle things would change. Mike would no longer be working for Jack; they wouldn't be able to see each other every day, either in their personal or professional lives. Everything would change, including the dynamic of the personal relationship they shared.

He didn't want that to happen. No matter what, he had to keep his relationship with Jack. He wasn't going to let that slip away because of a job offer; no job could be as important to him as the man he loved, and the relationship they were so carefully building.

If Jack wanted to break it off, that would be different. Jack had been the one to start this; even though Mike didn't want to lose what they had, he would respect his lover if Jack had said that it was time for them to go their separate ways. He would feel that he had no choice.

But he was sure that Jack didn't want to do any such thing. They had grown closer as colleagues and friends, as well as being lovers; Jack wouldn't simply decide from out of nowhere that he wanted to end this. He wasn't that kind of man.

Still, this .... this was something neither of them had expected, a hit out of left field. Michael's first reaction was an unequivocal no, but he knew that he had to sit back and think about whatever decision he ultimately made -- and discuss it with Jack.

It was a good offer, one that he couldn't just toss aside without giving it a lot of thought. This would more than likely be the only chance he had to move into a private practice so easily; if he didn't take this, then he could be an overworked and underpaid civil servant for decades to come.

Did that really matter, in the face of everything else that was at stake? His heart cried out that it didn't, but he knew that he couldn't simply dismiss this without doing some soul-searching and serious thinking. He couldn't let his emotions cloud his judgment.

He had to make a choice -- and he had to make it within a few days. They wanted his answer by the end of next week, and it was already Tuesday morning. Which meant that he only had ten days or so to make his decision -- and then it would be final.

He could either leave this office, leave Jack, and go on to another job that would give him more pay, more freedom, and present him with new challenges -- or he could stay here, with what was familiar and loved, and accept that he would be here for all of his life.

If he had to choose now, he would lose out in one way or another. If he chose to stay here, then he would lose what most people would look at as the opportunity of a lifetime, the chance to move ahead in his career in leaps and bounds.

But if he left, then his relationship with Jack might be forfeit -- and that was more important to him than his career, if he was honest with himself. It didn't matter what professional heights he might rise to if he lost the man he loved because of the choices he'd made.

What would Jack advise him to do? Michael wondered, leaning back in his chair and staring unseeingly at the letter on his desk. He wouldn't, he told himself a moment later, a wry smile curving his lips. He knew exactly what his lover would say in this instance.

Jack would tell him that he had to make his own decision, that it was up to him to decide which path his life was going to take. He wouldn't say which choice he'd prefer; he would simply liet Mike make that choice, and then he would deal with whatever the consequences would be.

He couldn't turn to Jack for advice on this, because he knew that he wouldn't get any -- and that was for the best, really. He couldn't depend on his lover to make this decision for him; it was one that he had to make on his own, and he would have to face those choices by himself.

Did he really want to leave this office? He was comfortable here; he loved the work that he did, and more than that, he felt that he did some good in the world. Every time he put a criminal behind bars, he felt a glow of satisfaction that he was sure he wouldn't have anywhere else.

Yes, he could do well with what he'd been offered. He could try important cases, and he could still get some satisfaction from having done a good job. But it wouldn't be the same as what he did here in the DA's office; he wouldn't have that kind of personal satisfaction.

And he wouldn't have Jack. Even if they tried to make it work for a while, Michael had no doubt that their personal relationship wouldn't last for long if they were no longer working together. Too much would have changed; they would no longer be as close.

If he chose now, he would definitely lose out on the best thing that had ever happened to him -- and he didn't want that. As foolish a move as it might seem to any outsider, he was going to stay here, even if it was a move that might hamper his future career prospects.

That didn't matter to him. He was happy where he was, and he knew in his heart that he could do the most good right here. Losing Jack and what they shared behind closed doors wasn't worth anything that he might find somewhere else. Nothing was worth that.

Mike already knew what his choice was. He would stay right here; he wasn't going anywhere. He had made a life for himself here, a life that he loved and didn't want to give up. He wouldn't trade it for anything, even if he was offered what might look like a step up.

The truth was, nothing seemed like a step up to him. He was happy where he was, doing what he did -- and he was happy with the relationship he was in. There was no reason to shake things up, to upset the status quo, to change anything in his life.

The choice he'd been offered was really no choice at all, even though he wouldn't say that in so many words. He would merely draft a letter to the firm that had offered him the position, politely but firmly turning them down without really giving them a reason for doing so.

Jack would probably say that he was crazy, but in the end, Jack would be glad that he had chosen to stay here. He might not say so in words, but Michael was sure that Jack wouldn't want their relationship to end any more than he did. They both needed it too much.

He might regret this decision later -- but he didn't think so. He was doing what was best for him, as well as what he wanted. He wouldn't let himself have any regrets; there was no need for them. There had really been no question about which path he would choose.

All that remained to be done now was to talk to Jack -- and to let him know that he'd already made his decision. Mike pushed back his chair, picking up the letter and heading for the door. Somehow, he was sure that Jack would approve of his decision. At least, he certainly hoped so.