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Beneath the Surface

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Beneath the Surface
Chapter 1- Bloody

 

"Jesus Christ," Mickey exclaimed, eyes a little too wide as he tried to process what he was seeing.

"Yeah, it's pretty gruesome." Marlowe said back, wiping the sweat off her forehead with her shoulder as her hands were gloved. "Brutal."

She was not wrong. Mickey tried to take in as much of the crime scene as his sleep sloshed brain would allow. He'd barely been at home in bed for two hours before his captain called about their latest murder scene.

Not that home was much better than a crime scene. At least there were people around, unlike his empty two bedroom townhouse just three blocks short of being back in the South side. His apartment was more of necessity then actual want.

Decked out with only the shit he needed to live. Four dead bolts on the door, a couch in front of a big screen t.v. mounted on the wall, a bed big enough to sleep four people and a coffee maker.

Of course there were more items in his place, but really, he really only used the ones he listed. He either worked, or he slept. No time for anything else.

Mickey Milkovich was a homicide detective in Chicago, along with his partner Marlowe Summers. She was fresh from Los Angeles and his captain paired her with him for a trial run. So far she was doing pretty damn well.

Unlike most of the other women that worked closely to him, she had a strong stomach. Didn't get a case of the queasies when dealin with blood or any other bodily fluids. She was rather quiet, but it was more to observe then it was being shy. She was witty, strong, a damn good shot.

Not bad for a new partner and Mickey wasn't going to question it until he had to.

"I don't even know where to stand." Mickey looked down at his plastic covered shoes that were already splattered with blood. "It's everywhere."

Their current crime scene was a fucking disaster. Smack dab in the suburbs, one of those cookie cutter houses where each one looks the same. Manicured lawn, immaculate paint, pricey cars in the garage.

It looked very normal until you stepped inside. The rather normal, everyday items you'd find in a house like that were caked or splattered with blood. You couldn't walk without stepping on it or in it. It soaked into the carpet, on the hardwood floor, smeared up the walls.

It was messy.

Marlowe nodded and sidestepped a rather large puddle by her feet. "It's contained in this room, so the rest of the house is clear, but in here there is no safe space to step."

They were currently in the living room. Surrounded by pricey furniture with those annoying plastic covers on them, a bunch of photos framed on the cream colored walls and the two bodies as the centerpiece.

"Okay," Mickey pulled the gloves on Marlowe gave him as he looked around. "So, lay it out for me yeah?"

Marlowe nodded. "The call came in this morning, about two hours ago. The front door was left open and a delivery driver dropped off a package and saw them."

"We talk to the driver?" Mickey asked, staying as still as possible.

"The boys are doin it now. I glanced at his schedule and he was where he was supposed to be. He did have a package to deliver here so I'm sure he'll come back clean."

"The victims the owners of the house?" Mickey asked, eyes looking over the photos on the walls.

Some showed a smiling couple in various stages of their lives. Different places and occasions. Some older, some younger. After awhile, a third person was added. A kid, with red hair and an effortless smile.

"Yes," Marlowe flipped through her small notebook. "Mister and Missus Jim Moore, wife's name is Sarah. Lived here for the last twenty five years or so."

"Kids?" Mickey asked as he turned his attention to the bodies.

"Not sure yet. No kid rooms or anything but as you can see from the photos show a kid at some point."

Mickey bent down as much as he was able to, to get a closer look at the bodies. It was bad. Like too much blood and no faces bad.

The bodies were a few feet apart, looking like they got interrupted in the middle of coffee. Two broken cups lay close to them, empty.

"I know we haven't let the coroner in yet, but what do you think was used as the weapon?" Mickey asked, looking around for what might have caused the damage. "This looks too damn bloody to be just fists."

Marlowe nodded. "No weapon found, yet. But they're on the lookout for it." She backed away, leaning against a clean part of the couch. "Whoever did this knew them."

Mickey arched an eyebrow and stood, slowly backing away. "No signs of forced entry?"

"None. No scuff marks, no broken windows. The alarm wasn't triggered so either he either knew the code or it wasn't set."

"Not only that, but this much damage, has to be personal." Mickey felt his stomach churn, making him regret that second cup of coffee. "But they look to be in their early 50's maybe, so I doubt they had a lot of enemies. Should be easy to find out who was closest to them."

Murders this messy, this gruesome, seemed to always be linked to a loved one. A family member, a friend, work buddy. Anyone who had personal contact, someone who knew their everyday schedules and routines.

"So, they had a decent alarm system, ADT I believe." Mickey nodded to the open curtain and pointed to the sign in the yard. "They might have had one of those security cameras, could be worth a try."

Marlowe smiled. "Damn good idea Mick. You can't even walk down the street without fifteen different cameras on you at all times. I'll call the alarm company for the details when we get back."

Mickey grinned. Marlowe wasn't the only smart one. Occasionally he had some ideas worth their trouble too.

"Anything else I need to see before we send the coroner in here?"

Marlowe nodded. "Look up."

Mickey looked up to the ceiling just in time for a drop of blood to fall on his face, just under his eyelid. As much as he wanted to wipe it off, he couldn't yet.

"What the fuck?" Mickey said quietly.

The word LIAR, was written in big block letters just above the position of the bodies.

Marlowe quickly handed him a napkin to wipe his face. "Yeah, and that's blood by the way, not red paint."

Mickey wiped his face with a grimace, then handed the napkin off to a crime scene tech that passed by. "Liar, huh?" He looked down at the bodies. "As in only one or both?"

"One, I assume or it would be Liars."

"So, the question is, which one?"

"Knock, knock! Any chance I can squeeze in there!"

Mickey glanced to the door, seeing their geeky coroner standing there with his assistant behind him. "Come on in Jerry, but watch where you step."

After their time with the bodies, the house became alive with activity. Crime scene techs going over every inch of the two story house. Gathering any evidence that could help them. More were outside, doing the exact same thing.

"Detective?"

Mickey glanced behind him to see one of the crime scene guys trying for his attention. He moved towards him, treading lightly. "Hey, what's up?"

"Got something you should see."

At that, Mickey arched his eyebrows, a bad feeling creeping up his spine and followed him towards the kitchen. It looked rather normal, clean and homey, like a grandparents house.

"Okay, so what am I looking for?" Mickey asked, not seeing anything out of the ordinary.

"Take a look at the cabinets."

Mickey walked closer, tired eyes focusing on the cabinets. It took him a second to realize that some of them had tiny locks on them. So small that even his keen eyes missed it.

"The fuck." Mickey touched one, tugging a little to see that it really was locked. "Why the fuck would their cabinets be locked?"

The tech shook his head. "Not all of them are, but most. And those aren't just child safety locks or it would be just the bottoms."

Mickey nodded, releasing the lock to look at more, oddly placed around the entire kitchen. Some on bottom, some up top. There was even one on the fridge and freezer.

"Yeah, not for child safety." Mickey shook his head. "Any chance you can break the ones that have locks? Just to see what they are keeping locked away?"

The tech nodded. "Yeah, as soon as I get the go ahead."

"Let me know then yeah? I'll be walkin the house."

"Sure thing."

Mickey clapped the helpful tech on the shoulder, for once not annoyed by their presence. He moved out of the kitchen, in search of his partner and found her outside, scanning the windows.

"You see this?" Marlowe pointed.

Mickey squinted against the bright sun. More locks. Hardcore ones that probably locked from the inside. "Jesus. That's not part of the home alarm shit, that's custom and expensive."

"Overly precautious?"

Mickey shook his head, that bad feeling churning in his gut again. "I don't think so. There are locks in the kitchen. On some of the cabinets and the refrigerator."

Marlowe's eyes widened. "So no, not for security. Keeping someone out? Or in?"

"But who? As far as we know, they lived alone. No signs of that kid." Mickey questioned as they walked all the way around the house, all the windows had locks.

"I got a bad feeling Mick." Marlowe lowered her voice. "I've seen stuff like this before. Locked cabinets, refrigerators, windows and doors with high alarm systems."

Mickey narrowed his eyes. "You mean when you were in sex crimes?"

Marlowe nodded sadly. "More like special victims, but yeah. I've seen them before during Stockholm Syndrome cases, lock up the food so the people in charge get to manage and be in control."

Unease washed over him so fast he became dizzy and had to lean against the house.

"But I've seen it in domestic situations too, normally ones with children involved. The parents keep the food locked up too, they usually give them the minimum amount of food to survive and that's it."

"Fuck, I seriously hope we aren't dealing with that shit." Mickey saw her nod as well, probably feeling just as uneasy as he was. Maybe more so. "We have to check into it. I got a tech bustin locks just to check, maybe it's not food they lock away."

Marlowe gave a sad smile as she walked away. "Yeah it is Mickey."

**

"Early this morning, we received word that a two story house in quiet suburbia, was host to a brutal attack. Local police are on the scene now but haven't given us any information…"

Ian tuned out the tv as he washed dishes, the soap stinging the small cuts on his hands. It was on for noise more so than him being interested in anything that went on in quiet suburbia.

The South Side had enough crime daily to override shit that happened half an hour away from him. It wasn't like he lived in that area anymore. Not for a very, very long time.

Probably just some gardener fucking the wife of the house and her husband happened to come home early on a business trip, or some sort of other cliche. Ian was sure the husband kicked ass, called the cops and looked for a good divorce lawyer.

Boring.

With the dishes done and the kitchen spotless, Ian poured himself a fresh cup of hot coffee and walked through his small apartment barefoot. He continued to ignore the news lady or the flashing red and blue police lights and moved into his bedroom.

Crime in the uppity parts of Chicago or not, he still had to go to work.

Ian sipped his coffee as he flipped through shirts in his closet. All dressy shirts that had to be dry cleaned. His fault really for working in any government job, even when he only handled the paperwork.

This time he chose on a new pair of blue jeans, forgoing his normal choice of slacks, the shirt he chose was a soft cream color, silky and light. He wanted to be professional and comfortable, especially with how odd he was feeling lately.

Moody and withdrawn, exhausted although he slept a solid 8 hours at least every night. Muscles aches, like in his hands, his shoulders too. He should have woken up feeling fresh as a daisy, not run down.

It had been happening more over the past week or so. He had awful dreams, which could account for his exhaustion in the mornings. His mind felt foggy at times, like he was trying to recall something important but couldn't put his finger on it. Gaps of time missing, and not to mention the muscle aches. Like he over exercised at the gym.

Something was definitely off lately.

Suddenly, as if his body knew he was trying to discover the deep seated issue behind it all, his head started to pound. Making him instantly back off of whatever he had been thinking, just so the pain lessened.

Ian rubbed his temples, squinting at the dim light in his room, the overly loud tv seemed to be blaring right in his ear. The fan above him, lightly spinning air suddenly felt tornado strong. "God." He groaned, rubbing furiously until it didn't hurt so much.

Whatever was happening, he had to get to the bottom of it, or he'd have to see a doctor about the headaches. It was too much.

When it eased up enough and his coffee was long since cold, Ian dressed quickly. He needed to go or he'd be late for the L and the walk and the fresh air would certainly help with his icky mood.

Dressed and ready, briefcase and all, Ian stepped out of his apartment and locked the door. The same sound echoed behind him. He turned to see his friendly neighbor Lauren, a very kind but almost senile old lady who had a habit of over sharing.

"Ian dear, nice to see you. Off to work?" Lauren asked, slowly making her way over.

Ian smiled, not wanting to be rude but he was already late. "Yes ma'am, off not or I'll be late." He turned to leave and she followed. "Off to bingo so early?"

Lauren chuckled. "Oh no. It's much too late for that. But I did hear of a rather morbid attack uptown, did you hear about it?"

Ian watched her closely as they took the stairs down. "I might have heard something. But I didn't listen too hard. Lately the news makes me a little nauseous."

"Well, as awful as it sounds, I am dying to know what happened. You never hear about crime in those parts of Chicago. Too uppity and classy for such awfulness."

Ian narrowed his eyes, wondering exactly what type of awfulness she was meaning but he wasn't sure he wanted to ask. "Maybe you shouldn't go alone." He offered, smiling. "I know it's normally a safe part of town but you can't be too careful."

As Lauren started to ramble, Ian momentarily tuned her out, falling into those dark places of his mind that he thought he overcame years ago. Funny how one mention of an area of Chicago you lived in as a kid brings out every single bad memory from that time.

It had his skin crawling, his head pounding worse than before. Ian tried to not listen, to ignore the sounds and voices of his past coming back for him and tried to focus on now. On the cool autumn breeze or the sounds of crunching leaves.

"Ian?"

When a soft hand landed on his shoulder, Ian jumped like a cat. His feet clearing the ground. He pushed the hand away as the air in his lungs rushed out, leaving him breathless.

"Oh, I didn't mean to scare you."

Shaking his head, Ian tried to get control of his shaking hands. It wasn't often that he had a freak out moment like that, it had been years since the last one. But the talk of that area of Chicago and the sudden touch had his mind and body racing to his past.

"It's okay." Ian faked a smile and hitched the strap of his briefcase higher up his sore shoulder. "I just kinda spaced out for a moment."

Lauren nodded, her hand hovering over his arm but she put it back down. "I'm sorry all the same. I hope you have a good day Ian."

"Thanks," he smiled as he walked further away. "You too Ms. Walker."

He couldn't walk away fast enough. Not to get away from her, but from the memories and the emotions a simple conversation had brought back. He felt raw, exposed. Like he was under a microscope.

"Just get it together." Ian muttered to himself as he stopped at the station. His hands were still shaking, and not from the cold. "It's just a coincidence."

It didn't matter how many times he repeated the words, it felt like a lie. It felt like he was back in that other life, back with those people. Back where he was trapped and alone, scared.

When the train stopped, he couldn't even recognize his own face in the glass. He was as pale as a ghost.

**

"Is that the file on the Moore's?" Mickey asked when Marlowe walked in. He was neck deep in paperwork at his desk and needed a break before his eyes bugged out of his head.

"Yeah, it is." Marlowe took a seat opposite him at her own desk. She set the file down and rubbed her eyes.

"That bad?" Mickey asked, afraid of what might follow.

"Honestly, I have no idea. From the outside, they seem normal." She flipped through the file, even when she had it memorized. "Jim Moore owns his own high-end hardware store, works 40 hours a week. Sarah, is a stay at home wife. Which is a little odd because they have no children living with them and she's too young for retirement."

Mickey nodded. "Maybe Jimmy boy is one of those old fashioned guys who want their lady at home."

"Yeah, that's possible. Which I never understood, but I guess it's normal for some couples." Marlowe shivered. "They have two cars, both drive Caddy's, both paid off. No outstanding bills or debts."

"What about kids?" Mickey asked, grabbing for his 5th cup of coffee that tasted worse than tar. "That kid was in almost all of those photos. Maybe a relative?"

"They have no biological children according to public records. But they are listed as foster parents. Or were."

"Were?" Mickey asked, not liking the tone she used. "Did they suddenly stop for some reason or did they adopt a kid and got taken off a list?"

Marlowe dug through the papers. "They were listed as foster parents around 15 years ago. All legal and above board. Everything checked out with them. Nothing fishy. No criminal history, both had good jobs, decent income."

"Well now I'm even more confused." Mickey groaned, hanging his head back.

"I'm getting to that." Marlowe shot back. "They got taken off the list because the foster child they adopted ran away when he was 16."

Mickey snapped to attention and took the missing persons report she held out. It was old, definitely dated over 7 years ago. The kid was young, 15 maybe, with red hair and no smile, just like the pictures on the walls in the Moore house.

"Ian Clayton Gallagher." Mickey read the name. "They reported him missing when he was 16. Told the cops they took him to school and never saw him again."

"Some foster kids are known to run away, but the foster parents are made out to be the bad guys because they are responsible. So they take them off the list, at least for a certain amount of time to launch an investigation."

"You have his file?" Mickey asked, setting the paper aside as she handed the very thin file over. "Okay let's take a look here."

It took him a moment or two to look away from the pictures of a freckled face kid with no smile. Mickey noticed right away that he was sad. His eyes were sad, even when he did smile.

"Okay, it says Ian came to them when he was around five years old. They didn't adopt until he was nearly eight years old though."

Marlowe spoke up. "The first few years are hard. Some fosters don't even make it that long. There could be underlying problems or past trauma."

"Well, they did adopt but Ian wanted to keep his last name. School records look okay, although the nurse reported a few bruises." He narrowed his eyes, not liking the feel of this still. "The Moore's chalked it up to him being a boy. Little rough housing, boys will be boys type deal."

"I can't tell if the school was trying to create a problem because they are taught to look for such things or if something more was going on."

Mickey nodded. He understood too well about the school system. One bruise and they assume abuse. But if they ignore it, or when they do, abuse is happening right under their noses. It was hard to pinpoint which was which and when.

"Later on as Ian got older, around 12 or so, the school did that bruise talk again." Mickey read through the information quickly. "This time Ian told them it was from messing around with his friends, so they didn't push the issue."

"That doesn't sound like normal stuff though. Not if the reports kept coming." Marlowe added.

"No, it doesn't. Something feels off." Mickey dug through a few more papers. "Because now we have several hospital visits."

Marlowe held her hand out for the papers. "Says here that his arm was broken at 15, Ian claimed it was another accident with his friends. Then another time his rib was cracked, then a badly dislocated shoulder."

Mickey pushed the file away, that unease he felt earlier was just. He wanted to be sick. "Jesus Christ, they were abusing him."

Marlowe tossed the paper back. Then held her head in her hands. "Yes they were."

"Well, that explains the locks in the kitchen and on the windows." Mickey added, pushing aside the papers to get to the stack of photos he hadn't looked through yet. He opened them, took one glance and handed them to her. "Just like you said, locking away food. Locked the windows so he couldn't just sneak out. Alarm system makes sense too."

Marlowe let out a nasty curse as she filtered through the pictures. "No wonder he went to school and never came back. Did you see the x-ray of his arm?"

Mickey nodded, teeth clenched. "One of 'em, probably Jim, twisted it behind his back so hard it broke."

"I suddenly don't feel bad that someone decided to off the both of them." Marlowe closed the pictures, setting them aside. "They didn't seem in a hurry to find him though. They didn't pester the cops, just that one flyer and that's all."

"Because they knew he wouldn't keep quiet for very much longer." Mickey suggested, rubbing his pounding head. "The older he got, the less control they had over him. He probably realized that he could easily take care of himself."

"No one has heard from him since then. But considering the Moore's didn't prompt them, local cops probably didn't try too hard."

Mickey sat forward, moving the papers away enough to reach his keyboard. He pulled up the Chicago DMV database and typed in Ian Gallagher's name, date of birth and social security number. It took less time to find him then it did to type in his name.

Mickey smiled. "Ian Clayton Gallagher, currently 22 years old, lives at The Avenue Apartments. Apartment A24, Canaryville Chicago. Kid lives in my old neighborhood."

Marlowe blinked slowly. "How long as he lived here?"

"Changed his licence when he updated his address over four years ago." Mickey quickly printed out his address, along with an updated picture. In this picture, Ian was smiling. Mickey caught himself fighting a smile. "He's been there for nearly four years. Means he lived somewhere unlisted for around two years after he went missing."

"If Ian was 15/16 then, he probably jumped from shelter to shelter until he got a job, saved up some cash." Marlowe got up, moving to Mickey's side to read over his shoulder. "His working address is close to his home. Works at a social services office?"

Mickey's eyebrows went up. "Well, I can see why. He could have used more help when social services had him under their control."

Ian had been through the wringer. His biological parents weren't around. Spent five years in an orphanage, got adopted by abusive parents, ran away. Lived in squalor until he managed to get himself a place downtown. Which was not as nice as it sounded.

The kid had one hell of a hard life and yet he worked for social services, probably doing his best to help kids. Kids like him who could have used outside help. Someone to read between the lines and know he was lying as a kid.

"Well, considering it's almost noon, should we assume he's at work?" Marlowe asked as she moved to her desk to grab her gun.

Mickey nodded and stood also, grabbing his gun from the locked drawer to his right. "It's a safe bet. Noon on a Thursday probably means work." He grabbed his jacket, both the Moore file and the Gallagher file. "If not, we can swing by his house."

"Somehow I don't think he's going to give a damn either way." Marlowe shot Mickey a look as they walked out of the precinct. "He got away from them for a damn good reason. He might end up being a suspect."

Mickey paused by his car, jaw locked. "You think he's a suspect?"

"You don't?" Marlowe asked, surprised. "Crime of passion, right? Personal connection? What could be more personal than an abused son?"

It was hard to argue with that, so he didn't. Ian Gallagher was their most likely suspect. What better way to get a read on him then being there when they break the news to him? Emotions like that, fueled by anger and hatred, by fear, are hard to hide.

**

The news from his murders were all over Chicago. From the news on tv he heard this morning, to the headlines in the local newspapers, to the talk on the radio.

He was everywhere. His work.

It was glorious. Every single moment the world talked about what he did, talked about those poor people, the more he smiled.

Justice was sweet.

They were liars, the both of them. Living in that immaculate house, wearing designer clothes, driving luxury cars. The happy little couple.

Not. Lies. All of it.

It was time he put a stop to it. It was up to him alone because only he knew the truth about them. Only be knew what they were capable of. He saw the way they treated Ian, the bruises, his arm in a cast.

He saw the sad smiles, forced by a heavy hand. Forced to lie and smile about it. Forced to see the sad smile from a social worker who knew, who knew all along but didn't help him.

Ian lived through all of it. That poor, helpless boy.

Unlike the rest of the children like Ian, the ones who suffered well past their teen years, Ian got away. Ian got himself away with no help, no money and no place to go. Ian left when he knew the beatings were getting worse, when the only other way to inflict pain, was to kill him.

He protected Ian from the time he was seven. As much as he could have, being a few years older. As much as anyone should have. And it was enough. His help, helped Ian survive. Ian never knew of his help, he still didn't know.

But it had always been there.

Now they were dead. Ian was safe. He did his job, it took seeing the Moore's try and adopt another kid to set him off enough to end it, but it was over.

There would never be another child hurt under that roof. That was all that mattered as he smiled at the t.v., as they showed Jim and Sarah Moore being carted out of that house.

Chapter Text

Beneath the Surface
Chapter 2- Secrets

 

"This looks like a nice place." Mickey nodded appreciatively as they stepped out of his car.

Marlowe smiled. "Mick, of course it does. It's supposed to look squeaky clean. It's supposed to make others feel inferior."

The Child Services building was smaller than he imagined on the outside, but clean and it had that new look to it. It had been there for the last eight years, and so far, they didn't have any investigations open.

"You need to lighten up Summers." Mickey smirked as she glared at him for the use of her last name, the sentence itself and holding the door open for her. "Not everything is as bad as you think."

Marlowe stopped at the first cluttered desk she saw, eyes focused on her partner. "If I assume the best, I always get let down and it feels twice as worse as being negative in the first place."

With nothing else to say about that touchy topic, Mickey gave his friendliest smile at the woman behind the cluttered desk. She looked up, brown eyes increasingly wide.

Great, now she thought he was flirting.

"Hello, can I help you?" She asked with a bright smile, leaning too far forward so the neckline of her blouse dipped low.

Mickey didn't react and her smile slipped. "My name is Detective Milkovich, this is Detective Summers with the Chicago Police Department."

Her smile turned into a frown. She sat up straight, pulling her blouse closed. "Let me get my supervisor on the phone."

As she picked up the phone, Mickey and Marlowe turned to take in the space. Row after row of small, white cubicles lined the space. No more than an inch or two apart. Each individual cubicle was tricked out into whatever that person liked.

One woman had nothing but cats. Figures, pictures, a calendar hanging on the wall. Another cubicle had much of the same, but it was a man and he had cars instead of cats. Then there was an older woman in the corner with frogs.

It was stuffy, suffocating.

Mickey knew his set up with Marlowe was small, their desks back to back, no bigger than a teacher's desk in a school. But no walls surrounding them like those cubicles. No running theme taking over.

"Jesus. This place looks like death." Mickey was forced to laugh when Marlowe looked at him, eyes wide. "I would die here in like a week."

"They have more room then we do."

"Yeah, but the walls make it all seem smaller. No?" Mickey asked, pointing to the older lady nearly engulfed in the walls of the cubicle.

"Excuse me?"

Mickey glanced back to see an older lady in one of those three piece pants suits standing behind them. Arms crossed over her chest but despite the aggressive stance, she was smiling.

"Are you the supervisor?" Marlowe asked.

"I am. My name is Nicole Roberts. You're from CPD?"

"Yes ma'am, we are. I'm Detective Summers, this is my partner Detective Milkovich. We need to talk to one of your employees. Ian Gallagher."

Mickey watched her kind smile slip a little. Did it slip because she suspected something oddly new about Ian, or was she just concerned about one of her staff members?

"Is everything alright?" Nicole asked quietly.

"We just need to talk to him. Is he here?" Mickey answered her question as vaguely as possible, as they always did. "It's important."

"Yes, he is." Nicole glanced around the room. "His desk is this way."

Mickey let Marlowe lead. He followed them, keeping an ear out for any chatter. People who worked in close proximity like this were physically unable to mind their own business.

When they stopped, Mickey looked up to see a shockingly handsome redhead behind one of the cubicles in the corner. He looked so much better than that DMV photo, it didn't do him justice and Mickey was only able to see one side of his profile.

First thing he noticed; his jawline. Perfectly sculpted, a little crooked on one side, smooth. Then his red hair that seemed like it took hours to get it in that no nonsense style where it looked untamed. Then the perfect bridge of his nose. Thin, pink lips that didn't hold a smile. The freckles across his cheeks were barely noticeable now, unlike when he was a kid.

Ian Gallagher was kinda beautiful.

"Ian, these detectives need a word with you." Nicole tried for a smile and failed when Ian looked at her.

"Yeah, sure." Ian stopped typing, eyes glancing behind his supervisor. "What's going on?"

Mickey glanced to Nicole, who was hovering. "Ma'am, we need to speak with Mister Gallagher alone please."

Nicole blushed. "Yes, of course. Please feel free to use the conference room."

They waited for her to walk away before Marlowe spoke up. "Mind leading us there? This needs to be done in private."

Ian nodded quickly, hands twitchy for a moment before he moved from his desk, smoothing down his shirt and walked down the small hallway.

Everyone was looking at them.

That was a little more public than Mickey was comfortable with. Ian too if his nervous demeanor was anything to go by. Shaky hands, wide green eyes, hesitating before he moved.

Maybe he was flustered from their surprise visit, or maybe Marlowe was right and Ian was guilty of something. That would make him flustered as well.

"Just this way." Ian said quietly, avoiding the eyes on him as he led them down the hallway. He opened the door and turned the light on, then stepped aside. "What's this about?"

Mickey and Marlowe moved inside and shut the door. "Wanna sit?" Mickey asked as he pulled out one of the highbacked office chairs and sat down

Green eyes looked over. "I'm actually kinda too anxious to sit down. Mind if I stand?"

"Why are you anxious?" Marlowe asked, smiling a little.

"Maybe because you just perp- walked me out of work and haven't told me why you're here in the first place." Ian said quietly, rubbing the forming headache behind his eyes.

Mickey laughed, he couldn't help it. Ian managed a smile because of it and like always, Marlowe glared at him. "Yeah, sorry about that. My name is Mickey Milkovich, this is Marlowe Summers; Chicago PD."

Ian held out his hand to each of them, shaking it softly. "Ian Gallagher, but you already knew that. What's going on?"

Mickey admired his soft spoken nature. His voice always calm, but inquisitive. Even under pressure Ian remained the same as he was if they never arrived.

"Actually yes." Mickey dug into the file for the photos. He put them on the desk and watched Ian's eyes widen. "Do you know these two people?"

Ian opened his mouth, then closed it. His head pounding furiously. "Yes. That is Jim and Sarah Moore. The people who adopted me."

It was said with absolutely no affection. None. Ian said it as clinically correct as possible. He didn't call them mom and dad, he didn't say parents. Only their legal names.

When Ian didn't look away from the pictures, Mickey grabbed them, tucking them into the folder. Ian blinked, his eyes returning to their normal size. But they were dead, lifeless. Void of any human comfort.

It gave him the chills.

"Well Ian, we are sorry to tell you this, but they were found dead in their home this morning." Marlowe spoke up, her voice soft.

Mickey studied him. And at the big reveal, green eyes once again widened in shock, absolute shock. He seemed a bit paler than he had been moments ago, a little more uneasy.

"I heard something like that on the news but I didn't think…" Ian trailed off at the crackling sound of his voice breaking. He cleared it and licked his lips. "They were attacked?"

They traded looks.

"Is that what the news said?" Marlowe asked as she took a seat. "An attack?"

"I think so. I had the news on but I had to get ready for work so I wasn't paying attention." Ian paused, took a deep breath and finally took his seat. "My neighbor mentioned something about it too."

"Yes, they were attacked sometime this morning." Mickey added, his eyes soaking up every move Ian made.

From how shaken he looked, but how relieved. How he didn't start crying, or seem sad. Even when they knew the reason behind why he wasn't. Mickey also noticed a few bruises on Ian's hands, scratches but nothing that might suggest beating two people to death.

Ian didn't say anything to that. But he did rub over his head, like he was nursing a hangover or a headache. Mickey could even see his jaw clench and unclench every other moment.

"Ian, we have you listed as a missing person when you were around 16." Marlowe took out the flyer and pushed it across the table. "Can you tell us why?"

Ian grabbed the paper, glanced at a younger version of his face then flipped it and pushed it back to her. "I'd rather not. It was a long time ago and as you can see, I'm no longer missing."

Mickey covered his smile with the back of one hand. "Yes, we can see that Ian. And we have a pretty good idea of why you were missing, but we hoped you would like to tell us."

Ian met soft, curious blue eyes. "Maybe you should tell me what you think happened."

Marlowe nodded. "Okay. Well, when we were there this morning, we saw locks on the cabinets in the kitchen, the refrigerator and the freezer."

Mickey saw Ian swallow thickly, but remained passive.

"The outside windows also had locks on them, and not from the security company." Marlowe continued, hoping Mickey was picking up some of his behavior while she decided on how much to tell him.

Ian glanced to her, no change in his voice or the emotions on his face. He was blank. "And what does that tell you Detective Summers?"

"That alone tells us that they are control freaks. It's also a form of abuse."

Ian flinched, closing his eyes before he was back to being blank.

"Or maybe they just didn't like unscheduled meal times." Ian said flatly.

With a smile, Marlowe nodded. "That could be, yes. And I, we, might believe it if we didn't take a look at your history with the Moore's." She paused to slide a few papers over to him.

Ian didn't react.

"In there, your school notes bruises that your adoptive parents called rough housing. Then a few years later, it was reported again in which you told the school you were messing around with your friends."

Mickey watched that sturdy jaw clench over and over again.

"Boys will be boys, right?" Ian asked with a forced smile.

"It is possible." Marlowe pulled out the hospitals records. "Until you showed up with a spiral fracture in your arm." She pointed to the x-ray. "That type of break only happens when your arm is wrenched around your back when someone grabbed you."

Ian shrugged. "Even if that did happen, which I said it didn't, it doesn't really matter anymore. Does it?"

Mickey nodded. "Not so much. Even when we know it is true, they are still dead. So we can't convict on abuse."

Ian nodded sadly. "Is there anything else you'd like to know then? Aside from my childhood?"

They would get nowhere with this. Ian clearly wouldn't tell them the truth, or didn't care enough about the Moore's to dig into his history again. He seemed almost non affected by it, but Mickey could tell he was.

"When was the last time you saw them?" Mickey asked, even when he was sure he knew the answer.

Ian didn't hesitate. "It was Friday, March 19th, 2003 at 7:32 that morning."

"Wow, that is rather specific." Mickey said quietly, caught more off guard then he should have been.

Of course Ian would know the exact time, year and date he ran away. It was the decision that changed his entire life. And nothing on his face showed that he had seen them since then.

"It's just a time I remember well detective." Ian responded with a shy smile. "Is that all?"

Marlowe shook her head. "I find it odd that you haven't asked what happened to them, or if we have any leads or ideas who might have done it."

"Let's just say that I am no longer interested in the Moore family. Dead or alive." Ian linked his fingers, then checked his watch. "I am sorry that they are dead simply because they are dead, but I have no desire for the details."

Either Ian still hadn't gotten over his childhood, which was understandable. Or he got over it alarmingly well and was simply disinterested. Both of which had their own set of issues to tackle.

"Okay then. Well, we can spare the details and saying 'we are sorry for your loss', but we still have more questions." Mickey caught Ian's eyes and held it. In the end, he looked away first, not Ian. "Maybe you could tell us where you were this morning."

Ian nodded. "Of course I can Detective. I was at home since yesterday at around 6pm."

Mickey arched an eyebrow. "Anyone to verify that?"

"Well, given that I live alone, probably not. But my neighbor was there when I got home and she saw me out this morning when I left."

Mickey wrote it down in his notepad. "And what time did you leave?"

Ian closed one eye, tilting his head to pinpoint the right time. "Was a little late because I did the dishes this morning instead of last night. But only by like 4 minutes."

Mickey smiled. Ian was unusual, precise, but he kinda liked it.

"I left the house around 7:40. Talked to her for about five minutes before I had to run and catch the L to work." Ian offered a smile, his hands still linked on the table.

Marlowe nodded. "And what time did you arrive here?"

"8:15, which is five minutes later than my normal time. Those dishes really set off the entire morning for me."

Mickey laughed as he wrote it down. When he looked up, amused green eyes were locked on him. "Yeah, dishes fuck up my morning too."

Ian grinned. "Glad to know it's not just me."

Marlowe shifted awkwardly. "Will your boss verify when you arrived?"

"Of course. Feel free to ask her. I logged in five minutes after I got here."

Mickey knew Marlowe would check with the boss and if they had any cameras, and when Ian signed in. But he had no doubt about Ian not telling the truth. Ian was far too precise and helpful to be lying.

Or maybe he was all wrong and Ian was an accomplished liar.

"I will. Thank you." Marlowe smiled tightly as she stood, gave Mickey a pointed look and left them.

Ian waited until the door closed. "She doesn't like me."

"Don't take it too personal, she doesn't like most people." Mickey smiled. "And this case is a little confusing. Especially when you won't talk to us about them."

Ian's smile faded. "I understand you have a job to do Detective Milkovich--"

Mickey put his hand up. "Just Mickey, please."

Ian's smile made a brief comeback. "Mickey; but if you're as sure as you sound about my past with them, then I'm sure you understand my reluctance not to talk about it."

Ian pretty much just confirmed the abuse without even saying anything.

"Trust me Ian, I am sure. And I hope you believe me when I say I'd rather not have to ask you about all that bad shit." Mickey waited until Ian tipped his head, saying yes. "And if it wasn't important, I wouldn't waste the time and ask."

Ian sighed, rubbing his eyes again when they pounded. "I just fail to see why it matters now. It was in the past, I told you I haven't seen them since that day, and now they are dead. My history does not matter."

Mickey smiled. "That might be true, but whoever did this was close to them Ian. It was personal, it was someone who had a problem with them." He held out his hands, motioning to his area.

Ian blinked slowly, surprised. "I'm a suspect?"

"Until I can verify you were where you said you were, yes. You have the closest connection to them. It's very personal for you and you have a bad history with them."

"Trust me Mickey," Ian said calmly. "If I was going to kill them, I wouldn't have waited over six years to do it."

Again, Ian had a point.

"Maybe I should get a lawyer?" Ian asked seriously, but the tone of his voice never changed.

Mickey shrugged. "That is always your right Ian. And if you want one, our talk ends now."

Ian nodded. "Considering you're a professional and know more about this case than I do, would you recommend one?"

"I can't answer that without a biased opinion. But I can say that getting a lawyer this quickly doesn't look too good for you." Mickey answered honestly, meeting his eyes so Ian could see the truth. "If you're as confident as you seem about your story and your whereabouts, then I'm sure it'll all check out."

"I believe you." Ian smiled as he stood. "Is that all detective? I really should be getting back to work."

Mickey stood, grabbing both files as he tucked his notepad into the inside pocket of his jacket. "I think that covers the basics for now. I'm sure you already realized I will be back after I check on some stuff."

Ian smiled again as the pounding in his head eased off. "You know where to find me Mickey. Here or at home, you're welcome to both."

It seemed far too easy. He seemed too innocent and trusting.

"Thank you." Mickey offered a smile, feeling his widen when Ian's did. "Have a good day." He held out his hand, keeping eye contact when Ian's larger one took it gently and shook it.

"Have a good day Mickey."

Mickey forced himself to walk out as Ian did, he also had to not look at how tall he was, or how wide his shoulders were. Broad and strong and….shit. It wasn't working.

Thankfully, Ian moved back to his corner cubicle, going right to his computer as if nothing happened in the last half hour. As if Ian didn't just get told that the Moore's were dead.

It was odd, but not at the same time.

"You done?"

Marlowe's voice made him jump. It made her laugh like the asshole she was. He glared. "Yes, I'm done. You done sneaking?"

"I wasn't sneaking. You are just too preoccupied staring at Ian." She shook her head, giving him that disapproving look.

"I was just thinking how weird it was for him to go right back to work after all that." Mickey glared at her insinuating words and pointed back to Ian typing away. "Like he just stepped out for coffee."

Marlowe nodded, her eyes narrowed. "He does seem very calm about all of this. Unaffected. He doesn't even seem angry about us mentioning them or the abuse."

"He seems indifferent." Mickey offered as they walked further away. "Like he has better things to do then help solve their murder."

"Well, I talked to his boss and she said Ian was only five minutes late like he said. He clocked in when he said too."

Mickey nodded. "We can go talk to the neighbor about her seeing him last night and this morning?" He framed it as a question, thinking that if that checked out too they might need another suspect.

"Only one of us needs to go for that." Marlowe walked out with Mickey right behind her, popping a piece of gum into his mouth. "Wanna drop me off at the prescient? I still need to call about the alarm system and see if the Moore's did have any cameras up."

Nodding, Mickey got behind the wheel and started the car as she joined him. "We can knock two things out at once. By then, Jerry should have some more info about the bodies."

"Sounds like a plan."

**

After Marlowe nearly jumped out of a moving car...not really, but she seemed in a hurry, Mickey drove back to the south side, to The Avenue Apartments to talk to his neighbor.

The complex was nice considering its location. The name in big white letters framed by bricks and bushes. The apartments were two stories, both on either side with the driving area and parking lot in a wrap around fashion to the other side. Side A on the right, B on the left and the office was smack dab in the back, hidden behind a few trees and it wall all surrounded by a white gate.

It was well maintained. All brick, the stairwell to each section was well lit and open, the other side closed so there was only one way to enter. There were large patches of grass with those poop scoop stations, a playground on one side.

But what Mickey noticed the most, was the two security cameras on either side of the office building. One pointing to side A, the other to side B. It was smart. It would help. If they were working.

More than once, cameras had been placed in various places for show only. Usually in stores or bars to scare people into thinking it was real. Kinda smart, but ultimately useless.

As he drove slowly around, he cased the people coming and going. Mostly older, lower class. A lot of older cars too. But at least it was clean, unlike his childhood home. And the people around didn't seem too shocked to see an obvious undercover car rolling up. Some even waved.

He parked right in front of the office and killed the engine. Then got out. The office was small, to the right of the playground and had a small laundry area connected, he could smell detergent and hear the tumble of a dryer.

The blinds were closed, but the sign said open.

Grabbing his badge from his coat pocket, Mickey knocked on the door loud enough to be heard. While he waited, he glanced at the few residences that trickled outside. Curious eyes, possible witnesses or just the usual company.

"Come in!!" A female voice called loudly.

Mickey turned the knob and stepped in, eyed the woman behind the desk and shut the door. Maybe it was his overall quiet mood, but she stopped clicking away on her computer.

"Yes, can I help you?"

Mickey nodded, flashing his badge. "I'm Detective Milkovich with CPD. I need to ask about one of your residence Miss…"

She stood, hand out. "Call me Angie, please."

"Angie." Mickey smiled and shook her hand. She motioned to the empty chair in front of her desk and he sat down.

"Which resident?"

"Ian Gallagher." Mickey replied, taking the photo of Ian from his jacket pocket and showed her. "Says he lives in A24?"

Angie clicked on her computer. "Yes, apartment A24."

"How long has he lived here?"

More clicking. "This year will make four."

"Have you had any issues with him in that time?" Mickey asked, just fishing. Strangers like to talk. "Late rent or noise complaints or any shady people recently?"

Angie frowned. "Not really. Rent is $800, always due on the first. He always pays at least one day ahead. And as for the other questions, I really have no idea."

Mickey arched an eyebrow. "No?"

"I'm the only one in this office Detective. And I'm only here until four and not here at all on the weekends. As long as the resident pays rent on time, we really don't have contact."

The office was small, and it did only have one desk set up. Maybe it was just her. But that left a lot of time for Ian to come and go without being bothered or seen.

"I noticed you have cameras outside. Any chance those work?" He asked hopefully.

Angie nodded. "Yes, they work. But we only have the two cameras."

Ian's apartment was close to one of those cameras.

"Any chance I can take the footage for them?"

Angie squirmed. "Can I ask what this is about? I only manage this office, while the owner does our other location. I'd have to get the okay from them."

"I can't disclose details ma'am. I just need to know if Mister Gallagher was where he said he was."

"I can call my boss and ask if she's okay with letting you use them."

Mickey smiled. "That would be great, thanks. I'm just gonna walk around for a minute until you're done." He stood and moved to the door.

"I'll be here."

With that, Mickey stepped back outside, popping a piece of minty gum instead of grabbing for the pack of smokes he no longer carried. He spent the last four months trying to quit. Using gum as a substitute. Not that nicorette gum either, normal chewing gum with no nicotine.

Having a high stress job didn't improve his chances of not smoking again. He basically lived off twice filtered coffee and smokes. But the last straw had been around Christmas when Marlowe was being chased by a gun toting meth head and he had to burn rubber just to catch up in time.

After that, after nearly being too late to help her, Mickey decided to quit.

It didn't take him long to find A24. It was up top, only a flight or two of stairs that lead him right up to the door.

Without Ian's permission or a signed warrant, he couldn't enter legally. And if he did and found something, or anything really, it wouldn't be admissible and he would be in a shit load of trouble.

Good thing he didn't need in there just yet.

Instead, Mickey moved to the door across from Ian's. And unlike Ian's empty doorway, this one had a mat that said 'welcome' and fake potted plants on either side of the mat.

Mickey knocked loudly and heard a yappy dog bark. Then cursing, followed by quick, shuffling steps before the door was opened. An older lady filled the doorway, her scowl gone the instant he smiled.

"Sorry to bother you ma'am," Mickey kept his smile as he flashed his badge. "Mind if I ask you a few questions?"

The yapping got louder. Forcing the older woman to step out, closing the door behind her.

"Of course. What can I help you with?"

He thumbed behind his shoulder to Ian's door. "Do you know Mister Gallagher well?"

"Not as well as I'd like." She teased, laughing. "He is a pretty thing, shy too. But he always has to remind me that he plays for the other team."

She was so casual about it. Mickey felt his skin prickle over the new information. Ian was gay. Not uncommon in 2019. It just so happened that he was gay himself. Also, nothing surprising. And just because two men who knew each other vaguely and preferred men to women, didn't mean they would hook up or anything.

Two straight people weren't automatically attracted to each other just because they were straight. People had types, standards.

It didn't even matter that he already assessed the overall look of Ian's body, it was….fine. And maybe he stared too hard, or maybe a few of those long looks Ian gave him were just normal…

Maybe. Maybe not. No time to find out one way or another. Even if it wasn't wildly inappropriate.

"I take it you play for that team too?"

Mickey glanced away at her bright smile, knowing that if he met her eyes, his blush would spread. Not that he was shy about being gay, but she seemed a little too interested, a little too happy.

"Oh my, you're just as shy as he is." She chuckled lightly. "Forgive me, I forget myself sometimes."

Mickey nodded. "You were telling me about Ian…" He prompted.

"Yes, Ian. He is just the sweetest young man. Well mannered, especially for living where we do. Always holds doors or carries my bags up the stairs. Such a sweet boy."

"He sounds very nice ma'am." Mickey smiled because he had no idea what to do with the information she gave him. "I talked to him this morning and he mentioned you. That you saw him last night when he got home and when he left this morning. Can you verify that miss….?"

"My name is Lauren Walker, mister…?"

Mickey smiled. "Detective Milkovich, ma'am."

Lauren smiled back. "And yes, I saw him last night when he got here and again this morning as we left."

"Do you remember what time that was?"

Lauren was silent for a moment. "I heard him around 6 last night when I went to take my dog out. And this morning a little after 7:30. We walked out and spoke for a moment before we parted ways."

Shit. That meant that Ian told the truth...which was good. But that left him chasing his own tail.

"Nothing between that time? Or maybe you heard him leave or noticed if he had any company?" Mickey asked, once again fishing for information.

"He has ways been a silent guy detective. Keeps to himself. Goes to work and such." Lauren glanced down, then shyly back up. "But I did hear him arguing with someone early this morning."

Mickey's eyebrows lifted. "Ian didn't mention that. Any idea who it was?"

"I only heard his voice, so I assumed it was on the phone but…"

"But?"

She sighed quietly. "But, I'm a bored old lady and peeked out the peep hole and saw someone leaving in a hurry."

Ian hadn't mentioned that either.

"Did you get a look?" Mickey asked but she shook her head. "Man, woman, black, white?"

"It was dark. The only thing I know is that it may have been a man and he was tall. Around 6 foot I'd say."

Mickey wrote quickly. "You didn't see a face?"

"Even with the lighting out here, it's very dark. And he was wearing a big jacket with a hood. So, no. I'm sorry."

Mickey smiled. "That is very helpful Ms. Walker."

She smiled.

"Had you seen this guy before?"

"No, never." Lauren answered quickly. "But from the way he left, he was angry, or upset? He slammed the door on his way out."

So, up until now, Ian had been telling the truth. But why leave that part out? Why bring up his neighbor if he knew she might have seen his early visitor?

"Thank you Ms. Walker." Mickey smiled even when he didn't feel it and put his notebook in his pocket. "That was very helpful." He handed her a card. "If you happen to see Ian's visitor again, could you give me a call, please?"

Lauren took the card. "I will."

"Have a good day ma'am." Mickey gave one last smile and took the stairs down just as the office door opened and Angie poked her head out.

"Detective?"

Mickey jogged over and slipped inside the opened door. "What did your boss say?"

Angie sat down behind her desk. "She said no, I'm sorry."

Mickey deflated. "Did she happen to say why?"

"She said because our residence privacy is important and unless you have a warrant for the tapes I'm not allowed to give it to you."

There was that red police tape he hated so much. Warrants, approval from one of his bosses. It was always something.

Mickey smiled because she looked a little afraid and after all, it wasn't up to her. "Thank you for trying. Have a good day." He opened the door and left, winding his car around the lot and back to the main road.

His phone rang.

Mickey turned, digging his fingers into his jeans to grab it. He glanced at Marlowe's name quickly before he answered it. "Yeah?"

"You get anywhere with Ian's apartment?"

"Yeah and no. They have surveillance cameras but the owners won't give em up without a warrant. Right now we have jack shit to request those tapes."

Marlowe groaned. "Yeah. You headed back?"

Mickey stopped at the red light. "Yeah, on the way back. You call the security company for the Moore's house?"

"Yeah and your hunch was right." Marlowe chuckled. "They had a camera pointed towards the front door."

Mickey grinned, driving as the light changed. "You got the footage or do we need a warrant for that too?"

"They are sending the tapes over within the hour. No warrant needed. They are happy to help."

"Good. Now we can see who went in the house, given that they used the front door."

"And if it shows Ian Gallagher?"

His smile slipped. "If it shows Ian Gallagher entering or leaving the house, we arrest him and that gives us enough for the warrant for the tapes."

"Alright. Well get back here as soon as you can. Jerry called too, has some stuff for us."

Mickey stepped on the gas. "Be there in five."

**

Now Ian was a suspect? How? What information could they possibly have on him?

He made sure Ian was safe, at all times. Like he always did. He kept Ian far away from that shit.

That female detective, Marlowe, didn't trust Ian. She didn't have to say it. He knew from one look at them all gathered around the table. She's the one who told Mickey, the reasonable one, that Ian might be a suspect.

He heard it all and it pissed him off. Couldn't they see that Ian was too sweet to hurt anyone? Couldn't they see how good he was, even after all he went through?

Ian still suffered from his past, even when he hid it well and if anyone knew Ian like he did, they would be able to see how afraid he was. They didn't know that Ian still had nightmares, they didn't see him wake up in a sweat, panting, crying.

Those detectives didn't know that because of what happened to Ian as a child, that he didn't let people into his life. No friends. Not even people from work knew him that well.

Ian didn't date or have sex because he couldn't open up to anyone. Ian had so much to offer the world and he was all alone.

That's why it was up to him to make sure Ian got what he needed. Even if he had to do it behind his back.

When those detectives left, he knew they would be back. He could hear the doubt in their voices. He could see it on their faces. They would try and hurt Ian if they could and there was no way he would stand there and do nothing.