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when you're gone

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Ian leaves early on Tuesday morning.

“It’s only five days,” he says, as he stuffs crumpled shirts into a duffel bag.  Mickey’s still lounging in the bed, idly scratching the cat and taking great amusement from watching Ian get more and more frantic as the time of his departure approaches.  “You’ll be fine for five days.  You’ll be fine!  You will be fine, right?”

“You think I can’t last a week without your skinny ass?  Someone oughta knock that ego down a notch,” Mickey teases, throwing a pillow at Ian’s head.  Ian dodges it, and shoots Mickey a look that somehow manages to be both irritated and concerned.  Mickey rolls his eyes, goes back to scratching the cat.  “Shut the fuck up and go.”

“Okay,” says Ian, as he grabs a shoe from where it had been flung on top of their dresser.  “Okay, I’m going.  Okay.  You’re gonna be fine, right?”

Mickey throws another pillow at him.  Ian swoops down and kisses Mickey, hard, lingering for far too long before Mickey finally shoos him out of the door.


After Ian leaves, Mickey enjoys the peace and quiet in the apartment for almost an hour before finally deciding to get out of bed.

He loves living with Ian.  He will happily beat on anyone who even remotely suggests that he has any complaints.  He loves every single one of Ian’s terrible annoying habits, the way he plasters his clammy limbs over Mickey’s back while they sleep, the way he cuts his toenails in the living room, the way he plays music too loud and gets bored of every single song within a minute and changes it before it ends.  Mickey loves being driven crazy by Ian, and he’d never, ever wish Ian would go away.  But Ian has gone away.  And Mickey’s decided to make the most of it, while he has the place to himself.

So he takes his time getting up, listening to the blissful sound of silence as he heads towards the bathroom.  When he’s inside, he takes a quick piss, and then, yawning, rubs at his eyes and steps into the shower.  On autopilot, he reaches out and turns the temperature dial up - Ian always showers first and he’s some kind of crazy moron who loves ice cold showers, whereas Mickey prefers the water so hot it steams, so he’s adjusted the shower so many times that it’s actually built into his muscle memory.  He always knows the exact right amount to turn it, and the next morning when he gets in, it’s always been turned back down.

Except, of course, today.  Because Ian had left early, and hadn’t showered before hand, so the shower’s still set to the temperature Mickey’d had it on the morning before.  And he had just turned it up.

A fact he doesn’t realise until he turns it on and is blasted with boiling hot water. 

He stumbles back with a distinctly high-pitched scream, grabbing his chest where the hot water had burned him.  Then he stares angrily at the showerhead.

“That fuckin’ sucked!” he shouts, before coming to the sudden realisation that he’s in an otherwise empty apartment, and there’s nobody to hear his complaining.  He redoubles his efforts of glaring at the shower.  “Suck a tit, asshole.”

Then he goes to splash cold water on his chest, and chooses to ignore the fact that he just yelled at an inanimate object.


That night, Mickey can’t sleep.  The bed feels huge, and freezing cold - the warm spot normally created by Ian’s unusually high body temperature had disappeared, and all of the sudden the sheets feel freezing and hostile.  He lets the cat get under the covers with him but it doesn’t help.


They’ve been living together for five years.  Five years is long enough to develop a routine.  And their routine is that Ian does the dishes.  Every single night.

It’s not for any particularly meaningful reason.  Mickey just hates that chore, and Ian doesn’t mind it, so Ian does the dishes and Mickey washes their clothes, Ian cleans the shower and Mickey vacuums - they have a million of those divisions, and it works out well for them both, usually.

Except that after two days of Ian gone, Mickey realises he has no clean dishes left.

He’s not used to having to think about that shit.  He’s just been cooking and eating like he usually does, and piling his dishes up by the edge of the sink like he usually does, and expecting them to get done, like they usually do.  When he first goes to reach for a plate and finds that the cupboard is empty, he doesn’t quite know what to do.

He could just wash the dishes, sure, but he fucking hates doing that.  Plus, Ian’s the one who’s gone away, why should Mickey have to do his jobs?  He glares at the dirty dishes for a few minutes, strangely insulted by their presence.  If Ian was here none of this shit would be happening.

In the end he shrugs on his coat and braves the blizzard outside to go to the nearest store, and buy a pack of paper plates and some plastic cutlery.  It costs him a few more bucks than he’d like, but he still feels like he’s won.


Ian washes the dishes, but Mickey washes the clothes.  Except that with Ian gone, his usual schedule is thrown off; he doesn’t have enough dirty laundry to fill the machine, on the third day after Ian leaves, which is when he usually does it.  He decides not to do them; it can wait until Ian gets back.  It’s just plain fucking wasteful to run the washer with only half a load.  That shit costs money.

Except, of course, that when he wakes up on the morning of the fourth day, he realises all his work clothes are dirty.

Fucking Ian.


The cat keeps wailing.  It misses Ian, too.  Mickey tries to get it to shut up by bribing it with extra cans of tuna, but it doesn’t work.  The apartment just stinks, and they’re both still sad.


They have a dinner rota.  With both of them working full time at equally stressful jobs, there’s not really any other logical way to figure out who should do the cooking and shit.  And on the fourth day of Ian’s trip, it’s his turn.

As a silent protest, Mickey orders takeout.  Ian’s into health food lately, everything he cooks seems to be made mostly out of kale - Mickey gets a large meat lover’s pizza with extra cheese, pausing only for a moment to snigger at the accuracy of the name, and at the last minute throws in some garlic bread, too.

They always order from the same pizza place, and always have the same delivery guy.  When he rings the bell twenty three minutes later, Mickey’s waiting next to the door, and pulls it open straight away.  The bill is nineteen dollars and ninety five cents; he hands over twenty five bucks.

Keep the change," he grumbles.  "You never go away.”

The delivery guy gives him an odd look, but takes the tip anyway.


After two nights of tossing and turning in their big, cold, empty bed, Mickey gives up and heads to the couch.

It’s uncomfortable as shit, but at least it’s small.  In their bed he feels strangely open and exposed, without Ian’s awkward, clammy limbs draped all over him - at least curled up on the couch he doesn’t feel like he’s drowning in an ocean of nothingness.  He buries himself in a nest of duvets and blankets, hugging a pillow to his chest so he has something to wrap his arms around, with cushions piled on top of him, and the cat stretched out along his feet.

It’s better, but he still hardly sleeps a wink.


Ian comes home late on Saturday night.

Mickey’s sat up, waiting for him though he won’t admit it, scowling at the pile of dirty dishes in the corner and the empty takeout box and scratching the part of his chest which had gotten scalded by the shower and rubbing at his drooping eyelids.  The second he hears keys in the door, he leaps up, and before Ian’s even fully inside the apartment Mickey’s hugging him.

Ian stumbles back with surprise, but recovers after a second, grabbing onto Mickey’s shirt and hugging him back, so tight Mickey can hardly breathe, burying his face in Mickey’s neck.  Mickey feels actual fucking tears welling up in his eyes, blinks them back because he can’t believe how dumb that is, but Ian’s so warm and he smells all soapy and minty just like always, and his arms are wrapped so tightly around Mickey, and Mickey feels fucking safe for the first time in a week.  It’s dumb but so’s he, when it comes to Ian; he’s long since accepted that.

So he just gives into it, squeezes his arms around Ian’s waist, breathes in deep and grumbles, “Don’t you fuckin’ dare ever leave again.”