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Leather Bound Secrets

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Crossing the border was the hardest part, looking at Ian through the rearview mirror, standing there with this fucking dopey ass smile on his face like he’d just seen Christ walk on fucking water or something. It was fucking heartbreaking.

Mickey had probably made it four, maybe five miles into Mexico before pulling over on the side of the highway, a heavy feeling in his chest, like his heart weighed ten pounds and it was pumping out acid instead of blood; he could feel the pain through his whole body. He needed to get out, stretch his legs, punch something, scream, fucking anything. He threw the stupid fucking wig off, getting out of the car with a pack of smokes, and walking a little ways away.

Alone. 

Mickey was in fucking Mexico all fucking alone. He shook his head, shakily putting a cigarette in his mouth, flicking at the lighter, one two three four times before it finally lit. He blamed it on the lighter, it was almost out of fluid, but he knew, he knew it was because his hands were shaking.

He inhaled the smoke deep into his lungs, not letting it out until there was barely anything left to come out, the nicotine giving him a bit of a head rush no matter how experienced of a smoker he was. Once that smoke was done, he lit up another one, taking his time to finish.

Calm down. 

Ian. Of course he understood why Ian didn’t come with him; he had a family, a job, for fucks sake, the kid had a fucking life. Didn’t make it burn any less inside of him. Didn’t make the situation any less shitty. Didn’t make it any fucking better.

 

“I don’t want your fucking money! I want…I want you to come with me.”

 

God fucking dammit, the first time he’d ever heard Ian tell him he loved him had to be when he was leaving him, right? When he was looking at him, telling him that he couldn’t come with him. He couldn’t’ve told him back in the van? Or at the docks? Or in the fucking car somewhere? Ian Gallagher, just has the best fucking timing, doesn’t he?

Mickey sat down on the dirt, lighting a third cigarette. His thoughts kept circling back to the money that rested on the dashboard; it felt like fucking blood money. Like it would burn his hand if he fucking touched it. But then, how was he gonna get around Mexico without it? That was everything, that was the cash that was supposed to get them started, get their feet on the ground.

Them. Their.

Is there a them? A their? Or did they finally expire? Done?

 

“Done, Done.”

“You’re nothing but a warm mouth to me.”

 

Mickey pressed the heels of his palms into his eyes. Fuck. Another drag, another deep breath, calm down. It’s fucking fine. You’re fucking fine. Grow up. Get back in the car. Drive further south. You’re four fucking miles from the border, someone’s gonna realize that something’s up.

He stood up, flicking the butt of his cigarette down into the dirt and walking slowly back over to the car, taking in his surroundings slowly. Dirt, scrawny ass trees, highway stretching as far as he could see. He was surprised that there were no tumbleweeds or cactuses anywhere. He got back into the car, debating whether or not to put the itchy wig back on. Does it really do anything? He’s already across the border, does he really need it? Not like he’s gonna keep it on forever, but he might as well keep it on for a couple more miles, just in case border control extends further into the country.

He throws the fucking nasty ass wig back on, ready to drive for a few more miles before he can get out of this dress. At least he can take the earrings off.

What was only going to be a couple of miles, turned into a couple of hours, it’s dusk, and by the time Mickey sees any place to stop, it’s a bar with a dim sign hanging above the door. After the fuckin’ day he’s had? He’s deserved a beer. Or four. Or a couple shots. What fuckin’ difference does it make? He pulls into the dirt parking lot, climbing into the backseat and grabbing his regular clothes, changing clumsily in the confined space of the car. He tossed the wig into the front seat, it landing somewhere in that general area.

When he finally got his clothes on straight and made sure his shirt finally wasn’t inside out, a mistake he made three times before his clothes were really on correctly. He climbed out of the backseat, grabbing the few twenties he had on him, not even bothering to look at the money that Ian left for him. He walked into the dimly lit bar, looking around. There were maybe three other people in the bar, two sitting in different booths and one sitting at the bar.

Mickey walked up to the bar, hopping up on one of the stools and looking around awkwardly.

Do these people even fuckin’ speak English? Do they even take American cash? Fuck, I’m gonna make an idiot out of myself, might as well fuckin’ leave at this point.

Just as he was about to hop out of the stool and call it a night, the rough looking bartender walked up to him, scratching at his facial hair.

“What can I get for you?” The bartender said with a thick Mexican accent. He spoke English clear as the fuckin’ day, though.

“Uh, well,” Mickey stuttered. “You take American cash?”

The bartender let out a deep chuckle, “I think everyone takes American money, man.”

“’Ey, alright,” Mickey shrugged. “Lemme just get a fuckin’ beer then.” The bartender could obviously tell that Mickey wasn’t the type to request a special type of brew or anything, so he just grabbed a bottle, popped the top off, and slid it to him over the counter.

“There you go,” The bartender smiled. Mickey looked at him for a few seconds. The man was big; tall and fat, with a tattoo of something Mickey couldn’t exactly make out on his shoulder. He had a face filled with rough facial hair, and a scar above his left eye that looked like he had been hit with a beer bottle or something like that. Looked like he had some stories to tell. Mickey took a twenty out of his pocket, intending to slide it across the counter, but the man stopped him by grabbing his wrist. At first, Mickey thought he was gonna have to throw down with some big dude in a bar his first night in Mexico.

Great, I just made it into fuckin’ Mexico, finally free from the oh so wonderful American Justice System, and I’m probably gonna land myself in a Mexican jail. Fuckin’ hell.

“Keep it,” The man said with a smile on his face. “You have a frown on your face that speaks for itself, you have had a day of sadness. The beer is on me, Mr. Do-we-accept-American-cash.”

Mickey snorted, taking a swig of the beer. “You read expressions? Can you read palms too man? Fortune teller? Gonna tell me my future? Am I gonna marry someone pretty, live in a nice house with a white picket fence and a couple’a dogs?”

 

Gonna get a little dog with a fuckin’ sweater?

 

Another swig; a long one. Fuckin’ Ian and him could’ve had that life. He could feel the frown on his face deepen, if that was even possible at this point.

The bartender chuckled at him, “Good one, kid.” He turned around, popped the cap off of another beer and slid it Mickey’s way. “This is the last one that’s on me, maybe you can stop being so bitter.”

“Fat fuckin’ chance,” Mickey muttered under his breath as the man walked towards the other end of the bar to help the other patrons.

After he’d downed both of his beers, he left the bar, sending a polite middle finger over his shoulder to the fortune telling bartender, and he could swear he heard the dude laughing as he walked out.

Getting back in the car, lighting up another cigarette, he got back on the road to find somewhere to sleep for the night. He didn’t really feel like spending the night in a tiny ass car, but if it came to that it came to that. He drove maybe two miles down the road before he found one, pulling over onto the same kind of dirt lot that the bar had. The air smelt like dry dirt and gasoline from all of the cars passing on the highway, it made Mickey a little nauseous. He lit up another cigarette, finishing it off before going inside the motel.

The air inside the motel was no better than outside, it was stale and stuffy and smelt of sex. Mickey walked up to the front desk, “How much for a room, in like, American dollars?”

Please speak fuckin’ English, please speak fuckin’ English. I should learn how to speak Spanish shouldn’t I?

“Thirty-five per night,” The skinny man said from behind the counter, his English much choppier than the man at the bars, but still, it was English.

“A’ight,” Mickey murmured, taking out three crumbled twenties and a ten. “That should be enough for two nights.”

Might as well sleep in a bed for two nights before I have to drive all over bumblefuck Mexico to find a job or some shit.

The man slid him his room key and pointed in the direction of his room down the hallway. Mickey simply nodded at him before turning and going back out to the car to collect his bag of clothes and necessities. He opened the passenger side door, seeing the wig resting on the dashboard.

“Fuck this fucking wig,” He said, grabbing it and roughly shoving it under the passenger side seat. As he went to pull his hand away, he felt something square and smooth under the seat, and it had him wondering what the fuck it was, and if he should even bother picking it up and looking at it.

His curiosity got the best of him, and he picked it up and looked at it. It was a brown leather-bound journal, tied closed by long strings. He turned it around in his hands a couple of times, running his fingers across the pages, but not opening it.

Was this from the person who owned the car?

Mickey debated just throwing it out, but something inside of him just wouldn’t let him. So he grabbed the rest of his stuff, headed inside to his room, threw his shit less than gracefully on the floor, and sat down on the disgusting bed that he’s pretty sure had blood and cum stains on it.

He ran his fingers over the leather again. It looked worn and tired, like it had been used for an extended amount of time, open and closed and scratched, but it was still smooth. The ties were fraying at the ends and losing their original dark brown color, now faded into a light grey-brown, but they were still tying the notebook shut just as tight as they would have if it had been brand new. The spine of the notebook was cracked in many places; probably folded over itself on numerous occasions. It looked old, but it was pretty nice to look at.

Mickey didn’t know what it was that possessed him to untie the damn thing, hell, he should’ve fuckin’ thrown it out; it’s not his fuckin’ property. But goddamn if he wasn’t fuckin’ curious to at least read a page, see what kind of secrets this damned thing held. He untied it, unwrapped the long string from around the notebook one two three four times, before opening it. He looked down at the handwriting, the messy, looped handwriting that he knew so fucking well. He felt like he had just been punched in the gut.

 

day one.

hey mick. it’s me, ian.