Mickey must have walked through the living room three times before he noticed the new artwork. There was so much crap up on the walls that it was hard to tell, but he was pretty sure that part of the wall had been empty the last time he'd been at the Gallagher house.
He stopped in front of the picture. It looked like a rough drawing of Christmas trees which was a weird thing to put up in May. "What the fuck is that?"
Ian turned around on the couch to see what Mickey was looking at. When he saw the drawing his face lit up and he jumped up to join Mickey. "Oh! Liam made a family tree."
Mickey stepped closer—he didn't need glasses, damn it—and saw that the picture wasn't actually Christmas trees. What he'd thought were ornaments were really pictures of various family members. He automatically scanned the branches for Ian and snorted when he saw the picture of him in full camo with his hair buzzed. That seemed like forever ago.
He was about to make fun of Ian for it, but the words froze on his tongue when he saw the next picture. There was a picture of him from a couple of years ago on the same branch as Ian. Their names were connected by a thick black line and another line connected them both to Yevgeny. In Yevgeny's spot there was a picture of all three of them playing with that stupid fire truck that Ian had bought for Yevgeny a couple of birthdays ago. Yevgeny had loved that thing and Ian had been so smug every time Yevgeny made them play with it.
Mickey stared at the picture. "We're on here."
Ian stepped behind Mickey and wrapped an arm around his waist, pulling him close. "Of course you are. You're family. You and Yevgeny."
Ian saying that wasn't anything new. Ian and Mickey both used the word family to describe their devotion to each other and had for years. It was still easier for Mickey than using the word love even though he'd finally crossed that hurdle too. Family meant more to him anyway. It encompassed so many more layers of trust and obligation than love did.
One of those obligations was doing his part to help the other Gallaghers the same way Ian took care of Mandy, but Mickey hadn't realized that anyone besides Ian actually thought of him as part of the family. He knew that he was an accepted part of Ian's life now, but that dark black line linking them looked so permanent and was on display right in the Gallagher living room for everyone to see. "That's the place for your husband."
"Yup." Ian nuzzled Mickey's neck, pressing a light kiss just under his jaw. "Liam read the teacher's instructions and immediately said you were my partner."
"Smart kid," Mickey said.
"Lip couldn't stop laughing."
Mickey rolled his eyes and pulled away from Ian. He jabbed a finger at Lip's branch which didn't have anyone else on it. "Fucker's jealous. What happened to his last girlfriend?"
Ian laughed and flopped back onto the couch. "Who knows? I bet it was his fault though."
"It always is." Mickey sat down next to Ian and grabbed the remote before Ian had a chance to pick one of his crappy Discovery channel shows. "Yevgeny's ours this weekend. We ought to have Liam over too."
Ian gave Mickey a soft smile that made him look sixteen again. Ian knew Mickey better than anyone and even after nearly a decade there were still times when Ian looked at him like he hung the fucking moon. Mickey didn't understand it and he knew that he didn't deserve it, but he wasn't going to complain either.
"I think Liam would like that."
"Good." Mickey turned on the TV and found a Jackass rerun. He was in the mood to watch some balls get crushed. There had been more than enough emotional shit for one night.