Mickey’s relationship with his kid was…strained. Mickey knew fuck-all about children. He’d always figured one of the major blessings of getting fucked by dudes was that it significantly reduced his chances of ever needing to learn. But maybe God actually did hate fags, like the bleating Bible-beaters were always going on about, because here he was, taking it up the ass on the daily, and still having to deal with an infant.
The kid maybe, kind of, looked a little like him. It was possible it was actually his. But not likely. He didn’t really believe it.
Still, he fucking married the whore, and she popped out the kid, and now he was responsible for it, at least in the eyes of the law. And now, in the eyes of Svetlana, who’d decided they’re going to split the time coddling the thing while the other was off fucking their gay lover. Like that was a fucking healthy environment for a kid.
Since Svetlana “worked” and insisted that Mickey did jack-shit all day, it ended up being him with the kid most days and nights. It was fucking awful.
Mickey didn’t like to touch the kid too much, and didn’t have the first idea of how to deal with a dirty diaper. Svetlana cut him some slack in the early days, when Ian was in bed and refusing to get out, but when Ian improved, she took more and more to dumping the thing on him and walking away, leaving Mickey with the floppy-headed monstrosity and no idea what to do with it.
“He’s an infant, they don’t do much of anything,” insisted the little girl Gallagher, who was practically living at their house during Ian’s down period. “You just have to feed him and keep him clean and warm, and you know, occasionally hold him and stuff. Babies are easy.”
Mickey didn’t think so, but whatever, she showed him how to make a bottle and change a diaper, and it turned out that it wasn’t rocket science or anything, so he muddled through most days.
It turned out, Ian loved babies. Lip and Fiona had come and bodily forced Ian to a clinic on a day when Mickey was checking in at the Alibi (fucking Svetlana had told them Mickey wasn’t going to be there that day, Mickey knew that for a fact, the fucking bitch) and got him a prescription. Mickey had, it must be said, freaked out more than a little bit over coming home to find Ian gone, but the truth was that he was much better on his meds, and no one had brought up sending him to a mental hospital again, so Mickey was content to let it stand and not break any heads over it.
And once Ian was up, he pretty much fell right into playing house with the littlest Milkovich. Must have been all the practice he got with his younger brothers and sisters. Mickey would watch as Ian dandled his baby on his knee and played “trot trot to Boston” and “little robin red-breast” and wondered if Ian even remembered the fucking hell that Mickey had been through just because that baby existed.
Mickey always remembered, every time he looked at the kid.
Maybe it wasn’t fair to the kid, but hell, the thing was a Milkovich. If he was expecting life to be fair to him, he was in for a real rude awakening.
Which was why Mickey also put on his big boy panties and sucked it up when it was his turn to watch the kid. Yeah, looking at it kind of made Mickey’s stomach churn with the memory of Svetlana’s pussy around his limp cock and the tortured look on Ian’s face when he was saying his marriage vows, but who gave a fuck about that, right? No one.
Still, when his brother Tony showed up at the Milkovich household, acting like he wanted to make good on his suggestion of playing with the kid, Mickey didn’t exactly look a gift horse in the mouth, and immediately recruited his brother as a babysitter.
Mickey wasn’t stupid. He knew that there was a list of people more qualified than Tony to look after the baby. The little girl Gallagher, for one, or even Fiona or Kevin. But those are all really Ian’s people, and even if they’d do it, for Ian if not for Mickey, Mickey knew that in the South Side, you gotta make your own shit work out for yourself. Tony was Mickey’s people.
So when Ian was more balanced on his meds and suggested that he and Mickey make a night out on the town, go to the movies and dinner and hold hands and generally act like they want to be seen together in public, Mickey gave Tony a call.
“Ey, Fuckface,” Mickey said into the phone, because that’s how the Milkovich siblings express affection. “You want to look after the kid tomorrow night?”
Mickey had no idea what the fuck to wear on a date. He’d never been on a date before. The only thing he’d ever had that could even be loosely termed a relationship was with Ian, and that had never been an option in all the time they’d been fucking. Sure, he could have taken his wife on a date, or whatever, but fuck, who the hell would want to spend any more time with her than was strictly necessary?
Not Mickey, was the answer to that question.
He knew the basics though. Look nice and shit. So he took a shower and made Mandy approve an outfit for him before she left for the late shift at the diner, which she did, even though she rolled her eyes at him like she thought he was fucking ridiculous. Like he gave a fuck what she thought. She was wearing a squirrel on her fucking head and was mourning Lip Gallagher like he’d fucking died and didn’t live two blocks away. It wasn’t like she had her shit any more together than he did.
Mickey was slicking back his hair in the mirror for the third time when Tony came walking into the house. “Ey,” he said, nodding his head at Mickey. “Where’s the kid?”
Mickey flicked his head to the corner, where the baby was in its carrier on the floor. Ian was always getting on Mickey about taking the baby out of the carrier and holding it, or whatever, but Mickey felt more comfortable if he didn’t have to touch the thing more than necessary.
Tony obviously didn’t feel the same compunction, as he bent down to scoop the kid out of the carrier and cradle it. It looked small in the folds of his brother’s arms, and Mickey felt what might almost be termed a twinge of concern.
“Look, just be careful with him, alright? Svetlana will cut off my balls if you drop him or something,” Mickey told Tony, trying to watch the two interact out of the corner of his eye, from the non-broken portion of the mirror, instead of turning and looking at them straight on.
“Don’t be a douchebag, Mickey. Babies love me,” protested Tony. “Isn’t that right, little man?” he cooed at the baby.
Mickey rolled his eyes. “He doesn’t do much. You just have to feed him when he cries, and if he’s already been fed then you probably have to change him. It’s not rocket science,” he told Tony, echoing the little Gallagher’s words back to his brother.
Tony was making a sort of bouncing motion with his body, which the kid seemed to like if the little cooing spit bubbles it was blowing were any indication. Mickey stared for a moment. How did Tony’s body just seem to know how to do that? Mickey spent every second holding the kid terrified that he would drop it. He didn’t feel confident walking around holding it, much less bouncing up and down like a kid’s favorite swing-toy.
Whatever, he thought eventually. Pretty soon, the kid would be getting around on its own, and then Mickey wouldn’t be obligated to hold it anymore.
Mickey gave himself one last once-over in the mirror. He figured he looked okay, or as okay as he was ever going to get. Mickey knew what he looked like. He owned a fucking mirror, thank you, even if it was broken. He knew he wasn’t hideous, that he’d inherited his mom’s dark hair and pale skin that almost never broke out, and that his eyes were okay and a nice color. He also knew that his eyebrows were weird and short, and his nose was thin and long, and that his hair was greasy. He knew those things about himself.
He knew that there were people out there that would like to fuck someone that looked like him, but he also knew that those people weren’t the pretty, shiny people that lived outside of the South Side.
He felt okay with Ian Gallagher wanting him. Gallagher was better looking than him, but he was South Side, too. They fit.
Satisfied, Mickey grabbed his coat off of the bathroom door where he’d stuck it for convenience and put it over his arm.
“Thanks, man,” he told Tony. “I’ll be back…” he paused. “Whenever. But Mandy will be home before me, if you want to take off early.”
“Whoa, wait, man,” Tony protested. Mickey paused, impatient to go pick up Ian. The other boy had been splitting his time between the Gallagher house and the Milkoviches’ and it felt like it had been ages since Mickey had seen him, even though realistically, it hadn’t.
“Aren’t you going to tell me his routine?” Tony asked. “Routine is important for kids.”
Mickey scratched his eyebrow in a mix of annoyance and puzzlement. First off, ‘feed it and change it’ had to be enough of a routine, didn’t it? But also…
“Since when do you know jack shit about kids?” Mickey asked, accusingly.
Tony scratched the back of his neck sheepishly, causing Mickey’s heart to do a funny little skip as he casually held the kid in a single arm to do it.
“I’ve been maybe hanging out a little with Charlotte Spimoni.”
Mickey’s eyebrows went up. Lottie Spimoni had been in Mickey’s class, and was known for not being a rocket scientist and popping out two kids before dropping out as a senior.
But Mickey couldn’t remember her actively being a bitch, and he knew that she’d gone off both smokes and liquor for both of her pregnancies, so maybe she wasn’t an awful match for Tony. The two could get married and raise dumb-as-bricks children together.
“Oh, yeah? She have you watching her brats, too?” Mickey asked.
“Sometimes I help out,” Tony said, indicating casually with the hand not holding the baby. “And Charlotte’s real anal about stuff like when they’re supposed to eat and go to bed, and every time she leaves them with someone, she’s got, like, a whole fucking list of stuff they like and don’t like and whatever. Routine.”
Mickey had no fucking idea what the kid’s routine is, but he strongly suspected it was non-existent. The thing was being raised by two whores, a pimp and a go-go dancer, all of them fags. If it made it to be a teenager, Mickey would count himself a successful parent.
But Tony could get kind of stubborn about stupid shit like kids, and if Mickey didn’t lay down a routine, he has a feeling he wouldn’t be able to get out of the house until he created one from scratch. But hell, he’s a Milkovich. Bullshitting his way through things couldn’t be that hard. And as it turned out, Mickey’s learned more through osmosis than he’d thought, because he did know the basic shit, like where the bottles were and where Svetlana stored the breastmilk she pumped out of her cans a couple of times a day, and he knew that out of the kid’s four toys, he liked the blue rattle the best.
Fuck, he should probably get the kid some more toys or something. Four didn’t seem like a lot.
He told Tony that the kid seemed to like the knee-bouncing games Ian played with him, and Nika, whose written English skills were better than Svetlana’s, sometimes struggled through a story from the ancient battered book of fairy tales that used to belong to Mickey, and then to Mandy, and had been kicking around the house ever since, with the whole family being too lazy to throw it away.
For the rest, Mickey said, “I don’t know. Fucking feed him when he cries. Put him in his crib when you get sick of him for the night. He’s a fucking infant, he sleeps all the time anyway.”
That settled, Mickey shrugged on his coat and headed once again for the door.
“Hey, wait,” said Tony again, and Mickey just raised his hands to the ceiling like he was praying for fucking strength, before letting them flop to his sides again.
“What now?” he asked Tony irritably.
“What’s his name, again?” Tony asked. “It’s some foreign shit, right? I can never remember it.”
Mickey considered this question, which shouldn’t have been that difficult. Mickey almost never called the kid by name, mostly because it’s a stupid name and he could barely pronounce it. Svetlana sometimes calls it Zhenya, which isn’t any easier to pronounce and also made no fucking sense as a nickname for Yevgeny anyway.
“Yev,” he finally settled on, which is what Ian mostly called the kid.
Thank God, Tony seemed to find that satisfactory, and when Mickey was finally able to leave the house, Tony was already waving the blue rattle in the baby’s face. Mickey almost had a moment of pause before closing the door, wondering if maybe he should have relied on Ian’s little sister after all, before firming his resolve and leaving the kid in his older brother’s hands. Fuck, if the Spimoni brats had survived under Tony’s care, Mickey’s kid could, too. The thing was a Milkovich. Milkoviches were fucking tough.
It had taken weeks to get Ian onto an even keel with his medication. Mickey had spent a good portion of that time biting his fingernails to bloody stubs and worrying. It wasn’t a time he wanted to go back to by any means. But it had had the advantage of having Ian ensconced in the Milkovich house for the duration, where there were more adults around on a daily basis to help monitor him.
Ian still spent days at a time with Mickey and Mandy, but now that he was on his meds and back to being an Ian that Mickey recognized, he’d eventually felt guilty about spending all of his time with them and had split to spend some time with his siblings. Mickey didn’t begrudge him that. He really didn’t. He’d just gotten kind of used to waking up in the same bed as the guy, was all. That was never a thing Mickey thought he would be able to have. Sue him for wanting to hold onto it.
Mickey wasn’t even halfway up the steps of the Gallagher porch when Ian came busting out of the door, coat already on and beaming.
“Calm down, Cinderella,” Mickey told him. “You ain’t gonna turn into a pumpkin if we don’t get you back by midnight. We got time to kill.”
Ian managed to look a little sheepish, but no less exuberant. “Just a little wound up Mick. Not very often we get to get out of the house to hang out together.” Ian clomped down the stairs, and Mickey noted that he wasn’t the only one who’d put a bit of product in his hair and dug out a button down with no visible stains on it.
Ian had lost a lot of weight and muscle in the first couple of weeks of his recovery, and Mickey knew he was self-conscious about it. But hell, Gallagher had looked plenty good to him as a skinny, gangly teenager covered in freckles, and he looked plenty good now. It wasn’t Ian’s muscles that he was attracted to.
Or, well, not only his muscles.
Mickey scratched his neck self-consciously. “You can fucking call it a date, Copper Cock, I ain’t gonna bash you for it,” he muttered gruffly. Fuck, if he was out, he might as well be really fucking out, right?
It was nearly worth the soul-sucking embarrassment for the sunlight coming out of Gallagher’s dumb fucking puppy dog face.
Mickey took Ian to a nice restaurant. Or, you know, not nice, but nice for the South Side. A sit-down Italian place that as far as Mickey knew, didn’t even have any ties to the mob or anything.
Ian seemed to like it, but it was all Mickey could do to keep from sweating through his shirt. He didn’t fucking know what to do on a date.
And fucking worse, he kept thinking about Tony and the kid.
Tony wasn’t the shiniest bolt in the Milkovich toolbox, and the standards weren’t very high. What if something happened to the kid and Tony didn’t know how to deal with it? Mickey had no idea what possible disasters he thought were going to happen, especially considering the kid wasn’t even properly crawling yet. But he figured that if anyone in the world could manage to get into trouble while being limited by the wiggling belly drag the kid had evolved, it was a Milkovich.
Mickey didn’t even realize he’d been nervously tapping his spoon against the table until he felt Ian’s long fingers close over his own. Then the glanced down and felt his cheeks get red.
“You want to tell me what’s up with you?” Ian asked. His lips were lifted a little in the corners, so Mickey knew he wasn’t pissed off or anything, but he still kind of felt like he was messing up their date.
“Nothin’,” he said, deliberately putting down the utensils and determinedly picking up his menu to stare at uncomprehendingly. It was fucking Italian, he’d just order spaghetti or some shit.
“Really?” Ian asked. “Because it kinda doesn’t seem like nothing.” Mickey shot Ian a glare over the menu. “Kinda seems like something.”
Mickey shrugged it off. “I just…I never really done this before,” he admitted, embarrassed.
Ian gave a little hum. “Well, me neither, Mickey.”
Mickey scoffed. “Bullshit. I watched you go on a fucking fairy date with what’s his name. The geriatric you were banging.”
Ian’s mouth wasn’t just hinting at a smile anymore, it was a full-blown grin. “First of all, his name was Lloyd. Which you well know,” he said.
Mickey might have known that, but he didn’t have to fucking acknowledge it.
“Second of all,” Ian continued, “they weren’t really dates. He wasn’t my boyfriend.” He gave Mickey a significant look. “I didn’t count them.”
Mickey’s not sure that didn’t mean they weren’t dates, but he forced his shoulders to relax anyway. This shit couldn’t be that hard. Fucktards like his brothers managed to get on with it all the time. Mickey could figure it out.
Mickey ordered his pasta, and Ian ordered lasagna, and the two of them spent an awkward few moments starting at each other across the table while they were waiting on their food.
“Y’know, I don’t remember it being this weird when we were just having sex,” Mickey complained.
That seemed to break the ice, as Ian laughed. “Think maybe we’re putting too much pressure on ourselves, here, Mickey?” Ian asked. “It’s just dinner.”
It wasn’t just dinner, and Mickey knew that. This was everything Gallagher wanted in a relationship, and Mickey was trying damn hard to give it to him. But Mickey wasn’t the romantic date kind of guy. He could handle action movies and pizza bagels on his couch. Beyond that, he didn’t have a fucking clue.
“Yeah, it’s just dinner,” Mickey agreed, instead of saying any of that shit out loud.
It did get a little easier after that, though. Ian gave Mickey a rundown of what all the other Gallaghers are up to. Mickey only cared to the extent that he knew that Ian cared about them. Well, okay, the little girl Gallagher wasn’t so bad, even though she wore way too much makeup for an 8-year-old, or however the fuck old she was.
“And Liam…Well, he’s doing pretty good, I guess. Every time he sneezes Fiona seems to think she killed him. He might have damage from the coke, but we probably won’t know for sure until he’s older and talking more and shit.”
And fuck, the plight of the little black baby Gallagher was just reminding him of the kid back home with Tony.
Not that he thought Tony would deliberately give the kid drugs. Tony was a moron, not cruel. But sometimes being a moron was all it took. Mickey bet that Fiona hadn’t intended on possibly permanently frying Liam’s brain, but that shit had still happened, hadn’t it?
“I gotta hit the can,” Mickey announced abruptly.
“Oh.” Ian looked a little startled. Shit, that had come pretty much out of left field, hadn’t it? “Okay.”
Mickey shoved back his chair and made his way to the men’s room. Once safely in the single room – Jesus, an individual bathroom? This place was fancy as fuck – he pulled out his phone and pulled up Tony’s number.
The phone rang an uncomfortable number of times before Tony finally picked up with a breathless hello.
“How’s the fucking kid?” was what Mickey opened with.
“What? He’s fine. Mickey, you’ve only been gone an hour.”
Oh, right. Probably even Tony couldn’t completely fuck up the kid in an hour. And to be fair, Mickey could hear the faint infant giggles of the kid in the background, along with the soft sound of splashes.
“Why do I hear water?” Mickey asked, trying not to grind his teeth.
“I had to get him in a bath,” Tony said. “I don’t think he likes that tit milk. Barfed it up all over himself. It was gross.”
Mickey slowly counted to ten and reminded himself that the fucking kid was always vomiting or shitting or excreting some kind of disgusting fluid. There was no reason to believe this was anything more than the kid being a vindictive little shit and spitting up on the adult holding him for no other reason than it gave him a sadistic pleasure.
“He okay?” he asked anyway.
“I said he was, didn’t I? It’s just spit up, Mickey, and I got him in the tub, and now he’s fine.”
Mickey dropped his head back in frustration. “Why the fuck would you put him in the bathtub? He’s fucking tiny, put him in the sink like a normal fucking person! He’s gonna fucking drown.”
“He’s fine, I got him,” said Tony, easily. Mickey wondered if he was actually holding the phone to his ear and just holding onto the kid with one hand.
“All right, sorry,” Mickey forced himself to say. “I’m sure he’s fine.”
“Here, you want to talk to him?” asked Tony.
“What?” The kid wasn’t even six months old, how exactly did Tony envision that conversation going?
“Yeah. Here, Yev, say hi to Daddy.” There was a shuffling, which Mickey assumed was Tony putting the phone to the baby’s ear. Now Tony was definitely only holding onto his kid with one hand while the thing was in the middle of water and had barely learned to control its neck muscles or whatever. “Say hi, Mickey,” instructed Tony, slightly tinny with his mouth away from the receiver.
It was possible Mickey had felt more stupid than he did right at that moment, but it wasn’t likely.
“Hey, kid,” he said anyway, if only to satisfy Tony. To his surprise, the kid made a happy little noise, followed by a quick babbling of nonsensical syllables.
More shuffling, and then Tony was back on. “See, he was happy to hear from you. But you don’t have to be so nervous, Mickey. We’re having a good time. Everything’s fine.”
Mickey had to concede it wasn’t likely that Tony would drown his kid, and was about to let it go, when a knock came at the door.
“Mickey?” Ian called through the door. “You fall in, or what, man?”
“I gotta go,” he muttered into the phone, hitting the end call button. He flushed the toilet for verisimilitude, and then gave himself a second before opening the door. “Damn, Firecrotch, let a man do his business in peace, would you?”
Ian had a concerned crease in between his eyebrows. “Well, excuse me. You were taking fucking forever. Our food’s here.”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m coming,” Mickey said, stuffing his phone back in his pocket.
Mickey and Ian only got into a minor scuffle over who was going to pay the check. Clearly, one of them had to pay – this was a date.
“I got more disposable income than you,” argued Ian. “Besides, you have to pay the babysitter, right?”
Mickey almost laughed, because bullshit was Tony getting paid for watching the kid for a couple of hours. It never would have occurred to Mickey to offer, and it never would have occurred to Tony to demand it.
Ian took Mickey’s momentary distraction as an opportunity to snatch the bill from Mickey’s hand, where he’d won it after a brief skirmish. Mickey had to remind himself this was Ian, not Iggy or Jamie, and stabbing him with a fork wasn’t a valid way to end the disagreement.
Ian ignored Mickey’s scowl, and stuffed some of his crumpled bills into the billfold. “Don’t be such a sourpuss, Mickey. We’re gonna be late for the movie.” Ian grinned at him. “If you’re nice to me, I’ll let you buy me popcorn.”
Ian had wanted to see some dumb fucking comedy, which wasn’t Mickey’s favorite genre, but he was pretty sure that even Ian knew the majority of this night was more for his benefit than Mickey’s. Ian was pretty much reveling in being out, and he wanted to be out in public. Mickey would just as soon be at home in bed with his legs wrapped around Ian.
Instead, here he was, standing in line to actually buy tickets to get into this theater legitimately, instead of paying an usher half the price to leave an emergency exit propped open like a normal fucking human being. Because this was his first fucking date, and Mickey actually wanted to do things the right way for once, instead of the Milkovich way.
Even if the Milkovich way was cheaper, and Gallagher probably wouldn’t have had an issue with it in the first place. Whatever. Next time. Mickey was pretty sure that even with how much he’d been fucking up on this date, there would still be a next time.
Reasonably sure, anyway.
Mickey did win a minor victory in that when he pulled out his wallet at the ticket booth and glared Ian into submission, the other boy just raised his hands in surrender and let Mickey buy the tickets.
By the time Mickey also paid for Gallagher’s damned popcorn, he’d figured out that the dinner probably would have been the cheaper option. Whatever. Dates were supposed to be expensive as fuck.
Ian dragged Mickey straight to the back of the theater, and Mickey couldn’t help but roll his eyes. Maybe he’d never been on a date before, but Mickey knew there’s one reason couples go to the back of the theater. If Gallagher thought they were going to spend the movie making out under the projection booth light, he could just forget it. Maybe Mickey was out now, but this was still the South Side. There was no point in inviting trouble if it could be avoided.
But when Ian took his seat and didn’t let go of Mickey’s wrist, Mickey didn’t protest that, either. Because it was the South Side, and there was no point in inviting trouble, but he was also on a date with his boyfriend, and Ian could damn well hold Mickey’s hand if it made him happy.
And Ian did seem happy. When the lights went down, he shot a dumb, excited grin at Mickey, and Mickey couldn’t help but give a grin back, because Ian just had that kind of face that made it impossible not to smile back at.
It turned out that Ian was the type to be completely absorbed in a movie, so, by twenty minutes in, Mickey was pretty much ignoring the movie and passing the time by sneaking looks at Ian.
Ian had a great smile, and a better laugh, Mickey thought. And it was so ridiculously easy to make him happy. He laughed at all of the dumb – and some of them were D-U-M dumb – jokes in the movie. Occasionally, he would jostle Mickey’s arm or turn his head to look at Mickey whenever he thought a gag was particularly good. Mickey smiled back at him, and Ian went back to the movie, popcorn flowing easily from bucket to mouth. He never seemed to catch on that whenever he looked at Mickey, Mickey was already looking at him.
Ian was laughing at the romance triangle subplot when Mickey’s phone vibrated under his ass. Mickey didn’t even feel bad about digging it out in the theater. Only a limited number of people had his number and they all knew where he was right now. No one was going to risk his wrath unless it was something fucking important.
He checked the text surreptitiously, keeping the phone low and by his side. It was from Tony.
Kid hv fav bt story? Wnt stop crying.
It took Mickey a second to puzzle that out. What the fuck was a bt? Bedtime, he eventually figured out. He debated just letting Tony deal with it. So the fucking kid was crying? Tony was only in charge for a few hours, so he could just suck it up and let the kid cry himself sick.
He looked at Ian, still happily absorbed in his flick. He leaned over and said in his ear, “Popcorn’s making me thirsty. I’m gonna get us some pop.”
Ian looked at him like he was crazy. “You haven’t even had any of the popcorn.”
Okay, so Mickey was a shitty liar, so sue him.
“Whatever, Copper Cock, you want a drink or what?”
Ian looked like he wanted to argue, but a theater wasn’t the place to do it. “Coke, I guess,” he said. But he didn’t look happy about it.
Great, now Mickey felt like an asshole and he had to go deal with his fucking kid. This date was going great.
Mickey made his way out of the theater and into the hallway, where he pulled out his phone and called Tony for the second time that night.
“The fuck’s going on?” he demanded the second Tony answered. He could hear the kid wailing away in the background and the sound set his teeth on edge.
“Kid doesn’t want to go in the crib,” said Tony. “He keeps falling asleep when I’m holding him, but the second I put him down, he wakes up and starts bawling again. Doesn’t want any part of it.”
Mickey was mystified. He didn’t remember putting the kid down for the night being any big production. Svetlana sometimes sung to him in Russian, and Ian read him stories with funny voices, but sometimes it was Mickey or Mandy or Nika putting him down, and they all just generally dumped him in his crib and were done with it. None of them were the parental types. The kid had never put up the kind of fuss Mickey was hearing him make in the background, no matter what member of their fucked up family it was dealing with his nighttime shit.
Mickey closed his eyes and tried to figure out what the issue might be.
“You give him a bottle before bed?” he asked, mentally walking through the same checklist Ian sometimes ran by him when he was putting the kid down for the night.
“Burp him after?”
“Got his warm sleepers on? With the feet?”
That was the extent of Mickey’s knowledge of shit to do to babies before bedtime. He scratched at his hair, thinking hard.
“What’s he got in his crib with him?”
“Just his blanket.”
Mickey opened his eyes and frowned, furrowing his brow. That couldn’t be right. “He sleeps with this fucking…I don’t know…turtle thing Mandy gave him. Lights up or some shit.”
“I don’t see it. Hang on.” Tony must have put the phone down to look for the thing, because for the next minute or so all Mickey could hear is the kid crying his head off, and it makes his guts clench up into a massive ball of something that he could barely name. He didn’t like it when the kid cried. He hardly ever did. There’s always someone in the house making him giggle or dangling a toy in front of his face like it’s the job of the Milkovich household to always keep its youngest member happy and cooing. And when he was upset, Mickey was usually secure in the knowledge that Svetlana or Ian, or hell, even Mandy or Nika – who may not’ve been maternal, but were better at this shit than Mickey – would take care of it.
“Aha, found it. It was under the crib. Aw, the kid has a Pillow Pet? That’s cute, Mick.”
Mickey has no idea what the fuck it’s called, but he said, “Just put it on and put him in the crib. I gotta get back to Ian.”
Mickey ended the call and then pushed the door to the theater open and made his way back to Ian. He retook his seat, rubbing his eyes tiredly. Ian looked at him. “Where’s the drinks?”
Mickey stared at him. “Fuck,” he sighed, getting up again.
“Hey, Mick, wait,” Ian started, only to get shushed by at least four people in the surrounding seats. “Aw, fuck off,” Mickey heard him say, as he made his way down the aisle. How the fuck could he have forgotten the fucking drinks, for Christ’s sake? He was usually more on the ball than that.
Mickey had only just gotten out of the door to the theater when someone grabbed his arm. Mickey didn’t have to turn around to know that it was Ian, but he turned around anyway. He wasn’t surprised to see the other boy standing there, his expression torn between worried and pissed off.
“Sorry,” Mickey said. “I got distracted. I’ll get the stupid drinks.”
“I don’t want a drink, Mickey,” said Ian. “I didn’t want one the first time.”
Mickey shrugged like it was no skin off of his nose. “Fine then, let’s just go back and finish the movie, then.” He tried to go around Ian and back into the door, but was stopped with Ian’s broad hand on his chest, pushing him back towards the hallway.
“Hey, man, we’re missing the movie,” said Mickey. “Let’s go back in.”
“We could do that,” said Ian. “But how about first you tell me what the fuck’s going on with you tonight? ‘Cause you’re kind of worrying me here, Mickey.”
There was no use denying it. Gallagher wasn’t stupid. “I know I’ve been a little…distracted,” Mickey admitted.
“A little,” Ian agreed, dry as the desert.
“Yeah, okay, asshole, more than a little. But it’s cool. I promise, no more interruptions.”
“Really?” asked Ian. “Because that was the second one tonight.” Ian squinted a little at Mickey, pursing his lips. “It starts to knock on a guy’s confidence after awhile, you know.” Mickey rolled his shoulders in irritation, because that wasn’t what he wanted at all. This was supposed to be a nice, normal evening for both of them, and true to form, Mickey was fucking it all up spectacularly. “Look, Mickey,” Ian continued, “I get that this might be a little intimidating, being out here as a couple for the first time, but I swear to you, most people seeing us hanging out are just going to think we’re a couple of buds seeing a comedy flick.”
“I don’t give a fuck what those pussies think,” Mickey said, automatically, although he knew that wasn’t completely true. “I’m not afraid of them.” Also not completely true.
“Then what, Mickey?” Ian asked, frustrated. “Because it’s like you’re on another planet tonight.”
Mickey tried to look anywhere but at Ian’s face. Fuck, this was so not manly. “I was checking on the baby,” he admitted gruffly.
Ian stared at him. “Yev?”
“How many fucking babies do you think I have?” asked Mickey, annoyed. “Yes, Yev.”
“Alright, no need to get snappy, Mickey. You just don’t usually seem all that concerned about him.” Ian reached for Mickey’s arm. “He’s fine, right?”
“Yeah. I mean, I guess. He vomited all over Tony earlier and then he lost that fucking night light thing Mandy got him and wouldn’t stop crying or whatever, but he’s a fucking baby. All they do is spit up and cry.” Mickey cracked his neck. “He’s fine.”
“Then what has you so wound up?” asked Ian.
Mickey scowled. “Dunno. It’s just…we ain’t never left him with someone who wasn’t family, before, I guess.”
Ian actually looked a little sympathetic, his mouth twitching in amusement even as his eyes softened at the explanation. “I know you’ve been distancing yourself from the Milkovich family, Mickey, but Tony is still your brother. He’s been okay about everything, right?”
Mickey chewed on the corner of his lip and bobbled his head a little, to indicate that Tony hadn’t been a fucking colossal prick about everything, he supposed.
“And besides, it’s not even true that you only leave Yev with family. You’ve left him with me or Debbie a bunch of times,” Ian went on, closing a hand around Mickey’s wrist and rubbing the inside of it softly with his thumb.
“Yeah, exactly,” Mickey grunted. “Family.”
Ian’s eyes started to glow, and then it seemingly spread across his entire face until he was beaming at Mickey like he’d just gotten down on one knee and proposed or something.
“Oh, fuck off, like you didn’t fucking know,” Mickey said, feeling a little pissed. Surely it was fucking obvious enough that he didn’t need to point it out. Gallagher wasn’t that fucking dumb.
“Mickey Milkovich, you fucking romantic, you,” said Ian, and when he ran his hand up Mickey’s arm to cup the back of Mickey’s head, Mickey let him give him a brief kiss. It was a fucking empty hallway, what did he give a shit?
Ian turned it into less of a brief kiss and more of a make out session, but fuck, it didn’t make the hallway any less empty, so Mickey allowed that, too.
Gallagher was a good kisser.
By the time he pulled away, Gallagher was less beaming and more smirking. “Let’s go home.”
Mickey’s heart sunk. He’d known he was going to fuck this up. “No, c’mon man, you know you want to finish this fucking date, I know you do.”
“Mickey,” Ian said, patiently. “I don’t care about the date.” He paused. “Well, okay. I care. I care a fucking lot about the date. But, you know, when we’d hang out at your house watching movies or playing video games or whatever, I cared about those times, too. If you want to go back home and check on the baby, we can just stick a movie in and watch it on your couch. That’s fine, too Mickey.” Ian’s hand massaged Mickey’s scalp where his hand was still buried in Mickey’s hair. “So long as it’s you and me, it’s all fine.”
Mickey sighed. “I knew I was going to fuck this up,” he muttered.
“You didn’t fuck anything up. You took me to a nice dinner, you paid way too much for popcorn.” Ian waved a hand at the empty hallway. “You want to get technical, we made out at the movies. Now we go home and I get to fuck you on the couch while we watch a Van Damme movie. Sounds like a fucking great date to me.”
Mickey rolled his eyes. “Well, I guess we probably missed the best parts of the movie chatting out here like school girls behind the gym, anyways,” he conceded. “But fuck you if you think we’re watching Bloodsport again. You’ll watch fucking Stallone and like it.”
Ian’s grin grew. “Whatever you want, Mickey.”
Mickey stared at him. Who was he fucking kidding? “Well, okay, fine, we can watch your precious Van Damme, but only after Rambo,” he said.
Ian’s hand traveled back down Mickey’s neck, down his arm, and took his hand. “Like I said Mick,” he said, smiling beatifically. “Whatever you want.”
“Oh, hey, you guys are back kind of early, aren’t you?” asked Tony, when the two of them came in the door. Mickey’s eyes zeroed in on the kid, sleeping soundly on Tony’s chest and looking mostly fine. A knot that he hadn’t even been fully aware of loosened in his chest. “We woulda been fine if you’d wanted to stay out longer, you know.”
“It’s fine,” Mickey grunted. “I thought you had put him down for the night?”
“Nah. Turns out his pillow thing was out of batteries. This was easier.” Tony stood up, naturally supporting the kid’s head with one giant hand, the other supporting its bottom in that way that everyone seemed to naturally know how to do but Mickey.
“Here, kiddo, here’s Daddy,” said Tony, when the kid made a tiny squeaking sound at the movement.
Mickey wanted to say, ‘Give him to Ian,’ or, ‘No, its fine, you keep him for a bit,’ but somehow, his mouth never got around to opening, and then his arms were full of sleep-warm infant. Mickey froze, like he always did when he was holding the baby, unsure of what to do with any of his limbs.
Ian’s hand found the small of his back. “He’s okay. You got him, Mickey,” he said. “Why don’t I fix him a bottle? He’ll want one soon anyway. Might as well get him one before we put him down for the night.”
Mickey nodded, shuffling carefully to the sofa and gingerly lowering himself down. The kid fussed at every movement he made, and Mickey tensed every time the kid fussed. Tony was watching the whole thing with a smile.
“Fuck you,” Mickey told him, as he tried to figure out the technique for cradling the baby for its bottle.
“You’re such a dumbass, Mickey,” Tony snorted. “You’re not going to break the kid. Babies are tougher than you’d think. You don’t have to treat him like he’s made of china. I mean, we all managed to survive Dad raising us up, and do you think he ever held any of us that gentle?”
Mickey didn’t say anything, because he knew that Tony didn’t really see anything wrong, per se, in the way that he and the rest of their brothers and Mandy had been raised. Mickey, however, looked at Terry, and all he saw was one giant sticker warning for parenting. There was nothing about Terry’s parenting that Mickey wanted to emulate. Unfortunately for him, it was the only example that he had available. Mickey hadn’t had a fucking Fiona Gallagher there his whole life to make sure that he knew wrong from right when it came to raising up kids.
Ian came back into the living room, holding one of the impossibly small infant bottles that Yevgeny used, casually testing the temperature against his wrist in the way that Mickey knew he was supposed to do but somehow always forgot to. “It’s so gross that this is Svetlana’s breast milk,” he told Mickey.
“Tell me about it,” Mickey muttered. At least he didn’t have to watch anymore as she whipped out her breast in their bedroom and attached the shitty second-hand pump she’d made him buy to suck the juices out of her tits. Women were disturbing.
Mickey tried to offer Ian the baby, but just got a significant look for his troubles and resignedly accepted the bottle. Ian always seemed to think that forcing Mickey to interact with the baby would get him to bond or some shit. With a self-conscious roll of his shoulders, he fed the kid the nipple, and of course, like any Milkovich, the thing latched onto the free meal with enthusiasm.
“So how come you two are back so early?” asked Tony. “I figured you’d be another couple of hours, at least. Was the movie shitty?”
Mickey glared at Ian, daring the other boy to tell Tony that he’d had an attack of parenting anxiety and had made them come home. First of all, it made Mickey look like an unbelievable pussy. Second of all, he knew that Tony would take that to mean that Mickey didn’t really trust him with the baby, which might not be totally inaccurate, but letting Tony know that was also really fucking unnecessary. Tony could be kind of a girl when it came to people not thinking he was capable of stuff.
“Yeah, it was a real piece of shit,” Ian said, instead, with a grin at Tony. “Decided to just come home and veg on the couch for awhile.”
“You living here, still?” Tony asked.
Ian paused and slanted a look at Mickey. Mickey stared down at the baby sucking the teat of his bottle and didn’t look at Ian.
“Eh, off and on,” Ian said. “Sorta splitting my time between here and the old homestead, you know? I still got little brothers and sisters that need looking after.”
“Got a kid here needs looking after, too,” suggested Tony.
Mickey rolled his eyes. How fucking like a Milkovich. Not a month ago, Tony was prepared to beat the shit out of Mickey and Ian both for being queer. But have him read a couple of pamphlets at the clinic, and suddenly he was playing Susie Matchmaker.
Ian seemed to take it in stride, though. “I was here a good while a little back. Don’t want to outstay my welcome.”
Mickey looked at Ian. He couldn’t possibly be that dense. “Hey,” he said. Ian looked at him, hesitantly. “I’m never going to not want you here,” Mickey said, firmly. “You need to be with your family or whatever, that’s fine. But don’t ever leave ‘cause you think I’m not okay with you living here.”
Ian was getting that soft, sappy look he sometimes got when Mickey was being an exceptional faggot. Mickey busied himself with the baby to avoid his gaze.
Tony looked supremely satisfied with this whole arrangement. “Well, if you guys ever need someone to watch the kid for you, keep me in mind. Maybe we could arrange a playdate with Charlotte’s kids? Her youngest is still a toddler, and they’re all pretty much interested in the same shit at this age.”
Mickey didn’t want to consider himself the kind of person who arranged playdates for his fucking kid. He didn’t want to be a parent.
Ian, however, seemed to have no compunction about easily agreeing to sign Mickey’s kid up for any number of torturous activities involving probably not only the Spimoni brats and Yev, but likely Liam, and for all Mickey fucking knew, Kevin’s spawn, too. Might as well, right? One big happy family. Whatever.
Since Mickey had the baby, and Ian knew how Mickey felt walking around while holding him, he offered to show Tony the door. Mickey wasn’t sure why he bothered. Tony had lived here for 20 years. Chances were he knew how to find the fucking front door. Sometimes Mickey wondered how Ian had grown up a Gallagher and managed to come out with some actual courtesy. It wasn’t like Fiona was Miss Manners or anything.
Tony shrugged into his coat and held out his hand for Ian to shake. Ian accepted it, and gave it a firm pump, but when he went to let go, Tony held on.
“I just want to say, Gallagher, you seem like a pretty decent guy, and you seem to make Mick here pretty happy, so I ain’t gonna bash you or anything for…being what you are,” he said.
Ian blinked. “I appreciate that,” he said.
“The thing is, Gallagher, that not much makes Mick happy. So, if I hear you ever went and made my little brother unhappy, I’ll rip your red head off your body.” Ian made a little noise like maybe Tony was holding his hand just a shade too tightly.
Mickey couldn’t help but tense at that, looking over his shoulder at the two men in the doorway. Ian had drawn himself straight up and to attention, like he was back in the Army.
“Believe it or not, Tony, I also appreciate that,” said Ian, keeping his head up and looking Tony in the eye. The two stared at each other for a moment before seemingly coming to an understanding. Tony let go of Ian’s hand, and clasped his shoulder briefly, and apparently back to his cheerful, dumbass self, gave Mickey a wave on his way out the door.
Ian made his way back to the couch, where Mickey was waiting with raised eyebrows. “I hope you know, there, Copper Cock, that if you give me reason to be unhappy with you, you ain’t gonna need to worry about my brothers coming after you,” Mickey told him.
Ian braced his arms on the back of the couch, framing Mickey’s head, and leaned down to plant a brief, but firm kiss against his lips. “I know,” he said. “Mandy’ll get me first.”
“Fucking smartass,” Mickey growled, but he didn’t actually refute the point. Mandy probably fucking would.
Ian pushed his nose along Mickey’s jawline, and Mickey obligingly tilted his head to give him better access. “Don’t worry, Mickey. I know you’re a fucking badass. Now, you want to put the baby to bed so we can canoodle on the couch?” Ian’s brows did an outrageous wiggle across his forehead.
“Yeah, yeah. Go put the batteries in his thing, or this night ain’t gonna be worth shit.”
Ian obliged, and Mickey was forced to spend another few minutes feeling the unnatural warmth of the baby against his chest and smelling his soft mix of baby scents, and tentatively burping him. Finally, pillow thing in hand, Ian returned and gathered the baby in his arms and disappeared briefly to put him down for good.
He came back to the living room and flopped onto the couch. “Man, that kid is probably gonna be cranky as shit, tomorrow. His routine’s all out of whack.”
Man, Mickey really had to figure out this god-damned routine thing everyone kept going on about. Maybe it actually was a thing. “Fantastic,” he muttered.
“You want, I could maybe stay over tonight, help you out with him tomorrow,” Ian offered casually. “At least until I have to go to work.”
Mickey paused from where he was sorting through the pile of DVDs next to the television and looked over at Ian. “I thought you were doing that anyway,” he said.
Ian shrugged. “Didn’t want to assume.”
Mickey rolled his eyes. “Stop fishing for compliments. I already told you I want you here. You don’t need to hear it every five minutes for it to still be true. Christ, you’re a needy bitch.”
Ian grinned. “Nice to hear, though.”
Mickey ignored him and put on Rambo. It was both a movie he and Ian had already seen a thousand times and not one that required any deep thought, so he sat down next to Ian and prepared to just drift through it. He looked over at Ian, and at the respectable distance between their bodies. They could be just two dudes watching an action flick with that amount of space between them.
Fuck that, Mickey thought, and slid over until his arm was brushing Ian’s. Ian turned his head to smile at him, but Mickey just stared ahead until Ian went back to watching the movie. Then, when it seemed like Ian was safely absorbed, he dropped his head onto Ian’s shoulder. It moved as Ian huffed a laugh, but he didn’t make any moves to shove Mickey off, so eventually he just relaxed. Ian was his boyfriend. They were on a date. This kind of sappy shit was allowed, even if it was hella gay.
Then, right about the time the missionaries are trying to rent Rambo’s boat, Ian jostled Mickey just a bit. “Are we going to talk about the baby, or what?” he asked.
“Or what,” Mickey replied, patly.
“C’mon, Mickey,” Ian said. “You barely look at him. You can barely stand to touch him. But it’s obvious you feel something for him. I think we gotta talk about it.”
Mickey did not want to talk about it. But Ian wasn’t the kind of guy to let something like this go, either. The fucker actually seemed to like kids in general and Mickey’s kid in particular.
“It’s because of how he was conceived, right?” said Ian, so fucking gently, like he thought it might shatter Mickey to talk about it.
Mickey grunted. “He’s a reminder. It doesn’t help.”
Ian’s hand came up to stroke Mickey’s hair. “It wasn’t his fault, Mickey. He didn’t choose that shit, either.”
“I fucking know that,” Mickey said, irritated, but with no real heat. “Anyway, I don’t think he was really conceived that day anyway.”
Ian’s hand tightened briefly in his hair, before forcibly relaxing and stroking Mickey’s hair again. “You and Svetlana…I mean I figured your dad wouldn’t leave it at that one time, but I thought that maybe…”
Terry hadn’t left it at that one time, but Mickey wasn’t going to burden Ian with that.
“Nah, man. I just figure she already had the bun in the oven by the time she fucked me.” Mickey turned his face into Ian’s neck, breathing in the scent of Ian’s aftershave. He really had gone to the trouble of dressing up for Mickey tonight. Mickey could have told him he needn’t have bothered. Mickey didn’t need Ian to dress pretty to want him.
Ian was still underneath him. “How do you know?” he asked, finally.
“I don’t,” said Mickey, muffled slightly by his position with his face buried in Ian’s neck. It was comfortable there, though. He didn’t want to leave. “But the kid would have been born more than a month early if he was mine, but they let him go home pretty much right away. And he wasn’t little like a preemie. Normal weight.”
Ian contemplated this, trying to do the math in his head. “If you knew, why’d you marry her?” he asked, finally.
Mickey rubbed his long, thin nose along the dent made by Ian’s collarbone. “You fucking know why. Marrying Svetlana was never really about the fact that she was pregnant. It was just a convenient excuse. Dad would have made me do it anyway, I bet, even if she hadn’t been. Anyway, I didn’t know for sure until the kid popped.”
“Your Dad’s in jail now,” Ian pointed out. “You could get a paternity test. Get an annulment, or a divorce, or whatever.”
Mickey sat there for a moment, letting the sounds of the television wash over him and watched the lights flicker behind his closed eyelids. “Nah,” he finally said. “I mean, maybe the annulment or whatever, eventually. But the kid’s mine, now.”
“Mickey, you don’t even like him,” said Ian.
“I took responsibility,” Mickey said. “I took it. It’s mine, now.”
“But why would you do that, when you know he’s not yours?” asked Ian, mystified. “I mean, he’s a great kid, Mickey, and I would get it if you loved him, I really would. I’d support you in that if you wanted to raise him because you loved him. But it seems like all he does is hurt you. If you just got a paternity test…”
“I already figure I know what it’ll say,” said Mickey.
“Oh, yeah?” asked Ian, sounding annoyed, now.
“Yeah. Figure the kid’s my brother.”
Ian fell silent beside him for a long while, and Mickey just kept his eyes closed, resting on Ian’s shoulder.
“You think he’s Terry’s,” he said, slowly.
“Yeah,” said Mickey. “That’s why I don’t want a DNA test. Maybe I ain’t all sunshine and rainbows and bedtime stories, but pretty much anything has to be better than giving my dad legal rights to another kid.”
“How sure are you?”
“Not fucking very,” said Mickey. “Svetlana’s a whore. It could be anyone. But I know she and Terry were fucking. And the kid has the Milkovich nose.”
Ian was quiet for a long while, digesting this new information and watching the movie on the screen. “You know that if you’re gonna raise him, the way you’ve been doing it isn’t…I mean, you don’t hurt the kid, Mickey, but you can’t neglect him like you have been either. If he grows up thinking you’re his father, it’s going to fuck him up if you can’t even stand to be in the same room with him.”
“He’s not fucking neglected,” Mickey protested. “You and Mandy and Svetlana and all the whores dote on him like he’s the best thing since sliced bread. And I don’t just leave him to rot, either. I feed him and stuff when he cries. I’m fucking trying.”
Ian pressed a kiss into Mickey’s hair. “I know you’re trying. But I had Fiona and Lip and Vee, and even Monica occasionally, and it still hurt like a motherfucker knowing Frank didn’t like me growing up. You can’t let kids see that shit.”
“Well, what do you want me to do, Firecrotch? I said I’m trying.”
Ian took Mickey’s face in his hands, pulling him to look Ian in the face, and Mickey finally opened his eyes.
“I know, Mickey. And you’ll get there. Because you are a good fucking man.”
Ian closed the gap and began kissing Mickey, and Mickey let himself relax and kiss him back. God, he wanted to go back and shoot his younger self for being so fucking stupid and denying himself this for years because, what, he was fucking afraid? What a pussy he’d been.
Ian tipped Mickey onto his back, and Mickey’s body moved automatically, drawing himself fully up onto the couch as he went so that he was pinned underneath Ian’s body. They made out for a few minutes, Ian’s hips rolling slowly over Mickey’s grinding their cocks together.
Mickey gripped Ian’s hair and forced his lips away. “You know, Hasty, I got a bed we could be doing this in,” he complained.
The skin around Ian’s eyes crinkled as he laughed. “Did you forget we’re on a date, Mickey? I did promise you couch sex.”
Mickey considered that as Ian buried his face in Mickey’s neck and began to give him a hickey there. Mickey had never had a hickey on his neck before. The only one that might have gotten possessive about him before was Ian, and until recently, he would have known better than to give Mickey a mark where it showed and people might ask questions about it. It felt better than when Ian had given him the occasional hickey on his chest or thighs.
“Yeah, okay,” he agreed breathlessly, dropping his legs open to wrap them around Ian’s waist. “Just keep it down, Firecrotch. Don’t wake the baby.”
Ian just laughed. “Man, Mickey, we gotta go on dates more often.”
Mickey shut him up with a kiss, but didn’t disagree.