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a thousand and one ways to show you care

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he cook for you?

--

Debbie rolls out of bed with a sigh.

She pulls on the first pair of leggings she sees on her floor without even thinking about it, pushes her hair out of her eyes, and, stifling a yawn, heads out of her room and down the stairs.  It’s a school day, and she’s up even earlier than usual.  If she had her say she wouldn’t be, but with Fiona working night shifts at the diner, she hasn’t been getting in until four AM, and it doesn’t exactly work if she then has to get up at six to make breakfast and school lunches for Debbie and Carl.  So Debbie’s taken it on, at least for a while.  At first it had seemed like a novelty - it had felt like being important, being the new Fiona, the one who people relied on, at least for something.  Two weeks in, though, it’s just boring, and she’s already counting the days until Fiona’s shifts get get changed again.

She’s still rubbing the sleep out of her eyes when she descends the stairs, so it takes her a moment to notice.  In fact, she doesn’t see anything at all, to begin with, but smells it rather, her unsuspecting nostrils suddenly filling with the sweet scent of syrup.  The next thing is sound - she hears the clattering of pans, someone swearing under their breath.  And there’s only one person in this house who uses language that bad.

So she’s kind of expecting it when she rounds the corner and sees Mickey in the kitchen, hovering over the stove with pans and pancake batter.  That doesn’t mean it’s any less surprising.

“Hey,” he says, when he spots her, sounding utterly nonchalant, like this isn't a strange occurrence at all.  “You want Mickey Mouse shapes or regular?”

She glances over her shoulder, though she’s not quite sure why.  She kind of thinks maybe a camera crew is about to leap out at her and announce she’s fallen for the prank of the century.  When she turns back around, Ian’s appeared, and is winding his arms around Mickey’s waist from behind.  Mickey’s trying to bat him away, but the grin splitting his face apart suggests he maybe doesn’t actually mind too much.

“I want Mickey-shaped pancakes,” Ian says, laughing and then pressing his lips into the crook of Mickey’s neck, biting down gently.  Mickey rolls his eyes, manages to shove Ian away from him.

“You’re getting deformed fucking circles like the rest of us, shut up.”

--

wash your clothes?

--

Fiona sighs as she scoops the pile of dirty clothes off Debbie’s floor and into the washing basket.  The thing was already basically full by the time Carl had heaped in everything he’d covered in dirt over the last week, and then she’d found a few things on Lip’s floor as well; with hers and Debbie’s added, she might have to run more than one load.  It somehow seems like since she got back from jail, the housework has doubled, though she knows that can’t be true.

Still, she’s just happy to be home, even if it means she has to do laundry every single day for the rest of her life.  She hugs the overflowing basket to her chest and plods down the stairs, already planning what to do next - she should probably start making school lunches for the next day, and wonders if they have any jelly left.

Only when she gets downstairs, she finds that the washing machine is already running.

Her eyebrows shoot up as soon as she sees it, and she inches closer suspiciously.  Nobody but her ever does laundry.  She considers the possibility that they’ve had a very odd kind of break-in, and some creepy stranger is washing his used underwear in their machine or something.

But before she can investigate further, the mystery solves itself - because she sees Mickey wandering towards her from the living room, a cigarette dangling between his lips and an empty washing basket under his arm.

“Hey,” he says, like this is a normal fucking event.  “You want the machine?  I’m just about to take this load out.”

She stares at him, bewildered.

“You’re washing your clothes here now?” she asks.  She’d known he was staying over a lot - it seemed like every night but she figured he had to be going home sometimes - but didn’t think he was getting so fucking comfortable.

“It’s mostly Ian’s,” he replies.  If she was shocked before, it’s nothing compare to how she feels after he says that.  “He’s been workin’ so much he doesn’t really have time to do all his housework shit.”

Fiona feels like she switches onto autopilot, remembers what she’d said to Mandy last year when she was pulling this shit with Lip, repeats it blindly even though she knows the situations are beyond different.

“Maybe next time you wanna throw in Debbie or Liam’s with yours?” she suggests, as much attitude in her voice as she can muster up while she’s still in such a state of complete shock.  Mickey frowns at her as he stubs his cigarette out on top of the machine.

“Debs said she didn’t have any, but I threw in a bunch of Liam’s shit, and, uh, Carl had some but there were a shitload of bloodstains on it so I put it in the tub to soak instead.”

Fiona blinks.  Opens her eyes as wide as she can, to make sure she’s actually seeing the world right.  Blinks again.

“Oh,” she says.  “Well.”

There’s a long pause, and then the washing machine splutters to a halt.  She watches in silence as Mickey opens it up, scoops all the wet clothes out and transfers them to the drier, hits a couple of buttons on it with expert ease, like he’s done this a million times before.

“All yours,” he mutters, wandering away.

And Fiona’s left with the bizarre feeling that she knows a lot less than she ever thought she did.

--

stay over more than four nights a week?

--

Carl’s been watching them for a month.

At first, he’d been kinda worried.  It hadn’t taken him long to figure out that Ian and Mickey were together, or banging, or both of the above.  And he was sharing a room with them, his bunk bed giving him an unavoidable view of Ian’s bed on the ground beneath him.  He was a little more educated in the mechanics of gay sex these days, but had no desire for a live show, let alone with one of the guys being his brother.

But it’s been a month, and he hasn’t had to use the earplugs and blindfold he’d secreted away under his pillow once.

He figures they must be fucking somewhere else, at Mickey’s house where he doesn’t seem to live much anymore, or maybe in the day when nobody else is home.  But at night, they don’t fuck.  Carl’s been watching them for a month.  What they do is cuddle.

It’s fucking crazy.  Mickey had slept on the floor at first, either to try and convince people that he wasn’t actually Ian’s butt buddy or because Ian’s bed was tiny as shit, Carl didn’t know.  But after a couple weeks he’d given up on that, had dropped all the pretences.  And now, when Carl wakes up in the morning for school, every day, he looks down and sees them curled up together.  Ian usually sprawled out on his back, with Mickey tucked into his side, or sometimes them fucking spooning, Ian’s whole body wrapped around Mickey, their fingers joined and dangling off the edge of the mattress, Ian’s lips pressed against Mickey’s neck.  Carl thinks that even if they had a double bed they’d probably only need a quarter of the space.  They seem to have the ability to fuse into one person.

And the thing is - it’s every fucking night.  The few mornings when Carl wakes up and sees Ian alone in the bed, he goes downstairs and finds Mickey making breakfast or playing with Liam or arguing with Lip.  Mickey doesn’t ever seem to stay at his own house.

He doesn’t think that’s really normal, for a couple who aren’t actually officially living together.  But he remembers Mandy and Lip from the year before, how she’d basically moved in without telling anyone, and figures it’s just a Milkovich thing.

--

help you out with random stuff?

--

Lip’s woken up by voices outside his room.

Groaning, he tries to roll over and go back to sleep, but the damage has already been done.  He can recognise the voices, too, pretty distinctly - the loudest one is Mickey’s.  That only makes it worse.  Lip’s not exactly Mickey’s biggest fan to begin with, and the guy isn’t even supposed to live here, why’s he making noise this early in the fucking morning?

Lip doesn’t really pay attention to what Mickey's saying, more the fact that he's saying it far too loudly.  He rolls out of bed and pulls on a pair of sweatpants, grabs the pack of smokes on his bedside table and lights one up, takes a long drag before he feels ready to go and confront the world.

As soon as he emerges from his room, though, he stops in his tracks.  Ian and Mickey are stood in the doorway of Ian’s room, dressed in sweats, and Ian’s holding onto the pull-up bar, but is just standing there rather than actually doing pull-ups.  The reason he’s just standing there may have something to do with Mickey’s hand, which is pushing hard against his chest.

“Man, come on, you know it makes you sick if you take your pills after you work out,” Mickey’s saying.

Lip frowns.  It’s the first thing he’s actually paid attention to in the conversation, and it seems weird, contradictory almost.  But then, he supposes there’s no accounting for the strange kinds of side-effects you get when you’re taking medication as strong as what Ian’s on.  What’s weirder is the fact that Mickey knows this, and apparently cares enough to remind Ian of it.

“Ugh, fine,” says Ian.  Lip must have missed the bulk of the argument, because Ian rarely gives in on things without a fight, but now he just stomps into the bathroom.  There are a few clattering sounds, which he figures is Ian taking the pills.  Then Ian reappears, and Mickey looks at him, eyebrows raised.

“You gonna quit acting like a fuckin’ three year old now?” he asks.  Ian rolls his eyes, shoves Mickey in the chest, but takes hold of the pull-up bar again.  Lip kind of figures that’ll be it, and Mickey will head off to do something else, now he’s successfully bullied Ian into taking his meds.  But instead he stays right where he is, even rests his hands on Ian’s waist as Ian starts his pull-ups, and just watches him.

Lip can’t really decide if it’s weird or just kind of sweet.

“How many you doing?” Mickey asks a few seconds later.  His voice isn’t hostile, just gently curious, which is strange enough in itself.

“Just a couple of sets,” Ian grunts in response.  “Then we’re going for a run, yeah?”

“Yeah,” says Mickey.  He doesn’t sound all that thrilled about it, and for a second, Lip ponders the truly bizarre idea of Mickey Milkovich jogging.  He’s always figured Mickey got all his exercise the traditional Milkovich way - beating on people bigger than him and occasionally sprinting from the cops.

Then, Lip remembers Ian’s doctor.  Who’d said that it was important Ian kept himself as healthy as possible, to make sure his meds had the full effect - who said that starting every day with a run was the best thing he could do.  And how Ian had been reluctant, because once he’d come down from his manic phase, he’d remembered how much he’d always hated running.

And now Mickey and Ian are going running together.  Lip has an inkling of how that might have come about.  And for the first time in pretty much ever he finds himself grateful to Mickey Milkovich for something he's done for Ian.

--

you are ghetto married

--

Ian’s just taken his first bite of spaghetti when Kev starts fucking with him.

With Fiona at work, Lip at school and Carl at Sheila’s house, the dinner table is more scarce than they’re used to.  Kev and Vee had mostly only come over to get a break by pawning the twins off on Debbie for a while, but when they'd realised how quiet the place was seeming, they'd ended up staying for dinner.  It had seemed like a nice idea at the time - Ian and Debbie have grown up loving Kev and Vee, so it's hardly unusual for them to hang out, and Kev and Mickey are actually friends these days, which Ian is nothing but happy to encourage.  He kind of figures everyone in the universe should want to be friends with Mickey.  But as it turns out, he comes to regret asking them to stay pretty damn quickly.

“So, did I miss the wedding?”

At first, Ian doesn’t have a clue what Kev’s talking about.  Doesn't regret anything yet.  He looks up, not thinking much of it, and hardly even notices the shit-eating grin on Kev’s face.

“Whose wedding?” Mickey asks, though he doesn’t seem very interested.  His hand is resting on Ian’s knee, under the table.  Ian is a little distracted.

“You two,” Kev says.  Suddenly, he has Ian’s full attention.  “I mean, Mickey, you do know you’re a ghetto wife, right?  Debbie said you cook for him, Fiona said you wash his clothes, Carl said you stay over every single night and don’t even fuck, just cuddle, Lip said you’re basically in charge of Ian’s meds, and that you help each other work out and shit.  You guys are so married, it’s not even funny.”

Kev’s laughing awfully hard for something that’s not funny.  Ian could fucking kill him, glances over nervously at Mickey to gauge his reaction, see how much damage control he’s gonna have to do - and finds himself completely shocked by Mickey’s expression, which is nothing short of nonchalant.

“So long as I don’t gotta buy a ring,” Mickey says, and keeps eating.

--

enjoy it

--

That night, they don’t really fuck.  They jerk each other off in the bathroom, quick and quiet, nipping at each other’s lips and laughing under their breath when they stumble backwards and nearly land on their asses.  When they’ve both come, they brush their teeth and climb into Ian’s bed, tangling their limbs together underneath the sheets.

Mickey rests his head on Ian’s chest, and within minutes feels like he could fall asleep.  But Ian is still carding his hand through Mickey’s hair, and seems distracted.

“Are you really okay with what Kev was saying earlier?” he murmurs, just when Mickey is on the brink of sleep.  Annoyed, Mickey blinks his eyes back open.

“What about it?”

“A few months ago you wouldn’t even admit we were together, and now you’re okay with everyone calling us married?” Ian asks.  His voice is low, careful not to disturb Carl or Liam, but somehow still has a kind of intensity that Mickey is far too tired to deal with.

“Shit, man,” he says, pressing his face closer into Ian’s chest and trying to collect his thoughts.  “Yeah, sure, I’m okay with it.  We’ve been through fuckin’ hell, I think it’s pretty obvious that neither of us is going anywhere.  If we ain’t ghetto married, we might as well be.”

Ian doesn’t say anything else, but when Mickey glances up, he sees a smile on Ian’s face, and watches as Ian’s eyes finally flicker shut.