Title: Treading Water
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.


Mike leaned back at his desk, closing his eyes and bringing a picture of Ryan into his mind. How he wished that he was at home with his boyfriend now, instead of sitting here in his office knowing that he couldn't be the lead prosecutor on Ryan's case.

It was a risky maneuver, taking Stuckey back to court on a rape charge. It was a good thing that the statute of limitations hadn't run out; Stuckey's lawyer would say, of course, that it was still far too late for Ryan to bring charges against his attacker.

He would try to make it seem that Ryan had wanted the assault, that he'd welcomed it, and that was why he hadn't reported the rape when it had first happened. He would try to paint Ryan as someone who slept around, who was only doing this out of spite and malice.

But that wasn't true, and anyone who knew Ryan O'Halloran at all would know that. Even those ridiculous assclowns who had nearly let hm die, bleeding out on the floor of the lab he used to work in, would have to admit that Ryan was a good person who wasn't out to hurt anyone.

Jack would keep the jurors from thinking badly of Ryan. He had to. If anyone could try this case and win it, that person was Jack McCoy -- but Mike still couldn't help feeling apprehensive. He wanted more than anything to be the prosecutor who tried this case -- and won it.

He couldn't try the case; he knew why. His personal relationship with Ryan would be brought into question, and he would more than likely make things worse for his boyfriend. But that didn't stop him from wanting to be the person who convicted Stuckey.

Eveyr time he thought of that ugly little bastard so much as daring to lay one finger on Ryan, he burned with rage; if he could have five minutes alone with Stuckey, Mike was sure that he would kill the psycho. But he kept well away; he knew better than to jeopardize the case.

That wouldn't do Ryan any good -- or himself, either. Yes, it might take care of the simmering rage that burned within his soul whenever he thought about what Stuckey had done, but in the long run, it could only cause irreparable harm to them both.

It just didn't seem fair that the person who loved Ryan most couldn't be the one to take this kind of revenge on the man who had raped him and nearly killed him. Ryan's lover should have more of a right than anyone else to send his rapist to jail for life.

Most people would, of course, argue that Stuckey was already doing life -- but that wasn't good enough for Mike. It had been made perfectly clear that Stuckey had been sentenced so harshly because of the fact that he had attempted to murder a cop -- not a forensics specialist.

The judge and jury hadn't seemed to care about what had nearly happened to Ryan. This was Michael's chance to get justice for his boyfriend; the first time around, Ryan had been pushed into the background, the fact tht he'd nearly lost his life all but ignored.

Mike took a deep breath, closing his eyes and trying to control his breathing. There was no need to work himself up into a rage; he wasn't the one trying the case, and holding on to that anger, letting it grow, would make him useless as any kind of a character witness.

Not that Jack would really be able to use him as a witness, given his very personal relationship with Ryan, Mike thought with a sigh. The opposing counsel would try to paint him as a liar, someone who would do anything for revenge against the man who had raped his boyfriend.

It wouldn't matter that the rape had happened long before Michael and Ryan had ever met. The jury would only see that he was desperate to make sure that Stuckey was held responsible for what he'd done, and they would believe that he'd do anything to achieve that objective.

He'd explained that to Ryan, and his boyfriend had understood. But he did intend to be there in court, as much as he could be, for moral support. He wasn't going to let Ryan go into that courtroom and have to sit there facing his rapist alone.

It didn't matter to Mike that there would be other people between Ryan and Stuckey, that the accused would be kept well away from the person he'd wronged. He didn't want Ryan to have to sit there with no one by his side to help him gather the courage to face Stuckey.

Would Jack expect him to take the stand and talk about his relationship with Ryan? No, the fact that they were together wasn't at all relevant to the case. He hadn't met Ryan until long after the rape had occurred; there was nothing he could say that would have any bearing.

A thought occurred to Michael at that moment, making him sit bolt upright in his chair. He would be called on to testify. He would have to sit in that chair, look at Stuckey, and describe how Ryan had been acting over the last few weeks.

There would be no way of avoiding it. Ryan's emotional state in the weeks leading up to the point when he had told Mike about the rape would have to come into play. And Stuckey's defense would try to make it seem that Ryan was only doing this for revenge.

They would try to make out that Ryan had been angry over Stuckey's previous conviction having been more to do with the fact that he had tried to kill a police officer -- that he was trying to put himself into the foreground. Mike was sure of that.

He knew the man who was taking charge of Stuckey's defense; he was a slimy individual, someone who didn't care whether his clients were innocent or guilty. As long as he got paid, he cared nothing about the truly innocent people who would suffer through a trial.

He couldn't put Ryan through that. He couldn't sit there and talk about his boyfriend's emotional state, give out information about their private lives. And the truth was, Ryan hadn't been in any kind of an emotional upheaval until the night that he'd told Mike about being raped.

Why should their lives be drawn into the spotlight, anyway? The way the two of them lived now had nothing to do with a rape that had happened a few years ago, when they hadn't known each other. But Mike knew that the defense would try to drag Ryan through the mud.

His expression hardened at the thought; there was no way that he was going to let that bastard put Ryan through the wringer. He'd already dealt with so much; maybe it wasn't a good idea to pursue this trial. It might be better to leave things as they were.

But no, that wouldn't be fair to Ryan. He had the right to confront his rapist in court, and to make public what Stuckey had done to him. It was incredibly brave of him to come forward, and Mike wasn't going to tell him that he should simply let sleeping dogs lie.

Whatever happened in this trial, he would be right by Ryan's side. He couldn't be in court all of the time, but he knew that Jack would try his best to be sure that Mike was able to be there for Ryan. He knew how deep Mike's feelings were for his boyfriend.

There was no telling what the trial would be like, really. It could go any of several ways; Michael knew that the defense attorney was a hard-nosed, unforgiving man, and he wished that anyone but him was the one who had taken Stuckey's case.

Still, Jack McCoy was the best prosecutor in the business. And when Jack felt strongly about a case, he would move heaven and Earth to win it. Mike knew that Ryan was in good hands with Jack; he simply had to trust his boss to do everything he could to emerge victorious.

There would be a lot more worries for the two of them before the trial even started, Mike thought, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. There would be reporters who wanted to talk to Ryan, people who would think the worst of him, who would try to tear him down.

But that wasn't going to happen, Mike told himself firmly. He was here with Ryan, every step of the way, through whatever could be thrown at them. He didn't care what anyone else might think; he was going to go above and beyond the call of duty to support his lover in every possible way.

And once this was over, then they would have their lives back -- and hopefully, Ryan would have some closure and could manage to move on with his life. At the moment, it felt as if they were stalled, treading water, waiting for the curtain to fall on this part of their lives.

Whatever happened, at least after the trial, the feeling of treading water would be over for both of them. Mike just hoped that they would swim rather than sink -- and that they would be able to take the great strides forward that he knew they both needed.