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Two Friends Like Us

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Ian wakes up in the morning to the sound of Carl screaming in his ear for him to wake up, and he shoves him off in annoyance.

“Ian wake the fuck up, it’s Christmas” Carl taunts, throwing a handful of dirty laundry at him. “You buzz off, or I’ll throw your presents in the snow” Ian grouses as he gets up, taking Liam’s waiting hand to bring him downstairs.

As they reach the hallway he sees Debbie dragging Fiona out of her room, and Lip was apparently awake before any of them, as he is already downstairs when they get there. He’s reheating some breakfast food from the restaurant he works part time at waiting tables. Liam stops and does a little happy dance when he sees the presents under the tree, and the rest of the Gallaghers burst out laughing at his antics as they gather around the tree.

The older siblings exchange packets of cigarettes and small bottles of alcohol with each other, and watch as their younger siblings unwrap the actual toys, clothes, and candy they had saved up to get for them. There’s not a lot to unwrap, really, but it feels like a lot to them. They finish everything by ten a.m., and their excitement dies down enough for them to eat the breakfast Lip had prepared.

Ian is on the last forkful of his scrambled eggs when they all hear a knocking at the front door. “They aren’t supposed to come here first” he whispers, looking at Lip and Fiona warningly.

“They didn’t” Fiona answers firmly, “It must be someone else”.

Ian quickly gets up, suddenly remembering that Mickey was supposed to come over today. He had probably been texting Ian to let him know, but with the festivities of Christmas morning he had completely forgotten his phone upstairs.

Sure enough, Mickey is standing in front of the Gallagher’s front door, gripping the straps of the backpack he’s wearing. His breath is showing in the cold winter air, and he peers past Ian to see if anyone is close enough to hear before he says “Hey you, Merry Christmas. Guess what?”

Ian lifts one eyebrow curiously, “What?”

“Two things actually” Mickey says, “One, this is for you. All of you actually”. He slides off the backpack he’s wearing and pulls out a rectangular package from it.

“All of us?” Ian asks in confusion, taking it. It’s pretty heavy. Mickey nods.

“Wow, okay. What’s number two?” Mickey grins, and turns to look around at the snow behind himself for a moment, looking confused. “Um...” He whistles sharply, “Mo! C’mere boy!”

Ian’s eyes widen as a large black and white dog comes tearing out from the side of the house and towards Mickey. “I got a dog. Well, my dad did. Sort of. He was my aunts, dad wanted a fucking guard dog for his runs, but I’ll be taking care of him”.

Mickey beams, patting the dogs head as he comes to a full stop beside him.

Ian crouches and pets the dog, who sniffs him in response. He thinks of he first time he had creeped through Mickey’s Facebook, a few months back, and saw a picture of him and his old dog, one of the few things he had cared enough about to share publicly.

“His name is Mo?” he asks, looking for a non-existent tag on his leather collar. “I named him” Mickey says, and then adds dead seriously “It’s short for Homo”.

Ian looks up, “You’re fucking joking”.

Mickey bursts out laughing, “No I’m not. It’s fucking hilarious hearing my dad call for him”. Ian shakes his head and starts laughing too, “You’re fucking nuts, you know that? Come inside”.

Mickey starts to trail inside after him, but makes the dog stop on the porch, “Mo wait here”. The dog sits obediently but Ian shakes his head, “Nah, he can come in. It’s too cold out. Not like we have perfect furniture for him to wreck anyways”.

Mo pads inside the Gallagher house after Mickey, wagging his tail as he sees the new group of people inside.

“Hey guys” Mickey waves awkwardly at everyone, “Merry Christmas. This is Mo, he’s friendly as long as I tell him to be” he says, noticing how Liam looks apprehensively at the large dog before he comes over.

He gives Mickey a quick hug and then reaches his hand out to the dog, who sniffs him, causing Liam to shriek with laughter.

Fiona raises her eyebrows at her youngest brother, being the only Gallagher left to miss out on witnessing the rare effect Mickey had on their shy sibling, other than seeing the picture of them sledding together. Ian lifts up the package to break the awkward silence, “Mickey got us something”.

Mickey blushes slightly as the rest of the Gallaghers come over, eyeing him in confusion. Ian smiles at him apologetically, feeling slightly guilty that his family’s first reaction is to not really trust him.

They let Liam unwrap it, because he’s the youngest, but it’s not something that interests him all that much, being that he’s only three. “What is it?” he asks.

Mickey looks up at Fiona and Lip. “A new laptop, cause I…well, I was there when the other one broke” Mickey says, catching himself and reddening.

Ian looks up at him in disbelief, along with the other two oldest Gallaghers, “Mickey, you didn’t have to-“

He lifts a hand casually to interrupt him, “It’s not like, a great one or anything, so don’t fucking thank me too much. But it’s better than nothing I guess”.

Fiona’s got that look on her face again like she just can’t figure Mickey out, and Ian can’t blame her, because he almost feels the same way. He’s just full of surprises… something Ian loves about him more and more each day. He knows Mickey would have had to get the money for it working for his dad, and Ian feels slightly guilty about that, but he’s also really touched.

He wishes he could kiss him right then and there, in front of everyone. Instead he clears his throat, making sure his voice isn’t hoarse as he says, “Thanks Mickey”.

He smiles, “No problem man. Hey, how was the turkey?” he jokes, turning to Fiona. She clears her confused expression quickly, “Oh! It was great! Yeah, thanks for reminding me, you have to stay for dinner tonight, we have lots of leftovers. Mo too”, she adds, glancing at the dog laying quietly on the floor.

“I think I have a tennis ball in my room, that Mo can play with while he’s here” Ian says pointedly, motioning subtly for Mickey to follow him upstairs.

As soon as they get into his shared bedroom, he closes the door behind himself, and grabs Mickey’s arms to pull him into a kiss. He quickly drops them and pulls away when Mo begins to growl at him, hackles raised, but Mickey lifts a warning hand above the dog, “No, bad dog Mo! We don’t fucking growl at Ian”.

Ian hesitates to reach for Mickey again, lightly joking, “Sometimes you do”. But Mickey pulls him again, grinning, “That’s fucking different. And he’s fine. He’s a guard dog, right, so he just has to get used to me telling him who’s okay and who’s not. I’m teaching him how to be a normal dog when we’re not working”.

Sure enough, Mo continues to eye them at first, but then loses interest and begins to sniff around the room curiously as Mickey moves his mouth against Ian’s, who holds the back of his head as they begin to kiss more passionately. After a few minutes, he feels an uncomfortable strain against his pants, and finally pulls away before someone comes upstairs, breathlessly.

Mickey blinks a few times to clear his head, as Ian does the same.

“So what do you want to do today? Stuff with your family?” he asks, after a minute or two.

Ian grimaces, remembering. “I actually have to go out, on my own, and meet with Frank and Monica”. Mickey frowns at him in confusion, “Your parents? Why? I thought they-“

“They did, they are, whatever you’re going to fucking say. But they are gonna be here for a short visit tonight, and I need to make sure they can fucking handle it, before they come over”.

Mickey nods his understanding, noticing Ian’s rapidly returning stress over situation. “I can go home”, he offers. Ian shakes his head, “I’d rather you stayed here, if you don’t mind, just be here when I come back with them. It’s not…it’s not gonna be fucking easy”.

“If you need me, I’m here” Mickey answers, as if that’s all there is to it.

He kisses Ian on the forehead reassuringly later than afternoon, who tries to draw strength from his boyfriend, who always seems to be a pillar of it, before he heads downstairs and then out to meet his parents.

Lip and Fiona had told him again he didn’t need to do this, and Mickey was doing his best to hide his worry, but he needed to go.

As he takes the El towards the coffee shop Frank had texted him to go to, he sits in silence, and ruminates over the memories of his shitty childhood while they were around. His phone lights up, and he squeezes it in his hand as he reads the message from Mickey.

Thinking bout you. Love you

He arrives at the coffee shop first and sits down nervously as he waits, for once in his life ordering a tea instead of a coffee, so he can try to relax. He’s blowing on it to cool it down, when he hears a woman’s familiar childlike voice, “Ian?”

He looks up from his cup and sees his mother approaching him tentatively, but he feels no pull to say hello to either her or his father, who is coming in behind her. He nods at them as they sit down. “Merry Christmas baby” Monica says, smiling at him as Frank plays with her blonde hair. He ignores the comment, getting straight to the point “Look, I’m just here to make sure-“

Frank cuts him off in annoyance, “To make sure your mother and I are worthy of seeing our own children, on Christmas? You always were the most ungrateful of the bunch”. Ian rolls his eyes, “Shut up Frank. Either of you been drinking today? Take any pills?”

Frank flips him off as Monica giggles nervously, “Just the legal prescription kind”. He watches them closely for a moment or two, and they seem sober. Ian presses his mouth into a line, “Fine”. They’ve passed his test, but now he has nothing else to say to them, and frankly it’s pretty fucking awkward until Monica tries again to make conversation.

“How’s school? You have a girlfriend in your life?” Ian glances away before looking at her, “Uh…sort of? It’s not… we’re not public with it”.

She reaches forward to pat his hand and he manages to keep himself from pulling away. “You should be. Don’t ever be ashamed of the person you are with, or you’re with the wrong person”. She smiles over at his pathetic excuse for a father, and Ian tries not to roll his eyes in disgust.

His hand feels funny where she’s touching it, like he should feel something, some affection maybe, but he doesn’t. “Not ashamed. Just complicated”.

“You make everything complicated” Frank points out as she takes her hand away.  

“Fuck off” Ian grouses, “You don’t even know what you’re fucking talking about. And how could you? You were never around”. Frank starts to argue but Monica pulls on his arm, “No Frankie, we are keeping it happy today, remember? Just happy stuff”. Frank looks like he wants to protest, but doesn’t.

As Ian rides back home on the El with them, worry begins to gnaw at his stomach about what Mickey might think when he sees these two. Crawling over each other like teenagers, clear addicts, regardless of what they may do or say.

Ian was a product of them, so what did that make him?