Mickey had his head tilted back, staring up at the building across the street. One hand was resting along his forehead trying to shield the sun from burning into his eyes, the rays reflecting off the high rise windows sharply in all directions. The other hand was curled around the black strap of the messenger bag hanging loosely off his shoulder, nervously adjusting it every few seconds so the strap scraped against his skin.
Mickey lowered his hand and shook it out by his side, releasing some of the built up tension that was forming in his fist. He sighed heavily and started walking towards the building, stopping briefly to push the walk signal for the crosswalk, although jumping into oncoming traffic was extremely tempting.
He rushed across the street, flipping off the taxi driver who honked at him for stepping in his path even though Mickey clearly had the right of way, fucker. The building in question had a doorman, a fucking doorman, who greeted Mickey with a smile and held the door open for him. Mickey nodded quickly in thanks.
Once inside, his nervousness didn’t dissipate, if anything it magnified tenfold. The foyer was a cream color, the floor and walls made of some type of marble. There was a small sitting area near the windows that had a small black couch and two matching chairs surrounding a glass table.
Mickey walked up to the front desk where a woman was standing in her pressed black suit, dark hair held up tightly with a clip, a few stragglers fanning the back of her neck. Why apartment complex's needed a desk person for was always baffling to Mickey. He was used to barely having a door that closed without a struggle, let alone someone who had to check in every guest and sign for fucking packages.
“May I help you?” she asked, glancing up from the computer screen she was raptly focused on, her eyes glaring at the tattoos inked across Mickey’s knuckles.
He pulled his hands off the desk and put them in the pockets of his hoodie that had the company logo on the front. He wasn’t embarrassed or ashamed of his knuckle tattoos, his fists living up to the promise permanently inked there quite frequently, but for work situations it sometimes made things a little awkward.
“Uh, yeah, my name is Mickey Milkovich, I have an appointment with a Mr. Ian Gallagher,” he said. One thing Mickey had learned about dealing with people from the North Side is that they are more receptive to accommodate him if he adopted a sickly sweet tone and used “mister” and “misses”.
“ID please,” she said briskly while holding her hand out, palm up. Mickey nodded and reached into his back pocket to pull out his old, weathered leather wallet. He slid his ID out of the protective covering and handed it over. She scrutinized it, before writing down his information on a log-in sheet and passing it over for him to sign. Once he sloppily signed the piece of paper, she handed back his ID and said “13C," in a clipped tone. Mickey gave her a quick nod and headed over to the elevators.
Inside the elevators, he pushed the button for the thirteenth floor and tried to shake the last vestiges of the anxiety creeping up his neck before the doors pinged open. He stepped out into the hallway, the floor covered with a dark red carpet, the walls wallpapered with a delicate, white floral design.
He stood outside the black door, staring at the brass 13C screwed into the wood. He took a deep breath and lifted his hand up rapping on the door four times before taking a step back. Mickey’s other hand was attached to the strap of his messenger bag again, an anxious tick he is now noticing, moving it around and scratching the rough fabric against his neck some more to the point where it was starting to sting. He waited a minute with baited breath, but the door hadn’t budged, no movement heard from the other side. He moved forward again, knocking on it a little louder than before.
A few seconds later he heard footsteps approaching, finally. He ran his hand through his hair quickly, clearing his throat, straightening his back to look presentable and wiping his sweaty palms on the thighs of his jeans.
When the door finally swung open, Mickey’s jaw dropped slightly, his eyebrows climbing up his forehead. The occupant on the other side was shirtless, sweat glistening and running like streams through the sharp cut of his muscles, skin kissed pink from exertion. The guy had a towel thrown over his shoulder, that he used to wipe the sweat from his face and rub over his short red hair before making eye contact.
Mickey shook his head, blinking rapidly a few times before quickly extending his hand, which the apartment owner enthusiastically grabbed, eyes still laser locked onto Mickey’s.
“Ian Gallagher? I’m Mickey Milkovich from Casanova Catering. We had an appointment to go over your dietary restrictions and food menu for the next few months?”
Mickey ended the statement like it was a question even though he knew they had an appointment, it had been scheduled for the past month and the appointment manager for the company had called Ian to confirm the appointment earlier in the week. But who the fuck consciously decides to meet someone for the first time shirtless and covered in sweat? Jesus.
Mickey had been working for Casanova Catering for about a year and a half now. The company mainly focused on catering large fruity parties and corporate meetings for douchebags, but every once in awhile they’d get requests for personal chefs. When those requests came in, everyone who was capable threw their names into a hat and the “winner” would be pulled. When Mickey’s name was pulled, everyone cheered with joy that they weren’t the unluckily candidate. Mickey hated this shit. His name had only been pulled once before and it was the worst experience he’s had working for this company and he was not eager to repeat the process.
Ian chuckled and Mickey had to try real hard not to drop his eyes to stare at the way his ab muscles contracted with the action. “Shit, that was today wasn’t it? Come in,” Ian said as he stepped aside and pulled the door open fully. Mickey nodded and walked across the threshold, his eyes sweeping over the place and taking in the details.
It was fucking massive. The living room and kitchen were connected, the dark tile floors extending from the front door all the way to the floor to ceiling windows lining the far wall, dark grey curtains tied off to the sides. All the walls were white with artwork scattered here and there. The furniture was a deep grey to match the curtains, all furnishings facing the dark red brick fireplace that had a flat screen TV perched above it. An expensive looking rug spanning the distance between the fireplace and the couch.
The kitchen had white cabinets, the counters a dark mahogany. The stainless steel appliances were spotless and gleaming with the sun shining through the windows. There was an island separating the kitchen and living room that had four stools lining it. A chandelier was hanging over the island, reflecting the sunlight into small rainbows around the kitchen. The kitchen was a chef’s dream; there was plenty of counter space for food preparation, this fridge looked like it had plenty of storage room, there were two fucking sinks and the gas stove had six burners as opposed to four.
Mickey was afraid to touch anything. Everything was immaculate and sparkling like Mr. Clean himself came her to wipe everything down with his magic fucking eraser. This was by far the most expensive apartment he had been in. It oozed class and wealth and he was standing here with dirty sneakers with holes in the bottom and laces fraying at the ends. He was half tempted to take his shoes off, afraid to track dirt through the apartment, but his socks weren’t much cleaner than his shoes and he was certain he was wearing the pair with the hole in the big toe because of fucking course he would be.
Ian closed the door and walked around Mickey and over to the fridge to grab a bottle of water. He uncapped it and swallowed half of it in one gulp, the sun hitting his body making him look like some goddamn Greek statue and Mickey had to try real, real fucking hard to keep his eyes from greedily soaking in every goddamn dip, curve and clench. Ian reached back into the fridge and grabbed another bottle for Mickey, holding it out to him silently, his eyebrows raised in question. Mickey moved further into the apartment and rook the bottle from his hands, mumbling a low “thanks” before he opened it.
Ian’s eyes trailed over Mickey’s form slowly, causing Mickey to avert his eyes and focus intently on the art piece next to Ian’s head. Ian sucked in his bottom lip, biting the skin briefly before speaking, “make yourself at home, I’m gonna go change real quick.”
Mickey nodded once, still not making eye contact. Ian seemed to float out of the room silently and Mickey huffed out a relieved breath. He swung the strap from his messenger bag over his head and placed it on the island with a dull thunk. He dug around in the bag taking out his composition notebook, his favorite pen, the company issued iPad and some mock menus he had prepared previously in the week. He arranged everything neatly on the table and took another drink of his water before canvassing the apartment again, his eyes jumping to things he could easily steal. He never would, not anymore, not in a fucking heartbeat, he valued his job too much. But it was so ingrained in his being that he couldn't stop now. Besides, it was kind of interesting to asses how much money rich fucks wasted on purchasing useless shit just to display the fact that they were indeed wealthy.
Mickey made his way over to the wall of windows, pausing briefly to gaze at some of the art decorating the walls. He didn’t understand this shit, most of it looking like someone had a seizure while holding a paintbrush over a canvas. He never understood why people would spend money on this crap, if you wanted it bad enough you could paint it yourself. He shuffled his way over to the windows and peered out into the skyline. The view was phenomenal, the setting sun bathing the city in a breath-taking golden light with specks of purple thrown in, the waves of Lake Michigan glistening in the distance. The view alone was worth the price of rent in the this place and Mickey could feel himself getting lost in the picturesque landscape in front of him. From up here, the city didn’t look so shitty. You couldn’t see the junkies huddling under bus stop structures or the drunks puking their insides out into city gutters.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” he heard whispered behind him. Mickey jumped slightly and whipped around, causing Ian to raise his hands in front of him and chuckle lowly.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you,” Ian said.
Mickey huffed and shook his head. “Didn’t scare me, just wasn’t expectin’ ya to be standing right behind me s’all.”
Ian was in clothing that was more appropriate for meeting your personal chef, forgoing his basketball shorts and bare chest for loose sweatpants and a tight white thermal with the top two buttons undone that stretched over his shoulders deliciously.
Mickey cleared his throat and scratched his eyebrow with his thumb. “You ready to get this show on the road or what?” he asked.
Ian laughed again and turned to the side, sweeping his hand in an after you motion. Mickey rolled his eyes but walked over to the island, slipping into one of the stools before opening his notebook to the page where he had written down all his questions. Ian stood across from Mickey, leaning against the counter on his crossed arms. From this position Mickey could see down Ian’s shirt slightly and could just barely make out the spool of wiry red hairs on his chest.
Mickey lowered his eyes and kept them firmly glued to the paper for a few seconds while he decided what question to ask first. He clicked his pen rapidly a few times before speaking. “So, I guess the first thing I should ask is why you hired us? Like, what are you hoping to get from this?” he asked.
Ian swept his eyes over Mickey’s face and his eyes landed on his lips quickly before licking his own. Mickey’s cheeks flushed immediately and he reached for the water bottle next to him to distract himself from the fact that Ian was blatantly checking him out, for a second time.
“Well, I’m a sports model and I have this big shoot coming up in a few months. It could lead to a lotta big contracts and I don't have the best track record for staying on top of my diets. I really fucking love pizza and pasta,” he paused, head dipping slightly to try and catch Mickey’s eyes before continuing, “and I got a little bit of a sweet tooth," he finished with a grin. That smirk spread across Ian’s face almost caused Mickey to choke on his own spit.
Mickey collected himself very quickly given the circumstances. He wasn’t used to people openly flirting with him like this outside the fruity clubs he would occasionally visit, let alone a client. A high paying, hot as fuck, clearly interested in his ghetto ass, fucking sports model client. Mickey was never receptive to people flirting with him, it just made him feel awkward as fuck and now it’s even worse because he can’t just tell a client to fuck off like he normally would. He’s usually real good at concealing his sexuality, not because he’s ashamed, but because it’s nobody's damn business and he’s never been comfortable with advertising. But for some damn reason this jacked up red headed fucker is making it really difficult to concentrate.
He took another sip of water. “So, are you looking to bulk up or just maintain?” he asked, eyes still focused on his notebook, scribbling down a few notes while Ian spoke.
“Just maintain I suppose. I’m pretty strict with my workout routines, so it’s really just keeping me away from all the junk food I eat.”
Mickey sniffed. “Food allergies?”
“If I tell you I’m allergic to broccoli will you never let it into my apartment, ever?”
Mickey laughed at that, causing a small smile to crack across Ian’s face. “Hate broccoli, got it. Although you probably just haven’t had it cooked correctly,” Mickey said.
Ian, adorably, scrunched up his nose and just shook his head. Mickey huffed out another small laugh.
It was all very clinical and routine after that, the awkward feeling clawing at Mickey’s skin slowly falling away to more of a tickle. He continued reading off some questions, jotting down notes when necessary. Once that was out of the way, Mickey showed Ian the mock menu’s he prepared to give Ian an idea of the type of food that Mickey was capable of producing and to get Ian’s input on certain dishes; what he liked and didn't like, what worked best for his workouts and what he absolutely wound't fucking eat even if it was the last thing on Earth.
Mickey opened up his iPad towards the end of their meeting to work out a schedule for when he would personally be coming to Ian’s apartment to prepare his meals each week. Ian walked around the island, placing one hand on the back of Mickey’s stool and the other on the counter, leaning forward over Mickey’s shoulder, his chest brushing against Mickey’s back every so often. Mickey concentrated real hard on controlling the heat creeping up the back of his neck and tried to steady his breathing. Christ, this guy smelled like heaven too.
Mickey was in hell. He never had a problem dealing with clients. Ever. Always kept shit professional and polite, never even giving some fine ass clients a second glance. He kept his head down and did his fucking job and that was that. He hadn’t mentally prepared himself for his client to be this fucking attractive because it had never been an issue before and he didn't think it would be today. But Ian made it tough to focus because Mickey couldn't keep his eyes from cascading over well defined muscles and locking onto those brilliant green eyes. It was even harder to focus when those brilliant green eyes were staring at him in admiration, that crooked smile stretching across his face.
They finally agreed that Mickey would come to the apartment every Monday and Thursday. Those days he would prepare Ian’s meals for the next few days to be kept in the fridge and he would cook one fresh, hot meal for him that day. Simple enough, nothing compared to the shitshow that was his first private gig with a wayward father and four screaming kids.
The whole meeting itself only took about an hour, much to Mickey’s delight. He didn't think he would be able to maintain his cool for too much longer. He went to pack up his messenger bag, taking out the book he read on the ride over to organize everything alongside each other neatly. Ian turned his head to read the title of the book, a small hum slipping out of his mouth.
“That’s a great book, I read it a few months ago. Total mind-fuck," Ian said, pointing to the thick paperback sitting on the table.
Mickey nodded, keeping his eyes focused on packing his shit. “I just started it yesterday. Pretty fuckin’ creepy so far," he said.
“Are you a big Stephen King fan?” Ian asked.
Mickey shrugged, grabbing the book and placing it back in his bag once everything else was in place. “Wouldn’t say “big”, but yeah I enjoy his shit, got a few more at home.”
He pulled the strap of his messenger bag over his head as they walked to the front door, Ian leading the way and holding the door open for Mickey. They said their goodbye’s, complete with an awkward unnecessarily long handshake and Mickey was on his way to the elevator.
He didn’t hear Ian’s door click shut until he pressed the button for the ground floor.
As soon as the door shut, Ian turned and slouched against it, banging his head lightly off it three times. He couldn’t stop the smile spreading across his face and it had nothing to do with the amazing food that he’s going to be eating for the next few months. He took a few deep breaths and launched himself off the door to scramble for his phone that was laying on the counter, dialing his brother’s number quickly.
It rang four times before Lip answered with a gruff, "yeah?”
Ian sighed, his eyes sparkling like a sixteen year old. If phone’s still had cords attached to them, he would be twirling it between his fingers. “I just met the love of my life, Lip,” he said with a dreamy air to it.
“I swear you say that shit at least twice a week. Who is it this time?” Ian heard the distinctive sound of his brother inhaling from his cigarette through the receiver, “don’t fucking say it’s your new per-”
“It’s my new personal chef,” Ian cut him off.
He heard Lip scoff over the phone, taking another drag off his cigarette. “Don’t fucking do it dude, that shit never works out. You remember what happened with your personal trainer, it wasn’t even that long ago.”
Ian screwed his eyes up in distaste. Of course he fucking remembered the triste with his trainer, Justin. It was messy and intense and Ian immediately fell in deep in true Ian Gallagher fashion. It was a blissful two months of constant sex, orgasms and fast flowing adrenaline before everything grew sour. Turns out the guy was verbally abusive in more places than the gym. He made it a point to make Ian feel lower than dirt every day, managing to pinpoint every single one of his insecurities and magnify them exponentially. It was a tactic that worked well for him in the gym, but proved to be a detriment everywhere else. He cringed at the memory, it’s something he’s been working hard to forget. It’s amazing how only two months of degradation can fuck you up for years to come.
“It’s not the same Lip, and honestly fuck you for bringing that up,” Ian snapped into the phone, "this guy’s different, he’s not a roided up juicehead. And he has the prettiest fuckin' eyes and he’s so smart, I can tell. He was reading one of my favorite books, that's gotta be a sign. I was laying it on pretty thick though and he didn’t bite.”
“Contrary to what you believe, not everyone is a homo," another exhale of smoke, making Ian crave the nicotine he gave up years ago. “Don’t make this awkward for him, man. The poor guy is just trying to do his job.”
Ian sighed, “there was a connection there though, I could fuckin’ feel it-”
“You feel a connection with every pretty boy that crosses your path. And everybody fucking reads, you were bound to meet someone who read your favorite book,” Lip snapped out. He was losing his patience, not like he had a lot to begin with, especially when it came to Ian's quick fire infatuations. “Did you call me just to wax poetic about unattainable dick, or was there another reason for this phone call?”
Ian huffed loudly before ending the call without saying goodbye and tossed his phone down on the counter. He should have never called Lip, that asshole has a knack for raining on Ian’s parade every damn time he develops a crush. He propped his elbows on the counter, leaning his head into his hands and pulling a little roughly on his hair, frustrated at himself.
Lip had a point. He does develop feelings fast and he has a tendency to catch feelings very easily and it usually ended with Ian getting his heart ripped out and crushed while it was still beating and bloody.
But Mickey was different, he could feel it in his gut and tingling in his limbs, making him restless. Even though the conversation was light and didn’t wander too far from food, Ian thoroughly enjoyed talking to Mickey. The way he casually used “fuck” as an adjective, verb and noun throughout his sentences (and the first few times he mumbled “shit” under his breath when he remembered he had to be professional), how his tongue would slowly poke out the side of his mouth while he was concentrating and how he would rub his right eyebrow with his thumb when he was getting frustrated.
Mickey wasn’t even Ian’s type, but he had a feeling Mickey was quickly becoming his type. Ian preferred athletic men, blonde, tall and muscular, the cliche poster boy for gay athlete's. But as soon as he opened that door he was immediately smitten with the stocky, dark haired man with the threatening knuckle tattoos.
He sighed heavily, pulling his shirt over his head as he walked down the hallway, his gym equipment always there for him when he needed to alleviate some frustration.
Mickey probably wasn’t even gay, but Ian would be damned if he gave up before he found out.