A/N: Finally, here is the Mike/Connie story that I've mentioned in my previous Mike Cutter background stories and they all belong in the same universe. I waited until I got to a certain point before I started publishing because I enjoy stories that have a logical conclusion and I intend to bring this story to a logical conclusion some day. This story is the trials and tribulations of a relationship between Mike and Connie as I see it. I try my very best to interweave the dates with the the ones we see on the title cards in the episodes. Set in Season 20. I hope you enjoy it. Many thanks to my beta, Tripp3235, who has great patience with me.

A/N2: Since I posted this chapter originally, I've added a prologue to this story as a separate story as I didn't want to spend a lot of time rejuggling the chapters that I had already posted. You can find the prologue in my profile or at http: / www .fanfiction .net/s/6683673/1/Prologue_to_Courtship

Disclaimer: Not mine. All Law and Order characters belong to Dick Wolf and NBC. I'm just playing with them.

Office of Michael Cutter, 1 Hogan Place, Friday, January 29

Mike is kissing Connie's neck with passion and she is moaning his name. Hands are everywhere, all at once. This is not the first time that they found themselves in this position in the last few weeks except that it's late at night in the office this time. Each time had not been planned and this time is no different than the others.

Suddenly, Connie says, "Stop. We can't be doing this here."

Mike is surprised and frustrated, but he compiles. "Where should we take this?" Mike's voice is husky.

"Your apartment, it's closer." They redress quickly and put on their coats to leave.

His hands are at the small of her back as they enter the elevator. Once inside, he discreetly reaches for her hand and starts to draw a circle with his thumb. The contact is heightening her arousal. With a bit of effort, she stamps it down. He releases her hand as soon as the doors open.

As they walk past the security guard, they smile and wish him goodnight.

Mike opens the outer doors for Connie and escorts her to the curb where he motions for a cab. Neither speaks for fear of causing a scene in front of Hogan Place.

Once inside the cab, Mike gives the driver direction to his apartment. As soon as they are out of sight of the building, they are clinging to each other again. Hands in hair, other hands at waist. Kissing. Tonguing. The walk to the curb and the waiting for a cab has just heightened their arousal. If it wasn't for the fact that there is a driver present, they would have worked off their frustrations right there and then in the backseat of the cab.

As is, they overpay the driver and nearly run to the elevator in the building. Mike just has a curt nod for the doorman. "Evening, Mr. Cutter."

As they wait for the elevator car, again Mike discreetly takes her hand and starts rubbing a circle with his thumb. Connie closes her eyes to concentrate on not molesting Mike right there in the lobby.

Finally, the elevator arrives and the door cannot close fast enough for them. As it is past midnight, the elevator is, as expected, empty. Mike pulls Connie to him and trails kisses down her jaw to her neck. Her hands are pulling out his shirt out of his pants to get better access to his skin. Thank God, he's not wearing a three-piece today.

They barely untangle themselves enough from one another as they stumble down the hallway to his apartment. Mike presses Connie against the door with his body, simultaneously kissing her, letting her know what he feels for her through his tented pants and trying to unlock his apartment door. Connie just moans, "Oh, Mike," which just makes unlocking the door that much more difficult.

After what seems like an eternity, Mike finally manages to unlock his apartment door and they stumble inside. Quickly closing and re-locking the door, they both drop their briefcases, and Connie, her purse, in the doorway and each strip themselves of their overcoats and shoes.

With a determined look in his eyes, Mike takes Connie by the hand and leads her to his bedroom. Once inside, he pulls her to him for a kiss. As he moves to her jaw and down her neck, he mumbles into her throat, "God, you're beautiful, Connie. What did I do to deserve you?"

Their lovemaking is intensely passionate and satisfying. What had started on the desk in the office, ends with their sweat-soaked bodies entwined in his sheets on his bed in his apartment.

The next words from Connie surprises Mike. "That was amazing. You were amazing, but we can't keep doing this. You are my boss, Mike. What is going to be on my evaluation? 'She's great in bed?'"

They untangle themselves from each other. Both of them sit up at this juncture, sheets covering various parts of their anatomy.

"No, Connie. Like I told you the first time, I love you. I want to be with you." Mike gently puts his hands on her face to emphasize his point.

Connie takes his hand from her cheek and plays with it. "We have to do something about this. I can't in good conscience be in this and be your subordinate. Everyone knows Jack did it but I don't think I can, at least, not for much longer. I think you need to find a different second chair if we want to continue this, especially long term."

"Do you want to continue this?" Mike asks feeling disappointment creep in.

"Ye-es. I think I do. I think I love you, too, Mike." Suddenly, Connie is too shy to look directly at Mike.

"What do you suggest?" Mike tries to catch her eyes.

"I think I need to dust off my resume and start looking for something else. I'm not sure I can continue this and work at Hogan Place." Taking in a deep breath to gather some courage, Connie continues, "I'm not asking for a commitment, but I do want to know where you think this is going?"

Mike looks at her and smiles a little. "As you probably know, I've been attracted to you since the beginning. I fell in love with you somewhere along the way as you supported my tilts at windmills. I had a rule that I don't sleep with someone I work with, but after the Woll case, I just couldn't convince myself any longer. You were all I thought of day and night. It was especially difficult since we were and are still working together day and night on the appeals for Woll's convictions. You are so beautiful and smart and you stand your ground when you know you are right. I love that in a woman. I think I'm crazy to admit this at this point, but I don't think I could live without seeing you every day for the rest of my life."

Connie tilts her head with a little incredulity "OK. You really think that of me. I'm flattered. If you really do see this as a long term thing, then I think I better start dusting off my resume this weekend. However, before we do that I think I need some sleep but before we do that, I think we need to get cleaned up." With a grin, Connie throws off the sheets and races toward the shower. "Coming?"

Not needing a second prompt, Mike jumps out of bed and follows her.

Connie is dressed in some of Mike's clothes, sitting at Mike's kitchen table, with a newspaper, eating her toast with a cup of coffee when Mike finally makes an appearance out of the bedroom in his bathrobe and hair askew.

"I see you found what you needed this time."

"Coffee's over there. You're out of jam."

"Good Morning!" Mike comes and kisses Connie as he heads to the coffee pot.

"Good Morning, sleepy head." Connie smiles before she takes a sip of her coffee. "What are the plans for today? I know that we have a few hours of work to do at the office. We didn't exactly bring anything work with us last night. I'd also like to stop by my apartment beforehand to get a change of clothes. I don't think showing up at the office in yesterday's clothes, or your clothes, is a good idea even if it is the weekend."

Pouring some coffee into a mug and taking a sip. "Probably not. What did you want to do after work? Have dinner? See a movie?"

"What do you normally do when you have to work on a Saturday?"

"You're going to laugh. I usually get take out and then go work out at the gym. Helps me relax and sleep after a working weekend." Mike pops some toast in the toaster.

"Do you want a work out partner or is it still too early in the game?" Finishing her toast, Connie takes another sip of her coffee and puts her dishes in the sink.

"There must be something else you want to do besides working out with me?" Mike butters his toast and takes a bite.

"There is ..." Connie licks the butter off the side of this mouth, which startles Mike, "... but if we're in it for the long haul as you suggested last night, I want to know what your regular routines are." After recovering from what Connie just did, Mike puts down his toast and pulls her in for a long kiss indicating his intentions for something else.

"If you want to get a few hours in at the office today, this is going to have to wait, Mike, " says Connie as she gently tries to push him away.

"Connie, ..." says Mike in between kisses down her jaw, " ... if we don't ... take twenty minutes now, ... what happened last night ... might happen again ... What if... we took a shower? ... That way ... we can ... clean up ... at the same time. ... What ... do you say?... Hmmm?"

Connie runs her hands through his hair, and guides his head up. "I guess there's no harm," then kisses him back.

Taking that as his cue. Mike picks up Connie bridal style and heads to the bathroom.

As they arrive at Connie's apartment, hand in hand, Mike stops Connie at the front entrance. "I'd like to make a drugstore run. Do you need me to go up with you?"

"No, you go ahead. I think I can handle changing and getting some stuff together. Your best bet is the one across the street. They have the best selection. Meet you back here in twenty?"

"Sounds like a plan." Mike leans in to kiss Connie. "I love you."

"I love you, too." I can't believe how easy it was to say those words. Connie flashes Mike a smile before heading into her apartment while Mike heads across the street.

In her apartment, Connie thinks back to the previous night, as she packs her bag. Am I really thinking of a long future with Mike? If this wasn't my boss, this would just be the start of a relationship. Why does it have to be so hard? I love my job, but I just can't be that woman who sleeps with her boss at night.

As Mike is browsing the drugstore, his mind wanders back to the last twelve hours. The taste of her. The perfume she wears. The feel of her fingers running through my hair. Stop it. You're a forty-five year old man, not a lovesick teenager. Keep this train of thought up and you'll have to hide behind a coat for the rest of the day. I hope that she meant what she said about finding a new position. I'm having enough trouble with the current setup as it is. Why did I have to fall for my assistant. If it wasn't Connie, this would just be the start of a relationship. Maybe this is something we need to discuss as soon as possible.

When Connie comes back to the front entrance of her apartment with a fresh change of clothes and her extra bag and her briefcase, Mike is just about to cross the street.

Mike smiles when he sees her. "Ready for the office and tonight?

Connie smiles back. "Yes. I'll have to come back on Sunday afternoon, but I'm good until then."

"Which way to the subway?"

"Follow me." Connie holds out her hand to Mike and he takes it.

Once they are on the subway and seated, Mike broaches the subject of careers. "So what do you see yourself doing in ten years?"

Curious as to where this is going, but Connie still indulged him. "Not 100% sure, but maybe in a private firm on my way to being partner? I want a family by then and I just can't see myself doing these hours for the pay in the long term. Why?"

Mike nods. "Was just thinking about our conversation last night. I don't want this relationship to be forcing you to take something that you don't want just so you can get out of this situation. You know that I could look for something else as well."

Connie looks at Mike incredulously.

"What? I want this relationship to work. In an equal partnership, neither one of us is immune to making the changes necessary for the benefit of the relationship and if it's better for me to make a move, I have no qualms doing it."

"Really, Mike?"

"Really, Connie. I've thought a lot about us and our situation even before we hooked up. We're equal partners in this and we'll take corrective actions as a team."

"That's refreshing, but I just can't see you doing anything other than prosecuting criminals and being an ADA, you're in the best position to do it. I think it's best if we look at what other opportunities are available to consider. I enjoy being second chair, but I'm not the crusader you are."

"Only if you're sure you want to be the one to make the move. I don't want to force you into anything, but you're right, we just can't continue to do this. I can't keep putting you in this position. It's not fair to you."

"Yeah, I think it's best for us, if I move. I never would have guessed that you are so equal opportunity having worked so hard to get to where you are."

"'We' are important to me. I don't want the need to change jobs be foisted on you just because I have the more senior position. Take some time to think about it. I don't want you to make a snap judgment that you'll regret." Mike then kissed the hand he's holding to emphasize the point. Connie then puts her head on his shoulders to think.

After they arrive at the office, they start to work in earnest to catch up after leaving earlier than planned the previous night. Lunch was ordered in and consumed while continuing to work. All conversation was work related and kept to a minimum.

The sun had set by the time Mike was hungry for dinner. He looks up at Connie and says, "I think this is about all I can handle for today." Rubbing the bridge of his nose, Mike says, "Where do you want to go to dinner? Let me take you out."

After pondering briefly, Connie stretches while sitting. "Something light and wholesome would be good for a change. I don't want heavy food sitting in my stomach when we workout."

"Sure. What about Natalie's Cafe? It's walking distance from here and they only make organic food. The cab ride to the gym near my place will give us time to digest."

"Let me pack up a few files. I want to do some reading before Monday morning."

"How many arraignments do you have on Monday morning?"

"Three. It was two when we started to work on the appeals on Woll's convictions last night. I guess it was a busy Friday night for everyone."

"I'll pack up and meet you at your desk."

With that, Connie nods and heads to her desk with a couple of file folders.

Mike watches her as she retreats with a smile on his face. How the hell did I get so lucky?

Dinner is an enjoyable affair. The cafe is quiet since it is a Saturday night in downtown Manhattan. It gives Mike and Connie a chance to talk about non-work, non-relationship topics.

Mike learns even more about Connie's large family. How she has two sisters and two brothers and more nieces and nephews than you can count on your hands. Add aunts, uncles, cousins, cousins-in-law and offspring and the family has to rent a hall to celebrate major life events, but she can't imagine not having such a large family. When she was younger, her BFFs were three cousins who were all born within an eighteen month span and she is still close friends with one of them who is a endocrinologist.

Connie learns about Mike's childhood which was less than ideal and how baseball was the one thing that anchored him wherever he was. His parents had divorced when he was ten and how he doesn't remember living in the same place as his father for more than a few days at a time.

She also learns that he didn't really have a direction in life until he went to his third college in three years and took a law course to impress a girl. The girl had gone by the wayside before the end of the semester but he then knew what he wanted to do with his life.

After that, he took as many law courses as he could take for his degree. He took his LSATs in his senior year and landed a spot for Law School at Hudson University. Under the tutelage of Emily Ryan, he graduated summa cum laude. By the time they leave the café, it is already ten o'clock.

By the time they get back to Mike's apartment, it is after midnight.

"Want anything?" asks Mike as he walks into the kitchen.

"Juice would be nice. Thanks." Connie walks into the living room to crash on the couch.

Mike comes into the living room with two glasses and hands one to Connie and sits down beside her.

"Want to do something tomorrow before you have to go home?"

"I don't know. Let's play it by ear."

Connie notices that it was really quiet so she turns her head to look at Mike to find him just staring at her.

Before she could say anything, Mike leans in and kisses her. Connie shifts her position to be more comfortable and kisses him back more vigorously. Soon they were engaged in a full make out session on the couch.

When the clothes start to come off, Mike says in between kisses. "It might ... be more... comfortable ... in bed."

Connie makes an affirmative sound in between moans, so they stumble between kisses into the bedroom.

When Mike returns to bed from cleaning up after their lovemaking, Connie had already started to doze. Mike spoons her, kisses her neck gently and whispers, "I love you so much."

Connie manages to mumble, "I love you, too," before she adjusts a little and falls asleep. Mike soon follows.

A ringing phone awakens them sometime later in the morning. Sunshine is streaming brightly around the blinds. Mike picks up and mumbles a sleepy, "Hello?" to the receiver. Connie rolls over and looks at him as he converses with the other person. She stretches and looks at her watch. It's 11:30. They had slept the morning away. Considering what they did twice in the night, it's not surprising. She gets up to use the bathroom and to give him some privacy.

When she returns, he's finished his conversation and is lying on pillows against the headboard. Connie joins him and he wraps an arm around her shoulders. Naturally, she rests her head on his shoulder. Connie is surprised by how natural this feels.

"That was my cousin, Tom. My Aunt Faye died this morning in Oregon."

"I'm so sorry, Mike."

"Don't know if you remember I mentioned my Uncle Charlie?"

"The one with dementia?"

"Yeah, that's him. He died fifteen years ago. She's his widow. My aunt had heart troubles from a misdiagnosed heart attack three years ago. She had another one late last night and passed on this morning. I have to fly out next weekend for the funeral. I know that it's not the best time but do you want to come with?"

Lifting her head. "Do you want me to come?"

"These people are pretty much my only family. We don't see each other unless it's a major life event. It's quite likely that the next time we see them is ..." Mike trails off as realizes that this is probably much too early in the relationship to mention it.

"Is when?" Connie insists.

Mike smiles sheepishly and finishes the sentence with a grimace, "Is when we get married?"

"I think you're jumping the gun here, Mike."

"I know I'm being presumptuous, but I know what I want."

"We've been together, what? Four weeks, and you already have us getting married."

"Does it scare you?"

"No, not necessarily, but there is no way on earth I can give you an honest answer right now."

"Well, whenever you're ready, the question remains."

"What if my family scares you?"

"They won't."

"What about some weird habit or hobby that I have makes you think twice?"

"It won't."

Connie looks at him incredulously and but doesn't say anything.

"Look Connie. We've known each other for over two years. We've worked together day in, day out. Everything I've found out about you, especially recently, just reinforces my belief that you are the perfect woman for me." When she doesn't say anything, Mike continues, "I'm forty-five years old. I want to settle down and have a family. If I wait any longer, I'll be cradle robbing, which I don't want to do, though I'm sure that you might still think that I'm doing that now."

"I'll come with you."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes and let's go get some brunch before it's time for dinner."

A/N3: Just an FYI, this story started as an M-Rated short (because there were so few of them here) that has expanded into an epic that doesn't seem to want to end. I've converted it into a T-Rated story for here. If you're interested in the M-Rated version, please go see my blog in my profile where the M-Rated chapter (where warranted) is published around the same time. Thoughts? Would love to hear from you. :)