“Could I see that gun?” Ian pulls his hand back in surprise. “Mickey Milkovich, is that you? It’s Ian—.”
“Fucking Gallagher. What the hell are you doing here? Checking out gun shows to add to your cute little derringer collection?” He snickers.
“No, smart ass. I was supposed to meet Mandy here, but she’s held up. Says there’s someone she wants me to meet.” Ian glances around the booth at the rows of guns and boxes of ammo, at the holsters, bipods, shooting glasses and tactical bags. “What are you doing here? Selling your gun collection?”
“Nah, man, I’m a gun rep. Peddling guns now instead of crank and special k.” He looks thoughtful. “Not sure if either product will get me through the pearly gates, but this shit,” he gestures to the table between them, “is legal at least.”
“Wow, I thought the Milkovich boys were fucked for life.”
“I know, it’s a goddamn motherfucking miracle, but I kept my ass out of the can after juvie.” Mickey shakes his head. “I got my GED and took a couple sales courses at Malcolm X. Been working for Rack It Distributors for the last couple of years. Get to talk shit about guns all damn day. Like this job was created with me in fucking mind.”
“Thug life finally pays off.”
“Only in the G.D. U.S. of A., bitch.”
They grin at each other…for a while.
Breaking the intense eye contact, Mickey asks, “Which gun did you want to see?”
Ian points at a sleek, black semi-automatic pistol.
“Hell ya. That’s the Glock 19 Gen4, 9x19mm.” Mickey picks up the gun, turning it this way and that like a game show hostess. “This motherfucker is a striker fired Luger with no external hammer of any kind. Provides a consistent, tight 5.5 pound trigger pull. Holds a total of 15, 9mm rounds and, get this, there’s a fucking attachment for a laser. Fucking wet dream come true,” his voice is soft in the way of a man in love.
Ian watches Mickey’s hands tenderly move up and down the slide. Clicking open the magazine release, dropping the magazine to the table and placing the pistol in Ian’s hand. When his fingers skim over Ian’s palm, his eyes shoot up to meet Ian’s. He yanks his hand back like it’s burned.
A group of loud gun zealots approach the booth, wanting to know about trigger modification kits.
Ian hands Mickey the pistol. “I’ll keep browsing. Still looking for a .38 special in a certain shade of pink.”
“Gonna clash with that hair, man. I recommend the Sig Sauer P238; it has a green hand grip that’ll match your eyes.”
Ian opens his mouth, but no words come out.
“Wanna continue this chit chat,” Mickey flicks his tongue over his lips, “over beer and wings in the hotel lounge later?”
“I’d like that,” Ian croaks. “Like a lot.”
“I pack up here around 6, got a room upstairs so I can store my shit. Meet you about 7.” He turns away.
“Well, fellows, a trigger mod for a Ruger LC9 will run you a C-note…”
Ian pulls his phone out as he exits the conference hall.
Ian: where the hell r u
Mandy: did u meet anyone
Ian: like who
Ian: who would I meet at a gun show
Mandy: why arent u answering my Q
Ian: what Q
Mandy: screw u ass wipe
Ian: I mighta met someone
Mandy: I FUCKEN KNEW IT, OMGGGGGGGGG <3 <3
Ian: calm down, nut job
Mandy: I’m like the matchmaker of the fucken century!!! shit…
Mandy: u guys’ll have to fight over me for best man at the wedding
Ian: 2 late, just eloped
Mandy: yer joking…right? Ian?
Home to shower and change. In the frantic search for a green shirt that would complement his eyes, Ian tosses aside a lime green “Straight Outta Compton” tee and the gingham dress shirt he wore to a wedding a hundred years ago. He lets out a whoop when he uncovers a dark green short sleeve tartan button up. He grabs his pills on the way out the door.
“Don’t wait up!” He yells into the empty house, skipping down the back steps.
Ian arrives a few minutes early, but Mickey is already seated at a corner table in the dim lounge flipping a cigarette between his fingers and looking out the window at the illuminated Chicago River. As though he senses his presence, Mickey turns and locks eyes with Ian across the bar. His entire body follows the movement of his head until he is fully facing Ian. His legs fall open in invitation.
“Fuuuck,” Ian breathes. Before he reaches Mickey completely, he blurts: “You’re really…gay?”
“Yeah, I’m fucking gay, but keep your voice down. The whole room don’t gotta know that shit.”
He drops into the seat across from Mickey. “I’m gay.”
“That you’re gay?” Mickey smiles as Ian rolls his eyes.
“Yeah, she knows,” Mickey continues. “I told her after dragging her ass back from Indiana and after that fag-bashing, cocksucker Terry went to the joint for man one. I also met a guy, an officer in the army, la-dee-fuckin’-da, thought it might be serious. Turns out he was shit at long distance bromance,” he smirks. “It was too hard, he said. What-the-fuck-ever.”
Ian plays with the coaster, flipping it over and back again. Processing all this information, his eyes seek Mickey’s then dart away when contact is made. “Do your brothers know?”
Mickey laughs out loud at that. “Uh, yeah, Iggy knows first-fucken-hand, got himself an eyeful when he came home early once. I was happily getting rammed by Army when Iggy walked in. So we had a nice little heart to heart about boundaries and shit.”
Eyes wide, Ian responds, “Really?”
“No, not, fucking really. He pulled a gun on me and threatened to blow my balls off if he wakes up with nightmares.”
Ian stares at the thick, slightly damp tufts of dark hair haphazardly adorning Mickey’s head, then at the blue eyes sparkling with happiness, then at the plump pink lips tipped up in a small smirk, then at the tight black “I study triggernometry” t-shirt straining to contain the man inside it.
“You into anyone hot n’ heavy, Gallagher?”
Silence as Ian continues to stare, slowly coming out of his trance.
“Ya got a fucking boyfriend, asshole?”
“No. No, just a revolving door of disappointment in that area pretty much. I tried really hard to make things work a couple of times, but it always seemed like there was something I was missing. It seemed, I don’t know, forced?”
A server arrives with two draft beers and a plate of salt & pepper wings.
“Oh, yeah, I ordered for us. Eat up, Gallagher. You’re gonna need all the fucking energy you can get.”
They work their way through the wings. “I didn’t see you around your house much when I visited Mandy back in school.”
“That’s cause I spent my prom in juvie, slow dancing with the guards.” He jabs his chicken wing in Ian’s direction. “Nearly 3 years I spent locked up for doing dumb shit repeatedly. Like how many times does it take to learn a fucking lesson. Man, I hated it so much by the end that I pulled some scared straight shit on myself.” Head shake.
“Yeah, Mandy would mention visiting her shithead brother.”
“Bitch,” he smiles draining his glass. “Plus I met a guy in juvie who took me to my first gun show. Nothing much came a him, but here I am living the dream. Owe the asshole a motherfucking deep throat for introducing me to this life. Maybe I’ll look him up, say thank you.”
“No!” Ian shouts. “I mean, no, yes, if you want. But no.”
Mickey chuckles. “What about you? Whadaya do for money? Underwear ads? Male stripper?”
Ian chokes on his chicken wing. “Um, not anymore, no.”
Mickey pauses in licking his fingers, his eyebrows lifting in question.
“I’m an EMT. Saving old guys from heart attacks now instead of giving them heart attacks.”
The server picks up their empty glasses. “Another beer?”
Mickey waves a yes.
Ian asks for a club soda and lemon.
Ian hesitates, “No, alcohol doesn’t mix well with my medication.”
“That like depressed and shit?”
“Sure, I’ve spent some time zoned out in bed; I’ve spent some time bouncing off the walls too.”
“The medication helps?
“That and therapy, rest, pretty strict routine.” Ian’s eyes hold Mickey’s looking for a reaction. “Sexy, huh?”
“Fuck ya.” Eyebrow flick.
“The disease also explains my poor decision making that lead to a couple of years of stripping and lap dancing in Boystown.”
“Shit,” Mickey breathes. “Not my scene. Boystown, I mean. I’m pretty fucking sure a lap dance from you would be right up my alley.”
They pause in their conversation: an elephant shaped like Ian giving Mickey a lap dance filling the room between them now. Until the server places fresh drinks in front of them.
Mickey chugs his beer. “I, uh, had me some of those poor decision-making moments too.” Lip biting. “Before I fully admitted to myself or anyone else that I wanted to rub dicks with other dudes, I accidently fucking impregnated a Russian prostitute. I have a 3-year-old son.”
“Yevgeny?” Ian sits forward. “Of course, Mandy’s mentioned babysitting her nephew, but I didn’t put it together. Too many Milkovich brothers to keep tabs on. Got a picture?”
Mickey wipes his hands on the napkin, grabs his phone and his cigarettes out of his pocket. He passes the phone to Ian, who swipes revealing the lock screen photo. He can’t help but laugh. Mickey and Yev are posing classic Charlie’s Angels: Yev is standing on a picnic bench, back to back with Mickey; they each have an oversized deadly looking water gun in their hands. Big, happy grins on their faces and devilish intent in their matching blue eyes.
“I need a fucking smoke like yesterday. I’ll let the server know we’ll be right back.”
Ian takes a last look at the phone screen. His eyes trace the little boy’s glowing face.
They exit the building through a side door that Mickey uses for all his smoke breaks during conferences. The alley is dark; the only illumination coming from street lights around the corner. Mickey lights them each a cigarette.
They bring the tip of their smokes to their lips simultaneously. Inhale, chests rise together. Exhale, breaths mingle between them. The alley is silent while they smoke, but there is an entire conversation going on with their eyes.
Mickey’s appear to be saying: I’m going to rip your fucking clothes off and fuck you right here.
Ian’s appear to be saying: What are you waiting for?
Mickey stubs his cigarette, hooks his finger and mouths the words: c’mere.
Obediently, Ian closes the distance between them. His lips touch Mickey’s but his eyes remain open. They stare at each other transfixed, just breathing.
Until the spark consumes them.
Tongue, tongue, tongue.
Mickey is pressed hard against the fire escape door; his hands are under Ian’s shirt, scratching his abdomen.
Ian is pressed hard against Mickey; his hands are holding Mickey’s head, fingers clenching around his skull.
Mickey slides his hands around and up Ian’s back tightening his hold. Ian rolls his hips against Mickey’s looking for some kind of release.
“The motherfucking matchmaker of the century. Gonna get a t-shirt made and it won’t be ironic either.”
It takes Mickey and Ian a good 10 seconds for the words to find their way into their ears and up to their brains. They open their eyes, pull away slightly, turn their heads.
“Hello, douche bags.”
“The fuck, Mandy? Ya stalker.”
“I know your smoking habits. Can’t hide from me, asshole.”
“Stop fucking staring all right. You wanna take a picture or something?”
“Nah, just passing through on my way home from work.”
“This ain’t your corner.”
She gives Mickey the finger, then turns to Ian with big heart eyes. She squeals a little, bounces on her toes and punches Ian in the shoulder. The Milkovich version of a full body hug.
“Let’s get a drink.” She hooks her arm through Ian’s. “Mickey can come too, I guess.”
“Fucking cockblocker,” Mickey mumbles behind them.
An hour later Mickey and Ian are standing in front of the bank of elevators, watching the numbers count down. “Maybe we should take separate elevators,” Ian suggests.
“Worried you won’t be able to keep it in your pants for 18 floors?” Mickey flicks his eyes to Ian.
“Worried I won’t be able to keep it out of my mouth for 18 floors.” Ian flicks his eyes to Mickey’s jeans.
“Fuck.” Mickey’s head snaps back to the elevator doors.
The doors slide open and the empty elevator car beckons seductively. They enter.
The countdown begins…second floor…Mickey presses his shoulder into Ian’s. Fifth floor…Ian laces his fingers through Mickey’s. Ninth floor…Mickey presses their joined fingers against his straining jeans. Twelfth floor…Ian brings Mickey’s fingers up to his lips tracing the finger tats with his tongue. Sixteenth floor…Mickey reaches forward and punches the 18 button savagely.
Hands still tangled, they make their way to Mickey’s hotel room. A flick of the key card and they are in the room kicking off their shoes and throwing their jackets.
Ian drops Mickey’s fingers and pushes him into the armless desk chair, hovering over him. He steps forward until his groin is level with Mickey’s face, wiggling his hips enticingly. He catches Mickey’s eye and puts everything he is thinking and feeling into the look. “I believe you ordered a lap dance, sir?” Pulling open the two bottom snaps on his shirt, he reveals the smooth strip of skin just above his jeans. Mickey nods, obviously overwhelmed by all the parts of Ian he wants to look at, but pulled mercilessly by Ian’s eyes. Ian continues to stare, while his fingers massage the bared pelvic skin.
“Do I need to stuff some dollar bills in there?” Mickey’s words are light but his tone is all business. “I’ll rob a fucking bank if I need to.”
Grinning, Ian slides his finger over Mickey’s lips, slipping it into his mouth until he feels the tip of his finger meet the tip of Mickey’s tongue. “Your tongue’ll do.”
Pulling his finger back, Ian shifts his hips forward so Mickey’s tongue has easy access to his skin. When he feels that tongue slide along the seam of his low-rise jeans, he grabs the back of Mickey’s head.
“Baby, I don’t need dollar bills to have fun tonight. I love cheap thrills,” Ian sings quietly, watching Mickey’s progress. Every muscle in his abdomen tightens as he pulls away.
In one sudden violent motion, Ian rips the rest of the snaps open and the shirt slides off his shoulders to the floor. He reaches his hands up to his hair and runs his fingers through it, letting them drift down his neck, over his chest and abs to the waistband of his jeans. He slides down Mickey, resting briefly on his lap before sliding back up again, slowly, rubbing his hardness along Mickey’s chest.
Pushing away from Mickey, he turns around sitting back on Mickey’s lap and pressing his ass against Mickey’s erection, while his left hand slides into the front of his own jeans. “Oh, I ain’t got cash, no I ain’t got cash. But I got you baby.”
He gives himself a couple of good tugs, head falling back on Mickey’s shoulder in pleasure, hips moving to the pace he’s creating.
Suddenly, he’s gone. Standing in front of Mickey again. “Take your shirt off,” he commands.
Mickey grasps the back of his t-shirt and yanks it over his head, tossing it to the floor next to Ian’s.
Ian’s eyes land on Mickey’s chest just below his left collarbone. Two old fashioned revolvers crossed at the muzzle are carved into his skin. He traces them with his finger, mesmerized momentarily before bringing that finger to Mickey’s chin. Bending at the hips, he uses his finger to open Mickey’s mouth so he can slide his tongue in, while pushing his legs apart. He then lowers himself to his knees and presses his stomach into Mickey’s groin.
Pulling away from Mickey’s mouth, he slides his tongue over the tattoo and then to the nipple under it.
“I think I’m having a heart attack, man,” Mickey chokes out.
Sitting back on his heels, Ian beckons Mickey forward with his finger and Mickey moves toward him waiting to hear the mysteries of the universe explained.
“Your turn,” Ian whispers. Mickey shakes his head fiercely. “I want you to show me your Glock. Describe it like you did earlier today. That was fucking hot.” He grabs Mickey’s hands and pulls him from the chair, then sits down himself leaning back casually.
Helpless to make his own decisions, Mickey walks on slightly shaky legs toward the long desk.
With a full deep breath through his nose, he pulls the handgun out of a large case. “You mean this old thing?” He slips the black pistol into the low-slung waistband of his Levi’s as he struts, in full-on Mickey Milkovich swagger mode, toward the chair Ian is now sitting in. His tattooed fingers rub the barrel up and down his pelvic bone, matching the rhythm of his rolling hips.
Leisurely, he slides the gun out of the waistband of his jeans. “What we got here is a rough textured grip that molds to any hand size.” He rubs his palm along the grip, his fingers grasping it tightly.
“Mmm, it does indeed fit nicely in your hand,” Ian agrees with enthusiasm.
“Yep, and the equal weight in your hand tames the recoil.” The barrel caresses the ripples in his bare abdomen as he straddles Ian’s knees. The gun continues its trajectory up his chest and over each nipple.
“It’s well equipped to handle any situation.” Mickey brings the pistol up to his face, so his tongue can slide slowly, intentionally along the barrel from rear sight to front sight before dropping the gun to his side.
“It comes,” he reaches forward until the muzzle skims across Ian’s hipbones, “with 2 magazines.”
“Fuck, I hope that thing isn’t loaded.”
Mickey slides the muzzle under Ian’s chin, using it to tilt his head up. “Something’s loaded but it ain’t this gun.”
The gun hits the bed as Mickey drops heavily onto Ian’s lap, wrapping his legs around Ian’s waist and the back of the chair. Then they are pressed together in every way they can possibly manage.
Breathing, rubbing, pressing. Wanting release but wanting to want release more.
“Too many clothes,” Ian complains into Mickey’s mouth. “I need you naked.”
“Maybe I don’t put out on the first date,” Mickey groans out, as their pelvic bones move together. He presses harder and picks up speed. His tongue circling Ian’s frantically.
Without warning, he pulls away slightly, breathing heavily. “I think we should wait.”
“Wait? What? Are you teasing me?” Ian opens his eyes, checking for the seriousness of this conversation, but looking at Mickey doesn’t put him at ease. What he sees is wicked blue eyes: sinful and mischievous with just a touch of mercilessness.
So Ian counters the look with his own special brand of angelic, his green eyes soft and adoring. “I need to be inside you, Mickey, pretty please.” Blink, blink, pout. “I promise to make it good for you.”
It’s the age old battle between good and evil.
“Imagine how good that would feel,” Mickey lowers his voice and lowers his gaze to where their bodies are pressed together.
“Mickey,” Ian says breathlessly working the sultry angle for all he’s worth. “Please.”
“Close your eyes,” Mickey breathes into Ian’s mouth, “and imagine what it would feel like to slide into me.”
They freeze in place. Ian clutching Mickey’s hipbones. Mickey pressing his chest to Ian’s. They squeeze their eyes closed simultaneously.
And Mickey arches down to meet Ian’s upward thrust.
“Yeah, yeah. Like that. Fucking faster.”
Ian slams his hips against Mickey’s ass using the force of both his hands and his thighs. Over and over.
“Goddamn, Gallagher, fucking fuck.” He presses himself against Ian’s abdomen.
“Shit, Mickey. Hold on tight to me.” Ian grabs Mickey’s ass and heaves out of the chair toward the bed, landing on top of Mickey whose legs remain tightly wrapped around his waist.
They thrust at each other, jeans rubbing together. Friction building faster than either of them can keep up with.
Burning, tightening, straining.
Ian bites Mickey’s lip harder than he intends to and Mickey digs his fingers into Ian’s shoulders.
Ian falls to the side; Mickey’s legs follow him. Breathing. Chests heaving. Hearts thumping.
“Fuck me, if the real thing is better than that I’m gonna need a damn EMT on call.”
Eventually their hearts are beating within the normal range and they look at each other grinning.
“Looks like you’re still a virgin, Mick.” Ian loops his finger through Mickey’s belt loop, eyeing the stain spread across the front of his jeans. “Talk about keeping it in your pants.”
“Ain’t gonna give that shit away to just anybody. Gotta put a ring on it,” Mickey flirts, pulling the Glock from under his back. “I didn’t even fucking notice I was laying on it.
They howl with laughter, bodies twined.
“Did you enjoy my little show?” Mickey asks kissing the side of the Glock with a loud smack.
“I had difficulty staying awake,” Ian jokes. “Not gonna lie. It was kinda unnerving to have my junk and a Glock rubbing against each other.”
“It’s a fucking replica used as a display model,” Mickey tsks. “There’s no firing mechanism. I ain’t playing around with your junk. Take that shit seriously.”
They grin at each other…for a while.
“Ian fucking Gallagher. Remember when I was hunting your ass down and I spray painted your name on the side of the fucking high school?”
“Yeah, I was pretty damn impressed that you took the time to include all the letters in my name.”
They both stare at the ceiling, revisiting memories of each other.
“Thought you and your floppy red hair were going to kick my ass back in the fucking day. Seemed pretty pissed that I was torturing old Kash over Pringles and sour cream.”
“Yeah, I actually went to your place once to have it out. Grabbed a tire iron from the junk pile in your front yard to add to my intimidation act.”
Mickey snorts, “No shit, why didn’t you use it on me, Van Damme?”
“I snuck into your room to demand Kash’s gun back, but you weren’t home.”
“Probably doing my first stretch.” Mickey shakes his head. “Fucking shame, man. I thought you were the sweetest fucking thing on the Southside. Who knows what would have happened if I was home and I had you trapped in my bedroom.”
“Well, that was like 6 years ago, so we’d probably be married now. With a couple kids.”
“And little dog named Firecrotch.”
They laugh until they pass out—in their sticky, messed up jeans.
Happy and free.
Sometime later, they wake up and head to the bathroom together. They drop their dirty clothes on the floor, half assed wipe themselves up and sneak back under the covers of the bed. Neither of them quite ready to give up the anticipation of popping Mickey’s cherry, they simply lay together on the same pillow, smiling at each other.
Ian returns to tracing one of the revolvers tattooed on Mickey’s chest. “Is it a Colt?”
“Yeah, it’s called The Thumbprint Walker. If you look real close, here,” Mickey touches the tattoo on the blue casehardened finish between the cylinder and the trigger guard, “You can see a faint thumbprint.”
“Yeah, I see it. Whose is it?”
“That’s a full-on fucking mystery. The thumbprint was accidently left on one of the revolvers when it was produced in 1847. Could be just some random dude working on the production line or Samuel Colt himself. Talk about leaving your mark, man. Anyway, the kicker is that the thumbprint issue was discovered in Mexico in 1958 in nearly mint condition and in its leather holster.”
Mickey’s voice is lost in his storytelling. “It drives collectors mad crazy not knowing how the print got there or how the gun got to Mexico. It’s the holy fucking grail for gun collectors.”
“That’s a hell of a story.” Ian’s fingers follow the outline of the oversized barrel and walnut grip, feeling the heart pounding under his finger tips. “But why an old school revolver instead of a fancy ass Glock?”
Mickey looks down at his chest. “The past matters, man. You ain’t getting to this point without it. Respect it…even if it gives you a million reasons not to.”
“Mickey,” Ian whispers, struck deeply by the words. After a bit: “Why 2 revolvers crossed at the muzzle like that?”
“Dunno. Just felt…right, I suppose.”
“Was that your fucking stomach, Gallagher?”
“Do you see a bear in the room?”
Mickey jumps up to grab the menu off the desk. “Let’s get room service. I’m getting a steak so rare, it’ll crawl off my plate.”
“Moooo,” Ian laughs.
“Moo,” he repeats, tossing the menu at Ian. “Whadaya want?”
“To lay here and watch you order food naked.” He rolls to his back watching Mickey over the menu. “What do I want to eat? I think I’d like to order off the menu. The thing I want is no where on here,” he says flipping the menu over and looking confused.
“Ain’t that kind of menu,” Mickey says shaking the hotel phone in the air. “Pick something, dumbass, so I can get back into bed and we can have an appetizer while we wait for the food.”
“Okay! Bacon burger and fries.”
Mickey returns to the bed after ordering. His leg slides over Ian’s. His face serious.
“I’m getting some specialty guns and ammo together and heading down to Mexico.” Mickey looks Ian straight in the eye. “For a major gun show in a few weeks. You should come.”
“I’ve never been to the beach. Hear it’s beautiful.”
“It’s what keeps—kept—me going through the ass biting, ball shriveling winters here. I think something else is going to keep me going now.”
“Pretty sure my ass’ll burn like a motherfucker. Better stock up on sunscreen.”
“So that’s a yes?”
“Just try and fucking stop me from crossing the border with you.”
“This isn’t me anymore.”
"MICK! Wait!” Ian sits up in the hotel bed like an electric shot jolted through his body.
“Fuck! What the hell, man?
“No, no, no.” Ian is sobbing and grabbing for something in front of him.
Mickey reaches out to shake his arm. “Ian, wake up.”
“Mickey?” He stares. “Mickey!” He cries and wraps his arms around him. “You’re still here. Oh, God.”
He falls back down on his pillow, pulling Mickey with him so his cheek is resting on Ian’s chest.
“Jesus, your heart is jackhammering. What the fuck were you dreaming?” Mickey presses his body along Ian’s and wraps his arm around his waist.
Ian shudders out a breath before answering. “The Mexican border.” Another deep breath. “Oh, fuck, I don’t know what happened to you. I never heard from you again. Jesus, Jesus.”
His heart picks up speed again, and Mickey lifts his face to Ian’s so they can see each other’s eyes.
“Tomorrow. Let’s talk about it tomorrow.” He rolls Mickey onto his back and covers him with his body. Ian rests his face in Mickey’s neck and breathes, deeply. “Tonight, let’s not talk.”
“Again?” Mickey teases lightly as Ian raises himself up to look at the other man. Reaching out to grab the bottle on the night table, Mickey pops the cap and lubricates his hands, so he can stroke them both.
When Ian enters him, he feels a tear drop onto his cheek. He wraps his arms around Ian, comforting but also caught up in the emotional moment.
Eventually, they curl together, Ian tightly spooning Mickey. They clasp hands and stare into the darkness of the hotel room.
“Sorry, that was intense. It felt so real, like more than just a dream…like a memory.”
“It pretty much freaked the shit out of me too. You looked like you saw a ghost.”
More thoughtful silence.
“What you and I have Mickey feels so real, like we’ve been together forever. Fuck, I-I think I’m falling in love you.”
Mickey pauses before responding. “Just falling? Better get your ass in gear. Catch up, man.”
“This isn’t me anymore.”
“I don’t mean it, Mick! Come back!”
“Hey, hey, Ian. Wake up.”
Ian jumps out of bed, staring down at Mickey. “Fuck, fuck. Where are the fucking smokes?”
“In the living room next to the laptop, man.”
Ian grabs a pair of boxers off the floor and storms into the living room. When Mickey enters a few moments later, Ian is standing in the middle of the room staring intently at something only he can see.
Mickey presses his body against Ian’s back, fastening his arms around Ian’s middle. “Talk to me.”
“Ugh, I’m awful. I, oh god, I cheated on you in the dream—,” he turns to Mickey, “I didn’t mean to, I promise.” His agitation growing with each word. “Is that why I’m having these dreams? I’m being punished for a fucking past life or something? For hurting you?”
“You talk to your therapist about this?”
“A little. It’s too,” he waves his arms trying to name the emotion, “vivid to share with anyone but you. And maybe I deserve to be feeling this, maybe that’s the point. To make amends for something that happened, something that I caused.”
Mickey moves closer until he’s in Ian’s arms. “There’s a reason I’m marrying you tomorrow. Knowing you love me makes me free, man. It makes me feel alive, invincible. You deserve happiness and love. That’s what you’re gonna get while on my watch.”
With a hand firmly on Ian’s chest, he pushes him the five steps until his back hits the wall. “Do you understand me?” His hand slides up until the fingers on his left hand are clasped firmly around the tendons in Ian’s neck. Ian nods. With his right hand, he reaches over to the docking station to turn on the iPod relic with the music that Ian uses to calm his nerves.
The resonant sounds of a Taylor Swift song fill the room.
Mickey smiles and shakes his head. “Fuck, I love you Ian,” using the grip he has on Ian’s neck to bring his lips down for a hard, bruising kiss. Satisfied with nothing less than blood.
Pushing Ian’s head back against the wall, he slides his hands over Ian’s chest, down his abdomen and around his hips eventually finding his fingers. He links them together and slowly slides their hands above Ian’s head.
Mickey presses every inch of his body against Ian’s from lips to thighs. After devouring Ian for a minute, he pulls back.
“He’s so tall and handsome as hell,” the song plays.
“I’ll fucking say.” Ian is staring at him with shiny eyes; his reddened lips are parted and his breath is coming fast. “On your knees, Gallagher.”
Mickey braces his hands against the wall, as Ian takes him into his mouth and his hands roam freely. When the sensations overwhelm him, he pulls out of Ian’s mouth. But Ian pulls him back in.
The feel of Ian around him, panting, deepens his breathing until there’s no room left in his chest for anything more than Ian’s name. He presses his forehead against the cool living room wall inhaling deeply. Letting the sensations overwhelm him completely.
Ian wraps his arms around Mickey’s legs helping him slide into his waiting lap. Tilting his head, Ian kisses Mickey’s lips tenderly. “You take my breath away, Mickey.”
With a nod, too choked up to speak, Mickey reaches between them. “In a bit,” Ian says. “Let’s go out on the balcony and smoke first.”
Rising, Mickey grabs the pack and the lighter and slides open the screen door. He slips into one of the old recliners set up on the balcony so they can smoke in fucking comfort since indoor smoking was a distance memory.
Kicking up the foot rest, he motions to Ian to join him on the seat. They cuddle together, feet rubbing against each other. The smoke passes between them in a familiar ritual.
“Why was your iPod set to repeat on that Taylor Swift song?”
Ian shrugs and inhales deeply on the cigarette.
“Say you’ll see me again even if it’s just in your wildest dreams?” Mickey recites lyrics from the song. “Are you thinking about this dream a lot? More than you’re telling me?”
Ian exhales continuing to ignore Mickey’s question in typical Ian style.
“You’re such a romantic, man. A sucker for this true love, happily ever after, Romeo and Romeo stuff,” he taunts Ian, pushing him out of his silent mode.
“I know this Mickey and Ian that I dream about aren’t real, jerk.” Ian shoves the smoke back in Mickey’s fingers ashes falling to his lap. “It just feels fucking real and it breaks my stupid, pathetic heart, okay? They deserved a chance and they never caught a damn break. And sometimes the memory of how it all went down for them hits me out of the fucking blue and it makes me so sad.”
“Taylor Swift sad, huh?”
Ian kicks Mickey’s shin with his toes. “It’s like a message that I’m not getting. I think we need to go to Mexico again. Maybe I can figure it out there.”
Mickey stubs the cigarette butt in the tin can beside the recliner. “You wanna book a vacation?”
“No, I want to drive across the border without any clear plan.” He flips a leg over Mickey’s hips, straddling him. “For our honeymoon.”
“Seriously? Just get in the car and drive. Fucking hunting for ghosts in No Fucking Where, Mexico. Guess I need to rethink the whole romantic Ian thing.”
Ian pulls out all his sexy slash innocent moves: eyes soft, lips open, head tilted, fingers plucking at the little hairs on Mickey’s chest. Mickey narrows his eyes but willingly falls for each small gesture.
“Should I be jealous of this avatar Mickey? He sounds pretty fucking awesome.”
“All Mickeys are pretty fucking awesome.” He smiles down at his soon-to-be husband. “You’ll get to see for yourself if we find him.”
“This shit is getting Twilight Zone weird, Ian. Not gonna lie.”
“But you’ll do it?”
“I’m sure we’ve established just how whipped I am when it comes to your ass. In fact, we’ve established that shit in two lifetimes so far.”
“You won’t regret it.” He kisses Mickey full on the lips. “You’ll love your avatar. Oh. My. God!”
“That would mean I’d have two Mickeys. Holy fucking shit.” He wiggles two fingers in Mickey’s face and mouths, “Two.”
“I don’t know how I feel about that. It’s given me the creeps.”
“Well, it’s my fantasy and in it, you love it.” Ian closes his eyes to ponder a moment, his breath changes and his abdomen tightens under Mickey’s fingers. “Oh, yeah, you are seriously digging it.”
“Really? So, what are we doing exactly?”
“I’m not sure if it’s legal.”
“So was that our last bang as single men? Gonna be husband and wife next time we fuck?” Mickey asks, pulling Ian out of the recliner to head back to bed.
“Which one of us is the wife in this scenario?” Ian looks skeptical.
“I make a mean meatloaf, man.”
“Okay, Mrs. Gallagher, let’s get some sleep. Tomorrow is a big day, dear. Did you remember to call the florist? Get your nails done?”
“Be careful, asshole, I may end up having a headache tomorrow night.”
"This isn’t me anymore.”
“Fuck you, too.” Crying.
Mickey pulls Ian into his arms, kissing his forehead. As he slowly comes out of the dream, Ian grasps the arm stretching across his chest. The weight of it anchoring him to the here and now.
“You telling me to fuck off again, Gallagher?”
“I’ve been trying to tell you I love you in every way possible, but apparently you aren’t listening because you keep crossing that fucking border without me. I guess I can expect to have this dream every time we have a major life event. How fair is that?!” He pokes his lower lip out in an actual pout, tears replaced with indignation.
“Yev is graduating as a paramedic tomorrow and instead of getting to bask in the moment where my child exceeds my footsteps, I am reliving this goddamn nightmare.” He turns to Mickey in a huff. “Why the fuck didn’t you pick me up and thrown me in the fucking car, damn you? This is all your fault.”
Mickey nods dutifully. “I take full responsibility for it.”
“Good. That’s settled. I need to smoke, ugh, I mean vape.”
“Now, that’s a true nightmare! You making me quit smoking and take up the gayest activity in the history of gay activities!” He shudders, but releases Ian to sit up. “Let’s do this gay thing then.”
After a few minutes of somewhat unfulfilling puffing on the back deck, they head into the kitchen for a glass of water. “You got everything you need for your meatloaf for dinner tomorrow?” Ian looks at the grocery list on the table.
“Dunno. You know I like to leave everything to the last minute. The second gayest activity in the history of gay activities is to have a To-Do list constantly on the go.”
Ian purses his lips and picks up the pen beside the pad of paper.
“Whatcha writing, Shakespeare?”
“Gay things.” Ian drops the pad and pen and picks up the glass of water, while Mickey leans down to read the note.
“Really, Ian?” Mickey mirrors Ian’s pout from earlier. But suddenly his pout transforms into a sly smile. He reaches down to rub himself with one hand, while opening the junk drawer with his other hand. He pulls out a bottle of lube and pops the top off with his teeth. “I guess I’ll have to take care of myself then.”
Mickey looks down at himself while he spreads the cool moisture. He ignores Ian completely as his fingers slide all over, under, around, inside. He’s panting when he feels Ian reach out for him.
“Brat.” Ian grabs Mickey by the thighs and lifts him onto the dark wood kitchen table, kicking one of the chairs out of the way. The stack of mail, gun magazines and the offending To-Do list scatter to the floor as Ian yanks Mickey’s ass to the edge of the table.
“Tough guy, huh? Gonna teach me a lesson? Make me pay?”
Ian grabs Mickey’s hands and stretches his arms above his head. The muscles in their arms and sides pulled taunt as they strain against each other, Ian pushing Mickey into the table; Mickey arching up into Ian tightening his legs around Ian’s back.
When Ian enters him, he grinds himself against Ian’s stomach. Their grunts fill the room.
“You’re gonna pay tomorrow during Yev’s grad dinner with our families sitting around this table,” Ian whispers in Mickey’s ear. “When you put a bite of potato in your mouth tomorrow, you’re going to remember the weight of my body on yours, pressing you into this table.”
Ian releases Mickey’s hands and straightens up. He clasps the back of Mickey’s thighs, pushing his knees further up.
“When you’re eating your world-famous meatloaf, you’re going to remember me inside you, filling you, taking you on this table.” His thrusts increase in speed and force.
Mickey nods helplessly caught up in the moment.
“When Mandy hands you a piece of her cheesecake, you’re going to remember this.” He thrusts hard one final time. And, they fall over the edge, an edge that is always beckoning to them, that beckons in every touch, in every look, in every moment they are together.
“I fucking love cheesecake.”
“Who doesn’t?” Grinning, he adds, “Can’t let things get stale. Another family dinner, ho-hum.”
“Please, you live for that shit, Martha Stewart.”
“Whatever. You’re not spending one minute in this kitchen tomorrow without a hard-on. In fact, I think I’ll blow you on the island over breakfast just to be safe.”
They glance over at the butcher block island and then the rest of the kitchen.
“What about the stove?”
“I’ll bend you over it and ram you while you’re testing the meatloaf.”
“Um, the pantry?”
“We’ll slip in there while Fiona and Mandy set the table. I’ll jerk you off, but you’ll have to be real quiet. There’ll be kids present.”
“This table is now my favorite place in the house to bang, man.”
“Really? Not the tantric lounger? I thought you liked your Christmas present.” Ian pulls out the pout once more.
“Yeah, yeah. You know I want to be buried with that piece of sex furniture.”
“I don’t know about being buried with it, but it might be the death of us. Poor Yev is going to come home to do laundry and clean out our cupboards only to find us naked and cuffed to the Liberator Black Label edition.”
“With shit eating grins on our face.” Mickey grabs Ian’s face and pulls him close. “Promise me that’s how we go out, dying together on that chair.”
“I promise you, Mick,” hand on heart, “that I will do everything in my power to kill you on that chair.”
He moves away from Mickey’s body, but before Mickey can sit up, he pushes him down with a forceful hand to the chest.
“Potatoes,” Ian states, staring hard into Mickey’s eyes until he nods.
“Meatloaf,” Ian continues, rubbing the skin on Mickey’s inner thigh.
“Cheesecake,” they whisper together, never breaking eye contact.
“This isn’t me anymore.”
“Oww, Ian, you’re crushing me, man. Wake up.”
Ian’s arm is clamped around Mickey’s middle holding him firmly against his chest. When Ian doesn’t respond, Mickey pinches his arm.
“Ouch! What was that for?”
“You’re a fucking boa constrictor.”
“About your boyfriend?”
Mickey glances over his shoulder at Ian who appears to be in good spirits. “I’m good,” he confirms. “Nothing is going to turn this grin upside down.” His naturally dreamy eyes turn swoony. “Did you see her?”
“Uh, yeah, I saw a wrinkly, scrunchy face. Looked like your typical alien baby.”
“She’s beautiful. I’m totally in love. You’re a distant second now.”
Mickey narrows his eyes as he flips over to face Ian. “We’ll see about that. I can scream my fool head off and poop my pants if that’s what you’re into now.”
Unable to help himself, Ian laughs.
“I cannot even believe you wanted to be there when she was born. Shit, why would Darya want a bunch of people in the room with her? Egad. I would have definitely said hell no if she’d asked me.” Mickey shivers in disbelief.
“Um, I don’t think you’ll ever be in danger of getting that invitation.” Ian rolls his eyes. “Yev and I are both trained medics and could offer support to the midwife.”
“Jesus, I’m never gonna be able to eat in their kitchen again. Now that I know it’s been the scene of carnage.”
“And you call me the drama queen. It was amazing and I got to see Nika enter the world. Wouldn’t miss that for anything…grandpa.” They grin at each other, the craziness of that a little overwhelming.
“Let’s celebrate now that I’m rested a bit.”
“Whatcha got in mind, Gallagher?” He slides his leg over Ian’s.
“Weed! It’s been forever. There’s a stash around here somewhere from last time Iggy dropped by.”
“Fuck Ian, you didn’t think this getting high thing through. We got no decent munchies in this whole house. Leftover meatloaf? Fucking spinach! No self-respecting pothead would be caught dead eating spinach.” He closes the fridge door with dramatic flare. “Oh my god, let’s make pancakes!”
“We’re out of syrup.”
Mickey lays down on the kitchen floor moaning in pain. “This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me. In all 50 years of my life.”
They laugh hilariously.
Ian disappears into the pantry. When he re-emerges, he is holding a bag of Oreos, which he shakes in Mickey’s face. “Who’s your daddy? Or should I say, who’s your granddaddy?”
“Oh, ya wanna do some role playing, sonny?”
They laugh hilariously.
Ian pulls Mickey to his feet. “If we’re gonna spread out on the ground, let’s go look at the stars. Grab a blanket.”
Mickey grabs a silver and red chenille throw off the back of the sofa. “This one? That really brings the room together?” He snickers.
“Hey. We should be thankful that Yev married someone with good taste.”
“Ha, you’re only saying that because she always takes your side. I got great goddamn taste. Remember the beauti-fucken-ful flower arrangement I made?”
This time they laugh so hard that it’s Ian’s turn to fall to the floor.
“Well, it’s not that funny.” He flips Ian off. “Stop laughing at me. I take flower arrangements very seriously.”
“Stop,” Ian gasps, holding up the Oreos to distract him.
Once they are laying side by side on the blanket in the middle of their backyard, Mickey complains, “Fuck I miss smoking. It’s like a phantom limb I lost in the war or some shit. I can imagine the cigarette attached to my fingers like it’s still there.” He holds up his hand, forlornly looking at the empty spot between his index and middle fingers. “I might cry. Like for real.”
“Let’s take your mind off smoking by putting something else in your mouth.”
“Good idea. Pass me those Oreos.” He grabs a cookie and pulls it apart, licking the center. “Mmmm,” he moans. “God that tastes soooo good.”
He grins wickedly, spreading his tongue over the icing. “I just wanna lick it clean. I can’t get enough. Gimme more.” He grabs another cookie.
“Oh, Ian, you should get your own to lick. Stick your tongue out. I’ll give it you. You want it, right?”
They laugh hilariously.
“Enough of these fucking cookies. I want something else cream filled.” Mickey puts that something else in his mouth. “Mmm, yum.”
When he crawls on top of Ian, he continues his verbal monologue with increasing volume.
“Keep it down,” Ian laughs. “You’re gonna wake Crazy Linda.”
“That bitch,” Mickey spits out. “If I hear about the fucking hedge one more—umpf.” His words are cut off when Ian thrusts up into him with a snap of the hips.
“That’s how you’re gonna play it, huh, trying to keep me quiet. We’ll see about that, fucker.”
Mickey throws his head back, arches his back and starts to moan at full volume. “Oh, oh, Ian, please Ian. Oh, um, ahhhhhh. Give it to me good and hard, baby.”
The smile that had started on Ian’s face falls away. His eyes wide. He almost forgets what he is doing, but Mickey’s demands keep him in the game.
“Yes, yes, harder Ian, harder. Right fucken there. I fucken said harder. Are your ears broken?” he pants. His groans bouncing off the sides of the deck echoing into the hedges.
“That’s it, oh, god. Don’t stop. Oh, oh. Fuck me like you fucking mean it.” Mickey’s arms are bent behind his head and his hips are rolling with each movement.
Ian flips Mickey over covering his body with his own. When Mickey reaches his climax, he literally screams out Ian’s name.
“Holy shit, Mick.”
Mickey’s eyes pop open and a light blush creeps over his cheeks. He avoids Ian’s eyes and bites on the side of his cheek.
“Thirty years I’ve been banging you, and this is the first time I get to meet Mickey, the porn star?” Mickey pushes against Ian’s chest, but he isn’t going anywhere. “It is now my life’s work to see him again. I’m gonna set up a camera, so I can jerk off to it when you’re not home.”
Behind the blush and the shifting eyes, there’s a spark of interest.
“This isn’t me anymore.”
Ian reaches out to touch Mickey’s face, but he pulls back in disbelief that Ian could be letting him down so monumentally. But in true Mickey Milkovich manner, he immediately steps forward to kiss Ian good-bye. He is above all loyal and protective and practical. If this is going to be their last moment together, he is gonna make it count and he is gonna make sure Ian knows he’s loved, that he will never regret one moment they’ve spent together, good or bad.
The moment Mickey’s lips touch his, Ian is jolted through time. In that instant, he sees everything. He sees them laying on a blanket staring up at the stars, Mickey’s hand finding his.
He sees them staring at each other in front of the school bleachers, Mickey’s long hair a shock to Ian’s system.
He sees them standing in front of the Gallagher house, Mickey staring at him with so much hurt that it was palpable, “Really?”
He sees them singing about love being a battlefield, Mickey laughing so freely and joyful, so rare.
He sees them making love in their very own bed for a change, Mickey kissing his hand lovingly.
He sees them in a dance club, Mickey stepping forward to give him the best fucking kiss of his life.
He sees them fighting outside an abandoned building, Mickey striding away from him.
He sees them twist apart when Terry walks in the door, Mickey jumping on his father’s back when he attacks Ian.
He sees them stocking shelves at the Kash n’ Grab, Mickey trying to check out his ass when he thinks Ian isn’t looking.
He sees them talking about Mickey’s parole in the dugout, Mickey nonchalantly stating he was fucked for life.
He sees them stare at each other through the glass partition, Mickey trying to maintain his cool shell.
He sees them fighting for control of the tire iron, Mickey stopping so suddenly that Ian’s heart almost stops too.
He sees all this while their lips press together. His eyes open and Mickey takes a step back preparing to leave, to face an unknown future alone.
Ian’s eyes snap open and his breath leaves his body in a giant sigh. Tears are rolling down the sides of his face and into his greying hair. He turns his head to find his husband staring at him.
“Hey, sweetheart,” Mickey smiles. “I thought this might happen tonight.”
Ian looks at Mickey’s concerned face, his eyebrows pulled low. “You really need to let me trim those eyebrows. They are out of control,” Ian complains, his tone revealing the long history of this conversation.
“Never gonna happen, shithead. And don’t set your sights on my ears either.”
Ian laughs despite his current melancholy mood. “Just as well, I guess. The snapshots of my life revolve around those goddamn eyebrows.” He turns fully to face Mickey and smooths his thumb pads over the offending follicles. “Every fight we’ve ever had, they tried to escape into your hairline; every bad pun out of my mouth, they snapped up in disdain; every time my meds stopped working, they crawled down your nose in worry; every time I fucked you to within an inch of your life, they napped afterward.”
“Like this?” He wiggles them comically.
“Same dream as always?”
Tears gather in his eyes and he nods slowly. “Why aren’t you dreaming about what is happening to you in Mexico? That would make this so much easier.”
It’s Mickey’s turn to run his thumb pads across Ian’s face under his lower lashes. “So, like usual, did you fall for me like a lovesick puppy? All dewy eyed, tongue hanging out? Oh, Mickey, you’re so fine.”
“Ass. Yeah, I did and you pretended I wasn’t your reason for living, like usual. I wore you down though.” He smiles, but suddenly frowns and presses his forehead against Mickey’s. “Then I kicked you when you were down.”
He inhales and continues. “We had to fight every twist of fucking fate to get a scrap of a life together. As fucking usual, I didn’t make it across the goddamn border. Will I ever? What if I don’t? I’m 76 years old for Christ’s sake. Not a lot of time left.”
“What are you talking about? We’ve spent so much time crossing the Mexican border the last 50 years that our photos are probably up on some kind of government watch list.” He glances around the room pretending to look for spies. “You know most people who visit Mexico do it getting drunk on umbrella drinks at an all inclusive. Not us. No, we haunt every fucking dive bar in every fucking shithole town in the asshole of Mexico.”
Ian nods, thoughtfully. “If there is, god help me, parallel lives then the whole time I’ve been living this one, travelling all over, picking fucking paint colors for the living room, holding every one of Yev’s kids, retiring from a career, while doing all this, this living, you’ve been god knows where doing god knows what.” His pokes Mickey in the chest as he asks, “And what is the other me doing? Fuck, am I twiddling my thumbs in Chicago? Am I doing anything to find you? Are you okay? Are you eating well? Who are you fucking? I CAN’T STAND IT.”
Mickey looks somewhat offended. “Hey, there’s no parallel fucking life in which I’m a pussy. I ain’t gonna starve just because you’re nanny ass is thousands of miles away. I’m sure they got fixings for meatloaf in fucking Mexico. Plus,” his voice rises as he warms to the idea and he pokes Ian in the chest, “have a little faith that I won’t spend my life in dive bars getting wasted. I mean that doesn’t sound half bad, but I’m going to take care of myself. Didn’t I escape from a federal fucking prison in this parallel universe you’ve concocted? I’m a goddamn badass probably running a motherfucking drug cartel before your skinny ass found its way back to Chicago.”
With that final statement, Ian watches Mickey’s eyebrows slide all the way up his forehead. He eyes them pointedly.
“Well, Scarface, that’s all true, but I still have to look for you. Even though you are technically beside me the whole time, which means you are kind of looking for yourself too.” They smile at the trajectory the conversation has taken. “How can I be searching for something that is right beside me?”
“Sounds like my fucking car keys.”
They laugh out loud, both picturing Mickey’s increased agitation and cursing each time he can’t find his keys. Followed by the indignant huff when Ian finds them 30 seconds later exactly where they should be. “Actually, yeah, it’s exactly like that.”
“Listen to me, for the last time.” Mickey grabs Ian’s chin to hold his face in place. “It wouldn’t matter whether we had an easy life like this one or if fate kicked us in the nuts every time we fucking turned around, it’s about us not about the circumstances. Us, Ian.”
They press together in the way so familiar to them, legs tangled, fingers laced, foreheads touching. “Happy 50th anniversary, Mick. The love of my fucking life…every version of my life.”
“Now, ya wanna chit chat or ya wanna get on me, great grandpa?” Eyebrows wiggling suggestively.
PS Thank you to every writer in this fandom for all the versions of their lives.