Ian is a little reluctant when Mickey says it’s time for him to head home that night. He says it’s just because of Terry, but even Mickey knows his dad is an idle threat right now, and nothing he hasn’t dealt with before.
Mickey searches his eyes as they sit on the front porch together, picking up on his thoughts. He’d been putting off leaving for the past hour, seeing how worried Ian was.
“I’m coming back, alright? First thing in the morning” he promises.
Ian nods, but he still feels down. He can’t help but worry that he won’t see Mickey again for a very long time, and even though he knows it’s just the anxiety gnawing at his mind, it feels real. He’s not sure he could handle losing him again.
Mickey drapes his arm over Ian’s shoulder, pressing his forehead against the side of his face for a brief moment, “I’ll come pick you up before?”
“Might as well take the L” Ian answers dully, jingling the loose change in his pocket as Mickey gets up. “Okay, sure. Maybe we can go for breakfast after?” Mickey asks, kicking away the stand on his bike.
A promise for the morning is reassuring, and Ian finds himself nodding in agreement, “Sounds good to me”. His green eyes land on Mickey, standing there by his bike, and he tries to etch the image into his mind.
Mickey gives him one more smile before he pulls his dark helmet over his head, covering his face from view as he climbs on his Enduro. He pauses before he starts the bike, and then lifts his visor and hollers, “CARL!”
Ian turns to look behind himself as Carl comes out onto the porch a few moments later, looking confused until he sees Mickey on the bike.
Mickey turns on the engine as soon as he sees him and Carl yells, “Hell yeah! Give er Mick!”
Mickey winks and drops the visor down before he grabs the throttle and twists hard, the motorcycle roaring to life in response.
He twists it repeatedly, each successive roar louder than the last, as Carl laughs in delight.
And before Ian knows it, he’s speeding away down the street.
Mickey’s out of sight within seconds.
Ian blinks up at Carl to see him still looking down the street in awe.
“He’s soo cool” his younger brother finally says to him, too young to care about complimenting another boy in that way.
Ian finally grins, always glad to hear his family unknowingly complimenting his boyfriend. “Yeah. Yeah he is”.
When he gets ready for bed that night, sitting on his bed and pulling off his t-shirt, he sees his phone light up with a text from Mickey.
“Hey, forgot to tell you I love you today”
“...I fucking love you”
Ian smiles at the double text, typing out “You showed me. Love you too. See you tomorrow :)”
He falls asleep easily but has some dream that he can’t quite remember in the morning, only knowing that it made him feel uneasy again. He quickly gets up and gets dressed, opting only for a short shower and then skipping any sort of breakfast before he heads to the front door.
Ian hesitates before he opens it, steeling himself.
Mickey might not show up…he might decide it was too much, that he didn’t want to sit in an office and hear about everything that was wrong with his boyfriend. Ian wouldn’t blame him if he did.
He feels a flood of relief once he does open the door, and sees Mickey standing out there, smoking a cigarette in the brutal August heat.
“Hot as balls” he complains as soon as he sees Ian, wiping some sweat away from his brow.
“Why aren’t you wearing shorts?” Ian asks as he comes down the steps, deciding not to let Mickey know relieved he is that he actually showed up.
Mickey’s eyes flicker over Ian’s own shorts, pausing at his legs before he answers.
“Don’t have any”.
Ian joins him on the sidewalk, and the two of them head towards the closest L station. “We’ll have to fix that” he thinks aloud.
“Oh, okay. We gonna go shopping like a couple of queers Gallagher?” Mickey asks sarcastically, a hint of a laugh in his tone.
“Yeah, or we can just rip your jeans up like you do with all your t-shirts, fuckin animal” Ian teases, tugging on his black homemade tank top in the place where his sleeve used to be.
Mickey smacks his hand away playfully, “C’mon Ian, everybody fuckin knows you love this animal”.
Ian smiles back a little sadly, “Not everybody”.
Mickey presses his lips together in a line and nods, his eyebrows raised at the truth of it as the playful mood shifts to a quieter one.
They sit beside each other on the L on the way to the doctor’s office, Mickey knocking his knees against Ian’s until he feels himself smiling. Just like he did back at the campfire on their class trip.
That past Mickey had no idea what he was getting himself into, Ian thinks.
He stiffens once they get to the doctor’s office, again feeling like a medicalized stigma as he sees the posters in the waiting room advertising a new medication for chronic anxiety. He bounces his leg up and down nervously until Mickey notices and puts his hand on his knee, stopping it.
“You’re fine” he says, gently. Ian takes a deep breath and nods.
Usually it doesn’t bother him being here like this, but it’s suddenly very different with Mickey here. Here to see him acting like a freak…he grits his teeth at the thought of it. This was a bad idea, a very bad idea bringing Mickey here. But he knows his boyfriend, and there’s no way he’ll leave the office now.
By the time Ian’s sitting in front of his doctor, he’s hostile and jittery.
“Where’s your sister?” his doctor asks, looking at Mickey questioningly, who had chosen to lean against the closed door rather than sit down.
“She’s not here” Ian snaps, knowing he sounds rude but unable to control it. He wonders if Mickey is standing there by the door so he can leave faster. So he can separate himself from being with Ian in any way.
Mickey clears his throat, “I’m here for Ian instead today. That alright?”
She nods, “That’s fine as long as Ian doesn’t mind”.
Ian swallows hard, his leg starting to bounce again. “I wouldn’t have brought him in if I minded” he lies, still feeling uncomfortable with how far away Mickey is.
“Ian, you seem much more agitated this visit than you have been in previous ones. Would it maybe be better if your friend waited outside?” His doctor looks at him with concern, and it pisses him off as he blurts out, “He’s not the problem, I am. I’m the fucking burden”.
Mickey comes away from where he’d been leaning against the wall and sits down beside him, wrapping one arm around him comfortingly, which surprises Ian.
Mickey completely ignores the doctor and addresses him as if she isn't even there, “You are not a burden Ian. You are the best thing in my life. And I get that you don’t believe it right now, but I’m going to remind you every fucking day until you remember”.
There’s a long silence before the doctor speaks again, her eyes flickering between them thoughtfully. Ian doesn’t look up to watch her say it, but he can tell Mickey is.
“Sometimes…living in secret, not allowing ourselves to be who we are, makes us feel trapped. It can make things worse” she says delicately. “Anyways Ian. I’d like you to stay on the dose you are currently on, and do contact me if it gets any worse, but first consider making some changes in your life that may reduce unnecessary stress”.
Ian notices that Mickey nods just slightly at her before they leave, like Mickey had caught something that Ian missed...
Ian is silent and moody as they walk down the sidewalk towards the breakfast place, and Mickey is so deep in thought he lets him stay like that for a while.
Mickey knew when he sat beside Ian and said that shit in the doctor’s office that he was making it obvious that they were more than friends, or whatever the fuck she probably thought they were when he came in with Ian. But he meant it, and he fucking needed to say it, regardless if she was right there.
He’d be damned if he let a day go by not letting Ian know he loved him.
He feels some guilt gnawing at his stomach too, ruminating over what she said had said about said living in secret. Something about how Ian not allowing himself to be who he was might be making things worse for him. Really thinking about it, that was probably the most prominent stressor in his life.
Being in the closet was as much his decision as it was Mickey’s, but a big part of him keeping it that way was probably due to Mickey’s own dad being such a fucking homophobic psycho. He hated his dad especially for that.
It wasn’t like he didn’t want to be more open with Ian. He looks over at the redhead next to him and feels his heart swell with unbridled affection.
Even when Ian’s being a grumpy ass, like right now, there’s no one he’d rather be spending time with.
Mickey had known from the beginning that there would be problems when he came back from Memphis. He knew it wouldn’t be completely simple to just ease back in to things, even when the time apart was cut short.
But he hadn’t expected this to be honest. Ian was different than he was before. More on edge, less trusting.
Less sure of Mickey’s love, even though he was fine with showing his own. And that sort of hurt, his lack of confidence that he'll stick around.
He’s just gonna have to show him that he’s not gonna fuck off and leave him, and that he’s in this for the long run.
Mickey makes up his mind and before he has chance to change it, he sticks his hand out and awkwardly grabs Ian’s, who immediately turns to him in surprise.
“What-what are you doing?”
“Holding your hand, what’s it look like?” he answers firmly, giving it a squeeze. He fights the automatic urge to push Ian away just because people are around, because he’s been living that way for so long, giving nothing more than brief and imperceptible public displays of affection.
“Mickey, we’re in public” Ian reminds him, looking like he feels the same way.
Mickey takes a deep breath, “I fuckin know that. Look where we are, nobody here even knows us, it's safe. But if you don’t want to hold it, then drop it. I won’t be mad”.
He waits nervously, but Ian doesn’t drop his hand. He sneaks a glance over as they continue walking and notices than Ian’s face isn’t as dark as it was a few moments earlier.
He seems more relaxed.
Good, okay. That’s good.
Mickey points at the sign for Cora’s, “Hey it’s that place we went to on Christmas Eve, remember? Let’s get you some pancakes sunshine”. He teases Ian to lighten his own nerves, dropping Ian’s hand to open the door.
But he had done it.
He had held Ian’s hand in public, where everyone could see. And people did see. Some did a double take at the unusual couple. But knowing they weren’t in any danger here… instead of being agitated and afraid, Mickey actually felt… proud, to be seen with Ian.
Ian grins and follows him inside, going right the same booth they had last time. He looks around the restaurant and seems very content, and Mickey drinks in the sight of him as he does.
Fuck he’d missed that boy. More than he ever would have thought was possible.
He knows it’s gonna take time for them to get back to normal, but he’s pretty sure he’ll never take being close to Ian for granted, ever again.
It was like a fucking nightmare, being stuck there in Memphis, wondering every day where Ian was…what he was doing…who he was maybe with, trying to get over him.
Mickey had burned with jealousy whenever he had thought about it, and he had punched more than one hole into the walls of his foster families house when he lost it.He knew he’d been a raging asshole for the last couple months of his stay with them, and as much as they had tried to help, they just didn’t fucking understand that nothing they did could or would help.
Nothing could bring Ian back to him, if he didn’t want to be there.
But now, knowing what he knows, and seeing him this way... he just hates himself for not being here with Ian.
For allowing him to fall apart.
He watches as Ian studies the menu, and feels a lump form in his throat. Even if he didn’t have a say in going away… he should have never gotten involved with his Dad’s shit. It was just a way for him to make money, and to be close to his dad in some fucked up way, the only way he knew how. And it was a mistake, because his dad would never fucking love Mickey no matter what he fucking did. He knew that now, as much as it hurt, and as much as he would never fucking admit to hurting over it.
Mickey never used to think about the future much. It was always black when he tried to picture it, empty. He could never see anything there, not since he got old enough to understand the reality of his situation.
But then he met Ian. And Mickey meant what he said, he was the best thing that had ever happened in Mickey’s shitty life. Now he can sort of see the future, his possibility of one.
But he had to have the balls to start getting him and Ian there.
The waitress comes over and smiles at both of them, looking surprised to see Mickey sitting there. He quickly brushes away his heavy thoughts and nods at her. She beams at Ian, who smiles back, blushing.
“Sunshine! Your friend is back!”
Ian starts to nod happily, and Mickey takes one last long look at the redhead before taking a deep breath and letting the words leave his lips.
“Actually, I’m his boyfriend”.