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Across State Lines

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It was Thursday again. Ian had gotten permission from his supervisor, Sue, to swap his shift. He wondered why she couldn’t just schedule him for Thursday on a regular basis, knowing that was his preference. Probably because Ian was still new to the department.

Agricultural Officer Gallagher. Had a nice ring to it. And it was a decent paying job that only required a high school diploma and a letter of recommendation from his JROTC Colonel. So far, Ian’s co-workers seemed cool—he’d felt comfortable telling them he was gay. No one seemed to care.

Florida was interesting like that. You could find yourself surrounded by either the “live and let live” types, or the other end of the spectrum with hard-core conservative extremists who’d want to send you to conversion camp or give you a beat down to remember. 

Ian wasn’t as open about his personal life with the hundreds of people who passed through the Florida inspection center. Farmers and agricultural workers and importers came from all over the country to bring produce and goods into the state. It wasn’t Ian’s job to be overly welcoming, just to make sure that there were no harmful elements coming through and no unauthorized products. He hadn’t busted anyone yet, but he’d heard stories.

Out of all the people Ian had met during his first months on the job, there was someone who’d caught his attention. Every Thursday around 3 o’clock, Mikhailo A. Milkovich would present at Agricultural Inspection Station #16 off of Interstate 95 with his unmarked white trailer. And Ian was smitten with him.

Mickey, he’d said. Call me Mickey. Not that bullshit name on my license.  

The first time he’d had an actual conversation with Mickey, Ian had been training with the on-duty senior officer, Jorge. Just a few weeks into the job, Ian was still nervous about following the protocols he’d recently learned. Then, along came Mickey with his clear-as-the sky blue eyes and swagger. Ian felt an instant attraction to him, and probably did a pretty poor job of hiding it.

Hard as he tried, Ian couldn’t stop staring at Mickey. There was something endearing about his scruffy appearance, mud-caked boots, and a slight, faded smudge of dirt across his cheek. He was sexy in his own way—strong arms and a nice ass. Beautiful smile.

Mickey laughed easily with the senior officer as he led them to the back of his trailer. He unlocked the door and waved his hand over the contents—boxes and boxes of peanuts.

Ian stood outside with Mickey while Jorge climbed into the trailer to look around. Mickey pulled a pack of cigarettes from his front shirt pocket. 

“I know your boss won’t take one. How about you, newbie?” Mickey held out the open packet towards Ian.

“Oh, um. He’s not my boss, he’s just, uh, training me.” Ian figured he was coming across as a total idiot, but he continued talking. “Anyway, we can’t accept items from, well…”

“Inspectees?” Mickey offered. Ian smiled and nodded, in spite of the made-up word. 

Mickey started fishing around for something in the back pocket of his jeans. “Shit. You got a lighter? Mine’s probably in the truck.”

“Yeah, I think so.” Ian fumbled with his clipboard while he checked his pockets. He held up a red Bic lighter, eager to accommodate his new acquaintance.

“You mind?” Mickey cupped his hands around the cigarette dangling from his mouth as he waited for Ian to do the honors.

Ian complied, his hand shaking slightly as he flicked the lighter on. “S-sure thing.”

Mickey took a drag from the cigarette and released a puff of smoke from the corner of his mouth. “So, you got a name?”

“Yeah. I’m Ian. Ian Gallagher. Nothing fancy like yours. How do you pronounce it?” Ian could have kicked himself for wasting time with such a lame question. He knew it wouldn’t be much longer until the inspector finished his checklist.

“Like I told you. It’s just Mickey.” He laughed as he exhaled more cigarette smoke. “Hell, to tell you the truth, I don’t even know how to pronounce it.”

Ian laughed too, more curious than ever now about this guy. His drivers license had a South Carolina address listed, but he didn’t have even a touch of a southern accent. Quite the opposite.

Before Ian could get in any more small talk, Jorge emerged from the trailer with a thumbs up. “You’re good to go, son.” Then he turned to Ian. “Gallagher, you need to come inside the trailer with me next time.”

Ian felt his face turning red. “Sorry, Jorge. I mean, sir.” He cleared this throat and handed Mickey’s drivers license and paperwork back to him.

Mickey’s fingertips brushed against the back of Ian’s hand, and Ian looked up quickly, certain from Mickey’s expression that he had done it on purpose.

“Same time next week, fellas.” Mickey dropped his cigarette butt on the ground and snuffed it out with his heel. 

“No littering,” gruffed Jorge.

“Yeah, I know.” Mickey held up his hands innocently. “Was gonna pick it up.” He shifted his feet slightly and bent down to retrieve the discarded butt.

Ooh. That ass. Was it Ian’s imagination or had Mickey turned around on purpose so that he could enjoy the complete picture?

Ian pulled at the stiff white collar of his uniform shirt and quickly made an excuse. “It’s a scorcher today, huh?”

Jorge was already heading back to the station for their next assignment, and Mickey had started towards the door of his truck. 

“Yeah, but it’s gotta be worse down here in the middle of summer.” Mickey shoved a pair of sunglasses over his eyes.

“True.” Ian shielded his face from the sun as Mickey climbed into his truck and shut the door. “Probably the same up your way. South Carolina’s pretty humid, right?”

Mickey lowered his sunglasses down to the bridge of his nose, and Ian got another glimpse of his sparkling blue eyes. “Whoa. You stalking me now?”

Ian let out a nervous laugh and ran his fingers through his hair. “Not stalking you, just noticed from your license.”

Mickey gestured for Ian to come closer. “Cuz if you were,” he whispered, “that’d be okay with me.” 

“Oh, well I...uh...” Ian couldn’t quite get his words out.

“See you next Thursday,” Mickey said, starting the car. He tossed a small bag of peanuts to Ian. “Freshly roasted. Enjoy.”

Mickey was gone before he could decline the gift. Ian looked back at the inspection booth to make sure no one was watching and tucked the bag into the back of his pants.

He’d take them home to share with his brothers and sisters. There were six of them total. And that’s the way their family operated—communal sharing of all goods and services acquired.

^^^^^^^^^^

The peanuts were a hit with the Gallagher crew. And so was the next batch. And the next. Four weeks later and four more flirtatious encounters between him and Mickey, and Ian was finally ready to make a move.

The day was dragging by. Ian felt like his co-workers were watching him. He hadn’t told anyone he was interested in Mickey, but people must have noticed Ian was no longer moping over his ex.

His ex. Caleb. Firefighter by day. Bar crawler by night. They’d bumped into each other on the dance floor at a club one night and hit it off. Ian had spent most nights at Caleb’s place, and they’d met each other’s families.

It sucked to hell when Ian found out Caleb was cheating on him. Caleb didn’t even have the decency to be discreet, leaving his phone lying around for Ian to discover the dick pics he’d been sharing.

Then along came this flirtation thing with Mickey Milkovich. The peanut guy. Simply put, Mickey had found his way into Ian’s psyche, and he wanted more of Mickey, in whatever way, shape, or form he could have him. He knew Mickey was interested, but to what extent? Ian was ready to find out.

3 o’clock came and went. By 3:15, Ian was practically crawling the walls of the inspection booth. By 3:30, he was outside pacing back and forth, having just finished an inspection of a tomato truck. By 3:45, Ian was convinced he would never see Mickey again.

So when the unmarked but very-familiar-to-Ian trailer rolled in at 3:58, Ian was both relieved and ticked off. He felt as though Mickey had almost stood him up for a date...that wasn’t even remotely a date. 

As he walked outside to greet Mickey, Ian relaxed his shoulders and took a deep breath. He needed to lighten the fuck up.

To his surprise, Mickey actually seemed to feel bad for not arriving at the usual time. 

“Traffic,” was the first thing he said after rolling down his window. “Sorry I’m late.”

“Are you?” Ian asked. “I hadn’t noticed.” If he was trying to sound convincing, he was failing miserably. A trickle of sweat dripped down his forehead in the cool-for-Florida 66 degree weather. They both laughed awkwardly. 

“Ready for the inspection?” Ian had his clipboard and pen posed for action. He knew his co-workers were watching his interactions with Mickey.

“Yeah. Sure. I’ll get her unlocked so you can have a look.” Mickey hopped out of the car and was wearing a navy polo shirt—instead of his usual white t-shirt—and jeans. He looked even more handsome than ever, his hair neatly combed and no dirt smeared across his face or his hands. 

Ian knew if he opened his mouth, something lame would come out. Instead, he nodded and followed Mickey to the back of the trailer, staying quiet as he climbed inside and went through his checklist.

Mickey was leaning against the open door, waiting for the results. Ian started towards him, having worked up the nerve to ask him out, but Mickey spoke first.

“All good? Can I go now?” he said hurriedly.

“Uh, yeah.” Ian was trying to hide the disappointment in his voice. He was hoping for a few extra minutes to chat with Mickey. “Everything checks out.” He jumped out of the trailer to hand Mickey the approval notice.

“This it?” Mickey held the paper up and had a puzzled look on his face.

“Well, yeah. Same as always.” Ian shrugged sheepishly, not wanting to keep Mickey from whatever important matter he had to attend to.

Mickey looked annoyed, and Ian was confused. He hadn’t even had a chance to give Mickey his number or ask him out. It was over before it had even started.

“Oh, fuck it!” Mickey threw his hands up in the air. “I want your phone number, Gallagher. I wanna take you out. Tomorrow. I’ll be coming back through town.” 

Ian was practically speechless. Mickey was staring at him with his arms folded over his chest, and it sounded like he muttered “Jesus” under his breath.

“Oh. I thought that I would—”

“What?” Mickey practically shouted back. “Not interested?”

“No! I mean, yes!” Ian wanted to grab Mickey by the shoulders and reassure him, but he showed restraint. “Yes! I’m interested.” 

“O...kay.” Mickey didn’t sound quite convinced. 

“I wanted to ask you out. I was going to give you my—” 

“Gotta be faster next time.” Mickey smirked and pulled out his cell phone. “Put your number in here. I shoulda asked you for it weeks ago.”

Ian smiled. “I would have given it to you.” He typed his number into Mickey’s phone and then handed it back to him. 

“I’ll text you tomorrow with the time I’ll be gettin’ in. Probably around 7 o’clock. You pick the place. Somewhere with some decent grub.” 

Ian nodded. “What do you like?” 

“Food,” deadpanned Mickey. “And redheads. More specifically, you.”

Ian knew he was blushing, but he liked Mickey’s directness. He wanted to be just as direct back to him, swoop in for a kiss. Or fuck, Ian was so turned on, he’d be willing to blow Mickey in the back of his trailer.

Except why rush things? If that’s all Mickey wanted, he wouldn’t have suggested they go out.

“Yeah,” agreed Ian. “I’ve had my eye on you too. Looking forward to tomorrow night.”

They were walking over to the driver’s side of the truck and Mickey paused. “You know, there’s something I wanna do, but not with a damn audience.” 

Ian looked in the direction where Mickey was gazing and realized all four of his fellow officers were still watching them.

“Tomorrow then.” Ian grabbed Mickey’s hand and gently stroked the center of his palm as he held it. “Drive safe.”

^^^^^^^^^^ 

Ian sat at the kitchen table, chugging his coffee and waiting for his brother Carl to wake up for their morning run. His older sister Fiona had just passed through and asked him what was new. She also asked him where the bag of peanuts was.

“Peanuts?” It suddenly dawned on him what she was referring to. How could he have forgotten? The peanuts had been a big hit with his family. “I didn’t get any yesterday.”

“Maybe next week.” She smiled at him reassuringly. “At least your job has some perks. I mean, my tips aren’t bad, but how many slices of days-old peach pie can one family eat?”

Fiona was the head of their household. She had been since she was about ten years old. Their drug addict parents were pretty much a waste of space and oxygen, so Fiona had raised all of the Gallagher siblings. 

She tended to look to Ian for support and guidance. Neither of them had wanted to pursue college—not yet anyway. It was unspoken between them, but they preferred to work and keep the household running, which allowed their brother Lip to go to college. He had the brains.

Ian didn’t mention his upcoming date with Mickey to Fiona. He only talked to her about relationships if there was an actual relationship. He wondered if Mickey was looking for something serious, although that might prove difficult with an entire state between them. 

Ian would have told Lip about Mickey if he was living at home instead of the dorms. They liked to swap war stories from their dating battlefields. Ian was hoping to have at least one story from this encounter.

And if this goes anywhere, Ian mused, maybe I’ll get something more than peanuts.

Chapter Text

Ian liked the anticipation of waiting for his date with Mickey. Fridays at the station were busy, so he channeled his nervous energy into processing more inspections than usual. His co-workers were talking about going out for a drink at the local watering hole. Ian made a mental note to avoid that spot.

He’d thought a lot about where he and Mickey could meet up. It had seemed like Mickey wanted to grab dinner instead of going to a club or a bar. Ian figured that a Mexican restaurant would be the best place to go—not too fancy, but good food, and loud enough that they could talk without anyone bothering them.

Every time Ian’s phone vibrated with a new message, he could feel his heart pounding in his chest. But he waited to finish whatever task he was in the middle of before checking it. There was a text from his sister Debbie, asking about a ride to the mall after school, which he forwarded to Fiona. Then Lip texted, asking if Ian was free later.

Ian: The jury’s out. Might have a date.

Lip: Make sure you bag it. Or double bag it, depending...

He chuckled to himself. Lip—such a considerate brother. If Ian didn’t hear from Mickey, he could lick his wounds at a kegger and crash with Lip in his dorm room.

But that wouldn’t be necessary. Around 3 o’clock, Ian got the text he’d been waiting for. It came up as a Chicago number.

312•555•4255: This Ian? It’s Mickey. 7pm still work? Text me the address.

Ian didn’t want to reply immediately and seem too eager. He headed for the bathroom and locked the door to the stall. God, I’m a fucking middle school chick.

Somehow, in the tiny space of the stall, he found himself pacing back and forth. Ian thought about whipping it out and jerking himself off. It would have eased his nerves, and all he’d have to do is picture Mickey bent over and pressed into the back edge of his trailer, shirtless with his pants around his knees while Ian pumped him good and hard.

Ian took a deep breath and tried to think of something grotesque, like Frank banging Monica. Shit! Why’d my mind go there, he wondered as he shuddered and then unlocked the stall. He went over to the sink and splashed cold water on his face, careful not to let any get on his uniform. Ian stared back at his reflection in the tiny mirror.

He couldn’t remember being this affected by someone before. Even his first boyfriend, Kash, who he once thought made the sun rise and the stars shine—that was nothing compared to how he was feeling about Mickey. Of course, Kash had turned out to be a complete pussy, who refused to leave his frigid wife, despite being gay.

Ian needed to get back to work and let things happen the way they were supposed to. He barely knew anything about Mickey, just that he was hot and interesting, and it was nice how Mickey was straightforward and probably more mature than most people Ian knew around his age—even if he was a little rough around the edges. He replied to Mickey’s text.

Ian: Yeah, it’s Ian. See you for dinner at El Paisano’s. Best margaritas in Nassau County. Right off of 17.

While he waited for a reply, Ian added Mickey’s phone number into his contacts. He went back out to the desk area for his next assignment. Sue had just arrived.

She greeted him. “Hiya, Gallagher. You look a little pale. Everything alright?”

Ian straightened his posture. “Yes, ma’am. Everything’s fine.”

She nodded, one eyebrow raised, but turned to go to her office. Ian felt the vibration of the phone against his thigh.

Mickey: I could use a drink. But even better, I want to see your big-ass grin.

Ian started to type a reply but instead picked a smiley face emoji and hit “send” before he could stop himself. Yep, a fucking middle school chick. That’s me.

^^^^^^^^^^

Ian decided to wait for Mickey outside of the restaurant. The evening air wasn’t too humid, and he didn’t want to sit inside at a table by himself, feeling like everyone was staring at the sad little gringo. Jorge liked to call him “gringo rojo.”

His shift ended around six, which gave Ian time to change into a short-sleeved shirt—a nice one, v-neck and heathered green—and jeans. He didn’t want to show up for their date in his uniform, and he didn’t feel like going home and getting drawn into any Gallagher drama.

Ian prayed silently that none of his siblings would get arrested while he was on his date and need bail money. A more likely scenario would be their louse of a father showing up at the house with a get-Frank-rich scheme and causing some sort of ruckus. Ian was always more than happy to show that jerkwad to the front door.

He was on the lookout for Mickey’s trailer, so it caught him off guard when Mickey came out of nowhere and walked up to the front of the restaurant.

“Hey.” Mickey stood a few feet away from him, looking just as polished as the day before and smelling nice. “You’re a punctual kinda guy, huh?”

Ian couldn’t hold back a very wide grin. “Glad you made it. But where’d you come from?”

“Parked across the street. Didn’t think I could fit the truck in any of these spaces.” Mickey shoved his hands into his back pockets, and he was swaying back and forth, looking sorta nervous and sexy at the same time.

“Ready?” Ian opened the door for Mickey, his palms sweaty against the glass.

Mickey gave him a casual nod and proceeded inside. Ian was sure Mickey had turned his neck slightly to try to catch Ian checking him out. He’d been correct, of course, and Ian was fine with him knowing.

At the hostess podium, Mickey nudged Ian with his elbow. “You do the talking, Gallagher. No hablo that Spanish shit.”

“Alright,” Ian laughed, “but they speak English here too.”

Ian requested a table for two, and they were seated in a quieter part of the restaurant, away from the bar. The waiter brought chips and salsa over to their table, and Ian asked for a pitcher of regular margaritas on the rocks.

He tapped his hand nervously against the table while he looked over the menu. “You hungry, Mick?”

Mickey looked up from the menu with a shitty grin. “You move fast, Gallagher. Already with the nicknames?”

“Yeah, that okay? It just slipped out.” Ian wasn’t sure if Mickey was fucking with him.

“It’s fine.” Mickey reached across the table and put his hand over Ian’s to stop him from tapping. “You nervous or somethin’?”

Ian looked down at Mickey’s hand on top of his and felt a welcome sensation pulsating through him. “N-no, I’m not nervous.” He met Mickey’s eyes and blurted something out before he could stop himself. “I just really like you.”

Mickey started to squeeze his hand but drew it back once the waiter returned with their pitcher of margaritas, ready to take their orders. Ian opted for chicken enchiladas while Mickey ordered the arroz con pollo and badly mispronounced it. He and the waiter had a good chuckle about it. Ian laughed too.

After the waiter left their table, Mickey caught Ian’s eyes. “By the way, that thing you said a minute ago. The feeling’s mutual.”

Ian smiled as Mickey poured margaritas into their salt-rimmed glasses.

“So now that we both know, we can relax. Have a drink.” Mickey held up his glass. “Tell me more about you.” He leaned back in his chair and took a long sip of his margarita.

Ian wasn’t the type of person to really say much about himself. But given the invitation and his desire to ask Mickey the same, Ian was, of course, willing.

He talked about life growing up in a small Florida town, not too far from Jacksonville, but somewhat dull, save for his father’s bizarre antics and his mother’s constant disappearing act.

Ian didn’t want to dwell too much on his shitty parents. Instead, he shared with Mickey details about each of his siblings—Fiona the most reliable Gallagher, Lip the genius who sometimes got in his own way, Debbie the sweet one, except lately, since she was all hormonal from being a teen, Carl the menace with a softer side when it came to their family, and Liam, the calm and steady Gallagher, which was a result of being the youngest and most sane in such a crazy bunch.

Mickey listened intently before asking Ian, “And what about you? Which Gallagher are you?”

Ian shrugged. “I guess I’m a little bit like all of them.”

“Seems like you got your shit together. Definitely more than me.”

Ian was about to ask Mickey what he meant when their food arrived.

“Hot plates,” warned the waiter.

Mickey either hadn’t listened or didn’t care, pulling his plate closer to him and muttering “oh, fuck!” when he realized how hot the plate actually was.

Ian snickered. That was the same shit his brother Carl would have pulled.

“Go ahead, Gallagher. Laugh your fuckin’ head off.” Mickey gruffed at him.

Wait, was Mickey actually mad? Ian wasn’t sure. He cleared his throat and took a sip from his margarita.

Mickey must have realized he sounded pretty pissed and tried to ease the tension. “Hey, don’t get all serious on me. I just never believe them when they say the plates are hot.”

“Okay.” Ian said and took a forkful of his enchilada, shoving it in his mouth.

“And...if you hadn’t noticed…” Mickey paused to take a bite of his food. “I have a foul mouth. I come by it honest.”

“I’m no choir boy, you know.” Ian didn’t want Mickey thinking he was some kind of pussy. “I can throw of a few ‘fucks’ around.”

Mickey laughed. “Yeah, but like I was saying before, you’re not a fuck-up. Not like me.”

Ian saw a flicker of vulnerability pass over Mickey’s face. He wanted to know more about Mickey but didn’t want to push too fast.

Nudging Mickey’s shoe gently under the table, Ian responded. “I don’t see a fuck-up. I see a peanut farmer. Tell me how you got down here. No fuckin’ way you grew up in South Carolina.”

Mickey wiped his mouth with his napkin and leaned into the table. “Oh yeah, there’s a story there alright.”

Now it was Ian’s turn to listen to what Mickey had to share, and he was all ears. Ian watched Mickey’s eyes light up when he talked about growing up in Chicago and how he missed the noises and the energy of the city. He mentioned having older brothers who’d been in and out of prison since Mickey could remember, but they always looked out for each other. Mickey was less enthusiastic when he mentioned his shitty excuse for a father.

“That prick is still back home...for now. My sister and I moved down here about a year ago. Her boyfriend, Kenyatta, is from South Carolina.” Ian noticed that Mickey’s fists were clenched on top of the table. “He’s a real piece of shit too. I think Mandy’s finally done with him.”

“Mandy’s your sister?” Ian asked.

“Yeah. Don’t know what I’m gonna do about her.” Mickey looked troubled, and Ian could understand that sense of responsibility for one’s family.

He figured Mickey had dealt with some trauma at some point in his life. Maybe it wasn’t fair to make that assumption, but most people Ian knew didn’t have the words “FUCK U-UP” tattooed on their fingers. Ian must have been staring at Mickey’s hands without realizing it.

“You like these?” Mickey held up his fists.

“Sure. I was trying to picture you on the mean streets of Chicago, roughin’ people up.”

“Yep, did my fair share of that.” Mickey confirmed Ian’s theory. “Whatever I had to do. Sometimes it was to help my brothers, and sometimes it was to get paid. We needed money, and it’s not like I ever had a role model to show me another way.”

Ian wanted to tell Mickey he understood, but maybe he didn’t. Oh, the Gallagher family had gotten into some pretty weird shit to make ends meet, but Fiona always tried to protect her siblings from any harm, especially the younger ones.

Mickey sighed. “Anyway, it was better for us to move down here. I found work on the farm. Good ole hard labor. I guess the owners like me enough to trust me with their product. So I’m trying this new lifestyle out.”

“Which one is that?”

“You know, the fuckin’ straight and narrow one. Except for the straight part, right? That I don’t do anymore.”

“Anymore?” Ian asked curiously.

“Yeah. I’ve banged a few chicks.” Mickey grimaced. “Kinda had to. My shithead father talks about ‘killing faggots’ on a daily basis.”

“Jesus,” Ian muttered. “I hate shit like that.” He thought about reaching across the table and grabbing ahold of Mickey’s hand but didn’t want to embarrass him. “I’m sorry your dad’s such a piece of garbage. I’m glad you have some distance between you.”

“Thanks.” Mickey rubbed his hands over his face. “I have one more thing I need to tell you.”

“What is it?” Ian was happy Mickey felt comfortable talking to him but anxious about what he had to say.

“Fuck. I didn’t plan on sharing this. Uh…” He paused, and Ian kept his eyes on Mickey, patiently waiting.

“I’ve been to prison. For theft and some other shit. I got out early for good behavior. And once I was done serving my time, I got the fuck outta there.”

This whole time he’d been talking, Mickey was pushing food around on his plate. He finally looked up at Ian. “Is that gonna be a problem?”

A few things were passing through Ian’s mind, but none of them had to do with Mickey having a criminal record. He was more excited about what Mickey’s last statement had implied—like they were going to have some kind of future together.

Nothing that Mickey had said or done, so far, changed the feelings that Ian had been carrying around for weeks. Maybe he should have been more bothered by his past, but seeing how honest and forthcoming he was being, Ian wanted Mickey Milkovich now more than ever.

“Ian? You alright?”

He met Mickey’s gaze. “Yeah, Mick. I am.” Ian stood up and pushed his chair back, letting his napkin drop from his lap onto the floor. He came around the table, and Mickey, reacting to the sudden movement, was on his feet by the time Ian was beside him.

“But I can’t wait any longer...to do this.” Ian caressed the back of Mickey’s neck and lifted his chin so he could kiss Mickey’s soft lips.

Mickey kissed him back, his fingers pressing into Ian’s shoulders and their bodies dangerously close. Ian slid his tongue into Mickey’s mouth and tasted a hint of tequila. He liked the heady feeling from the margaritas he’d consumed plus the satisfaction of this long-awaited kiss with Mickey.

Something in the background was making a sound. A rumble. No, it was their waiter clearing his throat.

Ian slowly loosened his grip from the back of Mickey’s neck and pulled his lips away from Mickey’s, which felt unfair in a way, but he knew they couldn’t stay like that forever.

Amigos,” said the waiter. “Excuse me, but will you be having dessert?”

Ian started stammering something while touching his fingers to his lips. Mickey flashed the waiter a smile. “I think we’re good here. Just the check, please.”

Chapter Text

Kissing Mickey Milkovich had been incredible, but it had ended too soon. Ian was ready to sprint out of the restaurant with Mickey in tow and find somewhere they could really get down to business.

He’d just have to wait a few more minutes. Mickey went to pay for their dinner and said he had to make a quick phone call. Ian was fine staying put at the table and finishing the last of the margaritas. His hard-on hadn’t subsided, and he couldn't stop thinking about what he wanted to do to Mickey next.

The bathroom would work for a quickie—or the backseat of his shitty, in-need-of-a-new-paint-job Corolla. Even better, Mickey had his trailer, which was likely empty now. Or, Ian would be more than willing to rent them a motel room for the night. He didn’t have to work the next day, so maybe they could extend their date through breakfast.

Ian looked at the time on his cell phone. How long had he been waiting? 5 minutes? 10? Thoughts began passing through his mind, like warning bells, or unwanted advice from his older siblings. Mickey’s an ex-con. Do you really want to get mixed up with this guy? What if he’s full of shit?

Ian had always tried not to judge people, knowing that some were dealt shittier hands than others. He was glad for Mickey for trying to turn things around, if that was going to make him happy. Ian had already decided that he was invested enough to see where things were going—he’d regret it too much otherwise.

A minute later, Mickey was back at the table, and he surprised Ian by leaning down and giving him a quick peck on his lips. “Thanks for waiting on me.” Mickey sighed. “But I gotta get going.”

“Wait. What?” Ian thought he was fucking around. “You’re kidding, right?”

Mickey didn’t answer, just gestured towards the front of the restaurant. “Walk me to my truck. I’ll explain.”

Fuck. Right when they were getting to know each other.

He followed Mickey out of the restaurant, and once they were outside, Mickey reached for Ian’s hand. “I’m sorry, man.”

Ian shrugged, feeling confused about why Mickey was cutting their date short. Still, he couldn’t resist intertwining his fingers with Mickey’s as they walked across the street to his trailer.

Ian noticed how Mickey’s mouth was tense, and his eyes seemed full of worry. “Is everything okay?”

Mickey was fumbling with the keys in his pockets. “I hope so. Mandy wants to go see Kenyatta. I begged her to wait until tomorrow, think things through, so I wouldn’t have to cut our date short. What a fuckin’ mess.”

“Hey, it’s okay.” Ian reassured him, resting his hand on Mickey’s shoulder. “I understand.”

“I’ve got a four hour drive ahead of me. I hope she’ll stay put. I don’t want that piece of shit putting his hands on her again. You know?”

Ian nodded and started to usher Mickey to the door of his truck. “Don’t say anything else. Go. And let me know that you got home safe.”

Mickey paused and turned towards him, pulling Ian’s forehead against his. “I hate to leave. But I’ll be back next week. Will you give me a second chance?”

Ian moved his forehead to rest against Mickey’s cheek. This felt real, the intensity of some force that had brought them together. He wasn’t about to say no. “Of course.”

Their lips crashed together, already vaguely acquainted, hungry to be reunited for as long as the moment would allow. A soft moan escaped from Ian’s mouth, and grew louder when Mickey responded with a similar sound in turn. Ian pressed against Mickey, until Mickey’s back was against the door, and moved his hands to cup Mickey’s ass, feeling fairly certain Mickey wouldn’t protest. He’d been wanting to do this since the first time they met.

“This ass,” he purred, which elicited a deep belly laugh from Mickey.

“Shut up,” Ian commanded. “It’s nice.” He pressed himself into Mickey’s thigh, wanting Mickey to feel his erection and know how much Ian wanted him.

“Ian. Oh, fuck…”

Ian usually hated the sound of his name. It was too short, and he’d only ever known really dorky guys with the same moniker. But the way Mickey said it made Ian shiver with want.

They were deep in another kiss when Mickey felt his phone vibrate, which brought them back to reality. “Shit. If I don’t go now, I probably won’t leave.”

Ian stepped back, reluctantly, and let his hands drop to his sides. “Yeah, you should go. Thanks for dinner.”

“I’ll call you,” Mickey promised.

“Sounds good.”

And with that, Mickey hopped in his truck, cranked up the engine, and turned out of the parking lot, giving Ian a half-wave as he drove off.

Ian sighed and walked defeatedly towards his car. He pulled out his phone to see if he’d missed any texts. There was one from Lip.

Lip: Still on your date? Did you fuck him yet? Come by tonight to say hello…

He’d text Lip in the morning. Ian got in his car and put his head down against the steering wheel. In the silence, he could feel his heart beating and the sensation of something cracking inside of him, a gap widening, and Ian knew there was only one person who could fill it.

He drove home, went inside, and said “hello” and “goodnight” to the Gallaghers who were hanging out in the front room, scarfing popcorn, and watching some shitty horror movie. Ian climbed the stairs and headed straight for the bathroom. After locking the door and turning on the shower, he pulled his clothes off and tossed them to the floor.

Ian spent the next several minutes under the stream of the warm water, stroking himself and imagining what it would feel like to strip Mickey naked, straddle him, and fuck that perfect round ass.

It didn’t take long for Ian to come. He leaned against the wall of the shower, panting and spent, as the water washed his release down the drain. He toweled off, threw on a t-shirt and shorts and crawled into bed, falling asleep within minutes.

^^^^^^^^^^

Ian woke up to the sound of chatter coming from the kitchen downstairs. He rubbed his eyes and scanned the room, checking to see if his roommates, aka, Carl and Liam were still asleep. Both of their beds looked empty.

Reaching for his phone from a spot next to the bed, Ian checked the time. 11am. He’d gone to bed just after 10 o’clock but had turned the ringer on in anticipation of hearing from Mickey.

Around 3am, he’d called and told Ian that everything was okay. Mandy had stayed at their apartment instead of running back to her shitty ex. Ian remembered the warmth of Mickey’s tone.

“You were asleep, weren’t you?” Mickey had asked him.

“Well…..no…..maybe.” Ian laughed. “But I had my phone on, waiting to hear from you. Glad you made it back okay.”

“Yeah...I had to stop for coffee. Gonna hit the hay.” Mickey sounded exhausted. “Gotta get to work in a few hours.”

“Seriously? That sucks!” Ian only had to work the weekend shift once a month, so he’d get to sleep in.

“At least I have Sunday off. I’ll give you a call.”

“I’d like that.” Ian was relieved that he didn’t have to play any guessing games with Mickey or hold back what he wanted to say.

“Tomorrow night then? I think I like hearing your voice right before I go to sleep,” Mickey admitted.

“Me too. Night, Mick.”

“Night, Ian.”

Ian smiled to himself, thinking about the tenderness Mickey had shown on their date, in spite of his tough guy demeanor. Maybe they didn’t have much in common, outside of their devotion to their siblings, but something about the two of them just seemed to click.

Now the morning light was streaming into the room, and Ian slowly got out of bed. He was going to have trouble containing his excitement about how things were going with Mickey, but he didn’t want to reveal too much to his siblings, for fear of jinxing anything. Once a Gallagher got too comfortable, the bottom would usually fall out.

Ian plodded down the stairs and into the kitchen. His brother Lip was sitting at the table, drinking coffee. Everyone else was gone.

“You look like shit.” Lip looked up from the notebook he was writing in.

“So do you,” Ian grumbled back.

Lip just laughed and cleared a place for Ian at the table. “Get your coffee, and tell me all about your hot date. Though you missed some nice ass last night at the frat party we crashed.”

Ian poured himself some coffee. “Female ass or male ass?”

“Both.”

“Eh...I think I’ll stick with my guy for now. I’m not really into preppy college dickheads.” Ian pulled out the chair next to Lip and sat down. “Where’d everybody go?”

“Fiona’s at work. The others went to the park.” Lip started chewing on the eraser of his pencil. “So...who is this mystery dude?”

Ian shrugged like it was no big deal. “A guy I met through work. He lives in South Carolina, so I only get to see him when he passes through the station.”

“Wait. Did he come through for an inspection? Did you frisk him?” Lip was trying to bite back a laugh and failing.

“Very funny. He works on a peanut farm, and he’s—“

“A peanut farm? So, you’ve inspected his...nuts?” Lip was practically in hysterics.

“You’re an idiot.” Ian almost laughed too, but only because Lip was cracking himself up. “Remind me not to share anything with you ever again.”

^^^^^^^^^^

It was Wednesday night, the day before Ian would get to see Mickey in the flesh. And then Mickey would be back again on Friday so they could hang out. Ian was gonna wait and see what Mickey was up for.

They’d either talked or texted every day since their date, mostly about dumb shit—movies and music and crap television they were into. Mickey sent pictures of the farm where he worked, the tilled fields and storage vats and roasting equipment. Ian asked Mickey if they could FaceTime so he could show Mickey around his house.

“So...here’s my room, which I share with Carl and Liam.” Ian flipped the screen so his brothers were visible. “Say ‘hi’ to my friend Mickey!”

Liam waved enthusiastically while Carl rolled his eyes and ignored Ian’s request.

“Pre-teens. What can I say?” Ian flipped the view back around to him and walked past Debbie’s room. “I think I’ll let you meet Debs another day. She’s listening to some emo shit right now, probably not in the mood for company.”

“We’ve all been there.” Mickey said. “If Mandy were here, I’d introduce you. She’s got a shift tonight at the diner. Another time though. She thinks I’m making you up.”

Ian laughed as he walked into Fiona’s room and threw himself onto the bed. He knew Mickey was laying down in his bed from the way he was positioned, his arm behind his head, looking worn out from a long day but still adorable. God, it would be nice to be next to him right now, thought Ian.

“Yeah, Fiona’s still at work. She told me to get more peanuts from you. Those have been a big hit.”

“Sure. I’ll bring you some tomorrow. Gotta load up the truck in the morning.” Mickey sighed. “Guess I should get ready for bed.”

Mickey started to get up, and his face made contact with the screen for a second. Ian caught a close up of his sparkling blue eyes.

“Hey, Mick!” He called out. “Can I watch?”

“Watch what?” Mickey had carried the phone into the bathroom and set it on a counter. “I’m gonna take a piss and call it a night,” he said. The only thing Ian could see was the wall, and then he heard the distinct sound of Mickey actually taking a piss.

“Real sexy!” Ian said sarcastically.

Mickey was back in view with a look on his face like a lightbulb had just gone off in his head. “Oh...you want sexy?”

“Yeah. I do.” Ian slowly got up from Fiona’s bed and closed and locked the door before laying down again. “I mean, if you’re up for it.”

Mickey seemed to be considering Ian’s proposal. “Maybe you should tell me what the fuck you’re talking about.” He smirked into the phone. “I’m not following.”

“Aw, fuck.” Ian groaned, feeling his dick twitch. “I don’t think I can wait two more days to be with you…”

“But you’ve waited this long,” Mickey replied in an obnoxious sing-songy voice.

“Uh, no. I haven’t,” Ian admitted.

“No?” Mickey propped the phone up somewhere in his room and started to peel off his shirt. “I guess it’s true what you told me then. You’re no choir boy?”

Ian could feel the bulge in his pants growing as he watched Mickey undo his button and unzip his jeans. Things got quiet for a second, but then Ian was certain he could hear soft moans coming through the speaker.

“M-mick,” he stammered, licking his lips. “Are you touching yourself?” Ian could only make out Mickey’s bare chest and part of his face. He was pressed against a wall with his arm moving furiously and his mouth open and contorted in pleasure.

“Yeah. W-wish it was you though...here...touching me.”

“Oh...fuck.” Ian pulled his clothes off, freeing his throbbing dick and wrapping his fingers around it. He nearly dropped the phone as he began pumping his dick but somehow managed to find a place for it on the bedside table.

Ian noticed that Mickey’s breathing had become quicker and his strokes faster. He desperately wanted to reach through the phone and touch Mickey everywhere. His skin looked soft and pale and inviting.

“Don’t come yet, Mick. Wanna make this last...” Ian stuck two fingers in his mouth, wetting them and letting them drop to his chest, making slow, deliberate motions over his nipples, feeling them harden under the friction.

“I c-can’t wait,” Mickey grunted loudly, his moans stilted and coming in waves. “It’s your fuckin’ fault...for being so goddamn hot!” His entire body was twitching with multiple tremors passing through him.

That picture perfect sight of Mickey losing control was enough to send Ian over the edge. Right before he let loose completely, Ian realized that Mickey was staring back at him, seemingly mesmerized by the sight of Ian about to orgasm.

“Oh...Mick...fuck, you watching me...feels so good.”

Knowing that Mickey’s eyes were on him was the last thing Ian needed to bring release. He felt the warm liquid dribbling over his knuckles and slowly opened his eyes.

“Oh, shit!” Ian thought he heard the front door open and remembered that Fiona was due home any minute. He grabbed his shirt to mop up the mess he’d made.

Mickey was watching Ian’s panicked motions with confusion. “What the fuck are you doing?”

“I’m in Fiona’s room, and I think she just got home!” Ian was still trying to catch his breath. “I gotta clean up!”

“Okay. I’ll let you get to it. No time for basking in the afterglow. See you soon.”

“Hey! Wait, Mick.” Ian put his face in view of Mickey. “It was nice. I liked being with you.”

Mickey smiled and pulled his shirt over his head. “Yeah, well, if you keep treating me nice,” he offered, “there’s more where that came from.”

Chapter Text

Ian’s boss, Sue, walked out of her office to grab something off the copy machine. “You look nice today, Ian. New cologne?”

Ian shook his head. “No. Same as always.” He knew Sue was fishing for information.

“Something’s different about you.” She pressed her finger to her lips. “Hmmm. What could it be?” 

“I dunno. Has my hair gotten redder?”

In the short time she’d been his boss, Sue had taken a liking to Ian, even going so far as to compare him to her ten year old son. She meant it as a compliment, she said, but Ian didn’t quite understand. Something about them both being true to themselves and very reliable people. Ian figured she needed him to work an extra shift and was trying to butter him up. 

“It’s Thursday, you know.” She almost sounded giddy. “3 o’clock.”

Ian hadn’t said a word to anyone about his date with Mickey, but everyone at the station seemed to be in on their secret romance. 

God, nosy fucks. He wasn’t going to have any privacy with Mickey today. Sue might even try to assign another officer to do Mickey’s inspection if she suspected there was something happening between them. 

“Yeah, Sue. 3 o’clock. Almost quittin’ time.” Ian didn’t know what else to say. He pretended to be engrossed in some paperwork, hoping she’d leave him alone. Instead, she tapped him on the shoulder and pointed out the window. “Your friend’s here!” She practically shouted.

“Oh, yeah.” He tried disguise his excitement, taking his time with responding. “Okay for me to take this one?” 

“Fine with me. Just make sure you go through the proper steps.” 

Ian nodded, grabbing his clipboard and hoping that Sue didn’t notice the ziplock bag he was carrying underneath it. “Of course.”

Ian stepped outside. The sky was sunny, and it was just the right temperature. This is why Ian would probably never leave Florida, because of days like this. 

He walked slowly over to Mickey’s trailer, anticipating that Mickey might hop out of the truck and come to greet him. But that would be too obvious.

Instead, Mickey waited for Ian to approach the side of his vehicle. His window was down, and Mickey was staring straight ahead.

“Hey, Mick. You ready?” Ian felt like he was practically croaking the words out of his throat, feeling nervous all of a sudden, to have Mickey right in front of him but to have to pretend like there was nothing between them.

Mickey nodded. “They watching?”

“Probably. My boss is onto us.” Ian kept his back towards the station. “Any chance you can wear a disguise next time?”

“Maybe.” Mickey laughed and started to get out of the truck. “Uh, Officer Gallagher, I have a question about how we’ve been packing the product.” He pointed towards the back of the truck as Ian walked next to him.

“Really?”

“Fuck no. I just wanna kiss you, is all, but I’m puttin’ on a show for your friends. C’mon!” He unlocked the back of the trailer and climbed inside, reaching his hand out to Ian. “I’ll be quick,” he declared, pulling Ian against him and planting one on him before he could protest—not that he would have.

Mickey tasted just like Ian remembered. He smelled the same too. The only way Ian could think to describe his scent was an afternoon in the city mixed with the countryside plus cigarettes. It was distinctly Mickey. And his lips, were, just like Ian remembered, amazing.

Ian was so into the kiss, he dropped his clipboard and the bag he was carrying. The items made a loud thud and caused the pair to break away from each other.

They leaned down at the same time to retrieve the items and nearly knocked into each other.

Mickey picked up the ziplock bag. “These for me?”

“Yeah,” Ian said. “I asked Debs to make ‘em. You said they were your favorite.” Ian was searching Mickey’s face for a response.

He didn’t seem all that thrilled. “Fuckin’ cookies, Ian? Couldn’t you see yesterday...on the phone? I’m not as lean as you.” He pointed to the sides of his waist.

Ian looked from the bag of chocolate chip cookies to Mickey’s scowl and then back to—what he considered—Mickey’s perfect body. “What the fuck are you talking about?”

“Nothing, forget it.” Mickey hopped out of the trailer, either somehow offended by Ian’s gesture or worried that someone might be coming to check on them, or both.

“Jesus Christ,” Ian muttered under his breath and proceeded to inspect the boxes. Mickey was one volatile dude. 

Ian was just about finished with his usual process, when he spotted Mickey out of the corner of his eye, pacing back and forth. After checking the last of the boxes and initialing the approval slip, Ian jumped out of the trailer and handed the paper to Mickey.

“Here you go. I wrote a comment on your copy. Read it after you get in the truck.”

Mickey gave Ian a half-smile and accepted the paper. “Thanks. Sorry for being a dick about the cookies. I, uh...well...I can explain later.” 

“It’s fine.” Ian didn’t want to presume what had made Mickey react the way he did, but he had some idea. 

Ian used to put a lot of pressure on himself about how he should look. It was a combination of things he was struggling with personally but also societal pressures related to being gay and making sure other guys would find him attractive.

Maybe Mickey had faced the same challenges. Ian decided not to push on the issue and let Mickey share on his own terms. He changed the subject. “Are you staying over in Tampa tonight or driving down to Miami?”

“Probably Tampa.”

“Want me to drive down after my shift so we can hang out? I’m off tomorrow.” Ian looked at Mickey hopefully.

“That’d be nice, but I’ll probably be tired and even more of a dick.” Mickey nudged Ian’s shoulder. “Let’s meet up tomorrow like we planned. I can try to get in earlier.”

Ian figured it was a long-shot, but he was still happy about spending time with Mickey on Friday. “Alright. Call me tonight.” 

“Okay. And tell your sister ‘thanks’ for me.” Mickey held up the bag of cookies. “These look good.”

“I’ll tell her.”

They walked over to the front of the trailer. Ian wanted to kiss Mickey so badly but had to settle for a handshake. “Be careful driving. Rush hour in Orlando is a bitch.”

Mickey got in the truck and winked at Ian. “Talk to you soon, Officer Gallagher.”

^^^^^^^^^^ 

Ian had just finished dinner with his family. He was on the back porch, having a smoke when Mickey called.

“Hey, Mick...what’s going on?”

“Fuck! I forgot to give you the peanuts for your family.”

“Well, hello to you.” Ian chuckled. “It’s no big deal.” 

Mickey sounded genuinely remorseful. “Yeah, but I want them to like me.” 

“Really?” Ian was flattered. “That’s good to hear cuz I told them you might be coming over tomorrow. Thought you could spend the night...if you want.” Ian paused, already excited about the idea of sharing a bed—and other things—with Mickey.

“I don’t know, Ian.” Mickey hesitated. “I read your note from earlier today.”

“And?”

“And I’m afraid we might be too noisy. You know, with all the things you want to do to my perfect body…”

“Oh, right.” Ian lowered his voice. “That. I think we can manage alright.”

“Okay, I’m game.”

Ian felt a nervous flutter in his stomach. He was worried that it might be too much, too fast to have Mickey over, but he wanted what he wanted. “We can stay in Lip’s room. I’ll text you our address.”

“I’ll bring pizza for everyone,” Mickey offered.

“And I’ll get the beer. But...” Ian sighed. “It’s gonna be hard making chit-chat with you sitting next to me when all I wanna do is get with that ass.”

“Right. My fat ass.” 

“I disagree, but I know I can’t change how you feel. Wanna talk about it?” Ian offered.

“Nah, it’s nothing. Don’t even know how to explain it. I just...well…” Mickey paused, trying to come up with the right words. “Being gay and shit. Sometimes I don’t feel like I know who I am, or where I fit in. I’m not out to that many people.”

“Yeah?” Ian wanted Mickey to continue opening up to him if he needed to talk. He’d been in the same spot a few years ago, but thank God for Fiona and Lip and the rest of his family. Even his good-for-nothing parents had been supportive in their own way.

“When I was back in Chicago, it was easy—even with my prick of a father. I was a Milkovich, it was that simple. Got my marching orders from my dad, was used to the shit he’d pile on me. What I did on my own time was my business. And then I come down South where I stick out like a sore thumb.” Mickey sighed. “Almost every day, I wanna go back home. People down here are nice to your face but fake as fuck.”

Ian smiled knowingly. “They call it Southern hospitality.”

“If one more goddamn person says ‘bless your heart’ to me…”

Ian laughed, and Mickey, now sounding more confident, continued. “So here am I, minding my own business, driving my truck all over fuckin’ Florida. It’s like the longest fuckin’ state—even though I know it’s technically not—and I see you, looking all lanky and unassuming and fuckin’ drop-dead gorgeous.”

Ian didn’t want to say anything that would keep Mickey from talking. He put out his cigarette and took a seat on the top step, cradling the phone with one hand and his other arm wrapped around the railing.

“And I figured, I’m gonna go for it. Cuz I knew within about five minutes of meeting you and you checking me out, that you might be interested too. I mean, I don’t fuckin’ get it cuz you’re pretty much outta my league, and you have a decent job and a family that actually gives a shit about you.”

Ian couldn’t help but contradict the narrative Mickey was building. “Out of your league? I think it’s the opposite.” He paused. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt. I just think you should know how people light up when you’re around. Especially me.” 

Mickey was quiet for a minute but then he broke the silence. “It means a lot to me that you want me to meet your family. I’m not real good at that shit, but I’ll give it a shot.” 

“Thanks, Mick.” Ian was glad Mickey had come into his life when he did. It seemed like they each had their own shit to deal with, but they could help each other out. “Just remember. Don’t let appearances fool you. I know it may seem like I have my shit together…” Ian’s voice trailed off. He’d share some things with Mickey another time. “And about tomorrow, you don’t need to try and impress anyone. Just be yourself.” 

^^^^^^^^^^

Ian had to give Mickey credit for being brave enough to have dinner at the Gallagher house. Under normal circumstances, dinner with the family usually happened after several months of dating. Technically, this was date number two. To Ian’s relief, everyone just acted like themselves, so he and Mickey could relax and take in all of the entertainment.

While Fiona tried to make conversation and get to know more about Mickey, Debbie and Carl argued over which of them was responsible for clogging the upstairs bathroom, while going into great detail about the current contents floating in the water. 

Lip, who had been given the night off by the crazy co-ed he was banging, tried to change the subject, but Debbie and Carl moved onto a related and just as disgusting topic—the longest shit they’d ever taken—not in minutes but in inches.

Ian would have been embarrassed except he was too busy undressing Mickey with his eyes and thinking about what they were gonna be doing in Lip’s bedroom. Of course, he still needed to make sure Lip was going back to the dorms after dinner. 

Every few minutes, Ian would start to pay attention to what was being said and end up mouthing the words “I’m sorry” to Mickey for inflicting this figurative crap on their evening. 

Mercifully, Lip offered to round everyone up and get Liam to bed and Debbie and Carl safely stowed away from their guest. At least Debbie remembered her manners, and thanked Mickey for the peanuts, though she did refer to him as Farmer Mickey. 

They sat down in the living room with Fiona, everyone with a beer in hand, and enjoyed the cool breeze coming in from the open windows. Lip joined them eventually for some adult conversation. 

If the dinner would have started out this way, Mickey probably would have been nervous, but by now, Ian could tell he was at ease and probably buzzed. They were sitting next to each other on the couch, Ian’s arm draped casually behind Mickey, and Mickey’s arm resting beside Ian’s thigh, grazing the side of it when he shifted in his seat. 

“I like this,” Mickey volunteered. “Reminds me of my family. Well...when we were all under one roof. It’s nice you have each other.” 

Fiona smiled. “Yeah, they’re alright. Where ya from, Mickey?”

Mickey shared that he was from the South Side of Chicago, to which Fiona practically jumped out of her chair. “No shit! We’ve got an aunt who lives on the South Side, even thought about relocating up there a few years ago. What a small fuckin’ world!” 

Lip cleared his throat. “Looks like you two were gonna meet one way or another, yeah?” He pointed his beer bottle in the direction of the couch, where Ian was not so subtly massaging the back of Mickey’s neck.

But Lip wasn’t finished. Whenever a Gallagher brought home a significant other of any kind, Lip had his own way of interrogating them. Ian had hoped he would lay off.

“So what brought you to these parts, as we say down here?” Lip inquired. 

Mickey started to answer, but Ian stepped in. “Like I told you, Lip. Mickey got a job on a peanut farm. He’s helping his sister figure things out.” 

Lip persisted. “Yeah, I heard your version of things. That’s why I asked Mickey.” 

Ian rolled his eyes. He could fuckin’ kill Lip right now. This is the kind of shit he wanted to avoid. Ian sorta felt like Mickey was a feral cat that he had coaxed out of the woods with the promise of only good things, and here Lip was, throwing water on him.

“Dude, Ian, relax,” Mickey told him and patted his knee. “I have three older brothers. You think this guy scares me? He’s just lookin’ out for you. Am I right, Lip?” 

“That’s pretty much it. Yeah.” Lip nodded and quietly smirked, appreciating Mickey calling a spade a spade. 

“So,” Mickey began. “Ian’s sugar-coating things a little bit. I was in a shitload of trouble up in Chicago, but I paid my dues, came down here with my sister. She’s been mixed up with a real low life, but we’re trying to make things work. At least make some money. And then I meet this guy.” Mickey leaned his head back into Ian’s shoulder. “The two of you already know this, but he’s probably one of the best people I’ve met in a long time…” Mickey started picking at the label of his beer, looking like he said more than he intended.

Lip seemed impressed, but he had one last dig. “So, you figured this all out, in what, a matter of a date or two?” 

Mickey shrugged quietly, so Ian interjected. “No dumbass. We played a subtle flirting game for about a month, went to dinner once, and talked on the phone every night like a couple of fucking teenagers. And then Mickey was brave enough to come meet your interrogating ass. So...thanks a lot. We’ll see what happens now!”

Ian was staring directly at Lip but watching Fiona out of the corner of his eye. She started to laugh nervously, which got Lip to crack a smile and chuckle. He got up and went over to shake Mickey’s hand and kick at Ian’s shins.

“Like Mickey said, ‘relax, Ian.’ I gotta watch out for my little bro.” Lip turned to Mickey. “I’m no stranger to turning shit around. We’ve all been there.”

Fiona nodded and gave Mickey a reassuring smile. “Yeah. What he said.”

She started to get up. “I think I’m gonna give you guys some privacy. Our neighbors, Kevin and V, said to come over whenever. You wanna join me, Lip?”

“Is that a question or an order,” he asked her. 

“However you want to take it. I’ll see you around, Mickey.” She extended her hand to him, and he shook it. 

“Thanks for having me over.” 

“Sure. Mi casa es su casa. Lip?”

“I think I’ll probably go back to the dorms, actually. We cool?” He looked over at Ian and nodded towards the upstairs, which was code for, yes, you can bang your new guy in my room tonight.

“Yep. See you, Lip.” Ian nodded back, and he and Mickey waved “so long” to the older Gallagher siblings.

Once the front door was closed, and there was a quiet calm in the house, Ian sunk back into the couch and put his arms around Mickey, kissing the top of his head and mussing his short brown hair with the tip of his nose. “We survived.”

Chapter Text

They cleaned up the kitchen, which was just a matter of throwing out the greasy paper plates and dumping out half-finished cups of Fanta and a few empty beer bottles. Mickey seemed pretty tired, after all that driving and spending the night in some fleabag motel.

He was leaning into the sink, his broad shoulders filling out the top of his t-shirt nicely. Ian pressed against him from behind. “You wanna go upstairs, Mick?”

Mickey turned around and looked at him like he had three heads. “Fuck yeah, I do.”

He grabbed a hold of Ian—just like he had the day before in the back of the trailer—all open mouthed and hungry for his kiss. Ian didn’t miss a beat, running his hands over Mickey’s ass and grinding against him as their mouths met.

Mickey trailed his lips over to Ian’s neck, nipping upwards and whispering into his ear. “I think we better go now, before we end up buck naked in your kitchen.”

Ian nodded emphatically and led Mickey towards the stairs. On the way up, they were laughing and tugging at each other’s clothes. Ian smacked Mickey’s ass after ushering him through the doorway to Lip’s room. “Wait here, need to get a few things.”

He passed by Debbie’s door, noticing the sliver of light under her doorway—eh, hopefully we won’t make too much noise—and carefully opened the door to his shared room. Liam was asleep already, and Carl was doing God knows what under his covers. Ian grabbed some condoms and lube from his own personal stash and practically sprinted back down the hallway to Lip’s room.

When Ian walked through the door, he was met with the sight of Mickey stretched out on top of the covers in just his boxers, looking coy and utterly fuckable. His shirt and jeans were piled hastily on the floor. Ian was happy to see that Mickey wasn’t being shy about his body.

He closed the door behind him, his mouth salivating at the thought of ripping off Mickey’s last piece of clothing. God, Ian felt like he had waited forever to be alone like this with him.

Ian pulled his own shirt off and wriggled out of his jeans. He joined Mickey on the bed, caressing his face and crooning, “even better in person.”

Ian wasn’t sure why Mickey was worried about the way his body looked. He was gorgeous with smooth skin and muscular arms and legs, probably from all the heavy lifting he was doing on the farm. There was some softness around his waist but the right kind of softness, the kind that Ian wanted to hold onto as he rode Mickey from behind.

“You’re so fuckin’ hot, Mick.” Ian ghosted his fingers over Mickey’s chest and torso.

Wetting his lips, Mickey encircling his arms around Ian’s waist. “You’re not so bad yourself,” he replied as he went in for another kiss.

Ian pushed into Mickey’s mouth with the tip of his tongue, his fingers moving quickly to lower the waistband of Mickey’s boxers and get his hands around the smooth, plump bubble that was Mickey’s ass.

Mickey pushed his body against Ian, diving his fingers into the front of Ian’s boxers. Once his hand had what it was seeking—Ian’s warm and stiff cock—they both let out a simultaneous groan.

“God, you’re huge,” Mickey growled as he pulled Ian’s boxers off. This sent a shiver down Ian’s spine, hearing the approval in Mickey’s tone as he expertly stroked his length.

Ian returned the gesture, yanking Mickey’s boxers down, the waistband snapping over his fully erect cock. Ian drew in his breath at the sight of it in front of him, standing at attention, just for him, the tip glistening with precum. Ian badly wanting to put his lips around Mickey’s perfect dick.

“Not quite as impressive,” Mickey said matter-of-factly, continuing to pump Ian, biting into his lip as Ian gripped him firmly. 

“Bullshit. It’s perfect. And I know just where I want it.” Ian shoved Mickey back onto the bed, momentarily forgoing the attention Mickey was giving his cock. He smiled menacingly as he slid his mouth around Mickey’s dick and back up again, pausing to massage the head with his tongue, moaning at how good it felt to watch Mickey squirm in response to this attention.

Mickey pressed his fingers into the back of Ian’s neck, guiding his motions, or maybe he was just trying to hold on. Ian was pretty skilled with this particular activity, and hearing Mickey’s breathy moans, he could have done it all night long.

There was one other thing he really wanted to do with Mickey, but he’d sort of forgotten to discuss it in advance. And it was why he’d retrieved the condoms and the lube. Mickey gave him a bit of an opening to bring it up—no pun intended—when he said to Ian. “What about you?”

Ian pulled his swollen lips from around Mickey’s cock, continuing to stroke Mickey while shifting to lie down next to him. Mickey reached down to give his throbbing cock some much needed attention.

“M-mick. That feels so good.” Ian keened into the crook of Mickey’s neck, running his free hand over top of Mickey’s nipple then lowering his head just enough to flick his tongue against the other one.

As Mickey mewled under his touch, Ian posed the question that had been on his mind. “Mick, can I fuck you?”

“I thought that’s what we were doing,” he panted.

“Yeah, I just meant—“

“I know what you meant.” Mickey kissed away Ian’s confused expression. “You got some lube and shit?”

“Of course. And I’ll use a condom.” 

“You?” Mickey asked. “You’re gonna use a condom? Why would you use a condom?”

Oh, shit. Ian knew they should have talked about this before. Were they both tops?!

Ian slowed the rhythm of his hand, unsure of what to do next. Was it selfish that he wasn’t really willing to budge on this? At least, not yet. But he didn’t want to kill the mood—they could do other things.

It was almost as if Mickey was having the same thoughts. His hand had slowed as well, and he ran his fingers through his hair, sighing. “If I say ‘yes,’ can you go slow?”

Ian’s dick twitched at the words he thought he heard, but he needed to be sure. “Mick, you don’t have to. I’m sorry for not asking you sooner. Of course a guy like you is gonna wanna top.”

“A guy like me?” Mickey sounded offended. “What does that mean?”

“You know, uh...tough.” Ian stammered, feeling like a complete idiot. “All tattooed and shit. I dunno.”

“Hell yeah, I’m tough,” Mickey retorted and then paused, smirking as he rutted against Ian’s thigh. “Which is why I’m gonna take your giant cock in my ass…” 

“Mick…”

“Relax, stud. I was messin’ with you anyway. I figured you for a top, all cocky and strutting around in your inspector’s uniform with your fancy fuckin’ clipboard.”

“Hey!” Ian elbowed him in the side. He’d always prided himself on not being a douchebag at work.

“Kidding.” Mickey picked up one of Ian’s hands and let his lips slide along his pale knuckles. “I trust you, Ian.”

“Mick, if you’re sure...”

“And I said slow, but that doesn’t mean you gotta act all timid and shit. Just get me prepped, is all I meant.” 

Ian wondered if this would actually be Mickey’s first time as a bottom. He was starting to feel a lot of pressure. But he knew to take special care of Mickey, like he’d want done for him.

Ian grabbed the lube and lowered himself between Mickey’s legs, spreading them slightly to where he could see the soft puckered skin of Mickey’s hole. He coated a few of his fingers and gently pressed the tip of one finger into him. Mickey seemed to tense up slightly but then relax after a few seconds. Ian pushed his finger further into Mickey as he took Mickey’s cock into his mouth. 

Mickey grunted, his muscles clenching around Ian’s finger and making Ian harder than ever. “Add another one,” he said after a minute or two.

“Like this?” Ian asked coyly as he complied. 

Mickey nodded, his hands caressing Ian’s cheeks, and then coaxing Ian to come towards him and meet his lips.

He started to shift onto his elbows, giving Ian the complete view he’d been craving. “Oh, Mick, fuck. You’re beautiful.” Ian kept his fingers moving in and out as he nipped at the rounded surface of Mickey’s ass, slowly making his way to Mickey’s hole and flicking his tongue around the delicate skin.

Mickey pushed back, thrusting against Ian’s tongue and fingers, starting to move with the stimulation in a rhythmic fashion. He groaned and turned his head slightly back to Ian. “Do it. Fuck me! I want you inside of me. Now.”

Ian nodded, his dick throbbing with want, precum dribbling from his slit. He wanted Mickey more than he’d wanted anyone before. He shifted his fingers out of Mickey and kissed his hole sloppily, practically drooling at the prospect of what this man was about to give him.

Ian slipped a condom on and pulled Mickey’s ass towards him, pushing inside of Mickey with the greatest amount of restraint he could muster, moaning at the warmth and tightness of being just an inch or so inside. He gradually increased the depth, pausing to let Mickey adjust to the sensation.

Ian noticed Mickey’s fists clenched, fingers gripping the bed cover. “Try to relax, Mick. I can pull out any time you want.” He was ready to finish himself off with just a word from his partner.

“I’m okay for now,” Mickey huffed. “Keep going.” 

Ian pushed inside and started slowly pumping into Mickey, his hands on Mickey’s hips to steady the both of them. Ian worked one of his hands around to Mickey’s cock and stroked it with the same rhythm he had going inside of Mickey.

He was so close to coming, especially now that Mickey’s hips were grinding in tandem with his own. Mickey was giving him reassurances with sensual noises and an occasional “yes” that he rasped, his voice growing louder and louder.

Before he knew it, Mickey’s hand was clenched around Ian’s waist, forcing him deep inside of Mickey. Ian felt the tightening in Mickey’s cock as hot dribbles of cum poured out over his knuckles. 

“Oh, fuck, Ian! Fuck!” he yelled.

Ian panicked for a split second. “Mick, are you okay?”

“Yes, you idiot. F-finish. Inside of me!”

Mickey was slouched in front of Ian, spent from his orgasm but willing to hold on just a little longer. He clenched his muscles around Ian’s dick, meeting Ian’s thrusts and pushing him to release.

“Oh, my God, Mick! Oh my—“ Ian tried to keep from crying out, but he was still loud as fuck, groaning and stammering Mickey’s name and several other incoherent sounds.

Once Ian had finished, he placed a lone soft kiss on the small of Mickey’s back and carefully slid out of him, laying down beside him and closing his eyes. Mickey gradually shifted onto his side and nuzzled Ian’s neck.

Ian lifted one eye open and caught Mickey staring at him with a wicked sort of expression. He hoped it wasn’t resentment or feeling like Ian had pressured him into anything. 

“Did I hurt you?” Ian asked breathlessly, his mind racing with ideas for how he could make it up to Mickey. 

“No.” Mickey shook his head. “I’ve, um, been wanting to do that for awhile. Glad it was with you.” 

“Me too.” Ian grasped Mickey’s hand and squeezed it.

He smiled in return. “I was actually worried about you.”

“Why?” asked Ian. 

Mickey lowered his face and kissed him lightly on the nose. “Cuz you sounded like a dying cow when you came.”

“Fuck off, Mick.” Ian tossed the used condom in the wastebasket and grabbed a few tissues from the nightstand, offering one to Mickey.

“Thanks.” Mickey said. “And by the way, I’m pretty sure everyone in the house heard you when you came. Probably everyone within a two mile radius.”

“Real funny. Just...hilarious.” Ian pulled Mickey on top of him, hugging him close and wanting to remember the sensation of his soft bare skin against his own. The sex was probably the best he’d ever had, but what he really wanted was to hold Mickey in his arms.

“Can you stay the night?” Ian knew he had a pleading tone in his voice, but he didn’t care.

Mickey had already decided. “Yeah, fuck it. I’ll tell them I had a flat tire. I wasn’t ready to leave anyway. This is nice, being here with you.” 

“Yeah, it is.” Ian kissed Mickey’s forehead. He didn’t know how to show him the depth of his appreciation for trusting him with so many things, including the level of intimacy they’d just shared, so he said the first thing he could think of. 

“I’ll cook you breakfast in the morning,” he promised. His arm was draped across Mickey’s chest as they fell asleep.

Chapter Text

Ian woke up the next morning with Mickey nestled against him, snoring lightly. This felt so right, their limbs intertwined and their warm bodies pressed together. Ian hated to even think about moving, but he didn’t want Mickey to get in trouble for missing work.

He tried to rouse Mickey by peppering light kisses on his forehead. Mickey wasn’t having it. He buried himself under the covers and mumbled to Ian to wake him up when breakfast was ready. Ian laughed and whispered to Mickey that it wouldn’t take long to make, he just needed to run to the store first.

And he decided to literally run. Ian was filled with an unbounded amount of energy, high from the excitement of this new relationship with Mickey and hopeful about where things could go. He laced up his running shoes and booked it towards the nearest quick-mart, which was about a mile away. After buying pancake mix, eggs, and bacon, Ian headed home with the groceries. It was a challenge running back with two cartons of eggs, but he managed to get them all home unbroken.

Fiona was the first to come downstairs to the sight of Ian whipping up breakfast for everyone. He hoped she would spare him the “someone got laid last night” comments, especially since she’d probably overheard everything. Thankfully, she said very little, pouring some coffee and wishing him a ‘good morning’ before diving into the newspaper.

Once breakfast was ready, Ian made a plate for Fiona and went upstairs to wake up his overnight guest. Mickey was sitting upright in the bed, reading something on his phone and looking positively adorable with his sleepy eyes and ruffled hair. Ian was fairly certain Mickey had a hard-on and was tempted to peel back the covers and see if he was up for a repeat of last night. Their breakfast could wait.

Before Ian had the chance to ask, Mickey shot out of the bed and started throwing his clothes on. “Fuck! I gotta go!”

Ian froze, worried that something bad had happened. “Is Mandy alright?” 

Mickey hopped around the room, searching for his shoes. “She’s fine, but my boss wasn’t too thrilled about me skipping out today.”

“Shit, Mick. I shoulda tried to wake you up sooner, I just thought—“

“C’mere.” Mickey brushed his lips against Ian’s. “I’m a grown ass man. You didn’t hold a gun to my head.”

“That’s true.” Ian gulped, still feeling guilty.

“Sorry to rush off.” Mickey rested his hands on Ian’s shoulders. “Do I smell bacon?”

Ian mustered a smile and pressed his forehead into Mickey’s, wishing they had longer to be together. “I’ll make you a plate to take on the road.”

“Thanks. I’ll be back before you know it.”

^^^^^^^^^^

Ian was already formulating a plan for their next date. He figured that Mickey deserved something special after his overnight at the Gallagher abode with complimentary Gallagher shenanigans. The last offense Mickey had to endure was catcalls from the younger Gallaghers as Ian walked Mickey to his truck. And then there was mooing. Had Carl been listening the night before when Mickey told Ian he sounded like a dying cow? Little fucker.  

After saying goodbye to Mickey, Ian went back to Lip’s room and flopped down on the bed, debating whether he should go back to sleep or do something productive. He settled on researching date night ideas on his phone. This would all be contingent upon Mickey letting Ian come along for his deliveries the following week. He’d have to see if Mickey was cool with that, but Ian figured he might like some company, especially his company. 

It was about five minutes later when Ian saw a text message come through from Mickey.   

Mickey: Miss you.

He smiled, a warm sensation pulsing through him. Instead of texting back, Ian called him.

Mickey answered on the third ring. “Didn’t you get your fill of me last night? Or was it the other way around?”

“Ha, ha. You’re not supposed to be texting and driving,” Ian scolded him. But actually, he was pleased Mickey couldn’t go too long without thinking about him.

“Excuse me, Officer Gallagher. I stopped to get gas. So…”

“Great. You’re talking on your cell phone and pumping gas at the same time? Probably smoking too. Not safe, Mick.”

Mickey chuckled and whispered menacingly into the phone. “Chill the fuck out, choir boy. Don’t make me turn this truck around.”

“I wish you would.” Ian challenged. 

“Don’t tempt me. It’s already gonna be hard enough not seeing you until Thursday.” Mickey sounded genuinely bummed out. 

“Well...there’s things we can do in the meantime...” Ian bit into his lip, already eager for another round of sexy FaceTime.

“Yeah...tomorrow night should work,” Mickey offered. “I gotta bust my ass today though. Enjoy holding your dick all weekend. Some of us have to work.” 

“About that.” Ian paused, gathering up the nerve to ask Mickey about joining him on the road. “I have to work next weekend, which means I’ve got Thursday and Friday off. Think I can tag along with you on your route?” 

“Huh. Like a road trip?” Mickey got quiet. “Kinda soon, don’t ya think?” 

“Oh. Yeah. M-maybe.” Ian stammered.

“Jesus, Ian. I was fuckin’ with you. Don’t take all the fun out of it.” Mickey laughed and then softened his tone. “Yes, you can ride with me.”

Ian had to remind himself to stop being so damn gullible. “And Mick, I wanna take you out. There’s a club in downtown Miami I think you’d like.”

“A club?” Mickey scoffed. “I don’t know about that. I’m sure we can find something we’d both like to do between this shithole town and the Magic City.”

“Hey! It can’t be too much of a shithole.” Ian shot back. “You found something you like here.”

“Touché. I sure fuckin’ did.” Ian could sense Mickey’s shitty grin through the phone. 

“Talk to you soon?” Ian was smiling too. 

“Yep. Bye, Ian.”

“See ya, Mick.”

^^^^^^^^^^

The days seemed to pass by more quickly than the previous week. Ian was feeling like a teenager—or what he assumed teenagers felt like, had he gotten to experience things the same way—on the phone for hours with his new crush, learning more and more about him, wanting to memorize every detail about Mickey’s life, growing up in Chicago and some of the fun he used to have with his brothers. It gave him an idea for their date.

Since Mickey had balked at the idea of going to a club, Ian decided on something more Mickey’s style. He’d try him again on the club thing one day, wanting to see if he could bring out Mickey’s best moves on the dance floor. Even if he just stood there and let Ian grind against him under the flashing lights and thumping bass of the club music, it would be sexy as hell. 

Ian had asked Mickey for his delivery schedule so he could plan around it. His usual route was Tampa then Miami. It would work out for them to have their date right outside of Tampa and spend the night there. They could visit downtown Miami another time, if not for clubbing, at least for some Cuban food.

Ian reserved a hotel room for them, knowing that Mickey usually stayed in a shitty roadside motel or in the back of his truck in order to hold onto his $40 lodging allowance. Ian wasn’t trying to show off—he just wanted to spoil Mickey. And have a nice place for them to be alone together.

When Thursday finally rolled around, Ian woke up earlier than he intended, too excited to sleep, like on Christmas morning, even knowing Santa wasn’t real and that Frank and Monica may or may not have been passed out under the Christmas tree. That’s why Fiona always filled all their stockings and kept them in her room until everyone was gathered downstairs. 

Since he was awake with nothing else to do until Mickey arrived, Ian decided to help out with breakfast and visit with his siblings before they left for school. He’d been keeping to himself lately, spending more time in Lip’s room after work so he could have some privacy when he talked with Mickey.

“You’re up early,” Fiona observed when she spotted Ian coming down the stairs. “Is that cuz it’s peanut day?”

Ian smiled politely and chose to ignore her comment, though he’d already let her in on the details of his surprise date with Mickey. 

“Let me help with breakfast.” He grabbed the bacon out of the fridge and started laying it out in the frying pan.

“How are things at work? Still raking it in?” Ian asked his sister, the other proud Gallagher breadwinner. It was nice being able to provide for the family and have some spending money. 

“Ya know, same old, same old. But I did meet a new guy.” Fiona poured two cups of coffee and handed one to Ian.

“Nice. So...not banging Sean yet?” Fiona and her boss Sean had this weird sexual tension that everyone around them noticed.

“Nah. This guy’s name is Gus. Musician. Brooding but sexy. And smart. Long story, but it was kind of a meet-cute. Maybe not as cute as your meet-cute.” Fiona squeezed Ian’s arm, which was her way of saying I’m happy you’re happy.

Ian smiled. “Well, good luck. He already sounds better than Steve/Jimmy/what’s his name.”

“Wouldn’t take much. Fuck that piece of shit.” Fiona beat the pancake batter with fury, remembering her ex. “Listen, Ian. I got this. Just do me a favor and wake everyone up. We can have breakfast together before your first adult getaway.” 

“My what?”

“You know, your first, like, grown-up trip. I guess. I don’t know. I’m jealous. You’re such a good boyfriend.”

Ian held his hands up to protest. “Whoa, whoa. Don’t let Mickey hear you say anything about me being his boyfriend. We haven’t discussed that. Don’t know if we will.”

“Fine. Relax.” Fiona poured 4 medium circles of batter into the griddle pan. “I can tell how much he’s into you. Wish someone would look at me that way.”

“One day, Fi.” Ian turned away, blushing slightly before going upstairs to wake up his siblings. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and noticed a text that had come through from Mickey. 

Mickey: Leaving after breakfast. Be at your place around 1pm.

He texted back.

Ian: Be safe. And bring peanuts.    

^^^^^^^^^^ 

When Ian heard the truck pull up in front of the house, it took every fiber of his being not to run to the front door and throw it open. Instead, he waited for Mickey to come to the door.

“Hold on,” Ian called out after hearing the loud knock. He opened the door and paused, taking in the sight of a smirking, adorable Mickey holding a large bag of peanuts. He immediately handed them to Ian, almost like a bouquet of flowers.

“Thanks.” Ian placed the bag on the table by the door and gestured for Mickey to come inside. He wanted to lunge at him, but he knew to wait and let Mickey make the first move. 

“You’re a sight for sore eyes, Gallagher. Anyone else here?”

Ian shook his head, his eyes widening with delight as Mickey shoved him against the wall as he slammed the door behind him. He pressed his mouth against Ian’s eager lips.

“Fuck, I missed you,” Mickey groaned. He already had his fingers on the growing bulge in Ian’s pants, searching for the fastest way to get at his cock but momentarily abandoning that endeavor to pull Ian’s shirt off of him.

For just a second, Ian thought to protest—he didn’t want them to be too late getting into Tampa, but Mickey was nipping at his neck and grinding his dick against Ian’s. Ian wanted to touch Mickey so badly, but he’d pinned Ian’s arms behind his back and was grazing his lips along the pale skin of his chest, dragging his tongue in slow, deliberate circles over the dark pinkish skin of his stiffening nipples. 

“God, Mickey.” Ian squirmed against the wall, his dick aching to be touched. Sensing as much, Mickey managed to unfasten Ian’s pants and yank them down, along with his boxers.

Ian shuddered as Mickey stroked his length from the base to the tip. Without a word, Mickey dropped to his knees, cupping Ian’s balls as he teased the head of his cock with quick flicks of his tongue. Ian leaned against the wall, a low moan escaping from his lips. Yeah, they definitely had a few minutes to spare.

Their eyes met briefly, and Mickey smiled greedily up at him, hollowing his cheeks as he took most of Ian’s dick in his mouth.

“Oh, fuck.” Ian had both hands gripping Mickey’s head, coaxing him forward to swallow the rest of him. “Take it, Mick. Take it all.”

Ian’s knees buckled, his body riddled with lust as he fucked Mickey’s willing mouth with rough and wild thrusts. This was even better than what Ian had imagined as he jerked off in the shower the night before.

Now that he was with Mickey in the flesh, it didn’t take long for Ian to come, his grunts and a final “fuck yeah!” filling up the silence of the near empty house. He watched Mickey swallow everything Ian gave him, save for a few traces of cum around his mouth.

“God, that was hot,” Ian panted, and then slowly coming out of a haze, he offered to get Mickey some tissues.

“It’s fine,” Mickey said, pulling Ian down to his knees so that he was level with him.

“Thanks, Mick.” Ian wrapped his fingers around the back of Mickey’s head, pulling him in for a kiss, tasting the remnants of his release and then licking around Mickey’s mouth to clean him up.

He pawed at the fabric covering Mickey’s hardened cock, but Mickey wove his fingers into Ian’s before he could undo his jeans.

“We better get on the road,” Mickey said in his most responsible-sounding voice. 

“I want to take care of you, Mick.”

“There’ll be plenty of time for that. Besides, this was my way of thanking you for whatever you have planned for us tonight. You know, in case I forget to say it later.”

Ian kissed him again, their mouths melding together. “I just hope you’ll like it,” he murmured. 

Mickey got up first, offering a hand to Ian, who stood up and put his clothes back on.

“Gimme a sec.” Ian went into the kitchen to grab his overnight bag and a backpack.

He presented the backpack to Mickey. “This has everything we’ll need for tonight. Wanna open it now, or once we get to Tampa?”

“Damn, Ian. Who knew my boyfriend was such a thorough planner?”

“B-boyfriend?” he murmured.

“Well, yeah.” Mickey looked bashful for just an instant. “I guess even though we’re grown ass adults, I should still ask you if—“

“The answer is ‘yes.’” Ian laughed and mussed Mickey’s hair. “You should ask me.”

“Okay. I’ll take that as confirmation. Don’t really wanna share you with anybody else.” Mickey grabbed Ian’s ass and took the backpack out of his hands. “I’ll open this once we make the delivery. C’mon.” 

As they were walking out the door, Ian remembered what he wanted to ask Mickey right before he distracted him with his talented mouth. “Oh, hey...were they cool to you at the inspection station?”

“Yep. Your good buddy Jorge says hello. Told him I was on my way to pick you up.” Mickey winked.

“Did you try to give him any peanuts?” 

“Fuck no. Those are strictly for Gallaghers.”

Chapter Text

They decided to avoid I-95 and take the back roads to Tampa. Because it was late September, the temperatures were mild, and they drove with the windows cracked and the warm breeze blowing against their faces.

“You want a hit?” Mickey had pulled a joint from his pocket.

“No, thanks.” Ian shook his head. “They do random drug tests at work.”

“Have you ever seen anyone actually get tested?” Mickey leaned over for Ian to light it for him and then blew a thin line of smoke out the window.

“No. It’s probably just a scare tactic.” Ian shrugged. “Give it here.” He breathed in the warm smoke and slowly released it. 

Music was blasting from the radio, both of them tapping their fingers along to some top 40 shit because that was their compromise. Mickey had become a country music convert during his time in South Carolina, which amused Ian to no end.

“That’s the shit they have on while we’re working,” Mickey explained.

“Doesn’t mean you have to like it,” retorted Ian.

“What can I say? It’s grows on you. It’s...poetry.”

Ian had to stifle a laugh, but that’s one thing he admired about Mickey—he liked what he liked, and he made no apologies.

They were about an hour into the trip, and Mickey jabbed Ian’s shoulder.

“What the fuck, Mickey?”

“Tell me what’s in the bag.”

Ian smirked, happy to have something to lord over his new boyfriend. “Why don’t you guess?”

“I hate guessing games,” Mickey growled. 

Ian didn’t budge.

“Okay fine...first thing that comes to mind…” Mickey felt around the outside of the backpack. “Dildos. All shapes and sizes. And a jumbo-sized bottle of lube.”

Ian burst out laughing. “Why bother with that when we can have the real thing? Try again.”

“I don’t know.” Mickey furrowed his brow, trying to come up with another guess. “Are we swimming with dolphins? Cuz I don’t know how to fuckin’ swim.”

“Really? What about going to the pool during the summer? I hear Chicago summers are brutal.”

“Yeah. I used to go to the pool, pretended to check out the honeys, just never bothered swimming in it,” Mickey confessed.

“Man, it’s a rite of passage down here. They pretty much throw you in and expect you to figure it out.” Ian put his hand on Mickey’s shoulder. “I’ll teach you sometime. We have a pool in our backyard. Patched the leak a few days ago.”

“Yeah, we’ll see. Better cancel the dolphin thing though.”

“Lucky for you, it’s not dolphins. Any more guesses?” 

“No. ‘Fraid I’m all tapped out.” Mickey shrugged. “If it’s dinner and a movie, that’d be fine with me.”

“Ah, you’re no fun.” Ian slumped down in his seat. “Want me to just tell you?”

“Uh...no.” Mickey jerked the steering wheel to the right, making a sudden turn into a gas station parking lot, the tires of the truck screeching against the asphalt. The driver in the car behind them laid into his horn and gave Mickey the finger as he drove by.

“Jesus!” Ian had to shift so that he was upright in his seat, instead of plastered against the passenger side door.

“What? I’m gonna open the backpack.” Mickey pulled on the parking brake and ripped into the backpack.

Two baseball gloves tumbled out. Mickey looked puzzled. “Uh...are we gonna play catch?”

“Keep looking.”

He dug around in the bag and pulled out two baseball caps with the Tampa Bay Rays logo. Mickey cocked his head to the side, suddenly putting the pieces together. “Are you taking me to a baseball game? Seriously?” 

“Uh...yeah.” Ian nodded.

Mickey sounded excited, but Ian wasn’t quite sure until he’d slapped the hat on and was checking himself out in the mirror.

“Oh, good. You’re happy.” A wide grin spread over Ian’s face.

“Fuck yeah, I’m happy! I went to a Sox game against the Rays when I was a kid. Snuck in with my brother Iggy. The Rays suck, but hell, there’s nothing better than an ice-cold drink in one hand, a footlong in the other, and the stretch of nine glorious innings in front of you.” Mickey had this exuberant look on his face that made Ian feel like he’d accomplished something.

“There’s a fuckton of minor league teams down here, but the Rays are playing the Yankees tonight, thought it might be more exciting.” Ian pulled out his phone and showed Mickey their tickets. “We’re on the third base line. Fiona helped me dig up these old gloves. Frank’s and Lip’s. I only did a year in Little League.”

“Third base, huh?” Mickey grabbed ahold of Ian’s shirt collar and pulled him close to where his lips were just a breath away. “Oh, Officer Gallagher. I’ve got plans for you later tonight. And they go far beyond third base.”

^^^^^^^^^^

They made the peanut delivery to the distribution warehouse in Tampa and headed to St. Petersburg via the bridge over Old Tampa Bay, both of them marveling at the crystal blue water and Ian thinking about how the water reminded him of the color of Mickey’s eyes.

After checking into the hotel Ian had reserved, they headed directly over to the stadium in the hotel shuttle. There wasn’t sufficient time for them to fool around before the game. Besides, Mickey was too excited about the game.

He was clearly in his element, baseball cap on backwards, spouting random stats, and on his phone, trying to absorb as much about the Rays as possible. Ian soaked it all in, imagining what Mickey might have been like as a kid, going on and on about the Sox and dreaming about catching a foul ball in the White Sox stadium, aka “The Cell.”

He didn’t bother mentioning to Mickey that the stadium where they were heading to, Tropicana Field, was a piece of shit—at least, that’s what Ian had always heard. He’d been to a few minor league games in Jacksonville with Lip but hadn’t really followed baseball. He could barely keep up with what Mickey was saying, but hell, if it made him this happy, Ian would have gone with him to watch a three-day chess tournament, which he also knew shit about.

When they arrived at the stadium, Mickey snapped selfies of the two of them and texted a few pictures to Mandy. She texted back immediately, not about the baseball game, but about how hot she thought Ian was.

The stadium was pretty worn down, but it did have the unique features of being indoors and having a tankful of stingrays built into the center wall, viewable from the field. Once they found their seats and got settled, Mickey chuckled about how they were surrounded by Yankees fans. “Did these fucks come all the way down here for this shit?” he asked Ian.

“They probably retired here, Mick. You know...we’re in Florida.”

Ian noticed a slight smirk on Mickey’s face. “Lemme guess though...you’re suddenly a huge Rays fan, and you’re gonna let them know?”

Mickey grabbed Ian’s knee playfully. “Nah, I’ll behave.” He sunk back in his seat and took in the view. The home team was just finishing warm ups, and there was music blaring through the sound system.

“This is nice, Ian. Great seats.” He picked up Ian’s hand and kissed the back of it quickly, straightening up in his seat and looking around to see if anyone had noticed this gesture. He seemed ready to tell them to fuck off if they had a problem with it.

Ian wondered if Mickey would wind up in a brawl before the end of the game. He could easily imagine the trash-talking version of his boyfriend at any sporting event, plotting to fuck up drunken fans from the opposing side in the parking lot.

“I’m glad we could do this, Mick.” Ian smiled at him. “Let’s get something to eat before the game starts. I’ll buy you some peanuts and Cracker Jacks…”

Mickey turned to Ian and gave him an “eat shit” grin. “Real cute, Gallagher. Real fuckin’ cute.”

^^^^^^^^^^ 

Rather than inciting a brawl with their fellow baseball aficionados, Mickey ended up buying a round of beers for everyone around them and yapping with the old timers about all the baseball shit Ian had no clue about.

Anyone else might have felt neglected, but Ian loved it, seeing Mickey relaxed and charming the shit out of everyone. The only difficult part of the night was helping Mickey’s drunk ass maneuver out of the stadium and back to the hotel. Ian figured it’d be good for them to walk, rather than wait an hour or more for the shuttle. 

Ian shouldered some of his weight, but Mickey wanted to stop every few minutes to share some rambling thoughts—almost as if it was too confusing for him to walk and talk at the same time.

“Lemme tell you something…” He poked at Ian’s chest. “Tonight...what you did...was the nicest fuckin’ thing...ever…” Mickey’s words were slurred, but his expression was sincere. 

Ian patted his shoulder and drew him close to hug him or to quiet him or both.

Mickey continued. “That’s all I wanted my old man to do...just once...take me to a game or the arcade...something that didn’t involve me getting my ass kicked...or him...getting arrested. My mom died when I was young, and Terry...well...he was fuckin’ Terry...” 

Mickey sounded like he was on the verge of tears. Ian’s heart went out to him, knowing he’d been neglected by the one person who was supposed to guide him and take care of him. Ian knew exactly how that felt. 

“Hey, it’s okay, Mick. You didn’t do anything wrong.” Ian said soothingly. “Sometimes, we get stuck with shithead parents. Fuck ‘em.”

“Yeah, I guess…” 

“Let’s get back to the hotel, sleep it off. We can talk in the morning.”

“Sleep?!” Mickey practically shouted. “No, I want you to fuck me. And not that gentle shit like last time. Pound me! Pound me hard with your giant-ass cock!” 

“Shhhhhhh!” There were enough people in their vicinity whom Ian preferred not to share their personal business with. 

Mickey apparently did not want to be shushed and had other private thoughts to share with anyone who’d listen. “I love this guy! He’s like, the best! The fuckin’ best!”

Ian forced a smile. Thank God they were only a few yards away from the hotel entrance. 

“C’mon, Mick.” Ian opened the door into the lobby, staring straight ahead as they shuffled past the check-in clerk and headed for the elevator.

Once inside the elevator, Ian hit the number “7” and leaned against the side of the mirrored wall. Mickey seemed intent that there would be fucking before bed, rubbing his hand over Ian’s crotch. “Time to get up, big guy,” he crooned.

Ian wanted to stick to the plan—get Mickey to bed—but he could feel his dick responding to the attention. He let out a soft whimper, which Mickey silenced with a slow, wet kiss. He tasted like cheap beer, but Ian didn’t care. His tongue was probing Mickey’s mouth, his hands now cupping Mickey’s ass as they rutted against one another.

The elevator made a “ding” sound, and the doors opened onto their floor. They spilled out, lips locked, Ian managing to get them to the door of their room and fumbling quickly to get it open. 

Mickey made a beeline for the bathroom—either to puke or piss, so Ian waited for him on their king-sized bed, flopping down on his back and pondering whether taking this any further was a good idea given how drunk Mickey was.

A few more minutes passed, and Ian shot up from the bed, wondering if Mickey was okay. He knocked on the door, and when he didn’t hear a response, pushed his way inside.

He found Mickey curled up in the bathtub, his fly down, snoring softly. Ian chuckled to himself as he coaxed Mickey out of the tub and over to their bed, pulling off his shoes and jeans and helping him under the covers. 

Ian leaned down to tell him goodnight, and Mickey turned his face slightly upwards, squinting into the light from the bedside lamp, which Ian was about to turn off.

“Hey...Gallagher?” 

“Yeah?

Ian could barely hear what Mickey mumbled next, but he was fairly certain it was “I love you,” right before he rolled over and settled against the pillow.

It seemed a little too soon, and it didn’t have quite the significance coming from drunk Mickey versus sober Mickey. Still, Ian felt a twinge in his chest, knowing that some part of Mickey Milkovich must have felt what he’d said.

Ian went to the bathroom and hurried through his usual nighttime routine. He was anxious to curl up next to Mickey and fall asleep holding him in his arms.

^^^^^^^^^^

It was about nine in the morning. Ian had already been for a run and eaten breakfast. He’d brought up a cup of coffee and a few items from the continental breakfast station for Mickey. 

“Wake up...” Ian whispered gently to his sleeping boyfriend, hovering over top of him and flicking the tip of his tongue along the edge of Mickey’s ear.

He swatted at Ian and groaned. “Fuck. My head hurts.” 

“That’s cuz your dumbass got wasted last night.” Ian laughed, reaching for the cup of hot coffee. “Here. Drink.”

Mickey scooted up against the headboard, a pained expression on his face. “Oh, shit!” He jumped out of the bed, throwing the covers to the floor as he dashed towards the bathroom. 

“You okay?” Ian called after him.

“Yeah!” He yelled back. “Just need to take a leak.”

A few minutes later, Mickey returned and was drying his hands and face with a towel that he chucked to the floor. He took the coffee from Ian’s hands, gulped it down, and bit off a huge chunk of the bagel waiting for him on the table. 

“Mmmm...thanks for getting my breakfast.” Mickey flopped down on the bed, plate in hand, and ate the rest of the bagel. He stuffed the mini blueberry muffins into his mouth and finished the coffee. Ian watched in amusement.

“What?” Mickey asked.

“Nothing. Want me to get you something else?”

“Nah. I’m good.” Mickey pulled the remote from the nightstand and flipped on the television, sinking back into the pillows. “Last night was fun. Huh?” 

“Yeah, it was. Too bad we didn’t catch a foul ball. Would have been a nice souvenir.” 

“Meh. We made memories.” Mickey patted the pillow next to him, and Ian laid down, resting his head against Mickey’s chest.

Mickey massaged the back of Ian’s neck, dragging the tips of his fingers through his ginger-colored hair. “Hold up!” He practically shouted. “Did we fuck last night?” 

Ian lifted his head to give Mickey a soft kiss on his lips. “Nope. We could have, but you were way too drunk.”

“Goddamn, my boyfriend is a true gentleman.” Mickey lifted Ian’s chin closer to kiss him deeply.

“Anyway, you fell asleep in the tub.” 

“The tub?” He inched Ian’s t-shirt up and over his head, tossing it to the floor. 

“Yep. But I got you into bed.” Ian pressed his mouth into the exposed skin on Mickey’s side where his shirt had bunched up. He pushed the fabric up with his nose and fingers, slipping his tongue along Mickey’s torso and eventually making sloppy swirls over each of his nipples.

Mickey sighed contentedly. “Why didn’t you fuck me last night? If I was that wasted, I would have been nice and welcoming to...this…” 

Ian shuddered as Mickey stroked the outline of his mostly hard cock, which was straining against his running shorts.

“You w-wanted me...to fuck you, Mick. You said...things...” Ian pulled Mickey’s shirt off and sucked on the skin under his ear, rubbing his chest against Mickey’s. “You said you wanted me to fuck you harder than you’ve ever been fucked before.” 

Ian dipped his fingers under the waistband of Mickey’s boxers and grabbed his rock-hard dick. Mickey groaned, pressing against Ian, pushing on Ian’s shorts and shoving them down to expose his cock in all its glory. “You got the lube?” 

“Fuck yeah I do.” Ian climbed out of the bed, letting his fingers slowly slide off of Mickey’s cock and out from underneath his boxers. He pulled the bottle of lube and some condoms from his bag. 

“Ian. Fuck the condoms...if it’s okay with you. I want you...inside of me...want you to fill me up when you come.”

Ian drew in his breath at the sound of those words. He dropped down to his knees and pulled Mickey over to the side of the bed, ripping his boxers off and taking Mickey’s cock into the back of his throat in one swift motion.

“Guess I know what turns you on,” Mickey mused.

Ian, desperately wanting Mickey’s hands all over him, crawled back into the bed, laying on his side with Mickey’s cock still in his mouth. He was positioned to where Mickey could give his aching dick some attention, which he did, first with a few firm strokes using both of his hands, then with his lips, working his mouth all the way down to the base of Ian’s cock. Ian threw his head back and let out a moan from the sensation of Mickey deepthroating him. 

Eventually, Ian managed to get some lube into the palm of his hand and coat his fingers. He traced his hands around to Mickey’s smooth ass, opening him until his tightly clenched entrance was visible. “Gotta get you loose, Mick.”

“Do whatever you have to, but I want you to fuck me,” Mickey panted. “Hard.”

But Ian knew not to give him too much too fast. He slowly inserted one finger inside of Mickey and waited a minute before inserting another, probing deeper this time, searching expertly for his prostate until he felt Mickey’s hips jut forward and a breath hitch in his throat. “Oh God! Fuck!” 

Ian inserted a third finger inside of Mickey, sliding all three in and out, prepping him for what was next.

“Want you, Ian. All of you.” Mickey was trying to shift onto his elbows and raise his ass in the air for Ian to pillage.

“Wait, Mickey. I want to look at your face...when I come inside of you.”

Ian climbed on top of Mickey, pinning his wrists against the bed and kissing him hard on the lips, biting into his neck and slowly scraping his teeth over Mickey’s nipples. As Mickey writhed beneath him, Ian licked down his torso and the inside of his thighs, finishing this part of the journey by sucking the precum from the slit of Mickey’s dick. 

“Stop...torturing me. Fuck me now!” 

“Good things come to those who wait.” Ian spread Mickey’s legs wide enough to where he could invade his hole with pointed flicks of his tongue, getting him even slicker and wetter. 

Ian rubbed lube on his cock, lined up with Mickey, and pushed into him, watching the slight grimace on Mickey’s face transform into open-mouthed wonder. “Don’t hold back, Ian.” He pleaded. “Fuck me hard.”

Ian obliged, gripping ahold of Mickey’s hips, his thigh muscles tightening around Ian as they rocked together, Mickey grinding up just as hard as Ian was pounding into him, hitting Mickey’s pleasure point mercilessly.

“Ready to come for me?” Ian had moved his hands against Mickey’s shoulders for leverage, but now he was wrapping one hand around Mickey’s leaking cock. “Come for me, Mick.” Ian bit down on his lip, close to finishing himself. 

Mickey let out a long low moan as he came all over Ian’s chest. The warm, thick cum against Ian’s skin and the satisfaction of witnessing Mickey’s explosion were what he needed to reach climax.

“Mick! Oh...God!” Ian dug his fingers into Mickey’s sides, his whole body trembling as he filled Mickey with his release. He watched as Mickey groaned contentedly at the sensation, running his fingers roughly against Ian’s back as if he was coaxing out any lingering traces of cum.

Once Ian was completely spent, he collapsed on top of Mickey, not giving a fuck what a mess they were.

Mickey stroked the back of Ian’s neck and kissed him gently on the cheek. “Did we cuddle sufficiently? I wanna get cleaned up.” 

Ian knew, despite his words, that if he told Mickey to lay there all day next to him, he’d probably oblige. “Sure, Mick. But let’s take a shower. I wanna see if we can go again.”

“Okay. I’m all for that, but what about gettin’ outta here on time?”

Ian smiled down at Mickey, happy that they’d found each other and that they meshed so well. “Remember. Planner here. Got us a late check out.”

Chapter Text

The Tampa leg of their road trip had been a blast, but that left a shitload of driving on Friday. Mickey had to gun it to Miami, and he was still an hour late with the delivery.

“You’re gonna get fired because of me.” Ian knew they should have left the hotel earlier, but giving Mickey head in the shower had seemed more important at the time.

“Eh. Mr. Sanders will be fine. I texted him that I ran into some traffic.” Mickey didn’t seem too worried.

They were parked at a rest stop and chowing down on some sliders from Krystals, the Southern equivalent to White Castle but not nearly as good, per Mickey.

“I mean, it’s not like he’s gonna fire me. I’ve only got this gig for another month. The harvest is done.”

Mickey, likely realizing he’d brought up an unpleasant topic, bit into one of his sliders and avoided making eye contact with Ian. It was difficult for either of them to think about what their future together might look like. Things were still new and euphoric—why bring up the unknown and uncertain?

Ian looked out the window, trying to think about something else. The very recent memory of watching Mickey’s face when he came in Ian’s mouth was a welcome distraction.

He turned to Mickey, brushing his thumb over his cheek. “Is it stupid I wanna fuck you all over again?”

“I’m irresistible.” Mickey stuffed the rest of the slider into his mouth. “Can’t hold that against you.”

Ian grinned and munched on a few of his fries. “Mick...you doin’ alright? I mean, with your family and shit?”

Mickey stopped chewing and looked over at Ian. “Why you askin’?”

“Well...you said a few things last night...about your dad.”

“Oh.” Mickey took a long sip from the straw of his soda. “Good thing I don’t remember.”

“If you ever wanna talk, you know…”

“Yeah, I know.” Mickey clapped a hand on top of Ian’s. “Thanks.”

They finished eating in silence, comfortable being in each other’s presence.

Mickey balled up his trash and tossed it on the floor. “We've got five more fuckin’ hours. You ready?” He pulled his seatbelt over his chest and clicked it into place.

Ian brushed the crumbs off his shirt. “Sure, but I wish you’d let me drive.”

“Nah, it’s my responsibility. Besides, I’ve got you to keep me company. And my favorite country music station.”

Ian groaned. “I’d rather listen to NPR.”

^^^^^^^^^^

They got to the Gallagher house just after 10 o’clock, and Mickey decided to crash for a few hours with Ian, rather than heading straight back.

His alarm went off at 4am, but he hit the snooze button and cuddled with Ian for an extra 15 minutes before hitting the road.

Ian got up a few hours later and made it to work on time. He was tired from their trip but on cloud nine, thinking about how much fun they’d had.

Mickey texted him once he got back to his apartment and sent a picture of him and Mandy hamming it up in their kitchen. Ian could tell they were related, those same devilish grins. He hoped to meet her one day. From what Mickey had told him, his sister had put up with a lot of shit but managed to hold her own.

Throughout the morning, there were at least a dozen times that Ian was tempted to text Mickey, mostly to gush about missing him or how good they were together. He snapped a picture of his lunch at El Paisanos and sent it to Mickey with the caption: Where it all began.

Later that day, Mickey texted a picture of his delivery truck with the caption: This is actually where it all began.

Mickey won that one. Ian texted him about doing FaceTime later, but Mickey suggested they talk on Sunday evening. He was getting in some more hours before the end of the season and helping a friend of Mandy’s move into a new apartment.

Ian spent the evening and the next day feeling gloomy about Mickey’s job ending in a few weeks. They had such a good thing going. Ian supposed they could try the long distance thing, provided that Mickey stayed within driving distance—he’d be fine going to see Mickey on the weekends.

And maybe it wouldn’t be the end of the world in the Gallagher house if Ian got his own place. He’d still help out with the bills and hang out with his siblings, but it’d be nice to have a place of his own and some privacy when Mickey came to visit.

After dinner on Sunday, Ian dialed Mickey as planned, his heart pounding louder in his chest with every ring. His call went to voicemail, and Ian’s heart sank. He told himself not to overreact and that Mickey would get back to him soon, probably within minutes.

When an hour passed and no call, Ian texted Mickey with a simple: “Hey, Mick. Call me.” When another hour passed and still no call or text, Ian figured that Mickey had probably fallen asleep, and they’d catch up in the morning. Granted, he was bummed about not hearing Mickey’s voice before going to bed, but they’d talk soon enough. Ian had to be up early anyway for work.

He checked his phone first thing when his alarm went off. No messages. Ian was starting to worry and sent another text: “Mick? You okay?”

He didn’t say much during his morning run with Carl and was grateful his little brother wasn’t very interested in his love life. Ian tried to tell himself that he was overreacting, but he had a nagging feeling that something was wrong.

Ian realized he didn’t have any other way of getting in touch with Mickey. They’d already talked about how Mickey boycotted all things social media. Ian had never thought to ask for Mandy’s number. Maybe he could find her on Facebook. But wouldn’t he come off as desperate and clingy? What if Mickey was avoiding him?

Fuck, this was eating away at Ian. He sulked all day at work, constantly checking his phone and taking longer than usual with his inspections to avoid his co-workers. By the end of the day and no word from Mickey, Ian started searching for Mandy’s info online. But there was no one with “Mandy” or “Amanda” Milkovich as their profile name, not listed in Chicago or anywhere in South Carolina.

The thought crossed Ian’s mind to go in search of the farm where Mickey worked. He knew the name of it and that it was somewhere outside of Aiken. God, he felt like an idiot. What if Mickey was ghosting him, and here he was, carrying on like a fool?

Ian was about to start his car and head home when he decided to text Lip. Maybe he’d have some sense of what Ian should do.

Ian: Need some advice. Haven’t heard from Mickey since Saturday.  

Ian looked at his watch. Lip was probably still in class. Then he noticed the • • • under his message and waited for Lip’s reply. 

Lip: That fucker! I warned him not to fuck with you. Now I’m gonna have to kill him.

Even though Ian wasn’t in the mood to laugh, he did.

Ian: I appreciate that, but I’m crawling the fucking walls. Maybe something’s wrong?

Lip: When do you usually see him? Thursdays? Can you wait?  

Ian: So I probably shouldn’t go looking for him?

Lip: Ian…

Ian: I’m gonna need a distraction then.

Lip: Come to the dorms. Or I will find your ass and drag you here.  

Ian: Okay, okay. Be there soon.

Ian arrived outside Lip’s dorm and was suddenly self conscious about his inspection uniform, feeling like all the pricks and trust-fund babies were staring at him. He texted Lip to come downstairs and let him in.

Lip greeted him in his usual way. “You look like shit. You been cryin’ or something?”

He wouldn’t admit it to Lip, but Ian had been on the verge of tears. His daily texts and calls with Mickey had become a welcome constant in his life. It was strange and disconcerting not to know what was going on with a person he’d come to care about deeply.

Once they got to Lip’s room, Ian flopped down on the bed and stared at the ceiling, not saying much, while Lip finished an assignment.

“Hey! How was the baseball game?” Lip asked. “I liked the pictures you sent of the stadium. You shoulda taken me.”

“Yeah, I know. We’ll have to go next season.”

“Deal. You hungry? Wanna get something to eat?” Lip slammed his textbook shut.

“Not if we have to walk around campus.”

“Fine.” Lip let Ian have his way. “Let’s order a pizza and stalk your guy online.”

“Huh?”

“Yeah, let’s see what we can dig up on Mickey Milkovich.” Lip started typing on his laptop keyboard.

“No!” Ian protested. “I’m not gonna start doubting what he told me.”

“Really?” asked Lip. “Then where the hell is he, and why are you freaking out?” 

“Maybe his phone died?! You’re supposed to be saying reassuring shit!” Ian wailed. 

“Okay. I’ll stalk him myself.” Lip was waiting for a page to load, and after it did, his eyes widened. “Fuck! Dude definitely has a record.”

Ian waved his hand, dismissing Lip’s comment. “Yeah, I know. Burglary.” 

“Yeah...and…” Lip clicked another couple of links. “Did you friend mention drug trafficking and domestic abuse?”

“What?!” Ian had tried resisting the urge to look at what Lip had uncovered, but now he wanted to know. 

“Oh, wait. That was a different Milkovich.”

“Who? Terry?” Ian was now standing behind Lip, staring at the mug shot of the piece of shit father that Mickey had told him about in bits and pieces. “Fuck him. What’s the stuff about Mickey?”

“Take a look.” Lip pushed away from his desk. “Not sure if I’d wanna be getting involved with that family.” He picked up his phone to open his Domino’s Pizza app, somewhat oblivious to the fact that all the color had drained from his younger brother’s face.   

Ian was now debating about whether to actually read the different sites Lip had pulled up on his screen. Fuck, what if Mickey was a fugitive or prison escapee or something worse? Ian’s imagination was starting to run wild.

“No! I don’t want to know.” Ian announced, shutting the laptop and going to grab a beer out of Lip’s fridge. “I’ll probably never see him again, so what does it matter?”

“Suit yourself,” said Lip. But Ian knew that Lip knew him all too well and that once Ian was hooked, he was hooked. Maybe Ian wasn’t ready to go chase after Mickey at the moment, but if he didn’t hear from or see him Thursday like usual, Ian was probably going to the Palmetto State.

Getting drunk until he passed out seemed like the next best step for Ian. Fortunately, Lip’s mini-fridge was equipped for exactly that.

^^^^^^^^^^

It was late Wednesday afternoon and still no word from Mickey. Ian had spent all day in his room, and like he figured she would, Fiona came knocking on his door.

“You okay?” She peeked her head in the room. It wasn’t uncommon for Ian to sleep late on his days off, but it was probably close to dinner time now. Ian hadn’t said anything to her about Mickey, and he wondered if Lip had filled her in.

“Hey, Fi.” Ian noticed a slight sense of relief on her face. If he was talking, that was a good sign.

She pushed the door open to reveal a serving tray with a ham and cheese sandwich, a huge pile of chips, and a glass of milk.

Ever since Ian could remember, his big sister worried that he wasn’t getting enough to eat. It was a concern she had for all of the Gallagher kids growing up. Fiona was the one who had to figure out how to make good use of their food stamps and keep Frank and Monica from re-selling their food for smack. 

Ian had always been a picky eater and a skinny kid. He put Fiona through hell with worry when he started eating two meals a day—instead of three—his junior year of high school. It was mostly his way of controlling something in his life when everything seemed to be spiraling out of control.

He’d just started sleeping with Kash, his first “boyfriend” and co-owner of the mini-mart where Ian worked after school. He thought they were in love. Kash made many empty promises about leaving his wretched wife for Ian.

Worse than not standing up to his wife, Kash ended up running off with another guy, someone closer to his age. Ian was devastated and afraid he’d never find anyone again. For all his flaws, Kash had been discreet about their relationship and nurturing in his own weird way.

After being dumped, Ian became obsessed with getting fit and staying toned, which at least forced him to eat more. But he started going to the gym excessively and slacking on his school work, other than what he needed to do for JROTC. He barely graduated high school.

The summer before he was set to enlist for the Army, Ian went through a period where he was club hopping almost every night, waking up with random guys in random places. One morning, Ian found himself curled up next to Frank in their backyard. That’s when he went to Fiona to get help. And that’s when he’d been diagnosed with bipolar and body dysmorphic disorder. The diagnosis and treatment was hellish. It was a process to find the right balance of medications, and Ian figured he’d pissed his military career away. 

Now he knew that things had probably worked out for the best. Being gay and in the army would have sucked to hell. And what if he’d suffered a crisis at basic training? God knows how badly he might have fucked up.

Monica, also bipolar, somehow sensed an “in” with her son and tried to convince him to go on a drug-fueled cross-country road trip with her. Fiona, thankfully, put her foot down and gave Ian a job busing tables at the restaurant. He thought his sister was being a controlling cunt at the time, but now he knew he owed almost everything to her.

If Ian hadn’t been working at the restaurant, he wouldn’t have struck up a conversation with the table of lunch-goers, all dressed in uniforms he couldn’t quite place. He learned that they were agricultural inspectors, and they raved to him about how easy their jobs were. Ian told them he was looking for a new job, and they put him in touch with his now boss, Sue. 

Ian was happy to have the stability that came with his regulated medications and a steady paycheck. He didn’t want to jeopardize this new-found equilibrium with an unpredictable relationship, but Mickey had been a breath of fresh air—someone who made him feel things in an entirely new way.

And now Ian was feeling a new kind of shitty. Fiona sat down on the edge of his bed, in the middle where she could easily pat his shoulder. He hoped she didn’t ask him about whether he was taking his meds. Nothing grated on his nerves more than this.

For weeks after he was diagnosed, Ian could barely show any emotion for fear of being questioned about his meds or if he was going to do something manic. Eventually, he’d told his siblings how they weren’t helping his situation, and they backed off.

For the present moment, it seemed like Fiona was still honoring his request. “Wanna talk?” 

Ian looked her in the eyes. “Nah, it’s not the first time a guy hasn’t returned my calls and texts. And it won’t be the last.” Ian rolled from his side onto his back. “I just really like him.”

“Yeah, you both seemed into each other.” Fiona shrugged. “But it’s good to know early, you know, instead of him stringing you along.”

Ian sat up on his elbows. “But I don’t know. He didn’t even have the courtesy to tell me to ‘fuck off.’”

“So maybe you do know.”  

“Yeah, I guess so.” Ian said dejectedly. 

“But you’re gonna be okay, right?” Fiona grew quiet for a second. “I mean, you are taking your—”

There was a loud chime from Ian’s phone. And then another. Ian turned back over on his side, facing the wall.

“Aren’t you gonna look at that?” Fiona asked. 

Ian shrugged. “Why? It’s probably someone from work...or Lip.”

“Fine. I’ll check it.” Fiona reached over to the bedside table and picked up the phone. “Yep, you’re gonna want to see this.”

Ian flipped over, his heart beating rapidly, knowing that Fiona wouldn’t be fucking with him. He took the phone from her and read the messages on the screen.

Mickey: I’m sorry, Ian.

Mickey: I’ll explain tomorrow.

Chapter Text

Hearing from Mickey had been a huge relief, but there was still the matter of the “I can explain” text. Ian knew not to badger Mickey with questions. He had simply responded by saying: “Good to hear from you, Mick. I hope you’re alright.”

It was difficult for Ian to fall asleep that night, a combination of worry and the fact that he’d spent most of the day in bed. He thought about going for a run but decided that grabbing a beer from the kitchen was the least weird of the two options for 4 o’clock in the morning.

The house was quiet. Frank usually had the decency to pass out in the yard rather than disturb everyone. On second thought, he was probably just too drunk to get the door unlocked—Ian didn’t want to give him too much credit.

The beer must have done the trick as Ian woke up the next morning on the couch to the sounds of breakfast being assembled. He staggered into the kitchen, exhausted from the recent emotional ups and downs of the past few days.

“Morning, guys.”

Carl looked up from his cereal bowl. “Where were you? What about our run?”

“Oh, right.” Ian reached around Fiona for the coffee pot. “I was having trouble sleeping, ended up on the couch.”

“Uh-huh,” Carl mumbled. Ian couldn’t tell if he was actually disappointed or just being Carl.

“We’ll go this weekend,” Ian offered.

Debbie finished helping Liam with his breakfast and chimed in. “Carl, can’t you see that Ian doesn’t have time for us anymore? He’s in looooove. Remember the last time when he was dating that fireman? We hardly ever saw him.” 

Knowing that things had become more uncertain with Mickey lately, Fiona glanced over at Ian to make sure he didn’t want her to intervene.

But he was fine. Listening to his siblings complain helped Ian remember they cared about him. It was probably a dumb idea for him to move out.

“Sorry, Debs.” He shrugged. “I guess that’s what happens at the beginning of most relationships.”

“Guess I need to find myself a boyfriend.” Debbie threw her hands in the air. “You’re in a relationship. Lip is too, kind of, and Fiona is with that new dude. How come you’re home, anyway, Fiona?”

Fiona patted her little sister’s head. “Relationships are a pain in the ass. Enjoy not being in one.” She gulped down the last of her coffee. “Gus is away at a gig. I do miss him.”

Ian smiled at their banter while he finished his coffee, then went upstairs to get ready. As much as he loved his family, he missed Mickey. Badly. And he wasn’t sure if he was allowed to feel angry or confused or what, but he hoped whatever explanation Mickey gave him was the truth. 

^^^^^^^^^^ 

Ian drove his younger siblings to school, stopping at Starbucks to treat them and to assuage some of his guilt. He had always been their unofficial advocate and voice, especially when Fiona and Lip would get into pissing contests about who was more qualified to be in charge. Debs gave him an encouraging smile as she got out of the car, apparently sensing that something was amiss. “Hang in there,” she whispered. 

It wasn’t long after Ian had arrived at work that his thoughts turned to Mickey, knowing it would be a long wait until 3 o’clock. 

Ian tried to distract himself by making small talk with his co-workers and the various folks who came through the inspection station, some of them regulars. He even mustered the energy to participate in a cheerful round of “Happy Birthday” for their boss, as generous slices of cake were passed around.

Deep in paperwork, Ian was startled when Jorge tapped him on the shoulder. “Your friend is here.” 

Ian checked the time. It wasn’t quite 1 o’clock. “My friend?”

Jorge smiled. “You know, the guy who bribes you with the peanuts.” 

Ian stood up abruptly, ready to run out and greet Mickey, but he remembered himself and the fact that Jorge was a senior inspector. “Oh, uh...I think that was just the one time. I asked him to stop.”

“Relax, Gallagher. Que me importa? It’s kind of sweet. Makes things more interesting around here.” Jorge chuckled and nodded towards the door. “Go on.”

Ian remembered to grab his clipboard before going outside. His stomach was doing wild flips, and he was finding it hard to steady his breathing. What if Mickey wanted to end things? What if this would be the last time they’d see each other? What if the last memory they made was when Mickey had to leave early to get back to work? He’d been so reluctant to go, pulling Ian into his arms and stroking his back, breathing in his scent at the nape of his neck and kissing his sleepy lips before he had to hit the road. 

Ian’s breath caught in his throat at the sight of Mickey, sitting in the truck, sunglasses on, looking serious but as beautiful as always. 

“You’re early!” Ian called out, in hopes of eliminating any tension between them. 

Mickey turned his head slowly to respond, and that’s when Ian noticed the angry red gash on the right corner of his mouth.

Ian approached the window. “Mick! What the fuck happened? Are you—”

The words froze on his tongue as Mickey lowered his sunglasses to reveal a swollen, bruised left eye, just beginning to yellow around the edges. Ian could tell he was in pain, and he also detected a look of shame woven into Mickey’s expression.

“Who did this to you?” Ian felt his insides filling with despair, and then that feeling quickly turned into rage towards the unknown assailant. He didn’t know how to funnel these emotions, so he took a deep breath and focused his attention back to Mickey.

“What can I do?”

Mickey cleared his throat. “Just do the inspection. Don’t need anyone mothering me right now. I mean, in case someone is watching.” 

Ian backed up to allow Mickey space to open his door. As usual, he led them to the back of the truck and unlocked it, arms crossed and waiting for Ian to commence with the inspection.

Ian paused, wondering if Mickey was ready to say anything about what had happened. He could tell Mickey was struggling with how to talk about the situation.

Hurrying through the inspection, Ian signed off on the checklist and took a seat on the edge of the truck, his long legs dangling over the side. He realized that maybe sitting there waiting expectantly for Mickey to open up was pushing him, but before Ian could hop down, Mickey spoke.

“It was Terry...that fucker.” Mickey’s hands were clenched into fists at his side, his own anger over the situation apparent in the tense lines around his mouth.

Ian was fighting the urge to punch something. Nothing disgusted him more than parents taking their shit out on their kids. He’d been the recipient of a few blows from Frank over the years, usually drug-induced, but that was no excuse.

“I’m so sorry, Mick.” 

“I fucked him up pretty good too. I’m not his personal punching bag. Fuck him! Showing up at our place, asking for favors, then demanding shit…” 

“Did you tell him about...us? I mean, did you come out?” 

Mickey shook his head. “Nah. I’d tell him if I actually gave a shit about his opinion. But I don’t. Anyway, sorry for disappearing for a few days.”

Ian caught his eyes and gave him a reassuring half-smile. “I was worried about you. I should have tried to find you, make sure you were okay. I just thought that might be, I don’t know, a little desperate. Or crazy.”

Mickey remained stoic, and Ian reached out and placed a hand on his boyfriend's shoulder. Much to Ian’s relief, he didn’t flinch at his touch or push his hand away.

“I just...I couldn’t talk to anyone,” Mickey said quietly. His tone changed quickly as bitter words spilled from his lips. “I hate how that fucker still has power over me! It’s like I’m ten years old again, trying to make Terry fuckin’ happy and failing miserably.”

Mickey covered his face with his hands, as though he was trying to physically stop the tears from rolling down his cheeks.

Ian pulled Mickey’s head against his chest, not caring if anyone could see them. “Where is that piece of shit now?”

Mickey wiped his eyes against his sleeve. “The bastard’s still hanging around our apartment. I was glad to leave.” 

“What about Mandy? Will he bother her?”

“She’s staying with a friend til I get back. Was gonna stop by and see you tomorrow, but I can’t stay long.” Mickey grabbed ahold of Ian’s hands and squeezed them. 

“I understand.” Ian kissed his forehead. “But you’ll see plenty of me. I’m coming with you.”

“What? You can’t leave work.”

“Meet me at the IHOP, next exit over. I won’t be long. Matter of fact, text me when you get there. Okay, Mick?” Ian waited patiently for his acknowledgement.

“Uh…” He hesitated, and Ian wondered if he was fighting a natural urge to push him away, to show Ian and everyone that Mickey Milkovich didn’t need anybody else.

But then…

“Yeah. Okay,”

^^^^^^^^^^

About twenty minutes later, Ian got a text from Mickey. When his phone dinged, he responded dramatically for all of his co-workers to hear. “Oh, shit! I gotta go. Family emergency!” It was a card Ian had been holding onto since he started, waiting until a true emergency to play it. Everyone knew about his family’s struggles, Frank in particular, since he’d managed to hitchhike over to the station twice, asking Ian for money.

Ian dashed into Sue’s small office and pleaded his case for leaving early—one of his siblings had been caught by the principal spray painting graffiti on the parked school buses. Carl, of course. And Carl was suspended on Friday, so could Ian please switch his days or use his vacation hours if she’d allow his schedule change just this once?

Sue agreed and didn’t seem overly suspicious. Apparently, no one had noticed anything different about Mickey or their interactions. 

On his way over to the IHOP, Ian called Lip and left him a voicemail, promising him the use of his car if he could do him a solid and find a way to get Ian’s spare keys from the house and pick up the car.

When Ian arrived, he spotted Mickey’s truck and checked for him inside. Mickey was laying down in the cab. His jacket was balled-up and serving as a makeshift pillow.

Ian tapped on the glass gently until he saw Mickey rouse and roll down the window.

“Hey, Mick. I’m gonna grab a coffee. Do you want anything? Pancakes to go?”

“Nah. Thanks though.”

“I’ll be right back. Stay put.” Ian reached through the half-open window and carefully stroked the side of Mickey’s face. He now had a better view of the damage Terry had inflicted on the youngest Milkovich son.

Not wanting to bring it up unless Mickey wanted to talk about it, Ian pulled his hand away and hurried inside for a coffee to go and a cup of orange juice, in case Mickey decided he was thirsty.

When he got back to the truck, Ian insisted on driving, sharing with Mickey that he’d driven a tractor trailer before, so even the largest box truck wouldn’t be much of a challenge. Mickey would have resisted if he hadn’t been so worn out from what had been several fucked-up days. 

The tale of how Ian had come to drive a tractor trailer was pretty damn funny. He would have shared it with Mickey—it involved a random visit from Monica and her truck-driving girlfriend Bob. Instead, Ian leaned over to press his lips against Mickey’s cheek, not wanting to cause pain near his busted lip. “Go to sleep. I’ll take care of everything.”

“Thanks,” Mickey mumbled as he rested his head against his jacket, curled up against the seat, and closed his eyes. Ian switched on the radio, opting to leave the country music station on, but turning it down to keep the volume from disturbing Mickey. 

This same time yesterday, Ian was lying in his bed, somewhere between worrying about Mickey’s well-being and thinking Mickey was done with their relationship. To see Mickey hurting like this made Ian’s heart ache, and he felt a terrible guilt for doubting him.

He decided that the best thing he could do was to concentrate on getting them safely to Tampa and figure out the rest later. They could sleep in the truck—though it would be uncomfortable for two—or, the more Ian thought about it, the more he was leaning towards getting them a hotel room, maybe close to the beach. He’d never hit the west coast beaches—not that they’d be there long enough to really enjoy it, but Ian thought it might be a good change of scenery. And he wanted to help Mickey figure out his next move.

When they got close to Tampa, Ian called out Mickey’s name. He had stirred once or twice during the drive, and now he seemed to be slowly coming back to life.

“I’m gonna stop for gas. I don’t remember how to get to your delivery spot. Besides, I figure you oughta be driving when we arrive.”

Mickey nodded, shaking off a yawn and sitting up slowly. “We there already?”

“Almost.” Ian got off at the next exit and turned into the first gas station he spotted. “Which side?” 

“Driver’s,” said Mickey. “I got it.”

“Okay, cool.” Ian grabbed his phone out of the side pocket. “Want anything from inside? Think I’ll take a leak.”

“Yeah...whatever you’re having.”

Ian tugged on the door handle, but he felt Mickey’s sudden grasp on his arm. 

“Ian...fuck...how do I…”  

Ian turned around to answer, and he caught a glimpse of Mickey’s sparkling blue eyes, full of something that he’d seen only occasionally since they’d been together. It was much more than lust, it felt like love. Mickey cupped his hands around the back of Ian’s neck, and their lips crashed together, Ian wincing for the pain he was afraid he was causing Mickey.

But Mickey didn’t seem to care. His kisses were needy and forceful at the same time. It was as though he wanted to remind Ian that he wasn’t broken.

Ian wrapped his arms around Mickey, tighter than he probably ever had before. “I can’t lose you, Mick. Don’t wanna lose you…” 

He cried quietly into Mickey’s shoulder, for so many reasons, but the biggest was perhaps this strange sense of hope, that there was a reason their paths had crossed—they needed each other, and no one was going to get in their way.

Chapter Text

When Ian returned to the truck, Mickey seemed to be in better spirits. He’d had a reassuring conversation with Mandy. Apparently, their father was completely wasted and on the verge of passing out. Terry had called Mandy, demanding that she bring him something to eat, but given how he was slurring his words, it didn’t seem like he was going to be conscious much longer.

Mandy must have asked to talk with Ian because before he knew it, Mickey was starting the truck and shoving the phone next Ian’s ear. “Talk to my sister. I need to keep both hands on the wheel.”

“Um, okay. Hi?” Ian managed.

“Hey, Ian. This is Mandy, aka the most balanced Milkovich.”

Mandy had a pleasant voice, mixed with a hint of dry humor. Ian chuckled. “How’s it going? I mean, aside from the situation with your dad.”

Mandy gave him a canned response. “Fine, I guess.”

“Just fine?”

“Well...Mickey’s probably told you my sob story, moving down here because of a guy who turned out to be a total piece of shit. I miss home—my friends and my old neighborhood anyway.”

“You’ve been through a lot,” Ian offered sympathetically.

“Yeah, I haven’t been as lucky as Mickey, you know, meeting someone like you.”

Ian smiled into the phone. “Thanks, but I’m the lucky one.” He looked over at Mickey.

“What the fuck are you two yappin’ about?” Mickey’s curiosity was piqued.

“Stuff,” replied Ian and turned his attention back to Mandy. “We’ll have to meet one of these days. Mickey tells me you like to travel. Come with him sometime.”

She sighed. “I wish I could...my hours are wacky right now. Wouldn’t mind seeing Florida. Are there any good clubs your way?”

“Glad you asked. There are, but your brother doesn’t seem very interested in going.” Ian poked Mickey’s side, causing him to jerk the wheel.

“Fuck, Ian!”

“Sorry!” Ian stifled a laugh. “I forgot that you’re ticklish.”

“Give me the damn phone back!”

“Not until we’re finished talking,” Ian answered defiantly.

Mandy chimed in. “Give him Hell, Ian!” Then she added, “You know, if you and I had grown up in the same neighborhood, I bet we woulda been inseparable.”

“Yeah, just a couple of South Side hood rats, tormenting poor Mickey.”

“Exactly,” Mandy laughed warmly. “Anyway, it was nice talking to you, but I have to get ready for my shift. Thanks for taking care of my brother. He really likes you.”

“I’m glad.” Ian leaned over to rub Mickey’s shoulder affectionately. “I feel the same way.”

”That’s sweet. Almost too sweet. Bye, Ian.”

“Talk to you later, Mandy.”

Ian handed the phone back to Mickey, glad that he’d made a connection with Mandy, even if it was a small one.

^^^^^^^^^^

After Mickey made his delivery in Tampa, Ian plugged the address for their next destination into his GPS. When they’d stopped for gas, he’d done a quick search online to find available oceanside motel rooms along the West Coast. The cheapest options were in Fort Myers, and Ian picked a place that looked divey in a quaint sort of way. It had rooms with small balconies overlooking a retro-style swimming pool and a path from the motel to the beach. Ian didn’t share any of the details with Mickey.

“Jesus! Again with the surprises?” Mickey tried to sound annoyed, but he actually seemed excited.

“You know you like it.” Ian grinned back at him.

“It’s nice and all, but you gotta stop spending all this money, Ian.”

“What’s the point of working hard if you can’t have some fun too? Besides, this is giving me a chance to see more of my home state.”

Mickey sighed and shook his head. “Yeah, but you’re doing all this nice shit for me, and I can’t do the same in return.”

“Mick...” Ian thought about how best to respond. Just brushing off his concern or telling him “don’t worry about it” wouldn’t suffice. “You know, I’m no expert on relationships, but I feel like, when you’re in one, you give what you can when you can.”

Mickey lightened his tone, teasing Ian. “Fuck, you sound like a relationship guru to me.”

“Seriously, Mick. I’m not keeping score.”

Mickey smirked. “Eh. What I'm getting out of this whole conversation is...if I keep bottoming, you’ll keep putting us up in nice places.”

“Hilarious.” Ian lightly punched his shoulder. He was getting used to Mickey opening a window to his feelings and then slamming it shut with humor. It was a defense mechanism he knew very well.

^^^^^^^^^^

The breeze from the ocean wafted over the pool and onto their balcony. Salty. Brisk. But it was one of the things Ian loved most about the beach.

They had gone through a few beers and passed a cigarette back and forth between them. Mickey lit another, but Ian declined.

“You wanna go for a walk, Mick?”

“Maybe tomorrow.” Mickey stretched out his legs. “This is pretty nice...right here.”

“Yeah…” Ian agreed. From the looks of the parking lot and the blazing red “Vacancy” sign, they practically had the place to themselves.

“Want another beer?”

Ian nodded. “Sure.”

Mickey went inside to grab two more beers from the mini fridge. He brought them back out and stood silently beside Ian, tapping his arm with the bottle.

“Thanks.” Ian looked up at him. “You okay?”

“Dunno.” Mickey glowered at him. “How come you won’t touch me?”

Ian fumbled with the label on his beer bottle. “What do you mean?”

Mickey blew a puff of smoke from the corner of his mouth. “Well...we have this room all to ourselves...and usually, you’re all over me.”

“Yeah, I know, but…” Ian’s voice trailed off. They both knew why he was being more reserved than usual.

“As always, I appreciate you being a gentleman...” Mickey put out his cigarette in the nearby ashtray and stepped back into their room. “But I got needs. If you’re not gonna fuck me, I’ll take care of myself.”

Ian tilted his head back and groaned. God, he wanted Mickey, but Ian felt like he should be extra gentle, knowing what he'd just been through. He also knew that was the last thing Mickey wanted.

Ian could hear Mickey moving around in the room and was starting to feel aroused by the thought of him shucking his clothes off and getting down to pleasuring himself. He’d seen Mickey jerk off a few times via FaceTime, and he loved to watch. He didn’t just concentrate on his dick. No, Mickey’s hands would span the surface of his entire body, from his chest down between his thighs as he’d swirl and stroke and caress his skin, panting and moaning as he teased himself before giving his body what it ultimately craved.

Ian was on his feet before he realized it, drawn into the room by the thought of Mickey’s naked body writhing around on the bed in self-induced ecstasy.

Fortunately, he hadn’t missed anything as Mickey had only kicked his shoes off and was unbuttoning his jeans.

Ian closed the sliding door behind him and pulled the curtains over the glass panels. The room was dimly lit, but he could still see the marks on Mickey’s face—physical reminders of the pain that had been inflicted upon him.

“What do you want?” huffed Mickey.

Ian bit into his lower lip, feeling his cock tightening against his pants. “Can I watch you?”

“So, I have to do all the work, Gallagher?”

Ian shrugged. “I can lend a hand. But you start. I mean, if you want to…”

“Oh, fuck. Ian!” Mickey shouted. “Enough of your pussy shit. Tell me what you want me to do!” He glared back at him. “Come on!”

“Fine!” Ian yelled, surprising himself. “Take your fuckin’ shirt off. And then get your ass over here!”

This felt beyond strange to Ian, but when Mickey flashed him an encouraging grin, he kept going. “Hurry the fuck up! Lose all your clothes. I want to see every bare-ass inch of you. Now!”

Mickey smiled as he wriggled out of his jeans, having already tossed his shirt on the floor. Ian was admiring the tent that had formed in his boxers as Mickey ran a finger teasingly around his waistband. He began lowering the boxers, inch by painstakingly slow inch, down around his hips then over his fully extended perfect cock. Ian let out a moan of approval as Mickey stepped out of his boxers and slowly approached Ian, his cock bobbing up and down as if to greet him.

“Wet those fingers of yours,” growled Ian. “I want your nipples as stiff as a board.”

Mickey nodded his head and pushed his index fingers slowly into his mouth, showing Ian how far back he could get them. After giving them a final lick, Mickey pinched and tugged at the rosy pink skin of his nipples, rolling his head back and groaning in appreciation of Ian’s command.

Ian was loving the sight in front of him, especially the glistening droplets of precum pooling around the slit of Mickey’s dick. “For fucks sake, you’re leaking everywhere. Clean that up, or at least make good use of it.”

Mickey kept one hand brushing over his hardened nipples, and dipped the other hand down to his cock, rubbing the precum along his length, and then surprising Ian by holding out his wet fingers. “Wanna taste?”

“Fuck yeah...” Ian replied, forgetting that he was supposed to be calling the shots. He closed the distance between them, one eager hand digging into Mickey’s soft ass cheek and the other gripping his slick cock.

Ian opened his mouth just wide enough for Mickey to insert his fingers inside, massaging the taste into Ian’s tongue. “Mmmmm...so good.”

Mickey watched curiously as Ian undid his own jeans and slid his hand inside his boxers, seeking the wetness that had formed around the tip of his cock.

“This’ll work for now.” Ian slicked his fingers and pulled them out carefully, dropping to the ground and pushing Mickey’s legs open. He needed to feel Mickey, searching in between his ass cheeks to find that gloriously tight puckered skin around his entrance. Ian massaged it with his precum as he licked at the tip of Mickey’s cock. Mickey gasped and threaded his fingers through Ian’s hair, keening to the swirling motions Ian was making around his hole.

“Fuck my mouth, Mick.” Ian was ready to be on the receiving end of whatever Mickey wanted to give him.

“You got it,” he murmured, cupping Ian’s face and leaning down to kiss him tenderly before pushing his tongue roughly into his mouth, as if prepping him for what was next. “Get your clothes off. Wanna see all of you.”

Ian pulled himself up and willingly obliged. Though Mickey had taken over as the one in charge, he helped Ian out of the restricting fabrics, yanking the shirt over his head and immediately attacking Ian’s chest with greedy laps of his tongue over his nipples. Ian moaned as he freed his aching cock, dropping his pants to the floor and stepping out of them. Mickey paused to admire and firmly stroke Ian’s leaking dick. “I’ve got plans for you later, big guy,” he purred.

Mickey placed his hands on Ian’s shoulders and guided him back down on his knees. Ian looked up at him, his whole body burning with desire. Ian wanted to touch himself while Mickey fucked his mouth. But instead, he waited for the next direction. Mickey must have read his mind.

“Let’s see if you can multitask. One hand prepping me, one hand keeping your cock rock-hard and ready. And this mouth, well...leave that to me.”

Ian nodded obediently, wetting a few of his fingers with his tongue and re-initiating the attention he was giving Mickey’s ass. He grabbed the tip of his own cock and rubbed precum down his shaft, working the palm of his hand up and back at a slow enough pace to keep him from coming—he wanted to save that for whatever Mickey had planned.

“You’re so fuckin’ pretty when you do what you’re told.” Mickey gripped Ian’s chin and swirled a finger inside his mouth. “Now...open up, so I can fill your mouth with my—what did you call it—leaking dick.”

Ian opened his mouth as wide as he could, relaxing his throat muscles. He sighed contentedly as Mickey eased his cock over his tongue, pushing inside until he reached the back of Ian’s throat.

Ian drew in a deep breath as Mickey slowly pulled out. He was anticipating rough, gag-inducing thrusts that he would have taken without complaint—he’d do practically anything if it meant making Mickey happy. Instead, Mickey guided Ian’s head back and forth in a gentle, steady rhythm, watching Ian taking him. Ian stroked his own cock and treated Mickey to some more prep.

“So good, Ian. So…” Mickey threw his head back and moaned as Ian slid one finger inside of him and then another.

“Bed. Now.” Mickey commanded. “I’ll get the lube.”

Ian practically leaped over to the bed, throwing back the covers and stretching out across the sheets. He continued to stroke his length and admire Mickey’s perfectly round ass as he bent over to get the lube out of his bag. Ian’s eyes widened as Mickey laid down next to him, knees bent to the side, his ass just inches away from Ian’s thigh. He began prepping himself, fingers lubed and already working furiously.

“Let me help,” Ian offered. “Wanna get you good and ready.”

Mickey turned to meet Ian’s lips, and his breath seemed to catch in his throat when he realized Ian was moving downwards to taste him. Ian guided Mickey’s hips at an angle, spreading his ass cheeks open and encircling Mickey’s entrance with quick flicks of his tongue. He began pushing further inside and working in tandem with the two slicked fingers Mickey still had buried inside of himself.

Mickey writhed around, his fingers shoved deep enough to reach his prostate, plus the stimulation from Ian’s hungry licking, had him sounding like he was already close.

“Let me fuck you, Mick. God, I want you so bad,” Ian panted. He was aching to be inside of Mickey’s dripping wet hole.

“I’m the one in charge.” Mickey reminded him. “And I’m gonna give you the ride of your life.” He slowly pulled his fingers out of his hole and drew Ian’s lips towards his, kissing him deeply before changing his position on the bed.

Mickey emptied some lube into the palm of his hand and began to coat Ian’s cock. When he was finished, he climbed back onto the bed, facing Ian, as he straddled him. Ian helped Mickey line up with his cock, and he slowly sunk down on it, both of them shuddering in delight at the sensations spreading through their bodies.

Mickey was closing in around Ian, inch by inch and was now moving slowly up and down over his shaft.

“Oh, Mick. You take me so good. Fuuuck!”

Ian wasn’t sure how long he would last, his cock engulfed by Mickey’s walls, massaged by his movements, which were coming quicker and harder. Judging by the expression plastered across Mickey’s face and the guttural sounds coming from his throat, Ian knew his dick was hitting Mickey in just the right spot.

He’d have to tell Mickey later that this was a first for him, having someone ride him like this, but for now…

Ian reached across Mickey’s heaving chest, palming his nipples then dropping his hand atop of Mickey’s cock, caressing the tip before catching the nod of approval to proceed with stroking him. Ian worked the shaft while he moved his hips in tandem with Mickey’s targeted thrusts, as if both of them were in a race for first prize.

It would have been a photo finish. Blissful cries and grunts filled the air as Mickey came all over Ian’s chest. Ian filled Mickey full of his warm release, quickly pulling Mickey down to where he could reward him with kisses along his chin and his lips. He managed to avoid the bruised portion of his upper lip, slowly flipping him over while staying inside of Mickey, not caring about the mess they’d made, knowing they’d grab a shower before bed.

“Mickey,” Ian gasped, his mind and body floating in a state of euphoria. “I think you should move down here.”

“You do, huh?” Mickey panted back, a grin forming in the corner of his mouth, as though he had been thinking the exact same thing. “Not a bad idea.”

Chapter Text

Ian woke up first and walked a few blocks down the street to buy breakfast for them. He liked the pattern that had developed, their own routine of the early riser and late sleeper. It gave him a chance to clear his mind, and Mickey could get some much-needed rest.

Ian thought about going for a run on the beach, but he wanted to wait for Mickey to get up so they could take a walk together.

“Hey, sleepyhead.” Ian laid down next to Mickey, whispering into his ear once 10 o’clock rolled around. “You still tired after last night?”

Mickey mumbled something incoherent.

“Time to get up. Brought you some breakfast.”

“Best way to wake up...your dumb voice in my ear,” replied Mickey, smirking with his eyes still closed. The parts of his face where Terry had struck him looked a little better than the day before.

Ian nuzzled his neck. “Second best.” He kissed Mickey’s lips gently and ran his fingers over the bulge that had formed under the sheet covering his lower half.

“Easy, tiger,” growled Mickey. “You promised me a walk on the beach before we hit the road.”

“True.” Ian sat up and put his arms in the air as if he’d been caught red-handed. “No touching, then. Or we’ll be here all day.”

Neither of them had brought any beach attire, but the water was probably too cold for a swim. Besides, Ian figured Mickey wouldn’t be comfortable going very far in the water since he couldn’t swim; the ocean could be intimidating.

They had a lot to talk about, at least, Ian hoped as much after Mickey seemed to like the idea of relocating to Florida. Mandy would have to agree, and there were other details to work out—where to work, where to live, how to get all their shit together, and most importantly, how to do all that without Terry trying to tag along. They had at least a 6 hour drive ahead of them, so Ian held off on saying anything.

Once they were both dressed, he took Mickey’s hand and guided him out the door and down the steps, past the swimming pool, and onto the sandy path towards the shore. There were a few other beachgoers and a handful of tan and fit joggers running along the sand, some with their canine companions leading the way. Ian had expected Mickey to let go of his hand as soon as they’d exited the pathway onto the beach, but he held onto it until they’d reached the water and seemingly only let go after he was convinced the water wouldn’t carry them away. Mickey smiled as the water lapped at his heels.

“Is this your first time at the beach?” Ian asked, lightly kicking some water in his direction.

“Best I can remember.” Mickey splashed a much larger amount back at Ian, drenching his pants.

“Fucker!” Ian shouted. He grabbed Mickey in an embrace, and they shared a salty kiss.

As they started a stroll in the water, Mickey brought up their conversation from the night before.

“So...you think I could find work down here?”

“Sure. You and Mandy could work at the restaurant my sister manages,” suggested Ian.

Mickey nodded slightly. “I guess that’d be fine for Mandy, but I want to do something with the skills I’ve picked up at the farm.”

“Yeah?”

“I know it sounds like I’m full of shit, but it’s a good feeling, you know, having my hands in the dirt, like I’ve actually done something after a day’s work. It’s a far cry from what I used to get into. I’d like to have a farm of my own one day. Or, fuck, at least a garden. I still got a lot to learn.”

“It’s definitely hard work, but Florida’s the place to do it—we grow practically everything down here.”

Mickey leaned over to kiss Ian on the shoulder. “And you happen to have the most irresistible fuckin’ redheads I’ve ever seen.”

“Can’t argue with that.” Ian lifted Mickey’s chin and kissed him.

Mickey broke away from the kiss, looking like something was on his mind. “But…”

“What is it?”

“Well,” he paused. “What if my crazy ass family, my father, for one, tries to follow us down here?”

Ian shrugged and smiled. “We’ll call the authorities and have him deported.”

Mickey persisted with a serious tone. “It’s not just him. I mean, I don’t talk about ‘em much...my brothers...their dumb asses are all in jail, but what if they need me?”

Ian stopped walking and put his hand on Mickey’s arm. “I get it, Mick. And I’m not gonna pressure you. I know we haven’t been together that long…”

Mickey looked back at him intently. “Knock it off, Gallagher. When you know, you know. I mean, we’ve got something between us, we gotta give it a go.”

“Now that’s fucking romance right there,” Ian scoffed.

“Fuck off. You know what I mean.”

Now it was Ian’s turn to be serious. “There's something I’ve been meaning to tell you, though, before you talk to Mandy about moving down here…”

“What? You got a secret?”

“Not exactly.” Ian pushed his hands in his pockets and started walking again, waiting for Mickey to catch up before he explained. “I’m, uh...I’m bipolar. You know, life of the party one minute, can’t get out of my bed for weeks the next minute. I’ve been pretty stable on my current meds for awhile, but I could have an episode any time.” Ian paused and noticed the concern in Mickey’s eyes. He continued. “When I was really manic before, I would exercise like crazy, worrying about my body...what I looked like, if I was good enough...” His voice trailed off.

“Fuck, Ian. I thought you were gonna tell me you liked threesomes or some shit. Sorry, not trying to make light of what you shared. Cuz that doesn’t change anything for me.” Mickey tucked a hand into Ian’s pocket, intertwining his fingers with Ian’s. “Just wanna learn more about it so I can help you if you need me, or leave you the fuck alone if you don’t.”

Ian relaxed his shoulders. “My mom is bipolar too. But she doesn’t believe in treating her condition, not in the traditional way. She used to try to convince me to do the same.”

“Fuckin’ parents, right?” Mickey pulled his hand out of Ian’s side pocket and pulled him close. “Thanks for sharing that with me. I’m here for you. We’re in this together.”

”Thanks, Mick.”

^^^^^^^^^^

On the way to Mickey’s delivery in Miami and during the drive up the East Coast, they talked through a possible timeline for Mickey and Mandy to relocate to Florida, maybe as soon as November, before the holidays. Ian promised to talk to Fiona about a job for Mandy, and he offered to send Mickey leads on jobs and affordable apartments. He didn’t think it was appropriate to suggest that the Milkovich siblings move in with the Gallaghers. First, he hadn’t asked his family, and second, he didn’t want Mickey to feel pressured about their relationship moving too fast. It would be cheaper, but too much change hitting them all at once.

They stopped at Krystals for some sliders and found a rest stop with a walking path—Ian said he was getting restless from being in the truck so much lately.

“Yeah,” Mickey agreed. “I’m gonna get soft again now that things are wrapping up at the farm. Maybe I’ll join a gym when we get down here.”

“Or you can go jogging with me and Carl. We’ll take it easy on you.” 

“Oh...thanks...so considerate.” Mickey turned on the radio and changed it to his favorite country music station. “Enjoy.” 

Ian rolled his eyes. “Really?”

Mickey chuckled. “I’ll fall asleep otherwise. Grin and bear it, since I’m chauffeuring your ass home.”

“Doesn’t have to be that way.” Ian protested. “Why don’t you let me drive?”

“Cuz I see your eyelids drooping over there, and I know your lazy ass wants a nap. Besides, I think you should rest. I was hoping to get a fuck in before I go back to Aiken.”

“You’re the one who needs to rest, then.” Ian yawned and decided to take Mickey up on his offer. He leaned his head against the back of the seat and dozed off. Before he knew it, they were pulling up into his neighborhood. 

“Damn, did I just sleep for two hours straight?”

“Yeah, you fuckin’ did. Wipe that drool off your chin.” Mickey pulled up in front of the house and put the emergency brake on, stretching his arms until his hands hit the ceiling of the cab. “I could use a blowie right about now.” He turned to Ian. “You game?”

Ian sat up in the seat and scooted over to paw at Mickey’s crotch. “Actually, I was thinking we could switch things up.”

“Oh yeah? How so?” asked Mickey, clearly intrigued.

“Well...I, uh…you know, never, um...bottomed before, and I’d like my first time...to be with you.”

A slight whimper escaped Mickey’s lips, his dick twitching under Ian’s palm. “Are you sure? I mean, I’d like that. I’d like to be...your first...” Mickey gulped. “If you’re sure…”

“Yeah, I trust you, Mick,” he said in a quiet but sultry voice.

“Oh, fuck.” Mickey pulled Ian’s lips to his, parting them with his tongue and climbing on top of Ian as he kissed him deeply.

Mickey was obviously turned on by his suggestion—now they just had to make it into the house and past his brothers and sisters, who were probably eating dinner or hanging out around the television. Ian wondered if they should try climbing in through a window.   

Mickey ran his hand over the fabric constraining Ian’s hardening cock. “You ready?”

“Yeah...but…”

“What?”

“Well...my family’s probably home, and they’re gonna want to talk and ask about what happened to your face and invite you to eat something and want to know where we went and all the details…” 

“Okay, okay. Calm down.” Mickey stifled a laugh. “What would you suggest?” 

^^^^^^^^^^

Ian would have suggested they fuck in the back of the delivery truck, but he figured that would be uncomfortable as hell. Instead, they crept around the back of the house, Mickey following behind him. Ian ascended the steps of the porch, careful not to step on any of the wooden slats that were notorious for creaking. “Hold on,” he whispered, looking into the kitchen for signs of life. Fuck, if Lip had been around, he could have texted him to create a diversion while they snuck up the stairs.

Much to his relief, the kitchen table had been cleared, and everyone seemed to be vegging out in the living room. Ian waved Mickey up the steps as he carefully turned the door knob. Just as he had the door slightly ajar, Mickey stepped on the very step Ian should have told him to avoid. It made a loud noise. Debbie and Carl came running into the kitchen. “Plan B,” hissed Ian, stepping inside.

“Hey, guys! How’s it going?”

“Ian!” They clambered around him. Fiona and Liam weren’t far behind.

“Where ya been?” asked Debbie. “Lip said you went somewhere with Mickey. Tell us about it! Where’s Mickey?”

He looked at all of their sweet faces and felt a little guilty for the lie he was about to tell. “Listen, guys. Let’s catch up in the morning. I’ll make breakfast. But Mickey...well...he’s completely wasted, and he’s waiting outside. I thought I could just sneak him in and let him sleep it off before he heads home? I think he’s embarrassed.”

The younger Gallaghers seemed convinced, but Fiona was reading right through the bullshit. She raised an eyebrow, probably because Ian had his jacket folded over his arm awkwardly covering the front of his pants.

“Sure, Ian.” She winked at him. “Guys, let’s go back to the living room and let Ian ‘sneak’ his friend in.”

“I wanted to say ‘hi’ to Mickey,” whined Debbie. “Did he bring any peanuts, at least?”

“No, things are slowing down at the farm. But maybe he can come for a visit next weekend. How about that?” Ian was really hoping to wind this up soon and get Mickey into his room.

“C’mon, Debs,” said Fiona, ushering everyone back into the living room. “Gus has a gig next Friday. Invite Mickey.”

“Okay, cool. I will.” Ian waited until they were all settled again on the sofa and went back outside to get Mickey, who was standing a few steps away from the ledge. “Fuck, Gallagher. Now I feel bad.”

“Just yell ‘hello,’ and we’ll go upstairs.”

“And I have to act drunk? I’m a terrible actor.”

“It’ll be fine. But please...hurry the fuck up. I can’t wait much longer.” 

“Oh, yeah?” asked Mickey, sprinting up the remaining steps. “Guess you want this cock in there,” he growled while pinching Ian’s ass cheek.

They walked into the kitchen and went immediately towards the stairs. Mickey stopped to wave at everyone, but Ian pulled his arm to get him upstairs as fast as possible. 

Thank fuck Lip’s room isn’t occupied by Frank, thought Ian, as he nearly slammed the door behind them, locking it, before lunging at Mickey and starting to undress him with fervor. “God, I want you,” he huffed, tossing Mickey’s shirt to the floor and rubbing his hands along his skin. Mickey keened to his touch as Ian tugged his pants down around his hips, settling his hand around Mickey’s erect cock.

Mickey let out a low groan and began stripping Ian. They fell on top of the bed, both kicking their pants off, and Mickey pushed Ian onto his back so that he could take his cock into his mouth. “Mmmmm, gonna get you nice and ready, baby. I want this ass so bad.”

A shiver ran down Ian’s spine. Mickey had never called him “baby” before, and it made him moan louder than he’d intended as Mickey sucked his cock to the back of his throat.

Fuck, they were making too much noise. Ian remembered that Mickey was supposed to be drunk and asleep. He hoped Fiona had the volume of the television turned up extra loud.

“Got any lube on you, Mick?” he whispered. “I don’t think Lip keeps it around.” 

Mickey pulled his swollen lips off of Ian’s cock, flicking the tip sensually with his tongue. “Yeah...just gotta fish it out of my pants.”

Ian kept the friction going on his own cock while Mickey searched for the lube. He was feeling slightly nervous about what he’d proposed for them but knew Mickey would take care of him.

Lube held triumphantly in his hand, Mickey returned to Ian, his own throbbing cock bouncing as he walked the few steps over to the bed. Ian reached for it, moving his hand roughly down to the base and bringing it back up to rub his thumb over Mickey’s leaking slit.

He continued stroking his boyfriend as Mickey coated his fingers with lube, laying down beside him, close enough for Ian to continue jerking him off. He spread Ian’s knees apart and lifted his left leg onto his shoulder,  nipping at Ian’s inner thigh.

“Just relax for me, baby. We’ll take things slow.” Mickey’s finger was moving gently around the tight puckered skin of Ian’s entrance. “You ever touched yourself...here?”

“Y-yeah. Maybe a little.” Ian pushed his head back into the pillow as Mickey gripped the base of his cock and sunk a finger into his clenched hole. “Remember when you did this with me for the first time?” Mickey asked softly. “We took it slow. You were gentle, more than I needed.” 

Mickey was moving his finger in a circular motion, getting Ian prepped for the next finger.

“I like...this...Mick.” Ian said in a stilted voice. “Cuz I’m with you.”

Mickey was massaging Ian’s cock with a tight grip as he pushed in a second finger.

“You feel so good, Ian. Gonna fit just right inside you. Gonna help you see what you’ve been missing.”

Ian was still giving Mickey’s cock some attention with rhythmic strokes, but Mickey started to reposition himself so that he was out of Ian’s reach.

“I’m good, baby. Want you totally relaxed. Put those hands to good use. Touch your nipples for me...and your dick. Gets me so hot seeing you take care of yourself.

“Okay, Mick. Anything you say.”

“Good, cuz I wanna do this.” Mickey got up on his knees and pushed a third finger into his lover, angling his fingers to make contact with Ian’s prostate. He used his free hand to draw Ian’s lips to his, absorbing his soft whimpers and continuing to apply pressure to the sensitive spot inside of him.

“You want my cock yet, baby? You ready for me?”

“Y-yes, Mick. I think I’m ready.”

“I think so too. You’re nice and stretched but still tight enough to make me feel it. Fuck, I won’t last long.”

Ian leaned up to kiss his boyfriend, his breath picking up as Mickey pulled his fingers out of Ian, leaving him feeling empty. He watched Mickey rub a generous amount of lube over his cock. Mickey grabbed a pillow and positioned it under Ian’s hips, coaxing him to the edge of the bed.

“Don’t you want to do it from behind?” Ian asked, thinking that would be Mickey’s preference.

Mickey shook his head. “Wanna keep my eyes on you. Need to know how you’re feeling. Wanna watch you lose control.”

He nodded obligingly and bit into his lip as Mickey wrapped Ian’s legs around him and lifted his hips slightly to spread him open. He lined his cock up with Ian’s hole and began to push inside of him, his mouth agape, soft moans escaping from his lips as he sunk deeper and deeper. 

He looked at Ian with a mix of desire and concern. “You okay?” 

Ian was trying to ignore the slight discomfort, knowing he’d get used to the feeling in a minute and fully expecting Mickey to make it worth his while. “Keep going, Mick. I’m fine.” 

Once Mickey bottomed out, he moved slowly, one hand digging into Ian’s thigh and the other grasping the base of Ian’s cock as it practically stood at attention. Ian joined him in the effort, rubbing downward until he met Mickey’s hand, and they locked fingers. Ian squeezed Mickey’s hand to give him the go-ahead to let loose.

Mickey picked up his pace and made more exaggerated thrusts in and out of Ian, pulling his hand away from Ian’s cock to get a good grip on his hips. He was searching for a rhythm and a pace they could both enjoy.

Ian felt his breath catch in his throat as Mickey made contact with his prostate, hitting his spot again and again with more force than he’d been able to muster with his fingers alone. “Fuck, yes,” he cried out, pumping his own cock rapidly while he watched Mickey on the brink of losing control, his eyes shut tight, but Ian wanted them open.

“Look at me,” he commanded breathlessly. “I’m gonna...c-come.” Ian’s release spurted wildly across his chest, and he moved his lower body along with Mickey’s thrusts, desperate to bring him to orgasm and have Mickey’s warm release full him up.

“Come for me, Mick,” he panted. “Fill me up so good…”

Mickey brought his fist up to his mouth and clamped down on his knuckles as Ian got his wish. He cried out, collapsing on top of Ian and trying to catch his breath. He was murmuring Ian’s name over and over again as if he was meditating at the feet of a sex god.

Ian tilted Mickey’s chin, leaning up to kiss him and squeezing his ass cheeks to keep Mickey from pulling out.

“Stay here a little longer. I love you, Mick,” Ian whispered, barely aware of the words he’d just uttered. He’d meant them, had felt them on the tip of his tongue the day before, but he wasn’t planning on saying them quite yet.

Ian finally realized what he’d said after Mickey responded by kissing him tenderly. “I love you too.”

Chapter Text

When Mickey’s alarm sounded in the middle of the night, Ian was already awake, unable to fall asleep after they’d made love. He was thrilled about their new declarations but worried about Mickey having to face Terry again.

Mickey was almost dressed and ready to hit the road when Ian shared his concerns out loud.

“Let me come back with you,” he offered, picking up one of Mickey’s shoes in an effort to keep him from leaving. “I don’t want him putting another finger on you.”

Mickey held out his hand and gestured toward the shoe. “He won’t right away. That's his pattern. Terry takes his shit out on you, goes on a bender, and acts like a sullen bitch for a few weeks. Hopefully, I’ll be down here before round two, moved with no forwarding address.”

Ian still had the shoe locked in a death grip. “How’d he know where you guys were in the first place?”

“Probably fuckin’ Kenyatta, Mandy’s ex.” Mickey sighed. “It’s not like we were hiding from him anyway, just didn’t think he’d ever leave Chicago. The man is a fuckin’ recluse most of the time.”

“Oh,” Ian said, reluctantly relinquishing the shoe over to Mickey. “Here.”

Mickey sat down on the bed and slipped it on. “We still got our date for Friday?” He raised his eyes to where Ian was standing.

“Yeah, of course. The concert. Lip might wanna join us, too.” Ian sat down next to Mickey and rested his head on his shoulder. “I’m really gonna fuckin’ miss you til then.”

Mickey kissed the top of his head. “Me too.”

“And no disappearing, or I’ll come find you. I already texted Mandy my phone number.” Ian looked Mickey straight in his eyes. “You call me…for anything. Anything, Mick.”

“You got it, Officer Gallagher.”

^^^^^^^^^^

The week they spent apart was much better than the previous one when Mickey had gone silent. First, there was the good news that Mandy was supportive of them relocating—Mickey just had to promise to go with her to Disney World and Universal Studios as often as she wanted. Second, Terry took off for a few days, which at least gave the youngest Milkovich siblings a respite from his shit.

Ian and Mickey made sure to talk every evening after work. One night, Mandy took over the conversation and peppered Ian with questions about his intentions with her brother.

“I heard how your brother interrogated Mickey, figured I should do the same,” she informed him with a playful tone.

“Fair enough. But I only have the purest of intentions.”

“Ha! There’s nothing pure about either one of you.” Mandy squealed suddenly, and it sounded like Mickey was wrestling the phone away from her. It reminded Ian of how Fiona and Lip used to fight over the phone when they were in high school.

“What’d she say about me?”

“Nothing I didn’t know already.” Ian smiled into the phone, thinking about how nice it would be to have Mickey close by and Mandy, too.

“I’ll have to keep my eye on you two,” Mickey mused. “I can already see how this is gonna go.”

“Fiona can hang out with you if you need a gal pal,” offered Ian.

“Nah, I’ll go with Debbie. She’s more my style.”

“Ha, ha. True,” said Ian. “Besides, you might be working for Fiona until we can land you something else. She’s got jobs for both of you.”

“We’ll see. I told Mr. Sanders that I’m looking further South for work. He says he hates to see me go, but he’s been putting in a few calls through the association, gonna see what’s out there.”

“Nice, Mickey. So...I’ll see you Thursday? Usual time?”

“Yep. Wish your ass could go with me on my route, but I’ll come back early on Friday if that’s alright. Maybe we’ll have time to check out a few apartments.”

“Fuck yeah!” exclaimed Ian, pleased to hear that the move was closer to becoming a reality. “Just the thought of seeing you has been getting me through the drudge.”

“‘Seeing me?’ Or fucking me?” Mickey asked suggestively.

“Both.”

^^^^^^^^^^

Thursday afternoon rolled around, and Ian noticed a call coming through from Mickey. He pointed to his phone, whispering to his co-worker, “my brother,” and stepped outside the station to answer.

“Hey, Mick. What’s up?”

“You busy?”

Ian’s heart fluttered at the sound of Mickey’s voice, but he managed to eke out a casual reply.

“Nope. Just waiting on your ass.”

Mickey laughed warmly. “That’s what I like to hear. I’m about five minutes away. Can you go somewhere private?”

“When? Now?”

“Yeah.” Mickey drew in his breath. “I wanna get good and hard so you can suck me off quicker when I pull into the station.”

Ian’s lips curled into a surprised grin, and he looked around before responding. “What about me?”

“You? Let me think.” Mickey was moaning softly, and Ian could only assume he was touching himself.

“Mick, be careful. I don’t want you having an accident.”

“God, your voice is so sexy in safety mode. Relax. I’m in a parking lot not too far from your exit, minding my own business. Tell me when you’re alone.”

“Hold on.” Ian held the phone at his side and returned to the office, hoping no one would notice his boner.

“My brother, Lip, is having girl troubles,” he managed to explain. “Gonna go talk him off the ledge.” Ian pointed towards the bathroom, as his co-worker, Sam, a relatively new guy, shrugged and went back to playing on his phone.

Ian went straight to the bathroom and locked himself in one of the two vacant stalls.

“Okay. I’m back,” he whispered into the phone.

“Your brother’s having girl trouble? How can I help?”

“Shut up! If anyone walks in here, I’m hanging up.”

“Fine. Then let’s get started.” Mickey sounded eager as fuck. “I want you to unzip and give that gorgeous cock of yours some air.”

Ian nodded as though Mickey could see him, undoing his pants and dipping his hand down the front of his boxers. “God, Mick. I’m hard already.”

“Course you are, must be thinking about how much you’d like to fill up my tight hole. Wish we had time today for me to ride that dick.”

Ian pushed the waistband of his boxers down far enough to free his cock and pumped it slowly as he responded to Mickey’s suggestion. “As long as I can get you naked and bend you over the back of the truck. Wanna taste that ass first.”

“Fuck yeah, wanna feel your hot breath on my ass, getting me nice and wet with your tongue, and ready for one of your fingers. No, two of your fingers, stretching me good before you sink your big cock into my hole.”

“Mick…” Ian was stroking himself with fervor as he leaned his shoulder into the stall to maintain his balance.

Mickey was relentless. “Fill me up with that huge dick, baby. Don’t hold back. Fuck me. Harder. Harder. Keep pumping.”

Ian groaned. “I’m so close. What are you doing right now?”

“Have my hand on my rock-hard cock. It’s aching to have your pretty mouth wrapped around it. Fuck, don’t know if I’ll get there before I…”

“H-hold on, Mick. You feel so good, taking every inch of me.” Ian had his eyes closed, imagining the last time he’d been inside of Mickey. “Fuck, I can feel my hips pounding into that round ass of yours, you’re taking me so good...oooh! Shit...I’m almost there…”

Ian bit into his bottom lip as he felt his balls tighten and a fiery sensation pulsating through his body, converging into a final tug of his dick. The release overpowered him, his cum spurting out in thick ropes. He’d managed to avoid getting any on his work pants, quickly shifting his position so that he emptied into the commode.

Ian slowly got his bearings, panting into the phone. “Mick, that was so hot.” He breathed a sigh of relief that no one had come inside the restroom. “And unexpected.”

“Wish I coulda seen your face, Ian, but listening to you...fuck, I’m hard as hell.”

“So get that sweet ass over here now.”

“Hell yeah, I will.”

Ian could hear the ignition starting, and he told Mickey to be careful. After washing his hands, Ian stepped outside the bathroom, thankful that Sue’s door was still closed—she was playing catch-up on some reports. His co-worker, Sam, didn’t even bother looking up. He’d likely heard Ian making strange noises while he was in the bathroom but had the decency not to say anything.

“Gonna get some air,” Ian told him and picked up his clipboard.

“Sure.” Sam smirked. “It’s almost 3 o’clock anyway.”

Fuck. Did everyone know about him and Mickey, even the newbie?

As much as he tried to stay away from the damn things, Ian was craving a cigarette. Must have been the coolness of the afternoon air and the content, relaxed feeling from his orgasm. Damn, Mickey was good. So fucking good. He couldn’t wait for Mickey to be living minutes away, instead of hours, once he moved down to Florida.

Ian could see Mickey’s shitty grin from the highway, his truck speeding towards the inspection station, faster than usual, and of course, Ian knew why. But like always, he had to keep his cool and act like everything was normal. God, he was starting to get hard again, thinking about how he was going to make Mickey come before anyone at the station became suspicious.

As Mickey pulled the truck up to the usual spot, Ian gave him a friendly wave. He met him around the back, trying to hide his amusement over Mickey ambling out of the truck with his cock clearly straining against his jeans.

“Let me get it open for you,” Mickey said through gritted teeth, unlocking the truck and making way for Ian, who was biting back a laugh at that comment.

“Yeah, I’ll need you to step inside for a second. New protocol,” Ian informed him.

Mickey nodded and climbed inside the truck, his hands already fumbling with his belt.    

Ian grabbed Mickey by the collar and pushed him against a tall stack of boxes so that neither of them were visible to any passersby. He was on his knees before Mickey could blink, running his hand over the bulge in Mickey’s pants. “Gotta get my lips around this,” he purred, yanking Mickey’s jeans and boxers down his legs. Mickey’s perfect pink cock bounced up and down at the sudden motion, the tip glistening with precum. Ian lapped at his slit greedily before sucking Mickey’s cock down his throat.

“Your mouth feels so fuckin’ good,” Mickey moaned. “I’ve been waiting for this. Need you so bad. Fuck me with your fingers, too,” he pleaded.

Ian looked up at Mickey and nodded eagerly. “Got any lube?” he asked, pulling off of Mickey’s dick with a loud smack of his lips.

“Gimme a sec.” Mickey dug into his pocket for some lube and handed it over. Ian squeezed some onto his fingers and sunk his mouth back down on Mickey’s entire length as he dove his fingers in between his ass cheeks, searching desperately for the tight puckered ring of skin he had come to know so well. He found the spot and teased at the entrance. Mickey bucked his hips, pressing his cock deeper into Ian’s throat.

Ian was enraptured by the muffled noises coming from Mickey, not really caring how much time had passed and if anyone was watching the truck.

Mickey’s gyrations were becoming more and more wild. Ian angled his fingers to reach his prostate, hitting the spot rapidly until he felt Mickey’s balls harden and his thick, warm release coat the inside of Ian’s mouth and throat. He kept sucking until he was sure Mickey had spent every last drop.

“Fuck, Ian.” Mickey said breathlessly, his hands caressing the sides of Ian’s face as he pulled his cock past his swollen lips. “It won’t be long until we can do this every day.”

Ian stood up slowly and kissed Mickey, pressing against him into the wall of the truck’s interior. “I want to come inside of you every morning,” he cooed. “And then I’ll plug you up right after so you can carry part of me with you all day.”

“Oh yeah? Kinky! What about every night?” Mickey asked, seemingly intrigued by Ian’s well thought-out plans.

“Every night? Every night I’ll do whatever you want and however you want it.” Ian kissed away a low moan that erupted from Mickey’s lips. He knew they should probably quit while they were ahead.

“C’mon,” Ian said. “I better finish up in here.” He gave Mickey a once over to make sure his clothes were back in place. Of course, he looked like he’d just blew his load, but Ian knew that from weeks of experience. Hopefully, no one else would notice.

^^^^^^^^^^

Ian felt a familiar nervous energy, thinking about apartment hunting with Mickey and their date. They were, in essence, going on a double date—or triple date—plus Debbie, who demanded to be included in the outing. They’d all grab a bite and then go to Gus’ concert.

Since Ian was working the weekend shift, he had Friday off and most of the day to lounge around. He’d taken Debbie, Carl, and Liam out for breakfast, dropped Deb and Carl at school, and then spent a few hours at the gym, having renewed his membership recently, since he’d been feeling stable for awhile.

He decided to check in with Lip via text. They’d spoken earlier in the week—Ian had thanked him for picking up his car when he’d gone out of town with Mickey. Now Ian was curious to know more about Lip’s girlfriend.

Ian: Tell me about Amanda.

Lip: Eh...she’s cool, fun...loaded.

Ian: It’ll be an interesting evening. Think she’ll be okay with going to a shitty dive for dinner?

Lip: She gets turned on by anything related to my humble upbringing.

Ian: Okay…that’s kinda weird.

Lip: Pisses her parents off, and she’s a good lay. Lol! What about Mickey? Did his dad back the fuck off?

Ian: For now. I’ll feel better once he’s down here.

Lip: That’s a big step. Sure you’re ready?

Ian: It’s not like we’re moving in together.

Lip: But he’s moving for you. What if things don’t work out?

Ian: They will. I love him.

Lip: Fuck! Seems kinda soon. Just two weeks ago, you thought it was over.

Ian: I can’t explain it...except...when you know, you know.

Ian knew his brother meant well, but leave it to Lip to plant a seed of doubt. Ian couldn’t help himself—he called Mickey, needing to hear his voice.

Mickey picked up after the second ring. “Gallagher! Can’t you wait? I’m almost there.”

Ian cleared his throat nervously. “Hey, Mick. I, uh…well...um...”

“What the fuck is it? Spit it out.”

“I want you to know that I love you!” blurted Ian.

“Yeah, I know. Me too. What’s going on?”

“I just thought...maybe...we said it too soon?”

“That’s what’s on your mind, huh?” Mickey paused, softening his tone. “I think you should say it when you feel it. Too soon is better than too late. Right?”

“Yeah, you’re right.” Ian knew he didn’t need to worry anymore.

“So stop overthinking shit,” said Mickey, matter-of-factly. “I should be there before you have time to spazz out again.”

Chapter Text

Ian had a cold beer ready for Mickey, enjoying one himself on the front stoop of the house while he waited. In his back pocket, he had jotted down a list of possible apartments. Ian asked around at work for ideas and recruited Fiona to check with her employees for any low-cost but decent options. Mickey had said that he and Mandy preferred a two-bedroom, but they’d make whatever work.

Minutes later, Ian spotted the familiar unmarked white box truck coming around the corner, its gorgeous driver gazing back at him. He took a sip from his beer, hiding the wide-ass grin that seeing Mickey elicited. Ian was amused with himself for feeling like a horny, awkward teenager around Mickey.

But he could no longer hide his smile when Mickey hopped out of the truck with his overnight bag slung over his shoulder, like they were having a sleepover. He crossed the street with his usual swagger, and Ian noticed that his face had almost healed from Terry’s bruises.

“Hiya, Mick,” said Ian, extending the unopened bottle to his boyfriend as they met halfway on the steps.

“Thanks, but there’s something else I want first.” Mickey looked around quickly and, seeing no one or not caring, planted a long, wet kiss on his boyfriend’s mouth. His hands cradled Ian’s neck as he gently broke away from the kiss and looked into Ian’s eyes, his own crystal blue eyes dancing with mischief.

“So...I guess you want to…” Ian nodded towards the house, more specifically to the upstairs bedroom. “We can do the apartment stuff another time.”

“Actually,” said Mickey, resting his head against Ian’s shoulder as they walked up the steps to the front door. “I could use a nap. I’m exhausted from all that driving.”

Ian was surprised. “A nap?”

“Yeah, I don’t want to be a complete shithead later when we’re out with your family.”

“Okay…”

“Lay down with me, you know...like regular couples.”

Ian laughed, his brain processing that they were neither going to be fucking nor apartment hunting. He understood that Mickey could use some rest, but he had to give him shit. “Is napping what regular couples do together?”

They were standing inside the house at the foot of the staircase, and Mickey kissed him again. “Well, sure. And if not, we’ll just make up our own rules.”

Ian smiled and turned to go up the stairs first, and Mickey followed him into Lip’s room. He could hear Debbie and Carl yelling at each other and splashing around in the pool outside with Liam. “Should I tell them to keep it down?” offered Ian.

Mickey was already sitting on the unmade bed, pulling his shoes off. “Nah. I still haven't gotten used to the quiet down here—it’s one of the things I miss about Chicago—the noise.” He yawned and fell back onto a pillow, stretching his arms out to Ian. Fuck. Leave it to Mickey to get him all riled up and then suggest a nap. At least they’d have all night to be together.

Although he wasn’t tired, Ian joined Mickey on the bed, letting him rest his head against his chest, and holding him as he drifted off to sleep.

This was nice. Ian smiled at the familiar sound of Mickey’s light snoring, enjoying the peacefulness of the moment. But it wasn’t long before his mind turned to wondering about when they’d have time for apartment hunting. Ian had to work on Saturday and Sunday, and Mickey would have to get back to the farm.

He was eager to get the details of the move solidified, not wanting anything to interfere with him and Mickey being together. He’d have to remember to not push Mickey too hard—better to let him make this change on his own time and not be overbearing.

Ian wiggled an arm free so that he could text Fiona about dinner. They had about two hours before everyone would be ready to get together.

Ian: Where do you want to meet for dinner? I can bring Deb.

As he waited for his sister to reply, Ian’s thoughts turned suddenly to his mother, wondering where she was sleeping these days and who she might be fucking to keep a roof over her head. He didn’t mean it in a crude way, but that was Monica’s reality. It could have been his if Fiona hadn’t intervened.

And where was Frank these days? At least two of his offspring were involved in fairly stable relationships—Lip, he wasn’t so sure about yet, he’d know more later—but still, it was an accomplishment for a Gallagher to find someone they could open up to and not be afraid of being abandoned or mistreated or left feeling used as a means to some end. Ian closed his eyes and pictured one particular gesture he’d like to give his parents right about now. He opened his eyes when his phone vibrated.

Fiona: Hey! I was gonna have y’all come to the diner, but I’m so over this place. What about El Paisano’s? I could use a margarita.

Ian: Sounds good. We can Uber over to the bar afterwards if we need to.  

Fiona: Perfect. I’m really looking forward to hanging out with you guys. And you’ll like Gus. He’s a good dude.

Ian: Yeah? Are things going well?

Fiona: I guess so. I’m not used to being with someone stable. It’s weird.

Ian: Enjoy it if you’re happy. And...he sounds more interesting than the cup guy. You know, your former boss.

Fiona: Yeah, let’s leave that one alone. Yikes! What are you doing now?

Ian: Ha...you’ll never guess. Curled up with Mickey. He wanted a nap.

Fiona: Sweet. Wish I could have one of those.

Ian: Hang in there. Do you want to come home first, and we can all ride together?

Fiona: Great idea. I might even knock off in a few.

Ian: You should. I’ll tell Lip to meet us at the restaurant.

Fiona: Sounds good. Love you, kid…

Ian: Same here, sis…

^^^^^^^^^^

Dinner was actually a lot of fun. Mickey was very social after his nap and an extra large margarita. Much to Ian’s surprise, Mickey and Amanda instantly bonded over the topic of shitty parents. Hell, they all jumped in on that one.

Deb was pleased to be out with the adults, and she didn’t seem to feel like too much of a third wheel since Fiona was also solo. Gus couldn’t meet them for dinner because he was rehearsing, but he told them to come by and say hello before his show.            

Ian and Amanda were the DDs, so after a dessert round of sopapillas, they drove over to the bar. Deb rode with Lip and Amanda, and Fiona grabbed shotgun with Ian at the wheel, her head turned towards the backseat the whole time, as she and Mickey giggled about some of Ian’s quirks, both of them obnoxiously wasted.

“You know how he ducks under doorways? Like he’s so tall, he’s going to bang his head, but in reality, there’s like, a whole foot of clearance?” Fiona contributed that gem as Mickey nodded his head vigorously and laughed along with her.

“Yeah? Well, you should try sharing a bed with this guy. I have to hover in a little corner and pray I don’t fall off.”

They both burst into fits of laughter.

“Hey!” protested Ian. “I’m right here. Don’t you fuckers have anything better to talk about?”

“No!” They responded in unison. But somehow in her drunken stupor, Fiona must have realized that Ian had a point and changed the subject.

“So, Mickey...I hear we might be seeing more of you. I’ve got that job for your sister.” Fiona pointed an unsteady finger in his direction. “And one for you, if you want it.”

“Thanks. I know Mandy’ll jump at the chance. I’m still looking, you know. Wanna stick to something outdoors. Maybe go back to school eventually.” Mickey’s tone had changed from carefree to more serious.

Ian hadn’t heard Mickey mention school before. Might not be a bad idea if he did the same. They could go through it together. It would otherwise suck being older than most everyone else.

“Well, we want to help you any way we can.” Fiona smiled and squeezed Ian’s shoulder gently. “This guy thinks the world of you.”

“He’s a pretty good dude himself,” said Mickey.

Ian looked up into the rearview mirror, his eyes meeting Mickey’s and his heart fluttering that same way it had the very first time he’d seen Mickey at the station with his tough-as-nails swagger but imagining he was hiding a softer, more vulnerable side. The right person just had to come along and expose it.

They got to the bar—one of the better venues in the area for live music with an actual stage and a patio for people who wanted to take a break from the noise and the smoke. Fiona texted Gus, and he came out from the back right away to greet them. He’d met Deb before, and lucky for Gus, there wasn’t time for Lip to put him through the usual inquisition.

Ian liked the guy immediately, happy with how Fiona seemed around him, proud and confident as she talked about “her boyfriend” and how talented he was. And Gus didn’t act like a conceited jerk about it, just kissed her forehead and told them how amazed he was with everything Fiona had accomplished for her family and how supportive she’d been of him.

Ian was happy to see his siblings at ease and enjoying themselves. Mickey tapped his arm to see if he wanted a beer, and Ian smiled at the handsome man in front of him—his boyfriend, who was going to be moving two states down to be with him. He kissed Mickey tenderly.

“What was that for?”

“Because I love you, dummy,” Ian shot back, taking Mickey up on his offer for a drink but starting the tab under his name, despite Mickey’s protests.

The concert was a blast—not Ian’s kind of music, per se, but he had fun, hamming it up with Lip and watching his sisters and Amanda grinding on Mickey, who was too drunk to even care. After the band finished their first set, Lip and Amanda offered to take Debbie home since it was way past her bedtime. They all agreed to meet up again soon.

A few songs into the second set, Gus made an announcement about a song he’d written. He had tastefully waited until Debbie wasn’t there before sharing the title of it with the audience. “Fuck me, Fiona.”

Ian figured it would take years to scrub the song’s refrain from his memory, along with the image of his sister making “fuck me” eyes at her boyfriend while he delivered the raw, sultry lyrics directly to her, as if they were the only two people in the room. The performance brought the house down.

Ian glanced over at Mickey and noticed that he looked about ready to call it a night.

“You wanna go?” he asked.

“Hmmm...you sure you don’t want to hear that one again?” Mickey laughed at his own joke, his eyelids heavy as he leaned against Ian.

“No, I think I’m good. Let me make sure Fiona is going home with Gus before we leave.” Ian sat Mickey down on a bar stool. “You. Stay put.”

Ian made his way through the crowd to his sister, who was close to the stage, her back resting against the nearest wall as she took a swig of her almost empty beer.

“Hey!” Ian yelled as a new song started. “This has been great, but you okay if we go? Mickey’s tired, and I have to work in the morning.”

“Awwww…” she said with a pouty expression. “So soon?”

“‘Fraid so. You’ll go home with Gus, right?”

“Yeah. It was so much fun hanging out with you guys. Go home and get some, okay?” Fiona winked at him.

Ian patted her arm. He wished he was drunk enough to find that funny, coming from his big sister, who had just been serenaded about her own prowess in the bedroom.

“Maybe,” he murmured, before collecting Mickey and leading him to the car.

^^^^^^^^^^

Ian was focused on getting them home safely, but Mickey had other ideas. Despite Ian’s protests, Mickey had unzipped Ian’s pants and was giving him quite the hand job, considering he was drunk off his ass. Ian had to push his hand away after a few minutes as he had veered off the road a few times. Mickey didn’t seem too thrilled about being rejected as he folded his arms and slumped down in his seat.  

“C’mon, Mick. Don’t be mad. How would it look if the paramedics found us both dead with your hand around my dick?” He reached his hand over to caress Mickey’s cheek. “You almost had me seeing stars.”

Mickey remained stoic, shrugging Ian’s hand away. They rode the rest of the way in silence, Ian slightly annoyed with Mickey for getting so hammered but also mad at himself for not cutting him off sooner. Why did Mickey have to turn into a petulant child? They weren’t going to see each other for another week.

Ian pulled up to the house and parked behind Mickey’s truck. He thought they could clear the air and finish what Mickey tried to start—if he was still into it—but when he looked over at Mickey, Ian realized that he’d dozed off.

God, Mickey’s been under a lot of stress lately, Ian realized. He probably needed to kick back and get shit-faced drunk. He definitely didn’t need Ian judging him, and ordinarily, Ian wouldn’t have, except that he gave two shits about Mickey’s well-being.

Ian got out of the car and went around to the passenger side, coaxing Mickey out of his seat. This reminded Ian of their night in Tampa when he ushered Mickey back to their hotel room after the baseball game, but this time, Mickey was quiet and not nearly as animated. Ian helped him into the house, making a pit stop at the bathroom, before helping his boyfriend get settled into bed. Ian readied his things out for the next day and curled up next to Mickey, closing his eyes and reflecting on their evening. All in all, everyone seemed to have had a really good time. They could do this more often once Mickey was closer. And throw Mandy into the mix as well.

Ian drifted off to sleep, feeling more hopeful than not about things to come.

His alarm sounded at the usual time, jolting him awake and causing Mickey to turn over and groan. “Shut that thing off, would ya?”

“Yeah, Yeah. Hold on.” Ian turned off the alarm and sat up in the bed, yawning and rubbing his eyes. It was going to be a long fucking day, and he wasn’t sure if he’d even get the chance to say goodbye to Mickey.

Ian felt his way around the room until he found the doorknob and headed towards the bathroom to grab a quick shower. The main benefit of getting up before everyone else was full access to the hot water. He turned the shower on full blast, stepping into the tub and relaxing into the hot stream as it peppered his back. Ian closed his eyes, picturing Mickey on the other side of the curtain, pulling his clothes off to hop in with Ian, their lips crashing together under the water, hands roaming freely, caressing and massaging and stroking one another. Why am I torturing myself?, wondered Ian, knowing that this was an extremely unlikely scenario since Mickey was sound asleep.

After soaping up and rinsing the suds away, Ian hopped out of the shower, drying off and wrapping a towel around his waist. He was trying to will his erection away as he brushed his teeth, having a medium amount of success, as he crept out of the bathroom and back to Lip’s room. Everyone was still asleep, so no one would see him.

Ian closed the door behind him and went to fumble around for his cell phone. He thought he’d use the flashlight function to get around the room and not wake Mickey.

Before he could turn it on, the lamp next to the bed came on and Ian nearly dropped his towel. “What the—”

Mickey smirked at him—it was the only thing he was wearing at the moment.

“Took you long enough,” he muttered, keeping his eyes on Ian as he continued what he must have started a few minutes ago. Ian stood motionless in the same spot, his towel now crumpled on the floor around his feet and his dick even harder than it had been a few minutes ago. His eyes were fixated on a stark naked Mickey with one hand stroking his cock and the other one buried inside his asshole, tiny moans escaping his lips.

“Thought I’d ride that monstrous cock of yours before you go to work. Why don’t you stop staring at me and finish getting me prepped,” growled Mickey. Ian got on his knees by the bed and grabbed Mickey’s hips.

“Let me have a taste,” he purred. He pushed Mickey’s lubed fingers aside and dragged his tongue from Mickey’s balls down to the sensitive skin around his wet, hot asshole. Ian pushed his tongue inside of Mickey, his lips caressing the furled flesh as he sucked and slobbered and made a meal out of the tight orifice he was about to inhabit.

“Mmmm...you knew just what I wanted to start my day.” Ian looked up at Mickey, his mouth and chin glistening with a mix of his own saliva and the lube that Mickey had been using to prep himself.

Mickey stared back at him longingly, one hand gripping the base of his cock, apparently in an attempt to keep from coming. Ian was even more turned on now, knowing Mickey was almost on the verge of blowing his load. He decided not to make it any easier on him, pushing two fingers inside of Mickey as he caressed the tip of Mickey’s cock with his tongue, opening his mouth wide as he pushed his lips downwards, making Mickey’s cock disappear to the back of his throat.

“Oh, fuck, Ian! Y-you better...stop.” Mickey was gripping both sides of Ian’s head, apparently conflicted about whether to push him away or pull him down harder.

Ian decided to show him some mercy, slowly removing his fingers from Mickey’s asshole and gradually pulling his mouth from his cock, giving the tip one last lick before he climbed onto the bed.

Ian’s dick stood at attention, practically in a straight line, cum dripping out of the slit like the wax of a melting candle. “Need to feel you around me, Mick. Need you so bad. I can’t wait anymore. Get on me. Please,” he begged.

“Hell, since you asked so nicely…” Mickey got situated, spread eagle in front of Ian so that he had the perfect view of Mickey gliding down on him, taking him in, inch by inch.

“Fuck me, Mickey. Ride me hard.”

“So demanding. What happened to asking?” Mickey raised an eyebrow and remained motionless. “I don’t remember you saying ‘please.’”

“Ohhh, fuuuck!” groaned Ian, his chest heaving up and down. “Please!” he cried, not caring if he woke up the whole house.

“That wasn’t so hard, was it?” asked Mickey as he slowly pulled off of Ian, then slammed down hard, causing Ian to throw his head back and moan. Mickey repeated the motion again and again, angling himself in a particular way as he thrust downwards. Ian loved letting Mickey have his way with his cock.

Somehow in his hazy stupor, Ian noticed Mickey’s throbbing, bouncing cock and gave it some much needed attention, rolling it in his palm, tenderly at first but then rougher to match Mickey’s rhythm.

It wasn’t long before Ian was coming hard inside of Mickey, which in turn, led to Mickey spilling his load all over Ian’s torso and chest, rendering his early morning shower useless. Mickey pulled off of Ian and crashed down by his side. Ian brushed away his attempts to clean the cum from his body.

“Leave it. I want to go to work with you still all over me,” Ian cooed as he kissed Mickey’s lips and wrapped an arm around him.

“Okay, dirty freak.” Mickey’s cheeks were flush from his orgasm. “Did I surprise you?”

“Let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised.” Ian paused, kissing his forehead.

Mickey noticed the time on the dresser clock. “You better get going.”

“Soon, but first...everything okay? I mean, I assume so...given what we just did. But you seemed, I don’t know, moody...last night.”

“Did I?” Mickey raised himself up on his elbows. “Don’t really remember. Just got some stuff on my mind. You know, thinking about the move...and worried about...finances.”

“You wanna wait on the move? Maybe now’s not the right time,” Ian said quietly, trying to hide his disappointment.

“Fuck no! I wanna be down here as soon as possible.” Mickey traced his fingers along Ian’s cheek, leaning down to kiss him. “I’m sorry I messed up our plans yesterday. Can you give me the list of apartments you put together? I’ll go check ‘em out this morning before I head back.”

“Sure…” Ian climbed over Mickey to get the list out of his pants pocket. “If you’re sure…”

“Yeah, gotta learn my way around. Hope to be here a while.”

Chapter Text

Ian walked towards the vacant picnic table several yards away from the station where he sometimes ate lunch. He’d been waiting on Mickey’s call. “Any luck?” Ian asked hopefully after answering his phone.

“There were a couple of places we could manage, I think,” replied Mickey. “Problem is the deposit—first and last month’s rent—that’ll be tough to swing.”

“Oh. Fuck. Hadn’t thought about that.”

Mickey sighed. “Yeah, the cost of living down your way is a lot higher.”

Ian decided to share an idea he’d been considering but hadn’t mentioned before. “You guys can stay with us for a few months, you know, start saving up.”

“Ian…” 

“Or you could borrow the money from me. It’d be a loan that you could pay back over time.”

“Ian…” 

“Maybe you could take the restaurant job with Fiona and—”

“Ian!” That was probably the first time Mickey had ever raised his voice at him—Ian stopped talking. 

“I’m not a fucking charity case!” Mickey yelled. “Jesus...” 

Ian pulled at his shirt collar, feeling an uncomfortable sensation rising in his throat. “Yeah...I know, Mick. I’m sorry…”

Mickey ignored his apology. “You have a steady income and a stable home situation. You can afford to do pretty much anything you want!”

Ian didn’t know what to say, so he remained silent.

Mickey continued, softening his tone, though it still had an edge. “Think about it. You pay for everything when we’re together. I would if I could, you know? I mean, you’ve been generous, more than I deserve...but fuck, at least let me take care of my own business...”

“I guess I don’t think about that stuff…”

“Because you don’t have to,” chided Mickey.

“No...because I love you...”

“Well, yeah, I know...but…” 

“Let’s talk later,” Ian said abruptly, frustrated with where the conversation was going. “I gotta get back to work.”

“Fine.”

“Later, Mick.”

Ian disconnected the call and stayed at the picnic bench a few more minutes, trying to make sense of what had just happened and how he could have handled things differently. He knew that he’d pushed too hard, eager to be supportive but doing the opposite. Still, Mickey didn’t have to make things a pissing contest about who had struggled the most. Ian knew he’d had a few more advantages and breaks in his life, but it was never his intention to rub that in Mickey’s face. And it’s not like he’d always had it easy.

Ian returned to the station and overheard his co-workers talking about going out for drinks. They asked him to join them, but Ian wasn’t really in the mood, wondering if things were starting to unravel with Mickey, just when they were supposed to be getting easier. He thought about calling Lip for advice but remembered he was studying all weekend with Amanda.

Ian decided to go for a run to clear his head. When he got home, he went upstairs to change into his running gear and decided to invite Carl along—he’d help him set a good pace and not over-do it. Fortunately, Carl agreed to go with him, and they ran in their neighborhood for about 45 minutes. When they got back to the house and were doing a few stretches, Carl mentioned how he planned to join the track team in the spring.

Ian was pleased to hear his brother was seeking activities with more structure, and he vowed to keep working with Carl to deter him from stupid shit, like his summer gig running drugs.

Maybe there had been some necessity previously, but now that Ian and Fiona had steady jobs, and Lip was making something of himself, there was no need for any Gallagher kid to continue down a destructive path.

Spending time outside of his head did Ian some good. He decided to text Mickey and see if he felt like talking, not wanting any more time to pass with awkwardness between them.

Ian: Can we talk?

Mickey called him right away.

“Hey.” Mickey sounded pretty remorseful. “I’m sorry about before.”

Ian wanted to reach through the phone and wrap his arms around him. “No, Mick. I’m the one who should be sorry. I overstepped. Just hope you know it came from a good place.”

“Yeah, I do. I’m glad you called. I miss you, and on top of that, it was really sucking to know that we were...I dunno, would you call it... fighting?”  

“I guess. It had to happen sooner or later though...right? We’re gonna push each other’s buttons from time to time.”

“It’s been a shitty day. Terry’s back, so there’s that.”

“Fuck. Have you started packing? Has he said anything?” Ian asked.

“That’s the one good thing about me being a procrastinator. Mandy’s started packing up her room, but he doesn’t mess with her shit.” Mickey paused, as if trying to work out a complex problem. “Fuck, I need to figure out a way to get rid of him.”

“Just say the word, and I’ll be up there.”

“Thanks, Ian. I’ll let you know. I’m just glad we’re okay—you and me. That’ll get me through tonight, and I’ll call you tomorrow.”

“Sure, Mick. Let me know how I can help you.”

“Just don’t give up on me. Okay?”

“Not a chance,” Ian said, relieved that they’d survived their first fight.

^^^^^^^^^

Tuesday came around, and Ian was feeling better about how things were going. He and Mickey had been communicating about logistics for the move, though Mickey was vague on when he and Mandy would have enough money for the deposit on the apartment.

That morning, Ian had texted Mickey with a lead on a position at a local produce farm, but several hours had passed, and Mickey hadn’t responded. Ian called and left a voicemail. This was feeling all too familiar in a troubling way.

Ian tried calling again, biting into his lip, saying over and over to himself, please pick up, please pick up. His call went to voicemail again. Mickey had to know that Ian would be worried. Ever since that period of time when he hadn’t responded for days, Mickey had been quick to reply to Ian’s messages, even if it was just a winky emoji, which meant, can’t talk now, but will get up with you soon.  

Ian called Mandy’s phone and left a message, followed by some frantic texts. Have you seen Mickey? He’s not answering his phone. Is everything alright with you guys? Please call me.

An hour later, Mandy texted Ian back.

Mandy: Sorry, I’m at work. When I left the house this morning, Mickey mentioned going out with Terry. Try not to worry. Terry’s been less of an ass lately.

Ian: I can’t help it. Should I come up there?

Mandy: Give Mickey until later tonight. He probably left his phone at the apartment.

Ian: Thanks. If I don’t hear from him by eight o’clock, I’m coming up there.

Mandy: I understand. Let’s check in later today.

Ian: Okay, please let me know if you hear from him.

Mandy: I will. In other news, I heard that you offered us a place to stay.

Ian: Yeah, I offered. Don’t think it was well received.

Mandy: Mickey really wants to get down there to be with you. But there’s also his pride…

Ian: I knew I shouldn’t have said anything. He’s stressed about finding a job.

Mandy: Just remember, true love conquers all.

Ian: Let’s hope so. Thanks, Mandy.

^^^^^^^^^^

Ian spent the rest of the afternoon mentally preparing for a trek up to South Carolina. Mandy sent him the address to their apartment, and he stopped at a gas station after work to fill up his tank and grab some snacks for the road. He went home to check in with the crew and pack a few things in an overnight bag, explaining to an inquisitive Deb that Mickey needed him, so he was taking a road trip to his place.

Just a few minutes before he was ready to walk out the door and hop in his car, Ian got a message from Mickey.

Mickey: Hey, sorry I missed your texts. Everything’s fine.  

Ian: Thank God! I’m calling you.

Mickey: I can’t talk right now, but I have some good news. Terry’s leaving.

Ian: That is good news. Still need to hear your voice.

Mickey: I’ll call you first thing in the morning.  

Ian: I’d feel better if I can come and see you.

Mickey: I appreciate that, but don’t. I promise we’ll talk tomorrow. Early.

Ian: Okay. I love you.

Mickey didn’t text him back that night—Ian waited until about midnight before finally falling into a restless sleep. His alarm sounded at 6am, and he went through the usual motions of getting ready for work, while glancing at his phone every few minutes in anticipation of Mickey’s call. Fuck, he’d be so relieved once he knew Mickey was far away from his asshole of a father.

While Ian was driving to work, he got the call he’d been waiting for.

“Hey, Mick. Are you alright? Missed you...”

“Me too. I’m fine.”

It was such a relief to hear Mickey’s voice after worrying about him all day. Ian was tempted to chew Mickey out for going off for the day with Terry, but before Ian could say anything about it, Mickey blurted out triumphantly, “Terry’s gone! For good.”

Ian paused. “Uh...like...gone-gone? Dead?”

“No, Sherlock.” Mickey laughed. “He’s headed home. I think we should celebrate.”

“Yeah?!” Ian wanted to ask him more questions, but he was focused on how relieved Mickey seemed.

“On Friday. Let me take you out for a nice meal, get us a place for the night.”

“Mick...you don’t have to do that.”

“Why not?” Mickey insisted. “Other than our first date, you’ve never let me pay.”

The money thing again. Mickey would be better off saving his money for the deposit on the apartment, but Ian didn’t want to say anything. He’d agree for now but suggest they stay over at his house come Friday.

“Sure, Mick. I’d like that. I’ll text you in a few hours. I’m at the station now, and I need to clock in. I’m glad you’re okay.”

“Mandy told me you were coming up here yesterday. I’m sorry for making you worry,” he said quietly.

“I’d do anything for you, Mick.”

“It’s good to hear you say that.” Mickey’s voice changed to a more sultry tone. “Won’t be long before I’ll be able to take advantage of that offer...whenever I want…”

Ian shifted in his seat. “Fuck, Mickey. Don’t start that shit.”

“Maybe we can FaceTime later then?”

“Yes please.”

^^^^^^^^^^

It was finally Thursday and Mickey’s last delivery of the season. Ian had his head down on his desk, still groggy from going to bed late the night before. Sue walked by and asked to speak with him privately in her office. He figured it wasn’t going to be a pleasant chat, judging by the look on her face.

“Have a seat,” she said sternly.

“Thanks. Sorry that I’ve been out of it today,” he replied.

“You’re not in trouble, Ian. I just wanted to check in. You’ve been different lately. Not very interested in your work.” She looked at him, waiting for an explanation.

“Different?”

“Yes. Missing days, coming in late. Your paperwork has gotten sloppy, and you’re not using the new protocols. It’s not like you.”

“Oh, shit. I mean, damn…I mean...I’m sorry.” Ian smiled nervously. “I’ve been busy with...family stuff. I promise I’ll do better. Can you give me another chance?”

“Of course. You’re generally a reliable worker. I just don’t know if you’ll wanna do this forever—you seem a little bored,” she told him. 

Ian wasn’t sure how to respond. It was true that he’d been distracted lately, but he still enjoyed his job, and he liked helping the newer officers as they were going through training.

“Thanks for saying something, Sue. I’d rather get things out in the open and try to make them better.”

She nodded and pulled a folder from a stack of papers on her desk. “Re-read last month’s update, and give the new audit tool a try today.”

“Sure thing.” Ian took the folder with him back to his work station and reviewed the material while he ate his lunch. He’d use the audit with the next few drivers who came through—Mickey too. That would make Sue happy.

The next few hours passed by quickly with an occasional text from Mickey, letting Ian know he was getting closer. He figured there’d be no phone sex today since they’d done a pretty good job of that last night.

When Mickey’s truck pulled up, Ian ran a hand through his hair and straightened his shirt before grabbing his clipboard. This was a bittersweet feeling, heading outside to complete Mickey’s last inspection for the foreseeable future, watching him emerge from the cab, averting his eyes so as not to be so obvious about his feelings for his peanut-pushing boyfriend.

Once they were both in the back of the truck, Ian stole a quick kiss. “You sure everything’s okay? I mean, Terry? Was it really a good idea to hang out with him?”

“Probably not, but I don’t want to talk about him right now.”

“Okay…” Ian could feel Mickey’s eyes on him as he pushed his way around the stacks of boxes.

“Tomorrow...when we have more time,” Mickey suggested. 

“Why? Are you in a hurry today?” Ian pulled a pen from his pocket. “I hope you don’t mind, but I gotta open some of these boxes. New protocol. Well, I guess it’s not all that new. I was supposed to start a few weeks ago, but...someone’s been distracting me.” 

Ian rested his clipboard between his arm and his side as he dug around in his back pocket for some gloves.

“Ian. Don’t.” Mickey seemed nervous all of a sudden. 

“Don’t what?” Ian gave him a confused look as he wriggled his fingers into a glove. He opened the box nearest him, pulling the flaps back.

“Ian! Can you wait a sec?”

“This won’t take long.” Ian shrugged off Mickey’s protests, dipping his fingers inside the mound of dried peanuts encased in their shells. Was Mickey trying to be funny?

It was about the time that Mickey moved towards him that Ian’s hand made contact with something hard, something that felt like a package. He held up his free arm to block Mickey.

“What the fuck is this?” A range of emotions hit Ian all at once—shock, denial, betrayal—as he realized what else, besides peanuts, was inside the box.

Mickey’s face had turned a paler shade of white than Ian had ever seen. “J-just...fill out the paper, Ian, like you always do...and let me get the hell outta here.” 

“Is this smack?” Ian had pulled the package to the surface, and he recognized the shape of the brick from the times Frank and Monica had been dealing. “Did Terry put you up to this?”

“C’mon, man…” Mickey hung his head. “Please...just…”

Ian was livid. “So this is why you pursued me?” He shoved the package back into the box. “Been playing the long game, huh, Mick?”

“That’s bullshit, and you know it! You know how I feel about you.” Mickey looked wounded, although Ian decided that, in the moment, he was just putting on a convincing act, like he had been this whole time.

“I know that I’m a total sucker.” Ian felt an angry sob growing in his chest, and he tried to push it back down. “How long have you been pulling this shit?” The air in the confined space was becoming too thick to breathe, and Mickey was just staring back at him. “How fuckin’ long?!” he yelled. 

Mickey’s eyes seemed to be filled with panic. “This was the first time...I swear.”

As much as he tried to hold them back, hot, angry tears were streaming down Ian’s face now. “Likely story, Mick. But very creative way to get your goods into the state. You’re a talented guy, I’ll give you that. You sure fooled me.”

The bitter sound of his words hung in the stifling air, seemingly making contact with Mickey and striking a blow. “It’s not like that,” he murmured.

“How can I believe you after this...this...stunt?” Ian started to push past Mickey. He needed air. He needed to go back in time to five minutes ago and ignore Sue’s instructions about the audits—then he never would have learned the thing that he didn’t want to know.

Mickey blocked his path. “Look, I did it for us. For the money. And to get Terry off my back.” 

“Here.” Ian fumbled with his clipboard, tears blurring his vision, but he managed to scribble his signature on the checklist and give a copy to Mickey. “Take it.” 

Mickey stood motionless with the paper in his hands. “Ian...can we talk about—”

“Just go...please…” 

Mickey sighed, his expression remorseful, his posture defeated. “It was just this one time. So I could get down here and be with you.” 

Ian knew his face was bright red and tear-stained. He needed to pull himself together and get back to his post without drawing any attention to what had transpired. A small part of him wanted to tell Mickey that everything was fine, that he’d see him tomorrow for their date, and that he understood. 

Instead, he turned away from the man he loved, the man he thought loved him, but clearly that couldn’t be the case. Even if this really was the first time he’d done this, why would Mickey put them both at risk when Ian had already told him they’d figure things out?

Ian’s throat was constricting more and more with each step he took in the direction opposite Mickey. Go back, you idiot, a voice told him. But he didn’t listen.

Chapter Text

None of his co-workers said anything to Ian when he walked into the station and headed for the bathroom. If they only knew, he thought. I’m a fraud, and I’ve just enabled someone to do something criminal and that someone is my boyfriend, and everything is completely fucked now and…

Ian gripped the sides of the sink and managed to take a deep breath. He was not going to break here...not now. As angry as he was with Mickey, he didn’t want him getting caught—it would just end badly for both of them.

Someone knocked on the bathroom door. It was Sue. “You okay in there, Ian?”

“Yeah,” he called back. “Be right out.”

He had to think quickly about what to say. Ian waited another minute before pushing through the door, where Sue was standing with a concerned expression on her face.

“Need to talk?”

“No, I’m fine.” He forced a smile. “I think our conversation from earlier caught up to me.”

Sue didn’t look entirely convinced. “You sure it’s not something else?”

“I’m sure. Sorry for not being professional, you know, after we just had a conversation about me needing to be more professional.”

“Hmmm...why don’t you go home for the afternoon? We’ll cover for you.”

Ian felt even shittier, his boss being so nice after putting her at risk too.

“Thanks, Sue.” He needed to get out of there but would repay her one day for her kindness. “I’ll be back tomorrow, good as new.” At least, he hoped that was true.

Ian knew just where to go—the only place that would help clear his mind of what had just happened. He drove straight to the gym and pulled his bag of gear from his back seat. He changed in the locker room and headed for the treadmill. A text came through from Mickey—Call me, it read. Ian turned off his phone. Two thoughts were cycling around and around in his mind. I can’t deal with this right now, and I hope Mickey’s not calling to tell me he got caught.

Sue could have easily suspected something was up and alerted the authorities. Any minute, the police would come storming into the gym to arrest Ian for aiding and abetting. What the fuck was Mickey thinking?

And how much of what Mickey had said was true? Just this one time, he’d claimed. Right. Ian was so fucking naive sometimes. It was quite possible that Mickey had been smuggling drugs for several weeks—at least, after he’d flirted and pursued Ian, an easy mark.

But the shit with Terry seemed real enough, and there wouldn’t have been any reason to make that up.

Unless it was to gain my sympathies.

No, no. Mickey had seemed genuinely upset about my reaction to the drugs.

But maybe he was acting. After all, he didn’t want me to turn him in.

But why would he have texted just now? Maybe to find out if I was planning to turn him in...    

Ian could feel his feet pounding against the rubber surface of the treadmill. He was trying to run away from his thoughts but trying to find a way to reassure himself that Mickey meant no harm.

People make bad decisions, especially when they’re out of options.

I love him. And he loves me. So why would he do this?

^^^^^^^^^^

Ian left the gym a few hours later, completely worn out, aching all over, but feeling like he’d accomplished something—he was now too tired to think about Mickey, at least, that’s what he told himself. Don’t do anything irrational. Don’t overreact. Take your time on this one.  

The Gallagher house was quiet, and it seemed like no one was home. Fiona had been out most nights lately—either working or with her boyfriend. Ian called out everyone else’s name, and there was no response. He could have actually used a distraction.

Ian grabbed a power bar and decided to call it a night. He needed to get some rest. As much he wanted to avoid going back to work, he had to keep up appearances and put his best foot forward the next day. He went upstairs, stopping first to grab a quick shower. Afterwards, he threw on some sweats and flopped down on his bed, exhausted, but realizing it was going to take him awhile to fall asleep—probably because it was only 8 o’clock.

Ian figured he’d watch some TV and wait for his siblings to come home. He walked out of his room and noticed a sound coming from behind Debbie’s door, which was closed per her usual teenage-girl protocol. It sounded like someone crying.

Ian knocked lightly against the door, and the crying stopped. “Deb?” he called out. “You okay? I’m gonna watch TV. Wanna join me? I could use the company.” After a few seconds, he could hear her moving towards the door, so he stepped back and waited.

She greeted him with a slight wave, her face red and damp from a few tears she hadn’t wiped away. Ian noticed that Debbie had steered away from most affection lately, but he took a chance and extended his arms to her. She hugged him tightly, her body shaking with a few residual sobs.

“What is it, Debs? What happened?”

“A boy,” she responded without hesitating. “A stupid, jerky boy.”

“You and me both,” said Ian.

“Oh no! Mickey?” Debbie looked up at him and seemed to recognize the pain in his eyes. “Fuck men—no offense. We’re making popcorn and watching trash TV!” she declared.

“Okay.” Thank God for Debbie and her melodrama—Ian needed something to take his mind off of Mickey, just for a little while. 

“Where is everyone else?” he asked, leading them downstairs and into the kitchen. 

“Fiona took the boys over to the restaurant to feed them dinner. I was supposed to have a date, but the guy blew me off, said I was too young.”

“His loss, but I know that doesn’t take away the sting.”

“Yeah. Thanks. But what about you? And Mickey? What happened?”

Ian took a deep breath. “A misunderstanding...maybe. It’s complicated.”

“That sucks. I really like him. And he’s totally into you,” gushed Debbie. “I can tell.”

“Maybe he’s a good actor.” 

“Ha! Actor? Nah. He asked me what he should get you for your three month anniversary.”

“What?” asked Ian, completely taken aback.

“Well, I was probably supposed to keep that a secret. Pretend to be surprised. I mean, assuming you guys work things out.”

Three months, thought Ian, wondering when Mickey had started counting. Was it the first time they talked? Or their first date? It seemed longer than three months had passed—not in a bad way, just that they had been through a lot in a short time. They’d felt things more intensely, and deep down, no matter what doubts had crossed his mind, Ian knew it had all been real.

He didn’t doubt Mickey any longer about today being the first day with the drugs—at least he could put that fear aside. But he was still pissed about the fact that Mickey had put them in a position that had the potential to fuck up their own lives and the lives of others.

After he and Deb made popcorn and got settled on the couch in the living room, Ian pulled out his phone and scrolled through the texts from Mickey that he’d been avoiding.

I haven’t been using you, this isn’t a scam. It’s real, and I love you, and I did this to make things better for us. Would you please answer your phone?

There were a few more recent texts.

It’s done. It’s over. Will you pick up your fucking phone?

Even though Mickey was being cryptic, Ian could read through the lines and was relieved that he was okay.

Ian: Saw your messages. Let’s talk tomorrow night in person. 7 o’clock at my house.  

Mickey responded right away: You got it.     

^^^^^^^^^^ 

Ian spent the work day trying to be as present and efficient as possible, though he took every lull in activity to go over the things he wanted to say to Mickey when they spoke. Sue didn’t mention anything about the day before, and Ian pretended like nothing had happened.

He rushed home after clocking out, his head practically spinning from all of his thoughts regarding the matter of Mickey Milkovich and their future together. Mickey’s truck was parked a few houses down—he’d gotten there early.

Ian stepped inside the front door, bracing himself for their conversation. He made eye contact immediately with Mickey, who appeared to be ringing his hands, halfway rising up from the chair, and not sure whether Ian was happy to see him. Deb and Carl were watching television with Liam sandwiched in between them. They were passing a bag of peanuts back and forth, shucking the shells on the floor—Fiona would love that. 

Debs was trying not to notice the obvious tension between her brother and Mickey. 

“Ready?” Mickey managed, his eyes filled with apprehension. 

“Front porch?” Ian didn’t want his siblings to overhear them. 

“Actually, I was hoping for somewhere inside. You know...considering?”

Ian understood. It definitely wasn’t a good idea for them to chat about illegal activities out in the open.

Debbie chimed in. “Ice cream! Let’s get ice cream from the corner store!” She looked at her brothers who were instantly in agreement and held out her hand to Ian.

He couldn’t help but give her a slight grin. Debbie was both doing him a favor and scoring some dough. Smart girl.

“Here ya go. Come right back though.” 

“Sure we will,” she agreed without sounding at all convincing.

Eh, it wasn’t a school night, and Ian wasn’t sure how long this conversation was going to last. He sat down on the sofa, the corner furthest from Mickey, which felt strange and unnatural—but so did things between them.

Once the younger Gallagher kids were gone, Mickey cleared his throat and spoke first.

“Guess this is what you felt like.”

“What do you mean?” asked Ian with a puzzled expression.

“You know, when I didn’t respond to you those couple of times.” Mickey looked down at his hands, his mouth tensing around the corners.  

Ian was surprised to find himself on edge, his feelings of anger resurfacing. “Was I supposed to know what to say after yesterday? After you put my job in jeopardy? And everyone I work with? And us?”

“I told you,” said Mickey defensively. “I was doing that for us. No one was supposed to get into any trouble. You weren’t supposed to know.” 

Ian had his arms crossed in front of his chest, staring back at Mickey. “Why’d you do it in the first place?” 

“Like I said, I needed the money, and I needed Terry off my back. He’d been pestering me for weeks, and I told him ‘fuck no’ I wasn’t getting mixed up in his shit. That’s when he punched me...because I wouldn’t do his fucking bidding. I thought he’d moved on from the idea, but then he came back, getting in my face again.” Mickey glared off into the distance before continuing. “He had big plans for us. Father and son Milkovich, together again, running shit down to Miami through this new brilliant scheme of his. Only I told him no. I told him that I liked working, doing something that wasn’t gonna get me shot or in prison, like my brothers. I generally know how not to get caught, but my luck was gonna run out sooner or later.” 

“Yeah, Mick. It did. Yesterday. You put me in a really difficult position.”

“Jesus, Ian! Get off your fuckin’ high horse. You’re no angel—smokin’ weed with me like it ain’t no thing.”

“Weed? Big fuckin’ deal, Mick! What if you’d gotten your boss in trouble after he’s been so good to you? And what about the lowlifes you’re selling that shit to, and the addicts who are gonna buy it, and the kids who aren’t gonna get fuckin’ fed cuz their parents are doped up?” Ian moved to the edge of the sofa, his voice growing louder, yet starting to crack. “Those were my parents, Mickey. They’d leave us anywhere...just for a taste. The back of a car, by the side of the road. Fuck, they left Fiona in charge of Lip and me for over a week. She was nine years old, and we had to beg for food from our neighbors.” Ian cried into his hands, letting more than the anger he was feeling towards Mickey wash over him. He could hear Mickey move from the chair and feel his weight on the cushion next to him and his hand lightly patting Ian’s arm.

Ian realized he had probably only ever made jokes about his sorry-ass parents. It wasn’t anything he had needed to talk about with Mickey yet, that the abuse he and his siblings had endured didn’t leave a mark the way Terry’s abuse did.     

Mickey spoke softly. “I didn’t think about it like that, Ian. I’ve always figured people are gonna buy that shit, whether it’s me selling it or someone else.” 

“Then you should have found a way to do it that didn’t involve me!” Ian pounded his fist against his own chest for emphasis. “I trusted you...” 

“Okay...so I know now,” Mickey offered. “I fucked up. I made a deal with Terry to do the one drop if he’d leave the state and stay the fuck out of our lives. And he was gonna give me a cut. I needed the money to get down here. How else was I supposed to get it?” Mickey’s voice was cracking now. “I didn’t finish high school, Ian. I can’t get a real job like you. I’m too fuckin’ stupid.”

Ian shook his head. “You’re not stupid. You’re stubborn, and you forgot that you don’t have to make deals with fuckin’ Terry—there’s other people in your life...who care about you...”

“So what now? Are you saying I’ve ruined everything...”

“No!” Ian shrugged. “I don’t know. I mean, what if Terry comes calling again in another six months and tries to rope you into some new shit?”

“I guess it would depend on the circumstances.”

“Fuck, Mickey!” Ian threw his hands in the air. “Why can’t you just lie to me?”

“That’s what got us into this mess, isn’t it? Besides, how the fuck should I know what I’ll be doing in six months? Maybe I’ll be a fucking failure! This is what I know...this is easy. This is how I used to survive.” He threw his hands in the air. “I can’t be someone I’m not.”

“No one’s asking you to, I just need you to not do illegal shit that could land one of us—or both of us—in prison. You keep saying you don’t want to end up like your dad or your brothers, but sometimes, it seems like you do…”   

Mickey grew quiet, as if he was seriously considering Ian’s words. But it was becoming clear from his expression that he was feeling completely misunderstood.

“You think you’re better than me.” Mickey stood up abruptly. “This whole time, I knew it. I just didn’t want to see it.” 

“That’s a load of crap, Mick, and you know it.” Ian got to his feet too. He felt a shift in Mickey’s entire demeanor. 

“Makes me wonder why you were so keen on me moving down here.” Mickey began pacing the room but stopped when he was a few feet away from Ian.

“What are you talking about?”

Mickey snarled at him. “Maybe you don’t wanna admit it, but you like it. Don’t you? My antics? My drama?” He’d moved within inches of where Ian was standing. “You were bored off your ass until I came along. And then I became your pet project. You wanted to fix me or some shit.”

“Mick, that’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. I care about you! I fuckin’ love you!”

“Why, Ian? Why do you fuckin’ love me? Huh? What is it about me?”

“I’ve t-told you...I believe in you.” Ian wanted to find the right words, fearing he could lose Mickey otherwise. “You go for what you want, and you don’t hold back.”

“Interesting. But you want me to change? To be more like you? A choir boy?” 

This was not going the way Ian had hoped. “Mickey...you said...you told me what you wanted…to get your shit together...”

“Yeah, well...maybe I was just telling you what I think you wanted to hear.” Mickey backed away from Ian, his feet inching towards the door. “And maybe we didn’t really know each other at all.”

“Mickey…”

“We can just say, you know, we had one of those whirlwind romances. The kind where you wake up one day and realize you were in way over your head, but thank God you realized it before you did anything dumb…like move across two states…”

Mickey had his hand in his pocket, fishing around for his keys. 

Ian started to walk towards him, tears clouding his vision. “Don’t leave...don’t act like…”

“Hey! Officer Gallagher…” Mickey started.

“Don’t fuckin’ call me that!”

“Fine! Ian. Anyway, I’m doing you a favor. You deserve better.”  

“Mick...just stop.”

Mickey’s face was contorted, his emotions clearly at odds, but his anger and pride winning out as he spat his words at Ian. “I’m leaving, and I don’t want to deal with any of your pussy bullshit. Don’t follow me to my truck, and don’t text me or call me. Just move the fuck on, okay? It was fun while it lasted.”

Ian stood frozen behind the couch, stunned over what had just happened. An hour ago, he was certain they’d get through this. But now, he was watching Mickey walk out of his front door and quite possibly...out of his life.

Chapter Text

Ian spent Saturday and Sunday in bed. He’d resisted the urge—multiple urges—to contact Mickey. He barely felt like lifting his head off the pillow, drained by the thoughts swirling around in his mind.

Another failed relationship. For Kash, I was too naive. For Caleb, I was too boring. For Mickey, I was too good. Fuck, when did trying to be a decent person become so undesirable?

And underlying all of it, realized Ian, I’m fucking unbalanced. That’s why nobody wants me—they know it. They can sense it. How can I be there for Mickey when I’m a disaster? Who am I to try to tell him how to live his life when I can’t function myself?

This is why Monica can’t stick around. This is why she goes from partner to partner. She leaves before they figure her out. But I’m the loser who sticks around, hoping for something different.

Debbie tried coaxing him out of his room with no luck, then Fiona, and while Fiona was contacting Ian’s psychiatrist about a possible medication adjustment, Lip sat perched on the edge of his bed, supporting Ian silently for several minutes.

“I fucked my professor,” declared Lip out of the blue, probably hoping for a reaction from his brother. Ian stirred but didn’t say anything.

“Yeah,” Lip continued. “It was a pretty dumbass thing for me to do, but she’s hot. Married. Her husband’s fine with the affair though.”

Ian turned over and muttered to his brother. “Fuck...just when I think I’m the biggest idiot in the family…”

“What?” asked Lip innocently, a smile flickering across his lips.

Ian didn’t answer right away. He was remembering the night they’d had together at the concert—the Gallaghers and their significant others. Back when he believed he had a decent shot at a relationship that wasn’t going to end in disaster.  

“I kinda liked Amanda,” Ian said quietly, before rolling back onto his side. “Mickey did too.”

“Right. Mickey.” Lip paused. “I’m guessing something went wrong between you two? We don’t have to talk about it, you know, but I have to make sure you’re okay.”

Ian sighed woefully. “Yeah...things went south. Like they always do...” He buried his face into his outstretched arm.

“Sorry, man. He seemed alright, you know, despite his record.”

“He is,” said Ian with a muffled tone. “And he isn’t. I don’t know. Part of me thinks I should go after him, and part of me thinks I should leave it alone...”

“Wanna tell me what happened?” asked Lip.

“Not really. We’re both a little right and a little wrong. I don’t know. I guess I’m more right. That’s probably what’s keeping me from trying to fix things.”

“Relationships are the worst. I mean, I try to avoid them...when I can. You and Fi, though—the hopeless romantics of the Gallagher crew,” said Lip with a hint of envy in his voice. “I admire that about you, Ian. I’ve seen you push through shit that most people would just walk away from. You’re strong.”

“That’s giving me way more credit than I deserve...” Ian adjusted his pillow behind his back so that he could sit up and take a sip from the water one of his sisters had left for him.

Lip patted his brother’s arm. “I just wish you could see you the way that I do…”  

They sat in silence for a few more minutes. Ian’s thoughts of being completely worthless had quieted for now—not because of what Lip had told him, per se, but because, deep down, Ian knew he wasn’t a fuck-up. Though it was difficult to admit to himself, he knew he had a lot to give.   

Lip’s phone vibrated, and he glanced at the screen. “Fiona says she’s on her way to get a new med for you, something to supplement what you’re on...until we can get you in with your doctor.”

Ian raised himself further up. “Tell her I don’t want it.”

“Ian…”

“What? Can’t a guy have a few days to, to...you know, feel something? Without everyone freaking out?” Ian folded his arms in front of his chest, perturbed by their reaction.

“Dude, you haven’t been like this in a long time. At least we can have something on hand in case you change your mind.”

Fine...if they need to make themselves feel better, decided Ian.

Lip changed the subject. “You want me to call your boss? See about you going in later this week?”

“Fuck. I’ll probably get fired.”

“Well...you shouldn’t go in if you’re not well, Ian.”

“Yeah, you’re right.” He nodded. “I’m dreading it. That’s where I met Mickey. And that’s where we...parted ways, in some respects.” Ian put his hands to his head and groaned. “Maybe I can work the weekend, switch with someone who can cover the next few days.” Ian was starting to feel drained again and shifted back down on the bed. “Thanks for being here, Lip. But I just wanna sleep right now.”

“Sure, buddy. Let me get in touch with some of your co-workers, see if they can swap with you.”

“Try Jorge—his number’s in my phone. Tell him I’m not feeling well. If he can’t switch days with me, he’ll ask around.”

“Alright. I’ll handle it.” Lip pushed Ian’s shoulder lightly. “And I’m not leaving this house until you’re better.”

^^^^^^^^^^

By Monday afternoon, Ian at least felt like eating something small. Fiona fixed him a bowl of soup with some crackers. She was delighted to see some of the color returning to Ian’s face, though he could tell she was trying not to make a big deal out of him eating.

He hadn’t heard anything from Mickey, and he was trying his hardest not to contact him. It was wiser not to for the moment, because what if Ian did reach out, and Mickey didn’t respond? No, this way, he could give Mickey some space and see if he’d come around.

Ian wanted to believe that what they had was too special to walk away from. Mickey had to see that, and he had to understand where Ian was coming from. It was never his intention to make him feel inferior, but for fuck’s sake, Mickey needed to use some common sense. And what about Mandy? She hadn’t signed up for this mess and being jerked around with where she’d be living.

On Tuesday, Ian was out of bed and starting to get back into a rhythm. He’d decided against the supplemental meds, almost to prove his siblings wrong. He did take Fiona up on her offer to treat him to a meal at the diner she managed, and she fed him his favorite dishes—meatloaf and mashed potatoes and strawberry pie with whipped cream. They talked about Gus, who was back on tour, and long distance romance and soulmates. Fiona shared with Ian how she was afraid she’d never love anyone the way she loved Jimmy/Steve, but here she was, moving on with her life.

Ian didn’t say much about Mickey—it hurt too much to think about how much he needed him. He was still checking his phone several times a day, hoping for some indicator that Mickey was going to come around.  

On Wednesday, Ian managed to wake up on time and get ready for work. Lip made breakfast for everyone before heading back to campus, telling Ian to call him every few hours to check in.

Ian drove himself to work and got situated at his desk, keeping to himself for the most part, but taking a few minutes to thank Jorge for switching days with him. He also wrote a note and left it for Sue to thank her for being patient while he worked out a few things in his personal life. The day passed by quickly, and when Ian got home, he chatted with his siblings over dinner before going to bed early. Still no word from Mickey.

On Thursday, Ian decided to pretend it was Wednesday. It felt like it anyway. But he couldn’t stand the thought of Thursday at 3 o’clock and no Mickey. He hoped that no one would say anything to him about Mickey’s absence, and fortunately, no one did.

On Friday, Ian was emotionally exhausted and dreading the weekend shift. He finally broke down and sent Mickey a text right before he went to bed. It was simple and to the point, and Mickey could respond or not, though Ian knew he was setting himself up to be devastated if he didn’t.

Ian: Thinking about you.  

The more time had passed, the less angry he was about what Mickey had done, just confused and hurt about his behavior. Ian was ready to face whatever was next, tired of their silent game of “chicken” and sensing that Mickey was just as miserable as he was.

On Saturday, Ian tried to stay busy at work so as not to dwell on the lack of response from Mickey. But towards the end of the day and still no word, Ian sulked at his work station, going over scenarios in his head as to why Mickey hadn’t responded. Maybe he’d gone back to Chicago and tossed his phone out the window. Or met someone else. Or decided that they were truly better off without each other.

That evening, Ian was on his way home when a text came through from Mickey, nearly causing him to swerve off the road. Ian scanned it quickly.

Mickey: Thought I told you not to contact me.

He pulled into the nearest parking lot to re-read the text, imagining Mickey’s voice behind the words. Asshole.

Ian: Well fuck you, I wanted to.

He waited, hopeful, his heart beating rapidly, for Mickey’s reply.

Mickey: Fine. I miss you. And I know I fucked up.

Ian: I'll call you tomorrow.

Ian knew what he had to do. That night, he had trouble sleeping, wanting to go to Mickey right away. It was a relief, feeling like they might be able to fix things between them, that all it took was one of them swallowing his pride. Ian was willing to take the first steps, and he had hope that Mickey would take care of the rest.

On Sunday, Ian packed his duffel bag, gassed up his car and went to work as planned. During his lunch break, he texted Mandy to let her know he was coming up to their place.

Mandy: Thank fuck! I was about to text you and tell you to get your ass up here. Mickey said you two broke up, but he wouldn’t tell me why.  

Ian: How’s he doing?  

Mandy: Better today. Not moping around, at least. Earlier in the week he was talking about moving back to Chicago. What the fuck happened? All he’ll say is that you’d be better off without him. Is that what you told him?   

Ian: No, and he’s wrong. I’ll try to get to your place around 10pm. Think he’ll be there?

Mandy: Yeah, I’ll make sure of it. He hasn’t been doing much this week since his hours got cut back. I love my brother, but he’s a pain in the ass. Only come if you’re sure.

Ian: I’m sure.

At 6 o’clock on the dot, Ian clocked out, changed out of his uniform, and hit the road. As he drove from Florida and over the Georgia state line, his mind went immediately to the last conversation he’d had with Mickey. He tried to put himself in Mickey’s position, certain that he felt like garbage about the whole situation. His father had told him he was worthless his whole life, unless he needed him for something. Ian had tried to challenge him in the most supportive way possible, but Mickey had still had his guard up, pushing Ian away.

But Ian wasn’t ready to toss Mickey aside or let him go that easily. As hard as it had been, Ian needed that little bit of separation to see that he loved Mickey for what he was and what he wasn’t.

^^^^^^^^^^

Once he crossed into South Carolina and got off the highway, Ian drove more cautiously over the unfamiliar back roads. Even in the darkness, he could make out the vast fields on either side of him, some lined with fences and others recently harvested with rows of disturbed earth extending for miles and miles.

When he was about ten minutes away from their apartment complex, Ian texted Mandy to let her know he was close. He lowered his speed to the posted limit as he passed through a quaint downtown area and then a few gas stations before coming to Mickey’s place.

The complex consisted of two-story buildings with about ten apartments each, facing each other with a parking lot in between them. Ian spotted Mandy right away—she looked exactly like the girl he’d seen via Mickey’s phone. She was leaning against what he presumed was the front of her shared apartment with Mickey, smoking a cigarette underneath a porch light.

Ian waved as he got out of his car, closing the door lightly, unsure if he should give her a hug. Mandy made the decision for him, chucking her half-finished cigarette onto the ground, stamping it out with the heel of her shoe before walking over to him with her arms outstretched.

“Ian, I presume,” she said with a warm smile, her eyes glimmering behind heavy black eye make-up. They were blue like Mickey’s.

“Hey, Mandy. It’s nice to meet you. I’m sorry about all this,” he offered with a sheepish grin.

“Sorry for what? I’ve been dealing with Mickey’s shit my whole life, but I’ve never seen him happier than when he’s talking about you.” She squeezed his arm, almost reminiscent of what one of his sisters would do to reassure him. “I hope you work things out. This will mean a lot to him, you coming here.”

“He inside?”

“Yeah.” Mandy nodded towards the door. “And I know it’s a lot to ask, but can I borrow your car? Just to go over to my work. It’s a 24/7 diner. I figured you guys could use the privacy.”

Ian scratched his chin. “I don’t want to put you out. Will you be okay?”

“Of course!” She laughed. “Mickey said you’re constantly on him about being safe. Were you on safety patrol back in the day?”

“Something like that. Okay...here you go.” He handed her the keys and waited as she got inside, backed the car up, and turned out of the complex. Ian took a deep breath before knocking on the door to the apartment.

He could hear Mickey through the other side, muttering something about Mandy always fuckin’ locking herself out. Pulling the door open wildly, Mickey was still ranting when he realized it was Ian who had knocked.

“Hey, Mick…”

Ian watched Mickey’s face change from mildly peeved to completely shocked. He muttered something akin to “what the fuck” before regaining his composure and straightening his shoulders. A warmth radiated throughout Ian’s chest, seeing Mickey for the first time in what seemed like years, even though it had been days.

“I was...uh, waiting on your...uh, call.” Mickey stammered. “Wasn’t expecting you in person, or I woulda gotten dressed up.” He pointed at his t-shirt and gray sweatpants, but of course, Ian thought he was perfect just the way he was.

“I figured it would be better for me to, um...come here.” Ian realized his own voice was wavering, knowing he was on the verge of tears. Mickey seemed glad to see him, though he was still holding back.

“Come on in. Not much to see.” Mickey waved him inside and passed through the small living room area, which contained a well-worn couch, a few fold up chairs and a table. There was a chest of drawers and random piles of clothes and papers everywhere. “You want a beer?” Mickey asked from the kitchen, which was just a few feet away and sparsely adorned.

“Sure. Thanks.” Ian sat down on the couch and stretched his legs out in front of him. He could hear music coming from the neighbor upstairs, or maybe the one next door. It was hard to tell.

Mickey brought the open bottle over to Ian and lingered in front of him, studying Ian as he nodded gratefully and took a sip.

“So…you here to save me from myself?” Mickey’s dry humor fell flat, the awkwardness between them still evident.

Ian wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and patted the empty spot next to him. Mickey hesitated for a few seconds but shrugged his shoulders and sat down.

“You don’t need me to save you, Mick,” Ian said softly.

“Maybe I do. I was thinking about going on a self-destructive bender.” Mickey was watching him intently as he continued. “Drinking and driving or some shit. Thought about heading back North. Back to the good life.”

“That’s one option, I guess.” Ian forced a smile and took another swig from his bottle of beer. He offered it over to Mickey.

“No, thanks. I’m good. Trying to stay clear-headed these days.”

“Okay.” Ian was quiet, letting Mickey steer the conversation. He could tell Mickey was uncomfortable with the silence.

“Where the fuck is Mandy? Did you see her?”

“Yeah, I texted her earlier to tell her I was coming. She met me outside, and I let her borrow my car.”

“She talked you into that? Man, big mistake. She’s a terrible driver.” Mickey must have noticed Ian squirm. “I’m kidding. Relax.” He shook his head and smirked. “Sisters. Right? I talked to yours too.”

“You did?” Ian perked up. “Who? Fiona?”

“No, Debbie. Like I told you, she’d be my sidekick. That girl is Southside material.”

Ian was surprised to hear this, mostly because Debbie was terrible at keeping secrets. “When? Why?”

“Once this past week. To see if you were okay.” Mickey focused on his hands, as if he was too afraid to make eye contact. “I’m not a total dick, you know....”

“True, but you can be an asshole.” Ian took a sip from his beer and set it down on the floor.

“I’ll let that one slide since you came all the way up here.” Mickey had inched closer to Ian, his hand on the back of the couch. “I was thinking about hitchin’ a ride down your way.”

“Oh yeah?” Ian remained still.

Mickey’s hand was on Ian’s shoulder now. “I wanted to...but I needed you to reach out to me.”

“Why?” Ian turned to meet Mickey’ eyes, and they seemed full of remorse.

“Cuz if you’re gonna fuck up your life by having me in it, I need that to be on you.”

Ian placed a hand on top of Mickey’s and shook his head. “Mick...don’t say shit like that.” He paused to turn Mickey’s hand over, brushing his cheek against his palm. “You coulda told me, you know. About your plan—with the truck. I would have tried to talk you out of it, of course…”

“Ian, I know it sounds stupid, but I really wanted to be free of Terry and have the money to get down there with you.”

“I get it, Mick. But I don’t want any more secrets between us.”

“Okay...no more secrets.”

“Good.” Ian relaxed his shoulders. “So...when you texted me yesterday?”

“Yeah?”

“I think I remember you saying something about how you—”

“Fucked up,” said Mickey.

“Missed me,” Ian reminded him.

“Yeah. I missed you…” Mickey was leaning into him now, and Ian could feel Mickey’s warm breath on his neck. He looked into his eyes, which were glazed over with tears. “And I missed these...lips…” Mickey grazed his lips softly against Ian’s before resting his forehead in the crook of Ian’s neck. “This,” he whispered. “I missed this. Us.”

Ian pressed his lips against the top of Mickey’s head, breathing in the familiar scent that he’d been without for much longer than he would have liked.

Mickey chuckled, fully aware of what Ian was doing, and he traced his mouth along Ian’s neck upwards to just below his ear, whispering, “I’m sorry, Ian. I’m really fucking sorry...”

“I know.” Ian intertwined his fingers with Mickey’s and lifted the back of his hand to his lips. “And I forgive you.”

Mickey moved his mouth across Ian’s cheek and drew his lips into a tender kiss. “You sure?”

Ian released a soft moan, his eyes closed as Mickey deepened their kiss. He circled his hands around Mickey’s waist, pulling him as close as humanly possible.

“Yeah. I’m sure. You wanna talk some more?” Ian already knew the answer to the question as Mickey raised himself up, his hands clasping Ian’s neck from behind as he pushed deeper into Ian’s mouth with his tongue, seemingly making up for lost time.

“We can talk, but the bottom line is...you were right, Ian. About everything. And I don’t wanna be without you…”

They kissed again. This was the way they communicated best. Ian could sense his body craving Mickey’s touch. He wondered briefly if they should pump the brakes on things, not rush into old habits. But really, what was the harm? They’d basically agreed to sort things out, and Ian wanted more. He needed this loudmouth, trash talking, farmer-boy thug in his life. Mickey was right about that.

“I wanna feel you tonight. All of you,” Ian whispered, caressing Mickey’s neck and tugging at his t-shirt until Mickey helped him pull it off.

Ian rubbed his fingers gently over Mickey’s shoulders, letting them trail languidly down his chest, pinching his nipples softly and smiling at Mickey, happy for their reunion and the soft moans filling the room.

Ian shifted so that he could more easily palm Mickey’s throbbing erection through his sweatpants, which earned him a groan and a nod from Mickey that they should probably take things into his bedroom, anticipating that Mandy might return long before they were finished.

Following behind Mickey, Ian massaged his shoulders and kissed at his neck. Mickey turned around to kiss Ian while rubbing his hands against the obvious bulge straining against his jeans. “Missed you so much. So fuckin’ much.” Mickey pulled on his arm, leading him into his room, and closing the door behind them. It was dark inside, save for the light coming in through the slats of the blind on the window above the bed. “This okay?” asked Mickey as he pulled Ian’s shirt off and tossed it onto the floor.

“Of course, Mick.”

“And we’re...okay?” he murmured into Ian’s chest, his tongue trailing over each of Ian’s nipples and then towards his neck.

“Y-yeah. I think so.” Ian’s hands were working their way down to Mickey’s waistband, inching his fingers underneath the layers of his sweatpants and boxers to cup the perfectly round mounds of flesh that made up Mickey’s ass. “Can I crash here tonight, Mick? It’d be a long drive back.”

Mickey laughed, his own fingers working to undo the front of Ian’s jeans. “Baby, you know the answer to that one.”

Chapter Text

Ian rolled over into the empty space next to him. He knew Mickey had gotten up early to see Mr. Sanders at the farm. He knew this because they’d both woken up around 4am to the sound of Mandy coming into the apartment. She was obviously trying not to make a lot of noise, but the walls were thin.

Since they were both awake, it seemed as good a time as any to finish their conversation from earlier, especially since they’d spoken very few words after landing in Mickey’s bedroom for some mind-blowing make-up sex. Ian smiled, thinking about the softness and tenderness of the touches they’d shared, which eventually turned into something much more raw and unbridled. Ian had given Mickey quite the pounding—at his insistence.

“Were you really gonna hitch a ride down to Florida?” Ian asked through a sleepy haze, curling his legs around Mickey.

“Don’t think I could have lasted much longer without you. Didn’t know if you’d want to see me though,” confessed Mickey, stroking Ian’s cheek softly. “Thought maybe you’d be better off...and maybe we’d rushed into things…”

“Maybe we did...but I don’t want things to change...not about our plan...if you still want to move to Florida...”

“Yeah, I do. Gonna talk to Mr. Sanders about an idea I have. Can I borrow your car later today?”

“Sure. But...what about...the money?” Ian hesitated. “You know, from…”

“Oh. That. Well…” Mickey shifted his position slightly. “I’m gonna send it to my brothers. Don’t wanna start our new life with anything hanging over us…”

“Are you sure?” 

“Yeah. I mean, you were right.” He leaned over to brush his lips on top of Ian’s before resting his head in the crook of his boyfriend’s arm. “You got my back, and I gotta stop thinking about it like I owe you. I do, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not like anyone’s keeping tabs. I shouldn’t be afraid to depend on you.”

“I won’t let you down, Mick. I promise.” Ian kissed his forehead. 

“And that thing you said about ‘no more secrets’?” 

Ian was fighting the desire for sleep, but his ears perked up. “Yeah. Why?”

“Don’t get excited. It’s just...Debbie was helping me plan a surprise for you. For our three month anniversary. But I want everything out in the open...”

Ian didn’t reveal that Debbie had let the secret slip already. “You don’t have to tell me that kind of stuff. Uh...depending on what you were planning…” He pushed a finger along Mickey’s side, which elicited a laugh and a shove.

“But I do want to know one thing, Mick. What day did you pick for our anniversary? Because if it’s three months you’re counting, that’d be right around our first date.”

“You mean, the first time you lunged at me and couldn’t keep your hands off of me?”

Ian laughed, remembering their first kiss in the restaurant, how he couldn’t wait any longer. But that was Mickey’s fault. “Ha! What if we go back further to all those times you were eye-fucking me at the inspection station. Remember? Before you asked me out.”

“Someone had to do it,” Mickey retorted. “You were the one who was there every Thursday afternoon like clockwork, looking all horny and anxious and getting all tongue tied.”

“Fuck off.” Ian poked at Mickey’s side again. “Just remember...I wasn’t the first one to say ‘I love you.’”

“Bullshit!” Mickey exclaimed. 

“Shhhh! You’ll wake up Mandy,” Ian reminded him. “But yeah...you were the first one to say it. In Tampa. After the baseball game. After I tucked your drunk ass under the covers.”

“No shit? I did?”

“Yep.”

“Fuck.” Mickey laughed. “I was really happy about going to that game.”

“Right...the game. We had a lot of fun. I can see more of those in our future.”

“We’ll get up to Chi town too for a game one of these days.”

“I’d like that. But for now, let’s get some damn sleep.” Ian turned over on his side, pulling Mickey’s arms around him. “Love you,” he whispered, hearing Mickey murmur the same, before he fell into a deep, satisfying sleep.

^^^^^^^^^^

Ian had the place to himself for a few hours. He ate a bowl of cereal, took a shower, and texted his siblings to let them know he and Mickey were working things out and that he’d be home after dinner. 

He ended up in Mickey's bed again. The sheets had a faint scent of sweat and sex, and Ian let himself be happy with the way things had gone, and the way they’d be going. He was excited about the idea of Mickey having an apartment where they could hang out and do whatever the fuck they wanted. And fuck as much as they wanted.

Around 11 o’clock, Mickey texted to ask Ian if he wanted anything from the diner where Mandy worked. He’d stopped to talk with her and was heading back to the apartment to give Ian the details about what he’d worked out. He was nervous about what Mickey had to tell him but also hungry, opting for pancakes, bacon, and an omelet. 

By the time Mickey got back to the apartment, Ian had set plates and juice out for them. He greeted his boyfriend at the door with a soft kiss. 

“You smell nice,” Mickey told him as Ian helped take the containers of food into the kitchen. They kissed again, and Ian’s stomach made a grumbling noise.

“Jesus. Don’t they feed you at home?” teased Mickey as he popped open the containers and started piling food on their plates. 

“Gotta get some calories in me...wanna get on that ass before I head back,” Ian said menacingly.

“We’ll see.” Mickey winked and gave him a nudge across his shoulder.

“How’s Mandy?” Ian asked between bites of pancakes. “Tired from all of our antics?”

“She’ll be fine. She was mad I didn’t bring you to the diner this morning, but they’ll be plenty of time for you two to hang out.”

“Oh yeah? So let’s hear about this plan of yours.”

“Well,” he began. “It’s not perfect...doesn’t get me down your way for another few months.”

“Oh,” replied Ian with disappointment in his voice. 

“But it could get Mandy down there, provided she can bunk with you and your family.” Mickey bit into his lip as he waited for a reply. 

Ian brightened. “I’m sure we can figure something out. What do you have in mind?”

“So...Sanders has a friend who does spinach this time of year, and he’s gonna let me work and bunk with his migrant workers, dudes from M é xico . I’ll get to learn some Spanish and save up money for the deposit on the apartment. Mandy can, too, if she’s with you guys for a few weeks. But the spinach gig is ten weeks. Not sure what to do.” Mickey sighed, and Ian felt Mickey’s eyes on him, waiting for a response. 

Ian managed an encouraging smile. “Yeah...go for it, Mick.” He wasn’t thrilled about another few months apart, but it was doable, and he was glad Mickey had found a way forward on his own terms. “What does Mandy think?”

Mickey seemed relieved over Ian’s reaction. “She’s game...if you are...if your family is. I’m sure Mandy will do her fair share around the house...”

“I’ll find out today, but I don’t see any reason why they’d say ‘no.’” Ian stabbed the last piece of his pancake with a fork and shoved it into his mouth, chewing while he spoke. “Fuck, but you’ll miss Thanksgiving and Christmas. Will you have any days off?”

“Sundays,” Mickey shrugged, clearly trying to mask his disappointment.

Ian gulped down the last of his juice and leaned over to touch his lips on Mickey’s shoulder. “Well...guess I’ll be up here on Saturday nights to whisk you away somewhere. And I’ll bring you leftover turkey after Thanksgiving and a stocking full of surprises for Christmas...then there’s New Years...”

“But I’ll be in Florida for Valentine’s Day...” said Mickey, standing up and taking Ian by the hand. “I, uh...appreciate you being cool about all this. Considering...stuff...recently…”

“Mick...we’ll make it work.”

Mickey cocked his head toward his bedroom door. “You feel like following through on that thing you mentioned earlier? Before you gotta hit the road...”

“Yeah, yeah. I do,” said Ian, letting Mickey pull him up from the chair and lead him into his bedroom. It wasn’t perfect, but they were back on track. Time to celebrate.

^^^^^^^^^^

They’d worn each other out. Mickey was snoring softly, while Ian rested next to him. He glanced around the room. They could definitely pack everything up the next weekend, including the kitchen and the rest of the apartment.

Ian could tell that Mandy was back from her shift and rummaging around in a cabinet. Lucky for her, Ian and Mickey had finished each other off before she’d returned to the apartment.

Ian thought about maneuvering himself out from under a sleeping Mickey, throwing some clothes on, and going out to the common area to chat with Mandy. But he was much too content where he was, breathing in the scent of Mickey, knowing he’d be without him for a few days.

Unlike the night before, they’d gone to immediately tearing each other’s clothes off. Ian wasted no time in wrapping his hand around Mickey’s cock—and vice versa—as they began to jerk each other off. But that was not how they finished.

After pushing Mickey onto the bed, Ian spent a decent amount of time sucking on his neck, telling him how he’d miss the smell of peanuts once he started his new gig. Mickey laughed, saying he would probably smell about the same, like dirt.

Ian told Mickey to get on all fours, saying he wanted to see if he tasted as good as he smelled. Mickey obeyed, and Ian slapped his ass, pushing his knees out further, rubbing his hands over Mickey’s smooth ass cheeks, and spreading him open with his thumbs. He paused to admire his delectable entrance, still red and stretched out from the night before. 

“Like what you see?” Mickey asked, jutting his hips back so that Ian had the best view possible.

“Hell yeah, I do.” Ian licked at the puckered skin with slow, deliberate strokes, then flicked his tongue more rapidly, probing inside and eliciting soft whimpers from Mickey.

“Mmmm...you do taste good, Mick,” he cooed, coming up for air and diving back down to continue the oral assault.

“Fuck...Ian…” Mickey was trembling slightly, and Ian flipped him over onto his back, wetting two of his fingers before inserting them inside, searching for his spot and knowing he’d found it when Mickey’s eyes rolled back in his head.

Ian was relentless, grabbing Mickey’s dick and stroking him as he moved his fingers in and out of his hole, feeling his own cock throbbing from the anticipation of what was next. 

“You ready for me?” Ian asked breathlessly.

“Y-Yeah,” croaked Mickey, pulling Ian on top of him, his mouth making contact with Ian’s lips, nipping and kissing at them hungrily, his fingers raking over Ian’s back. “Fuck me, will ya?” He was halfway begging and halfway telling.

“Okay. If you insist.” Ian reached over for the bottle of lube on the bedside table and squirted a generous amount on the palm of his hand. He coated his dick and positioned himself to line up with Mickey, teasing his entrance with the tip of his cock, meeting Mickey’s eyes and watching the pattern of his breath change as Ian slowly pushed inside.

“Too much?” he asked.

“Fuck no,” grunted Mickey. “Fill me up. Love you so much,” he panted, wetting his lips with his tongue and looking so fucking beautiful. 

Ian felt a sob forming in the back of his throat, caught off guard by Mickey’s words and the emotions from the past few weeks hitting him all of a sudden. He took a deep breath, not wanting to ruin the moment. Mickey must have sensed something was weighing on him.

“C’mere, baby,” he cooed, stroking Ian’s back and resting his fingers on his hips, guiding his movements and coaxing him to thrust harder. “I’m not gonna break. It’s okay.”

“I know, Mick,” Ian whispered. “I was just thinking about...how I almost...lost you...”

Mickey pressed a finger against Ian’s lips. “I won’t fuck up again. Not like that.” He leaned up to kiss him deeply and rubbed his thumb over Ian’s cheek reassuringly. “I’m really fucking thankful you didn’t give up on me. Really…” he whispered gratefully.

Ian had slowed his movements and grown quiet.

“Do you want to stop?” Mickey asked, pressing his forehead into Ian’s shoulder.

“No,” he finally responded and began moving his hips, pushing back inside of Mickey. “I’ve got you now.” His lips curled into a smile. “Not gonna let you go anytime soon.”

Ian planted a long, wet kiss on Mickey’s lips and began thrusting harder and faster, slamming into Mickey, creating a delicious friction between them. Ian angled himself above his lover with only their hips and thighs making contact while Mickey writhed beneath him. 

Sensing that Ian was on the verge of coming, Mickey snaked his hand over his hip and wrapped it around his cock, stroking himself. 

“Oh, fuck...Mick! Fuck!” Ian threw his head back, body trembling, as he shoved his hands underneath Mickey’s ass to pull him closer. He felt his orgasm grip him from within, a mix of pleasure combined with the release of many pent up fears he’d been harboring. Those fears would find their way back to him eventually, but for now, he was free of them. 

Ian watched in awe as Mickey came apart beneath him. His warm release dribbled over his fingers and onto his stomach as he let out several grunts followed by a contented sigh. Ian slowly pulled out and leaned down, swiping his tongue alongside Mickey’s crack, which was dripping with his own release. He traced his tongue over Mickey’s perineum, all the way to the tip of his cock, cleaning him up and sucking the last bit of cum that had pooled on his stomach. Ian climbed on top of Mickey, waiting for the nod of approval to share what he’d collected and getting it. He pushed into Mickey’s mouth, their tongues swirling around as they slurped and sucked down the aftermath of their release. 

And that would have to be enough until they were together again—which would only be five more days, and Ian knew he could survive.  He kissed Mickey’s forehead, soaking in these last quiet moments and waiting patiently for him to wake up so they could say their goodbyes.  

Chapter Text

As soon as his shift ended on Friday, Ian drove the four hours straight to Mickey and Mandy’s apartment. The three of them planned on getting the place packed up and cleaned over the weekend. Mr. Sanders was letting Mickey store some furniture and a few boxes on his property, and Mandy would head back to Florida with Ian on Sunday. 

Lip had been kind enough to “donate” his room to the cause, and Debbie promised to fix it up and get rid of the “nasty boy smell.” She was looking forward to having another female ally in the house.

When Ian arrived at their apartment, Mickey and Mandy greeted him with smiles and hugs, offering him pizza, cold beer, and his choice of a movie for them to watch from their burned DVD collection. He picked out something random and crashed on the couch next to Mickey. A few minutes into the movie, Mandy excused herself to use the bathroom, and Mickey snuck in a long kiss, climbing on top of Ian and straddling him on the sofa.

“One day of not seeing your ass is one day too many,” Mickey declared, rubbing his thumb across Ian’s lips as he grinded into his lap.

“Yeah, Mick. Missed you like crazy.” Ian bucked his hips against Mickey and pulled him back down for another kiss.

Mandy returned sooner than either of them expected. Mickey whirled around at the sound of her footsteps, and Ian pushed Mickey back to the spot beside him.

She cackled at their sudden modesty. “You dipshits can make out if you want to. I don’t give a fuck.”

But they settled for holding hands while watching the rest of Back to the Future, Part 2 , though Ian kept dozing off, and Mickey finally pointed to his bedroom and told Ian to get some sleep because he looked like shit. 

“Thanks. I love you, too,” he mumbled in return, punching Mickey lightly on the arm and telling Mandy goodnight. 

Ian grabbed his overnight bag to get his toothbrush and headed to the bathroom. He took a leak and got ready for bed, going straight to Mickey’s bedroom, where his boyfriend was already there under the covers, waiting for him.

“You know I think you’re hot as fuck, right?” asked Mickey, apparently feeling guilty for his comment about Ian looking like shit. 

“Yeah, yeah,” said Ian, waving him off. “I know you want me to be well-rested so we can pack all your stuff tomorrow. I see you haven’t made any progress.” Ian flopped down next to Mickey and pointed to the pile of unassembled boxes that were leaning against the wall. 

Mickey wrapped his arms around Ian until he grunted. “What? I know you like to organize shit. I was saving ‘em for you.”

“Sure, Mick.” Ian was laying against the pillow and reached up to ruffle Mickey’s hair. “Whatever you say.”

“Okay, but seriously. I didn’t have time. I was helping Sanders out this week—free of charge—since I kind of owe him, you know, for helping me with the move, and uh...the other shit I did that could have gotten him in trouble.” Mickey laid down, resting his head on the corner of the same pillow. 

Ian could tell Mickey was still feeling guilty about things that had happened recently and maybe disappointed over the fact that he wasn’t getting down to Florida sooner. They’d talked about it more on the phone over the past few days, but Ian didn’t think it was productive for Mickey to beat himself up any longer.

“Hey. I think that’s really nice. Dude’s been good to you.” Ian stroked the back of his neck and the exposed skin around the collar of his undershirt. “Did you tell him why you’re moving?”

Mickey rolled over and laughed, nudging his body against Ian. “You mean, did I tell him about my boyfriend? Nah, we’re not close like that. He’s okay, you know...old school, but he gets that the world is evolving...or whatever...”

Ian gave Mickey a soft kiss. “Mmmmm...well, this is nice, being with you again at your place...before we clear it out. And we’ll have one night every weekend, except a couple of weekends when I have to work. Maybe I can get someone to take my Sundays...” Ian yawned, his eyelids heavy.

“Wait a fuckin’ second! You thinking about going to sleep?”

Ian’s eyes flew open. “That’s what you told me to do, jackass!”

“Yeah, but I forgot about something I wanted to do…”

“Mick, I really am tired...worked four days straight, and you probably are—” Ian stopped before he finished his sentence and gasped. Mickey had dove beneath the covers and yanked Ian’s boxers down to right above his knees. His hand was on Ian’s cock, turning it from partially stiffened to rock hard.

“Just relax, big guy. You don’t have to do a thing.” Mickey licked his lips and managed to meet Ian’s gaze from beneath the sheet as he moved his hands under his t-shirt. “Well...maybe just one thing,” he said menacingly before taking Ian into his mouth and pushing his cock all the way to the back of his throat. 

“Fuck!” Ian cried out, slipping his hands under the sheets to caress Mickey’s shoulders and neck, finally settling his fingers on the sides of his head, letting them ride along with the up and down motions. “M-mick,” he finally managed. “Let me touch you.” But Mickey shook his head and continued giving Ian his undivided attention, mouth still working up and down Ian’s shaft, slick with his saliva. Ian felt his balls tightening from the exquisite pressure building inside of him. 

Mickey had his fingers pressed firmly into Ian’s hips, then he trailed them upwards to Ian’s chest, ghosting over his nipples and making satisfied noises, knowing he was bringing Ian to the brink of coming. 

Even though he figured Mickey was planning to take all of his release, Ian gave him a quick warning tap on the shoulder, too far gone to form complete thoughts, or even two simple words. Instead, as he came in Mickey’s mouth, Ian bit into his hand, holding back all of the filthy noises he knew were bubbling underneath the surface, but that Mandy, despite being open to them “making out,” would not really appreciate. 

Mickey waited until he’d slurped up every last drop of Ian’s release before returning to the spot next to him and encircling his arms around Ian’s waist. 

“That was worth staying up for,” whispered Ian, his lips forming a contented smile as he reached down to pull up his boxers and brush his hand purposely against Mickey’s erection. “Ready for your turn?”

Mickey kissed his lips lightly, then his cheek and forehead. “Later. I just wanna hold you right now. I’m glad you’re mine.”

Ian responded by pressing his lips into Mickey’s and sighing softly, “Yeah, me too.”

^^^^^^^^^^

Ian was the first to wake up, and he tilted his phone up to check the time—it was close to noon. Mickey was curled over on his side, and Ian, deciding to reciprocate for last night, roused Mickey from slumber with some sensuous nuzzling, followed by his lips wrapped around Mickey’s cock. He worked his mouth up and down at a frenzied pace, as Mickey, now fully awake, dug his fingers into Ian’s shoulders and came hard inside his mouth.

“Fuck...always trying to outdo me, Gallagher,” he panted with an amused grin.

“Just wanted to wake your ass up. We got stuff to do,” Ian reminded him, though he would have preferred to stay in bed with Mickey all day. 

They eventually rolled out of bed, grabbed showers, and met up with Mandy at the diner—she’d gotten a ride from a friend that morning for her last shift. After lunch and a small goodbye party organized by her co-workers, Ian drove the two Milkoviches over to the farm so Mickey could pick up the truck from Mr. Sanders.

Turning down a long dirt road with fields on both sides, Ian noticed that the ground had been recently tilled. Mickey explained that he’d worked those very fields when he first arrived over a year ago. He was eventually moved to the sorting and packaging area. This most recent season, as Ian already knew, Mr. Sanders had sought him out to do deliveries. Still, Mickey had insisted on being out in the fields at least once a week.

As they pulled up to a worn-down building with metal siding, Ian spotted a sign on the door that read “office.” Mickey hopped out of the car and asked Ian to take Mandy back to the apartment.

“You sure, Mick?” responded Ian. “We can wait.”

“No, I got this. Probably need to clear a few things out of the truck first.”

Mandy huffed, crossing her arms over her chest. “Mickey just wants us to start packing without him.”

Ian laughed and winked at Mickey, telling him they’d see him back at the apartment. After reaching town, he and Mandy stopped at a deli to pick up some sandwiches for their dinner. Back at the apartment, Mandy spent time clearing out the kitchen while Ian worked on packing up Mickey’s remaining shit. There wasn’t much laying around in his room—some books, a few cartons of cigarettes, and a bunch of clothes in various stages of clean. Ian left the rest for Mickey since he didn’t want to rifle through any of his personal stuff. Besides, maybe his anniversary surprise was hidden somewhere, and he didn’t want to spoil Mickey’s fun.

Around 6 o’clock, Mickey returned to the apartment and greeted them, slinging the keys to the truck around his finger. “What’s for dinner?” he asked, marching over to Ian and grabbing his ass in front of Mandy. “Cuz I know what I’m having for dessert.”

Both Ian and Mandy groaned at that one before handing Mickey a sandwich and a soda. He gobbled it down, talking in between bites about how he was going to FaceTime each of them every day. Mandy reminded him to finish packing his room, which he finally did, and then proceeded to march around the kitchen, so proud of himself, like a damn peacock. He motioned for Ian to follow him back to his room.

Ian couldn’t help but laugh and practically leapt off the couch to join Mickey. As they commenced with stripping their clothes off, Ian could hear Mandy turn up the volume on the TV to drown out the noises they were surely going to make. It was a wise choice.

The next morning, Ian’s alarm sounded, and they were quick to get up and load the truck—a truck that was near and dear to Ian’s heart. He figured this would probably be the last time he’d see it. 

They were milling around in the parking lot, having cleaned out the apartment and loaded Mandy’s belongings into Ian’s car. The plan was to take the furniture over to the farm, leave the truck, grab a bite, and take Mickey over to his new job before heading back to Florida.

“I’ll rent you a U-haul for the move down south,” offered Ian, but Mickey gruffly reminded him that he could make the reservation himself and handle the cost when it came time.

“Okay. Yeah. That works, too,” Ian said sheepishly.

Mandy shook her head at her big brother. “Be nice to this one, dumbass. He’s a keeper.”

Mickey softened his expression. “Oh, yeah. Sorry, man. I know you were just trying to be nice.” Mickey gave him a soft peck on the cheek.

“It’s fine.” Ian had forgotten, just for a second, to let Mickey do things his own way. He’d learn eventually, and maybe one day, Mickey would accept his kindness without his pride getting in the way.

He followed Mickey and Mandy in his car over to the farm. Mr. Sanders wasn’t there, but he’d given Mickey instructions on which storage shed to leave the furniture in, along with some plastic tarps to cover it. After the three of them had unloaded everything, Mickey and Ian stopped to stare at the truck with nostalgia. 

“Had some good times in this thing,” chuckled Mickey, patting the side of the truck as if he was saying goodbye to an old friend.   

“Yep,” agreed Ian. “Looked forward to seeing it. Every Thursday.”

Mandy was standing within earshot, and she gave them both a look like they were out of their minds, but Ian also saw a flash of empathy in her expression, like she genuinely felt bad that they were going to be apart.

“C’mon. Let’s eat, boys,” she declared, possibly hoping to distract them. “Chinese buffet. My treat.”

Lunch ended up being a lot of fun, with Mandy sharing stories about Mickey’s antics in high school and Mickey returning the favor. No one mentioned Terry, and apparently, he hadn’t been in contact since he’d left South Carolina. Ian wondered if either of them were going to miss him. Even shitty parents were still your parents, but they both seemed pretty much done with him. 

It was close to 3 o’clock, and the hardest part of the day had arrived—taking Mickey to his new job and having to say another goodbye. Ian didn’t want to be overly dramatic about the whole thing, he just really wished Mickey was coming back with him and Mandy. Ten weeks wasn't the end of the world, he kept telling himself, but it just didn’t seem fair. 

They pulled into a gravel parking lot next to the farm’s business office. Shepherd’s Farm, Inc. Ian made a mental note so he’d know the address to plug into his GPS when he returned on Saturday, which seemed like an eternity. It was also the weekend after Thanksgiving, and Ian had already promised Mickey some leftovers.

Mickey pointed towards a wooded area, where Ian could see a few rows of trailers. “There’s home for the next several weeks,” he sighed. Ian noticed what appeared to be other farm workers milling about in front of the trailers, watching them curiously. 

“What about the fields where you’ll be working?” asked Ian.

“Out yonder.” Mickey laughed at his use of a phrase he’d picked up since being in the South and pointed back towards the main road. “They’ll bus us over in the mornings. At least it’s not hot this time of year.”

They got out of the car, and Mandy handed Mickey his small suitcase. She gave him a hug and said something quietly about how he needed to stay out of trouble and to call her for anything. She smiled at the two of them, and went over to wait in the passenger side of the car until Ian was ready to go.

“Take care of her, huh?” Mickey said. “Not that she needs it, but you know...she’s had a rough go lately.”

“Of course, Mick.” Ian wasn’t sure if he should hug or kiss Mickey with some of his new co-workers standing nearby. 

Mickey waved him over to the back of the car. “Can you open the trunk, man?”

“Uh, sure.” Ian followed behind him, unlocking the trunk, and popping it open. With the trunk up, they were hidden from the onlookers, and Mickey pulled him close for a quick but passionate kiss. Ian didn’t want to let go, but Mickey reluctantly stepped back. He pointed to a cardboard box next to Mandy’s bags.

“Hey...give that to Debbie, will ya? Tell her it’s the thing I texted her about. For our anniversary...on Friday. She’ll know what to do.”  

“Mick…you didn’t have to get me anything…”

“Yeah, well...it’s nothing big. Don’t get too excited.” He closed the trunk and squeezed Ian’s hand. “Love you. Be careful.”

“Love you, too. They gonna make you work on Thanksgiving?” Ian asked.

“Most likely. But I’ll see your ass on Saturday, right? I want all the stuffing and gravy you can carry.”

“No problem. I’ll make sure Carl stays out of the kitchen this year. It’s safer for everyone that way. Miss you already, Mick.”

“The time will fly by. You’ll see.” Mickey looked almost convinced. 

“It will,” said Ian reassuringly. “Just wait until we can see each other every day. That’ll get old before you know it.”

Mickey shook his head. “Not for me, Ian. Not for me.”

Chapter Text

Mandy was good company on the drive back to Florida. She filled the time with tales about her older brothers, all of them in and out of juvie, like a revolving door existed at their house, so she never got close to them. After their mother died, Mickey was her only constant, but he got drafted by Terry for criminal side projects and eventually, was caught. Mandy was grateful he’d left Chicago with her and stayed by her side while she rid her system of Kenyatta.

Ian shared more about his family, too, cautioning her about his brother Lip being the Casanova of the family. “I don’t know how he does it. Chicks go apeshit over that dude.”

“I’ll be careful then,” Mandy told him in a teasing voice. “I have to admit though, this is the longest I’ve gone without being in a relationship. It’s probably good for me, but it’s really fucking lonely.”

Ian reached over to squeeze her arm gently. “I think you’re brave to come down here. And I owe you big time. I mean, you’re kinda being forced into this whole thing…”

Mandy gave him a devilish look. “Ha! Don’t forget...we’re hitting all the theme parks...and as often as I want!”

“Right, right,” agreed Ian. “You just say ‘when.’ I guess it’s time to become a Florida annual passholder at Disney World.”

“See? So many perks!” Mandy exclaimed. “I’m gonna love it here!”

After crossing into Florida and grabbing some dinner at a drive thru, Ian texted Mickey to check in. He responded enthusiastically, texting that he’d made friends with his bunk mates, Miguel and Samuel. Mickey sent selfies of the three of them eating dinner at a small table in their trailer. Ian asked Mickey if he could call him later to catch up—his first priority was making sure that Mandy got acclimated to all things Gallagher. He was relieved—but not surprised—that Mickey was already settling in.

It was just after 8 o’clock when they arrived at the house. All of the Gallagher siblings, minus Lip, were waiting in the living room to greet Mandy. Someone, probably Debbie, had drawn the outline of the state of Florida on a piece of poster board with the word “Welcome” written in bright red letters down the middle. Mandy beamed and hugged everyone, though she was quiet, probably overwhelmed by the attention. Debbie and Liam were the most excited, taking her by the hand and leading Mandy upstairs to her room. Fiona held back to give her some space, while Carl brooded in the corner of the room in all of his pre-teen glory.

“Everybody good?” Fiona asked Ian, giving him a quick hug. “Mickey okay?”

“Oh, yeah...he’s fine. He’d find a way to fit in at a monastery if he had to,” mused Ian.

“Ha!” Fiona winked. “Mandy seems nice. The girls at work will take her under their wings. No problem.”

“Thanks, Fi.”

“Listen.” Fiona’s expression had turned serious. “I’ve been meaning to tell you something, but you’ve been busy. I need you and Lip to be in charge for Thanksgiving. I’m, uh...gonna have dinner with Gus and his family.”

“Oh?” said Ian, surprised by the news. Thanksgiving had always been their holiday to plan and make happen, even if some years had been cold cuts and a box of StoveTop. 

“I’m sorry, Ian. I know I’m breaking our tradition, but I can help with all the cooking that morning. We can turn on the parade. And I’ll be back Saturday morning so you can go up and see your guy.”

“Hey, don’t apologize,” insisted Ian. He was disappointed, but he understood. They were getting older now and meeting people who were going to pull them in other directions. “I’m happy for you. You’re...adulting now.” He hugged her and nodded over at Carl. “You’ll be in charge of setting the table on Thursday, think you can handle it?”

Carl smirked at him. “Gotta check my schedule first.”

“Yeah? Well, how about freeing up your schedule right now? I need help bringing some shit in from my car.”

“Fine,” shrugged Carl. “Anything for me?”

“‘Fraid not. Mickey’s harvesting spinach now, instead of peanuts, so I’m guessing you don’t want any of that…”

Carl shook his head in disgust as Ian called up to Mandy to see if she needed anything. “Going back out to get the rest of our stuff!”

“All good!” she yelled back, and Ian heard Debbie giggling and rambling on about God knows what.       

Ian and Carl carried the remaining items inside and brought them upstairs to Lip’s room—now temporarily Mandy’s room. Debbie was painting Mandy’s fingernails and talking about going to hang out at the mall. She seemed so elated, Ian almost hated to interrupt.

“Hey, Debs. Just so you know, Mickey sent this box for you.”

“Hmmmm...what is it?” Debbie asked, closing the top of the nail polish and standing up to inspect the box in Ian’s hands.

Ian raised it slightly, feeling the weight of the contents. He’d shaken it by accident and heard something clanging around, but didn’t have any guesses as to what was inside. “Mickey told me it’s related to whatever you two are planning. I’ll put it in your room, and let you have a look.”

A wave of recognition passed over her face. “Oh! I know what’s inside.”

“Cool. And can you please show Mandy where the bathroom is, in case she wants to get ready for bed? I think Fiona’s gonna start her training tomorrow morning.”

“Sure.” Debbie smiled and nodded for Mandy to follow her out of the room. 

Once Ian put the box from Mickey in Debbie’s room, he waited in Lip’s room until Mandy came back from the bathroom. 

“Have everything you need?” he asked.

“I think so. Might unpack some and talk to Mickey before I go to bed.”

“Want me to sleep on the floor?”

Mandy rolled her eyes and laughed. “No, Ian. I’m not a baby.”

“Yeah, but you’re used to Mickey being around.”

“I’ll be fine.” She gave him a quick hug and a reassuring smile before he closed the door and went downstairs to the kitchen. 

Over a six pack, he and Fiona planned the menu and grocery list for the Gallagher Thanksgiving meal. They begrudgingly decided to extend an invitation to Frank—if they could get word to him and have him swear he wouldn’t bring along his posse of drunken friends, like he’d tried to do last year.

Ian was happy for the distraction of the holidays, given that he was going to be missing Mickey. He went out on the back porch and called Mickey to chat. 

“Hey, Mick. Can you talk for a few minutes?”

“Yeah. It’s lights out soon though. Just like camp.”

“Really?”

“No, I’m just fucking with you. Never even went to camp. What’s up?”

“Nothing much. Just miss you. And I’m kinda jealous you’re living with other dudes.”

“Yeah, well, they all have families back home, and don’t seem to be into dick.” Mickey chuckled softly. “Anyway...I just got off the phone with Mandy. Sounds like she’s feeling good about everything. Thanks for taking care of her.”

“She’s doing all of us a favor. Debbie is over the moon to have her here, and Fiona can really use her help at the diner. I want her to be happy.”

“You and me both. She makes friends without too much trouble, just paces herself...unlike me. Get this. Was talking to my roomies about hosting a meal together on Thursday night, everyone pitching in. Most of these dudes don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but I’ve been talking it up.”

“I thought you couldn’t speak Spanish,” Ian teased.

“I use my hands mostly, you know, I’m the king of gestures...and a few words I picked up from working at Sanders.”

“Sounds like you’ve made quite an impression.”

“Yeah, these guys are alright. Might even tell ‘em about you before all is said and done. We’ll see.”

Ian paused, unsure if he should say what was on the tip of his tongue, but he decided to go for it. “I’m proud of you.”

“Proud of me?” Mickey scoffed but then softened. “Yeah, honest living, from here on out. I guess your ass is worth it.”

“Gee, thanks. But it’ll be good for you, too. I mean, the experience you’re gaining. And if you decide, one day...to buy your own place.”

“We’ll see. That’s a big ‘if,’ but for now, it’s nice to dream, huh?”

“Yep,” agreed Ian.

“So...I guess this is goodnight, Officer Gallagher. Call me tomorrow.”

“Okay. Night, Mick.”

After hanging up, Ian leaned his head against the side of the house. He lifted his face towards Lip’s bedroom and noticed that the lights were out—hopefully, Mandy would sleep well. He’d get up early and make breakfast for everyone and try to squeeze in a run before work. 

Ian hadn’t done as much running lately but wanted to get back into it, already thinking about how he’d try to entice Mickey into joining him once they were in the same place...which gave him an idea for Mickey’s anniversary present.

^^^^^^^^^^

On Thursday morning, Ian set his alarm for 6 o’clock and went downstairs to the kitchen so he could get in a call with Mickey, who was scheduled to work for half a day. Mickey barely managed a grunt when he answered the phone. 

“You sound tired, baby,” Ian cooed.

“You know I can’t take that sugary shit of yours before breakfast.”

“Fine. Let me try again. Good morning, shithead!”

“That’s better. Thanks.”

Ian continued. “Don’t take this the wrong way, Mick, but what the fuck did you get me for our anniversary? Debbie’s been hammering away at something in the basement all week.”

“You’ll find out tomorrow. Glad I have you stumped. You’re not the only one who’s good with the surprises.”

“I just didn’t figure you for the sentimental type. I mean, celebrating a one year anniversary, sure, but three months? Or four? What did we decide?”

“Whatever. It’s like dog years, man, ya know? One year to a human is 7 years in dog years. So one month of dating me...is like…”

Ian burst out laughing before Mickey could finish doing the math. He was glad they could agree on how intense things had been between them, though most of that intensity had come from the strong feelings they’d developed for each other right away.

“Yeah, you are a lot to handle. But it is Thanksgiving, so I wanted to tell you I love you.”

“Love you, too. And I’m ready for your visit. Glad Mandy’s coming with you. Thank fuck she’s staying with a friend on Saturday night.”

“I think she’s thankful for that, too, after having to deal with us last weekend.”

They said their goodbyes, and Ian started chopping onions and celery. By the time he’d finished peeling the sweet potatoes, Fiona came downstairs and made coffee for the two of them. She turned on her holiday Pandora station and pulled the defrosted turkey out of the fridge.

“Christmas music already?”

“You know it! Santa’s gonna be landing in Herald Square in just a few hours.” Fiona smiled as she stuck her arm in the cold, dark cavity of the turkey and pulled out the giblets. “You makin’ gravy with these suckers?” 

“Nah, bought a jar. But hide those damn things from Carl before he does something twisted with them,” Ian suggested.

“Good idea.”

After several cups of coffee and a few hours of the parade blasting from the living room, Ian and Fiona had nearly everything ready and placed in the refrigerator for later. Fiona went upstairs to get ready for her date with Gus. Debbie has wandered down to the basement with Carl and Liam, putting the finishing touches on the mysterious anniversary gift.

Mandy woke up after everyone else and offered to help Ian with some of the kitchen clean-up. He told her not to bother with it on her day off, but she seemed glad to be a part of the fairly mundane Gallagher Thanksgiving ritual. 

“I have to say,” started Ian, “that I’m grateful we can afford all of this food, but it was more interesting when we were scrounging and scraping together whatever we could find to make our dinner special.”

“I know what you mean.” Mandy was armed with a hand towel and drying the mixing bowls. “Mickey and I used to cook on Thanksgiving. Sometimes, it was just spaghetti and meatballs and an apple pie, if we were lucky. And we definitely didn’t gather ‘round the table to break bread. Had to serve Terry and his friends while they watched football and got drunk.”

“Guess we all have our family traditions, right?” Ian chuckled, picturing Mickey in an apron, stirring tomato sauce. “I talked to Mickey this morning. He sounded pretty worn out but in good spirits.”

Mandy nodded. “Yeah, I texted him last night. He’s looking forward to seeing us on Saturday.” She pointed to the pile of dirty pots and pans in the sink. “Mickey would actually love all of this. He started doing some cooking this past year. Guess he figured I was sick of looking at food since I worked in the diner, and we had to eat.”

“Oh, fuck. I guess this dinner better be good since we’re bringing him leftovers.”

“Well, it was made with love, right?” Mandy smirked at her own remark and threw the towel down on the counter. “Let’s take a break. Relax. I’m just dying to meet your super hot brother,” she joked, as she grabbed Ian’s arm and pulled him into the living room. They slumped down on the couch to watch the rest of the parade, and the other Gallaghers joined them.

Fiona stuck around long enough to see Lip, who showed up just after 1 o’clock with a couple of bottles of wine. He was definitely wearing cologne and a decent shirt paired with his least tattered pair of jeans.

“Lip! Did you get all dressed up for me?” Ian remarked with a sing songy tone and obnoxious grin. 

“No,” Lip shot back. “For the family.”

“Uh huh, I’m sure. Mandy, this is Phillip. Or, you know, Lip, like I’ve told you. And Lip, this is Mickey’s sister, Mandy.” 

They exchanged an awkward handshake, and Lip, like Ian had begged him, didn’t pile on his usual charm. Instead, he went into the kitchen to stick the wine in the fridge and see what else needed to be done for the meal. 

Fiona made sure to give everyone hugs before dashing off to meet up with Gus. Everyone was disappointed to see her go, but they turned their attention to getting the table set, or watching football, or making sure that everything would come out of the oven at the same time.  

When all was said and done, the meal was delicious, save for the marshmallow topping of the sweet potato casserole getting extra toasted. The company was lively as ever with Debbie making an awkward prediction about Lip breaking up with his two current “ho bags” to find someone better. “Hint, hint,” she’d blurted out, elbowing Mandy in the side, who turned bright red. Ian tried to change the subject, and failing to come up with anything worthwhile, resorted to slinging a spoonful of mashed potatoes at Carl. A food fight almost broke out, but thankfully, Fiona called in that exact moment to tell everyone how much she missed them. Frank had been a no show, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. They all deserved some peace.

Ian noticed a warm feeling in the pit of his stomach, knowing that he had his anniversary surprise coming up the next day, and then he’d be that much closer to seeing Mickey and celebrating with him. 

Ian asked everyone to pose for a selfie around the half-eaten turkey, which he promptly texted to Fiona and Mickey. Fiona sent back a picture of her and Gus, smiling into the camera with white linen napkins draped over their laps, and their fingers intertwined. 

Mickey sent back a picture with just the side of his face visible, and in the background, was a large fire pit with a bunch of dudes gathered around it, drinks in hand and waving happily at the camera. Yeah, it had been a good day for everyone. 

^^^^^^^^^^

When he woke up the next morning, Ian remembered stumbling into Fiona’s room the night before, drunk dialing Mickey, and whispering dirty things to him. He’d plunged his hand beneath his boxers and stroked his cock to the sound of his boyfriend grunting and moaning. Mickey was holed up in the bathroom of his trailer and jerking off to the sounds of Ian doing the same. It must have been after midnight when they were winding down because Mickey had wished Ian a “happy anniversary” and told him to check the back porch in the morning for his gift. 

“Is it gonna be you?” 

“I wish. Fuckin’ miss your pale ass.” 

Ian could practically sense the curve of Mickey’s reluctant smile.

“Should I look now?” 

“Nah, wait ‘til you wake up. That way, you can go to sleep to the sound of my voice and wake up to your present.” 

“Sure, Mick. I like that plan.” Ian wouldn’t dare ruin the surprise after all the effort Mickey and Debbie had put into it.

He rolled out of the bed and crept downstairs, careful not to wake anyone else since it was still early. Ian felt like he’d barely slept at all, like a kid waiting for Christmas morning. Once he got to the back door, he opened it quickly, the anticipation making his chest tighten, and…

It wasn’t Mickey in the flesh, like he’d hoped. In fact, he might not have noticed the item had he not been expecting something. Lined up against the rail was a shoddily constructed rectangular planter, filled to the brim with soil and four plastic tags poking out of the dirt, spaced about four inches apart, lined up neatly in a row. Ian bent down to read them—basil, cilantro, parsley, and mint. Taped to the front of the planter was a clear plastic bag with an envelope inside and the words For Ian scrawled across the center.

He opened the bag and tore into the envelope, unfolding the handwritten note and scanning it. He smiled at the narrow, tiny letters that made up Mickey’s handwriting—this was probably the first time he’d seen it. As he read the words on the page, Ian felt tears forming in the corners of his eyes. He blinked them away so he could read the note again.

If all went according to plan, you’re standing in front of what will soon be an herb garden. I sent the seeds, tools, and soil with some instructions, and Debbie did the rest, so please thank her.

And be sure to water the shit out of the seeds. My hope is that we’ll have plenty of herbs growing by the time I get down there and maybe even start a larger garden in the spring. 

Take care of those seeds like you’ve taken care of me, and we’ll be in business. Don’t give up on them, no matter what.

I love you,

Mickey

Chapter Text

Ian was blown away by the thoughtful anniversary gift from Mickey and called to tell him so.

“So...you liked it?” asked Mickey shyly, which was unusual for him. 

“Yeah, a lot. I never would have thought of something like that. Really, Mick...it’s great. I need a project to make these weeks go by faster. Hope I don’t fuck it up.”

“Eh...you really can’t as long as you water it daily. Once I’m down there, we’ll tackle the harder stuff.”

“Speaking of hard…”

“Oh yeah?” Mickey asked with a curious tone.

“I’m gonna make you come so hard when I see you,” Ian blurted out.

“Well, okay then.” Mickey chuckled. “Guess that’ll be your gift to me.”

“Yeah, that,” Ian promised. “And I have something else for you too.”

After chatting for a few more minutes, Ian reluctantly suggested that they should hang up since they both had to get ready for work. What he really wanted to do was hop in his car and drive straight to South Carolina. Just one sleep away, he told himself.   

All day, Ian tried to stay distracted, making idle chit-chat with his co-workers and the various drivers coming through for inspection. He asked about their Thanksgiving celebrations and debated with people about whether to call it “stuffing” or “dressing.” He’d had the same discussion with Mickey a few days before, and of course, Mickey said it didn’t fucking matter as long as it tasted good. 

On Saturday morning, Ian made brunch for everyone as a thank-you to Debbie for helping Mickey with the herb garden and to welcome Fiona back from her trip. He waited patiently for Mandy to put in a few hours at the diner before they hit the road, gritting his teeth during the excruciatingly long drive to Shepherds Farm. 

As soon as they arrived, Ian jumped out of the car and rushed to Mickey’s trailer, with Mandy following behind. He somehow managed to refrain from mauling his boyfriend when he opened the door, smiling politely as Mickey introduced them to his roommates.

Mi hermana ... y mi amigo,” Mickey said, ushering them inside, opening the tray of Thanksgiving leftovers Ian had brought, and piling half of the contents onto a plate to put in the microwave.

No, no, Ian screamed in his head. I can’t wait any longer. He looked at Mickey with desperate, pleading eyes to hurry the fuck up so they could leave and get Mandy over to her friend’s place, and commence with fucking as soon as possible. But Mickey seemed more interested in the leftovers, dishing out servings for everyone and forking mounds of gravy-smothered turkey and stuffing into his mouth. It was pure torture. 

“You forgot the cranberry sauce,” Mickey grumbled between bites while Ian sat with his arms folded in front of him, thinking about pressing his lips into Mickey’s yappy mouth.

Ian bit into his bottom lip, realizing how much he wanted to kiss every inch of the man he loved. He wanted to fill Mickey up with his release and then be filled by him. He wanted to absorb the tremor of every moan, the vibration of every shudder. He wanted to come completely undone in Mickey’s arms because there was nowhere else he’d rather be.

And Mickey fucking knew it too. He was watching Ian twitch and squirm in his seat, and he was enjoying it. Hell, it was possible that everyone in the room knew. Mandy stifled a laugh and tried to help Ian by reminding Mickey that it was getting late and they needed to get going. 

Finally, Mickey had eaten every morsel from his plate and was washing up in the sink of the tiny kitchenette. Ian breathed a sigh of relief once they were out of the trailer and back on the road. With Mickey in the passenger seat and just inches away, Ian could feel his growing erection. “Fuck,” he mumbled. But mercifully, Mickey found his favorite country music station and began belting out the songs in an off-key voice. This made Ian laugh and forget about his hard-on until they were alone in the car, having dropped Mandy at her friend’s apartment.  

“Think you can make it to the hotel?” asked Mickey, fully expecting the answer to be “no.” Ian responded by swerving onto a gravel road between two fields, putting the car in park, and turning off the headlights. 

He heard Mickey’s breath catch in his throat, probably expecting Ian to lunge at him, so he decided to make him wait for it. Karma

“Your roommates seem nice. You guys work really hard, huh?”

Mickey practically shouted at him. “You wanna talk about my work or fuck?”

Ian leaned over and grabbed Mickey’s shirt collar. “What’s the hurry? You were taking your time back at the trailer.”

“Fine!” Mickey was practically whining. “I’m an asshole who wanted a taste of Thanksgiving. Sue me. Or better yet...fuck me.”

“Hmmmm...let me think about it,” said Ian coyly, slowly working his hands under Mickey’s shirt and over the bulge in his jeans. “Seems like you want it pretty bad. Is that right?” Ian encircled one of Mickey’s nipples with the pad of his thumb, feeling it stiffen before he moved over to the other one.

“Y-yeah. You...know...I do,” stammered Mickey as Ian sucked at his neck and used both hands to pull Mickey’s shirt over his head, tossing it into the backseat.  

“Good. Because I’m gonna give it to you.” Ian kissed downward over Mickey’s chest and abdomen. He felt a pair of strong hands on the back of his neck, massaging his shoulders while he unbuttoned Mickey’s jeans and wriggled them down his hips. He rubbed over the fabric of Mickey’s boxers, turned on by the wet spot that had formed. Mickey’s cock was weeping for his attention, and Ian wanted a taste. He tugged at his boxers until Mickey’s dick sprang from them, slick at the tip and ready for Ian’s tongue.

He moved slowly, licking his cock like a lollipop and then drawing it into his mouth as Mickey moaned and pushed back into the seat, surrendering to the pleasure.

“Fuck, Ian. Feels so good.” Mickey ran his fingers through Ian’s hair and let them rest there, moving his hips along with the rhythm Ian had going.

“Mmmmm…” Ian lifted his head up to look into Mickey’s eyes. “Love to see you like this,” he purred, his hand now wrapped securely around Mickey’s cock, jerking him off as their lips crashed together. “Touch me, Mick,” Ian managed from the corner of his mouth. “Make me come. I can’t wait any longer.”

Ian was desperate to have Mickey’s fingers around him. He lifted himself up, head pressed into the roof of the car as Mickey managed to get Ian’s pants and boxers down far enough to free his cock. He wrapped his fingers around the top half, his thumb brushing over the wet slit. Ian deepened their kiss in, moaning from the warmth of Mickey’s hand around him and the taste of his kiss that he’d been craving for days.  

They stroked one another feverishly until they both came apart. Sweating and trying to catch his breath, Ian laughed at his own eagerness and promised Mickey they were just getting started. They cleaned up before Ian drove them to the hotel for the next round.

^^^^^^^^^^

The hotel wasn’t anything fancy, but it had a decent-sized bed and that was all they needed. After another few hours of making up for lost time, they both decided they were hungry, and Ian threw some clothes on to go in search of snacks from the vending machine.

He returned to their room with an armful of assorted chips, crackers, and candy bars, and a satisfied grin on his face, happy that he had Mickey to himself all night long. And it didn’t matter what they did—even scarfing down junk food and watching TV until they fell asleep felt like something special.

Around 4am, Ian woke up with an emotional epiphany that he couldn’t wait until the morning to share. He stroked Mickey’s arm lightly while whispering in his ear. “Fuckin’ love you, Mick. Love that you’re coming down to be with me. For us. To make us work.”

Mickey’s eyelids fluttered open, and a sleepy smile spread across his lips. He turned his head to give Ian a slow kiss and pull him closer. “I’m just glad I found you.” 

They fell asleep until later that morning. Right after 9 o’clock, Ian was the first one up and made a quick breakfast run to a diner across the street. He ordered pancakes, eggs, bacon, and coffee and when he got back to the room, was surprised to find Mickey awake, sitting up in bed, bare chested and staring at the television, like a zombie. Without hesitating, Ian crawled onto the bed, containers in hand and planted a kiss on Mickey’s lips.

“What are you doing up? Everything okay?”

Mickey nodded. “Yeah. Just didn’t like not having you next to me.”

“Awww, baby…” Ian cooed and nuzzled Mickey’s neck. 

Mickey shoved him away. “See? That’s why I keep the corny shit to myself.”

“Yeah, yeah. You’ll survive. Eat your breakfast.” Ian handed Mickey one of the containers, along with a packet of utensils and busied himself with cutting up his pancakes and drowning them in syrup. 

Ian stuffed a forkful of the cut-up pancakes in his mouth while simultaneously realizing that he hadn’t given Mickey his anniversary present yet. He leaped up and shouted, “your gift,” but it probably sounded more like gibberish since his mouth was full.

Mickey put his fork down and cocked his head to the side. “What’s got you so animated, Gallagher?” he asked.

Ian dug a medium-sized box wrapped in the Sunday comics from a canvas bag he’d snuck into the room. “Your anniversary gift.”

Mickey wiped his hands on a napkin and accepted the gift. “I told you not to—”

“Don’t get too excited,” insisted Ian. “It’s not even remotely creative compared to what you did for me.” 

“Alright…” Mickey looked skeptical but then tore into the paper and opened the box. He pulled out a pair of brand new running shoes. “Um...thanks? Cuz you think...I like to...run?”

Ian tried to hide a grin. He wondered if Mickey would balk at the shoes. “Um, no. You can use them for whatever. Walking. Or playing tennis.” 

“Golf...” Mickey offered dryly. 

“Exactly! Golf. No, you fucker. There’s an ‘if,’ I know. But ‘if’ you ever want to go running with me, now you can. No excuses.”

“So, basically, you got these for me so I can keep you company while you run?”

“Yeah, ‘cause I like you that much.” Ian smirked. “I’m even willing to slow down for your ass.”

“You dick! I’m definitely using these when I’m shoveling manure. Fuckin’ ‘slow down’ for me.”

Ian smirked, knowing that Mickey would probably change his mind eventually. Maybe Ian could sign them up to do a 5k and train together. 

“I’ll do better at Christmas,” Ian promised. “But let’s just celebrate our anniversary once a year. I don’t think I can take all the pressure that’s been built up around this gift-giving shit.”

“Awww, baby…” said Mickey with a gentle mocking tone.

“Shut up. I should have made you a coupon for a free back massage and called it a day,” huffed Ian.

Mickey pulled him into his arms with Ian resting against his shoulder and kissed away the pout on his lips.

“Actually, the sneakers are a nice gift. We gotta get into each other’s hobbies. But...how’d you even know my shoe size?” Mickey asked. “Stalker.”

“Hey! I know...things.” Ian wove his fingers into Mickey’s uncombed hair and pulled him closer for another kiss.

Mickey slowly broke away from their kiss, something on the tip of his tongue and his blue eyes gleaming as he smiled down at Ian. “So we’ll celebrate our anniversary once a year, huh? You seein’ a lot of those in our future?” 

Ian turned so that he could climb on top of Mickey, pressing his body against his warm skin. “Yeah, Mick. Yeah, I am.”

^^^^^^^^^^

After that first trip to see Mickey at his new gig, the lovebirds had two more overnights together. The weeks right before Christmas crawled by. Ian was on the schedule for two weekends in December, and Sue had declined his request to switch with anyone. Maybe if he’d told her why he was so desperate to change days, she would have taken pity on him, but with the holidays coming up, most people needed their weekends for Christmas shopping or holiday get-togethers. 

Ian sulked about not getting to see Mickey as often as they’d planned, but he tried to focus on the fact that they’d have nearly three days together over Christmas. He’d pick Mickey up on the evening of the 23rd and drive him back early in the morning the day after Christmas. And then they’d be in the clear—only four more weeks of being apart.

They texted or talked every day, even if it was only for a few minutes. And Ian made sure he wasn’t occupying all of Mickey’s free time so Mandy had the chance to talk with him too. She seemed to be adapting to her new job, hanging out with her co-workers after their shifts, and she’d blended in nicely with the rest of the Gallaghers. 

But Ian could tell that Mandy was looking forward to having her own space again. They’d driven by the apartment complex a couple of times and went into the rental office to inquire about which units were going to be available after the first of the year. She went ahead and put in her top choices, having talked it over with Mickey. They wanted a two bedroom and something on the third floor. 

Ian was able to get some ideas from Mandy as to what all they might need in the apartment. He wasn’t going to go overboard, because he knew Mickey might consider it charity, but Ian definitely wanted to get them a few things for their new place. And if they came in the form of Christmas presents, Mickey would just have to accept them. 

Chapter Text

Mickey ran his fingers over the leafy stems of the herb garden. “You’ve done good.”

Ian smiled, knowing that Mickey had set him up for success with something easy to take care of. “Thanks, Mick. Debbie helped a ton.”

“That’s my girl.”

Ian gathered a small bunch of cilantro stems. “I’ll clip some for the salsa. Found a good recipe online.”

It was an unusually warm Christmas Eve, even for Florida. Both Mickey and Mandy had made comments about being thrown by the weather, given that this was only their second Christmas holiday hundreds of miles away from wintery Chicago. 

Ian noticed a thin line of sweat that had formed above Mickey’s upper lip. Despite the heat, he wrapped his arms around Mickey’s waist and rested his chin on his shoulder, mostly distracted by the smell that was his boyfriend and the feeling of having him so close. They’d gotten in late the night before and slept until lunchtime. The rest of the gang was inside. 

“We can put up fencing for the garden over there,” Mickey declared, having surveyed the backyard, and was pointing to the middle area of the grass. 

“Wait! What?” Ian inched his face around to where he could see Mickey’s expression. “You were serious about that?”

“Fuck yeah. I mean, if your family agrees. Of course, I’ll do most of the work, just need to water the damn thing regularly, pull weeds. It’d be a waste not to start a garden here in the spring.”

“I think it’s a great plan...as long as we can keep the pool—it’s kind of a tradition for us.”

“We’ll work around it. No problem,” Mickey reassured him.

“Does that mean you bought me seeds and dirt for Christmas too?” Ian laughed.

“You’re getting fucking coal is what you’re getting,” retorted Mickey before downing the last of his beer and slapping Ian’s ass.

Seconds later, Debbie poked her head out the door and told them to hurry the hell up. Apparently, it was time to start the festivities, aka the annual Christmas Eve movie fest, in which each Gallagher picked out a Christmas movie, whatever they wanted, as long as it had a Christmas theme. The youngest got to pick first, and Liam chose the claymation Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer movie, followed by Carl with A Christmas Story , Deb picked Miracle on 34th Street , Ian selected Elf , Lip went with the horror flick Black Christmas , and Fiona rounded out the evening with A Wonderful Life , which put Liam to sleep. Everyone else followed suit around midnight. They all said their “good-nights” and left Fiona in the living room with the brightly lit, artificial Christmas tree that was still good enough, broken bulbs and all, after more than a decade. 

Fiona had agreed to camp out on the sofa for the second night in a row so that Ian and Mickey could have her room. She’d be leaving with Gus mid-morning on Christmas Day for various holiday parties with his family.  

Ian and Mickey got ready for bed, both of them wanting to go to sleep, having fooled around the night before and tired from all of the hours they’d been working lately. Mickey confessed that it still didn’t feel like Christmas without the possibility of snow on the ground, but Ian guaranteed that they’d have a perfect day anyway. 

“Is tomorrow Gallagher board game day or something?” Mickey teased, nestling his back against Ian’s side.

“Ha! No, but we could start a new tradition.” Ian curled his arms around Mickey. “It’ll be pretty laid back. Liam will get up and see what Santa Claus brought him. He’s the only Gallagher who believes and might actually make it past the age of five, still believing. Fiona will get up with him and start breakfast, and then it’s gifts and eating and more sleeping, and probably a round of miniature golf.”

“There’s a miniature golf place open on Christmas?”

“Almost everything is open on Christmas around here, plenty of people who don’t celebrate the holiday and want to make a buck. Anyway…” said Ian softly. “It’ll be special ‘cause we get to have our first Christmas together...even if we will be surrounded by my crazy-ass family.”

In the darkness of the room, Ian could tell that Mickey had a goofy grin plastered on his face. “Better your crazy-ass family than mine. I’m glad that Mandy’s happy. Just need your dumbass brother to keep his distance. I swear he was trying to make a move on her when we were watching that horror movie he picked out.”

Ian chuckled. “Well, I’m not gonna lie to you, Mick. They’ve gone out to eat a few times. But I’m staying out of it. Lip knows he better watch himself.”

Mickey grumbled something, and Ian listened to his breathing slow and waited for the sound of his light snoring, before disentangling himself from Mickey’s arms so he could go downstairs and help Fiona fill everyone’s stockings, including the two new additions, that were hanging from the mantle. Ian couldn’t help but wonder why he was so lucky to have all of these amazing people in his life. Sometimes, it all seemed too good to be true. 

^^^^^^^^^^

When he woke up the next morning, Ian could hear chatter coming from below and rolled over, his hands searching for Mickey asleep beside him. The spot was empty, so he figured Mickey was already downstairs in the midst of the Gallagher chaos. 

Ian dashed down the steps, not seeing Mickey in the living room, only the younger Gallaghers, playing one of Liam’s new board games. He wished them all a “Merry Christmas” and hurried into the kitchen, expecting to find Mickey there. Fiona greeted him with a warm smile while flipping a few pancakes off the griddle and onto a platter. 

“Morning, sleepyhead! Looks like the big kids all slept in today. Debs and Carl just got up.” She was already dressed and had her make-up on, ready for her outing with Gus. 

“Merry Christmas, Fi. Uh...have you seen Mickey?”

A worried look flashed over her face, maybe because of his tone. “Haven’t seen him this morning. Did you check the upstairs bathroom?”

“That door was open, figured he was down here.”

“Huh.” She laid the spatula on its side and walked over to the back door, pushing it open and stepping out onto the porch. 

“See him?” Ian asked hopefully. 

“Nope,” she shook her head and brushed past him on the way to the main room. “Liam! Come here for a second. Want you to taste these pancakes.”

Liam let out an exasperated sigh, but obeyed. He plodded into the kitchen, expecting Fiona to have the pancake ready for him. “Where is it?”

“Oh, right,” she said and motioned for Ian to grab one for him. “Ian’ll get it. I was wondering if you’d seen his friend. You know, Mickey?”

Liam waited for Ian to hand him a pancake, one with chocolate chips, and he took a huge bite out of it, chewing for a few seconds before giving Fiona a thumbs up.

“Glad you like it. And Ian’s friend, Mickey? Did you see him this morning?”

“Door,” he said and pointed towards the front of the house. 

“Thanks, buddy.” Fiona patted him on the head and ushered him back into the living room. She turned to Ian. “You wanna go look for him? Take the car? Did you guys have a fight or something?”

Ian’s thoughts were becoming muddled. He didn’t have any reason to worry, so why was he starting to? “No fight. Maybe he just needed some air. I’ll call him. Thanks.”

Ian ran upstairs to check his phone—no messages from Mickey—and pulled on some clothes and shoes before heading out the front. He dialed Mickey, but there was no answer. He wasn’t sure if he should go looking for him on his own or wake up Mandy. Ian took off in one direction down the street and wandered for a few blocks, his eyes darting back and forth between both sides of the street.

When his phone began vibrating, Ian was beyond relieved to see Mickey’s name pop up. He answered right away. “Mick? Everything okay? You alright?”

Mickey must have noticed the concern in his voice. “I knew I shoulda left a note. Liam didn’t tell you?”

“No. What is it?”

“I walked to the store for some egg nog. Headed back now.”

“Egg nog?” croaked Ian, beginning to feel his heart rate return to normal.

“Yeah, it’s a tradition at the Milkovich house around this time of year. Thought Mandy would miss it, and I didn’t want to wake anyone up. Why? Where did you think I’d gone?”

“Dunno.” Ian had stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, his fingers gripping the back of his neck. “I thought maybe you were feeling overwhelmed, or like I was suffocating you with all this family stuff, or feeling nervous about moving down here or—”

“Ian.”

Hearing his name through the phone and from a few yards away, Ian turned to see Mickey coming towards him, a plastic grocery bag dangling from one of his hands. Ian practically fell into his arms, resting his head against Mickey’s shoulder.

“What’s going on? Hey...tell me.”

Ian took a deep breath and lifted his eyes towards Mickey’s, forcing a smile. “Just...you know, sometimes I wonder if this is...the real thing. Because it feels like it is. But when you were gone, and I didn’t know where to, I panicked. Thinking the worst things...like, it’s not possible to be this happy. To feel secure.”

Mickey stroked his cheek. “I’m really sorry. I figured Liam would tell you what I said to him about going to the store. That was dumb on my part. Hate that I made you worry.” He wove his fingers into Ian’s. “I know it’s been hard these past few weeks, being apart, but this is real. And I’m not gonna fuck things up. Okay?” 

“Yeah, I know.” Ian nodded. “Not sure why my mind went to a dark place. Like I said, I thought you might be overwhelmed or...I don’t know. Holidays can fuck with people’s head, you know?”

They had started back towards the house, Mickey’s fingers linked tightly with Ian’s. “This can be a hard time of year,” agreed Mickey. “Didn’t always have it this good…”

“We probably didn’t have it as rough as you and Mandy, but yeah...”

“Ian. Let’s not play that game—who had it worse off. Let’s enjoy the day,” urged Mickey. “And I’m glad you told me how you were feeling. I wanna be there for you.”

Ian nodded. “Thanks, Mick.” He was feeling steady again.

“Anyway, I saw those giant-ass presents under the tree for Mandy and me. Can’t wait to open ‘em!”

“We all chipped in,” replied Ian, relieved that Mickey was excited about the gifts and not feeling offended by the gesture. He wanted to kick himself for freaking out that morning, but since Mickey had been understanding, he decided not to dwell on it. 

“And don’t forget...our biggest present is yet to come.”

“You made sex coupons for my stocking?” Ian quipped. 

“No, shithead. When I move down here in a few weeks. It’ll be like Christmas every fucking day. You’ll see.”

^^^^^^^^^^

When they arrived back at the house, Ian marched inside with the carton of egg nog held high in his hand. “Milkovich tradition!” he announced. Everyone was awake now. “Glasses, please,” he said to Fiona, giving her a slight wink to let her know everything was okay.

They all gathered around the table for breakfast. The adults decided to open gifts after they ate since the younger kids had already tore into their gifts, curiosity satiated. And stockings were always an “after breakfast” ritual.

Gradually, everyone made their way back to the living room, and gifts were passed around by Debbie and Liam. Carl and Lip assembled a race car for Liam while Mandy and Fiona chatted about who had hooked up at their work Christmas party from a few days before. Ian and Mickey sat side-by-side on the couch, nudging each other and being obnoxiously obvious about how they’d rather be upstairs in a bedroom. 

No one told them to get a room, because they likely would have left to find one. Instead, Mandy shoved a wrapped box in Ian’s hand. “Here’s your present from my idiot brother.”

“Oh. Thanks,” Ian said, noticing how the room grew suddenly quiet with all eyes on him. He laughed nervously as he pulled at the wrapping paper. “You guys already know that Mickey gives really great gifts. I wonder what this is…” He lifted the top of the thin box and pushed the tissue paper out of the way. Underneath was a framed pencil drawing of the two of them, sitting in the stands at a sporting event, a baseball game. In the drawing, Mickey was intently looking off into the distance, watching the game presumably, with his hand resting on Ian’s knee. Ian had his hand on Mickey’s back, his head tilted towards Mickey with a smile. 

“Wow…” Ian was taken aback by how well the drawing captured a moment between them. “You drew this? From memory?”

“Well...yeah.” Mickey was blushing as everyone clamored over to the couch to take a look at what had Ian practically speechless. 

“It’s amazing. Mick, you’re really talented.”

“Thanks. I sorta based it off one of the pictures we asked that old geezer to take when we went to that Rays game, but I changed it up some. That night meant a lot to me, ya know? You give pretty good gifts too.”

Debbie chimed in. “I want you to draw me next!” to which Mickey nodded emphatically. 

“Open the gifts from us!” Debbie declared. She went over to the tree and slid one large box in front of Mickey and the other in front of Mandy. They glanced at one another sheepishly, not overly thrilled with the attention, but they seemed to know that they’d been embraced by this family and were starting to feel like they were a part of it. 

Mandy reached the inside of her gift first and began pulling out folded sets of soft linens and towels. “All for your new place,” remarked Debbie as she helped Mandy reach the bottom of the box, where she pulled out a tiny organza bag with a delicate silver bracelet inside. Mandy hugged Debbie and thanked everyone profusely while Mickey rummaged through his box, pulling out various pots and pans—really nice cookware that they’d found online for a decent price and a couple of cookbooks Ian had picked out for them to try together. 

Mickey proclaimed that he would have everyone over for home cooked meal as soon as they were settled. He kissed Ian’s cheek, though Ian felt like his gift wasn’t nearly as special as Mickey’s. “Guess I give the practical gifts,” he muttered. Everyone laughed, having heard about the running shoes already, but Mickey leaned over to whisper in Ian’s ear. “There’s nothing wrong with practical. Besides, you’ve given me something I’ve been looking for my whole life.”

Ian wrapped his arms around Mickey and climbed on top of him, pressing his lips against Mickey’s as all of the siblings “oohed” and “aahed” while Fiona distracted Liam with his new race car and told Ian to cut it out...or to get a room.

^^^^^^^^^^

After the holidays wrapped up, they were truly in the home stretch. Ian went up once more to see Mickey and celebrate the New Year, though it had to wait until the following weekend in January.

The next two weeks flew by, and before they knew it, the Thursday before Mickey’s last weekend in South Carolina had arrived. He’d be settling into his apartment with Mandy by Saturday and starting his new job at an orange grove on Monday, about fifteen miles from their place. Mickey had worked it out with the grove manager to carpool with a co-worker until he and Mandy had enough money to buy a car. 

Ian was at work, watching the clock and ready for his shift to be over when Mickey texted him, asking if he could take a break and chat. Ian took his usual seat outside at the picnic table and called his boyfriend.

“What’s up, Mick? I’ll be hittin’ the road in about an hour. Let’s try to rent the trailer tonight.”

“Yeah, about that,” said Mickey with a gentle tone. “You’ve been driving enough lately. I can hear how tired you are. Besides, it’s not much furniture for me to load myself.”

“But I miss you, Mick. And I wanna help you get packed and shit.”

“Just be ready to help us get everything set up, huh?”

Ian sighed. He looked back over to the station and shook his head, relenting. “Yeah, fine. I guess I can tell Sue I can cover for Jorge tomorrow. He asked me this morning, but I told him ‘no’ since I was gonna be with you.”

“Well, hold up a sec on that, big guy,” Mickey said abruptly, and Ian waited to hear what Mickey had to say. “Look over at the exit lane.”

Ian obliged.

“You see that U Haul truck coming your way?”

“Fuck...Mick!” Ian leaped up from where he was sitting and somehow managed to resist the urge to wave frantically at the truck coming towards the station. His breath caught in his throat, remembering fondly that site of Mickey coming towards him so many times before, that smirk woven into his expression and his blue eyes shining. 

“Ian? You there?”

“Yeah, man. I, um...fuck...I was just remembering, you know...”

“I know. Me too. You were always the first thing I wanted to see when I crossed over the state line.” 

Ian choked back tears. “I thought we agreed to no more surprises. You got me though.”

“I was able to work it out to leave today. Didn’t want to wait any longer.” Mickey was slowing the truck down and stopping in the parking lot on the other side of the station. “Think you can leave now? If not, I can wait here for you.”

Ian was walking quickly towards the station, a million thoughts racing through his mind, but the most important one was making up an excuse to tell Sue. He turned to smile at Mickey. “Gimme a second, and I’ll be there.”

Pushing his way inside, Ian walked right up to Sue’s door and knocked loudly.

“Come in,” she called out. 

“Hey, Sue...I was just wondering if I could…”

Sue rolled her eyes and held up her hand before he could finish. “What happened this time, Gallagher? I take it you need to leave early?”

“Yes, ma’am, well...I, uh…” he stammered, not even able to muster up a creative story, his heart was beating so fast. “I’m in love!” he blurted out, like a complete idiot. “And the guy...he’s here, outside...to pick me up. He surprised me...so, I, uh…”

“Love, huh? Well...that’s a first.” She smiled. “I figured something was going on with you.” She waved her hand as if dismissing him. “Just go. We’ll see you back on Sunday,” she said, mumbling to herself about “kids these days.” On his way out, Ian yelled “bye” to his co-workers and sprinted towards the U Haul. 

Mickey was waiting for him outside, cigarette hanging out of the corner of his mouth, and one in his hand for Ian. “Got a light?” he asked before letting Ian tackle him and pin him against the door, not seeming to mind at all that both cigarettes were now on the pavement as Ian peppered his face with soft kisses before their lips crashed into each other’s.

“You’re here,” whispered Ian, feeling a wave of excitement pass over him, similar to what he’d felt the first time they’d kissed in the restaurant and so many times since then. “No more distance between us.”

“Now the fun begins,” Mickey replied, wrapping his arm around Ian’s shoulder, and like the true gentleman Ian always new he was, accompanying Ian to the other side of the U Haul to get the door for him.

Chapter Text

It was summertime and hot as fuck, but the pool was in a shaded spot in the yard, next to the garden they’d started in the spring. The tomatoes and cucumbers had come in nicely. The corn, too. There was more than enough to enjoy between the Gallaghers and Milkoviches.

After sharing the rest of the bounty with the neighbors, Mickey and Debbie were already scheming about expanding the garden and either setting up a stand to sell produce or getting a booth at a local farmer’s market. Frank was trying to get in on the action, but everyone knew he would somehow manage to screw everything up and make it all about profit for himself. They gave him a weekly allotment of produce and that was all.

On this particular summer day, Lip and Mandy had taken the younger Gallagher kids to Disney World. Per Mandy’s theme park bucket list, it was time for Magic Kingdom. And despite Ian’s prediction, his brother and Mickey’s sister had not hooked up yet. Apparently, Mandy was staying committed to her goal of working on being happy by herself. She had “friend zoned” Lip, which was a new and worthwhile experience for him to have a female friend he wasn’t fucking.  

With Fiona at work, Ian and Mickey had the Gallagher house—and the small above-ground pool—all to themselves. They were seated in the cool water, just a few inches apart, cold beers in hand, when Ian brought up a topic he was sure Mickey wanted to avoid.

“Ready to learn how to float?” he asked with that sing-songy tone in his voice that he knew irked Mickey, but he couldn’t help himself.

Mickey rolled his eyes as he sloshed water at Ian. “I said I’d give it another try...for a blowie. Remember?”

Ian nodded and hid a satisfied smile. Maybe this time Ian could get Mickey to relax. This’ll be the best time to learn, Ian had told him. Trust me. Mickey was almost finished with his third beer, and they’d get started on the lesson. Three beers was usually just the right amount to give Mickey a buzz, but he’d still have his faculties intact.

A few months before, Ian had suggested that Mickey take adult swim lessons through the YMCA. Mandy agreed to go with her brother, but she was the only one who followed through. A few times, Ian and Mandy tried to give Mickey some basic pointers at the pool in their apartment complex, but he was bothered by the idea that everyone was staring at the “grown-ass man who couldn’t fucking swim”. 

But here, in the quiet afternoon of the day, Ian gently coaxed Mickey away from the side of the pool, and massaged his shoulders, kissing him lightly on his lips and telling him to relax his body. 

“Think about lying down in bed,” Ian suggested as he stretched his arms underneath Mickey’s back, supporting him in the water as he struggled to get comfortable.

“Fuck!” muttered Mickey, moving his body back to an upright position. “I’m never gonna learn.”

“It’s okay, Mick. You’re overthinking it. Besides, it takes practice.” Ian, seeing his words were not convincing Mickey of anything, added, “Let’s try a few more times...then we can fool around.”

“Fine,” Mickey said with an exasperated sigh. He eased his shoulders back into the water and rested his neck against Ian’s arm. 

“Perfect, like I’m carrying your drunk ass home.”

Mickey snickered at that comment, closing his eyes as Ian lowered his arms with Mickey against them. His body was as stiff as a board, but at least he wasn’t pulling back up. The water lapped against the sides of his head. 

“You’re doing great, Mick. I’m gonna keep my arms underneath you, okay?”

“Mmmm-hmmm,” managed Mickey, his eyes open now and his shoulders more relaxed. 

“And I’m not gonna do that shit of promising you I won’t let go and then letting go.”

If Mickey hadn’t been concentrating so much, he probably would have told Ian to cut out that gentle shit, but as it was, Ian was approaching this in the way that Mickey needed most. 

“Try lifting your legs. And if it feels like too much, lift your arms above your head to balance things out. I won’t move my arms.”

Mickey nodded, straining to make his legs cooperate, but after a few attempts, he got them higher, his toes poking out of the water.

“Perfect,” Ian said encouragingly. “I just wanted you to do this much today. Ready to stop now?”

Mickey turned to Ian and fumbled a little, his legs sinking back into the water until he steadied them again. “Not yet. Can you move your arms out from under me? I wanna try one time before we quit.”

“You sure?” asked Ian, his heart starting to swell, happy that Mickey had trusted him to give this a try. 

“Yep.”

“Okay, here goes.”

Ian swooped his arms downward and back to his sides. Mickey held the floating position on his own for a few seconds before the weight of his body shifted him back upwards. Now Mickey was trying to hide a smile. “How’d I do?”

“Nailed it!” Ian watched as Mickey finally released the tension around his mouth, grinning widely. 

“Thanks, man.” Mickey averted his eyes and mumbled, “Thanks for being patient.”

“There’s something in it for me, too. Ready for your reward?” Ian reminded him, pulling Mickey close and kissing into the side of his neck, his tongue lapping away the droplets of water on his skin.

Mickey moaned as Ian cupped his ass and drew him in for a deep kiss, their tongues swirling together.

“Fuck, Ian. Want you so bad right now,” he cooed. “But...can we try a few more times with the floating thing first?” Mickey cocked his head, one eye closed as he moved his lips reluctantly away from Ian’s.

“Yeah, of course,” agreed Ian, even more turned on by his boyfriend’s persistence. He helped Mickey relax back into the floating position a few more times before they both decided that was enough practice for one afternoon.

They made it inside the house about 10 minutes later, and before they’d called it a wrap, Mickey had floated nearly half a minute on his own. Celebratory sex in the pool was an appealing idea but not with the possibility of one of the neighborhood kids coming over and asking to swim, as they sometimes did.

Dripping water onto the kitchen floor, they raced up the steps, lan trailing behind Mickey on purpose, grabbing his ass and pulling at the waistband of his swimming trunks, finally succeeding at yanking them down in the upstairs hallway. 

He dug his fingers into Mickey’s cold-to-the-touch ass cheeks and made some comment about warming him up. As he brought a hand around to stroke Mickey’s cock, Ian was pleasantly surprised by how hard Mickey was already, despite just being in the water.

“Oh, baby. This all for me?” he moaned, dropping to his knees and wasting no time in giving Mickey’s cock attention. He sucked teasingly at the head as he grasped the base of his cock, also tugging his boyfriend’s swimming trunks all the way off.

Mickey looked down at Ian, watching intently with lust in his eyes as the redhead opened his mouth wide to accommodate all of Mickey. Ian groaned with desire as Mickey pushed his dick to the back of his throat and began moving his hips rapidly. 

“God, Officer Gallagher. Love you like this,” croaked Mickey, as he fucked into Ian’s mouth, his fingers gripping into red hair.

Ian shuddered at the sound of Mickey’s voice, teasing him with that damn nickname that he actually loved. It always brought back memories from when they first met.

“Wanna fuck you,” Mickey moaned, his mouth open and the back of his head pressed against the wall. 

Ian managed a smirk in the corner of his mouth, and hummed in agreement, quickening the motion of his mouth to keep riling his boyfriend up. Mickey rarely asked to top, which was fine by Ian, but today seemed as good as any to take whatever Mickey had to give him.

“Now, Gallagher,” Mickey hissed, running his thumb across Ian’s cheek and pushing it into his reddened lips. “B-before I come like this…”  

“Okay, okay. Let’s do it,” Ian panted, pulling off, wrapping his hand around Mickey’s cock, and stroking him as he led them towards the back bedroom, usually occupied by his younger brothers. But not today. 

They made it over to Ian’s bed, and he reached into the drawer of the nightstand, where he still had a stash of lube.

“Prep me with this?” He offered, passing Mickey a tube of strawberry flavored lube.

“Fuck yeah, I will,” agreed Mickey heartily. He yanked Ian’s damp swim trunks down, revealing his ready and waiting cock and gave it a few rough tugs. Ian kicked his suit across the room, complying immediately once Mickey commanded him to get on the bed. “I wanna see that ass in the air, wanna see your tight little hole. I know it’s gotta be since we haven’t done this in awhile. But I’ll get you good and loose. Gonna eat that ass.”

Ian was loving how Mickey had taken charge, going after what he wanted, after showing Ian his vulnerable side and letting his guard down earlier in the pool.

“S-sure, Mick,” Ian stammered, getting on all fours and turning his neck sideways so he could watch Mickey coat his fingers with the lube and bring them right to the spot he’d promised. 

He gasped at the sensation of Mickey swirling the tips of his fingers around his hole, wasting no time spreading his ass cheeks apart and beginning the welcome assault.

Pushing against Mickey’s darting tongue, Ian cried out, arching his back. “God. You do that so good.”

The more Ian moaned, the faster Mickey lapped and sucked, making filthy noises that were driving Ian to the brink of release. The room was filled with heavy breathing and smelled like sex and strawberries. 

“Fuck me,” Ian eventually pleaded, gasping as Mickey slipped two fingers inside of him, murmuring something about how Ian was gonna take him so good. He made a scissoring motion with the fingers inside of Ian and opened him up for a third, pointedly searching for his sensitive spot. When Mickey came upon it, Ian felt it right away. He swayed his head back and forth, the word “yes,” tumbling from his lips repeatedly as Mickey massaged his prostate and brought his other hand around to stroke Ian’s weeping cock.

“Fuck, Mick. That’s it. That’s...oh, fuck! Don’t stop, don’t stop...“

Mickey’s continued the double stimulation a little while longer, eventually pressing his lips into the small of Ian’s back.

“Need to get inside of you, Ian. Please, you feel so tight.”

Ian nodded, and Mickey surprised him by carefully maneuvering Ian onto his side, then his back, fingers still inside of him, keeping him full. Mickey, his mouth inches away from Ian’s cock, sucked him down, bobbing up and down a few times before popping his lips off and bringing them to Ian’s mouth.

“Mmmm...you taste so good, baby. Every part of you. And you’re mine.”

“Damn right I’m yours,” Ian replied, floating on a wave of ecstasy, lost in Mickey’s gaze, mesmerized by the shine of blue eyes under heavy lids. 

Mickey lifted up, removing his fingers from inside of Ian, promising he wouldn’t have to wait long to be filled again. Ian drank in the sight of his boyfriend’s bare chest rising and falling as he coated his throbbing cock with lube. Then Mickey was on top of him again, their bodies pressed together as Mickey spread him open and slowly pushed his dick inside. “Fuuuuuck,” Mickey gasped, opening his eyes to check Ian’s reaction as he bottomed out. “You okay?”

“Yeah, feels good.” Ian murmured. He pressed his knees into Mickey’s sides, encouraging him to go faster by moving his hips along with the gentle rhythm Mickey had going.

It had been awhile since Mickey had been inside of him, but the sensation of being filled with his boyfriend practically melded to him was exactly what Ian wanted. He moved his hands along Mickey’s sides until he reached his ass. As Mickey grinded into him, Ian grabbed at the soft mounds of flesh that he couldn’t get enough of, his long fingers seeking that part of Mickey that he was used to owning. 

“Fuck, Ian!” Mickey growled in response, his hips slowing as he pushed against Ian’s fingers. “You wanna flip?”

Ian lifted his eyes to Mickey, his mouth watering at the sight of Mickey so turned on and falling apart inside of him. “No, baby, it feels so good like this,” he cooed. “We can go for round two later.”

Mickey sighed, “I don’t think I can wait. Need you to get on me, need that dick. Want you to fill me up.” For extra emphasis, Mickey curled his hand around Ian’s cock and stroked it with such tenderness and want that Ian immediately agreed to the flip.

They quickly changed positions with Mickey on his back and Ian hovering on top of him, grabbing some lube before lining up his fingers and dipping into Mickey’s hole, pressing deeper into his furled, dark pink skin. 

“Don’t need much. Gonna get your dick ready,” Mickey declared, fumbling around for the lube as he keened against the sensation of Ian’s fingers searching inside of him. He pawed at Ian’s chest, rubbing one hand over his already stiff nipples and coating lube on Ian’s cock with the other hand.

Ian positioned himself between his boyfriend’s knees, bringing his fingers up to his own lips and sweeping his tongue against them. “You taste amazing.”

“Filthy slut,” rasped Mickey. “Come on, need you...now!”

Ian growled, grabbing Mickey’s hips and lining up to push inside. He leaned down to kiss Mickey roughly on the mouth and mumbled, “Yeah, but I’m your filthy slut.” Ian lifted himself back up, hands pressed into the mattress on either side of Mickey, and slammed in and out of him mercilessly, egged on by the sensual writhing from his partner. After a few more thrusts, he was searching Mickey’s face to see if he was close. One slight shift, and Ian could tell he was hitting Mickey’s prostate from the way he was biting into his lip. Ian maneuvered a hand between their torsos and around Mickey’s dick. He didn’t want this to end, but at the same time, he was ready to make Mickey come hard. 

As Ian began stroking him in tandem with each thrust, Mickey’s eyes rolled into the back of his head and his breath became stilted. “Fuck yeah…fuck, fuck, fuuuuuck!!!!”

Watching in awe as Mickey came undone, Ian felt his warm release dribble over his hand, stray ropes shooting onto both their chests. He lost control just seconds later, groaning in ecstasy as Mickey, slowly coming down from his climax, wrapped his arm around Ian’s back and kissed into his open mouth.

“Yes, baby, fill me up,” Mickey managed, his own body still shaking, as he absorbed the shudders that came along with Ian letting go.

“I love you so fucking much, Mickey,” whispered Ian, panting into his boyfriend’s ear, after he’d collected himself. “Didn’t think I could ever be this happy.”

“Ian…” Mickey held him tighter, both of them knowing how Ian’s emotions sometimes bubbled to the surface after a round of intense love making. “I love you, too. Never woulda pictured my yankee ass down here in sunny Florida. But it all makes sense. You and me. Together.”

“Yeah, it does,” murmured Ian, slowly moving out of Mickey and over to his side. He cupped Mickey’s face and planted a loving kiss on his lips before resting his head against Mickey’s shoulder. 

They drifted off to sleep, and about an hour later, Ian woke up to the sound of Mickey’s stomach growling. Still feeling a little weak after their amazing romp in the sack, he tried to nudge him awake with soft kisses on his shoulder. “Your inner alarm is sounding. Dinner time…”

“Huh?” Mickey put his hand on his stomach and rolled over onto his side. Ian lay still in his bed for a few minutes before rallying, deciding to make dinner by himself and let Mickey sleep. 

Mickey’s job at the orange grove was, of course, physically demanding on most days, and the weekends were his time to catch up on his rest. Even though harvest finished a couple of weeks back, Mickey still seemed to be recovering. The good news was that the grove manager had taken a liking to Mickey and his work ethic and was having him help out in the office with the import processes. Mickey seemed to have a knack with the business side of things, which made sense, given his past experience with certain illegitimate transactions. Thanks...Terry?

Ian slipped on a t-shirt and some shorts before heading downstairs. He noticed a few changes in the kitchen—a new toaster and updated pictures on the fridge that Liam must have drawn. Ian didn’t stay at the house most nights. Lip had been home for the summer and was splitting the head of household duties with Fiona, and occasionally Ian, as they rotated in and out between their jobs and time with significant others. Fiona and Gus were still going strong, but she wasn’t ready to leave their younger siblings, and none of them could depend on either of their sorry parents to stick around long enough to do it. 

Ever since Mickey “landed” in Florida, Ian had been a permanent fixture over at Mickey and Mandy’s place, helping out with the rent, but never technically moving in. It wasn’t time to leave his family yet, though he knew that day would come soon. He and Mickey talked about getting their own place one day, something small with a decent yard for a garden or maybe even some acreage in case Mickey wanted to do something more expansive with farming. They planned to start night classes in the fall, just one class per semester for now, so that they could continue working full time. 

Ian went to the back porch to clip some basil and oregano from the still thriving and expanded herb garden. He had chopped-up veggies from the garden in the fridge so that he could make them a pasta primavera for dinner with salad and wine. He wasn’t going to let Mickey sleep too much longer, because he was longing for his company, even if his boyfriend was going to be grouchy until he had something to eat.

While the water for the noodles was boiling, Ian thumbed through the calendar on the fridge that Fiona maintained for tracking activities. August was coming soon—Ian and Mickey’s anniversary month—and classes would be starting. They’d talked about taking a quick trip up to Chicago beforehand. Mandy was game as well, wanting to see some old friends. 

They had no desire to check in on Terry and rarely spoke of him. When they corresponded with their brothers, they made sure to keep their exact whereabouts unknown. It was just better that way for everyone. Occasionally, Mickey would have nightmares that resulted in him crying out or thrashing around in the bed. Ian would have to wake him up and soothe him back to sleep. 

He hoped Mickey might consider going to therapy one day to work through some of the shit he’d been dealt. Ian was continuing to see a therapist and doing well on his current meds. But he’d learned not to try to push Mickey into doing something he wasn’t ready to do. It was a matter of planting the idea and letting Mickey figure out the rest.

Ian was relieved at how well they’d been getting along, how smooth things had been over the course of the past several months, despite the changes that could have easily been stressful—new surroundings for Mickey, a new job, and way more togetherness than they’d had before. But they didn’t have any big disagreements to contend with yet—no shared finances, and Mandy constantly reminded them not to treat the apartment like a pigsty. To stay on her good side, they each made it a point to keep the place tidy and split the cooking duties.

Growing up Gallagher, it was pizza and spaghetti with sauce from a jar and whatever else was quick, cheap, and could feed a large crowd. Mickey shared a similar experience, only he didn’t have sit-down dinners with his family, where someone cared enough to ask him about his day. But now he did. He and Ian (and Mandy when she wasn’t working) always tried to make time for meals together, around a table, too. 

Ian had set places for him and Mickey at the kitchen table, the wine poured and the salads plated. He called up to Mickey to come down and eat. The noodles were finished, and Ian was letting the sauce simmer a little longer—he knew it might take a few attempts to get Mickey out of bed. He’d make them ice cream sundaes for dessert, and they would likely crash in the living room and watch something on Netflix until everyone got back. 

After calling up to him a few more times with no response, Ian trucked it back up the stairs to find Mickey dressed and tidying up around the bed.

“Oh, hey...you ready for dinner?” Ian stood in the doorway, watching his boyfriend smooth out the sheets on the bed. He always got a kick out of domestic Mickey.

“Yeah, just took me a minute to get up. You pretty much fucked the life outta me,” he gruffed.

“Awwww, baby…” Ian came up behind Mickey and wrapped his arms around his shoulders, kissing him softly at the nape of his neck. “Let’s get you fed. It’s the least I can do.”

Mickey leaned against him. “Something does smell good.”

“Mmmm-hmmm,” Ian hummed, giving Mickey’s neck one more kiss before nudging him towards the door. “I made pasta primavera. Used some of the herbs we planted. I think you’ll like it.”

“I’m sure I will, as long as you don’t start talking about how you added a secret ingredient.”

“Like what?” asked Ian as they made their way downstairs.

“You know...love.”

Ian burst out laughing. “Damn. Do you think I’m that much of a sap?”

“Yeah. Sometimes. But I don’t really mind, you know.” Mickey winked across the table, placing a napkin in his lap as Ian served both of them.

“Nice save, Mick. Since I made you dinner and all.” Ian returned the wink and watched with an amused glint in his eye as Mickey jabbed at the pasta with his fork, stuffing a huge amount in his mouth, sauce all around his lips, which he wiped at with the back of his hand, followed by a huge gulp of wine. Ian figured he’d always enjoy meals with this man. Mickey approached his food the way he approached life—just went for it and savored it and didn’t give a damn if he spilled a little something here or there. 

Mickey didn’t worry about his weight anymore, though Ian never saw a reason why he should in the first place, remembering an early discussion they’d had about it. Besides, he worked his ass off at the grove. If anything, he had lost weight, but thankfully, not in that gorgeous ass of his. And Ian had quit the gym. Running was enough to keep him healthy, and though he hadn’t convinced Mickey to join him on a regular basis, it was still something he enjoyed doing with Carl or on his own.

Over dinner, the pair chatted about mundane shit from work and pulled out their phones to compare pictures everyone had texted from their day at Disney. Maybe Ian was a sap, he figured, as he was already getting excited about Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas with their now blended families. It made him so happy that Mickey and Mandy were safe and doing well.

For dessert, Ian assembled the sundaes and had asked Mickey to pick something out for them to watch. They settled down together on the couch and sat through a couple of Tom Cruise action flicks, not Ian’s favorite actor because of his Scientology bullshit, but he knew Mickey was all about supporting thespians on the shorter side.

Around 11 o’clock, they heard keys jingling in the lock of the front door, so Ian got up to open it and welcome his family back. He was on the verge of shouting “hey guys!” when he realized that Lip had a sleeping Liam in his arms. Ian patted his brother on the back before Lip headed upstairs to put Liam in his bed. Mandy shoved Carl inside playfully, her arm around Debbie, both of them adorable with their Mickey Mouse ears. They walked into the living room with Ian, and Mickey asked about their day as they flopped down on the sofa across from him. 

“We’re tired as fuck, but we did it all,” Mandy said proudly. “Well, most of it. The lines were kinda long for some of the rides.”

“Yeah, but was it magical?” asked Mickey with a tone of sarcasm in his voice. 

“Ha! Sure. The blazing hot sun and a bunch of crying brats. Present company excluded,” added Mandy and nodded at Debbie and Carl. “We brought you losers something from the Big Top souvenir shop.”

“Oh yeah? That was thoughtful,” chirped Ian who was sitting on the arm of the chair Mickey was occupying. He intertwined his fingers with Mickey’s and kissed him on the top of his head, just because. 

“Peanuts!” yelled Debbie, pulling out a cellophane bag stuffed with unshelled peanuts and tied with festive blue and red ribbons from her bag.

“Peanuts,” Ian and Mickey said at the same time, looking into each other’s eyes. They’d always have...peanuts.