Title: Scarred But Stronger
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 looked up at the clock, wishing that he could push the hands forward and make it time for Mike to be home already. He'd had a long day, and he wanted nothing more than to curl up in his boyfriend's arms and spend a peaceful evening with him.

But Mike had called and said that he was working on a particularly tough case; he would be a couple of hours late getting home tonight. Ryan understood; his lover had a job that frequently called for a lot of overtime, and he wasn't going to complain about it.

Why was he feeling so restless lately? It was probably because Stuckey's rape trial was coming up soon, he told himself with a sigh. He was going to have to spend time in the witness box, and he wasn't looking forward to that ordeal at all.

It had been bad enough to sit there and tell what Stuckey had done to him the night that he'd almost died; the way it had felt to be stabbed in the chest, to lie there and know that if someone didn't find him, he would bleed out and die right there on the floor had come back in a sickening wave.

And, of course, he'd had to tell about how both Stabler and Benson had found him, and had assumed he was dead without giving a damn enough to make sure. Those two clowns had nearly cost him his life -- and yet they were rewarded for their stupidity.

Ryan closed his eyes, leaning his head back against the soft cushions of the couch. That was in the past; he needed to let his resentment go and move on with his life. He didn't have to work with those two idiots any more, and that was a very good thing.

He raised a hand to his chest, placing his palm over the area where he'd been stabbed. There was an ugly scar there, one that would always remind him of that night. He could have it surgically removed, of course, but he wasn't sure that he wanted to do that.

That scar would always attract attention any time he took his shirt off. People would start, and probably wonder what had happened to him to cause something like that. They'd probably also question why he didn't do something about getting it removed, hidden away from the world.

But that scar marked a part of his life that had been hard to get through -- an ordeal that he had survived, even though he'd obviously come through it singed and marked. He wasn't sure that he wanted to erase something that was a part of making him the person he was.

And as silly as it might sound, that scar had, in a way, led him to Mike. It had so much to do with bringing the two of them together that he was almost grateful to that night. If it hadn't happened, then he might never have met the man he planed to spend the rest of his life with.

His fingers absently traced the path of the scar, wishing that it wasn't so prominent, but knowing that he would never cosmetically alter it or get rid of it. It was a part of him, a part of his life that he had survived against odds that were stacked against him.

What did Mike think of that scar? He hadn't said anything about it; he'd placed his palm over it more than once, not commenting on how it looked or felt, but simply accepting it as a part of Ryan. It hadn't been something that had come between them, or been a topic of conversation.

Was it something he even wanted to bring up? Ryan wasn't sure; he didn't want to find out that Michael actually hated that scar, that it made him less attractive in his lover's eyes. As soon as the thought came into his head, he dismissed it as being ridiculous.

Everybody was attracted to people who they had an initial physical spark with; it didn't matter that Mike's initial attraction to him had been because of how he looked. That first spark of interest had grown once they had gotten to know each other better.

It might have been purely physical at their first meeting, but it hadn't taken either of them long to discover that they were attracted to more hidden depths in each other. Their attraction had moved quickly from the physical to something deeper and more enduring.

So Mike wouldn't care that there was a scar on his chest that some people who were more shallow than his lover might find disconcerting. He wasn't going to turn away from Ryan because of that scar; if he'd intended to do that, it would have happened long before now.

Maybe it didn't look all that bad to Mike, Ryan told himself. Whenever he stepped out of the shower and happened to catch a glimpse of his nude body in the bathroom mirror, or whenever he looked at himself without his shirt on in the mirror in the bedroom, he focused on the scar.

His eyes were drawn to it automatically, but that might only be because it hadn't been there for most of his life. It was something new and different, something that he hadn't gotten used to yet. But it had been there ever since Mike had known him, since the first night they had spent together.

It wasn't a new thing for Mike; in his eyes, it was a part of Ryan that he had always known. So they looked at that scar in different ways -- and maybe it was easier for Michael to accept it because he had never known Ryan without that scar as a part of his being.

Any of his other lovers in the past might have been turned off by that kind of a mark; Ryan thought, smiling as his fingers traced over the raised skin of the scar again. But not Mike. He wasn't unduly fascinated by it, either; for him, it was simply there.

What would Stuckey think if he could see the fact that he'd left a permanent mark on Ryan's body? His smile faded at that thought; he didn't want to have any memories of that bastard whatsoever, so maybe it would be a good idea to eventually have that mark removed.

That was part of what Stuckey had wanted; he had wanted to leave a reminder of himself on Ryan's body, an indelible mark that would never be removed until that body had crumbled to dust. And that was just what Stuckey had intended for him, Ryan told himself grimly.

For all intents and purposes, he should be ten feet under by now, not living a life that he'd had the good fortune to move into after he had unexpectedly survived what should have been a lethal attack. In spite of all that had happened, he was lucky, and he knew it.

If he could just get through this rape trial, the questions he would be asked, the accusations that would be thrown at him by the defense, then he could go on with his life, and put the past behind him once and for all. If he could take this last step and see it through, life could move forward.

This trial wasn't going to be easy, and he knew it. Stuckey's defense lawyer would throw everything at him that he possibly could; he would try to find some kind of evidence that Ryan had slept around, that the sex had been consensual and not rape in any way.

It wouldn't matter to that bastard that Stuckey had gotten into Ryan's apartment through an open window, or that Ryan had been tied down and helpless when Stuckey had sex with him. He would try to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Ryan had been a willing participant.

How many of the jury would see it that way? Ryan asked himself, feeling a cold chill run down his spine. What if they all thought that he was some kind of slut, simply because he was a gay man? The defense would use anything they could, tell any lie, to make him look bad.

And his relationship with Michael would more than likely be dragged into this, too. It was going to be an ugly trial, and he had to be prepared for that. He had to know that the defense was going to drag his good name through the dirt in any way they could.

Maybe he should stand up in the courtroom and show them his scar, Ryan thought with a sigh. Maybe then they would see just what a vicious little bastard Stuckey was. That had already been proven, though. This was a different case altogether.

Jack McCoy would have to prove that he'd been raped, and that Stuckey was the one who had done it. It wasn't going to be easy, given that it had been nearly three years ago. But Ryan was determined that he would get justice for the wrong that had been done to him.

Then and only then would he be able to have any closure. The fact that Stuckey had attempted to rape him on the same night that he'd nearly been fatally stabbed should carry some weight, too; that couldn't be overlooked, either by the prosecution or by the defense.

He traced the scar in the center of his chest again, thanking whatever deity had chosen to spare him and let his life continue. There might be some parts of that life that wouldn't be easy to deal with, like this trial, but it was good to be alive.

His life had turned a corner after he'd nearly died, when he had met Mike. The two of them were making a new life together, one that was far better than the life he'd led before. He was grateful to fate for being merciful and granting him the chance to go on with his life.

And even if the past had left scars behind, those scars were a part of him, Ryan told himself. They had made him stronger, and that was the important thing. There was no need to get rid of them. Those scars had led him into the life he led now -- a life that he wouldn't change for the world.