Title: Keep It Together
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 shoved his hands into his pockets as he walked down the street towards his apartment, his body pleasantly sore from his last encounter with Jack. His heart was light, a slight smile on his lips, he couldn't help feeling as if he was on top of the world.

He'd been worried when Jack had asked him over last night, making it seem like a formal invitation, that he was going to be cast out of the other man's personal life. He'd worried about it all day at the office, making him snappish and irritable.

But nothing of the sort had happened. Jack had handed him a glass of champagne when he'd come in, taken his coat, and treated him like an honored guest. For once, they'd gone directly into the living room to talk, instead of heading off to the bedroom.

He liked sharing that kind of easy intimacy with Jack; it seemed like forever since they'd actually talked when he was in that house. Usually, Jack was doing the talking -- and Mike was doing nothing but moaning and writhing in ecstasy.

Last night had been different -- even though they had eventually made their way to the bedroom. They'd actually talked about their relationship, though neither had touched on where they expected it to go in the future, and Mike was glad of it.

Even though he knew that he wanted this to continue, he couldn't honestly say just where he wanted it to be in the next year, or two, or ten. He hoped that they might be on a more equal footing, but who could say what would happen?

One thing he could be sure of, and that was the knowledge that Jack didn't want to end their relationship. Mike's fingers went to his collar, tracing the outline of the collar that he could feel beneath the heavy covering of his winter coat and scarf.

He'd wondered what it would be like for Jack to collar him, to know that there was some tangible evidence of him belonging to this man. He hadn't thought that it would happen over the holidays, but the timing seemed to make it even more special.

When Jack had asked him if he was ready to be collared, his heart had seemed to leap into his throat, his pulse racing and a gasp coming from his throat before he could stop it. His reaction had only seemed to amuse his lover; Jack had sat back in his chair with a smirk.

"I take it you're surprised by the idea?" he had asked, quirking an eyebrow at Mike. "You should have known this was coming, Mike. I'd have done it sooner, but I wanted to make it a gift that I offered you. I want you to have the chance to turn it down gracefully if it's not what you want.

"Not what I want?" he'd answered, unable to keep the incredulity out of his voice. "I wanted it from the first, Jack. I just didn't know how to ask for it, or even how to bring up the subject. It's not like I can tell you that I want anything when we're in bed."

Jack had shaken his head, a frown forming between his brows. "That's not true, Mike," he'd said, his voice surprisingly gentle. "You can ask me for anything. I might not grant your request, but I don't want you to be one of those subs who's afraid to speak to me."

"I've never been afraid to speak to you," Mike had protested, frowning. "But I know that there are times when I shouldn't say anything. I know the rules of the game, Jack. You explained them to me pretty clearly, and I think I've been good at following them."

"You're more than just a sub to me. You know that, don't you?" Jack had asked, his frown deepening. "I never meant for you to be completely subservient, Mike. There's a fine line between obeying me and being a pet. I don't want a pet. I want a man."

Mike had nodded, feeling more secure and comfortable in the conversation once those words had been said. "And I don't want somebody who expects to have complete control over me. I may not be an equal in the relationship, but I'd like to know that I at least have some say in what happens."

"Who says you're not an equal?" Jack had asked, his voice soft. "I wouldn't want a man in my bed who's just going to follow my orders, who doesn't have any spirit of his own. That's one thing I love about you, Mike. You're always going to push the envelope."

"Well, that's what I do in the courtroom," Mike had told him with a wry smile. "So it stands to reason that I'd do the same thing in my personal life. Even though the two can't really be compared, considering the position I'm in with my personal life."

Jack had shrugged, a half-smile curving his lips. "I don't know about that, Mike. You may have more control in your personal life than you think you do. Even if you're the sub, you have a lot of power, you know. I wouldn't do anything to you that you didn't let me do."

"I want to give you something -- if you're ready to accept it," Jack had said, his voice husky. "I want to collar you, Mike. I want to give you evidence that you belong to me -- and that I do have strong feelings for you that don't just involve our sexual relationship."

Mike had nodded slowly, holding back another gasp and trying to marshal his whirling thoughts. He'd never expected to hear those words from Jack McCoy; this wasn't the kind of man who would admit his feelings, aside from fleeting moments of deep emotion.

He had nodded, his gaze locked with Jack's, unable to actually make himself say yes. But Jack knew him well enough to know what that nod signified; he'd stood up, holding out a hand and smiling, waiting for Mike to get to his feet and follow him to the bedroom.

And when he'd left the house this morning, the two of them had shared a heated kiss right before he'd opened the door and left to walk home in the cold of the early hours. It had been the first time that Jack had left him with a kiss -- and a gentle touch on his cheek that he could still feel.

The collar had felt tight at first, but he'd gradually gotten used to it. It was only a thin gold chain with a lock, but Jack had told him that its delicate look was deceiving. It would be nearly impossible to break, he'd added -- just like Mike himself.

He'd felt inordinately proud at hearing those words; Jack had never tried to break him, of course, but he liked knowing that his lover felt that task wouldn't be an easy one to accomplish. Jack respected that inner core of strength within him, and even encouraged it.

What was the next year going to bring for them? Mike wold never have expected all that had happened in the last year that he'd known Jack; the relationship they had now was beyond anything he would have thought possible when they'd first met.

It had come as a complete surprise to him when Jack had initiated their relationship; there were still times when he could hardly believe that they were together, even when they were in bed and Jack was buried deep inside him, their bodies straining against each other.

Not only that, but he hadn't expected this to go on for more than a few months when it had started. He'd thought that it might only last for as long as he could hold Jack's interest -- and he hadn't bargained on falling deeply in love with the other man.

Did Jack feel the same about him? He'd been honest when he had told Mike that he didn't express his emotions quickly or easily -- but Mike had been with him long enough now to know that even if Jack wasn't in love to the extent that he was, the other man did care for him.

Jack did love him. He was sure of that. He wouldn't have come to Mike's apartment and taken care of him the night that he was nearly shot at the courthouse if he didn't. He might not say the words, but Mike knew that the emotion was there.

That was good enough for him. Sometimes he felt that he needed to hear the words, but if he didn't, then it wasn't all that important. Jack showed his feelings in a hundred different little ways; he didn't have to say how he felt on a constant basis.

The fact that he'd wanted to collar Mike, to have tangible, physical evidence of their bond with each other, proved that his feelings were deeper than he might be willing to admit aloud. And for now, that was more than enough for them to keep it together, Mike told himself with a smile.

There was no way of knowing what the future would bring the two of them, Mike told himself, lifting his hand to touch the thin gold collar again as he turned the corner of the block that his building was on. But he was definitely looking forward to seeing whatever might develop.