Title: Not A Moment Too Soon
By: angstytimelord
Pairing: Michael Cutter/Ryan O'Halloran
Fandom: Law & Order/Law & Order: SVU
Rating: PG-13
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, just borrowing them for a while. Please do not sue.


It was over. Mike sighed as he left the courtroom, feeling as though he'd just been put through the proverbial wringer. The case had been open and shut, from his point of view, anyway, but he'd still worried that the jury might give Stuckey a light sentence.

Fortunately, they'd found him guilty on all counts -- though they'd seemed to discount the attempted murder of Ryan O'Halloran in favor of piling sympathy on that Benson bitch, he thought, his lip curling. Her time on the stand had been a real circus sideshow.

She'd seemed to think that not checking to make sure that Ryan was alive before she'd assumed he was dead was actually good police work. And her partner! Mike wanted to roll his eyes in derision whenever he thought of that grunting gorilla.

To them, Ryan was a nobody, someone who was dispensable. They didn't care that he'd almost been killed -- they even seemed to think that his life was somehow worth less than theirs, simply because they carried badges and abused the privileges those badges gave them.

But he didn't want to think about that now. He wanted to find Ryan, and see for himself how the young man was taking the outcome of the trial. He was sure that Ryan would be relieved; he didn't have to worry about Stuckey trying anything again.

Most people might argue that Ryan had only been a target because he happened to be in the forensics lab, and he was in the way of Stuckey's ability to achieve his goal. But Mike was sure that there was more to the disturbed man's attack on Ryan than simple expedience.

Ryan was an attractive man; Stuckey had probably focused all of that jealousy and hatred on him before he'd managed to calm down and execute the rest of his plan. It was a miracle that Ryan had survived such a brutal attack, but Mike was thankful that he had.

It was strange that the two of them had jobs that could easily have brought them together at some point -- and yet, they had never met until Ryan had nearly lost his life and Mike was able to prosecute the man who had tried to kill him. Life was funny that way, he reflected.

He'd wanted to talk to Ryan, or at least to catch his eye, before he'd left the courtroom, but he had been surrounded by people who were congratulating him on his successful prosecution of someone who had tried to kill a cop. The hypocrisy of it all made him sick.

Mike had wanted to shout at them that the most important person in this hadn't been one of the cops who acted as though they were the center of everyone's attention, but the forensics tech who had come nearer to losing his life than either one of them, thanks to their negligence.

At least all of that was over now, and hopefully, Ryan would be able to put that behind him. He wouldn't have to work in the same lab; Mike had made sure of that. He could be moved to another one, where he didn't have to deal with those two clowns.

Besides, that was probably for the best, he told himself with a frown. Even though Ryan said that he was ready to go back to work, Mike doubted that it would be easy for him to continue to work in the place where he'd been attacked and had nearly died.

Ah, there he was. Mike struggled to keep his emotions from showing on his face as Ryan came out of the courtroom, looking around as though he was searching for someone. Mike blinked when it dawned on him that the young man was looking for him.

Ryan saw him and headed in his direction, a smile on his face. Mike cleared his throat, putting down his briefcase and holding out his hand. He hated to be so formal, but they were still in a public place; the trial might be over, but he knew that they still couldn't get too personal.

They would only have to wait a few more days, he promised himself as he held out a hand to shake Ryan's, warning the other man with a glance that they couldn't address each other as they wanted to. "I think we got the verdict we wanted," he said quietly, his gaze meeting Ryan's.

"Definitely," the younger man said, taking a deep breath. "I'll admit to being a little nervous, but I thought your summation nailed it. Benson and Stabler didn't help much, but I didn't expect them to. They just wanted the attention."

This time, Mike did roll his eyes. "I don't know why they still have badges," he remarked, not caring if anyone was around to hear him and carry his words back to the two in question. "They epitomize everything that's wrong with the police force."

"You've got that right," Ryan told him, his voice grim. "But at least I won't have to deal with them any more when I go back to work. I took your advice, and I spoke to the tech lab supervisor. He's agreed to move me to another lab -- one that's closer to your office, actually."

Mike couldn't hold back a smile at those words. "How much closer?" he asked quietly, leaning closer to the younger man. "If it's close enough, we could have lunch together. I could actually see you every day. That is, before we get home in the evenings."

"That sounds like it might be a promise for the future, Mr. Cutter," Ryan murmured, his lips curving in a smile as their gazes met and held. "And it's one that I'll be glad to take you up on. But this isn't the time or the place to talk about it, unfortunately."

"We can talk about it later tonight at my place, if you want?" Mike asked, keeping his voice low, glad that there was no one around to hear them. "And yes, it's a promise for the future. One that I hope we'll be able to spend together."

"I'm just glad we don't have to wait much longer to be open about our feelings," Ryan told him with a soft sigh. "All this pussyfooting around is starting to make me nervous. I feel like I'm being watched all the time, even though I know that's not the case."

"Don't be surprised if you are," Mike told him dryly, glancing around them. The defense lawyer was indeed watching them, his eyes narrowed as he stared in their direction, trying to look as though he wasn't focused on them. "The defense would love to find a way to get Stuckey released."

"How could they do that?" Ryan asked, his brow furrowing. "He's been convicted by a jury -- and everybody in that courtroom knows that he deserves life in prison for what he tried to do. He's not crazy, either. He's just .... evil. He always has been."

Mike held up a hand to stop Ryan before he could say any more. "We both know that -- and so does any person with good sense. But the defense attorney would say that the case was tainted because of our involvement -- and he'd use that to get a retrial."

"And then he could bring up the fact that we were seeing each other, and say that the original case was prejudiced because of that," Ryan finished with a sigh. "I know. We can't let anybody know that we know each other on more than a professional level."

"It's not for much longer," Mike told him, his tone soothing. "Only a few more days, Ryan. I just want to make sure that Stuckey is safely put away, and that he doesn't pose a threat to you any longer -- or to anyone else," he added. "I want to make sure you're safe."

"I will be," Ryan told him, flashing a smile that made Mike's knees go weak. "He's going to jail, where he belongs -- and he won't be able to get out. I'm sure of that. All we have to do is hold out for another few days, and then we can see each other any time we want."

"In any capacity we want," Mike couldn't help adding. It was so hard to keep himself from reaching out to stroke Ryan's cheek, or to wrap his arms around the other man's waist. He had to force himself to take a step back and hold out a hand as though they'd only been discussing the case.

"I'll see you sometime," he said aloud, raising his voice slightly for the benefit of the defense attorney, who seemed to be losing interest in them. "I'm glad the case went the way that we both wanted it to. I think justice was served. He got what he deserved."

"Not nearly what he deserved -- but what he got is good enough," Ryan said, his tone defiant as he, too, glanced towards the other attorney. "He'll spend the rest of his life behind bars. That's good enough for me. Now I just want to get back to work and put all this behind me."

Leaning close to Mike, he whispered, "But there's one part of this case I want to keep with me and hold close for the rest of my life." Ryan drew back, winking at Mike before he raised a hand in farewell and ambled off down the hallway towards the bank of elevators.

Mike couldn't keep his eyes off the young man as Ryan walked away from him, admiring the movements of his body, mentally counting down the hours until they would be able to see each other again -- without the constraints they'd been under up until this point.

Only a few more days, he promised himself. As soon as he knew that the case was closed and at an end for good, he would be able to go to Ryan, and their lives together could begin. It wouldn't happen a moment too soon for him.