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Ian was the one who said it first, back in the hotel room. "I sort of have a boyfriend. He’s been gone for a while, but he’s gonna be back in a couple of weeks."

I sort of have a boyfriend.

Ned chuckled. He sort of had a wife. An old man can dream, can’t he?

*

Now Mickey’s back, and Ian is smart enough not to use the word. He could see Mickey’s eyes when Ned came in the store. That your grandpa? No, we don’t picnic, we mostly just fuck.

Because fuck that, if he’s gonna fuck Angie Zago, he’s gonna fuck Ned, and yeah, his dick is only sort of kind of maybe I guess sure whatever interested. But still.

It’s happy hour at The Fountain, and his hand is awkwardly around a lowball. Ned is telling him a story, and someone cops a feel when he goes to the bathroom, and then someone in the bathroom offers to get on his knees for him, and then he’s sick of it all.

“I’m ready to go,” he tells Ned when he comes back to the table. Ned gives him a smirk. He knows leaving with Ned comes with a bit of a price.

But wait. Wait. There’s Mickey, standing in the street, lip drawn in, eyes wild.

“Shit, Mickey. What the hell are you doing here?”

But Ned is greedy, and Ned says boyfriend, and then, it happens. A butt to the head, punches, a kick, another kick. What’d you call me, faggot? But he starts to run, calls Ian’s name.

And he makes a choice.

“Sorry,” he says, crouched down. But then he is running, throwing the finger up behind him, chasing Mickey. Choosing him.

First they run into the alley, and then they run to another alley, and Ian pulls him behind a sour dumpster and jacks him off fast, looking at his bitten lips the whole time. Mickey is quieter than usual, but smiles more.

What the hell are you doing here?

This.

*

The sunlight is oppressive. He squints, boots sweaty inside, but hitting each tire mark, training gun in the air. Mickey is shooting at him. A real gun, this time.

He crawls, almost gets hit in the ear. “Jesus! Use blanks maybe?”

Mickey seems to shrug it off. Ian gives him an offer, hates how much Ned keeps barging into everything. He doesn’t miss how Mickey fires his gun as they talk.

“He isn’t afraid to kiss me.”

Mickey squints hard, looks away. He shrugs and climbs off the platform.

Ian isn’t stupid enough to think Mickey will take him up on his dare, but maybe he wants something. “You wanna go to the bleachers? Got some beers in my backpack. Might be hot by now, but-”

“Nah,” Mickey says, and throws his cigarette down. “I gotta go.”

*

As he backs the van up to Ned’s, he tries not to think about him. It’s over and done, forever. After this, he never has to see him again. His history with Ned is literally in his rearview mirror, where it should have been a long time ago.

It’s Mickey now. Only Mickey.

“Guys, guys, no fucking guns! It’s just a drunk old lady in there!”

Mickey pauses, but puts them back in the bag. Ian lights a cigarette, ready to wait.

He isn’t ready for the next thing that happens. Not even close.

The kiss is quick, and catches him off guard. Hands on the wheel, smoke in his lungs, a parting of lips, surprised.

Mickey’s lips are firm, yet soft. His mouth doesn’t open, but it’s still a full press of lips, and Ian can’t think that fast.

He isn’t afraid to kiss me. He isn’t afraid to kiss me.

He can smell his sweat, the deep smell that makes him shake and want. Right there, his armpit, his arm pressed into the seatback, a rush of Mickey that engulfs him, completely, for split seconds.

When Mickey pulls away, flicks him off as he runs into the house, his head hits the headrest. A smile, a promise.

He doesn’t know what they should talk about, after. Where they can go after the stuff is unloaded and it gets dark. Ballfield, maybe. He pictures it. Him backing Mickey against the fence, kissing him hard, kissing his neck, holding him by the hips, kissing him as he enters him, kissing him while he comes. Kissing him.

It didn’t matter, after all. Here comes a gun. Here comes Mickey getting shot in the ass, here comes Ned in his house, here comes Fiona. Here comes Ian, what the fuck?

There are some things he can try and explain, like a lamp in his hand over Mickey’s bleeding ass, but there are other things he can’t explain.

Like this.

He can’t believe it. Can’t explain it.

Later, in bed, he smiles at the ceiling. He kissed me. He touches his lips, just a second. He feels silly at first, then decides he doesn’t give a fuck, because he’s been waiting for this for so long and it still doesn’t feel real. He doesn’t fall asleep for a long time.

*

Mickey always thinks it’s risky, but what can they do. Sometimes it’s just like this. It’s hardly cooler indoors, but the house is empty, for now. Their feet fall heavy and fast on the stairs. The latch Ian installed to keep Frank out clanks on the door when Ian shuts it and slams Mickey against it.

“C’mon,” Mickey says. “Got somewhere to be.”

Ian bends for Mickey’s lips, but Mickey jerks his head away fast and pushes him away. “Watch it,” he grunts.

“You did before,” he says, brow furrowed. “In the van. You don’t want to?”

Mickey shrugs.

“We never talked about it,” he says.

“Shut up,” Mickey says, shaky.

Ian opens his mouth to say something, but decides to take his shirt off instead. Fine. If it’s gonna be this quick, he might as well start.

But when he looks at Mickey, he sees his lips slightly parted, his gaze somewhere on his chest. He breathes, hands sliding up Ian’s body fast. Then, just as quickly, they drop away as though it were a mistake, as if he didn’t have permission after all this time.

“Touch me,” Ian breathes, reaching for his hand, pressing it against his chest.

Mickey’s fingers linger, but break away. He reaches for his hip, yanks at his belt. “Want this cock.”

Ian growls as he presses his hand against Mickey’s dick, right before pulling his shirt off and scraping a nipple, making him hiss. It heats up fast, all hands and tugs of hair. Just shy of lips. Almost, but not yet.

Like them. Like whatever this is. Almost. Not yet.

“What is it,” Mickey spits. “Why’d you stop.”

Ian hesitates. “It’s just,” he says. “Remember what Ned said when you beat the shit out of him?

“Don’t talk about that geriatric fuck.”

Ian presses on. “He called you my boyfriend?”

Mickey shifts his jaw. ‘What about it?”

“I,” Ian says, and swallows. “I want a boyfriend.”

Mickey scoffs. “Grandpa’s your boyfriend?” Ian doesn’t miss the flash of jealousy in his eyes.

Ian squints. “Fuck no.”

Mickey looks at his feet. “Then what?”

“I want a boyfriend,” Ian says again, pointedly, and then he immediately regrets it. Ths insinuation. The tipping of cards in his hands.

“You’re a punk,” Mickey says, taking a step backward.

“I’m a punk for wanting a boyfriend?”

“So fuckin’ get one.” His voice is tough with a tinge of panic. Ian doesn’t miss it. He can read him like he can read the curve of his body. “Like I give a shit.”

“What about this? What are-”

“Don’t know what’s wrong with this. You’re the guy I fuck. That’s enough.”

Ian nods. Even hearing the words, the guy I fuck feels vulnerable coming from Mickey. He doesn’t meet his eyes.

Ian takes a step forward. “Kiss me.”

Mickey breathes out a laugh, but doesn’t answer.

Ian shakes his head, steps closer. “I mean, you already did once.”

“So?” He breathes a laugh, starts to turn away.

“So,” Ian says, and he grabs his wrist and pulls him back. “So, kiss me.”

Mickey’s breathing hard. Even if Ian couldn’t hear it, he’d see his chest heaving. “What.”

“I said kiss me.”

“You’re a fag,” Mickey huffs with a shake of the head. He steps closer, eyebrows up, but body leaning in. Leaning closer.

Ian’s breath is wet against his neck, Mickey’s voice making tiny noises Ian knows he’s trying to swallow back. “Then what the fuck are you?”

“I’m not that,” Mickey spits, but lets Ian grab at his hips. He lets him nuzzle his neck, but just a moment. “Eh,” he says, pulling his head to the side, away from him.

“Mickey-”

“What.”

“Just wait a second.”

Mickey rolls his eyes. “Told you I don’t got time.”

“Fine.” Ian pushes him back roughly onto the bed, His fingers fumble at Mickey’s zipper. He takes him, already half-hard in his fist. He shoves his pants to his knees, fingers dancing over his foreskin, starting to jerk him slowly.

“Do that,” Mickey says, breathy and shaking.

“I am,” Ian says. He reaches his left hand down and yanks his pants off. Mickey immediately parts his legs. He gets harder under his fist as Ian begins to pull him faster.

“Hafta hurry up,” Mickey says quickly.

“Then open up for me,” Ian growls. He slams his hand on the night table, grabbing for lube. Mickey relaxes, he is ready so fast. They pant and pull, a groan from Mickey as Ian presses into him.

“Say it,” Ian pants.

“Fuck off,” Mickey snaps, but he’s shaking. “I’m not your fucking-”

“I’m not a punk,” Ian says, voice low, pressing further, a soft thrust. He grunts, grabbing at Mickey’s thighs, starting to seek a firm pace, as firm as his words. “I’m the guy who,” he pulls him back harder. Fucks you.”

“Holy shit,” Mickey breathes. “So fuckin deep. Christ.”

“Say it,” Ian says, feeling Mickey tightening around him. He reaches down, starts to jerk Mickey fast.

The words fall away from his lips. He knows he’s pressed his luck too far.

“I’m not,” Mickey pants, shaking his head. He tips his head back and moans. “I’m,” but he doesn’t finish.

“Come,” Ian growls.

And Mickey does. Mickey does like he always, back bending, shaking, a grunt. Ian isn’t far behind, and then they are still. Their breath comes heavy, their skin damp with sweat, a breath that disappears, floating who knows where. He still holds onto Mickey’s arm, a leftover place, almost an afterthought in some other universe where they could be what Ian wants.

“Mick,” he says quietly, not knowing what to say next.

“Get off me,” Mickey says quickly, pulling his arm away. “I gotta go.”

*

The group home is scary, but he doesn’t want anyone to think so. Not Lip, least of all Mickey. He knows Mickey could handle it, easily. He can handle juvie. He can handle anything. Ian doesn’t like those guys in his space, even if Lip smoothes it over. He’s terrified.

So when Mickey asks about it, he acts like it’s not a big deal. It’s about jerking off. But then.

“Hey, my dad took my brothers on a run out of town for a couple days, so you wanna ditch that dump and crash at my place, you can.”

“Was I just invited to a sleepover?”

“Fuck you is what you were invited to.”

His laugh is relief and anticipation, all at once.

*

He meets Mickey down the street from the group home. Mickey’s smoking, leaning against the building like some sort of movie scene. He stifles a chuckle and Mickey goes “What. Why you laughin’ at me.”

“I’m not laughing,” he says. “I’m just happy to see you.”

Mickey shrugs. “Whatever.”

It isn’t too far. A couple stops away on the train. Mickey doesn’t sit next to him. He stands while Ian sits. He doesn’t look at him.

Pizza rolls are underrated. They are a little cold in the middle, but Ian doesn’t care. The movie’s plot is what could be expected, and the space between them in the couch grows closer until it’s nothing at all. The nothing at all turns into touching turns into Mickey on his knees while things explode on screen.

“Mick, wait,” Ian breathes, back bowing out from the couch, hands finding the sides of Mickey’s head. Mickey bats his hand away. He never lets Ian touch him when he’s blowing him. But he rises up and off him just the same.

“What.”

“I’m not gonna last,” he says. “If you want me to fuck you, I’m not gonna last.”

“Then get up,” Mickey says. It’s almost businesslike, and if he didn’t have his pants off with a raging erection, he’d wonder what he wanted. He pauses. Mickey looks over his shoulder. “C’mon.”

Mickey slams the door out of habit. Ian pulls him close, and Mickey lets their lips brush together before pulling back, grunting. “You still hard for me?”

Ian nods his head, tries to brush his lips against Mickey’s again, surprised when MIckey allows it. He pumps his cock hard in his fist, still wet from Mickey’s mouth.

“Then get the fuck down,” Mickey pants, pushing Ian onto his bed. He starts to bend back down, eager to take Ian’s dick in his mouth again.

“Woah woah,” Ian whispers. “I can’t.”

“Whaddya need then?”

“Get you ready,” Ian pants. “Get the lube and turn over.”

Mickey scrambles, tossing the lube behind him. When Ian sinks his first finger into him, Mickey’s breath catches. “More,” he says. “Two. C’mon.”

Ian chuckles. He should know better. How eager Mickey is when he’s like this. Two becomes three becomes Mickey moaning, chanting now now now and now is now, and Ian sinks into him, hard and welcome.

“Jesus,” Mickey says, and he lets out a loud moan. Ian’s never heard him that loud. He’s never had the opportunity to be this loud.

Ian matches him. He moans, too. When Mickey pushes back harder, Ian goes harder. Mickey chants yeahyeahyeah and then it’s over. Fuck. Ian is usually pretty quiet when he comes, but he opens his mouth this time. Lets himself release hard into Mickey, mouth open, free.

After, he goes to the bathroom to clean up and wonders where he will sleep. The couch is lumpy and stinks, but it’s about as comfortable as he could hope for. He pulls his boxers on and stands awkwardly in Mickey’s bedroom. Mickey’s lamp is on, and he is still breathing hard, touching his chest.

“Um,” Ian says. “I’ll just…”

Mickey squints and sits up, voice firm. “Where ya goin.”

“I was just-”

“You goin’ back to that group home place?”

Ian shakes his head. “I thought, like, the couch would be-”

Mickey doesn’t meet his eyes when he scoots over. “Thought you could be here. Don’t know.”

Ian stays still. He doesn’t want to say anything. He doesn’t want to move too quickly, say the wrong thing. Startle Mickey. He walks slowly toward the bed, sits down. He looks over his shoulder at Mickey’s open face, his lips which look as just as soft as the day they touched his.

He slides into bed, trying to stay as still as possible, as far away as possible, like the first time they were caught, still naked, by Terry. The day he had to hold the blanket away from his hips, the outline of his still-hard dick, knowing it’s big, knowing Terry could have easily seen it through the fabric.

He feels Mickey’s hand at his waistband, just slightly. “Can take this shit off,” he breathes.

It’s then that Ian realizes Mickey is still naked. He sucks in a breath as he eases his boxers off. The openness of it all, the vulnerability. He never gets him like this, with time and space to spare. It’s all grabbing and dark corners, fast thrusts and quick fingertips. This is softer, smoother.

“You feel good,” Mickey says quietly, fingertips at his hip.

Ian isn’t sure if he should speak or not. He wants to, but doesn’t want to break the spell. He reaches for Mickey’s hand, but this seems almost too forward. But Mickey lets him take it, hold him, keep him. Their breath evens out, slowly. Soft.

The three words are right there on his lips. The three words everyone hopes to say, sometime. Right there on his lips. He closes them. He tries to match his breath to Mickey’s, slowing into sleep. All skin and safety, the sound of the train breaking through, and then a hush.

*

That morning they are slower than they’ve ever been. Ian wakes up to Mickey’s hand on his hip again, just resting there, like he’s afraid to do anything else. Probably is.

He turns over slowly, meets his eyes. Mickey’s eyes drop to his lips. Ian draws a shaky breath, eyes meeting Mickey’s lips, leaning forward the slightest bit.

“No,” Mickey said quickly, then softens, the slightest shrug. “I mean, I don’t know.”

Ian nods. He rolls on top of him, let his hand play with his hair, his other hand reaching down.

“Want your mouth,” Mickey says quietly.

For a split second, Ian thinks he means kissing him. But he can see the fear that suddenly flashes in Mickey’s eyes, and he knows that’s not what he means. He pulls the blanket back and slides down slowly, tongue reaching for him, drawing him in. It’s a kind of kiss, but not the one he wants. Still, it’s sweet and slow, without any grabbing or swearing, even. Just the two of them moving together. Mickey slowly jacks Ian off after he comes, and Ian looks down at his mouth, his bitten lip, closed.

He’s still thinking of it while he sits on the couch, hearing Mickey walking closer to him. Twenty minutes before work, tops. Ian’s watch says so. I gotta get to work. Give me a minute, okay? Okay. He gives him a minute. Something clatters in Mickey’s hand as he walks. He grins, proud of his joke as the beads fall into his hands. A rosary. No. Beads. Ohhhh. Beads.

The smack on Mickey’s ass draws a laugh, even through the injury. I’ll go in on the other one, relax. Yeah, Mickey says. Yeah.

He feels good. They feel good. Ian breathes deeply and stares at the ceiling, then down at Mickey’s beautiful back as he starts to fuck into him. If Mickey would just turn, look over his shoulder, and if Ian could bend down, take him up in his arms against his chest, maybe they could-

But then.

Then.

The worst thing.

The worst thing.

The.

*
It’s not the bruises and the headaches, it’s the way he can’t stop reliving it all. He makes up lies. He makes up fights to everyone. Fighting some sort of enemy he never divulges, just brushes off when people ask what happened to his face.

In his dreams, he’s trying to save Mickey. He’s trying to run, but he can’t. Sometimes he wakes up and all he sees are shadows, and he can’t move.

He thinks about how he should have moved. How his first instinct, after he was beaten and Terry had turned his attention to Mickey, was to flee. It’s that urge, that animal urge. Fight or flight. How Mickey’s was the fight and his was the flight. He’ll never get over that, as long as he lives. He didn’t even stay until he was forced to, gun at him, at them both, at the woman who came in, stoic and naked. Forced. Trapped.

In his dreams, he saves them all.

*
He tries to find him. One roof, two, and there he is, gun drawn. He doesn’t speak. He doesn’t look at him. He wants him to look at him. He wants to touch him. He wants to say he’s sorry. He wants to say he’s still scared, his dreams still twisted and dark. I can’t stop thinking about it - what happened? But Mickey doesn’t turn. He wants to hold him, cry. He wants to cry. He’s been aching to cry. He wants to know if Mickey’s still as scared as he is. Mickey doesn’t move, only pauses once. Would you at least look at me? He doesn’t.

*
The lockers are green, like his eyes. He’s the only one in his family with green eyes. Monica would hold his chin in her hand. My beautiful boy. My beautiful green eyed boy.

Mandy, weary, spitting “I mean, look at Mickey marrying some whore he knocked up.”

All he can say is what. All he can feel is what. The only thought in his brain. What. All he can do is stop in his tracks as the bell tolls. He’s alone in the hallway, green eyes. The green eyed monster. Jealousy. That’s what they say, right? But he’s thinking green on blue, blue on green, his eyes on Mickey’s.

His heart in his stomach.

It doesn’t stop. He grills Mandy in class. He whispers questions, and she answers, almost annoyed, then actually annoyed. Green eyes. Green-eyed monster.

“I don’t know,” she snaps. “Why do you give a shit?”

*
He tries to be brave as he climbs the busted building’s stairs. He’s angry, sure, but he’s scared. He is radiating with it. He says the truth, Mickey throws rocks, he throws a bottle, Mickey yells. They follow each other from the building into the gravel yard.

“So that’s it. We’re over. Your dad beats the shit out of us and uh, you’re just gonna get married, no conversation? Nothing?” He grabs at Mickey, the same body he’s touched so much, and Mickey shoves him. Hard.

“Get the fuck off me.”

“Oh, you wanna fag bash? That make you feel like a man?”

Then what the fuck are you. Then what the fuck are you.

“Come on. Go ahead! Do it!” He gestures to his face. He prepares for a punch, but it doesn’t come there. He gasps as Mickey’s fist connects to his stomach. Butterflies in the stomach. Heart in the stomach. He gasps. He falls to the ground.

“You love me,” he says quietly. “And you’re gay.”

Mickey pauses, then picks up the bottle. Paces, steps small.

“Just admit it. Just this once. Fucking admit it!”

A punch in the face, a kick in the face, he’s down, sprawled out, and Mickey is gone.

*

Garden Springs Spa, Mandy said. It’s easy enough to find. 24 hours is both expected and impressive.

He waits in the stairwell. He will know her when he sees her. And then, there she is. Purple tube dress, lighting a cigarette.

It all flashes back. Terry’s gun. Mickey’s bloody face. His hands begin to shake. He cannot breathe. He feels like he’s going to faint, throw up, and die all at once. HIs bruises hurt.

“Based on the dead-eyed russian hand whore scale, I say she’d rate a seven” Mandy had said.

She’s prettier than that, and Ian hates it.

*

He throws his backpack at Lip. He tells him who she is. His voice shakes, the anger in him shakes, and his knees haven’t calmed down from the way he struggled to stand in the stairwell. That whore that Mickey’s marrying is an actual whore that works at Garden Springs Spa. Lip makes a joke, Ian tells him the truth. Them. The gun. Mickey.

You can’t fake that.

*

The brittle wood chairs had snapped open in his hands when he came to help set up. Mandy told him to watch out for splinters, but he got one anyway. Good. Just as well.

It’s kinda sweet, Mandy said.

He promised Lip he wouldn’t come back. He told Mandy he wouldn’t come back. But there he is, anyway, a splintered thumb in his pocket.

It aches as he walks toward the Ukrainian hall, as he gathers his courage. He’s driven by something deeper. You call me. You call me a.

He bangs the door open, and Mickey’s standing there, smoking, slowing his pace, surprised.

“You call me a punk for wanting a boyfriend or whatever, but you’re gonna marry someone who screws guys for a living?”

“Who gives a shit, it’s a fucking piece of paper.”

He fights past something in his throat. “Not to me.”

“C’mon. Look, just ‘cause I’m getting hitched doesn’t mean we can’t still bang. Okay? All right?”

“If you give half a shit about me, Mickey,” his voice wavers, barely holding.

“Eh, eh,” Mickey says, throwing a hand out to his chest. The same chest he touched, tentatively, bare and panting.

“Half,” Ian whispers. “Don’t do this.”

And there he is. Still. His skin is pallid in the tube lighting. The carnation on his lapel is crumpled. But he’s beautiful, like he always is, and then Ian can see it. He can see the quick glance at his lips, and then he returns the glance. And then. And then.

Mickey thrusts himself forward, grabbing at his lips with his. There’s a surprised swallowed gasp in Ian’s mouth, his mouth that is being filled quickly with Mickey’s tongue, so desperate, so fast. He clings as Ian walks them backward into the kitchen, Mickey’s fingers catch behind them, tattooed knuckles thunking in the doorway. Mickey’s carnation falls away with his coat, and Ian pulls his off, too.

“Don’t fucking marry her,” Ian says quickly, reaching for the bottom of Mickey’s dress shirt, fingers fumbling at the cheap white buttons.

“Shut up,” Mickey says, pulling him in for another kiss.

“Get this off,” Ian pants, yanking at his clothes.

Mickey doesn’t listen. He grabs at Ian’s face, kissing him harder, deeper. He pulls back with a little moan, but his lips don’t leave his. A breath, and back in for more.

A little surge in Ian, a fever. Mickey’s eyes are hooded and he pulls at his pants so fast Ian worries he will rip them. He toes off the dress shoes and pulls everything off. That stupid fucking shirt won’t come off, these little buttons, this clear indication of what’s to come.

Ian falls to his knees and takes Mickey’s dick in his mouth. He’s already getting hard, but grows harder in Ian’s mouth.

“Such a good fuckin' mouth,” Mickey gasps. “Fuck.”

Ian backs off, pulling him. “You like my mouth, don’t you?”

Mickey nods fast. “Get,” he pants. “Get up here.”

Ian has barely stood up before Mickey has him by the neck, tongue in his mouth, groaning. Such a good fuckin mouth. Such a good fuckin mouh. Ian pulls him in harder. The words pound against his teeth. Three words he could say. The three words people always want to say.

“We have to hurry,” Ian pants. “They’ll be looking for you.”

Mickey nods fast, kissing him harder, so hard Ian can hardly breathe. He pulls away, and Mickey chases his lips.

“Tell them to leave,” Ian growls. “Tell them you’re-” he doesn’t finish. Tell them you’re mine. Tell them you’re my-

“Get on the floor,” Mickey pants. “Wanna-”

“Wanna what?”

“Ride you,” he groans.

They tumble to the floor. Ian goes “ouch” when he hits it too fast. But soon Mickey’s fingers are working his belt, pulling hard. His mouth is soft and warm, and his eyes close, a hum. Ian puts his hand on his head, just a little, and Mickey slows for a second, but doesn’t stop. Ian moans as he continues. Fuck.

His tongue slides up and around, and soon Ian feels that tightening, so fast. “Mickey,” he gasps. “Mickey, wait.”

Mickey pulls off, lips already swollen, wet. “What.”

“Get up here quick.”

Mickey’s beautiful thick thighs. Ian’s hands skimming them, a shudder. Mickey’s hard, so hard, and Ian starts to pull him again, slick and perfect. Mickey leans forward, trapping himself in Ian’s hand, lips searching, mouth opening, tongue on his. His tongue, his tongue. Mickey obviously loves his tongue in his mouth. Ian can’t escape it, and would never want to. He gasps, pulling his mouth away as Mickey licks into it. Dives back in.

Mickey’s voice, so breathy and small. “You still got lube in that wallet?”

Ian nods fast. Fuck, he better. He pats around and Mickey eases off him enough to pull it out from beneath him. The second he does, Mickey’s mouth is hot on his again. Ian rolls him over. The button catches his wristwatch as he rips the lube open and slips his fingers against Mickey, one finger, two. Mickey rocks down, moaning.

“You like that?” Ian murmurs. “You think you can just get married without taking this cock in your ass?” He lets go of him, wipes his fingers on the shirt. “You want my cock,” he pants, pressing into him. “You want,” he pauses. “Me. You want me, Mick.”

“Get the fuck on your back,” Mickey pants.

Ride him. Okay. Yes.

He hasn’t ridden him very much. Once in the Kash and Grab walk-in cooler, once on a roof on a cement floor, once on the couch that night of the sleepover before It happened. Each time, it’s left Ian breathless to watch his body move, seeking his pleasure, gasping, rolling his body.

The buttons on his shirt, opened up to his chest, try and speak louder, try to remind Ian of what’s waiting for them upstairs. The truth. The future. No. No.

Mickey slides on top of him, a knee on either side. They will bruise. They bruised after he rode him on the roof. He remembers seeing them the next time he blew him. “Worth it,” is all Mickey said, embarrassed, just before a burp and another gulp of beer.

Ian starts pulling him again. His dick is so wet and ready. Mickey tips his head back and moans. He reaches behind himself for Ian’s dick, sliding it against his ass.

“Go,” Ian says, panting. “I fucking want you. Do it.”

Mickey nods, eyes closed, hand falling to Ian’s chest. He starts to sink down, a low, ragged moan. Ian breathes heavily. The feeling of soft acceptance, the welcoming Mickey offers him. Gives to him freely. He can’t fake that. Ian grabs hard at his hips, the shirt tangling in his fingers for a moment. He shoves it up. He starts to rock Mickey back and glide him forward. Guiding him, fucking him against him.

“Oh god,” Mickey breathes, tipping his head back. He hisses. “Hold me like that. Hold me just like that.”

“Mick," he groans.

He pulls him down harder, rocks him back and forth faster. “You like this?” He raises his hips as he feels the cold, cracked tile below his back. “You say you wanna ride me, but you like me fucking you hard like this, don’t you?”

Mickey’s eyes closed, mouth open. “Y-yeah.”

“Then get on your back,” Ian growls. “I’ll fuck you harder than I ever have.”

Mickey’s breath catches. “You-”

“If you want it,” Ian says. “You wanna ride me-”

Mickey shakes his head, already slipping off him and onto the floor, legs parting, inviting.

Ian pushes his legs up. “I’m the guy that fucks you,” he whispers, pushing into him hard and stopping, hips circling, listening to Mickey’s shaking breath. He pulls back a little and then pushes back in. “But you know I’m more than that.”

He might as well say it. He might as well. Upstairs, everyone waits with uncomfortable chairs in a too-cold room, cheap fabric steeped in cigarette smoke, vodka in their stomachs.

Mickey shakes his head, but then moans when Ian starts to pull back again, then back in slowly, then not as slowly.

“I’m not a punk,” Ian says, voice low. He starts to fuck into Mickey. “You know what I am.”

Mickey’s body bows as Ian’s pace increases. “Gotta hurry,” he says. “C’mon.”

Ian’s breath grows deeper, starting to grab harder at his thighs. He can leave bruises, too. He fucks him faster. Mickey’s head tips back, eyes shut tight and then open. “Like that, holy shit.”

He looks down to see Mickey’s dick leaking. He’s close.

Ian sits back on his heels, pulls Mickey back, cheap polyester in his fists, fucking him hard back and forth, pulling, pulling. He expects it to rip, but it doesn’t. He wants to rip it, wants to claim him. He can’t.

“You know what I am,” he growls. “And you know what you are.”

“Shut up,” Mickey says. He rises from the floor, not losing Ian for a second, and settles on his lap. Ian pulls the shirt tighter. The ends of Mickey’s shirt will be wet with them when this is over.

He rides him after all. Ian leans back on one arm while pulling him with the other hand. “Tell me,” he says.

“Gonna come,” Mickey says instead, head flying back.

“Then come,” Ian bites out, fingers yanking and pulling on his hip. He feels himself start to unravel. They’ve always been good at this, coming together. Three words. Come now. Yes.

Mickey is tucking his shirt into his pants, a satisfied and open look on his face. He’s beautiful. “God damn, Gallagher. I gotta get you pissed off more often.” A bite of the lip, a tilt of the head.

Ian pushes his chest out as he buckles his pants, the cigarette in his mouth. Proud. He’s never fucked Mickey better than that. Mickey’s mouth. That was magic. He says what he wants. That was enough, the tipping point of what needed to happen. That was the-

But then. No, wait. Wait. This isn’t. This isn’t what.

“I’ll go get this shit over with and you can wait here for me,” Mickey says. “Better be ready for round two.”

He’s a round two. He’s not a.

He’s not.

“Listen to me, Mickey.” He reaches for his hands, and Mickey lets him hold them for a few seconds. “Your dad is an evil, psychotic prick. You’re just gonna let him ruin your life?”

He will. He is going to. Ruin it.

“You need to grow the fuck up. Not everyone gets to just. Not everyone gets to just blurt out how they fucking feel every minute.”

There it is. In his eyes.

You call me a punk for wanting a boyfriend, or whatever.

Mickey’s a punk, too.

*

He watches them hold hands, the hand that Ian held, minutes before. Terry scrapes him clean with his eyes. Ian’s jaw sets. When they kiss, Mickey looks awkward, but then kisses her harder, just for show. He hopes it’s just for show. He wonders if Mickey’s mouth is still swollen from his lips.

They do. Do you? Yes, I do. Do you? Sure. Yeah.

And then it’s just vodka, vodka, vodka. Warm from a plastic bottle, and who cares. It burns and comforts, and even when Lip tries to calm him down, even when he yells the truth, he just wants more. He wonders why no one hears him. There’s a bridesmaid, another whore, who looks over, She squints, pauses, and he knows she knows. Her lips part, then close, her eyes sad. For a minute he wants to run over, tell her everything, make her listen, because apparently no one else will.

Mickey catches his eye. His gaze looks as panicked as it did when he used to talk about his dad finding out about them. But then, of course, he did. And then it was nothing, a cold wind, an expanse of a pain.

Until this. Until just before this. Until them, in the kitchen downstairs, until the wall and the hard floor and those fucking white buttons witnessed everything. Every truth but the one they were trying to hide, the one they can’t yet say.

You call me a punk.

 *

Later, he almost doesn’t even know when in his near-blackout, he collapses in a neighbor’s front yard, trying not to throw up. He rolls over, tries to see stars, but the light pollution is so bad it’s just sort of a dark smear. He closes his eyes, opens them. The sky spins. He rolls over and vomits. Spits.

He will not cry. He works himself to a stand, stumbles. Down the street, something is happening, but he can’t walk well enough to find out what. He stumbles again, falls to his knees, starts to crawl.

Police car, in front of his house. Blue lights. Blue lights, blue eyes, blue carnation. He fights his churning stomach, hangs onto a fence and pulls himself to stand. He shakes his head, tries to clear it.

He will make it there, he will find out what’s happening. He straightens up, breathes, spits on the ground. The sickening danger, the deepening black, will fade. He will be safe, away from all of this. Cold water and a bed that smells like Mickey, somewhere. A wedding night he doesn’t want to think about. A wedding night. Fuck. His stomach rolls.

Hold me like that. Hold me just like that. Ian aches to hold him, keep him. But this is just a cold street. His arms are empty. Hold me like that. Hold me just like that. He can’t.