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"I think we should get married." Ian blurts out, the words of Officer Berto running through his head. He's not entirely comfortable with the idea, marriage scares the fuck out of him, given his own fucked up head and the awful examples he'd seen in life, but he'd do anything to keep Mickey safe. And like Mickey himself said once (granted, many years ago and they haven't really talked about it lately, but honestly? What reason Mickey has to have changed his mind about it?), 'it's just a piece of paper', right? Right?!


Mickey's eyes flitted around before fixing on Ian again. "What?"


"We should get married. Then we can't testify against each other in a court of law. You know, in case one of us had something on the other. It's called spousal privilege." He explains, trying to convince both the other man and himself. He loves Mickey, has been in love with him for years. He has no doubt that Mickey is the man of his life. And if he has to get over his hang ups and sign a marriage certificate to help him stay in the clear, he will.


"Yeah. I, uh, heard of it." Mickey answers but he sounds unsure. Ian keeps going.


"It's for both of our protection, you know? Just help us keep things clean, help us toe the line a little bit." Mickey still looks unsure. "So what are you thinking?"


"I think staying out of jail's a crap reason to get married."


"No. We fucking love each other. That's why we're gonna get married. The legal stuff, it's just bonus."


"I mean, this is marriage, though, man. It's kind of a big step, don't you think?"


Ian feels his enthusiasm cooling. "You don't want to marry me?"


Mickey huffs and bites his bottom lip. He looks at Ian and looks away. The redhead knows what this means: Mickey is getting ready to talk. He feels hopeful.


"I just think we don't have to rush into it. It's not like we're gonna tell on each other about her, you know? I mean, you know I won't say shit about what you did, you don't have to worry about that."


"About what I did? Mickey, I didn't do anything." Mickey gives him a look that speaks clearly he doesn't believe in Ian. The other man frowns. "I'm serious! I was home last night, hanging out with Liam and babysitting Franny."


Mickey blinks. "But you said you couldn't deal with two more years of her!" He hisses in a low tone.


"Yeah, but I didn't do anything! I don't know, maybe I could have done something later or try to expose her scam or whatever! But I didn't-" he stops himself and looks around surreptitiously. "do this."


"Huh." Mickey relaxes in his sit. "Fuck, then who did it?" Ian stares at him. "You think I did?!"


"You agreed with me. And you were nowhere to be found last night."


"Fuck you, I was with my father."


"Yeah? Doing what?"


Mickey couldn't answer that because the less Ian knew about his family business, the better. But he definitely wasn't murdering anyone. "You really think I did it? I just got out of prison!" He whispers-shout.


"Me too! And you thought I did it too!"


They stare at each other, breathing hard. Mickey seems to be one second from storming off but that is the last thing Ian wants. Hell, he asked Mickey to meet him so he could propose, no way he's gonna let things go south now.


"Okay. None of us did, then. Cool." Mickey still looks unconvinced. "Sorry for thinking you did." He adds, feeling a little ashamed. But Mickey thought the same about him so maybe they're just two dumb assholes who need to learn to actually say stuff instead of jump into conclusions.


Mickey looks at him from under his lashes and sees he looks sincere. It makes him feel a little bad. "Yeah, I shouldn't have thought you did either. I mean, you wouldn't have the guts anyway…" He teases, knowing full well Ian is going to be annoyed, which is preferable than the heavy tension between them now. The redhead doesn't disappoint, his bitchface so amusing Mickey has to suppress a laugh.


"Fuck you, Mickey."


"Fuck me yourself." He replies, without missing a beat. He feels free to tease Ian like that in public now. He used to think it was bullshit, back when they were teenagers, being with Ian in secret seemed like enough. But he can see the value of a public sexual remark now by the blush in Ian's face and the widening of his green eyes.


The redhead huffs out a laugh and rolls his eyes before sending Mickey a heated look. "Later," he says in a low voice and Mickey feels all warm inside. It feels good to be free. It feels really good.


Ian looks at him and see him smiling so carefree that his irritation fades away. God, he's so in love with this man he feels giddy with it. It's like the best high he's ever had. He wants this forever.


"I love you. And, and I trust you." he hesitates just for a second before admitting it out loud. He extends one arm over the table, offering Mickey his hand. "Do you love and trust me too?"


Mickey chuckles, his earlier smugness giving away to a fond smile. "Jesus Christ." He puts his hand on Ian's and holds it.


"Okay. So maybe the decision isn't that hard."


"You're proposing to me over fucking patty melts?" he asks with a smile. He still can't believe this is happening. He never had grand dreams about marriage, even before meeting Ian. He always thought it would be something he'd have to do eventually, but had no actual desire to. After he started seeing him, he fantasized about it once or twice, late at night, alone in his room. He and Ian in nice suits, saying 'I do' to each other. It made him feel equal parts happy and terrified. Later, with him and the redhead living together, it didn't seem important. They were together already, everyone who knew them knew they were together, so a piece of paper and a pair of rings seemed unnecessary, a futility. But now it doesn't feel like that. Now he's excited about the idea, the smile on Ian's face and the spark in his eyes fueling him.


"I guess I am. So what do you say? You want to fit in?"


He does. Marriage wasn't on the table before and Mickey never saw the advantages in it, besides keeping up his 'straight man' image. But now that they're talking about it, he realizes that he very much wants to have the stupid piece of paper declaring them husbands. He wants to sign on the dotted line and slide a ring on Ian's finger. He wants the suits and the stupid car with the cans behind and even fucking flowers, if he can get away with it. It's a little shocking but he can admit to himself that he doesn't just want to marry Ian. He wants to throw a wedding for them.


"Fuck it. I do." Ian's smile is so bright that Mickey wishes he could see him like this forever. "But how do we do this? I mean, you wanted to rush into it because you thought I had-" he looks around to make sure no one is paying attention to them. "done that, didn't you?"


Ian sighs. "I wanted to protect you. I figured I could just lie but it seemed safer this way. I do want to be with you for the rest of my life but I was so worried! I can't bear the thought of losing you."


"I get it, man. I still think it's a shitty reason to throw ourselves into a marriage, though. I found out today that two of my cousins have been legally married for nine years just so they can't testify against the other." He shrugs. "It should mean more than that, you know?"


He won't meet Ian's eyes but they're still holding hands, so Ian squeezes his a little.


"Mickey Milkovich, you're such a romantic."


The brunet glances at Ian and sees the complete adoration on the green eyes.


"Fuck off." He scoffs, abashed and let go of Ian's hand, grabbing the menu to hide behind it.


"You are! Here I was thinking of being practical and you're the one wanting to get married for the right reasons." Ian leans closer over the table, he can't resist teasing Mickey a little more. "Are you going to plan our wedding?" But the blush on Mickey’s cheeks intensify, to Ian's delight. "Are you?!"


"Shut up."


"No! No way I'll be able to shut up about this! First: you want to marry me; second: you don't want it to be for any other reason but us loving each other and wanting to be together legally and three: apparently the courthouse is off the table?"


Mickey rolls his eyes and looks away. "I had a shitty wedding once. Excuse me for wanting things to be better this time."


Ian sobers up immediately and taps the menu down so he can see Mickey's eyes. "Hey. I'm sorry, I'm not making fun of you, I promise. All I'm saying is that I'd be okay with the courthouse if that was what you wanted."


"Really? A Gallagher passing up a chance to throw a party?"


"We could have our own private party." He answers with a lecherous look. Mickey laughs.


"Man, shut up." He sits straighter on the chair. "But let's say we throw a small party in the Alibi after. We just go to the courthouse, sign the papers, go for drinks and then what? Go back to our room in the crazy Gallagher house?"


The way he says it makes Ian frown. Is their housing situation bothering Mickey? God, they do have a lot to discuss.


"Hm, we don't have a lot of options. Maybe get our own RV?" He jokes.


"Yeah, park it right beside your brother's, listen to his baby mama complain all day long about everything and everyone, great idea!"


Ian chuckles. "She's not that bad."


"She is."


Ian makes a surrender gesture. He's not the biggest fan of Tami either and doubts anyone in their house besides Lip likes her very much. But at least there's Freddie, so it's one saving grace.


"Hm, we could use the van in the summer. I always wanted to fuck you there." He teases. Mickey looks disgusted and Ian laughs. "It's true." He admits with a shrug.


"Sorry to disappoint, man, but that ain't happening. It's bad enough we only got a shitty folding door stopping the other Gallaghers from enjoying the show. There's no way I'm gonna put my ass on display in that fucking van."


"It's such a nice ass, though." He teases. "But you're right, I don't wanna anyone else looking at it." He finishes, a frown replacing the smile.


"You're a dick!" Mickey says with a laugh but he can't deny the thrill Ian's possessiveness causes. It's not something he ever thought he was going to be into but he can see the appeal. He's seen Ian's reaction to his own jealousy and he's usually very blasé about it. But then they had never been in a situation where someone else was hitting on Mickey in Ian's presence. Maybe the redhead would get all alpha on the competition too? The idea makes him hot all over. "But seriously, I think we should have our own place before getting hitched. Which probably won't happen while we're on parole but there's no need to rush, alright?" He raises his eyebrows at Ian so the redhead knows marriage is on the table, but not right now.


"Okay. But as of now, both of us are unemployed so there's no way we can get even a shitty crack house, much less a nice place."


The waitress brings their order and they start to eat. It puts a lull in their conversation while they demolish their burgers. Mickey finishes first.


"Hm, Larry immediately jumped back on my case and he texted me saying to wait until he gets the confirmation from the store, he's trying to get my job there back."


"Good. I have to find out who's gonna be my new PO now. I just hope I don't get sucked into another scam." He sounds hopeless and Mickey knows it's not just the scam, it was Paula stopping him from helping people. That was always what Ian wanted to do, he's got that hero complex.


"You really wanna go back to being an EMT, huh?"


Ian nods. "I really found myself in it, Mickey. It's got the adrenaline the military used to have and I'm helping people! Before everything went to shit, I was thinking about getting a paramedic certification. When I was sent to jail, I thought I'd never be able to do it again and then Paula made a mockery of it."


"I’m sure your next PO will be someone at least half-decent, man. And, who knows, maybe you can still save lives…" He tries to cheer the other man a bit as an idea starts to form in his head. He'll have to text Larry as soon as possible to see if he can get Ian's case as well. Or help him get someone who wouldn't screw him over again.


Oblivious to his thoughts, Ian just shrugs before smiling at him again. "So, you have any plans for today?"


He's got an almost innocent expression but Mickey can see right through it. "Why?"


Ian shrugs again before finishing his drink. "Since we just got engaged, I thought we could go home and fuck to celebrate." He looks at Mickey under his lashes and smirks.


"Hmm, you have any details on these plans? It's sounding a little vague…" It feels amazing to see the surprise on Ian's face. It's not the first time he teases the redhead like this, but in public? You bet it's a rare occurrence! And when Ian throws his head back, a flush creeping up his neck, laughing with his whole body, delighted with Mickey's boldness, he can't deny how amazing it feels to be really free.


They pay their bill and walk out and Ian throws his arm around Mickey's shoulders. He doesn't even think before wrapping his around his boyfriend's, eh, fiancé's waist. While they walk home, Ian prattles about the latest cute thing Franny or Freddie did and his obvious adoration for his niece and nephew plants another seed in Mickey's mind. He acts like he doesn't, but he remembers when Ian brought up The Talk™ in prison and mentioned not only marriage but also children and fucking retirement. No, they're not ready for kids now, might not be for years but they'll get there eventually.


Hours later, when they're both satiated after Ian made good on his promise of celebration sex, Mickey reaches for his phone to text Larry about Ian's PO while the redhead is downstairs fixing something for them to eat. He sees the other man texted him a link and when he opens, he's surprised to see that was one of Ian's co-workers that pushed Paula through the window. He quickly shoots Larry the message, half-suggesting, half-asking him to get Ian's case before opening the link again and leaving the phone close, so he remembers to show Ian the video. He'll wait for his PO's answer before bringing it up to Ian, there's no need to create expectations without knowing for sure it'd worked.


Ian comes back into the room carrying a large plate of pizza rolls and two cans of beer on a breakfast tray adorned with a plastic flower on a glass. It's a bit ridiculous because the tray is wobbly when he puts it on the bed and it's fucking pizza rolls for fuck's sake, but it's clear Ian made an effort to make it look nice for him. He's even a little flushed when he points out that they're kinda low on groceries, so that's why he couldn't come up with proper dinner. The brunet rolls his eyes affectionately before reaching for a beer.


Mickey doesn't keep score of all the heartbreak they've been through, doesn't compare who was hurting more, who got it worse from life. He knows he's done fucked up shit to Ian and the redhead knows he's done a number on Mickey as well. But they are good for the other too. And Ian seems to be thinking about the same thing because he leans to press a soft kiss to Mickey's lips.


"You help me be a better person, Mickey." Ian didn't have the intention of doing love declarations when he got up to find them something to eat but it can be blamed on his one beer since it's enough these days to fuck him up, he guesses. He's in love and Mickey loves him back and they have a ton of shit to unpack, wounds to address and air and heal, amends to make. But right now Mickey is cradling his face and running his thumb across his cheek to his lips and then kissing him.


They're going to sit and have a proper talk in the near future. There's a lot they need to discuss about their past and their future. But it doesn't have to be right now. There's no rush. They have time.