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from head to toe

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          Lip had meant it as an offhand comment, but Ian couldn’t stop thinking about it. All day he’d been pondering the question, and even though he knew his brother hadn’t meant his tiny scathing remark to trigger a serious philosophical debate in Ian’s head, Ian had spent the entire rest of the afternoon wondering.

          “Why do you even like Mickey?”

          Ian knew his brother had expected him to throw back something about how attentive and present and there for him Mickey had been all throughout the early days of his medication and therapy, that he’d wanted Ian to list the things they’d been through before they were official, and all the drama that had come up after. Lip had had a long day, and Ian knew he wanted to pick a fight, wanted Ian to yell about Mickey being there when nobody else was, the things he’d done, the things he’d said. But Ian wasn’t thinking about any of that.

          Ian was distracted all through family dinner, and when he finally left around ten, a few beers deep and very in his own head, Ian walked back to the apartment he shared with Mickey nowadays and kept thinking over the question. And all the answers he came up with came back to the little things: the way Mickey threw himself on the couch when he came home, his legs flung unceremoniously over Ian’s lap; the fact that he kept experimenting with food in the kitchen despite how often that resulted in them ordering takeout; his shit-eating grin when he pissed someone off; the way he rubbed at his chin before starting a really satisfying fight; his seeming obsession with biting down on Ian’s skin every time they were together, like huge fuck off, this belongs to me signs all over Ian’s body. But what did he like about Mickey? How was he supposed to pick just one thing?

          He unlocked his door and entered the apartment, still lost in thought. Mickey smiled up at him from where he was sprawled on the couch watching TV, and reached out over the back when Ian closed the door. Mickey made a grabby-hands gesture and Ian slid closer to him, letting Mickey reel him in by the waist until Ian was close enough to bend down and kiss him, upside-down from over the back of the couch.

          “You’re late,” Mickey said, releasing Ian so that he could grab some water from the kitchen and return to where Mickey was sitting in front of some action movie. Ian settled close to him, leaning their shoulders together.

          “Lip was in a mood,” he said, shrugging. Mickey made an irritated noise at the mention of Ian’s brother and didn’t ask for further elaboration.

          Mickey caught him up on the beginning of the movie during a commercial break, and they sank back into the couch to watch it together. Sometime between the first and second hour Mickey’s hand drifted over to Ian’s lap, but it was undemanding, settling over Ian’s thigh like he just liked feeling Ian beside him. Ian looked down at it, the dark letters of U-UP stark in the dim light cast by the television screen, stretched over the top of his leg and squeezing with a gentle, constant pressure.

          Ian slipped his hand over Mickey’s and Mickey turned his palm up, allowing their fingers to fall together. Ian rubbed his thumb against Mickey’s, the pad of it smoothing over a callous near Mickey’s knuckle. A commercial started up in front of them, a soft song playing in the background, and Ian turned his attention to their joined hands. He only realized he was being watched when Mickey leaned over and pressed a kiss to the side of his head, against his temple. Ian pressed further against him, still fiddling with his fingers. Those hands that had wreaked so much damage and whose ink promised so much more…that had been drenched in blood and often covered broken bones…and were so small and soft in Ian’s own hands, and gentle when stroking down his face or through his hair…

          Ian looked up at Mickey without warning, and caught Mickey still watching him. Mickey didn’t look away, but his hand twitched in Ian’s, his thigh jerking away from Ian’s leg slightly.

          Mickey hesitated, and Ian thought he might pull away. Instead he smiled slightly and said, “Come to bed?”

          Ian nodded, throat tight. Mickey extracted his hand and stood, bending to kiss the top of Ian’s head before disappearing into their room.

          Ian watched him go, eyes trailing over his legs and back and settling on the back of his head, and in that he had his answer.

          His favorite thing about Mickey was Mickey himself.