Lip ditches the two of them as soon as they get to the school to look for his date, but Ian and Mickey linger outside for another moment, looking up at the gym’s doors together.
One of them is propped open just slightly, giving them a preview of what's going on inside. Although it’s fairly dark, with the regular lights turned off, there are still strobes of colorful light flashing throughout the gym from the DJ's table. Pulsating music pumps through all the speakers and the teenagers dancing inside.
Ian looks over at Mickey, who takes his flask out from his jacket and takes a generous drag of whiskey before he nods and heads into the gymnasium. Ian’s heart beats faster as he’s enveloped into the typical highschool dance scene as soon as he steps foot inside, but this time… it feels different.
He’s not here alone, and it is different. Better somehow. He follows Mickey through the groups of students, spotting several that he knows along the way. He sees Brent and Becca’s group dancing close to the stage where the DJ is set up. Brent’s flashing a cocky smile at the girls dancing near him. Ian makes a mental note to avoid that area for the night, now wondering where exactly Mickey is headed, because he sure as hell seems sure of where he’s going.
He fights the urge to grab Mickey’s hand and let himself be led through the crowd, instead of tagging after him like a puppy. Of course, Mickey would probably smack his hand away if he tried. He sees Mickey’s sister Mandy dancing with her friends and wonders briefly if that’s his destination, but he continues on past her towards the back wall, leaning against it comfortably and taking another drink from his flask when he gets there.
Ian stops directly in front of him, “What are you doing?”
Mickey looks at him like he’s stupid, “Uh, drinking?” He shakes the flask in his hand subtly, eyeing where the teachers are positioned around the gym.
“Yeah I see that. It’s a dance Mickey, let’s dance” Ian gestures behind them to all the other students already dancing hard to the Rihanna hit, and then looks back at Mickey challengingly. There’s no way he’s gonna let Mickey just be a wallflower tonight. His suit was too damn expensive.
Mickey rolls his eyes, and takes another long pull from his flask. But then he tucks it back inside his jacket.“Fuck. Fine Gallagher, you win”.
He heads back out the dancefloor, and Ian grins as he joins Mickey where there’s just enough free space for two people.
He lets the beat guide his movements for the next song. Dancing is easy for him, natural. It always has been. The music moves his body, and he just lets himself go. It’s a little harder for Mickey, who keeps trying to glance around subtly to see what everyone else is doing.
Ian knows that he doesn’t like looking like a fucking idiot unless he’s actually trying to, like he does in class sometimes on purpose just to piss off their teachers, and right now he looks very uncomfortable.
“Hey”, Ian yells to him over the music, “Focus on me. Just focus on me”. He gestures to his own body, and how he’s dancing, to lead Mickey.
Mickey nods slowly, and watches him more closely, copying his moves. They aren’t the only pairs of best friends, male or female, that are mixed in among the entire large group of students, and they don’t stand out.
But Mickey stands out to Ian, he’s all that he sees.
The stocky, dark-haired boy takes off his jacket and loosens his tie as they both begin to sweat, the humid heat in the gymnasium rising as the night goes on. Each time the strobe passes over him and illuminates his face, Ian feels an incredibly strong pull towards him.
He eventually tries to move in a bit closer, but Mickey instantly moves away, like he’s alarmed by the possibility of Ian’s touch. It stings a little but Ian’s not surprised, and pretends he doesn’t notice. Obviously, he crossed some line there. It’s hard not to, with this unbelievably hot guy dancing in front of him, but at least no one had noticed.
Mickey takes his flask out a while later, taking another heavy gulp before he offers it to Ian. He drinks from it greedily, thirstier from dancing than he is eager to get drunk.
“Put that shit away!” Mickey yells a moment later, and Ian looks over his shoulder to see Quinn, their religion teacher, rapidly approaching them, a scowl on her wrinkled face. He shoves the flask down his pants before she reaches them.
She looks suspiciously at his hands as she arrives, and continues on once she finds them empty, but not before shooting them both with a disapproving look.
Mickey grins at Ian, who laughs, even though it can’t be heard over the music. Electric Love is blaring through the speakers now.
Ian feels himself loosening up even more from the alcohol and dances with more exaggeration.
Mickey is apparently feeling the same effect. “Baby you're like lightning in a bottle, I can't let you go now that I got it !” he yells at him with the song. Ian goes next, beaming as he sings, “All I need is to be struck by your electric looooove !”
They both laugh happily once he is finished, and Mickey shoves him playfully, his eyes shining. The look on his face makes Ian forget himself, again, and he moves in for a kiss.
“What the fuck are you doing!” Mickey immediately shoves him away, and Ian blinks, looking around in nervously as he remembers himself, but luckily no one had seemed to notice. He touches his chin in embarrassment, as Mickey chews the inside of his cheek awkwardly.
He looks at something past Ian, eyes narrowed, and his expression changes. “I’ll be right back”.
Ian turns to watch him go talk to his sister Mandy, who looks completely shitfaced.
He keeps pointing at the door and talking animatedly to her more sober friend. Finally, he nods his head and returns to Ian, telling him “She’s staying with her friends tonight, can’t hold her fuckin liquor” right as the song fades into a slow one.
The mood inside the gymnasium immediately shifts to a more romantic one.
Mickey scratches his neck awkwardly, and then goes to stand against the back wall again.
Ian reluctantly follows him. He bites his lip. Instead of talking to his boyfriend, who seems content to have his own lips pressed to his flask, looks at all the couples slow dancing.
“Come if you remember the way.
If not then I will find you this time,
Wishing you had stayed”
Foreheads touching, slowly swaying together. Lips meeting in tender kisses, I love you’s being whispered…Ian sees it all with an aching longing in his chest.
“The heart, the heart
It wants what it wants ”
Their classmate Becca suddenly comes up to them out of nowhere, and turns to Mickey specifically.
“Come dance with me? You can’t just stand back here during a slow dance, like a loser”. Ian looks down at her low cut shimmery red dress with distaste as she ambushes his boyfriend.
She smiles coquettishly, and Mickey freezes, “Uh…” He looks up, and Ian joins his gaze to see Brent staring at them from across the room, “…sure”.
Ian bites his tongue, and watches them walk away together bitterly. Another one of his classmates, Teresa, approaches him almost instantly, seeing him alone and seizing her chance. “Ian? Wanna dance?” He turns to her and shakes his head apologetically, “Sorry. Don’t feel well”.
He doesn’t have the fight in him right now to pretend. She nods, looking disappointed, but moves on. He returns his gaze to where Mickey and Becca are on the dancefloor, now slow dancing together.
"The heart does
It wants what it wants, the heart, the heart ”
It feels like something inside Ian is breaking, as he watches him hold her close. Her eyes are closed, a content smile resting on her face as she leans her head against Mickey’s shoulder. That’s supposed to be him in Mickey’s arms, not her…
Mickey has some sort of forced smile plastered on his face too, and even though Ian knows it’s for show, it still makes him feel sick. In that moment, he hates Becca more than he has ever hated anyone before. She is exactly where he is supposed to be, he thinks, as he turns his eyes to Mickey again.
“So how do I forget this my love,
And when do I belong here?
If trouble is a pathway we build,
Then I’m a pioneer”
Ian feels himself tearing up, and before he knows it, he’s out of the gymnasium, and running down the street.