Title: Unreal World
By: angstytimelord
Rating: PG-13
Fandom: Law & Order
Pairing: Michael Cutter/Jack McCoy
Author's Note: Continuation of Primitive.
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 swallowed hard, unable to force himself to look at Jack. Whatever the other man was going to say, he wasn't sure if he wanted to hear it. Maybe Jack was going to tell him that he had to leave, that their time together was over, at least for tonight.

Or maybe he was going to say that Mike hadn't been what he wanted, and that he was ending this before it had really started. That was going to make things very awkward in the office; maybe he didn't want Mike there any more and he was looking for a way to break the news. Maybe everything was over because he somehow hadn't been good enough.

Stop it, Mike told himself sternly, giving himself a mental shake. Of course Jack wasn't going to do that. He'd already said that this arrangement of theirs had no bearing on their work relationship; he wasn't going to be that unprofessional.

Hadn't he learned by now that Jack rarely let his personal life overlap with his job? He'd done it before, Mike was aware of that; but this sort of relationship wasn't something that Jack would want the world at large to know about. They would have to be discreet by necessity.

His own words had been forgotten when he saw the look on Jack's face; it was obvious that the other man had something to say, and Mike felt his throat constrict as he waited for Jack to speak.

When those words came, they were unexpected, as was the gentle tone they were uttered in. "Are you okay?" Jack asked, his brow furrowing. "I thought I might have gotten a little too rough with you. I don't want you backing away after the first night."

Mike shook his head, feeling relief course through him. "I'm fine, Jack," he answered, his own voice soft. "I'm not made of spun sugar, you know. A few bruises here and there aren't going to hurt me, so you don't have anything to worry about."

Actually, a few bruises would be welcome. He wanted Jack to leave his mark on him; he wanted to be able to look in the mirror and have tangible proof that he belonged to Jack McCoy, proof that was visible to his own eyes if no one else's.

But he couldn't say that; he didn't want Jack to think that he was too eager, that he needed this too much. He had his own agenda, even if he didn't want the other man to guess at it. He was already too close to letting himself care about Jack McCoy more than he should, and it would be safer if he backed away from a flame that was already starting to flare up.

Mike had to hold back a sigh at that thought. He was already in too deep. He'd stepped over the line that had separated them, and there was no way that he could move back behind it.

And he didn't want to take a step back. He wanted to keep advancing, to make his dreams of being with Jack a reality. If he let himself go further than he dared at the moment, he could easily fall in love with this man. He was on that path even at this early stage.

He couldn't let Jack know that, though. He knew this man well enough to know that if Jack thought that was the case, he'd probably take more than a few steps back from what they'd started tonight -- then turn and run in the other direction as fast as he could go.

That was the last thing Mike wanted. He wanted Jack in his life on a permanent basis, but it wasn't going to happen overnight. This man wasn't the kind of person who was going to profess undying love just because they'd had sex once.

Maybe it had been a mistake to let his own emotions become so involved right from the first. But this had been building up for a long time, he told himself firmly as he waited for Jack to continue. He had wanted this man from the first time they'd met, since before they'd begun working together.

Now, those dreams were on the verge of opening up before him. He wasn't going to risk those dreams crumbling into dust because he couldn't be patient and let the relationship between them develop as slowly as Jack might want to take it. He was going to have to hold back, to keep a tight rein on his emotions and accept this for what it was.

What was it, exactly? It was a relationship, but he couldn't put a label on it. Not yet. Maybe he'd never be able to, but he could live with that restriction, for the time being.

Sooner or later, they would turn a corner, and things would change. This wasn't going to go on forever with the two of them still feeling their way towards each other in the darkness. Not once they got to know each other on a more personal footing.

"Do you have any objections to staying here tonight?" Jack was asking, the other man's voice breaking into Mike's thoughts. He looked up at Jack, startled to realize what was being said. He definitely hadn't expected Jack to ask him something like that. He'd expected to be told that their arrangement didn't extend to spending nights together. But apparently he was wrong.

"Of course not," he answered, keeping his voice soft, feeling uncertain as to what he should say. It sounded like Jack was asking him to stay the night, not telling him that he had to. This wasn't what he'd expected to hear, given the parameters of their relationship.

But it was what he wanted, that small inner voice in the back of his mind piped up. He wanted Jack to see him as more than a sexual plaything, more than the man who worked for him. He wanted this to grow into something that would last.

But one thing he'd learned from the time he'd spent working with Jack McCoy was that trying to rush this man into anything, or trying to con him into thinking that he'd made a decision on his own when in reality he'd been manipulated into it, wasn't the right thing to do. And he didn't want to do or say anything that might jeopardize what they might have in the future.

They had started building something between them tonight. Maybe it was only his imagination, but he'd felt that their coming together was more than just sex, more than just a physical release for both of them. He hoped Jack had felt that, too.

He had no way of knowing, and he wasn't going to push for Jack to say that it was. But he would hold on to the hope until it was either fulfilled, or he knew that it wasn't true.

"That's good," Jack said, one arm tightening around Michael's waist. The younger man finally allowed himself to relax; it seemed that Jack wanted him here, even if he might not be sure of just where their relationship was heading.

"I've waited for this night a long time," Jack continued, raising one hand to run it through Mike's hair. "Ever since the first little skirmish we had, when you wanted to break some rules and I wouldn't let you, I knew you were the kind of man I wanted to have in my bed. It's going to change a lot of things between us, you know."

Mike nodded, gulping and hoping that Jack wasn't going to go into all the ways that their working relationship would obviously change. Not right now, not when he wanted to relax and luxuriate in the feeling of being physically content in a way that he hadn't been for a long time.

He knew that there would be a lot of changes coming at them. He just wasn't ready to face the change now; there would be time enough for that when they were back in the office on Monday morning, facing each other in the cold light of day.

"We've got the weekend to talk about it," Jack told him, his hand moving down to stroke over the bare skin of Mike's shoulder. "There are going to have to be some ground rules, but I think we'll both be comfortable with them once we've talked them out."

"It's all up to you," Mike said softly, his heart in his mouth, feeling that he was making a concession and laying himself bare before Jack with those words. "You started this, Jack. I agreed, but I'm the subordinate here."

Just like he was in the office, Mike told himself, closing his eyes and hoping that he'd made the right choice in doing this. If he hadn't, he could be jeopardizing more than he was ready to risk.

Not only his burgeoning personal relationship with Jack, but his job as well. If the two of them didn't mesh in this new relationship away from the office, what was to stop Jack from asking him -- or hell, even telling him -- that they couldn't work together any more? What if this was going to make him become a liability to Jack, rather than an asset?

He couldn't let himself think like that. If he did, then it was doomed to failure from the beginning. He had to have a positive attitude, and not try to second-guess his lover. He would just have to let things take their natural course and try not to worry.

"Not just a subordinate," Jack whispered into his ear. "You've been more than that from the beginning. We've always been heading for this, even if you didn't know it. But that's something else we can talk about over the weekend. We've got plenty of time."

Again, that wasn't what he'd expected to hear -- but Mike wasn't going to argue with the words. He could feel his heartbeats quickening in his chest, his heart soaring as Jack spoke. He wondered if Jack could feel his heart speeding up, and what he might think of that.

The other man's words gave him a hope that he hadn't dared contemplate before. That this wasn't just a quick fling, that it would develop into something deep and lasting.

Hope that he was more to Jack than just a passing fancy, more than just a plaything that would only have a limited time with this man. Maybe he was only grasping at straws, but for now, that was more than enough for him to hold on to.

Mike couldn't help feeling that this wasn't quite reality, that the real world waited for him back in the office. But for now, he was going to enjoy the unreal world he was inhabiting; there was no way of knowing how long it would last, and he wanted to savor it while he could.

There was no way to know for sure just what would happen between them. But as Mike drifted off to sleep with Jack's arm wrapped around his waist, he could feel a warmth coming from the other man that was more than just the warmth of their bodies. It was the warmth of a growing affection between the two of them, one that couldn't be denied.