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Man of the House

Chapter Text

"Go the fuck away!"

Bam.

"I don't want to talk to anyone. Leave me alone, Lip! Fuck you!"

Bam. Bam. Bam. Lip took a couple of steps back from the door to his old room, running a hand through his already-messy hair. He knew that things had been rough between his brother and Mickey, but he didn't know it had gotten this bad.

Liam came up the stairs behind him, tugging lightly on his older brother's jeans. His eyes were wide. Ian usually wasn't one to make him afraid. His dad? Yes. Mickey? Sometimes. Ian? Almost never. He was gentle with his little brother.

Lip turned to the little boy, frowning. "Hey, hey, hey. It's okay, little man. It's okay. Ian... Ian's just having a tantrum. Remember how you got mad when Carl took one of your animal crackers yesterday? It's just like that."

Although he thought it might be a bit more than just a temper tantrum, Lip scooped Liam up and cradled him close to his chest. After one last look at the bedroom door, he carried his brother downstairs and began to tuck him in on the couch. Ian's backpack was half-dumped on the floor, and Lip kicked most of it to the side. His brother's phone, however, he placed safely on the coffee table.

"We're just gonna take our nap down here, okay? Here, we can even watch cartoons while you fall asleep." Lip usually didn't let his baby brother fall asleep to television because the noise distracted him from studying. However, today he just wanted the toddler to forget about the banging and yelling coming from upstairs. Liam already was plagued with too many nightmares; he didn't need more.

When Liam had begun to fall asleep, Lip made his way into the kitchen to sit at the table. For a long minute, he let his head fall into his hands, the world resting on his shoulders. He needed to be studying or maybe checking on Ian again, but he felt too exhausted. Mandy and Fi were at work, the other kids were at school, and by the sounds of it, Ian was destroying the boys' room. He couldn't handle this.

I can't do this. I can't do this. I can't fucking do this! Shoving himself up, he flew out the back door and shut it behind him as gently as he could manage; waking Liam was not his intention.

Lunging at the railing, Lip let it hit him in the gut. At least that was better than just sitting at the table, feeling helpless. Leaning over the side, he let out a pent-up scream that he'd been holding in for weeks.

While he was still hanging over the edge, he heard someone a few houses over yell back, "Shut up!"

Shut up. Yeah, maybe he should just shut up.

Lip let the freezing wind hit him in the face. After a moment, he slid to sit on the wooden panels. He wondered how Fiona had been so damn good at this. He didn't think he could be even half as organized or efficient, despite having watched her for so many years.

A screaming cry came from inside and he bolted back in. Liam was having another one of his nightmares.

Lip picked him up, bouncing him a little. Holding him as tight to his chest as could, he gently shushed the toddler.

"Shh... I'm right here, Liam. It's not real. All of it was just a bad dream. There's nothing to be afraid of; I'll protect you. I'll take care of you."

At some point between picking up Liam and laying him back down, Lip at begun to cry. However, the toddler didn't seem to notice as his big brother settled him in his lap and began humming. He was out in minutes.

Ping.

Lip looked up, blinking a moment. Ian's phone was lit up and a new message had been displayed. Instinctively, he grabbed the phone and swiped it. The phone was password protected, but it only took him three tries to unlock it-and one of those times was because he'd accidentally hit the wrong button.

The message, glowing white, was unsurprisingly from Mickey.

I'm so sorry.. MM

So Lip had been right in suspecting the ex-con. It was his fault that Ian was probably tearing down the room above them.

Pulling out his own phone, Lip transferred Mickey's number and started a new text. He didn't want Ian to see what he had to say and become even more furious.

What the fuck did you do to him, motherfucker? LG

It was a couple of minutes before a reply came in. The entire time, Lip had to keep stiller than he wanted to so he didn't wake Liam. He had the urge to hit things and pace, but instead, he refused to let himself move a muscle.

Lip? The fuck you get my number? MM

It doesn't matter. It probably matters least of all, honestly. Just what did you do to Ian? Why is he dismantling his room with his fists? LG

The reply took even longer to come through, and it was less satisfactory than the last. Lip thought he might go crazy; his job was to fix everything right now, and Mickey was getting in the way of that. If he had to, he'd even bug Mandy about this. He just needed to know how to handle Ian right now.

None of your fuckin business. MM

If Lip could have screamed again without waking Liam, he would have.

Listen, you piece of garbage. My brother- your boyfriend- is losing his shit upstairs right now. Right after that, you text saying you're sorry. You obviously aren't going to come over and clean up the mess you made, so it falls back on me. You got that? Now tell me what you did before Liam and I have to come over and make you tell us. LG

Lip would never put his baby brother in that kind of danger, but he knew that Mickey would probably go easier on him if he mentioned Liam. The thug had a soft spot for the little guy.

It was a moment before anything came back, but when Lip's phone chirped again, it did it twice in rapid succession.

It's a long fuckin story and I don't feel like typing it all out, okay? MM
Look. I can swing by and talk to you about it. Maybe I can help with Ian. MM

Lip chewed on his bottom lip for a long moment, before finally typing out a reply:

As long as you don't make him worse, come over. This doesn't mean I'm not pissed at you, I just need to know what we're dealing with here. LP

Once the message had sent, Lip leaned back and shut his eyes tightly. Who would have thought that he would ever willingly ask Mickey Milkovich to his house?

Chapter Text

When Mickey made it to the Gallaghers' house, everything was eerily quiet.  That confused him; didn't Lip say that Ian was destroying everything?  Why was everything so still?

Without even knocking, Mickey pushed his way into the house and stomped his feet on the mat to get rid of any snow.  While he may have been raised in the southside, he wasn't a complete animal; he had already made this worse without making some poor fool step in cold water with socks on.  Emerging into the living room, he stood and stared at Lip.

The older boy seemed to have not really moved at all.  He was still sitting on the couch, Liam completely asleep beside him.  Mickey couldn't help but smile a little bit at the tuckered little guy, but he soon turned to Lip again. “Talk to me.  Why's the house so fuckin’ quiet if you told me that tough guy was on a rampage to destroy half the city.”

Lip shrugged, letting out an exhausted sigh.  Damn, he looked like shit.  Mickey never thought that he would empathize with the oldest Gallagher son, but he did.  Dealing with Ian had been rough on him lately, too, but Lip-- Lip looked like he could keel over at any moment.  He was paler than normal,  had big, dark bags under his eyes, and he didn't seem as indignant as normal.  The guy was hunched over as if someone placed the entire world on his shoulders.  Hell, that might be what he felt like, too.

“Yo, look... Lip, man, are you doing okay?” Mickey asked, for once in a quiet, semi-indoor voice.  The older man didn’t know that his brother’s boyfriend was even capable of doing that.

Lip looked up, desperation clear on his face. “Do I look okay? I'm taking care of all of this shit on my own-- raising Liam, making sure Fiona doesn't kill one of the kids or OD or break more laws, taking classes… and now this.  I feel like I can't breathe anymore.”  

Mickey knew what that was like: being so overwhelmed that it felt like you were drowning all the time, never able to come back up for air.  The moment your head finally breaks the water, someone or something comes along and shoves you right back under.  He had gone through this over and over, mostly around the time of his mother’s death or whenever Terry came back home.  He knew exactly what Lip was feeling.

Still, understanding and being able to appropriately respond are two very different things.  Mickey was from a family where you either stifle your emotions or they’re stifled for you.  He wasn’t used to comforting anyone, let alone his boyfriend’s older brother.  So, after a long moment, he patted him a couple times on the shoulder.

“Erm, there, there,”  the ex-con said softly, not knowing what else to say.  Although he meant it genuinely, Lip glared and pulled out of the touch.  There was a moment where neither boy was sure whether the Gallagher was going to strike out or not.

“Just… let’s see if you can get Ian out of the bathroom,” he said instead, standing after another painfully long moment.  

Mickey looked confused.  “The bathroom.  Didn’t you say that fire crotch was--”

“Don’t call my little brother that,” Lip snapped.  “And yeah, he was in the bedroom, but I heard him slam the door to the upstairs bathroom and I ran up there.  He’s locked in there now, and I don’t know what the fuck to do because he keeps telling me to piss off!”

Lip was getting angry, and Mickey flinched, glancing at Liam.  Thankfully, the little guy was still fast asleep.

“Speaking of,” Lip continued, taking a couple more steps towards Mickey.  “Now would be the time to tell me what the fuck you did to him.”

Mickey actually began to back up a little, intimidated by the other man.  It wasn’t often that something scared him, and this-- the way that Lip was acting right--scared him.  He had not seen the other man look so close to homicide before.  “Well,” he began, stammering, “you see, I, um.  I found out that he was working at Fairy Tail again, and I got kind of worried and jealous.  I told him that I wanted him to quit, that we didn’t need the money all that badly.  No need for him to be touched all over and harassed when I could just pull another con job and we’d be set for a couple of weeks.  He said no, and he to work.”

Lip nodded, showing that he was following and wanted Mickey to continue, but the shorter man seemed to be conflicted.  After a moment, he carried on.  “Well, Ian came home after his shift with a bruise on his ass and this huge fuckin’ hickey on his neck and, well, I sort of told him to take his shit and leave.  But now… now, I don’t know.  I keep thinkin’ back and realizin’ that maybe he’s gettin’ manic again.  He’s been this ball of energy lately like no one can stop him, and… and I wonder if he isn’t off balance and that I might have made things so much worse.”

When Mickey had fallen silent for several moments, Lip nodded.  He kind of understood where the other man was coming from.  Had it happened between him and Mandy, maybe he would have reacted in the exact same way.

After a few more painstakingly silent moments, Lip finally nodded towards the stairs.  “Let’s go and see how he’s doing, yeah?  But I swear, if you make this worse, I will beat you in the crotch with a baseball bat until you won’t be able cum for years.  You got that?”

Mickey swallowed, nodded, and then began climbing the stairs behind his lover’s brother.  When they got to the bathroom door, they knocked and Lip called in, “Ian?  It’s me.  Mickey’s here to talk to you.”

Ian’s voice was tight when he yelled, “Go away!”

Mickey took one look at the door and then at Lip before silently turned the corner to Fiona’s room.

“Please,” Lip said, sounding desperate.  “Please just come out so we can all talk about this and work--”

He cut off with a yelp when Mickey reappeared near his crotch.  Whatever he thought was happening, it wasn’t.  The smaller man was just picking the lock with a hairpin, disgusted that Lip hadn’t thought of that first.  He was the genius, after all.

When the lock clicked and the door swung open, the two were met with a terrifying sight:  Ian had a razor in his hands and both arms were bleeding profusely.

He was pulling a Monica, the only thing he promised he would not to do.

Chapter Text

These things promptly followed the discovery of Ian with the razor, although most of it was over in a flash:  Lip dove for the razor, grabbing it and nearly slicing open both his hand and his brother’s; Mickey practically tackled his lover, pulling him in the opposite direction as Lip was going; and Ian… well, Ian just sobbed , getting blood all over his boyfriend’s shirt and making sporadic, violent lunges to get the razor back.  

“No, no, no, no, Ian,” Mickey said, holding him back long enough that Lip could hide the blade.  They’d get rid of it later.  “You need to breathe.”

This wasn’t the first time that Ian had cut himself, it was just usually on his thighs.  Mickey would find them during sex and for every one, he’d tell Ian positive things about himself.  However, the redhead would never believe him; it’s not that he didn’t try, he just couldn’t .  He wanted to love and embrace himself more than anything, but his mental illness didn’t make it easy.  Instead, it drove him to hate himself more and more, sometimes even during the manic episodes; that’s why he always was pushing himself to do so much--so that he could feel like he was a better person.

“Give it back to me!” Ian screamed, only in an upright position because Mickey was holding him in one.  “Give that back, you fucking asshole!”

Mickey took a deep breath, easing Ian into a sitting position on the floor.  Once Lip hid the razor, the ex-con realized that the genius was actually fucking useless.  He just kept staring at all the blood, eyes wide.  It was like he was frozen.

The towel rack was completely empty.  Therefore, the Milkovich grabbed some of the shirts from the floor that looked semi-clean.  He knew that using dirty laundry wasn’t the most sanitary option, but keeping Ian from bleeding out was more important to him than whether or not the wounds would become infected.  That was a concern for later.  

“Lip!” Mickey shouted, looking up at the over man.  “Jesus Christ, Lip!  If you aren’t going to help me with this, then just go fucking get V!”

There was a moment where the older man was still rooted to the ground before he turned and sprinted down the stairs.  From there, he pushed on out of the house, down the street, and into Veronica and Kev’s.  He didn’t even bother knocking, he just came in screaming her name.  “V!  Veronica, help!  It’s Lip, please, whatever you’re doing is not as important as this; please come help!”

Going up the spiral staircase, he was met with a naked Veronica who was pulling on a robe.  The laptop had been knocked off its table in the hurry and was filming the entire conversation.  Lip vaguely registered how horrified and blotchy his face looked.

“What is it?” Veronica had been initially mad that she had been interrupted until she saw Lip’s face.  He wouldn’t have gone to get her unless something horrible had happened-- and he certainly would have been calmer if he was coming over for something as small as a sprained ankle.  As it was, he was hunched over a little, panting and sobbing.  

“What’s happened?” She asked again, but she could tell the man couldn’t get the words out properly yet.  Instead, he started to lead her down the stairs and towards his home.

About halfway there, Lip finally found words. “Ian.  Ian… hurt.”

While the sentence was not exactly well constructed, it was all that he could manage.  After all, they were both running down the street now, and running and talking wasn’t exactly the easiest thing to do.

Veronica, who was still only in her silk robe, wanted to ask him how Ian was hurt and also how badly, but she bit her tongue.  That answer probably wouldn’t come out until she was already there to see it for herself.

Once in the Gallagher house, Lip led her up the stairs and into the bathroom, where Ian laid on the floor.  Mickey was, somehow, completely calm.  He kept layering the wounds with more and more articles of clothing from the floor, pushing down on them in hopes to make the bleeding either slow or stop.  Ian had previously tried to fight him off, but now was either resigned to what was happening or too exhausted to care.

“Move,” Veronica mumbled to Lip, dropping to her knees next to Ian.  After a moment of carefully looking him over and checking his responses, she turned back to him.  “Bring me a pair of Fi’s sweatpants and a shirt, now.  Then, go and take Liam to Shelia’s.  We need to figure out what the fuck to do, and that child does not need any more nightmares.”

All Lip could do was nod, feeling helpless and numb.  Everything was falling to shit-- everything .  He managed to grab the clothes for Veronica and then headed down to fulfill her request regarding Liam.  If he were honest, he was glad to let someone else take responsibility for the time being.  He didn’t know how much more he could take.

Veronica had no qualms pulling on the shirt and pants in front of Mickey and Ian, especially given the situation.  She didn’t feel like she could handle helping while mostly naked, and it looked like Mickey had things covered for the moment.  When she was fully clothed, she stooped back down, inspecting the makeshift bandages that the man had created.  They seemed to be working well, as the blood had yet to soak through the top layer.  That suggested that the bleeding had either stopped or was slowing significantly.

“How much blood do you think he’s lost?” Mickey asked, not letting up on the pressure he was putting on the cuts.

“Enough, that’s for sure.” Veronica shook her head, leaving only to retrieve some tape.  She quickly and silently secured the clothes to Ian’s arms with it and bit her lip.  That would keep them pressed tight until they figured out the next step.

At Sheila's house, Lip barely explained why he was dropping off Liam, only that it was an emergency.  Thankfully, she didn’t ask too many questions and was just pleased to be able to watch the child for a little while.  As the man was leaving, she yelled, “Oh, be safe!”

From there, Lip practically limped home.  He couldn’t run anymore; he was just too exhausted.  He wanted to be able to help his brother, but he wasn’t even sure if he had the ability to do that.  Ian needed more than he could provide, and he was afraid he was just going to make it worse.  He was absolutely certain that it was his fault that the younger man had done this.  If Lip hadn’t pushed so hard to try and get into the bedroom and the bathroom, then maybe Ian wouldn’t have felt cornered enough that he felt he needed to do this.  Guilt and fear sloshed in his stomach, and the man leaned over next to the edge of Shelia’s fence and threw up.  Then, as if nothing had happened, he stood back up and continued his journey home.

When Lip finally made it back up the stairs at home, he found Veronica and Mickey sitting on the floor next to Ian.  The redhead looked half-conscious, but he was very much listening to the discussion going on between the two people beside him.

“There, Lip’s here now.  Let’s ask him what he thinks, Ian,” Veronica said, her tone a little pointed.  The older man took that to mean that he was supposed to side with her on something.

“What’s going on?” He asked-- although, really, what wasn’t?  

V frowned, glancing at Ian.  “Mickey and I think he needs to go to the hospital.  He lost a fair amount of blood, and look how pale he is!  He’s going to need stitches on at least some of those cuts, and I am not going to attempt that.  I will do a lot of things for y’all, but I’m not about to do that.”

She shuddered a little, further emphasizing her point.  

Mickey, surprisingly, was nodding along.  Who’d have thought that he’d be pro-hospital?  The man never went for anything short of death-- not even when he got shot the second time, for fuck’s sake!

Ian, from the floor, groaned.  “Fuckin’ hate hospitals.  I can just go to the clinic in the morning.  It’ll be fine.  The bleeding stopped and I can just go then.  Really, I’m fine.”

“Oh, yeah, you’re the picture of perfect fuckin’ health, Gallagher,” Mickey snorted.  

Then, as if waiting for an answer, all three of them looked up at Lip.  He froze.  On the one hand, he could see what Mickey and V were saying: this needed immediate attention.  On the other, Ian didn’t need more debt from medical bills.  He already had the initial inpatient bill as well as all that he owed for medicine.  However, the clinic was probably going to send him to the hospital in the morning, anyway, so why not just skip the wait?  They needed to get Ian help now.

“Hospital,” Lip said definitely. Ian protested incoherently.  

Veronica hopped up, heading down the stairs.  She was taking them two at a time.  

“She’s going to get some shoes and the keys to Kev’s car.  He’s still at home, by the sound of it,” Mickey filled him in.  

Come to think of it, Lip was pretty sure he saw a lump in their bed.

While they waited on V to come around with the car, Lip and Mickey moved to pick up Ian and move him to the couch.  He was more awake than he looked, especially when he started being carried.  Still, he didn’t fight them this time.  Before he knew it, he was being loaded into Kev’s truck.  V and Mickey flanked either side of him, his brother squeezed in between Milkovich and the door.

They had to have broken several minor traffic laws and a couple of major ones on the way to the hospital.  However, they arrived in half the time that it usually took, and Veronica pulled up to the doors of the ER.  Lip and Mickey half-carried, half-walked Ian inside.

The moment they came to the checkin counter, a nurse came around with a wheelchair, letting the boys ease the younger man into it.  There was a long moment full of gathering information.  When asked his relation to the patient, Mickey answered that he was his husband.

So it was determined that Ian would be accompanied by Mickey into the room they gave him in the ER.  This hospital was marginally nicer than the other ones in the area; instead of a huge, open bay, their patients got individual rooms while they were being treated--or were waiting to be treated.

Back in the waiting room, Lip and Veronica sat in the waiting room together.  Although he would later deny it, the man spent a good portion of their time there sobbing into her chest.

Chapter Text

Back in the ER, the shirt-bandages were carefully removed by a kind doctor who initially didn't bother to question them about their relationship. Instead, she was more interested in figuring out which cuts were the worst and which needed stitches.

"Hold still, Mr. Gallagher," Doctor Grunwald said, inspecting the left arm. It was the one that had been sliced up the vein as well as across. The bleeding had begun to start up again, and she frowned, turning the arm to get a better view of the damage.

Ian sucked in a sharp, pained breath.

Mickey's ears pricked at the subtle noise and he looked up at the doctor. He balled up his fists, clenched his jaw, and glared at her. "You're hurting him!"

"Sir, I need you to allow me to do my job, okay? Otherwise, your friend here-"

"Husband."

"Right. Your husband here might lose much more blood and that won't be a good thing for him, okay?"

After that, Mickey didn't say anything but instead silently moved to hold Ian's right hand. However, he winced worse than his lover did whenever the other man let out a pained noise. He knew that Ian had a high threshold for pain; if he was letting himself whimper or hiss as a direct result of what the doctor was doing, that meant it must have been pretty damn painful.

The numbness that Ian had been feeling in regards to his arms was wearing off. While it didn't really hurt when left alone, he could definitely feel it when Grunwald touched it.

The doctor took a few more moments to inspect and clean his left arm before she turned to the men. "He's going to need stitches across the straight cuts, but we can't do anything about the ones going up and down; they can't be stitched, so we'll have to just wrap them as tightly as possible."

Ian didn't react, but Mickey nodded. The doctor got a couple of nurses in and after unwrapping and disinfecting that arm, too, they began to stitch up the cuts.

This seemed to have more of an effect on the redhead, causing him to go white and squirm in pain. Mickey did his best to be comforting, but there was only so much he could figure out to say; it wasn't as if there had been a ton of comfort in his life. He had mostly been slapped on the back and told to suck it up. Even when Kash had shot him, that was his father's reaction. He'd been told that he should stop whining and let Mandy and Izzy remove the bullet and patch him up. It was only a leg, after all. Later, in juvie, the medical professional there had given it proper treatment- or, at least better treatment.

"It's okay, Ian," the thug mumbled, trying to keep his voice and hands from shaking. "It'll-it'll be over soon."

He couldn't help but think of the two times that Ian had helped him when he'd been shot. Sure, Mickey'd done his fair share of caring for his lover, but he couldn't help but feel like he was indebted for these two times. It wasn't usually a bad feeling with Ian, but today it felt like one. The weight of his debt and what could happen to Ian settled down in his stomach like a brick. His chest was a little tight, too, but he ignored that the best he could.

So it continued: Mickey holding Ian's hand while he was being stitched up and then finally bandaged and Ian listening to Mickey go on and on about how it was almost over. The redhead absolutely refused to cry from the pain-he'd made a pact with himself in the second grade that he would no longer be a baby that wailed every time he got a scraped knee or worse. He couldn't remember a time since when he had gone back on this promise.

When the nurses and doctor were finished, they left a blue, plasticy gown with no tie in the back. Instead, it had one armhole on the right side and two on the left. Ian had to strip and then the struggle with the gown began.

It took several minutes for the two men to figure out how to put this on; finally, it was realized that the right arm went through the single armhole, while the left went through the two armholes. It was harder than it sounded.

When one of the nurses returned, they informed the couple that they'd have to move Ian to a different room. Mickey wondered if that was a codeword for one the psych ward, but apparently, it was still in the ER.

Making sure that Ian was comfortably on the hospital bed (or as comfortable as he possibly could be, at least), he was rolled into a room with a nurse sitting outside the door. Another nurse came in with something that looked like a small, white house-arrest bracelet.

"I need to attach this to his arm. That way, in case he decides to try and run off, it'll beep and we can stop him," she said gently.

Mickey shot a glare at her. "Does it look like he's going to fuckin' get up and walk away? Fuck you."

"We have to do this," the nurse explained carefully. When Ian held up his better arm, the nurse fixed it on. "Don't move, dear," she murmured, and when it was other, she left him to go and get some food and water. When the tray came back, the Gallagher didn't even touch it. Neither did Mickey, although he was probably starving. He just couldn't eat, considering the circumstances.

The two were quiet for a long moment before Ian made room for his lover on the bed. "Stay with me until I fall asleep?"

Mickey merely nodded and did just that, the other man's head pushed to his chest. Only when Ian was softly snoring did he let himself begin to silently cry.

Chapter Text

Mickey wasn't sure how long he held Ian in his arms, but he it certainly felt like over an hour. There wasn't much of a way for him to tell time over here. The hall was semi-dark, and there were only a handful of people that he'd seen over here.

One was the nurse sitting in the hall. From where he was laying, Mickey could see her tapping away at a computer. As far as he could tell, he was almost certain that she was on Tumblr. He knew the look of the interface because Mandy would get on it from time to time, but it was usually on her phone. He couldn't help but wonder if the lady out there was being paid to watch sleeping people and fuck around on the internet.

Directly across the hall, Mickey could see a rather disheveled woman in her twenties. She was wearing the same kind of waxy gown as Ian was, although she didn't seem so bothered by it. She had made herself comfortable on the bed and was talking to her friend about making someone buy her pizza after this.

"He didn't even come see me in the hospital," she huffed. "At least he's picking us up. D'y'think that he'll pay for dinner or will we have to?"

Mickey wasn't exactly sure this was the time to be discussing food. After all, they were in a supervised wing of the ER. That usually meant one thing: that the patients where either a danger to themselves or to others.

Her friend sighed. "Brenda, he probably didn't mean to not be here. He just didn't know what happened with all those cops after you got so high. I told you we shouldn't have done so much."

"It was fun while it lasted," Brenda shrugged.

Mickey looked over at his boyfriend, sleeping against his chest. The redhead was even snoring a little bit - but in a cute way. The noises were small and very discrete as if he did not want to disturb the entire hall. He stroked his lover's hair and suppressed more tears.

Brenda seemed to have gotten bored with insisting that whatever male in her life owed her pizza and she turned to look outside her room for entertainment. She started with bugging the nurse just outside her door.

"Do you have kids?" Brenda asked.

The nurse didn't look up. "Four."

"I have two little babies, but then they got taken away."

The conversation kind of continued like that, with her asking the nurse questions and then quickly tacking her own experiences and life story on the end. Finally, the nurse seemed tired of this game and informed Brenda that she was working on some very important patient documents and could not be bothered.

Liar, thought Mickey as he watched the nurse resume scrolling through Tumblr. However, he kept his mouth shut; no need to remind Brenda that there were other people she could annoy.

Unfortunately, she didn't need reminding; she lost no time in talking to Mickey.

"Why're you here?" Brenda asked, kind of wrinkling her nose. "Drugs?"

Mickey knew that he shouldn't be offended, but he was. He could hold his drugs and keep his kid, thank you. He decided not to answer, but instead kissed Ian on the head and looked away.

"Yo! Tattoo Fingers! I asked you a question!"

Tattoo Fingers? Couldn't she think of anything better - anything at all?

"And I didn't answer because I didn't fuckin' want to," Mickey snapped, not as loudly as he would have liked. He prayed to whatever deity that would listen that his voice wouldn't wake Ian up. Thankfully, someone must have answered and the redhead remained snoring softly. He really needed the sleep.

Brenda sat up. "Why not? Just stop being such a pussy and tell us why you're here."

Mickey chewed on the inside of his cheek. Even the nurse was watching now, but she didn't say anything. Wasn't she supposed to stop shit like this? "Because my boyf... I mean my husband needs to be here so I'm gonna be right here with him until they don't let me anymore."

Brenda looked shocked, then noticed the frame of Ian under the blanket and pushed against Mickey's chest. She clearly hadn't seen him before. "You're gay?"

Mickey sighed and nodded. "Big ol' fuckin' 'mo," he said, voice cracking a little.

The nurse decided to step in at this moment. The dark-haired man was glad because he didn't know how much longer he could fight before he started openly weeping again. He wasn't used to this. He hated feeling vulnerable and worst of all, useless.

"Leave Mr. Gallagher alone, Brenda. Go to sleep or watch television; play on your phone. Anything. Just leave the other patients alone; they aren't here for your amusement." The nurse was gentle but firm.

When Brenda nevertheless tried to bug him again, Mickey merely ignored her and buried his face into Ian's hair. There, he began to cry very quietly.

Perhaps ten minutes later, his phone buzzed in his pocket. Taking it out, he found a text from Lip.

How is Ian holding up? LG

Mickey bit his lip and texted back. The replies went back and forth rapidly.

He's asleep. Got his arms stitched up - the across cuts at least. They told me we're waiting for a social worker now. How are you and V? MM

We've been better. Kev called, asking for the truck back so that he can get to work. She told him to fuck off and then started crying. LG

I think she's talking to him about what's happened. LG

You think? Don't you know? MM

Well, she left under the guise of going to the bathroom or to get coffee or some shit. I wasn't exactly listening. LG

Mickey took a minute to reply after that, heart thudding wildly in his chest. Finally, he sent, Look, man. Maybe you should go home, get some rest. It's gonna be a while before we see anyone anyway and you have classes. MM

Nah, man. That's my brother in there. I'm not leaving. LG

You tell me the moment anything changes, got it? LG

Yeah, I got it. MM

Mickey put away his phone went Lip had been silent for about five minutes. Soon, he felt himself slip off to sleep just like his boyfriend was. What could have been minutes or hours later, he awoke to a firm knock at the door.

The social worker was here.

Chapter Text

 

 

The man at the door was heavyset and sweaty. His face was a little red, like he'd been bustling around, trying to get to everyone who wasn't doing well. Around his neck he had a lanyard with a photo ID hanging off the end. He was grasping a clipboard like it was a lifeline. "Mr. Gallagher?"

Mickey rose his hand and bit his lip. Ian looked too dazed to do anything, so his boyfriend took over. "Right here. He's Ian Gallagher."

The social worker looked Mickey over, taking in his messy hair and clothes as well as his tattooed fingers. "And what relation are you to the patient?"

"B--husband," he said quickly.

The social worker nodded and scribbled on his clipboard. "Okay. Mr. Gallagher, can you talk to me? Tell me what's going on?"

Ian stopped, as if considering, and then shook his head.

"What's going on? Can you tell me what's happening? Why you did this?"

Again, Ian shook his head.

The social worker looked up at Mickey. "Any ideas?"

Mickey bit his lip, not too keen on retelling the story that he had told the oldest Gallagher boy earlier in the day. However, this man was a professional and he could probably help Ian more than anyone at this point. Therefore, he took a deep breath in and slowly let it out before starting.

"We, um, we got into a fight last night about him... about his job. He works at a nightclub and I don't think that he deserves to be treated the way that he is there. When he worked there before, he was incredibly manic, running on basically no sleep. Yesterday, he left for work and when he came home this morning he had a large bruise on his a-- on his butt and a hickey on his neck and I told him to get out of my house and go back to live with his family," Mickey took a breath in and out a couple of times, burying his face in his hands before lifting it again to continue. He face was red and blotchy. "I think he m-might have been manic again, and-and-and I didn't notice. That's as good as me doin' this to him!"

The social worker's face fell and he looked sympathetic to their plight. "Okay. It's okay, sir. This is something that can go unnoticed--especially when patients are in the manic phase. I think that you are probably someone of great comfort to him. However, considering that he hurt himself quite badly, we are going to admit him to the psychiatric ward for 72 hour holding. I'll go get a bag for his things and you two can say your goodbyes."

When he left for the bag, Mickey and Ian were left in absolute silence. The former didn't know what to say and felt words trying to crawl up his throat only to slide back down. Finally, he said, "Ian, I love you so, so much."

Mickey had wanted to say how incredibly sorry he was for everything that was going wrong, as well as his boyfriend being in this place. However, something deep down told him that this was a bad idea. It would most likely only make the two of them feel worse.

Ian looked groggy and a little distant, but he managed to reply, "I love you, too, Mick."

Mickey let out a loud sob despite the fact that he was trying desperately to hold it in. Being mindful of his boyfriend's arms, he embraced him tightly, rubbing his hands up and down the other man's back.

Ian began to cry, too. Mickey could feel him shaking against his chest.

All of a sudden, Ian choked out four broken words. "Please don't leave me."

Mickey's grip on the other man tightened and he shut his eyes tightly. His heart was breaking and he never wanted his boyfriend feel like he wasn't staying around for good. "I'm not gonna leave you, Red. I'm not gonna leave you."

Ian buried his head in Mickey's shoulder. "But you're leaving me here," he sobbed. "If you're leaving me here, who's to say that you won't leave me other places, too?"

Mickey rubbed his lover's back, biting his lip. "I wont, Ian. I won't. They're gonna help you here. Gonna get you back on track. You just gotta wait it out and everything will feel better and you'll get to be back home. Okay? God, I love you so fuckin' much. I'm going to be there every single day during visiting hours and we can talk and maybe do puzzles o-or somethin'? And look, this hospital looks so much nicer than the last one. I bet where you're headed is going to be, too. I'm not going to let anything bad happen to you. I'm just not."

Ian merely nodded, either unable to find the words or crying too hard to get them out. Maybe both.

Another knock at the door startled them both, but Mickey refused to let his boyfriend go. The social worker was standing just a few feet into the room with a plastic bag akin to the ones that Sheila would make them use. "I've brought this. Are you ready, Mr. Gallagher?"

Ian made a whimpery noise and tried to push himself closer to Mickey. The latter kissed his boyfriend's head, whispering, "It's okay. You can call me and I'll come at visiting hours and everything will be okay. They're going to take good care of you, and if they don't, you tell me, yeah? I'll come here and make sure that they aren't mean to you again."

The redhead nodded after a moment before letting his boyfriend up to gather his things. Once the thuggish man had gathered up and placed all of Ian's belongings in the bag, a nurse bustled in and carefully helped Ian into a wheelchair.

It felt like someone was squeezed Mickey's chest between two brick walls when he saw his lover like that. Ian looked helpless and too-small in that thing. Still, the nurse seemed adamant that they had to transport him this way, so Mickey did little to object. Instead, he followed them out into the hall and down towards the doors. He was going to go as far as they would let him.

Subsequently, that wasn't very far. When they stepped out into a different lobby than before, someone told him that he was not able to continue. Here, he turned to kiss Ian's forehead and crouched so that he was eye-level with the other man.

"I love you, Red. I really, really do. I'm not leaving you, you're just gettin' some extra help from someone who knows more than me. Okay?"

Ian nodded. "I love you, too," he said, voice raw.

Another kiss on the forehead later, Ian was wheeled into an elevator on the other side of the lobby.

Chapter Text

By the time Mickey made it back to Lip and Veronica, he had stopped crying. The evidence of this wasn't gone, though. His face and eyes were bright red and puffy and he was practically limping.

The moment Lip saw his brother's boyfriend, he jumped to his feet and jogged over. "What's going on? Where is he?"

Mickey rubbed his eyes with the heel of his palms and gave a small sniffle. Lip noticed this but could not push away the desperation to find out about his brother. If he could, he'd offer comfort later.

"They took him to the, uh. The psychiatric ward. God, his face... they way he looked at me when I had to go. I had to leave him. I had to leave him again." The younger man let out a noise somewhere between frustration and sorrow before turning and hitting the waiting room wall. He made a small imprint and came back shaking off his fist. It was bleeding.

"Hey!" A nurse from the station across the waiting room yelled.

It was clear that Mickey might lash out at her, so Lip stepped in, gently pushing the smaller man back toward their seats. "I am so sorry about him, ma'am. He's just gotten some bad news and he doesn't know how else to cope. We'll be taking him home now. You don't have to worry about any more of your, uh, walls."

Mickey ripped his shoulder away from Lip's hand and started stalking towards the door. "Let's just go," he snapped. His eyes were even redder now.

Lip glanced at Veronica and she gave a small nod, as if telling him that it was okay to follow the other man.

After a small tense moment where everyone seemed frozen in some capacity or another, the nurse said, "Go. Don't make me call security."

All three of them moved very quickly then. A moment later they were out in the swirling snow, heading toward the truck. No one said a word until they got inside the vehicle.

It was V that broke the silence. She reached into back and then held out a rag for Mickey to take. "Here, wrap this around your hand as best as you can."

Mickey merely pressed himself against the door, resting his head on the cool glass. "I don't want it. It'll stop bleeding on its own."

Veronica went to argue, but she caught Lip's gaze. He shook his head the tiniest bit and she gave up.

The engine roared to life a moment later and they were on the journey back home. No one said a word the entire drive.


When the three of them walked into the house, Fiona looked up and flung herself at Lip, wrapping him in a hug. "I was so worried about you! Where's Ian and Liam? Why is the bathroom so bloody?"

Lip instinctively stiffened under his sister's touch. However, upon reviewing all that had happened in the past few hours, he allowed himself to relax. However, Debbie and Carl were standing on the stairway, looking down at them. He didn't want them to have to hear this, not right now. He knew that they weren't children, not really, but they'd already been through so much. He pulled away from the hug and led his sister out onto the porch.

"We can handle whatever you're saying to her, you know!" Debbie yelled down the stairs, but Lip just firmly shut the door behind him.

Inside, V and Mickey exchanged exhausted looks. The former then turned to the kids on the stairs, trying to lead them into Debbie's room.

"Why's my room all torn up?" Carl asked loudly.

Mickey collapsed onto the couch, yelling back, "Because fuck you is why!"

There, he rolled onto his side and covered his face with his arms.

A few minutes later, Mandy came down, clearly worried and upset. She gave Mickey a hard kick and then pushed him into a seated postion when he didn't respond.

"What, Mandy? The fuck do you want from me?" He snapped.

"Where are Lip and Ian? What's with the blood?!" She was absolutely frantic and her older brother just rubbed at his eyes.

"I'm sure your boyfriend will tell you."

Mandy stood up, giving Mickey another shove. He didn't react. "No! I don't want him to tell me later, I want you to tell me now!"

The older Milkovich dropped his head into his hands. The younger fell quiet, realizing that whatever this was, it was bad. She stopped pushing so hard.

When Mickey raised his head, his face was tear-streaked, but he tried to wipe them away before she noticed. "I just... I can't do this right now, okay? Lip will tell you later. I can't."

Mandy took a moment, looked her brother over, and then sat down, nodding.

Outside, Lip was having a breakdown of his own, but most of it was fueled by anger. He'd probably cry and be upset later, but right now he was just furious. Fiona watched as he seethed, half afraid it was at her. She offered him a cigarette and he accepted with shaky fingers.

"What happened?" She asked, softer this time. Lip hadn't touched his cigarette, just let it burn. He had been trying to quit before the Liam incident, but that wasn't going to happen now.

Lip shook his head, angry tears forming in his eyes. "Liam is with... with Sheila. She took him so we could take Ian to the hospital."

Fiona sucked in a breath, despite the fact that she'd already figured out where this was going. "Why didn't you call me?" She asked, more hurt than angry.

"Because I didn't know if you'd be off getting high with some friends or fucking some random-ass guy or at work where you couldn't leave. I just didn't know, Fiona. To tell you the truth, I wasn't in any kind of head space to find out."

Fiona swallowed hard, not protesting. She was too tired for that. "What happened?"

Lip took a deep breath in. "Mickey and Ian had a fight. Ian came home because he'd been told to get out. He locked himself in the boys' room, rampaged in there and then went into the bathroom and locked the door. The kid was, uh. The kid was trying to pull a Monica. Like, a Thanksgiving Monica. Um. Mickey came and we, uh, we got the door unlocked and found him and got him to a hospital with V's help. He's gonna live. They have him on the psych ward again."

Fiona's face was full of horror, hand clamped over her gaping mouth. Lip rubbed his eyes and stood up from the step on which they were both seated. "I, um. I'm really tired and I can't tell that story again, okay? I'm-I'm gonna go to bed."

As he started to step towards the door, Fiona caught him by the ankle. "Wait!"

Lip turned in time to see her leap up and wrap him in a huge hug. "I love you. Oh, god, I love you guys so much."

That was where he was stuck for a few minutes - squished into a hug by his sister. It was tempting to push her away, but he couldn't. When she finally pulled away, she took his face in her hands and firmly said, "You've been doing a great job while I've been a mess, Lip. Thank you."

Lip swallowed, unsure of how to take this. He wanted to tell her that he knew; he knew how much he had worked and what he'd done. However, that wouldn't make anything better. Instead, he just gave a small nod and turned to go back into the house.

Chapter Text

By the time that Lip made it back to his bedroom, his entire body was tense. Nothing felt okay- nothing. It was like no matter what he did to try and keep his family from falling apart, he couldn't. Maybe this was how Fiona used to feel.

Striping down to his boxers, he wordlessly crawled into bed and collapsed there. It wasn't until Mandy wrapped her arms around him that Lip realized that he wasn't alone. It wasn't that late; maybe she had heard what'd happened and was upset, too.

"Hey" she said softly, voice incredibly gentle. It was rare that she sounded like that, and something about it made Lip's composure break. "What happened with Ian?"

He hadn't wanted to repeat the story, and yet he had to. He couldn't deny his girlfriend news about her - their - best friend. He choked out a sob.

Mandy briefly stiffened around Lip, surprised. He didn't often cry and almost never around her. For a long moment, she stayed frozen, unable to comprehend what it was that she should do. It wasn't as if her brothers would let her help them when something was wrong and her mom had passed away when she was little. All she could recall was someone humming and stroking her forehead, smelling faintly of apple perfume. Once, she had found the nearly-empty bottle of what had to have been her mother's signature scent. She stashed it away under her bed for a week, occasionally taking it out when she was scared or sad. However, Terry had come bursting in one day, found it, and screamed himself hoarse.

A few more moments passed. Lip was almost unable to catch his breath. Mandy knew that she had to do something - fast. She could find out what had happened later.

"Hey, shh, shhh. You're okay. I'm here. Um, just take in a deep breath and then let it out. Okay?"

Mandy was panicking that Lip was panicking. Fuck, something must be really wrong, but she couldn't find out what right now. He needed her. The only thing that she knew to do was stroke his hair, so that's exactly what she did.

Lip was trying to breathe, but is wasn't easy. He felt like he had this band around his chest again and it was slowly strangling him. A moment later, he felt his girlfriend pull him closer to her chest and begin to hum something he didn't recognize. The vibrations from her humming somehow made his chest feel less tight and it allowed him to focus on something other than his own inability to push and pull air through his lungs.

When she thought of a song good and soft enough to sing to him, Mandy decided to. She didn't use it much, but she had a very beautiful voice.

"I'm walking on the southern street, cut to the river 'fore I run too low.

I'm walking on the southern street, cut to the river 'fore I run too low.

Old gypsy woman spoke to me, lips stained red from a bottle of wine.
Old gypsy woman spoke to me, lips stained red from a bottle of wine.
The one that you are looking for, you're not gonna find her here.
The one that you are looking for, you're not gonna find her here, here.

I'm runnin' on the northeast street, cut to the ocean 'fore I run too low.
I'm runnin' on the northeast street, cut to the ocean 'fore I run too low,
Cut to the ocean 'fore I run too low.
The one that you are looking for, you're not gonna find her here.
The one that you are looking for, you're not gonna find her here, here.

Old gypsy woman spoke to me, said, You're a wolf, boy, get out of this town.
Old gypsy woman spoke to me, said, You're a wolf, boy, get out of this town.
You're a wolf, boy, get out of this town.
You're a wolf, boy, get out of this town.
You're a wolf.
You're a wolf.
You're a wolf.
You're a wolf."

When Mandy finished, everything felt significantly calmer. Lip was breathing evenly and not even crying anymore. They both laid there in silence for perhaps ten minutes, each assuming the other was asleep. When he figured out that she was awake, he sniffled loudly.

"Ian's in the hospital," Lip mumbled, pressing his face into her chest. She had just begun to pet his head again, but stopped dead.

"He's where?"

"Holy Cross Hospital."

Mandy was sitting up straight now. "That place is shit. We have to get him out of there. Why aren't we there in the waiting room, waiting for him to get out? Why the fuck was he in there?"

"It's not any use trying to wait there," Lip urged, trying to get her to lay back down with him. It was futile. "He - um. He tried to end it or-or something. Fuck, I don't know what he was trying to do, exactly. I shouldn't put intention where there was none, I guess. I just - he's in the psych unit right now, okay? Fuck, Mandy. I should have checked on him sooner or something."

Mandy was completely silent for a long moment before she joined him again. This time, he was the one holding her, but she wasn't crying. Instead, she just managed to shake her head. There was dread and fear and sadness mixed in the bottom of her stomach.

"Is he gonna be okay?"

Lip gave a small nod. "Seems like he is gonna be. It's just... anything that can go wrong seems to be right now."

"I know what you mean. Is - how long is he gonna be in there? Are they going to help him get back on the proper medicine and stuff?"

"Probably. Mickey said something about a 72-hour hold? I think that's what he said, at least. We were all pretty shook up - him especially. He kept talking about how he had to leave him again and... and it was really heartbreaking, 'dy. I think he blames himself."

"Why would he do that?"

"They had a fight before Ian came over here and... yeah. I don't know. It was about Ian working at the club again. He acted like he was blaming himself for not noticing that Ian was slipping again."

"That's not his fault. That... I was around Ian a lot, too, and I didn't notice shit." However, Mandy's face soon fell. "Maybe I should have noticed."

Lip shook his head and they both held one another tight. "No. No, no, no. That's not the way to look at it. The point is, we-we caught it and we can deal with it. It isn't anyone's faults, okay? It's just not."

Mandy was too exhausted to argue. Lip knew this; he was too. They just went on holding each other, crying and vulnerable and scared.

Finally, Lip asked in a cracking voice, "Sing that song again?"

Chapter Text

Sleep did not come so easy for Mickey. He had a long night ahead of him, one in which he ended up alone.

In the Gallagher household, Mickey trudged up the stairs to the boys' room, shaking a little. Coming across Carl standing in the middle of the room, he jerked his head towards the hall.

"Get out."

Carl scrunched up his face in confusion and rose his brows. "Excuse me? When did you become my boss?"

Mickey rubbed at his forehead. "Just go," he begged, voice cracking. "Please."

Carl frowned, looked down, and then left. He didn't want to get on Mickey's bad side right now.

The older man nodded, shutting the door behind the kid. With that, he turned to take in the wrecked room around him. He had a lot of work to do.

The room was basically trashed. Lamps had been knocked over, glass littered the floor, and posters had been ripped from the walls. Any other decorations had been removed from their places in a rather violent manner. One of the dressers had been tipped and some of the clean clothes were sitting in glass.

"Jesus fuck, Ian," Mickey sighed. He felt compelled to clean all of it up, even if it wasn't a mess he made.

He started by extracting clothes from the glass that littered the floor. Tossing them into a hamper, he carried it downstairs and began putting them in the washer.

"Can I go to my room yet?" Carl asked from the couch. His eyes were red and a little puffy.

Hearing Carl talk, Fiona rose her head from where she had it resting on the kitchen table. She squinted in confusion a moment before realizing what was happening. "Mick-- oh, Mickey. You don't need to do that. We can all help clean up there."

Mickey shook his head, tossing in more laundry from the pile under the shoot. That way, at least, there'd be a full load.

"You and I both know that I need to do this, Fiona. The reason he was so upset was because of me and so I'm going to fix anything here that was broken." Mickey vowed, sounding determined despite how tired he looked.

"Are you sure, Mickey?" Fiona asked and he nodded solemnly. "I can go and get the bathroom if you want. I know how hard it is to clean that sort of thing up. I've done it before."

Mickey shook his head. "No. I got it. Just... I'll clean up the boy's room and then the bathroom and let Carl know when he can go back to bed in there."

Fiona looked like she was going to cry and went for a hug. Mickey backed up, raising his hands. "Whoa, whoa, whoa. Please... please don't do that. Shit's already hard enough as it is."

Fi nodded and returned to laying her head on the table again.

Mickey did the best he could to return the boys' room to the state it was before. He tapped the poster's back together and hung them up. All the other decorations were returned as closely as possible to their original placements, and the glass was swept up until the man was sure there was none left. He righted the tipped over furniture and then stood in the middle of the room staring. What the fuck had happened to Ian to make him do this?

Heading down the stairs, Mickey went to tell Carl that he could go to bed, but the boy was already asleep. Glancing at a clock, the older man discovered that he had spent four hours cleaning upstairs. Letting out a soft sighed, he headed over to the couch.

Mickey didn't often show tenderness for anyone but Ian, but he couldn't help but feel for the teen. Things had been so rough in his life and that was something that the Milkovich could understand.

Taking one of the blankets from the back of the couch, Mickey gently laid it over the teen. Then, headed to the light, he flipped it off and looked down at the kid again. This was all so fucked up.

Grabbing a bucket and filling it up with bleach water, he moved to grab a rag. Once in the bathroom, he shut the door behind him and stared at the dried blood on the floor. Shit.

Mickey's heart clenched and he bent to clean up the blood. He felt detached and sick. The blood was cleaned up entirely in an hour, and when it was done, he leaned against a wall. Everything that had happened crashed down on him and a began to sob. He tried his hardest to be quiet - even biting his arm to muffle the sound - but it didn't work as well as he thought it would.

A knock made him jump. "Go away!"

Whoever it was didn't listen and opened the door anyway. He'd forgotten to lock it.

Mandy came in, biting her lip.

"Just go away. Please," Mickey begged.

Mandy just shook her head, bent down, and held her big brother. He didn't push her away and they stayed like that until Mickey nearly fell asleep against her.

Chapter Text

Ian's night was just about as bad as Mickey's--which was saying a lot.

The moment that his lover had been made to leave, Ian had been zipped through the hospital in a wheelchair. All he could think of was how lost he'd be when they let him out. The dizzying turns made him shut his eyes tightly and drop his head in his hands. Suddenly, another thought came slamming down on him: how was Mickey or Lip supposed to find him at the end of this labyrinth?

After being pushed into an elevator and climbing to the second floor, Ian was taken down a dark, creepy hallway. Then, he emerged into a much lighter one. All of this felt incredibly overwhelming and he clutched the blanket they'd let him have. Soon enough, he began to shut down.

The next hour or so was a blur: he scribbled his name on an endless train of papers; he moved from the table with heavy, plastic chairs to those same chairs near a wall; he talked to a nurse who deemed him still suicidal; he was stuck in a room whether the lights never shut off. It had never been so hard to sleep before.

In the last inpatient he was stuck in, he had several roommates. Bunks were piled in and many men slept within four feet of his bed on either side. It reminded him a little bit of the group home he and Lip had been sent to years ago.

The two hospitals could not have been more different--but both were decrepit.

After a few minutes of pacing in the bright light, Ian had the urge to throw something at it, make it turn off. He had been forbidden anything to throw, though. Maybe he could stand on the stupid bed and use his fists? No, that'd get their attention too quickly.

Finally, Ian emerged back out into the darkened hallway. Nothing here looked nice. Visitors weren't allowed back here, so why the hell should it look nice? The paint was peeling off of the walls and it looked like there might be things growing on the wall in the bathroom, but he wasn't sure.

When he mentioned the aforementioned bathroom, the redhead closed the door behind him. It was almost entirely dark, except for some dim light coming from somewhere around the shower. Illuminated just under the faucet was an old looking chair. Ian could only imagine it being used in a classroom in the sixties or something. He did not venture over to investigate but instead took a seat on the toilet. He didn't have to go - didn't even pull up his stupid waxy gown - he just needed the dark.

The dark got him. The dark understood, most of all when he was in the in-between stage, going from manic to depressive. Of course, Ian was not aware of this. Instead, he just knew that he liked the night best when he was in this mood.

It wasn't clear for how long he had been sitting there, but eventually, a sharp knock shook him from his daze. Fuck, one of the nurses.

"Ian? Is that you in there? Are you okay? Why haven't you turned on the light?" The voice asked.

"I like the dark," Ian said in return, unable to clearly articulate what it was that he was feeling. He was hit with the realization that this was very similar to what had taken place earlier. He shook it away.

"I know, but we need to be able to make sure that you're safe," the nurse tried to reason.  He sounded very tired. "Come on, can you come out?"

"I don't want to."

"Can I come in?"

Ian stopped, thinking before grumbling, "I'll come out."

True to his word, Ian stood and trudged into the hall again.

"Thank you," the nurse murmured, sounding relieved. "Now how about you go on back to bed?"

Ian shook his head. "I can't sleep in there. I just can't. Can I call my boyfriend? Tell him goodnight? That might help."

The nurse shook his head. "I'm sorry. It's too late to use the phone."

Ian swallowed down as much of his anger and nodded.  He felt so lost and this stupid place didn't quite make him feel human anymore. "Fine.  I'll go back to my fucking cage, all lit up for everyone to watch. Step right up, ladies and gentlemen!  Here we see Ian Gallagher in his natural habitat, sleeping like a fucking bear!"

The man just shook his head and then opened his mouth to say something.  Before he could, Ian was already long gone, slamming the door to his room behind him.

On his bed, the poor man curled into a ball, covering his face with his arms.  He would not be getting any sleep tonight.

Chapter Text

When Lip woke up, his bed was empty and cold. It was clear that it had been so for a while.

"Mandy," he mumbled, standing up and stumbling out into the hall. He was only wearing his boxers, but that didn't matter. All that did right now was that his girlfriend was found and brought back to safety. He had the overwhelming feeling that he had lost something else and couldn't quite place where or what it was.

"Mandy?" Lip called a little louder, looking baffled. His eyes still had little sleepies in them.

Fingers poked out from under the bathroom door. "Shut up. Mickey is sleeping in here."

"Yeah, okay, but why are you in there, too? Is Mickey okay?"

Mandy sighed from the other side of the door. "Yes, the asshole is fine. He's just stressed, which is understandable."

"Think you could maybe come out here with me?"

Lip was shivering a little in the hall. The house was chilly and he needed to not be alone on a morning like this. He gently pushed the door open.

Mandy didn't argue but instead moved Mickey off of her. He had been sleeping with his head in her lap. His eyes were bright red and puffy, and it would be a miracle if he could open them again today.

"You're gonna just leave him there?" Lip asked, raising his brows.

"As opposed to...?"

"I dunno. Putting him in bed or on the couch, anywhere but the floor where his boyfriend's blood was less than twenty-four hours ago."

"Well, I can't lift him, so if you want to do something, that's on you." Mandy said, returning to Lip's room.

Lip was clearly thinking very intently about something. There was a long moment in which he looked from Mickey over to the boys' room and back again.

"You are not gonna do that," Mandy laughed.

Lip shrugged. "I'm gonna do it."

Mandy opened her mouth to either protest or provide affirmation - neither were sure exactly which - but was unable to provide either. Lip already had Mickey in his arms.

"Let's just to get him back to the room without waking him," Lip mumbled, struggling a little with the other man's body. He had thought that this would be easier.

Mandy started to laugh, moving to open the door to the boys' room. Mickey looked as if he would slip between Lip's arms at any moment. Therefore, he had to work fast to lay him on Ian's bed and cover him up.

Once the couple had stepped out of the room, they moved into the bedroom again. Climbing into bed, both fell silent and stared at the cracked ceiling.

Mandy broke the silence.

"What are we going to do?" She asked in a small voice.

"About what?"

"About Ian."

"Oh." Lip knew what she had been talking about but had been trying to avoid the conversation. It was too early in the morning for this.

"Yeah."

There was another silence before Mandy asked again, "So, what are we going to do?"

Lip let out a stuttering sigh. Sometimes that was a precursor to hyperventilation, but today it didn't seem to be. "I-I don't know. I don't know, Mandy. I guess we start with visiting him when we're allowed and bringing him some stuff."

"Stuff?"

"You know, clothes, shoes without laces, that kinda thing. Maybe some books."

"Books? You think he's gonna want to read in there? He isn't you, Lip. He isn't just gonna read.  He dried to die."

"At least he'll have something to do!" Lip snapped before shaking his head. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry, that was harsh."

"Yeah, it was."

Lip reached over for Mandy but she had hopped back down from the bed, clearly pissed. The damage had already been done.

"Wait," Lip stammered. "Please don't go!"

"He's my best friend, too!" She yelled, stomping down the stairs. There, she flung herself onto the couch and covered herself with the blanket. Lip, on the over hand, sat on his bed and stared at the wall. Wow, he was being such a fuckup; he couldn't even keep one of his most important people around.

She was right though. He might be Ian's older brother but that didn't mean no one else was upset or hurt by this. Maybe he needed to suck it up, step up, and be the man of the house.

Chapter Text

Mickey woke up with Ian's arms around him. He could smell his lover on every blanket and pillow. While he didn't exactly feel well rested, at least he was in bed next to the man he loved.

"God," he mumbled. "I had the worst nightmare ever. You were getting bad again and tried to hurt yourself and I thought you might d--"

Mickey cut off when he realized that it wasn't Ian holding him; one of his boyfriend's hoodies had gotten tangled around him in a way that made him think he was being held.

None of it was a dream.

Details came back in bits and pieces: the pain he felt when Ian was taken back; the damage done to the rooms and to Ian himself; all the blood. Finally, his exhausted brain remembered that he had been in the bathroom cleaning up the blood and - and then what? Oh, right! Mandy had come in and...maybe he fell asleep? He decided to not give it much thought.

Rubbing his sore eyes and sitting up slowly, he looked around the room. The sunshine coming through the window was cloudy and gray, making it seem hard to tell what time it was. Finally, he grabbed his phone.

11:11 am.

Make a wish, Mickey thought bleaky, standing up.

Except for Mickey, the room was completely empty. Everything was too-quiet again and he hated it. It made him feel like something bad was about to happen. He grabbed Ian's hoodie, pulled it on, and thumped down the stairs.

When he arrived, Lip turned from his seat at the table and almost gave Mickey a smile. "Isn't that Ian's?"

Mickey looked down at the orange hoodie he was wearing. He wasn't swimming in it, but it was baggy.

"Shut up," he muttered, walking over to grab a cup of coffee.

Mandy emerged from the living room, tense and pointedly ignoring Lip. "You're up earlier than I thought you'd be."

Mickey just shook his head, pouring a cup of the hot liquid into his mug. "Couldn't sleep."

"Didn't seem to be having any trouble earlier," Lip quipped.

"Shut up!"

This time is was Mandy, who had been standing near the dining room door. Now, she came stalking over to Lip, clearly furious. Mickey had a feeling that she wasn't just mad about her boyfriend being rude to him.

"You are being such an asshole right now!  God, other people are upset too!"  Mandy said, her voice starting rise.  She looked ready to fight--he had seen her look that way many times before.

"I-I just made a joke!"  Lip cried, holding his hands up in defense.  "I wasn't trying to be an asshole!"

Mandy scrunched up her face like she was trying not to yell, lest it wake up the rest of the household.  "You know what? Fine.  Just fine."

Whipping around, she ran up the stairs and back into Lip's room.  The door slammed shut.

Mickey looked from the stairs to Lip and then back again.  "What the fuck did you do?"

Lip crossed his arms over his chest and hunched over the table, chewing on one of his nails.  "Nothing."

"Bullshit."

"I'm serious! I didn't do anything."

"Well, you better go and apologize for that nothing because she sure as fuck isn't mad about that lame-ass joke."

Lip shot Mickey a look and then went back to staring at the table. 

"Fine.  Go and be a stupid fuck and let her be mad at you.  I'm sure that's going to be real helpful right now."  Mickey threw the words over his shoulder as he started to look through the fridge for something to eat.  He didn't want to mention how stressed their tension had been making him; he just needed everyone to be on the same page right now and not at each other's throats.  He couldn't handle being a mediator under good circumstances, but now it would be almost impossible.

Lip didn't budge for a long moment and Mickey continued to slam things around in the fridge.

Perhaps ten minutes passed before Lip stood and mumbled, "Fuck you, Mickey."

Mickey shrugged, took a partially filled gallon of orange juice and took a long swig as Lip trudged up the stairs to apologize.

Chapter Text

Lip hovered outside the bedroom door, trying to work out what to say. He'd fucked up - he knew he had. He didn't need Mickey to tell him that; he was smart enough to figure that out, at least.

Five minutes passed. Ten minutes followed. At twelve, Lip rose his fist and prepared to give three knocks.

Wait. A gift might help his chances here. The odds were stacked against him as it was and he needed any advantage he could scrape together.

In seconds, Lip turned back around and thumped down the stairs. He was taking them two at a time and his hands were shaking. He needed Mandy. He couldn't stand to have her pissed at him - least of all now.

When he stepped back into the kitchen, he came face to face with a red-faced, puffy-eyed Mickey.

"Get outta the way," the man said, shoving past Lip. The movement pushed the eldest Gallagher son into the wall. Dull pain shot through his shoulder and his head thumped against his plastered assailant.

"Owch," he mumbled. Regardless, he wasn't distracted. Taking long strides into their kitchen, be began cooking hurriedly. It was a little less than an hour later that he was in front of the door again.

Looking at the plate of pancakes in his hands, Lip let out a shaky breath. He had to fix this. He just had to.

After another good moment or two, he managed to knock and call out, "Mandy? Can I come in?"

There was no real reply, just sniffling.

Taking that as a yes, Lip opened the door and stepped in. Mandy was curled up on the bed, her hair a mess and her face red and puffy. "Look, just fucking get out. I'm not in the mood to play this game."

"What game?"

"The one where you give some half-assed apology and I forgive you and we fuck and then it happens all over again."

"I think I may have broken that pattern."

"Oh? Please, enlighten me."

Lip held up the plate of pancakes. "I brought food this time."

Just like that, Mandy was leaned back against the pillows, laughing. He hadn't thought it was all that funny.

"Am I off the hook?"

Mandy looked up at him, narrowing her eyes ever so slightly. "For now."

Lip nodded, offering the pancakes before laying on the bed. He watched her as she ate. How had he landed someone so good? She was definitely out of his league.

Everything was silent for several minutes as the pancakes were consumed. Lip felt as if he was being punished for being an asshole. If he was, it was working.

At long last, Mandy looked up from the empty plate.

"There's a bit of syrup on your lip," her boyfriend murmured.

Mandy lifted her hand and tried to wipe it away but missed.

"Not quite. A little more to the left. Or, your right."

She tried again and missed by quite a lot. At the shake of her boyfriend's head, Mandy simpered, "Can you get it for me?"

Clearly, she was done being mad at him. Lip reached his hand out to wipe the syrup away, but she pushed his hand back down.

"Not with your hand."

Mandy winked a little and leaned forward so that Lip could lick the sticky spot away. When he had traced the edge of her lip with his tongue, she caught his mouth with hers and pulled him on top of her.

Lip pressed kisses into her mouth, along her jaw, down her neck. He paused at her collar bone and ran his fingers along the hem of her shirt. "Can I?"

They had gotten very good about getting consent. Mandy had been through some rough stuff and it helped their relationship to confirm that the contact was wanted.

"Mhm," Mandy hummed, nodding. A gasp followed as Lip slid his hands up her shirt, pausing to toy with her nipples. He was already hard, but he was working on making sure she got off at least once before he did. If she didn't, he knew that it was more painful for her.

Mandy's shirt came off, then her panties. God, she was ravishing. Her cheeks were pink and her breasts were perky and round.

"Fuck," Lip breathed.

"What?"

"Nothing. I just always forget just how beautiful you are."

Before he could see her reaction, Lip ducked down to her vagina, taking a moment to suck on her thighs. He knew that she loved it when he left hickies and he was all too happy to do so. Giving a couple nips, he proceeded to kiss a trail up to her pussy. It was absolutely soaked.

Both of them loved when Lip ate her out. She tasted better than any other girl he'd been with and her moans... god, they got him every single time. Pushing back the surrounding hair, he licked from inside of her all the way up to her clit. He gave a few good circles around it and Mandy was unable to bite back a loud, "Mmph..."

He grabbed her ass and dug his nails in a little, creating a sound that was equally enthusiastic. Just as Lip was going back down, the door to his room slammed open and then immediately back shut.

"Sorry! I didn't think--" Fiona's voice was tense and shaky. "I just didn't think. Can you guys feed Liam and then take him to Shelia's? I gotta go to work."

Lip sat up, frowning. God damn it. "I thought you didn't go in until eleven?"

"I switched shifts with Janice so that I can be back home in time to go to visiting hours with Ian."

"And Carl or Debbie?"

"Neither of them were in their beds when I woke up. Please, Lip. I know I've been pushing a lot onto you right now but I really have to go."

Lip stood, wiping the corner of his mouth. "Okay. We'll be right out. Go and bring home the bacon and we'll take care of things here."

Fiona sounded incredibly relieved. "Thank you. I'll see you guys later, okay?"

Less than a second later, her footsteps retreated down the stairs.

Turning to Mandy, Lip shrugged. "Are you okay with stopping where we are?"

She nodded, a playful look sneaking onto her face. "Yeah, I'm good. Let's get this bread, I guess."

Chapter Text

Ian awoke in a room with fluorescent lights. He was curled up on a bed with no blankets, pillows, or sheets. His entire body ached, most of all his arms. His neck was a close second.

Next to his bed, a woman with a needle and supplies to do a blood draw loomed. "Good morning!"

Her voice was too cheerful for her ominous presence.

"I'm Sandra. Ian, right?" She asked. It was also too early for her to be this loud.

Ian nodded.

"Great! I just need to take some blood from you this morning. Is that okay?"

Ian shrugged. It wasn't as if his saying no would have changed anything; they would still need blood from him one way or another. His voice was raw and it cracked when he said, "Sure."

The nurse bent over his arm, going all the way to the inside of his elbow. That skin, at least, had been spared and would allow her to get into the vein.

"Alright, here's the poke," Sandra said, pushing the needle in. Then she cried, "Oh no! That didn't get it. Let me try again, hold on…"

It took three more sticks before she finally landed a vein. That only gave her half a tube and so it took another four times for her to find a vein on his other arm. By the time she finally managed to get the other three tubes of blood from that vein, Ian felt exhausted.

"There you are, sweets!" Sandra chirped. Her smile was plastered on. "It's time for you to go out for breakfast."

Ian shook his head. "Not hungry."

Sandra looked personally offended by his refusal. "Now, Ian. You need to go out so we can check your vitals and give you food and get your meds in you."

Ian shook his head. "I don't want to go. I'm not hungry."

Sandra sighed. "You have to go, Mr. Gallagher."

Her voice was stern this time, so he just nodded. Everything was better if he just nodded.

Sandra's shoulders lost their tension for a moment, and she led Ian back down the darkened hall and into the light.

The smell of the dayroom reminded Ian of Carl's cooking. It lingered somewhere between tolerable and revolting and Ian wasn't even sure what he'd requested to eat.

There was a large metal cart filled with trays. Not knowing which was his, he walked passed it without pausing to inspect.

"Over here. We need to get your vitals." Sandra said. She was standing next to a chair that was large and plastic. When he sat down, the chair moved very little and he became aware that it was filled with sand. He frowned, trying to get comfortable against the hard material.

Leaning back, Ian closed his eyes as a very pregnant nurse put a thermometer under his tongue. A blood pressure cuff was slipped over his arm. It squeezed his arm tighter and tighter until finally it deflated and was removed. The thermometer followed.

"Good! you're looking good. You can go and eat. Your tray is the one with your name on it." She said, voice cheerful. She gave a wave to the metal box and turned to make the seat ready for the next patient.

Ian headed over to the box and located the tray with his name on it. Then, he took it over to a corner and studied what he had been given.

What sat before him was a tray of various foods, including grapes, bacon, regular toast, and French toast sticks. While he usually liked all of these foods, these looked disgusting. The French toast sticks and regular toast were soggy, the bacon was flimsy, and the grapes were withering. He wasn't hungry as it was, but this wasn't something he could stomach anyway.

"What happened to your arm?" A woman with dark hair came over to Ian's table, sitting down with her tray. He wished she wouldn't.

Ian shrugged. "I don't want to talk about it."

"Why?"

"I just..." Ian couldn't think of a good enough reason. "Don't want to."

The woman shrugged. "Whatever. I'm Anne."

"Hi, Anne. Could you please leave me alone?"

Ian picked at the food in front of him. He wasn't sure exactly what compelled him to, but he began to tear the bacon in front of him into tiny pieces. Out of curiosity, he popped one of the shreds into his mouth. It was a struggle to swallow; the food was just that bad.

Anne paused, her tray on the edge of the table. She looked as if this wasn't something she'd been asked before. It took her a moment to reply. "I want to sit here."

"Fine," Ian said, "then I'll go."

Before he could stand, the redhead realized that every table was occupied by at least one individual. There was no place that he could go where he could be alone. Fuck.

Ian looked away from Anne, beginning to pick at the food again. Finally, he shoved the tray away from himself and stood up.

"You have to put that away in the metal box over there. You can't just leave it on the table," Anne scolded.

Ian shrugged, snatching the tray up again. The grapes went skittering out of their bowl and across the plastic. Some fell onto the floor, but he didn't bother to try and fetch them.

He had just shoved the tray into place when his name was called. Heat rose on his neck and into his ears as he whipped around and asked, "What?"

A male nurse had a small cup with medicine in it. "You need to take these."

"Fine," he snapped. The paper cup was taken in a flash and Ian threw back the medicine. Then, he crumbled up the cup, tossed it into the trash and made his way back to his room. He needed to go back to sleep if he could, and even if he couldn't, he needed to be alone.