Title: The Right Thing To Do
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.
***Mike looked up from where he was seated on the couch when Ryan came in; he put down the paper, holding out a hand to his boyfriend with a smile. It wasn't often that he was home first, but there had been a case that Ryan had needed to stay late for tonight.
"I take it the job's going well -- other than keeping you there late," he teased as Ryan sat down beside him with a sigh and leaned back against the couch cushions. "Still, a little overtime can be good, especially if you need the money. I hope it wasn't a bad night."
"The job's going great," Ryan told him as he pulled off his shoes and collapsed back against the couch. "I really like all of the people I'm working with -- and there aren't any annoying psychos like Stuckey around. It's more peaceful than the last lab."
Michael nodded thoughtfully, his muscles automatically tightening at the mention of Stuckey. That was one person who he could honestly say that he hated -- and who he wished would get his just desserts in hell, rather than just being behind bars for a lifetime.
"At least it's closer to home, so when you work late, you don't have to go halfway across the city to get here," Mike said, trying to take his mind off the man who had nearly killed Ryan. "Speaking of which, I've got a question to ask you."
Ryan turned toward him, raising an eyebrow as he gave Mike his undivided attention. "What is it?" he inquired, looking curious. "You've got that serious look on your face, so I'm guessing that this is going to be a major question that I'll need to think about the answer to."
Mike shook his head, smiling at Ryan's words. "Well, I guess it's a major question -- but I hope you won't have to do a lot of thinking about the answer," he said softly, not taking his gaze from his lover's face. "I was going to ask if you don't think it's time we moved in together."
He knew from the expression on Ryan's face that his boyfriend hadn't expected to hear this -- and really, he hadn't expected to ask it so soon. But they were spending all of their time together now, and it seemed ridiculous to have two separate apartments.
New York was an expensive city to live in, and even though they both made good money, Mike knew that it would be better for both of them if they pooled their expenses and lived in one place. And with the rate that their relationship was moving forward, it made sense.
"What do you think, Ryan?" he asked softly, when his boyfriend still hadn't answered after a few moments had passed. "I think it's the logical next step in our relationship. After all, it's not cheap to live in this city. And we might as well be living in the same place."
Ryan cleared his throat, looking a little bewildered. "I wasn't expecting you to ask me that," he said softly, obviously trying to recover his equilibrium. "I don't know what I thought you were going to ask me, but not that. I .... I don't know what to say."
"Say that you think we should move in together," Mike said with an uneasy laugh. This wasn't going the way that he'd thought it would; maybe he should have waited until the weekend to bring up the subject. Ryan didn't seem to be as pleased with the idea as he was.
Ryan sighed, shaking his head, a frown furrowing his brow. "Mike, you know I'd like that," he began, his gaze focusing on Mike's face and not wavering. "But do you think it's a good idea for us to move in with each other so early in the relationship?"
Mike felt startled by the question; he hadn't really thought of that. To him, it seemed as though he and Ryan had been together forever; he'd never felt so comfortable with anyone else. No one had ever segued into his life so perfectly before.
"Why wouldn't it be a good idea?" he asked, feeling at a loss for words. "Ryan, we live so close to each other. And usually, either I'm here at your place, or you're at mine. We have keys to each other's homes. We might as well have the same one."
"That's not exactly romantic, is it?" Ryan asked, a smile hovering around the corners of his lips. "When you ask somebody to move in with you, shouldn't you do it in a more romantic way than just saying that we might as well be living together?"
Michael almost wanted to laugh with relief; Ryan didn't think that they shouldn't move in together, not judging by the smile on his lips and the laughter lurking just under the surface of his voice. He was more than likely just startled by the seeming suddenness of the question.
"I should be more romantic about this, shouldn't I?" he said softly, moving off the couch to get down on his knees on the floor in front of Ryan. Looking up at his boyfriend, he spoke firmly, his tone strong and steady, his gaze not leaving the other man's face.
"Ryan O'Halloran," he began, his voice barely above a whisper, but the tone of his voice strong and true, "will you come live with me and be my love?" His gaze never wavered; he reached out to take Ryan's hands in his, looking into his boyfriend's eyes.
Ryan swallowed hard, blinking rapidly as though to keep sudden tears from springing to his eyes. He didn't answer for several long moments; then he nodded, slowly at first, then more quickly, with a smile starting to spread across his handsome features.
"I might be a little crazy to say this, but .... yes," he said, his voice firm, his eyes never leaving Mike's face. "It's not going to be easy, getting used to living with somebody -- but I'll do it. Because I'd rather live with you than spend one more day living alone."
"We already do practically live together!" Mike laughed, feeling relieved at Ryan's acceptance. He had thought for a moment that Ryan didn't want to move in with him, that his boyfriend didn't think they should be sharing just one living space.
"So, when do you want to think about moving in?" Ryan asked him, raising an eyebrow. "The lease on my place is up in just a couple of months. What about yours?" His brow furrowed as he spoke, as though yet another question had come to his mind.
Michael wanted to reassure Ryan, to let him know that no matter what happened, they would be living in the same place in a short amount of time. He wanted to make whatever moving had to be done painless for his boyfriend, make any adjustment as easy as possible.
"I just renewed the lease on this place for two years about three months ago," he said, glancing around his apartment. "Ryan, this place is more than big enough for both of us. I've got a spare bedroom, and I can move things around in my office to make more space."
Ryan nodded thoughtfully, the worried look clearing from his face. "I don't want you to turn your life upside down just for me to move in, Mike," he said softly, squeezing his lover's hands. "I want this to be easy for both of us. And I want us both to be sure that this is the right thing to do."
"I know it's the right thing for me," Mike told him, feeling a little choked. If Ryan decided that he didn't want to do this .... It was an idea that had been on Mike's mind for a while, but he hadn't realized just how much it meant to him for Ryan to say yes.
"I think it's right for me, too," Ryan finally said, his own voice a little hoarse. "I hate the nights that I'm not with you. Do you know that sometimes when we don't spend the night together, I stand at my bedroom window and look out across the city, trying to see the lights of your place?"
"We're only a few blocks away from each other, but I doubt you can see the lights in the brownstone from your apartment," Mike murmured, touched by this admission. He'd had no idea that Ryan felt so strongly about the nights they spent with each other.
"I always try to convince myself that I can," Ryan told him in a soft voice. "And then I'll close my eyes and imagine that I'm holding you -- and wish that I was. I've almost come over here in the middle of the night before, just to hold you for the rest of the night."
"Well, in another couple of months, once your lease runs out, you won't have to do that," Michael said, his voice taking on a new note, one of confidence and happiness. "You'll be living here -- and we'll be coming home to each other every night in this place. Our place."
"I can't wait to move in," Ryan told him, tugging at his hands to draw him back up onto the couch beside him. "I can't wait to feel like this is my home and that I belong here." Mike had to smile at the eagerness in his lover's voice.
"You already belong here," Mike told him, leaning over to brush a gentle kiss across Ryan's cheek. "Just like you belong in my heart -- and in my arms." He slid his arms around Ryan's waist as he spoke, pulling the other man close against him.
"And in your bed," Ryan whispered, raising a hand to trace the outline of Mike's upper lip with a fingertip. "Our bed." Mike could only nod, unable to find words that could possibly express the happiness that was surging through his heart and soul.