Title: Inside These Lines – Part 5

Rating: T

Disclaimer: I do not own any part of Law & Order. This is for entertainment only (and something I would've loved to see happen).

Pairing: Mike/Connie

Notes: This is my first Law & Order fic.

Bad Things – Part 1

I'm the kind to sit up in his room.

Heartsick an' eyes filled up with blue.

I don't know what you've done to me,

But I know this much is true:

xXxXxXxXx

Mike dropped his overnight bag next to his briefcase as he slipped into the back of the courtroom.

"I would like to remind the court that Mr. Henry was found in possession of a trafficable quantity of a schedule one narcotic and only appeared for his last court date after a failure to appear bench warrant was issued." Alex responded to Henry's lawyer's claim that his client couldn't be held on minor drug charges now that the more serious charges could be called into question.

"Nice try counselor, Mr. Henry will continue to be held on remand," the judge replied.

"And the motion to dismiss?" The lawyer asked. He turned to Alex. "The person who committed these crimes is clearly still out there."

"Your Honor the people's case hasn't changed. Mr. Henry confessed to the attack-"

"That was recanted." the defense lawyer interjected.

"He confessed to one attack," Alex continued after being cut off," in an attempt to protect his girlfriend from being charged. We now believe she has staged the last attack to try and free Mr. Henry."

"Really. Then why hasn't she been charged?" Henry's lawyer again directed his comments to Alex.

"No." Henry spoke for the first time, causing his lawyer to turn his attention to his client, placing a hand on his shoulder to keep him seated.

"That's a good question Ms. Cabot, are the police going to charge this women?" The Judge asked, her gaze focused on Alex now.

"The police are completing the last part of their investigation."

"So no?" The judge raised his eyebrows.

"Again, the police are completing their investigation and I would rather not disclose the details in open court." Once again Alex focused only on the judge.

"Well I suggest that you have the 'details' worked out by the time this case comes to trail. Motion to dismiss is denied.'' The Judge looked back at Mike as he spoke. "Next case.''

"That went well," Mike said when Alex reached him at the rear of the courtroom.

"There won't be a next time unless we can link Henry to someone else especially because the girlfriend is on CCTV footage at the time of the last attack and County lockup got the release time wrong."

"Are you sure?" Mike held open the door for her as they left the courtroom.

"They can't find Henry on the footage. However, three inmates that were processed out at the same time were also entered incorrectly and can be found on the footage at the later time."

"But Henry's not with them?"

"Not that we can find." Alex pulled Mike to one side of the wide corridor. "How long are we going to keep this guy locked up?" she asked.

"As long as we need to," said Mike, "He confessed for a reason and too many things point to him. If he didn't do it he knows who did," Mike finished. "Meet with him and his lawyer and offer a deal. We'll leave his girlfriend out of it if he gives up his partner."

"She's got an alibi." Alex said.

"Henry doesn't know that."

xXxXxXxXx

Mike sat in his armchair turning his phone over and over in his left hand. Henry had called their bluff so Mike had decided to review the case from the very beginning. That meant reading transcripts of the interviews, the ME reports and the photos. Mike just wanted one night where he didn't have to look at a photo of what had been done to a women or child. He'd had enough.

That last thought held Mike's attention when he felt his phone come to life. "Cutter." Mike answered, not bothering to check the screen as he answered, guessing it would just be someone from the office "

"Mike?" Came the soft reply. "I got your message ... is everything okay?"

"Yeah. I just wanted…" Mike stopped himself from saying he just wanted to talk to her. "I wanted to see how your first day back was."

"Okay." Mike could hear the smile in her voice. "I'm waiting for Dekker to come back from a meeting."

"Really?" Mike turned his wrist over to check the time as he worked out what time it was in LA.

"Mike?" Connie's tone was questioning.

"Yeah, sorry... I wanted to know … I mean I wanted to ask, what are you doing for New Year's?" Mike wanted to give her a chance to answer but at the same time he needed an out just in case her answer wasn't what he wanted to hear. "I thought if you wanted to, you could come back to New York." He waited again for what felt like minutes but in reality was only a few seconds. "I've got tickets to the Harbor Lights New Year's gala and l remembered last year you said you wanted to go."

"I'd love to." Give tone of her voice

"Great!" Mike worried that he answered too quickly and that Connie would hear the relief in his voice. "Uhh…," Mike stumbled over what to say next. He'd rehearsed over and over how to ask Connie to come back to New York for New Year's Eve more times then he could count, so much so that he'd all but talked himself out of it. Now he was searching for what to say next. A problem he never had in the courtroom but seemed to have when he was talking to Connie. "How was your day?"

"Busy." Connie said as she let out a breath.

"Yeah sorry. I'll let you get back to your meeting." Mike said rushing himself off the phone.

Connie looked at her phone rather strangely. She hadn't meant she was too busy to talk but that she was just catching up from her time off and that fact seemed to make her feel more behind than normal. In fact, she'd been happy to get his message, and even happier when it meant she could take a break and talk to someone who wasn't in the LA DA's office.

To this day she never really knew why he'd never just asked her out when they were both in New York. Well that was a lie, she did know. Mike would never do anything that he thought was inappropriate and asking out someone that worked for him is something that Mike would have thought was very inappropriate. A smile spread back across her face as Mike's comment played in her head, 'I'd like you to come back … but you can't work for me.'

She wondered if that was the reason he was so nervous. He'd waited for any sign from her that she was at least a little bit interested and Connie gave it to him with her reply. 'I think we could both be happy with that arrangement'. She might get what she was always too scared to show she wanted. After Woll she'd vowed she's never date someone she worked with, worked for again. Connie wanted to prove she was a professional, something else she had in common with Mike.

xXxXxXxXx

Mike closed the last folder on his desk and he was only running half an hour late. He spent most of his Saturday mornings in the office, however this one was a little different. He'd wanted to catch up on some paperwork he had been putting off this week because of his attention to the Henry case, get out of the office, and get to the Airport.

"You going somewhere?" Alex seemed surprised to find Mike leaving so early in the morning. She was use to Mike spending all of Saturday and most of Sunday afternoon in the office.

"Yeah, I have to pick a friend up from the airport." Mike smiled to himself. "It's Saturday and New Year's eve. What are you doing here anyway?"

"Lupo found Henry on the prison CCTV. Henry was in holding at the time of the attack," Alex said.

"Okay. So Henry worked in all the areas on the day of each attack, he confessed to one of them and …" Mike stopped and looked back at his desk. "What about a partner?"

"There's a problem with the van."

"Great." Mike leaned back on his desk, his coat still folded over his arm.

"It turns out two other vans from the same company do an overflow route each day." Alex said.

"So we have two other people that were also in the area in the days before the attacks and it could have been one of them that made the deliveries?" asked Mike.

"The only odd one out from the first group is the girl that was attacked after getting off the bus." It was at that moment that Alex held up a familiar blue tri-fold motion packet. "Motion to file cause or endure a hearing and be presented with a -"

"I'm sure he has a motion to dismiss all ready to-go." Mike finished off for her. "When's the hearing?"

"The sixth."

"At the hearing we'll file to drop the charges with a motion to refile at a later date."

"Okay."

"Don't worry," Mike said as he pushed himself back up, "I was the one that pushed this, I'll go to the hearing." Mike started to walk out. He stopped just as he was pulling the door to his office open and turned to Alex. "Oh, we'll also need to let Mr. Kane know we're dropping the charges."

"I'll call him Monday."

"Thanks." Mike looked at her a little oddly for a moment, he saw a lot of himself in Alex. "Sorry. I really should have left a half hour ago," he said trying to explain his rush. It had been a long time since he'd done anything festive for the holidays, but right now he just wanted to get to the airport and pick Connie up.

''Have a good night." Alex smiled. "Happy New Year.

"Yeah, you too."

The problem with the holidays was that most everyone was trying to get somewhere, that made New Year's eve traffic worst than a normal day. Mike had hoped to make time up on the freeway. In the end he'd only managed to make up the 15-mintues as he pulled off the freeway,

He glanced at the display to see who was calling as he pulled into the airport lane. "Sorry, I'm almost there." He said by way of a greeting.

"No Mike, I'm not in New York."

"Okay." He said as the flow of traffic almost stopped as he pushed toward the airport

"I'm sorry, something happened with my sister and I couldn't leave her."

"What happened? Is she alright?" Mike asked, concerned, as he tried to keep the disappointment out of his voice.

"Yes." Connie quickly corrected herself, "mostly. I need to get her and the kids out of the city."

"Are you going with them?"

"No, I'm putting them on a train to an aunt's house in Southern California." The stress was showing in Connie's voice as she rushed the words out.

He could hear muffled noise of someone trying to hurry children. "Connie, are you alright?"

"I'm sorry Mike … I'll be fine. I just need to make this happen before..." Connie stopped mid sentence.

"Connie please," said Mike, looking around at the traffic jamming the freeway and at the same time trying to figure out how to get out of where he was. "Let me know if you need anything."

"Thanks. I'll call you soon." Connie said. "Bye."

"Bye." Mike mumbled as he looked up at the airport only sign in front of him and took it a message.

xXxXxXxXx

8pm New Years Eve

Connie wrapped a fresh cloth around the ice pack and gently pressed it to her left cheek. The ice had managed to numb her face so at least for now it didn't hurt. No doubt she wouldn't be that lucky tomorrow. The police assured her that it would be unlikely for her attacker to return tonight and they would send an extra patrol down her street.

Unfortunately for them she'd lost count at the number of cases that came across her desk where police had 'assured' the victim that they would keep an eye on things. It wasn't their fault- if someone was determined they would normally find a way.

For the third time since the police had left her house, she'd checked all the locks and made sure her cell was charged. She knew it was pointless and in the back of her head she knew that Julio wasn't coming back but she was never going to tell him where Marcel was. The benefit of being a DDA was that the police weren't going to just let this go. Julio had probably worked out that coming to her house was a good way of leading the police straight to him.

All of that didn't stop her from jumping as the front door bell rang, nor did it stop her from typing 911 into her phone as she pulled back curtain to see who was standings at the door. "What are you doing here?" Connie asked as she pulled the door open.

"I was already at the airport." Mike took a step closer but Connie was still blocking the entrance making sure the door was mostly in front of her. She didn't want Mike to see the bruise forming on her left cheek. "And you seemed upset so I got on the next flight to LA. How's your sister?"

"Marcel called an hour ago," Connie finally stepped back, allowing Mike to enter the house. This small action meant that the door no longer concealed her injury. "They arrived at my aunt's okay."

"Connie!" Mike's voice rose in concern as he reached out and placed his hand gently under her chin to turn her face toward him. "What happened?"

"Julio came looking Marcel." Connie brushed her hair behind her ear and dropped her head a little.

"And he hit you?" The rage was barely controlled.

"No, first he apologized and told me it would never happen again and he just needed to see Marcel." Connie pulled her face into a grim expression. "I guess he thought it would work again." She huffed a little as she paused, "and it would if they saw each other."

"Why did you let him in?" Mike asked a little confused.

"I didn't." Connie flicked he head in the direction of the rear door, the security chain hung broken. "I closed the front door on him, when I wouldn't answer it he came to the back … I guess he didn't like my answer."

"Have you called the police?" Mike ignored the Connie's last comment.

"Yes, they left about an hour ago," she replied, turning her left cheek away from him.

"Is he in custody?" Mike pressed.

"Not yet. They said they'd let me know." Connie pulled away and walked back to the kitchen, picking up the wrapped icepack. "It won't take them long. My sister may be in the habit of dropping charges but Julio knows I won't."

"That's what worries me." Mike again turned her head up toward him with a finger curled under her chin, only this time he removed the ice pack to see the extent of the bruise a little more closely.. "Do we need to take you to a doctor?"

"No … Mike, I'm fine."

Mike knew she was far from fine and he was sure that his concern was written all over his face. "Well at least sit down." Mike dropped a brown paper bag next to the kitchen chair and guided her toward the living room.

"What's in the bag?" Connie asked as she sat down on the couch. She watched as Mike pulled the coffee table closer to the couch and positioned himself so her legs were between his.

"Airport shopping," he said as he held the icepack back against her cheek. "I wasn't packed when I booked my ticket."

"I guess not." Connie was suddenly lost. she didn't know what to do with her hands, while Mike seemed to know exactly what he wanted to do with his, His free hand was resting on her right leg and Connie wondered for a moment if he even knew it was there. She decided to fold her hands in her lap, something she guessed Mike would recognize as nerves.

"Connie." His voice was soft as he removed his hand from her leg and picked up one of hers, pulling them a little closer together. "Why didn't you tell me it was this bad?"

"It's never been this bad. Julio's never hurt one of the kids before but this time Jamie tried to protect Marcel and Julio broke her arm and Jamie got three stitchers." Once Connie started she couldn't seem to stop and the more she spoke the more tears welled in corners of her eyes. She had promised herself she wouldn't cry; so far it was something she had managed to achieve even as the paramedic had pressed along her bruised cheek bone. "I … I was so scared, I never thought he'd come here." With that the first tear fell the others following in a torrent.

"Hey." Mike said gently cupping his hand around her bruised cheek. He'd been so confident on the flight, he was going to tell Connie what he wanted, that he was willing to move to LA if that meant she would give him a chance. He hadn't expected to find Connie like this, the anger at his helplessness boiled inside him. "It's okay." With that Mike discarded the icepack, placing it on the coffee table. He lifted himself up and shifted to the couch, practically pulling Connie onto his lap as he settled on the sofa, his arms firmly but gently wrapped around her. "It's okay," he whispered soothingly against her temple as he looked around and found the TV remote on the end table. He flicked the TV on and found the New Year's Eve coverage of Time Square. "Don't worry … I'm not going anywhere."

With one of Mike's hand softly running up and down her arm, Connie rested her head on his chest, her legs stretched out on the couch. They both fell into a comfortable silence as Connie watched the lights of the New Year flash on the screen in front of them. The smell of Connie's shampoo pulled Mike's attention away from the TV and back to her. What held his focus at the moment was her hand resting, finger spread over his heart.

"We could be there." Connie said, sounding not quite convinced.

"I'm happy where I am." Mike wasn't sure how it had happened, but he was sure that he was happier on her couch than he would have been at Harbor Lights New Year's gala.

The night had begun with Mike simply trying to comfort Connie, holding her gently to his chest. He became aware of her fingers drawing little circles on his chest. Frozen with surprise, it seemed to him that her fingers were moving their way down and across his stomach, almost in search of something.

"Connie ..." Mike heard the crack in his voice as it barely made it above a whisper. He could hardly convince himself this was happening. He lifted the arm he had wrapped around her waist and used it to brush her hair away from her face. Mike couldn't recall the last time he was this nervous, but he wanted to see her face, he needed to see her reaction.

"Connie." As he repeated her name he realised that for all his verbosity in the courtroom, he didn't know what to say next. He was so scared that she might reject him it seemed to freeze out any other thought, except one. "God you're beautiful," he whispered, letting her hair fall as he ran his fingers gently down the side of her face, continuing until he reached her neck.

Mike paused long enough to use both hands to take her by the shoulders and pull her level with him. He eyes focused on his. Again he paused, his lips only inches from hers. He wanted to give her the opportunity to pull away, to say stop or no. Anything. But instead she leaned into him. That was all he needed. Hesitantly he brushed his lips across hers. Wanting more bit holding still, he waited for Connie to respond. Within seconds she moved herself a little closer and pressed her lips harder into his.

With that, his hands travelled up her back and once again pushed her hair back. He pulled her even closer as he deepened the kiss. With one hand still in her hair, he used the back of his hand to brush her cheek before wrapping his arm around her back, all the time pulling her impossibly closer to him.

Mike heard Connie moan softly, her tongue brushing his bottom lip as she did. Her hands felt like they were digging into him as they pulled at his shirt. On their own, any one of her actions would've been enough to undo him, but together Mike wasn't sure how he was going to control himself. Mike moved himself slightly toward the edge of the couch and pushed Connie off to his side so he could pulled her under him hoping to regain the control he'd lost, but now he could see a glint in her dark eyes, her lips red and slightly swollen. Leaning in he placed a gentle kiss on her bruised cheek, before pulling himself back up and resting his weigh on one arm. His free hand held the back of her neck, his thumb softly caressing cheek. He felt her softly pushing her cheek into his touch.

"Mike."

"Yeah." Mike smiled, he felt like a child that had just got everything he'd ever wanted and at the same time he felt like it was going to be taken away from him.

"I..." Connie started.

"Just... let's not try and work anything out...," Mike interrupted, "please right now I just want to be here. Tomorrow we can deal with-"

"Tomorrow?"

"Yeah." Mike said as he leaned in, first brushing his lips across hers, before slipping an arm under her, pulling her back into him as he did.

It all seemed to be happening at once, but at the same time, like their whole relationship, it was so painfully slow. Connie could feel almost every part of him, yet she wanted to feel more. She wanted to tell him that she had wanted this for almost as long as she'd known him. She also needed to tell him that she couldn't, shouldn't do this. Not when they lived on different coasts.

Every time she worked herself up to telling him to stop, he would stroke her face or twist his fingers in her hair, and she couldn't remember the last time she just kissed someone. Hell, she couldn't remember the last time she was with someone she just wanted to be with. 'God' Connie cried out in her mind. She was lost and she knew it. Hers arms were wrapped around his neck and her fingers were curling through the ends of his hair, losing herself as Mike kissed, licked and bit his way down her neck. Every time he bit, it would cause her to shiver, something she was enjoying very much.

Before she knew it, the arm that had been wrapped so tightly under her was now running down her side, coming to rest on her hip, his fingers flicking the hem of her shirt.

"Connie." Mike's voice was husky as he tried to control what was happening.

"Mmm." Was all she could manage, all she really wanted to manage.

"If you want me to stop … if you don't want to do this..."

"I want to do this."

"Are you sure?"

With her arms still wrapped around his neck, Connie used them to pull him back into her. Almost instantly his hand slipped under her shirt and just at that moment her cellphone rang,causing them both to jump into sitting position like they were sixteen and had just been caught by her parents.

Connie grabbed her phone and skipped her usual formal greeting for a simple "Hello." The smile still on her face as she turn back to look at Mike, his head down and seemingly focused on the polished floor boards, his hands pushing through his hair. "Yes, this is Ms Rubirosa." It wasn't until she said her name that he turned his head enough for her to catch his smile. "Yes ... ten will be fine thank you again." Connie stood for a moment, her eyes still locked on his.

"They got him," she announced.

Mike sat straight up. "Thank god."

It was the relief that washed over his face that made her realise just how concerned he was. "I've got to go to the station at ten tomorrow to complete my statement," Connie said as she raised her eyebrows and placed her phone back on the table. Instantly she was nervous again, her hands were folded together in hope that it would stop the shaking from spreading up her arms and into her body. She asked Mike, "When are you going home?" She knew he would have to go home, if not tomorrow, then Monday, and she would still be in LA.

"I haven't book a flight..." With a shrug of his shoulders and a shy grin he said. "I wasn't thinking that far ahead."

"Really." Connie replied a little disbelievingly. "How far ahead were you thinking?"

"Honestly?"

Connie had to stop herself from taking a step back as a Mike stood and positioned himself so there chests almost touched. "Yeah."

"I didn't think past if you would even want to see me." He lifted both hands up and brushed her hair back before letting his fingers run down her arm, both hands coming to rest on her hips. "Do I need to find somewhere to stay?"

"No."

Mike turned his head toward the couch and back to Connie. "Am I sleeping on the couch?"

This time Connie didn't trust herself to speak, so she settled for a shake of the head.

"Connie." His tone was firm and despite the small difference in their heights, he lifted her head so they were looking directly at each other. "I don't want to push you, I'm happy on the couch. Hell, I'd be happy on the floor."

Deciding that she still couldn't trust her voice, Connie took his hand in hers and turned toward her room. She felt her hands shaking more with each step they took. Once in her room she got a shock when Mike pushed her hard up against the closed door and paused for a moment before placed a gentle kiss on her forehead before resting his on the spot he just kissed.

"I didn't come here for this," he told her.

"No?" she asked.

"No, and you're shaking like a leaf... I've wanted you for a long time, Connie. Another day isn't going to make a difference."

xXxXxXxXx

Mike could have stayed like this for hours. He'd awoken to find that they hadn't really moved from the night before. Connie was nested into his side, her head on his shoulder, his arm wrapped around her back and holding her in place. It did mean that he was able to slip his hand under the hem of her camisole, it didn't give him much but he was able feel her skin under his fingers as he lazily drew patterns on her hip.

"Morning," She said

The sound of her voice caused him to stiffen a little and his fingers stopped dead. "Hi.' The word sounded strange as it left his mouth. "How's your cheek?" Mike could see the purple shadow that had formed just below her eye.

"It's fine as long as I don't move it." Connie turned a little and lifted her head. "What time is it?"

"A little after seven," Mike said as he reached for his phone with his free hand. He might have been willing to still his hand but he wasn't letting go until he had to and a smile spread across his face when she turned her head into his shoulder.

"We have to get up." Connie lifted her had again. "We need to leave in an hour, I told the officers I'd be in by ten to give my statement."

Mike had been hoping they could get breakfast together, however he did like that she was including him in her plans for the day. Well, her plans to be at the police station.

xXxXxXxXx

Mike opened the large double door that led into the first floor of the police station and stepped aside to allow Connie to enter in front of him. Once at the desk he stood a step behind her as she asked for officer that had been at her house the night before.

"Mike Cutter?"

The sound of his name caused him to spin around, "Jonah Dekker," he said, shaking Dekker's hand.

"Guess Connie never made it back to New York?"

"No." Mike turned to see that Connie was still busy with the desk Sergeant. "Any chance I could see this guy?" he asked Dekker, keeping his voice soft.

"Mike." Dekker's voice was strained as he shock his head.

"Five minutes. I won't do anything that will upset the case," said Mike.

"It is not what you'd do, Mike, it's what you'd say that has me concerned."

"So, he's in holding?"

"You're not my lawyer." Julio said to Mike as he dropped into the chair once the guards were out of the holding cell.

"No." Mike turned his head to make sure the light on the camera wasn't flashing. "But I am going to give you some free advice."

"Really?"

"You're going to plead guilty to whatever they charge you with, and you're going stay away from your wife and her family."

"Am I?" Julio pulled his rather monumental frame up to its full height. "And why would I do that? My wife loves me."

"Because I will make your life a living hell." Mike relaxed, wanting to make sure that Julio knew he wasn't afraid of him. "You think you have problems now, you go near that family again and I'll make it so you won't see the outside of a prison for a very long time."

"You're Connie's 'friend'. The one from New York." Julio spoke as if what Mike had just said didn't even register. "She likes the white boys, that one. Always did think she was better than her own kind."

Mike continued, ignoring Julio's interruption. "I want to make myself very clear - any contact with your wife and her family, and you'll find yourself facing more charges than you can count: assault, grand theft, weapons, resisting arrest, possession with intent maybe in a school zone just to keep it interesting."

"And how are you going to manage that?" Julio sneered.

"The same way I got you out of your cell and into this room without a log sheet or a camera." Mike smiled. "I was never here and you never left your cell." With that he stood. "I protect the ones I love. I recommend you don't push me." Mike leaned forward, his eyes only inches from Julio's. "Unlike your wife, I fight back and I guarantee I'll win."

"Where were you?" Connie asked, concerned about Mike's brief disappearance.

"Just looking around." Mike said as he reached the front desk.

"Would you like to get breakfast?" Connie asked with a smile. "Or brunch, I guess."

"Yeah." Mike placed his hand on her back as he started to lead her out of the station. He looked back over his shoulder and nodded a thank you towards Dekker.

xXxXxXxXxXx