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Set Me Free

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There’s no remorse as Mickey steps out of the house. The door slams shut behind him and he can’t even bring himself to look back, so instead he focuses his eyes on Mandy and her grim smile. He shudders as he gets in the taxi, feeling like a heavy weight has been removed from his shoulders. He knows he’s never coming back.

It had been a last minute decision, moving out, and even more of a last minute decision to bring Mandy with him. Terry had just gone back to prison and Mickey had breathed out that sigh of relief that was all too familiar to him, feeling once again that he was in control of his life. A friend of his - Mickey rolls his eyes internally at that, he’s never actually had a ‘friend’ before - had told him about a small, cheap apartment that he was selling downstate. And Mickey, because he was drunk and not in his right mind, had said yes. He’s more than a little surprised that he doesn’t regret this decision yet, and is starting to think that maybe it’s the best thing he’s done.

Both he and Mandy had resigned themselves to the fate of the Southside - Mickey would either be in juvie or dead before he was 30 and Mandy would be pregnant. It wasn’t like there was anything either of them could have done; growing up in a house with Terry Milkovich they had quickly learnt to fend for themselves and trust no one, so they weren’t even inclined to turn to each other. Yet when Mickey had walked in on Mandy with blood running down her face and a mottled blue bruise on her cheek just two days ago, he hadn’t even thought twice. Surprisingly, she hadn’t resisted.

Mickey turns to look at Mandy now, as the car pulls away. He takes in her stiff posture and her trembling lip, notices the way her hands grip the edge of the seat and how she’s holding her head up, chin jutting out as if to say; Look at me Terry, I’m finally doing it, I’m finally leaving. An odd, unfamiliar feeling courses through Mickey, something he doesn’t think he’s felt before, something similar to pride.

Mickey thinks about all those times when he’d seen Terry leaving Mandy’s bedroom, that twisted smirk naturally set in place. He’d known. It wasn’t all that hard to piece together, but even then - even when it had been laid out in front of him invitingly, he hadn’t thought to even open his mouth. Mickey tells himself that it’s fair, that it’s not like she did anything when it was his turn - when he was half-conscious on the sofa from the beatings, or when Terry had had him by the throat in the living room screaming into his face. But the feeling of guilt still doesn’t go away, even if he’d never say it out loud, he knows that by standing by and letting it happen he’s just as bad as Terry himself.

Mandy’s smiling at Mickey now, in what appears to be an attempt at something reassuring, and the feeling of pride comes back full force. Not that he voices such feelings, he’s Mickey Milkovich for fuck’s sake. He settles for an eye roll and a scowl, hoping that his trembling hand in the space between them conveys his excitement and terror in a much less explicit way, one which only she would understand.

-

Mandy thinks that maybe she’s dreaming. It’s a pretty corny thing to think but it’s quite possibly the only answer for the situation she’s in.

When Mickey had dragged her from the bathroom where she’d been crouched in a pool of her own blood Mandy had expected something along the lines of ‘What the fuck’s wrong with you, Mandy?’ or ‘If you’re going to get yourself fucked up like that, learn to fucking fight better.’. She hadn’t been expecting the blunt ‘You’re coming with me when I leave’ that she’d recieved. Nor the ‘I don’t want you staying here any longer’ that had followed soon after. Or even the way he hadn’t shoved her off or jerked away when she’d pulled him into a hug, gasping and sobbing into his shoulder, soaking his shirt with blood and tears. It had been bittersweet, and Mandy knows it took a lot just for him to say those words.

Mickey’s watching her now out of the corner of his eye as they pass a road sign that says Chicago going in the opposite direction and it makes her feel like maybe she should say something to break the tense silence.

“We’re not coming back, are we?” Her voice sounds vulnerable and scared but she knows she can’t hide that from Mickey at this point. She averts her eyes as he startles at the sound of her voice.

It’s hard to know with Mickey whether or not he’ll lash out at you or if you’ll chance on one of those rare moments when he sounds like he actually cares. She’s thankful that it’s the latter.

“No. Never.” It’s a softly spoken promise that reassures something deep inside of her that at least she’s not alone in this - at least they’re together.

“Good.” She says, and then, because she can’t help herself and she’s nervous and giggly and high on the thrill of an adventure, she grins and laughs, eyes sparkling as she glances up at her older brother. It’s a shock to find that he’s already smiling right back at her, and Mandy knows she can count on one hand the amount of times she’s seen Mickey smile. It gives her the certainty that they must be doing the right thing.