Title: The Whole Truth
Fandom: Law & Order
Pairing: Michael Cutter/Jack McCoy
Author's Note: Spoilers for the Law & Order episode "By Perjury".
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 didn't quite realize where he was for a few seconds; was he at home? At Jack's? No, he couldn't be there. The few times he spent the night there, that was because his body was too sore for him to attempt to get out to his car and drive home.
Those were the nights that he slept in Jack's bed, not wanting to go to sleep because he wanted to keep the moments that his lover was lying beside him in his memory for as long as he possibly could. They would slip away if he let himself fall asleep.
So why was Jack .... holding him? What was going on?
As the mists of sleep cleared from his mind, the events of the last twenty-four hours came rushing back to him with crystal clarity. The court case. Winston. The gun barrel pointed straight at thim; the awful knowledge that he was going to die.
But he hadn't died. Lupo and Bernard had stopped Winston; the gun had gone off, he remembered that. The report of the pistol had been ringing in his ears for what seemed like forever; he could still hear it, running through the back of his mind.
He was alive. And he was here, at home, in his own bed. He knew that the second his vision adjusted to the dim early-morning light coming through the window. That wasn't what felt so out of place and even a little shocking.
No, the shock came from the fact of who was beside him -- not only beside him, but holding him, almost cradling him in a protective embrace. This was something he hadn't thought in his wildest dreams that he would wake up to on any morning of his life.
Jack McCoy was holding him.
It wasn't unusual for him to wake up next to Jack. But this was .... to say the least, surprising. Now that he could focus his mind on all that had happened since those frightening moments in the courthouse, it had all been surprising.
He really should have called Jack before he'd come home last night. After all, the man was his boss -- no one would have been surprised if he'd wanted Jack to take him home, to have someone he knew well and trusted to lean on.
But something had held him back, kept him from calling. He hadn't wanted to pretend that this man was only his boss, only a good friend. If Jack had been there before he'd been able to get his bearings, he might have let the mask slip.
That wouldn't have been good for either of them. Jack wouldn't have wanted him to slip and say anything that neither of them wanted to be made public -- and he definitely wouldn't have wanted any untoward displays of affection or neediness.
Mike was fairly sure that he wouldn't have done that, but he couldn't be sure. So he'd thought that it was a good thing not to call Jack. If his lover wanted to know that he was all right, he would call in the morning. Or so he'd thought last night.
That was why he'd been so utterly shocked to see Jack show up at his door. He'd known that the other man would find out what had happened, and sooner rather than later. But the kind of concern that Jack had shown for him had been completely out of the blue.
He'd expected a phone call. He'd gotten so much more than that.
He had slept in Jack's arms last night. There had been no declarations of love; those three little words that Mike was almost afraid to say hadn't left Jack's lips, or his own. But the words hung in the air between them, no less present for being unspoken.
Until last night, he hadn't guessed that he meant so much to Jack. He'd known that Jack cared for him; the sort of relationship that they had wouldn't have been possible if there wasn't some affection between them. But he'd never thought that it would be overt.
Jack's actions last night had proved that he cared -- and that he cared on a level that went much deeper than Mike had thought it did. He had thought that he was no more than a slave to Jack, a friend and co-worker that he played some pleasurable games with.
Last night had changed all that. And in a subtle way, it had changed the way that Mike himself looked at their relationship, just as what had almost happened to him had obviously changed the way that Jack looked at the two of them.
Before last night, he'd thought that he had a handle on the relationship he shared with Jack. He'd thought that he knew his place in that relationship, and had an idea of when and how it would change and move forward. He'd thought he was secure.
But now .... everything was turned upside down.
This was what he'd wanted, wasn't it? Mike asked himself, closing his eyes. He'd wanted some tangible proof that he was more to Jack than just a playmate, more than just a friend with benefits. And now he had that proof. He was certain of it.
He shouldn't be hesitant. He should take that proof and hold it close, treasure it and never let it go. And he should ask Jack point-blank if his actions meant what Mike thought they did. He should be absolutely clear on where the two of them stood.
Or maybe he should let Jack bring up the subject. But would he? Mike bit his lip, realizing that he didn't have any idea of the answer to that question. Jack might not want to say anything; he might want to keep those words unspoken between the two of them.
Mike wasn't going to be satisfied with that, and he knew it. He wanted Jack to say those words; he wanted to know if this man loved him, or if he was only a passing fling for Jack. He wanted to know if there was some chance for a future with the man he loved.
Love? Mike's eyes snapped open as the realization of what he'd thought hit him.
He'd admitted to himself that he loved Jack. But this was the first time it had crossed his mind that he was in love with Jack. They were two very different states of mind -- and he knew which one of them most applied to him.
He had loved Jack as a close friend for a long time. That was the kind of love that he'd always felt Jack had for him -- it was safe and comfortable, and didn't involve any risks. No one would get hurt if that was how they both felt.
But he'd crossed that line. Maybe it had even been crossed before they'd embarked on their current relationship. He'd fallen in love with Jack McCoy. And at this point, he didn't want to turn back the clock to where they could be "safe and comfortable" again.
There was nothing "safe" about his relationship with Jack. And truth be told, he didn't want that. He wanted that excitement, that feeling that he was always on the edge of his seat and that he didn't quite know what would happen next with them.
Yet he also wanted the security of knowing that Jack cared about him. Along with the excitement of a relationship that walked along a tightrope, he wanted to know that the other person in the relationship felt the same as he did.
He needed to know whether or not Jack loved him.
Mike sighed softly, wondering how he was going to bring up the subject with Jack. He'd wanted to ask before, but he'd lost his nerve and backed off. He'd told himself that it was now or never then -- but he hadn't had the guts to follow through.
This time, he couldn't let himself back down. They had crossed a line tonight; Jack had shown more of himself than he might have wanted to. Winston and his gun had pushed Jack past a boundary, and there was no going back for either of them.
He could feel Jack stirring behind him, those arms tightening around his waist. Apprehension was rising in him, but Mike pushed it back fiercely and refused to let it take him over. This time, he was going to ask Jack the question he most needed an answer to?
Do you love me?
It wouldn't be an easy question for his lover to answer; he was sure of that. But Jack wasn't the kind of man to lie. He would tell the truth -- and even if the truth was bitter and might cause him pain, Mike wanted to know the answer.
The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. That was what people were supposed to give during their testimony in the courtrooms where he spent most of his time. This wasn't a courtroom, but he needed that truth more than he'd ever needed one in a court case.
He had to ask that question now. And he had to accept whatever answer Jack gave him.
He needed that answer. He needed to know the unvarnished truth. And now was the time for Jack to give it to him -- no matter what the consequences might be. Taking a deep breath, Mike closed his eyes for a moment, preparing himself to ask the most important question of his life.