Title: Human Contact
Pairing: Michael Cutter/Ryan O'Halloran
Fandom: Law & Order/Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Prompt: #399, Contact
Warning: Discussions of rape.
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 glanced over at the couch where Ryan was sitting as he came into the living room with two steaming mugs of coffee, moving to hand one of them to his boyfriend as he himself sat down on the couch. He wasn't sure what to say, how to bring up the subject he wanted to talk about.
He had known many people who wee rape victims; he'd talked to them within the auspices of his job, and he had been able to feel that he was giving them some measure of comfort and justice by putting their assailants behind bars. But this was the first time the issue had touched his own life.
How did he talk to Ryan about this? Should he wait for his boyfriend to bring up the subject himself, or should he smply jump right in and tell Ryan that he wanted to take Stuckey back to court on rape charges? Would it be worth doing that, unless Ryan wanted to pursue it?
After all, the rape had happened nearly three years ago. It had only come back into Ryan's mind after he'd blocked it out for so long because of Stuckey's attack on him, the attempted rape and the stabbing that had nearly killed him. But there was one important thing to consider.
The statute of limitations wasn't over. They still had two years; they could go after Stuckey and possibly have his sentence changed to life without possibility of parole. If these facts were brought up in court, Mike could bury that bastard, keep him behind bars for the rest of his days.
That was what he wanted to do -- but what he wanted wasn't important. It was what Ryan wanted that mattered; if his boyfriend didn't want to go through the indignity of having his rape publicized, after he hadn't told anyone about it when it happened, he had the right to refuse a trial.
Mike searched his mind to find a way to bring up the subject without making Ryan uncomfortable; there was nothing he could think of to say, no easy way to segue into talking about a rape that had happened so long ago and that Ryan had buried in the back of his mind.
"You want to talk about it, don't you?" Ryan's voice brought him back to reality, startling him out of his thoughts. "I've never told anybody else about it, Mike. I knew that I should have, but I was ashamed. And now it's probably too late to do anything, since I don't have physical proof."
"I think we can nail him," Mike said softly, not wanting to get Ryan's hopes up, but feeling that he had to think on the positive side. "If you're willing to testify in court that he was your rapist. Do you remember anything about him the night he raped you, other than his voice?"
Ryan shook his head, leaning back against the couch cushions. Mike's heart went out to his boyfriend; Ryan looked utterly miserable, pale and trembling, as though he wished that he had never brought up the subject in the first place. But Mike was sure that his lover needed to talk this out.
Setting down his coffee mug, Mike wrapped his arms around Ryan's waist, pulling the other man close against him and resting his cheek against the softness of Ryan's hair. He senses that his boyfriend needed the close contact, needed to be held and reassured.
"I know it's not easy to talk about it, Ryan," he whispered, wishing that he could find words that sounded more loving, less .... clinical. "But if you can talk about it to me, maybe talking about it to others will come easier. The first time has to be the hardest. And I'm here to listen, sweetheart."
"I don't remember anything but his voice -- and how it felt," Ryan whispered, his voice hoarse. Mike could tell that he was having a hard time getting the words out; he hated to make his boyfriend go through this, but he was sure that Ryan would feel relieved once it had all spilled out.
"He must have gotten in through the window -- the lock was broken. I'd meant to get it fixed that weekend, but I never had the chance." Ryan swallowed hard, closing his eyes as he continued. "I was asleep. Lying on my stomach, face down, when I woke up with him straddling me."
Mike nodded, waiting for Ryan to go on. One thing he'd learned in his job was to be patient; even if a victim had lived through their attack a long time ago, he knew that it was often hard for them to talk about it. It could be even harder with the distance of months, or even years.
"By the time I realized what was happening, he had my hands tied behind my back," Ryan whispered, his voice trembling more as he continued to speak. "And he pushed my face down in the pillow so I couldn't scream. It was hard enough to breathe, much less get enough breath to yell for help."
He stopped, swallowing hard again and turning his head to press his face against Mike's throat. Michael stroked his lover's hair, murmuring soft words and hoping that the close contact would give Ryan the strength to go on, to tell him everything that he could remember about that horrible night.
"He got my boxers down and ...." Ryan's voice broke on the words, but he didn't stop speaking. "He shoved his fingers inside me and .... and made me come that way before he was inside me. I don't know how long it took, but when he .... when he came he pulled out -- and then --"
The words ended on a sob; Mike could feel his stomach tighten, as though there was something in his heart that told him whatever Ryan was going to say next would be the worst thing he'd heard yet. HIs arms tightened around the younger man, holding Ryan close, trying to give him some comfort.
"Then all I remember is this fireworks explosion," Ryan finished, his voice flat and dull. "He must have hit me on the head with something, because when I woke up there was blood in my hair and my head was throbbing. And he was gone. I just felt like I had to erase the whole thing, forget it ever happened."
"How did you realize that it was him?" Mike asked gently, not wanting to agitate his boyfriend, but knowing that he needed to hear this key piece of information. If Ryan could tell him this now, when the memory was obviously looming fresh in his mind, then he could tell a jury later, when it had settled.
"The voice," Ryan whispered, his own voice once again hoarse, on the point of cracking. "He didn't speak above a whisper, and I never saw his face. But I never forgot how that whisper sounded. I think it's why I never liked Stuckey from the first. I knew there was something wrong about him."
"Did you have your suspicions from the first time you met him, or did you not know until the night he tried to kill you?" Mike asked before he could stop himself. He knew that he sounded cold and detached, but he had to know if Ryan had even had the slightest inkling that Stuckey had been his rapist.
Ryan shook his head, sighing softly as he did so. "No, I didn't have a clue," he confessed, turning his head to meet Mike's gaze. "I just didn't like him. I had the weird feeling that I'd met him somewhere before, but I didn't put two and two together until that night because --"
He stopped, swallowing hard again and dropping his gaze. Mike waited, knowing that his boyfriend had to say something else that was painful for him, and hoping the the close physical contact between them, the knowledge that he wasn't alone, would give Ryan the courage to go on.
"He tried to rape me that night," Ryan said, his voice breaking on the last word. "I pushed him away and told him that he must be crazy if he thought I'd have anything to do with him. And he just laughed. He told me that he'd had me before, and he would again, whether I wanted it or not."
"Was that when you started to put it together?" Mike asked, his voice gentle. He was sure that Ryan had finally realized just who his assailant had been when Stuckey had said those words -- and that Stuckey would have known that he had to keep Ryan quiet after he'd spoken so thoughtlessly.
"Yeah," Ryan whispered, leaning his head against Mike's shoulder and closing his eyes. "I knew then, even though I didn't want to believe it. Everything just fell into place. The way he acted towards me, like he had been a part of my life even before we'd worked together. His whole attitude."
"Well, he's not going to have a chance to get near you again," Mike told him, keeping his voice soft and gentle. "The closest he'll be to you is across a courtroom -- and you can look at him and let him know that what he did to you doesn't have any control over your life, and that you've moved on."
"You're going to charge him with rape, aren't you?" Ryan whispered, lifting his head and meeting Mike's gaze again. "The statute of limitations isn't up, so you can do it. But are you sure that you can get enough proof of the actual rape, or will you just have to charge him with attempted sexual assault?"
"I -- don't know," Mike admitted, hating to say those words. More than anything, he wanted Ryan to have closure from all this, to be able to put the memories behind him and start to heal. And he coudln't do that unless he knew that Stuckey would be punished for what he'd done.
It wasn't enough that the psycho would be punished for attempting to kill Ryan -- as well as a cop, Mike told himself. They both needed to see Stuckey formally indicted for rape. And Ryan needed to know that his rapist, and attempted murderer, would have no hope of ever being paroled.
"Whatever happens, at least we'll have tried," Ryan said softly, finally starting to relax in Mike's arms. "I know you'll do whatever you can, Mike. And whatever you think should be done, I'll go along with it. I've lived with this for too long. It's time to bury those memories and let them die."
He couldn't agree more with those words, Michael thought as he closed his eyes, holding Ryan even closer against him, the human contact warming them both. They had a long road to travel, but with any luck, they would both emerge stronger from the ordeal that he was sure would lie ahead of them.