When Mickey wakes up, he’s alone in Ian’s bed.
Carl and Liam are both still fast asleep, and a quick peek through the blinds shows him that the sun is still rising, so it’s not like he’s overslept. Ian is just a crazy early riser these days, since getting onto the routine of his new meds - which Mickey definitely approves of, since those meds are keeping Ian level and happy and himself, but still. Waking up alone is always a little sad. Mickey’s far too used to it, after all.
He rolls out of bed as quiet as he can, not wanting to wake the other slumbering occupants of the room, and pulls a pair of Ian’s sweatpants on over his boxers. Then he leaves the room, and begins to plod down the stairs, wondering if Ian’s already made breakfast.
Only before he can get down there, he hears hushed voices coming from the kitchen. Which doesn’t deter him - until one of them says his name, and he stops in his tracks, on the bend of the stairs just out of sight of the kitchen.
“Mickey,” says the voice, which he quickly identifies as Fiona’s. There’s various other sounds too, clanging and bashing, which he figures is pots and pans - they’re making breakfast, then.
“Yeah,” says the other voice, which is Ian’s. Mickey recognises it instantly and without a doubt, even from just one word. “What about him?”
“Nothing, just - I mean, shit, Ian,” Fiona says. “You picked Mickey Milkovich. I don’t think anybody in the whole world saw that one coming.”
“I didn’t see it coming either,” Ian replies. He sounds defensive, and Mickey can picture the way his eyebrows are drawing together, his bottom lip protruding just a little, the way it always does when he’s insulted. “But he’s a good person, Fiona, I know nobody thinks he is, but he’s one of the best people I’ve ever known. Everyone’s so quick to judge him for -”
“Trust me,” Fiona interrupts quickly, “there’s no judgement here. Yeah, you picked Mickey Milkovich, but somehow you’re in the most stable relationship anyone in this family’s ever had - if anything, I should be asking for your advice.”
Mickey hears Ian’s small huff of laughter, and the clanging of the pans stops for a minute.
“Well, my first bit of advice would be to stay well away from Jimmy-Steve,” he says. His voice sounds teasing, but Mickey can hear the seriousness behind the sentiment, and he thinks Fiona probably can too. “Mickey did a lot of shit but he never gave me a fake name or disappeared for months without telling me.”
“No, that was you,” Fiona mutters. It sounds like a throwaway comment but it hits Mickey hard, and he knows it’ll hit Ian that way, too.
“You don’t know what happened there,” Ian replies quietly, and his voice is hurt just like Mickey knew it would be.
“No, Ian, I - I know it’s not your fault. You were having your first bipolar fuckin’ episode, you could’ve done a lot worse than just take off for a couple months. Monica has done a lot worse than that.”
Whenever anyone brings up Monica, Mickey doesn’t quite know how to react. After all this time with Ian, he really know fuck all about her - he knows that she’s bipolar, like Ian, and that when they were first hooking up she did something that made Ian so upset he came to Mickey’s house, begging to see him. But other than that, nobody really mentions her, and Mickey doesn’t ask. He knows how complicated moms can be.
Ian doesn’t respond to Fiona’s statement. Mickey imagines he’s probably nodding in agreement, maybe even touching Fiona’s hand, hugging her - but he can’t see to confirm any of it. All he knows is that a second later, Fiona speaks again, and the low tone of her voice is gone, replaced by something bright and teasing.
“So,” she says. “Gay marriage is legal in Illinois, now. Should we be expecting a happy announcement any time soon?”
Ian laughs at that, bright and loud. Mickey waits for his freak out to descend - but instead finds that Fiona’s words haven’t really had an effect on him. He feels - normal. More than that. He feels calm, but he also feels like he could fucking picture that. Like he could see himself, one day, with a ring on his finger. Maybe not declaring his love in front of a hall full of people or anything, but signing papers in a registry office, with Mandy and Fiona and maybe even asshole Lip as their witnesses - fuck, Mickey can imagine it, without freaking out even a little.
The fact that he isn’t freaking out somehow freaks Mickey out more than anything, though.
“Unless I accidentally knock him up, I don’t see that happening,” Ian jokes from downstairs. “It took me three years to get him to call me his boyfriend, I don’t even wanna think about how much of a crusade I’d have to go on to put marriage on the table.”
Mickey suddenly feels intensely aware that he’s listening in on this conversation secretly, and that that’s kind of weird and probably not okay. Before either of them say another word, he forces his legs to move, and hops down the last few stairs, finally emerging into the kitchen.
“Mornin’,” he says. He can see them, now - Ian and Fiona are both stood by the stove, Ian in his pyjamas with rumpled hair whisking pancake batter, Fiona wearing an apron over some leggings and greasing up a frying pan. They both jump a little when they see him, shuffle so they’re standing further apart, like they’ve been caught in the act. Which they have, but they don’t have to know that.
“Uh, morning,” says Fiona, the first one to recover. She holds up the frying pan with a smile “You in a pancake mood?”
“Fuckin’ always in a pancake mood,” he responds. He crosses to grab a cup of coffee, kisses Ian good morning while he’s over there.
He pretends not to see how much wider Fiona’s smile gets as she watches them, just pours Ian a cup of coffee too, and thinks about that fact that maybe, one day, he’ll wake up to find Ian making pancakes in their own house.