Title: What We're About
Pairing: Michael Cutter/Ryan O'Halloran
Fandom: Law & Order/Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
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.
***Ryan let himself quietly into Mike's apartment with the key he'd been given; he could hear his boyfriend in the kitchen, apparently starting to make dinner for the two of them. He'd told Mike that he would be over tonight, though he was later than he'd thought he would be.
The new lab he was working at was actually a lot friendlier than his old one had been; no one seemed to think it was odd that he was a little secretive about his personal life, the way they had at his old job. He didn't feel that he had to keep so much of who he was under wraps.
Most people he worked with knew that he was gay by now; he'd only been there for a little less than a month, but he'd felt comfortable enough to let the information be made public. It had taken him years to do that at the lab he'd worked in before.
What was even better was that the people he worked with now didn't seem to think that there was anything the least bit scandalous or strange about him being gay. There were no sidelong glances, no furtive, guilty expressions when people talked to him.
And there was none of the unspoken hostility that always seemed to radiate from those two clowns who had nearly gotten him killed, either. Ryan pushed that thought away; he didn't want to think about those two ever again. Out of sight, out of mind.
Taking off his coat, he slung it over the back of the couch, then headed to the kitchen, leaning against the door frame as he watched his boyfriend stir something on the stove. He loved watching Michael move; it was almost like watching a graceful ballet.
Mike's movements were spare and economical, as though he was trying to achieve the maximum that he could possibly get done with as little movement as possible. He moved like a danger, with grace and agility; Ryan couldn't help wondering if he was like that in the courtroom, too.
He was going to watch his lover in action one day. He'd take a day off from the lab, and spend it in the courtroom watching Mike try his cases; maybe he could actually bring his boyfriend good luck by being there. At the very least, Ryan could cheer him on.
He shifted away from the door frame just as Mike turned and saw him; the other man smiled and held out his arms to Ryan, that smile seeming to light up the room. Ryan could feel his heart turn over in his chest; Mike's smile always affected him in that way.
What was it about this man that could turn his heart to mush with just one look? Ryan couldn't put a single word to how Mike Cutter made him feel; there were too many emotions, too many words that could all fit into the plethora of feelings in his heart.
"How was your day, sweetheart?" Mike asked, hugging Ryan and then pulling back slightly to regard the other man. "I got your voice mail saying you'd have to be a little late. That's okay -- I didn't get home until half an hour later than I'd thought I would."
"You didn't have to cook after a long day at work, y'know," Ryan told him, sniffing appreciatively. "But it smells awesome. What are you making?" He couldn't tell what was in the stove just from the aroma, but whatever it was, he was sure he was going to enjoy it.
"I wanted to cook for you. Besides, I had everything here," Michael told him, turning back towards the stove. "We're having sesame chicken. I could have just ordered Chinese takeout, but once in a while I like to cook things myself."
"My idea of dinner is usually a sandwich or a burger," Ryan said with a laugh, leaning against the sink and watching Mike as he peered into the stove, apparently satisfied by how things looked. "So having dinner made for me is a vast improvement over that."
"You don't take care of yourself enough," Michael said softly, sliding an arm around Ryan's waist and leading him to the kitchen table. "I'm going to change that. I might not be the world's best cook, but I can feed you more than a sandwich or a flat hamburger."
Ryan laughed, shaking his head. "I don't eat at McDonald's every night!" he protested, holding up his hands. "But I like the idea of you cooking for me. It's .... cozy," he murmured, his voice faltering a little. "Nobody else has ever done that for me before."
"Nobody?" Mike looked surprised, sitting down in the chair next to Ryan and regarding his boyfriend soberly. "You mean that none of the people you've dated ever cooked for you? What did they do? Took you out to dinner once in a while, I hope?"
Ryan laughed softly, leaning back in his chair and regarding Michael. "Yeah, they did. It's not like my former boyfriends were all jerks, Mike. And it's not like there were very many of them. I've only dated three guys before you came into my life."
"Only three?" Mike's eyes widened; Ryan couldn't help smiling at the stunned look on his face. "Do you mean dating as in having an actual relationship, or are you also counting people you just went out with casually? If so, then that's not many people."
"I'm only counting the ones I actually dated more than a couple of times," Ryan told him, wishing that he hadn't started this subject. "I've been out with a lot more guys than that -- but I want you to know here and now that I've only slept with the three I've dated."
"Ryan, it doesn't matter to me how many men you've slept with," Mike said, his voice soft and gentle. "The only thing that matters is that I'm the man you're with now. The past doesn't have any bearing on our relationship in this point and time."
"I just didn't want you to think that I'm .... some kind of slut," Ryan said hesitantly, not liking to use that word. "I don't sleep around, Mike. I never have. Even when I'm not involved with somebody, I'd rather make friends with my vibrator than have meaningless sex."
"I didn't think you would have," Mike said softly, leaning forward and placing his hand over Ryan's where it lay on the table. "Ryan, I don't think badly of you if you've slept with more than a few men. I'd never think you're a slut. I don't judge people."
"I know you don't." Ryan felt even more badly about bringing the subject up, now that he had his feelings out in the open. "I .... I guess I've just known too many people who would have judged me if I said that I'd slept with a lot of guys. Like that's a badge of honor or something."
"I'll admit that I don't think sleeping around is a virtue," Mike said dryly, shaking his head. "I've seen enough of it to know that it's not the way I want to live my life. But I don't judge other people for doing it. Every person has different needs and desires."
"I'm guessing you haven't slept with a lot of guys, either?" Ryan asked, raising his brows in question. He knew that he probably shouldn't ask, but he couldn't help being curious. "Or women, either," he added, knowing that Mike had been with members of both sexes.
Michael shook his head, smiling as he leaned forward, his gaze still on Ryan's face. "No, I haven't. Only four men. And only three women. I've never been the kind of person who gets around a lot, Ryan. I'm kind of a monk, in a lot of ways. I'm about emotions, not just sex."
Ryan nodded, feeling embarrassed that he'd asked Mike about his sexual past at all. "So can we put all that behind us now and move on?" he asked hopefully, feeling that he'd already put his foot in his mouth one too many times tonight. "I feel kind of awkward."
"Don't," Mike told him with a soft laugh, getting up and going back to the stove. "I think dinner's almost done," he said, turning to smile at his lover. "If you want to set the table, I'll get things ready." It seemed that the subject was closed for him, until he spoke again.
"The only thing that matters with us is what you and I are about," he said softly, his eyes meeting Ryan's. "The past might have shaped us, but it's our future together that I'm interested in. It's been you and me from the day we met, Ryan. No one else. Ever."
Ryan nodded, feeling immensely relieved by Michael's words. There was no question about their pasts, nothing more to say about what had come before. Mike was right -- the important thing was what they were about, not what had happened before they'd met.
That was the way he wanted it to be, he told himself as he went to the cupboard to take out the plates and glasses. And that was how Mike seemed to want it, too. So they would go on from here -- and not take any more glances back at what might have been hidden in the past.