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Promise

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There are a couple things you learn in this highschool.

(1.) It’s pretty much a joke cause the standards are low and the test scores are even lower.

(2.) Don’t eat the meatloaf on Monday’s cause it’s probably made from dog and you’re bound to get E Coli.

(3.) Don’t fuck with Ian Gallagher cause if you do you have to answer to Mickey Milkovich.

“Damn Mick way to look like a tool” Mickey was leaning on the hood of his old beat up mustang checking his hair in his phone screen.

“Ay fuck you Gallagher” Mickey said grabbing Ian’s school books and throwing them in the back seat. “Gotta look good you know” he opened Ian’s door and walked around to get in his own seat. “And fuck you, Bobby Reynolds is a tool. I’m badass”

“Oh yea Mick you’re the baddest” he laughed glancing over at his boyfriend. Mickey started the car taking him home. He didn’t get it. Mickey was so sweet to him. Opens doors for him, spends time, fuck even once made him a playlist on Spotify of songs that made him think of him. They were mostly old rock songs but there was one or two cheesy love songs. He’s a wonderful, kind person but Mickey only shows that side to him. To everyone else he’s exactly what he said, badass. You don’t fuck with Mickey, or worse him unless you wanna end up with a severely bruised ego or most of the time a broken face. He likes to use intimidation to get what he wants, force works too. Everyone thinks he’s this big bad wolf when in reality he’s a soft marshmallow. Mickey says he’s like that cause he can’t stand anyone else in the world besides him but 90% of his anger comes from his shitty past. Ian can only help him so much with that. That is until the brunette gets tired of him and breaks his heart. He’s just shy nerdy Ian Gallagher, everyone gets bored of him eventually and Mickey will too.

“What you got there Gallagher?” Mickey asked glancing at the papers Ian had taken out of his backpack.

“They’re application forms” Ian said quickly as if he didn’t wanna talk about it.

“Application forms hmm..” he knew but he had to ask anyways. “For where?”

“UCSD. University of California San Diego. They have one of the best Marine Biology programs. If I wanna be a half decent marine biologist I have to go there” Ian was so animated when he talked about College. He gets so excited and there is a certain glow there. Mickey loves to see it. He loves everything about Ian. Has since freshman year. He’d ask him to marry him if he thought Ian would accept. He won’t though. Kid still thinks that one day he’s gonna get tired of him, leave him. No fucking way. His boyfriend is everything he’s wanted and everything he’ll ever want. He’s the most important person in his life. Sure he has his sister, piece of shit brothers, and his aunt, but Ian’s his. Drives him fucking insane he won’t believe him. He makes comments about when he gets tired him, or when he decides he’s too cool for him, and other stupid ridiculous shit like that. He never wants to give up the redhead and he’s gonna do everything he can to keep him.

“UCSD eh? Fuckin San Diego” he said enuciating every syllable. “There’s a beach there right?” Mickey glanced at his boyfriend. His forehead is bunched up as he fills out the numerous tiny boxes on the application form.

“Course there’s a beach. One of the many reasons to also move to California” Ian wasn’t really paying attention to him. Too engrossed in what he was doing.

“Never thought I’d move to California but fuck it right” he chuckled turning down Ian’s street.

Ian stopped writing and looked at his boyfriend. He’s kidding right? He didn’t hear him properly. He couldn’t have. “What’d you mean?”

Mickey did a quick double take and focused back on the road. “What do you think I mean Gallagher?” he scoffed playfully. “I could fuckin come with you. You get in I wanna might come too” Ian didn’t say anything. “Not sayin we gotta live together or anythin like that. I’d get a job and an apartment or somethin. Don’t got the mega brains like you to get into a fancy ass college” Mickey parked in front of Ian’s house and waited for the redhead to say something, anything. “But I mean only if you fuckin wanted me to go. If you don’t..” he trailed off cause he wasn’t sure what ‘if you don’t’ meant for him. He’s had the same idea of their future for a while.

“It’s not that it’s just..” Ian paused then gave him a soft smile. “Just don’t make any big decisions you might regret later ok. Gotta think about your future and what that looks like” Mickey could feel the scowl on his face. His future is Ian. Ian leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek. When his boyfriend pulled away he cradled his face and attacked his lips, probably with more fervor than intended. Mickey could taste the perfect mix of Ian and that peppermint Extra gum he always chews. Too soon it seemed like the redhead pulled away.

“See you tomorrow Mick” he said then turned to go inside.

It was nagging at him. This ache, this fucking feeling in the pit of his gut, it felt like Ian’s trying to push him away. Almost like the harder he tries to hold onto the redhead the more he tries to pull away. His boyfriend has to love him. He sees it in his eyes. They’ve been together off and on for four years. More on then off. It feels like Ian’s trying to prepare himself for him to leave. The only problem is that he’s actually not letting him stay.

******

“Mickey stop!” Ian shouted trying to get his boyfriend to not punch Kyle Tanner in the face. He’d already done it once and had his armed cranked back ready to go again.

“Gallagher shut up. He deserves it” Mickey had Kyle on the ground, shirt bunched up in his fist keeping him upright, and was gonna hit him with the other fist. Right when he was gonna let his fist fly he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned ready to push the person away when he saw it was Ian.

“Mick please..”

Mickey glanced around and he had an audience. He always had an audience. People too nosy to keep walking when they see a fight. It’s good though. Gives them all warnings of what not to do. He let Kyle go but picked him up by the arm facing him towards Ian.

“Now shit for brains tell Ian what we were discussing when my fist collided your ugly mug” he growled.

“I..I’m fuck Ian I’m sorry” Kyle stammered definitely in pain but more likely scared of Mickey.

“For” Mickey said slightly shaking him.

“For pushin you and..and..um knockin your books outta your hands”

“And fuckin callin him a faggot” Mickey hissed through gritted teeth. “You think that was very nice Kyle? You fuckin think bein a faggot is wrong or somethin? Guess what” he sneered getting close to the bully’s ear. “I’m a faggot” he pushed Kyle away. “You gonna fuckin push me too?” Kyle was shaking his head back and forth saying no.

“Mickey it’s fine alright just stop” Ian hates that this is how the world sees Mickey.

“Don’t ever fuckin touch him again got it” he said dangerously walking closer to him. Kyle was backing away looking like he may cry. “He may have saved your pathetic ass for some fuckin reason today but next time I won’t be this fuckin nice. Did you learn your lesson?” The bully nodded. “Good now fuck off”

“Sorry I.Ian” Kyle stuttered one last time before running away.

Mickey turned towards him and took his books from him. “Mickey you didn’t have to do that. He’s just an asshole”

“Yea, I did Gallagher. No one fucks with you and Tanner has been askin for it for awhile” Mickey lit a cigarette as they finished up lunch. They weren’t supposed to smoke on campus but he didn’t care and the teachers didn’t say shit.

“Why do you only show people that side of you? There’s so much more to you and nobody gets to see but me” he just wanted people to see Mickey as more than a thug. Ian hated the way they talked about him. “They say fuckin awful things about you. Pisses me off”

“Don’t fuckin let it, yea” Mickey said putting out his cigarette and kissing his forehead. “Come on gonna be fuckin late for class” he snatched up Ian’s books before he could and walked him to class.

******

“So how did you like the movie?” Mickey asked walking back to the car.

“It was ok, but I don’t understand why they had to fuckin kill everyone. Three main characters that you get attached to and boom all dead by the end. It’s bullshit” Ian took a sip of his Coke looking down. That movie really did suck. Why pay $7 for a movie to make you sad.

“Aww you’re so sensitive” Mickey cooed pulling Ian against his side and kissing the side of his head.

“Shut up no I’m not” he laughed pushing Mickey away.

“What, fuckin sensitivity is good. Doesn’t make you any less of a man Gallagher”

“Oh yea? What happened to the tough ‘I don’t talk about my feelins guy’ hm?”

Mickey reached out and laced his fingers with Ians. “Gotta talk about your fuckin feelins right? Tell all the people you care about that you care” Mickey stared up at the night sky wondering if he should just say it. Those three little words. No, now isn’t the time. “You know so they don’t leave and go to a college far far away”

“Ha! I see what you did there” They finally reached the car and turned on the radio. “It’ll be a good thing Mick. I’ll go to school and you can work for Barry’s construction company. It’s what you’ve been wantin right?”

“Well yea I guess but shit changes” he gently turned Ian’s face so he could look into his eyes. “What if that isn’t what I fuckin want anymore. What if I wanted to follow you. They gotta have construction in San Diego” he chuckled. “There’s fuckin construction jobs everyone. What if all I wanted was you?”

Ian turned away because this moment was heavy and he didn’t know what to say. He wanted it to but he’s terrified. Mickey is used to Chicago. He knows all the people and has been going to school with them forever. San Diego would offer him so much more. Job opportunities, a new start from the bad persona he has here, but the one that scares him the most is more guys. Plenty of guys for him to realize are better than him. Ian has confidence. He really does, but for some reason being with Mickey erases it all. Maybe he is just too scared to lose him so it’s easier to let it end after high school then get heartbroken in college. “I think you should think about it more. We still have a few months left and like you said shit changes”

Mickey smiled and nodded his head starting up the car. He didn’t know want to say cause he didn’t know what there was to say. It feels like every time he puts himself out there Ian shuts him down. That is the main reason why he won’t say he loves Ian. If he said it and the redhead didn’t say it back he’d probably break down and nobody wants to see that.

*****

“Ian!” Fiona called for him. “You got somethin in the mail. It seems important”

Ian ran down the stairs and was handed a big envelope with USCD at the top. “Holy shit” This is it. Finally he was going to see where his future led and by the size of this envelope it was somewhere good. He took a deep breath and barely tore the paper. “You do it” he yelped pushing it into Mickey’s hands.

“Gallagher it’s just a fuckin letter” he scoffed but secretly he was afraid of what was in this envelope too. He’s not ready for Ian to leave him yet. He opened the mail quickly and slid out the contents. First thing he saw was a piece of paper. “Congratulations Mr. Ian Gallagher you have been accepted into the UC San Diego Marine Biology Program”

“Oh my God! I got in!” Ian gasped snatching the paper out of Mickey’s hands. “I got in!” He threw his arms around Mickey’s neck and pressed their lips together.

“Congrats Gallagher” Mickey said plastering on a big fake smile. Inside his heart was breaking. “I told you, you could fuckin do anythin and you were all fuckin worried”

“Well it was my future in that envelope. Don’t know what I would’ve done if I got denied” Ian sighed and took Mickey’s hand pulling him towards the couch sitting him next to him. Mickey’s face showed disappointment but he doesn’t understand why.

“Yea well you didn’t” Mickey pull out a cigarette and lit it taking a puff. “You’re goin and all your fuckin dreams will come true” The brunette sniffed and stood up. He was antsy, almost itching in his own skin. It feels like the world as he knows it is gonna shatter.

“You ok Mick?” Ian asked looking up at him. “You seem..”

“I’m fuckin fine Gallagher. I gotta go” Mickey leaned down and pressed a quick kiss against his boyfriends lips then swiftly left. So much for his boyfriend being happy for him.

*****

“Ryder you got my money?” Mickey said walking up to Ryder Thomas’s car. “Where’s my $200 hm? Done fuckin waitin”

“Milkovich, I ain’t got your money. Need another week” Ryder said plainly like it was a fucking option to wait.

“Yea see that shit ain't gonna work for me. Bought shit from me fuckin two weeks ago for your little rich boy party now pay up” he stepped closer to Ryder. “Ask daddy, sell your fuckin car I don’t give a shit, I want my money now”

“Too fuckin bad Milkovich” Ryder said shoving him away. This dumbass jock has a death wish.

“Last chance then I get angry” He said knocking his knuckle against his nose.

“Fuck off Mick. I’ll have your money by next week” Ryder said turning to open his car door.

“No” he growled grabbing Ryder’s shoulder and spinning him around. Before the guy could realize what was happening Mickey’s fist was colliding with is face. “You got fuckin two days. If you ain’t got my money by then we will really have a fuckin problem” Mickey opened up the car door. “Make sure to wear your fuckin seatbelt. Face like yours” he tsked and slowly shook his head. Mickey started to walk away to go meet up with his boyfriend. “Two days” he shouted over his shoulder.

**

“Hi Mick” Ian said kissing Mickey on the cheek. Mickey didn’t take his books like he usually would. Since they found out three weeks ago he got accepted his boyfriend has been acting different. Distant maybe? He isn’t sure. Their relationship just doesn’t feel right and it is freaking him out. He thought they would at least have until summer comes along. Ian understands that he’s hard to get close to. He’s had abandonment issues since his mom Monica left. He didn’t know how deep they ran until he got older. Hugs weren’t freely given and ‘I love you’ was a rare sentiment for him. He’s been going to therapy for the past seven months. It’s a mixture of a fear of abandonment and rejection. He’s afraid to be abandoned so he doesn’t let anyone close. The fear of rejection makes him basically emotionally stunted. He’s afraid to hug someone first cause what if they don’t want to be hugged? If he hugged them and they didn’t want it and pushed him away he’d feel awful. Saying I love you is even worse. That he doesn’t say unless it’s said first. Ian asked his therapist how his fears are any more special than anyone else's. Why are his categorical? His therapist’s response was that his is extreme. He has gone so far into the fear that it’s almost impossible to form healthy relationships. Doesn’t matter if it’s his relationship with Mickey, his family, or having friends. It’s just better for him to not force his love or affection on anyone. So he keeps most of his feelings inside. He has gotten a little better of late. Might sounds silly but when he is wondering if someone wants a hug he asks. Before he would just sit there and his head would spin circles trying to decide what to do. Therapy is helpful but it hasn’t helped him enough to tell Mickey he loves him. If Mickey didn’t love him back or worse broke his heart he might die.

“Hey Gallagher” Mickey walked with Ian to his final class of the day. “Mrs. Blanche tried to keep the whole class late because those two fucks Jace and Langdon wouldn’t shut up. So fuckin stupid”

“I’m sorry Mick that sounds rough. Mrs. Blanche is kinda a bitch and those idiots fuck up everythin” he was looking at his boyfriend when Scott Bischop bumped into him.

“Fuckin walk much Gallagher” Scott sneered.

“I..I was..” Ian started to say.

“Maybe next time you could get your fat meaty head out your ass so you’d see where you were goin” Mickey said stepping in front of Ian. “But that’d make you fuckin smart and we both know you’re not the brightest are ya Scott”

“Fuck off Milkovich” Scott said scoffing. “Gallagher’s gonna have to learn to stick up for himself. Can’t always be there to fuckin fight his battles”

“You don’t know shit” Mickey growled.

“Mick come on” Ian said taking his hand but his boyfriend ripped it away.

“Yea Mickey walk along” Scott said shooing his hand.

“Mick” Ian said softly grabbing his hand. Mickey stood still for a moment longer then let himself get pulled away.

“Fuckin pussy” Scott mumbled under his breath to his friends.

“You got a big fuckin mouth” Mickey snapped turning around and punching Scott. “Your big fuckin” he kept punching the jock. “Mouth. You don’t know anythin! Stupid fuckin..”

“Mickey stop!” Ian screamed grabbing him and pulling him off of the battered jock.

“You don’t know fuckin shit you meathead. He’s got me!” Mickey shrieked. “Next time watch where you’re fuckin goin”

“Mr. Milkovich” Their principal’s voice boomed from down the hall. “My office now”

“Fuck fine” He said with a huff quickly walking to the principal’s office.

*****

Ian didn’t see Mickey for the rest of the day so he decided he had to go meet him at his house. What happened earlier seemed more than just Mickey standing up to him and he wants to figure it out. He knocked on the door and waited.

“Hey Gallagher” Mickey said crossing his arms.

“You ok Mick? What was that shit earlier?” Ian reached out to cup his cheek.

“Jesus Ian all you do now is ask if I’m ok” Mickey said slapping away his hand. “I’m fuckin fine. Been fine for a long fuckin time”

“You’re fuckin lyin. You redesigned Scott’s face because he bumped into me”

“Why the fuck you even care huh? You’re leavin in a month anyways” Mickey pushed passed Ian and walked down the stairs.

“What’s that supposed to mean Mickey?” Ian grabbed his shoulder stopping his boyfriend. “I fuckin care about you?”

“Do you? You’re fuckin leavin me like I don’t even matter to you. Like four years means nothin” Mickey didn’t want to do this. He wasn’t gonna be overly emotional. He was gonna let Ian do whatever he wanted to do and not interfere. Just what Scott said earlier is digging at him. When the jock said that Ian wouldn’t always have him it reminded him he was leaving. His boyfriend was leaving him and he didn’t even want him to come.

“It’s not even fuckin like that Mick. I’m goin to college!” Ian shouted throwing his hand up in the air.

“And I can’t come”

“What the fuck are you talkin about? You didn’t even apply” Ian knew what he meant but he didn’t want to talk about it. It’s a conversation that could end everything.

“That’s not what I mean Ian and you fuckin know it” Mickey rolled his eyes so hard they might fall out of his skull.

“For fuck sakes Mickey do whatever you want! I’m not your fuckin babysitter. You wanna move to California then do it”

“Yea cause that’s a warm fuckin invitation”

“What the fuck do you want from me!” Ian ran his hand through his hair then down his face with a groan.

“Nothin, I want you to go live your perfect fuckin life in San Diego” Mickey snapped.

“Mickey just stop alright”

“Just fuckin go”

Ian felt his eyes start to prickle. He didn’t think it was gonna end like this. He doesn’t want it to end at all. “Mickey I…” He can’t say it. Mickey doesn’t want him. If he said it right now it’d be for nothing.

Mickey lit up a cigarette and watched Ian leave. “Way to fuck everythin up Milkovich” Mickey said taking a long drag then blowing the smoke towards the sky. “You stupid prick”

*****

Two weeks and they have barely talked. Ian isn’t sure if it’s because they haven’t forgiven each other or because they are both too prideful, most likely pride. He thought about texting Mickey but decided against it. Mickey didn’t have to push him away but he did. Would Mickey actually want to stay with him when he isn’t living with him? He can’t live off campus until his sophomore year and even then he wouldn’t have any money. He thought about getting a job and it’s still a possibility. The Marine Biology program is intensive though and he will need all the time he could get. He can’t expect his boyfriend to pay for him to live there.

School was the worst because he saw the brunette and wanted so badly to kiss him but kept walking forward instead. Today he’s gonna talk to him though. If it doesn’t change anything that is ok at least he could try. He saw Mickey walking to his car and ran over him.

“Mick” he called stopping him. “Um can we talk?”

“Course, go for it Gallagher” Mickey swallowed thickly and puffed on a cigarette. He missed Ian everyday but he was almost embarrassed to confront him. He felt like a jackass for freaking out the way he did.

“You know I care about you right?” Ian started not knowing how to say what he wanted. “I mean you’re probably my most favorite person in the world”

“I know” Mickey said averting his eyes.

“You sure?”

“Yea, I know” Mickey sighed and scratched his eyebrow with his thumb. “I’m sorry” he said looking at his feet then back up at Ian. “I was a fuckin asshole”

“Yea, you were” Ian said softly. “You o…”

“Ok?” Mickey finished his sentence. “No, but I will be. I think so anyways”

“Mick I didn’t mean to hurt you’re feelins. I didn’t know you wanted to go with me that bad. I thought you were just sayin it” Ian shrugged his shoulders and stepped closer to Mickey.

“I ain’t gonna fuckin force myself into your life Gallagher. You either want me or you don’t” He sounded like such a fucking whiny bitch. All his macho points are floating into the sky.

“I do” Ian said holding on Mickey’s waist and pulling him close. “I just don’t want you to do somethin you’ll regret” His boyfriend scoffed lightly and pushed him away so he wasn’t touching him anymore.

You don’t fuckin know if I’ll regret it! You can’t fuckin know that Ian!” Mickey always gets loud when he’s pissed, even more so when he’s hurt.

“Neither can you! You’re just gonna uproot your whole life to come move to San Diego? Just because of me…”

“The only person I’d fuckin move to San Diego for is you” Mickey stepped close to Ian again grabbing his hand pulling him against his body. “Just fuckin let me” Mickey sucked Ian’s bottom lip into his mouth pulling it lightly and let it slip out plopping back into place.

“What about after a year? We last after a year you can come out. By then I can live off campus and if we are still together long distance it’s meant to be” Ian rested his forehead against Mickey’s closing his eyes. “One year ain’t that long and then maybe we can get an apartment or somethin. Maybe even a dog”

Mickey took a deep breath and closed his eyes. “Fuck you, I want a bird”

“We can get both” The redhead laughed lightly and connected their lips. When he kisses Mickey everything sorta stops. “Deal”

“Deal”

**Three Months into School**

Ian was having a blast. School has always come easy to him. He had been dreaming about going to UCSD since he was in middle school and now he’s here. He and Mickey’s relationship is still going strong. They text all day and talk on the phone a few times a week. Mickey is working in construction and from what he’s said he seems to be liking it. He’s good at it and likes to feel useful. His boyfriend took woodshop, autoshop, and even home economics. Mickey has always wanted to be a jack of all trades. He didn’t want to have to rely on anyone. The distance has sucked but his boyfriend came to visit him twice. Both times were great. They went to the beach, Universal Studios, and Disneyland. All things they hadn’t done and they were able to experience it for the first time together. He thinks he’s ready to tell Mickey he loves him the next time he comes up. He’s not afraid anymore.

“I can’t believe that cuttlefish actually fuckin did that” Ian’s friend Kathy said.

“I know it’s a tad rapey” he laughed walking back to his dorm.

“A tad! He tucked his tentacles in and dulled his colorins to look like a female then cruised up to the girl to mate. If that isn’t creepy then I don’t know what is” Kathy stopped in front of his door.

“Very true. Someone should report him”

“Tell the octopolice”

“We’re nerds aren’t we?” Ian said knitting his brow.

“Maybe a little but I don’t care, do you?” Kathy tilted her head and he shook his own. “Normal people are borin”

“Agreed” he playfully punched her shoulder. “Have fun with Coop”

“Thanks” Kathy waved to him then left to find her boyfriend.

Ian smiled happy he made a good friend. They are in the same program. She is planning on specializing in seahorses. He’s specializing in sharks but they could still go on boats together and stuff. Ian opened the door and froze.

“Hey Gallagher” Mickey said laying on Ian’s bed.

“How did you get in here” He said almost in awe. Mickey hadn’t told him he was coming to visit.

“I’m a thug Gallagher. Picked the fuckin lock” His boyfriend said playing with something in his hand. “Couldn’t wait Ian. I tried but a year is too fuckin long”

Ian’s palms started to sweat. “D.did somethin happen? Are we ok?”

“That’s up to you ain’t it” Mickey stood up and walked over to him putting something in his hand. He looked down and it was a slender black tungsten ring. His heart stopped. “Breathe Ian it’s not what you think. It’s a promise ring”

“A promise?” He’s heard about them before but doesn’t know much about them.

“Yea, maybe if you’re wearin that fuckin thing you won’t think I’ll leave you” Mickey held up his own hand with his ring in place. “This thing says I ain’t lookin. I got everythin I want in your scrawny ass. I don’t want anyone else. I love you Ian”

Ian almost fainted. His head spun for a sec then evened out. “You love me?” Mickey nodded. “I..fuck Mick I love you too” he lunged forward and wrapped his arms around Mickey smashing their lips together. “Mm I love you” His boyfriend smiled and pushed him onto his back onto the bed. Mickey climbed on top of him gripping the bottom of Ian’s shirt and pulled it over his head.

“Damn you been workin out?” Mickey laughed pulling his own shirt off.

“Shut up” Ian unbuckled his pants and Mickey followed. Soon they were both naked. Ian rummaged in his bedside table drawer for his lube and squirted a dollop on his finger. He wrapped his arm around Mickey and brought him down sucking on his bottom lip. He pressed his finger against Mickey’s entrance and was surprised when it slipped in easily. “Someone was excited”

“Was hopin to get laid” Ian chuckled then worked in a second and third finger realizing Mickey’s already prepped. How convenient. Mickey leaned forward and he lined up his dick then slowly sank down on it.

“Fuuck” Fucking his boyfriend never gets old. People have told him that monogamy gets boring but he can’t see how. He’ll never get tired of Mickey.

“Missed you” Mickey slowly started to roll his hips letting them both get used to the feel. When Ian’s nine inches didn’t feel so tight Mickey sat up and sprawled his hands out on his chest. His boyfriend was straddling him moving up and down on his dick enthusiastically. “Hu.uh”

Ian held onto Mickey’s waist guiding his hips and drinking in the noises his boyfriend was making. Mickey was looking at him with so much love. It was overwhelming but in a good way. Ian reached out and stroked Mickey’s dick in time with their rhythm. “Fuck you’re amazin uh” He felt heat building in his stomach then flow through his body cumming filling up his boyfriend. The brunette groaned and spilled over Ian’s hand then collapsed on top of him.

“Damn that was good” Mickey chuckled then looked around and reached out grabbing something. “So you gonna wear this? If you do you no more thinkin I’m leavin you” He held up the ring.

“You’re mine” Ian said softly pecking his lips. He took the ring and placed it on his finger where it’s gonna stay.

**Epilogue**

“You fuckin dork” Mickey laughed helping Ian up from the water. “Why do you wanna come to the beach on a cold ass day like this?”

“It’s low tide Mick, the best time to study and finish my assignment. I gotta be able to see all the tiny sea creatures and algae” Ian was holding a clipboard with a piece of paper. He had to identify each sea animal on it before the end of the course. It mostly had a crab, mollusks, and a dolphin is extra credit. This is one of his better assignments of the year. His sophomore year is difficult but more exciting than the first. “Mick, Mick look!” He shouted pointing into the water. An octopus was swimming between the larger rocks they were standing on. They were in the middle of the water when some stones had been exposed. With the tide pulled back they could get to places that were usually hidden. His ass may be wet from slipping on a rock falling into the water but he’s having a blast. His boyfriend was off today and they needed to get out of their apartment. They almost brought their boxer Max since he loves the beach then realized he’d chase away the fish. A goofy brown boxer puppy prancing around in the water seemed counterproductive to his assignment. They’ll take him to the beach another day.

“C’mon let’s go check out the pier. The supports are bound to have barnacles. Hopefully starfishes too” Ian held his hand out to “help” Mickey. In truth, the water’s cold and he doesn’t want to fall on his ass again. They safely walked along the beach until they reached the pier. “Awesome, look Mick” He pointed to a bright yellow starfish sticking to the stand. There were a few things he needed on the stand that he was able to tick off his list.

“How many you got left Gallagher?” Mickey asked checking out the sea urchin.

“Twelve more but don’t think we’ll see more today and we gotta get back to let Max out”

“Yea before that little fucker chews up my shoe again” The brunette sneered turning to walk back to the car.

“I told you to pick your shit up. He’s four months Mick what’d you expect. At least he isn’t as loud as Lilah. Fuckin Macaw makes so much noise” Ian reached out and held his hand.

“You’re just mad I taught her to say firecrotch” Mickey busted out laughing and turned freezing. “Ian look!” He turned his head in time to see a dolphin swimming in and out of the water in the distance. “Extra credit for you”

“Fuck, isn’t it beautiful Mickey?” Ian stared in awe at the majestic creature.

“Yea, it is” Mickey said watching Ian instead of the dolphin. He’s loved Ian since freshman year and finally the redhead believes him.