Actions

Work Header

Ian Gallagher And All Of His Mistakes

Chapter Text

He’s... Ian isn’t sure. He’s a bit of a disaster, is all Ian can say with certainty. Ian can’t really tell if he’s cute or not. Under all the layers; thick ratty coat with a broken zipper, hoodie and t-shirt underneath, Ian can’t tell if he’s strong or chubby or both. He can sort of tell that he has strong legs, albeit kind of short and bowlegged. He can’t tell if he’s smart and quick or dumb as shit. He can’t even tell if he’s gay or not. The looks he shoots Ian when he thinks Ian isn’t paying attention say one thing; the moment he opens his mouth, a different story comes out. Sometimes, on his early shifts when he starts at six a.m and the guy comes in at six thirty, like a whirlwind with a dirt streaked face or a bloody lip or a black eye, but ordering his coffee like he doesn’t look like he just got into a car crash, Ian thinks he hallucinates him. This little guy can’t actually exist out there in the world, right? He’s not actually part of society, is he? Surely, this angry asshole only exists in Ian’s diseased mind?

So maybe Ian is sure of two things, he decides on Tuesday afternoon, when the usual suspect comes in with his phone pressed against his ear. For the first time in all the weeks that Ian has been serving him, he sees the man smile; big and real. He has dimples. So Ian is sure of two things now. The guy is a disaster and he is incredibly cute. In fact, with that smile on his face, he looks like a real person.

Today, he is even too distracted by the phone call to be visibly annoyed by the line, but by the time he reaches Ian, his face is back to... well, at least he’s clean this time. There is only a faint yellowing bruise under his eye, barely visible, but Ian has been following its progress for days.

“Black coffee,” the man barks.

“Sure thing. Can I get your name?” Ian asks innocently.

“None of your business and stop asking me that,” the pit bull drones up. One time, early in the morning, he had almost slipped up and Ian had half a heart attack. “M...” he had said, and then cut himself off.

“Whatever, Mason,” Ian says today. Yesterday it was ‘Matthew’ and the day before ‘Marcus’. Ian was pretty sure that his very first guess (Michael) was probably the closest, but it never stuck.

Today, the guy hands him the fiver, unimpressed by Ian’s antics and goes to wait for his drink. He tips well, at least.

“Black coffee for... Mason,” Ian’s coworker Tammy calls out a few minutes later.

Ian looks up to watch his favorite customer look around and then sigh in resignation before going up and grabbing the cup. He flips Ian off as he leaves and Ian is inexplicably in a great mood for the rest of the day.

 

Ian works the early morning shifts on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He works the afternoon shift on Saturday and the evening shift on Mondays, Wednesdays  and Fridays. He is pretty sure his new little buddy comes in everyday, but his visits don’t always coincide with Ian being there. He can show up at all times of the day. There doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason to it, though Ian has only seen him come in once after six p.m.

There are plenty of regulars who love to tell Ian all about their day even if there are five people waiting in line behind them. He knows the people who work in the high rises around this specific Starbucks. He knows the moms who live a few blocks away and he knows the teens from the high school down the street.

He has no clue who the tattooed, heavy booted, raggedy looking guy is, though he can make a few guesses.

On Friday, Ian is making the drinks when the most exciting thing of his whole damn week happens. His favorite customer walks in. It’s 9:30 p.m and Ian can barely believe his eyes. In fact, it feels incredibly strange for some reason, to be standing on this side of the bar rather than at the till when he comes in. Ian is honestly taken aback by himself for how excited he is to see him; he had given up at six, thinking he must have come in early or not at all.   

At the same time, Ian is kind of annoyed that he can’t talk to him, no matter how briefly. He can’t soak up the man’s bizarre energy all the way from behind the bar. Damnit. So he does something… something. Maybe some might call it desperate.

There is no line, and the guy (cute) is walking straight to the till. Ian taps Tammy on the shoulder and says: “You can take a break if you want.”

She looks confused for a moment, and then her eyes fall on Ian’s new best friend. She rolls her eyes at Ian, but without saying a word, she disappears into the back.

“Hi,” Ian says, even before the guy is close enough for it to be considered a normal greeting.

“Black coffee,” the man says gruffly, without looking at Ian.

“Isn’t it a bit late for that?” Ian blurts.

The man looks up now, with an incredulous look on his face. “Do you people not serve coffee at this time? Why even open the fucking place? You got edibles? Some good shit to get me to sleep?”

“Anything else?” Ian sighs, but is silently ecstatic at the prolonged exchange.

“No.”

“Alright, can I get your name?”

“Fuck off is what my name is,” he says and slaps a five dollar bill on the counter.

He walks to the other side of the bar and Ian follows him. The guy looks confused for a moment before it dawns on him that Ian is also going to pour his coffee.

“Are you alone?” The guy then asks and Ian thinks that it might be the first direct, not sarcastic question he has ever asked him.

“My coworker is in the back,” Ian says. “Why?”

“It’s not safe, working alone at night,” the man says with a shrug.

“Black coffee for... ‘Fuck off’, was it?” Ian then asks sweetly, handing him the hot cup. He takes it with a smirk and Ian wants to blow him. Real bad. The man leaves without another word.

“What is it with you and that guy?” Tammy asks when she returns. “You know you can do way better, right?”

“I think he’s cute,” Ian shrugs.

“He’s whatever. I get that he’s funny, but I don’t know if he’s worth all the hassle.”

“He’s the best,” Ian says and even he has to admit that the swooning is a bit much.

 

Ian can’t make up his mind. He could just ask him, right? He can ask him if he wants to go for a drink, or for a walk or if he wants to hook up in the back; whatever is easiest. The only danger in that is that the guy spits in Ian’s face. Even if he doesn’t spit in Ian’s face, there is a chance he won’t return to the coffeeshop after that.

And if they do fuck, somehow, there is also a huge chance that he won’t return to the coffeeshop after that either. But maybe that’s better, right? It’ll be out of Ian's system and he can get over this idiotic crush of his on Chicago’s hottest gremlin.

Except that Ian doesn’t want to get over it. If that ugly bastard doesn’t show up anymore, Ian might as well quit his job, because nothing would be more unbearable to him than working this bullshit job with nothing to look forward to all day. For fuck’s sake, he had considered quitting two months ago, before that dickhead made life interesting again. 

That Monday, another first happens.

Ian is on his break. Lip has been sitting at the table right across from the till all morning, working on one thing or another and getting increasingly frustrated. Ian loses the apron and joins him at the table for his break.

“Give it a rest,” Ian says.

“I’m going to kill him,” Lip says.

“Just leave it.”

“If this paper isn’t the best thing the world has ever seen, Ian? I’m killing him, you, Frank.”

“What the fuck do I-” But Ian falls silent. His favorite disaster just walked through the door, right past him. He looks at the line in annoyance as he stands behind the last person. Ian wants to get up and get behind the till, but there are already three people working the bar. Goddamnit.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” Lip asks.

“Nothing. Shut up.”

But Lip doesn’t shut up and Ian is kind of thankful for that. It keeps him from staring at the man in line the entirety time and hoping he’ll notice him sitting there.

By the time he gets to the till, all Ian can see is the back of his head.

“Black coffee,” he orders, shortly.

“Anything else?” Mona asks.

“Firecrotch not working today?” He asks and Ian feels his face heat up, like it never has before.

“Firecrotch?” Lip repeats, because of course, he heard it and of course he knows exactly who it’s referring to. Lip turns to look at Ian and his mouth practically falls to the floor. “I didn’t know you could get this fucking red.”

Ian has half a mind to get up and go outside to cool down. Maybe he can just crawl under the table and not be noticed.

“Uh,” Mona responds. “I don’t...”

“Black coffee,” the guy then repeats and slams the fiver on the table.

“Can I get your-”

But he is gone already, waiting at the bar.

“Who the fuck is that?” Lip asks Ian.

“I don’t know him,” Ian says quickly and truthfully. But it comes out too defensively, and it visibly fuels something in his brother. “Don’t,” Ian warns. “Don’t, don’t, don’t.”

As soon as the disaster gets his coffee and walks past them, heading to the door, Lip coughs loudly. Comically so.

The guy turns his head and links eyes with Ian immediately. There is a hint of acknowledgement there, only in how he doesn’t turn away immediately. Ian smiles at him tentatively, despite the fact that he can already feel Lip revving up for never ending torment.

He doesn’t smile back, not really, but something does happen on his face that isn’t completely aggressive and abrasive.

He leaves without slowing down his pace.

“You got yourself a little boyfriend, I see,” Lip says.

“Do you think that means he’s been thinking about my dick?” Ian blurts. “If he calls me Firecrotch, he has to be thinking about it, right?”

 

Ian doesn’t see him again for the rest of that week. By Friday evening he has given up on hoping he’d come in. It is close to ten, Ian is wiping down the bar and Tammy left fifteen minutes ago to catch her bus on time. There are only a few people left in the coffeeshop and Ian has already warned them that they’ll be closing in ten minutes.

The psychopath walks right up to Ian at the bar. Ian is ecstatic.

“You work night shifts?” Ian asks.

“I work when I work,” is the answer. “Black coffee.”

“It’s not a complicated order. I think I remember by now.”

“So what do you want me to do? Get up here and say nothing until you get the point?”

“You can say ‘Hey, how are you doing’,” Ian suggests, pleasantly surprised that he managed to engage him at all. He resents the black coffee order for the first time. It’s done with the press of a button.

“No, thanks,” he says shortly. It’s the first time he has ever thanked him. Ian hands him the coffee and takes a chance. “Can I get your name?”

“For what?” He asks, actually confused. “I got my shit.”

“For me,” Ian says. “I just want to know.”

“Why? So you can write about me in your little diary?”

Ian rolls his eyes, but he doesn’t move. “It’s Michael, right?” he tries.

The guy pulls up an eyebrow. “Something like that.”

“I’m going to just call you Michael then.”

“You don’t need to call me shit. You don’t know me,” Michael says, far more frustrated than any normal person would be.

“Whatever, Michael.”

“It’s Mickey,” he snaps.

Now Ian is truly confused. “So I was right!” He calls out. “That’s short for Michael.”

“It’s short for Mikhailo, dickhead. You want my social security number, too?”

“I’m the dickhead?” Ian gawks. “I know you asked about me, Mickey.”

“So what? Your tall ginger ass sticks out like a sore thumb around here,” he says, and he says it so flippantly that Ian almost believes him. Almost.

“Heard you asked about my crotch, too,” Ian pushes, knowing full well he could get boiling hot coffee thrown right in his face.

“Yeah, you and your ginger pubes can go fuck yourselves,” Mickey says dismissively.

“Myself, huh?” Ian is overstepping, probably fucking things up for himself. Mickey gives him one last look, up and down and then he leaves.

Ian is tenting in his pants. This is unbelievable.

He gives the last patrons five minutes before telling them to leave. He needs to get out of there, needs to clear his head, before he does something stupid like jack off in the employee bathroom.

He grabs his coat, turns of the light and dashes for the door, only to be stopped in his tracks. Mickey is back and he is blocking the door.

“Did you come back to rob the joint?” Ian asks, but his limbs are jittery and his heart is pounding in his chest.

“Nah, I’m here to give you a hand,” Mickey says, looking Ian up and down. “So drop your pants and don’t waste any more of my time.”

 

If Ian said that he was completely surprised he’d be lying. The truth is that Mickey might be a bit of a mystery, but he is also just another guy trying to get his rocks off in the dark. So when they’re done and Mickey has nutted a solid load right down Ian’s throat, it only takes Mickey two minutes to gather his shit and get dressed. Ian follows his lead; he feels good, satiated. He hasn’t had an exciting encounter like this in a minute and this has him riding high. “That was good,” Mickey tells him, and that is a surprise.

Ian is emboldened by those words and he makes a mistake that he’ll beat himself up for later. He tries to kiss Mickey right before they part ways in front of the Starbucks.

Mickey turns his head around smoothly and says: “This ain't a fairytale, princess.”

“Alright, asshole. Relax,” Ian says, disappointed, but not upset. He’ll get him next time.

 

Except he doesn’t. Friday night becomes a thing. At first Ian had thought he’d ruined it, because Mickey wasn’t there during the week, at least not when Ian was there. The theory that Ian just needed to fuck him once to get it out of his system was also false, because he hasn’t stopped jacking off to the thought of that angry punk bent over the counter at the coffeeshop for even a second.

Next Friday, Ian goes for the kiss first, before they even take their clothes off.

“What the hell did I say last time?” Mickey snaps at him, and pushes him hard, backwards. He then moves back in quickly and fumbles with Ian’s belt.

“God, you’re an asshole,” Ian sighs, but that’s his last complaint for the night as Mickey gets on his knees.

He’ll get him next time.

 

He doesn’t get him next time, or the time after that or the time after that. A lot changes, but not that. Mickey stays longer each time. They talk before, they talk after, and Mickey even smiles at him, like a real human being. Mickey becomes a real human being. He smells good, he feels good and Ian can stare at him all day, trying to analyze what all the facial expressions mean. Sometimes they go for a drive together afterwards, and get stoned somewhere quiet. Mickey is funny, really funny in a way that Ian can’t play it cool. In a way that makes Ian’s stomach ache. And when Ian laughs, Mickey laughs too. When Ian manages to make Mickey laugh all on his own, and Mickey doesn’t just roll his eyes or shake his head, but actually laughs, Ian feels like he has won a prize of some kind. It’s a strange feeling, not really anything he’s felt before, terrifying and exciting and something worth chasing.

Ian earns Mickey’s phone number and last name (Milkovich, uh-oh) after the fifth Friday. They text, they hook up on a couple of fucking Wednesdays, too. Sometimes on Monday. On one of those Mondays, Mickey rides Ian in the backseat of Mickey’s car. It’s freezing cold, they’re still wearing their shirts and coats. Mickey clasps his hands around Ian’s shoulders and buries his face in Ian’s neck. It is the first time Ian feels Mickey’s mouth on any part of his body that isn’t his cock. His lips are warm and soft and they feel so tender that it sends a wave of something all the way through Ian’s body when Mickey kisses him right under his ear, right under his jaw, in the nape of his neck. Ian tries to turn his head, tries to catch his lips with his own.

When Mickey finally looks at him in the darkness of this abandoned McDonald’s parking lot, he presses their foreheads together. The steady roll of his hips, slow and fucking perfect, has Ian completely dazed. Their lips do touch, once, twice by accident and then Ian pulls him in with a hand in his neck. Mickey kisses him back, doesn’t seem to think twice about it. Ian learns that Mickey tastes twice as good as he smells. He kisses soft, but with purpose, follows Ian’s lead and doesn’t lose the rhythm of his hips even once.

“That was nice,” Ian tells him later that night as they’re pulling their pants back on in the backseat.

“Don’t do it again,” Mickey says, and doesn’t look at him again until he drops Ian off at his house.

 

By the time ten Fridays have gone by, Ian is sick of it. “You have to kiss me,” he says.

“What?” Mickey asks, half paying attention to Ian as he pulls his boots back on, sitting on the couch in the coffee shop that he’d just been bent over less than ten minutes ago.

“Before you go, you have to kiss me. Or - or you don’t have to come back next week.”

“Oh is that the deal, huh? I guess it’s time to hop on the next dick, then,” Mickey says easily. “Shut the fuck up and let’s get something to eat.”

“You’re bluffing,” Ian says.

“No, I think you’re bluffing. Why do you give a shit anyway? I’m not your fucking boyfriend and a little peck on the lips isn’t going to change that.”

“I know you like me, Mickey. I’m not going to yell it from the fucking roof tops, but at least you can try when we’re alone-”

“I don’t like you, Gallagher,” Mickey snorts. “And you sure as hell don’t want me as your boyfriend.”

“Give me a kiss before you leave, Mickey,” Ian demands.

“No.”

“I’m serious.”

Mickey picks up his jacket and flips him off dismissively. “Fuck you, you fucking homo.”

“I’d rather be a fucking homo than be a homo and a fucking pussy,” Ian spits back.

There is a moment there, a moment of real rage, far more sinister than Ian has ever seen in Mickey’s face before. “You better watch your mouth, you little bitch,” he seethes. “You think you can just have whatever you want, just because you want it?”

“What’s wrong with wanting this? Huh? I’m too old to fuck around and be your fucktoy. I’ve been there and I’ve done that and it’s bullshit.”

“Then sign up for OkCupid, bitch,” Mickey practically yells at him. He leaves.

“Mick!” Ian yells after him, but Mickey leaves him with one last “fuck you” for the night.

 

The day that follows is the worst day of Ian’s life. Okay, it isn’t, not by far, but it feels like it at that moment. He wakes up angry and when Carl cuts him off on his way to the bathroom, Ian nearly creates a new hole in the wall, that’s how hard he shoves him out of the way.

“Dick!” Carl calls after him and Ian slams the bathroom door shut behind him.

At breakfast, Fiona tells him that they just ran out of cereal and she needs the car for a grocery run this afternoon, so Ian is going to have to take the bus to work.

Lip tells him that they’re also out of orange juice and coffee and fucking chairs to sit in.

“God, this is bullshit,” Ian explodes when Debbie grabs the last apple out of the basket.

“Jesus, kid,” Fiona says unimpressed. “What’s got you all twisted up?”

“He got home angry last night,” Liam jumps in. “Very angry.”

“Last night was Friday night,” Lip says. “Ain’t that your date night with the drug dealer?”

“Did you guys have a fight or something?” Fiona asks. “Ain’t it a bit early in the relationship for that? It has only been a couple of months.”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Ian says.

“Then you don’t get to be prissy about it,” Debbie says.

“You better not break up with him yet,” Lip warns. “He’s got the best weed in town. Can’t lose him just yet.”

“Too fucking late. You want his weed, you can suck his dick yourself. I’m done with that bitch,” Ian explodes anyway.

“You’re the bitch,” Carl says, coming down the stairs after his shower. He clearly still has a vendetta against Ian and Ian is more than willing to throw him out of a window if be tries something.

The topic soon shifts to making the grocery list. Ian at least convinces Fiona to leave early enough so she can drop him off at work first.

On the drive there, Carl keeps kicking at his seat.

When they reach the coffee shop, already ten minutes later than his shift was supposed to start, Ian turns to the backseat and seethes: “I’m going to fucking murder you, Carl.”

“Like to see you try, asshole,” Carl bites back.

“Have a good day at work,” Fiona says cheerfully, before she takes off.

 

Ian gets fired that day, because he forgot to throw last night’s used rubber in the trash.

The manager found it lying on the floor next to the sofa in the coffee shop when he opened the place up that morning. Ian has to admit, that it’s fucking nasty.

The only security cameras they have are pointed at the door and Ian and Mickey were clearly last to leave, so all Ian can say is: “Isn’t firing me a bit much?”

“No,” Jerry, the manager, says. He has always been a bit of a push over. “It is exactly enough.”

“But I’m good at it and people like me,” Ian tries. “Won’t happen again, I swear.”

“Plenty people good at pouring coffee, kid. Look, you can use me as a reference. I won’t say what happened, but I can’t let you keep working here.”

 

The first thing Ian does when he is outside, is scream into a voice text at Mickey.

“You’re really a piece of work, Mick. Not only are you a faggoty ass fucking coward, but your little tantrum last night cost me my fucking job. I forgot to throw the condom away and my manager nearly slipped on it this morning. All because your bitch ass can’t pucker up his fucking lips. I told you, I’m nobody’s fucking slut anymore so if you can’t nut up, don’t call me and don’t text me.”

He sends it, doesn’t give a shit.

 

Mickey calls him fifteen minutes later. Ian has been wandering the streets, feeling like a dead beat already.

“What, bitch?” Ian answers.

“How is you not being able to pick up your own spunk my problem?”

“No, fuck you. I’m just letting you know there is no reason for you to go cruising for dick at the coffee shop anymore.”

“Why, because you’re gone? Plenty of dick to go around without you there, buddy.”

“...What?” Ian asks, taken aback for the first time.

Mickey waits a moment and then asks: “What?”

“Have you been fucking other guys at my Starbucks?”

“No, princess, of course not. The whole fucking world revolves around you and your fucking cock. I swear, I was a virgin before I met you.”

“At my Starbucks, though?”

“No, you idiot. Who else would I fuck at your Starbucks? Your geriatric manager? The tits?”

“Forget it,” Ian says. “Forget you.”

“Wait. Wait a second,” Mickey then says, calmer than he has heard him thus far. “What do you want from me, right now? Except to fucking yell at me while you’re obviously in the middle of a crowded street.”

“That’s all I want,” Ian says.

“What about that kiss, huh? That’s not going to fix anything?”

Ian deflates and leans up against an H&M window. “No,” he says.

Mickey sighs audibly and then asks: “What do you want, Ian?”

And it shocks him. Hearing his name coming through the phone. Hearing Mickey say his name. Is it the first time Ian has ever heard Mickey say his name?

"I don't know," Ian admits. "I hate holding back."

"Yeah, no, I noticed."

"But I've been holding back a lot. You might not understand, but it's not exactly ideal to see you for one hour a week."

"I don't get it, no. Why do you want to see me at all? Why give a shit?"

"I'm not doing this. You know why. It's not a mystery. It's not a fucking secret. You like me too.”

"You got to pump the brakes," Mickey says matter of factly. Ian imagines him saying that to his face. They would be fighting in the street right now.

"I don't think it’s going to be a problem, anymore,” Ian snaps at him.

Another sigh. And then Mickey hangs up on him.

 

It's a stalemate. Ian is fine with it. Except, you know, with each day that passes, jumping into traffic starts to look more and more attractive. Not just because of Mickey, but also because he lost his fucking job, he lost his fucking routine and he can't deal with Liam and Carl everyday anymore. It takes everything out of him not to punch holes through their chests when they start getting annoying, and sometimes he lets go and smashes their heads together anyway.

For a change, Carl and Liam jare ust hanging out and watching whatever they're watching on Netflix. It’s the first Friday night in eleven weeks that Ian is not going to get laid. Lip is home, Debbie and Fiona are out.

It's peaceful, it's chill. Ian tries not to think about how shitty his life has become in just a fucking week, and then Lip decides to remind him when they're left alone in the kitchen. "So, we can't call your dealer?"

"You can call whoever you want," Ian says.

"Are you finally going to tell me why you broke up?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"Because it's none of your business."

"No, because you want to get back together with him and you think I'm going to hate him if you tell me."

"Shut the fuck up, Lip."

"Alright. I'm calling him to the house. Stay away from the windows if you don't want him to see you."

"Are you serious?" Ian asks and peers over Lip's shoulder at his phone.

Lip has already sent the text with two pre-rolled and then their fucking home address. "You're such a dick."

"He's fast and I want a joint," Lip says. "If it makes you feel any better, he never talks about you when I buy from him."

"Feels great, man," Ian says and heads up to his room. He is not going to be nervous. He refuses. He gets into bed, and stares at the ceiling. He makes it five minutes and then starts doing push ups. He hates this. He hates the jitteriness and the intensity of these feelings. It reminds him of the worst time of his life, of the darkest places in his mind and in his body;  he knows that this is not that, knows that there is a clear distinction. His mind is as clear as it can be. It's just his body that is reacting to the idea if Mickey showing up here. He doesn’t think he’s ever felt anything like this.

 

Mickey shows up about half an hour later. Ian can hear the car rolling up and he peaks out of the window, just to be sure and because he is curious to see if Mickey came alone. He can't tell, because Mickey doesn't get out of the car.  Instead, Ian watches Lip hop down the stairs in his slippers and put his head through the window of Mickey’s Jeep.

They talk longer than any regular weed - money exchange should warrant, Ian notices. Lip pulls his head out of the window and comes back into the house.

"Ian!" Lip shouts up the stairs seconds later.

Ian also notices that Mickey hasn't taken off yet.

"Ian!" Lip screeches again. "Get your ass down here."

Ian stomps down the stairs, pissed. "You sold me out?" Ian asks him.

"For free weed, babe," Lip shrugs. "He just wants to talk to you.”

“And if I don’t go?”

“You got forty bucks? Put on a sweater, it’s cold out there.”

“I don’t think I’m going to be out there long,” Ian says as he puts his shoes on. He yanks the front door open and slams it shut behind him. He stomps down the front steps and onto the street. His mind is blank. He should have probably thought of something to say.

He steps into the passenger’s seat. It’s dark, half the street lights on the block are busted.

But Mickey’s blue eyes are bright as all hell. “Hey,” he says.

“Hey,” Ian answers, and because he is a monster and a fucking asshole, he lunges forward.

Mickey lets him or maybe he is just taken by surprised, but he doesn’t push Ian away. He doesn’t punch him in the face or head butt him. Their lips crash together, too hard at first, but as soon as Ian realizes that it’s safe, he eases into it. He grabs Mickey’s face with both hands and melts into him. This is what he wanted, except it’s so much better than he remembers it being.

Ian doesn’t let go. He drinks him up over and over again, until he is hard. He lets his body take over and slides a hand down and cups Mickey’s cock through his jeans. He grinds down with his palm, and that’s what finally forces Mickey up for air. He breaks away from the kiss, noses still touching. Ian pushes Mickey’s coat up and yanks on his belt. Mickey grabs his wrist. “I have another delivery,” he pants.

“You don’t want to get paid for this one first?” Ian smirks and kisses him again.

That is all the convincing he seems to need. Mickey takes his coat off and throws it into the back seat. Ian goes straight for his cock again.

 

“I didn’t say you had to blow him for the weed,” Lip says when Ian returns to the house. “But thanks, anyway.”

“You saw it?” Ian asks. He was sure it was too dark-

“No, but you confirmed my suspicions,” Lip chuckles. “So what, you’re all good now?” He asks and passes Ian the blunt he just lit.

“What did I say about smoking in the house?” Liam says from the living room, agitated. “Open a damn window.”

“I don’t know, we didn’t exactly talk,” Ian says. He pushes the kitchen window open. “But he... apologized. In a way.”

“Apologized for what?”

“Why are you so damn curious? You never gave a shit about anyone I’ve dated before. In fact, I remember a strict ‘no talking about bullshit boyfriends who no one cares about and who are boring as shit’ rule, when I was dating before.”

“Yeah, and that rule definitely still stands. But you’re not dating boring ass Tyler or Conner.”

“Trevor and Caleb, thanks.”

“You’re dating a Milkovich,” Lip says, lowering his voice with an eye towards the living room.

“Dating is a big word,” Ian says. “I think he’d argue with that.”

“Because he’s not out, or something? Is that why you were fighting?”

“Sort of. I don’t know,” Ian gives in and leans over the table. “I... I think he likes me. More than he wants to.”

“I don’t want to be a downer or anything, but if what they say about the Milkovich clan is true, then Terry Milkovich is going to put a bullet in the both of you if he finds out about this.”

Ian doesn’t really know what to say to that. Of course he knows. Mickey refuses to talk about his family unless it’s about business, but Ian knew as soon as he found out he was dealing with a Milkovich that none of this was going to be a walk in the park.

There was a time, before they started seeing each other and when Ian only had a stupid crush on the man, that he thought he might be some crazed artist with a studio in a high rise somewhere. Or that he might be a tattoo artist with his own business somewhere downtown. Maybe even a porn star, that would have been pretty cool.

But of course, Occam’s razor was nagging at the back of his head the entire time. Drug dealer from the Southside with a farm in a basement downtown was far more realistic.

“Have I been acting crazy, lately?” Ian asks.

“Don’t think so,” Lip says. “Not like I’ve seen before. Why?”

“He just makes me feel fucking crazy, sometimes.”

“He tells you you’re acting crazy?”

“No, but I feel like I’m insane for wanting him.”

“Oh, well yeah,” Lip snorts. “He’s an ugly fucking psychopath, so it is definitely insane that you want him.”

“He’s not ugly,” Ian objects.

“Whatever you say,” Lip shrugs. “Look, if you like the guy, you like the guy. But you got to take this thing slow. This isn’t college or the pride district. We got nazi’s living down the street.”

Ian knows this. Of course he does. He’s been called a faggot all his life, he’s been beaten the shit out of and jumped for that reason alone. He has been dealing with it less and less as an adult. He’s not a street rat anymore. He’s not blowing dudes in bathrooms at bars for fifty bucks anymore. He doesn’t let himself get groped at clubs anymore. He doesn’t fuck anyone who is more than ten years older than him. He tries to be safe. Before he was on his meds he barely had a concept of what being ‘safe’ even meant. He’d do whatever, whenever and with whoever.

He knows now that what he is trying to do with Mickey isn’t safe. He wants it anyway, because he is falling for the first time ever, without it feeling like he is going to smash straight into a concrete wall. He is falling hard and fast, but it doesn’t feel psychotic, it doesn’t feel like he is watching himself from outside of his own body.

It feels good.

“Don’t forget to delete Grindr off your phone again,” Lip says.

“Never downloaded it back,” Ian says absently.

“Wow. You must really like him, huh?”

 

They don’t have Starbucks anymore, so Ian spends time that he isn’t looking for a new job at Mickey’s... apartment. It is a one bedroom apartment and the only piece of furniture in there is a bed. Mickey doesn’t live here, Ian quickly realizes. He lives at home with his family, but he rents this place for when he needs to be… somewhere else, he says.

So they have no choice but to spend all their time in that bed for the next week or so.

Mickey kisses him when they’re in bed and when they’re fucking. It feels normal, natural then. In fact, Mickey is such a good kisser that Ian can’t fucking get enough of it. It’s addictive, tasting all of him over and over and over again.

But when Ian tries to kiss him just to say hello when he arrives or to say goodbye when he leaves, it feels stilted. Mickey allows it, sort of, but he clearly doesn’t enjoy it. Ian lets it go, because it’s an argument that will lead to nothing. He can hardly force Mickey to do more than he is doing already. It hurts either way.

Ian falls for him even harder that week. Because Mickey has an iPad at his ‘apartment’  which they watch movies and tv-shows on for hours and hours on end. They sleep together, wake up together, eat together and Ian gets to know Mickey a little bit better, secretly.

Ian gives himself that week, but he knows he needs to take the job search more seriously.

”Why are you applying to another Starbucks? Don't you have degrees and shit?" Mickey says, peering over at the screen of Ian's laptop. Mickey has been rolling joints for the last hour or so and Ian has been fighting the urge to grab one out of the massive pile and light it, and to throw the rest of the day away. But it's still early, Ian needs to be productive.

"I have one degree. Or certification or whatever you want to call it," Ian says. "But I don't know if I want to do be doing that."

"Why not?" Mickey asks.

"People keep... dying," Ian says. "I don't know. You don't deal with people who've been shot in the head at Starbucks."

"Maybe not. That's why they hire fifteen year old’s to pour coffee. Did you like working there?"

"I met you there," Ian says, as if that's an answer.

"Uhuh, but did you like it?"

"Meeting you?"

Mickey rolls his eyes and throws another blunt on the pile, before climbing off the bed. "That's a hundred. I gotta do the rounds."

“Give me ten, I’ll go with you.”

“This ain’t bring a ginger to work day, idiot. I’ll be back before midnight,” he says and walks into what is supposed to be the living room and open kitchen. It would he a pretty nice apartment, Ian thinks, if there was any fucking furniture in it at all. It’s got all the appliances, all of them but the fridge have probably never been used before.

“Why can’t you bring a ginger to work?” Ian calls out.

“You ever see a ginger drug dealer? It’s a lot of outside work. Standing on street corners and shit. You can’t be in the sun too long, can you?” Mickey yells back.

“It’s dark out. Whatever. Pretty sure you just don’t want me to know how many people pay you with a blowie.”

Mickey comes back into the bedroom wearing his boots and his jacket. He gathers the joints and dumps them into his backpack. He fishes one back out and presses it between Ian’s lips. “You can pay me for that one later.”

Ian takes the joint out of his mouth and grabs Mickey by the collar with his empty hand. He drags him down for a kiss. It’s just a quick kiss, but it seems to take Mickey by surprise once again. In fact, he looks annoyed. He snatches the joint out of Ian’s hand and says: “That’s for being a fucking homo,” and leaves the room.

“You’re a lunatic. If you’re not back by ten, I’m leaving,” Ian warns, loudly.

He hears the front door open and close, and then Mickey is stomping back into the bedroom. “Get up. I’m driving you home.”

“What? Why?”

“Because I’m not going to be back at fucking ten. Then what are you going to do? Take the fucking bus?”

“You’re kicking me out?”

“Yes. Get up.”

Ian gets up. “Again with this shit? There is no one around. I can’t flirt with you? Not even in private?”

“Flirt with me? Are you out of your fucking mind?” He practically screams and then storms out the front door, leaving Ian behind. Alone, sober and fucking pissed.

He starts packing his shit immediately and he even puts on his shoes. He has one hand on the door before deciding that he is not going to leave. Fuck him.

Ian hate-applies for about ten jobs that he is definitely not qualified for. He orders a pizza and eats half of it, before finally attempting to fall asleep. He can feel himself drifting away and gets yanked right back into the waking world when he hears the front door open and close.

He checks the time. It’s almost two a.m. He can’t remember ever being this sleepy and this pissed off at the same time.

It takes a while before Ian finally feels the bed dip.

“You asleep?” Mickey asks softly.

“Shut up, you fucking cunt,” Ian says. There is no response, unbelievably.

Instead, Mickey lies down behind him and crawls under the covers. Ian feels Mickey’s bare legs slide against his own, before he finally feels Mickey’s whole body pressing up against his back. The anger seeps out of his limbs slowly, and before he realizes it, he has Mickey’s hand in his own, pressed against his stomach.

“Your mom’s a cunt,” Mickey whispers into his hair and Ian wishes he was a stronger man. He’s not. He laughs out loud and Mickey tightens his hold on him.

 

They wake up around ten the next day, and the first thing Ian does is adjust his cock in his underwear. Mickey is just about rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, too. Ian turns around to face him. Mickey is lying on his back with one arm slung over his eyes. So Ian fondles his chest first, just to get a reaction out of him.

Mickey doesn’t react at all, so Ian doubles down, slides his hand under Mickey’s sweatshirt and pinches one of his nipples, hard.

“Ah, you bastard,” Mickey groans.

His voice alone gets Ian going. He slides up and plasters himself onto Mickey’s side. Ian pulls Mickey’s arm down and nips at the man’s jaw, his ear and the soft skin of his throat. He keeps playing with the man’s nipples and grinds his hard cock up against Mickey’s hip.

Mickey cups his own cock through his underwear and hums sleepily: “You’re not getting away with this.”

But Ian is going to get away with it, at least for a little while. As long as they’re fucking, he’ll get away with being soft and he’ll get away with loving Mickey’s body.

It doesn’t take long for them to cum, just like that with Ian grinding into Mickey’s hip and Mickey lazily jerking himself off. The only light in the room tries to flood in around the edges of the black out curtains. Ian feels like he could fall right back asleep again, but he’s late for his meds already. He drags himself up after a couple of minutes of afterglow and grabs his bag off the floor. He knows Mickey is looking at him, like he always does when he catches Ian taking his pills. The first time Mickey had asked if Ian was popping pain pills and if he could have one. Ian had snorted and said that they were his meds. He had left it at that and Mickey didn’t seem to care beyond that. Ian wasn’t ready to disclose any more than that at the time.

Today, he feels an itch. He wants Mickey to ask. He wants Mickey to care, to want to know things about Ian.

Ian goes to the bathroom and when he comes back, the curtains are open and Mickey has one of Ian’s pill bottles in one hand and his phone in the other. Mickey looks up when Ian comes back in and Ian doesn’t know what to focus on. There is a dark bruise on Mickey’s face that wasn’t there when he left yesterday afternoon.

“I knew it,” Mickey says. “I knew you had an unhinged look in your eye.” Of course, the bottle Mickey is holding is filled with Ian’s antipsychotics.

If it was anyone else, Ian would have been, well, insulted. Angry, even. “You calling me unhinged, you fucking psychopath?” Ian shoots back and yanks the pills out of his hand and puts them back in his bag. “You’d fit right in at the psych ward, just the way you are. What the fuck happened to your face?”

Mickey puts a hand up to his face, like he forgot about the massive bruise right under his left eye. It hadn’t been there the day before, Ian is sure of that.

“Some punk tried to run,” Mickey then shrugs. “College kids really are the dumbest people alive.”

“You didn’t get outrun by some preppy bitch, did you?”

Of all the things Ian has said to him, Mickey looks especially insulted at that. “Of course not,” he scoffs. “So what’s your damage?”

Ian is about to tell him everything. He can feel it crawling up his throat, he wants Mickey to know everything about him.

But then he remembers Mickey freaking out over a kiss goodbye yesterday, and he remembers Lip telling him to slow down a little bit. Pump the brakes. “It’s none of your business,” Ian says. “Why do you want to know, anyway? Thought you only got me here to fuck. What’s the point in getting to know your fucktoy?”

“If the fucktoy can lose it and kill me in my sleep, I’d like to know,” Mickey says.

“Pretty sure everyone you’ve ever met has considered killing you in your sleep, Mick.”

Mickey rolls his eyes at that. He gets up and steps into the bathroom himself. Ian gets dressed, though he knows he could use a shower. Mickey hasn’t cared enough about this place to get hot water installed, though, so Ian opts to wait until he gets home. Mickey doesn’t seem to give a shit, because Ian can hear the shower running. He can’t help but wonder what type of fucking psychopath would take a cold shower in the middle of winter.

Mickey drives Ian home that afternoon. Ian gets out of the car without trying to kiss him, because he has had enough drama to last him for another couple of days, thanks. Mickey does hand him a joint, before he leaves and Ian accepts it with a smile.

 

“Hey, where have you been?” Fiona asks when Ian gets through the door.

“With a friend,” Ian says and flips Lip off who immediately emulates sucking a dick.

“Oh yeah?” Fiona questions. “You’re not spending the night at the Milkovich house, are you? You’ll wake up dead there one morning, Ian. I’d rather you bring him here.”

“You told her?” Ian asks Lip.

Lip shrugs.

“I’m not staying at their house,” Ian assures her.

“Good, now eat something and get ready. You can help Lip with the groceries.”

 

In the car ride over to Costco, Lip can’t shut up about idiot college kids with stupid thesis questions and about how he should be paid more for his black market scheme of writing whole dissertations for people. After that, he dives into how some girl Ian has never heard of before, cheated on him.

“Why would anyone cheat on you, Lip? You’re a catch. You always pick up the phone. You always text back.”

“Oh, shut the fuck up. I don’t text back once and you hop on some other dick?”

“If she doesn’t hear from you in weeks, you might as well be fucking dead, Lip.”

“Well, she’s dead to me now. Hey, you want to go out tonight? I’ve been meeting hotties at the Alibi lately.”

“No fucking way. What type of girls hang around at the Alibi anyway?”

“Girls cruising for dick. I’m not looking for a wife.”

They’re in the cereal aisle when Lip finally asks: “So how’s Mick?”

Ian is caught by surprise at the hard shift in topic from Lip hating his life to Mickey Milkovich. “Uh, good, I guess.”

“Are you sleeping at their place? You know that’s a death wish, right?”

“I’m not sleeping at their place,” Ian assures him.

“Then what? You’re sleeping in his car?”

“What the fuck is this? High school? No, he’s got a place. It’s empty.”

“He’s squatting somewhere?”

“No. I mean, I don’t think so. I don’t think his family knows he has that place. I probably shouldn’t be talking about it,” Ian sighs.

“That’s good. You don’t want them showing up, catching you homo’s playing house.”

“Believe me, we’re not playing house. That asshole doesn’t even have hot water. There’s a bed, soap and lube. That’s it.”

“And condoms.”

“Yeah, sure,” Ian snorts.

“Oh, come on. Don’t be out there raw dogging drug dealers in some crack den, Ian. I thought you were past that phase of your life.”

“I don’t raw him,” Ian admits. “Believe me, I would if I didn’t think he’d freak out because that’s too gay for him or some shit.” 

“I still have a hard time imagining that animal trying to be cute with you.”

“That’s the thing, there is nothing cute about him. We fuck, we talk, but as soon as things get anywhere near cute... I don’t know. Maybe he just doesn’t like me like that.”

“Maybe. You’ve still only been seeing him for three months. Take it down a notch, if you want this to last.”

“I’m trying not to put him on blast, here. But if you knew the weird shit he pulls, you’d be on my side.”

“Do it, then. Put him on blast,” Lip grins. “Please.”

“He’s going to kill me.”

“Come on,” Lip urges.

“He doesn’t even want to kiss me, Lip. I kissed him for the first time, like, last week. I thought we were fine for a second, but now he still goes nuts when I try to kiss him if we’re not fucking.”

Lip laughs at him, out loud. Ian waits for him to finish.

“I’m not the crazy one here,” Ian says.

“No, you’re not the only crazy one. Maybe you’re just a bad kisser, considered that?”

“He’d have no problem telling me that,” Ian dismisses that.

“Trauma, then. He’s probably terrified to be intimate with you, because he has been punished for it before. Maybe Terry caught him making out with some kid in the past and beat the shit out if him. Maybe the whole romance thing with a man is still new to him.”

Ian hates Lip when he makes too much sense. “So what am I supposed to do? I can’t fix his trauma. Do I kill Terry?”

“Look, that sounds like a lot of fun and it would probably fix a lot of problems.”

“But?”

“But, you know. Prison sucks. You know that better than anyone.”

“So I’m stuck then? This isn’t going anywhere?”

“Where the fuck is it supposed to go, Ian?” Lip asks, suddenly a lot more serious. “You in a hurry for something? I get that you want to go all in, head over fucking heels, but he can’t be on your schedule all the fucking time. Give it a rest.”

“You think I’m being annoying?”

“All the fucking time,” Lip repeats.

 

The Alibi is never really busy, but it is busier than most nights on Saturdays. The usual old drunks who are there pretty much every night are there tonight as well. Some other usuals and quite a few strays who have seemingly decided to visit a new bar and who will probably never be back after tonight.

“Haven’t seen you in here in a while,” Kev says when Ian takes the stool in front of him. “Are you twenty-one yet?”

“Turned twenty-one two years ago, Kev,” Ian reminds him.

“No shit? You didn’t celebrate it in here then.”

“No, he celebrated it in prison,” Lip reminds him. “That must have been a fucking rager.”

“Can I get a beer and can you get Lip some chocolate milk, Kev?” Ian orders.

“Coffee,” Lip tells Kevin.

“Milkovich is around here somewhere, if you want to have a joint with that,” Kevin says.

“Mickey is here?” Ian asks.

“Terry,” Kevin says and makes a face.

“We’re good,” Lip says.

Kevin pours Ian his beer and presses the button on the coffee machine before turning back to them. “How do you know Mickey?” He asks Ian.

“We buy from him,” Lip says before Ian can open his mouth.

“Uhuh, this one got kind of excited, though,” Kev says, nodding at Ian. “He a friend of yours?”

“I know him,” Ian admits.

“You know they don’t like gays, right?” Kev says quietly.

Lip snorts.

“Mick’s alright, though,” Ian feels the need to say.

“Yeah, I've known him a long time. Practically my best friend,” Kev says with an amused smile. “Just didn’t think he’d be your type.”

“No, it’s not… like that,” Ian says weakly and Lip snorts again.

“Don’t worry about it. I know Mickey’s a faggot -gay, I mean gay. No offense,” Kev quickly recovers.

“I don’t give a shit,” Ian shrugs, he wants to hear more about Mickey.

“Gay Jesus doesn’t mind people saying faggot?” Kev asks.

“Gay Jesus died in prison, Kev,” Ian shrugs.

“And gay Ian gets a real hard on for verbal abuse,” Lip chimes in.

“Guess that explains why you’re into Mickey Milkovich,” Kev laughs. “But fair warning, his dad goes nuts about that gay stuff. They’ve trashed this place more than once, fighting about that stupid shit. Nearly killed each other.”

“Really?” Ian asks curiously.

It’s no fun getting drunk alone, so Ian stops after two beers and they spend the rest of the evening listening to Kev tell stories about Mickey and his family in hushed tones. Ian and Lip learn about Mickey’s time as a nineteen year old pimp who liberated whores and fought for fair wages. They laugh at the thought so hard that Ian’s ribs hurt.

In the meantime, Ian tries to overhear conversations Terry Milkovich is having. It’s bizarre to hear him talk; he speaks in the same cadence as Mickey. He is quick and witty and colorful with his language.

Ian realizes then that this isn’t Mickey’s dad in the way that Frank is Ian’s dad. This man raised Mickey. He was there, probably everyday of Mickey’s life, making his life hell, up close and personal.

 

Ian goes to the apartment on Sunday afternoon, after Carl’s baseball game. He texts Mickey that he is coming and doesn’t wait for a reply. He makes Fiona drop him off in the neighborhood before the rest of them head home. When he gets there, Mickey still hasn’t replied. He hasn’t even read the message yet. Ian knocks on the door a couple of times, but quickly realizes that Mickey isn’t there. He knows his chances weren’t great, but he is still disappointed.

He leaves the building and is about to head south on foot when he hears; “Hey, bitch. What are you doing here?”

Ian turns to see Mickey yell at him from his car window.

“Came to see you!” Ian calls back. “Are you coming or going?”

“Come on, get in,” Mickey says, without answering his question.

So Ian does. He gets in the car and his first thought is that he wants to kiss the idiot. Because Mickey is looking at him and he is smiling, like he is happy to see him. Give it a rest, Lip had said.

“Where are we going?” Ian asks.

“I don’t know. Somewhere,” Mickey shrugs.

 

Ian doesn’t say it. He doesn’t say that this is definitely a date. This is probably the best date he has ever been on. It’s freezing cold, but the sun is out and the sky is blue. The water is beautiful and the slight ripples on the surface are mesmerizing. Mickey hands him a coffee and sits down next to him on the pier. He leaves about a foot of space between them.

Ian scoots closer, just an inch, because he’s an asshole like that. Mickey peers over the lake as he takes a sip of his coffee. He is handsome, Ian decides. The blue eyes are captivating and the chubby cheeks are actually cute as shit. He looks young when he is clean and clean shaven like this. The bruise on his cheekbone is getting darker and Ian knows that it is the white trash in him that finds it so fucking attractive. His dark hair is thick, and a long mess on top. He’s handsome, Ian thinks, but he is definitely beautiful, too.

“What the fuck are you looking at?” Mickey then asks.

“Your ugly mug looks good in this light,” Ian says.

“Yeah? Because I was just about to say that the way the sunlight hits your skin, literally makes you look like an alien whose head is on fire. Your skin is practically translucent.”

“Are you going to give me one of those?” Ian asks, nodding towards the two Snickers bars lying next to Mickey’s thigh on his other side.

“I don’t know,” Mickey says. “Depends on how annoying you are.”

“That’s not fair. We’re not at home. I can’t suck your dick to make up for how annoying I am.”

“You’re going to suck my dick for a Snickers bar?”

“I suck it for free, moron.”

“Great, that’s a point deducted for calling me a moron,” Mickey says. He grabs both chocolate bars and puts them in his jacket pocket.

“What do you want me to do?” Ian asks around a laugh. “You yell at me if I say anything nice and you deduct points if I call you a moron. What, short of sucking your dick, can I do for that Snickers bar?”

“If you had just kept your mouth shut about it, I would have given it to you, eventually.”

“I’m fucking starving right now.”

“I’m going to throw it in the lake if you don’t shut up about it,” Mickey says.

“Well, we’re past that. How do I fix it now?”

Mickey shrugs. “The stand is right over there, pal. You got to have a dollar on you somewhere. Or steal it, I don’t give a shit.”

Ian rolls his eyes and says: “I’m bipolar.”

Mickey looks at him like he grew another head. “So? Does that affect your fucking glucose levels or something?”

“I’m giving you personal information. It’s an exchange.”

“I already knew you were nuts, man.”

“I woke up in a psych ward twice.”

“What did you do?” Mickey asks and Ian puts his hand out triumphantly.

Mickey rolls his eyes and digs the bar out of his pocket and places it in Ian’s hand. “Tried to steal a helicopter the first time and kidnapped a baby the second time.”

“The first thing sounds fun. The second thing not so fun,” Mickey says flatly.

“It was - family. I didn’t hurt him or anything. I would never,” Ian feels the need to clarify. “I just had a mental break and it worried a lot of people. Rightfully so.”

“Stealing a baby will definitely get you locked in a psych ward,” Mickey snorts.

“I’ll tell you more if you tell me a story first,” Ian offers.

“What do you want me to tell you? You know I’ve been to prison.”

“What about your family?”

“They’ve all been to prison, too.”

“Yeah, but... Lip and I were at Alibi last night. Your dad was there.”

Mickey takes a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket. “And?” he asks.

“You’re a lot like him.”

Mickey drops the cigarette, snatches the Snickers bar out of Ian’s hand and launches it into the lake. “You say that again and I’m drowning you next,” he says. He calmly picks the pack of cigarettes up again and takes one out. He lights it and Ian sighs loudly. Maybe he deserves that one.

“I guess I can’t get one of those either, then?”

To his surprise Mickey hands him the lit one and grabs another one for himself.

“Look,” Mickey then sighs. “I get that you’ve been diddled a lot as a kid and you’ve probably had your head shrunk to learn how to talk about your feelings or whatever, but not all of us get to talk about how we feel all the time.”

Ian lets that sink in for a moment. “I wasn’t diddled as a kid,” he says.

“Nah, real normal to get banged by your forty year old boss when you’re fourteen.”

“And I don’t go to therapy.”

“Why not?”

“Expensive. But back to your dad-”

“No, not back to my dad. He’s a piece of shit, that’s all you need to know.”

“Fine, this conversation is making me fucking depressed anyway.”

 

Later, Mickey breaks the leftover Snickers bar in half and gives one half to Ian. Mickey doesn’t talk about his dad, but he does talk about his brothers and about his sister. There is a fondness when he talks about her specifically that almost hurts to listen to. When it gets darker and colder, they sit closer together and when the pier is completely abandoned Ian finally gets a kiss. He doesn’t give Mickey a kiss. Mickey gives him a kiss. He grabs Ian’s chin with a cold hand in a moment of silence and turns it towards him. He kisses him firmly and he keeps kissing him. Ian’s body floods with warmth and he curls his arms around Mickey as tightly as he can.

They drive home past midnight, having sat on that dock for hours.

“I could really use a hot shower right about now,” Ian says, back at Mickey’s apartment.

“Put on a sweater,” Mickey says and throws a black sweatshirt at him that he digs out of a trash bag. Ian obediently puts it on over his t-shirt and is surprised that it fits perfectly. Good thing Mickey doesn’t know shit about clothing sizes.

“You don’t want to fix this place up a bit? You’re here a lot,” Ian says.

“No, I’m not. I’m only here when I want to fuck.”

“These days, that’s pretty often,” Ian says and drops his jeans before getting into bed first. He watches Mickey switch his jeans for a pair of sweats and exchange his t-shirt for a hoodie that is definitely two sizes too big.

“What’s with the pants?” Ian asks. “Aren’t we here to fuck?”

“We’ll get to it, but let me warm up first,” Mickey says. He grabs his jacket off the ground and pulls a joint and a lighter out of his pocket. “You want to share?”

“Fuck yeah,” Ian says. Mickey settles into bed, leaning into Ian’s shoulder. He places the joint between Ian’s lips before lighting it. Ian takes the first drag and relaxes into the pillows. He passes Mickey the joint and wonders how sitting at the docks for hours in forty degree weather only to return to a freezing cold apartment with nothing but a bed in it, is the best date he’s ever had.

They forget to fuck that night, too caught up on giggling into each other’s mouths for half the night.

 

On Monday, Ian only goes home because he needs to get back to applying for jobs. Mickey drives him home and Ian convinces him to come in for a little bit, because Debbie, Carl and Liam are at school and Lip and Fiona are at work. “Come hang out in a heated room for a little bit,” is what he entices him with.

Ian also manages to convince him to get into the hot shower with him first. Ian fingers him in the shower and grinds his hard cock against his ass, before moving to the bedroom. Ian pushes him onto his bed and crawls over him. Mickey spreads his legs easily when Ian pushes his knees apart. “You know you can’t hit the spot from that angle,” Mickey reminds him with a playful smile.

“I gotta try sometimes,” Ian says, reaching for the bottle of lube hidden behind the leg of his bed. “Otherwise I might never see your face again.”

“I’d rather cum than watch you fuck me for no reason,” Mickey says. And then: “Jesus, one at a time,” when Ian presses two fingers in, up until the second knuckle.

Ian is pretty sure he is not going to hit the spot at this angle, he never has before, but he likes watching Mickey like that. On his back, with his head in a pillow and his legs spread. He is so open and ready when it comes to having sex, it sometimes boggles Ian’s mind at the sharp contrast with the rest of his life.

Ian is fully in heaven as he fucks into him for the first time in the comfort of his own home. Mickey’s face is gorgeous, mouth open as he pants and licks his lips, he runs his hands over Ian’s abs and chest. He is about to tell Mickey to flip over, so that he can take care of him, too.

“Fiona!” A dreadfully familiar voice screeches. “Lip! Kids!”

“Who the fuck is that?” Mickey hisses and pushes Ian off of him.

“Fucking Frank,” Ian curses and scrambles off the bed. “Get dressed.” But they barely pull their boxers over their cocks when Frank bursts through his bedroom door.

“What the hell, Frank,” Ian snaps and he moves to stand in front of Mickey, for whatever it’s worth.

“Where is everyone?” Frank asks. He doesn’t seem to notice the fact that they’re naked.

“It’s Monday afternoon, Frank. They’re at school and at work. What do you want?”

“I want to see my children, is that so farfetched?”

“Well, you’ve seen one. The rest ain’t here.” Right as Ian finishes that sentence, Mickey steps past Ian and then past Frank. Two seconds later, he hears the front door open and close.

“Who was that?” Frank asks. “Was that Carl?”

Ian doesn’t respond. He doesn’t bother with pants and puts a shirt on while he runs down the stairs, through the door and into the street. Mickey is already in his car with the motor running. Ian has half a mind to step in front of the car to keep him from leaving, but he is too late to try anyway.

 

Ian storms back into the house, ready to drag Frank out of the house by his hair. He finds Frank passed out in his bed. Instead of smothering him with a pillow, Ian just stares at him for a while and vows that if Frank ruins this for him, Ian will definitely be back to kill him.

 

Fiona gets home at four and Ian is still fuming. “What’s that smell?” She asks as soon as she walks into the kitchen. “Have you been day drinking?”

“No,” Ian says.

“Then what - oh, no. Where is he?”

“In my room. In my fucking bed,” Ian nearly screams.

“Did you two have a fight?”

“The only reason he’s not dead right now, is because I want him to be awake when I kill him.”

“What did he do?”

“Mickey was here. For the first time, ever. Frank walks in on us like he owns the fucking place. Mickey ran off, god knows where. If his dad finds out about this, we’re all dead.”

“How would his dad find out about this, Ian? Frank is passed out, I’m pretty sure he’s got no clue what he saw in the last couple of weeks, let alone just now. And we don’t know that he knows who Mickey is. You didn’t know him, even though he’s been living a borough away all his life.”

“I don’t spend all my fucking time at the Alibi, Fiona. Frank practically lives there and so does fucking Terry Milkovich.”

”We wait until he wakes up and figure out what he knows,” Fiona says calmly.

“If he tries to blackmail me again, I’ll kill him,” Ian says.

“And I’ll help you, relax,” Fiona says, with a  ittle less patience this time. “You’re acting like this is the first time you’ve been caught with your dick out.”

“This time is different.”

“Hey, you chose him,” Fiona sighs. “I hate that fucking Frank got to meet him first. I’ve been wondering how hot this kid is for him to have you all jacked up for months now.”

“I’m not jacked up.”

Very jacked up. Three months ago you were walking around here like a ghost. Going to work and coming home and you barely talked to anyone. Now you’re throwing Carl into walls and plotting Frank’s murder again.”

“Does that mean the meds are working or not working?” Ian snipes.

“I think you’re doing great. The fact that you didn’t kill Frank proves that.”

 

Frank wakes up and comes down the stairs while they’re having dinner. They ignore him as he walks right to the couch in the living room and turns the tv on.

Lip watches Ian intently, but Ian knows the plan. He’s not going to stray from it, not unless Frank forces him to.

They finish dinner with mostly Carl and Debbie talking loudly and incessantly.

They put the both of them on dish duty.

Liam stays in the kitchen with them and Ian, Fiona and Lip corner Frank in the living room. Fiona sits down on the coffee table in front of the couch. Ian and Lip stand behind her.

“You can’t stay here, Frank,” Fiona says. “There is no space for you. If you want to see us, you can call us and we’ll figure something out.

Frank looks at her, and then at Lip and then at Ian. “No space?” He then asks. “All I need is a bed to sleep in. You won’t even notice I’m here.”

“There are no empty beds and the no couch policy stands,” Fiona says unwaveringly. “Things have been really good, Frank.” Don’t ruin this, she doesn’t say.

“Good? You have Milkoviches running around here and you call that good? Ian doesn’t know what he’s doing. Is he off his-“

Fiona slaps him so hard that Carl stops talking in the kitchen.

Ian and Lip are both startled. This wasn’t the plan.

“Who did you say you saw running around here?” she asks him.

“You fucking bitch,” he curses at her.

“Who was it, Frank? Who did you see?” She presses.

“If you want me to keep my mouth shut, I stay here for a month,” Frank finally says.

“You could get him killed. Do you understand that?” Lip snaps. “This is not a game.”

“He is getting himself killed,” Frank spits back at Lip, as if Ian isn’t standing right there. “You two should have never let him get involved with a Milkovich. Especially not that one.”

Ian would love to see him get slapped some more, but he can’t stay there. He goes upstairs and dials Mickey’s number. Ian hasn’t talked to him yet, because he didn’t know what to say.

To his surprise, Mickey picks up on the second ring. “Yeah?” Mickey answers.

“Come pick me up in half an hour,” Ian says.

“Alright,” Mickey says and hangs up without another word.

Ian starts packing his bag when Lip comes into the room. “Where are you going?”

“He wants a bed, he can have one,” Ian says. “I’m not staying here with him.”

“We’ll kick him out. We’ll change the locks.”

“He’s a vindictive drunk, Lip. Kick him out and he’ll go straight to Terry Milkovich.”

“I don’t think he’d do that, okay? I get that you’re worried, but even Frank wouldn’t do that to his own kid.”

“Guess who’s not his fucking kid?” Ian snaps.

“Ian.”

Ian turns around to find Debbie peering into the room. “Where are you going?”

“I’m staying with a friend for a bit,” he says as calmly as he can.

“Because of Frank?” she asks.

“Yeah,” he answers.

“You don’t have to do this, Ian,” Fiona says, appearing behind Debbie. “This is your house, not his.”

“I get it, alright? But if I stay here with him for five more seconds, I’m going to strangle him.”

“Do it,” Debbie says. 

“I get that you need some space, but we’ll get him out of here as soon as possible okay?” Fiona assures him.

“I’ll make sure he keeps his mouth shut. Kill him if I have to,” Lip says.

“No way, not without me. Debbie, go get my shit out of the shower,” Ian says.

“Are you staying at Mick’s apartment?” Lip then asks.

“If he lets me. Otherwise we have to kill Frank for real,” Ian says.

“We’re not skipping options here, believe me,” Fiona says.

“Text me the address,” Lip says. “I need to know where you’re staying.”

 

Mickey doesn’t say anything on the way to the apartment. He just rubs his hand over his face and curses at traffic on their way there.

“You’re going to have to install hot water,” Ian tells him when they get to the apartment and Ian drops his bag in the corner of the room. “Like tomorrow.”

Mickey sighs, still rubbing his eyes. “Am I going to have to kill your dad?”

“You gotta get in line for that.” Ian sits on the bed. He turns his phone over, so that he doesn’t have to see his screen light up with the incessant conversation in the family group chat about what they are going to do with Frank.

Mickey stands between his legs and grabs Ian’s face with both hands. “I’d kill both of them before they touch you,” he says.

“It’s not me I’m worried about,” Ian says. “What is your dad going to do if he finds out you’re gay?”

“He knows I’m fucking gay, okay? I’ve been dealing with his bullshit all my life.”

Ian curls his arms around Mickey’s waist and rests his head on his stomach.

“The only thing Frank can do is add fuel to the fucking dumpster fire that is already my dad,” Mickey says, curling a hand into Ian’s hair. “I won’t let him ruin this.”

 

They have hot water in the apartment three days later. Ian and Mickey celebrate by going to Target to buy new towels after sharing an enthusiastic shower and being forced to dry off with a t-shirt, because the only towels in the apartment was still wet from the day before.

“What else do we need?” Mickey asks.

“A couch, table. Plates. Literally every single thing that an apartment should have. Central heating.” 

“We’re not buying a couch right now. Plates, we can do.”

“What about a table, so that we’re not sleeping in weed crumbs every night?”

 

Another two days later, Ian gets a voicemail. He can’t remember the last time he got a voicemail, but he knows the only people who still leave them tend to be managers and HR people. So he listens to it nervously while Mickey is out doing the rounds one evening. Hi Ian, this is Latifa from Malcolm X Chicago Hospital. I looked over your application for the open position as an physicians assistant in our ER and I’d like to invite you for a face to face interview...

 

Ian picks Lip up in Mickey’s car on Saturday morning. “Frank in there?” Ian asks.

“He hasn’t left the house since he arrived. He orders in booze.”

“How is everyone holding up?”

“Let’s just say that if we all had a drug dealer’s apartment to retreat to, we’d be there. Fiona is going to have an aneurysm.”

“Cool, I don’t want to know anything more about it. You have to help me win my job interview on Wednesday. I’m way too unqualified for it, but Mickey thinks I should go for it.”

“Mickey is giving you career advice?”

“Well, he called me a pussy for not wanting to do the interview. And a fag. And a coward and a stupid fucking bitch. He went on for a while, you know, until I said I’d do it.”

“So you’re going to do it?”

“I said I would?”

“So? You can say you did it and that you didn’t get the job. Keep looking, in the meantime.”

“I mean, it can’t hurt to try.”

“What’s the job?”

“A physician’s assistant.”

“You’re not qualified for that.”

“No shit.”

“Did you lie on your resumé?”

“No, but yes. I said I was a physician’s assistant in a prison.”

“Let me guess, you didn’t mention that you were an inmate in that prison?”

“Gotta get your foot in the door first and all that.”

“Fine, how do we do this?”

“You need to cancel your plans for this weekend.”

After Lip pledges to help him, they go to the mall for a job interview outfit because all the clothes Ian owns are plaid shirts and Adidas track suits.

 

It’s not until later that afternoon when they sit down for a couple of burgers with Ian’s Zara haul under the table, that Ian says: “So Mickey didn’t kill Frank.”

“Yeah. I was kind of counting on him to take one for the team,” Lip says.

“Frank ain’t worth a day in prison,” Ian says.

“So have you two kissed yet? Or is it still just assfucking and blowies?”

“We’ve kissed. Like twice,” Ian snorts. “It’s been alright, though. I figured he’d have killed me by now, but things have been pretty cool.”

“So Valentine’s day is going to be lit, huh?”

“Valentine’s day?”

“Yeah.”

Ian looks at his watch. “Hah. He will absolutely stab the shit out of me if I bring that up.”

“You have to.”

“Nah.”

“If you want me to help you with that interview, you will. And you’re going to tell me all about it, in detail.”

“Lip, he doesn’t even hold my hand unless we’re stoned. I say something about Valentine’s day, he might push me out a window.”

“Tell me all about it afterwards and I’ll make sure you fraud your way into the healthcare profession of your choice. Get him chocolates. The little hearts.”

“Why are you making me bully my boyfriend?”

“Boyfriend, he says.”

“Don’t do this.”

“The little hearts. Maybe some flowers, too. What? You think I’m going to spend four days helping you study for free?”

 

Ian drops Lip off at the house before he heads back to the apartment. Mickey is there.

Sitting on a couch.

“What the fuck?” Ian is gobsmacked. Absolutely shocked. He had pretty much accepted that Mickey wasn’t planning on turning the apartment into an actual home. It was just a hide out, nothing permanent.

Now the living room has a couch and a dining table with four chairs. It is practically a penthouse compared to a week ago. 

“You like it?” Mickey smirks. Ian drops the shopping bags at the door and sheds his coat which he leaves on the floor with the bags, before dropping himself onto the soft, dark grey couch. “I can’t believe it. This is the cleanest couch I’ve ever seen.”

“Brand new.”

“You change your mind about this just being a fuck shack then?”

“No. Now it’s a fuck shack with a couch.”

Ian waits. He thinks Mickey might kiss him, because he is looking at him from up close. His eyes shift to Ian’s lips, even. But he doesn’t do it.

And now Ian is annoyed, so he decides to bully his boyfriend for Lip’s amusement. He knows he can try doing something else. Like talk to him or just let it go. But antagonizing Mickey has proven to work just as well to get his undivided attention.

Or just as badly, whatever.

“I got you something,” Ian says and gets up. He picks up one of the bags he left at the door.

Ian tries to hand it to him, but Mickey looks at him with so much suspicion that Ian has to put it down on Mickey’s lap.

“What is this?”

“Happy Valentine’s day,” Ian says.

“Happy fucking what?” Mickey asks.

 

Ten minutes later, Ian takes a picture of the chocolates scattered on the floor of the newly furnished living room of their fuck shack. He sends it to Lip.

Mickey comes back out of the bedroom dressed to leave while Ian is picking up the smashed pieces of chocolate.

“You can’t be doing this shit,” Mickey tells him seriously. “No gifts. It’s fucking weird.”

“No, you’re fucking weird,” Ian says without hesitation. “All it means is that I thought about you while I was out today. That’s all it means.”

He is ready to admit that this is his own fault. He knew Mickey wasn’t going to react well to the mushy shit and if he’s honest, Ian couldn’t care less about a fucking Valentine’s day gift. But he was hoping, maybe, that the bullshit with Frank and Terry might have put some things into perspective.

“You know,” Ian then continues, because he is petty and an asshole all rolled into one. “There are plenty of people out there who would be lucky to fucking have me. Getting an actual boyfriend ain't so fucking hard for me.”

Mickey’s face does something that Ian has never seen before. His eyes go glassy for a moment and his lips part a few seconds before he actually speaks. “Yeah, I know,” he says. “I’m not the one making the bad decisions here.” And then he leaves.

 

Bad decisions. Ian has made a lot of those in his life. All of his career choices have been bullshit. He dives into things far too fast and gives up as soon as things get inconvenient for him.

All of his relationships were lackluster wastes of time.

He has been out of prison for a year and a half now, and for about a year of that time he tried not to make any decisions at all. He kept the first job he got. He only screwed guys from Grindr, and only ever with a condom on and only ever a few times, because the idea of going out and talking to strangers seemed exhausting.

He was absolutely a boring piece of shit, but he knew it beat stealing babies, blowing up vans and giving out blowjobs at fifty bucks a pop in bathroom stalls.

Finding Mickey and latching onto him doesn’t feel like a bad decision. But is it? Lip seems to think so. Mickey sure as hell seems to think so.

Give it a rest, pump the brakes. For what? Ian knows how he feels about Mickey and he knows that Mickey at the very least likes having him around; otherwise Ian wouldn’t be practically living in his apartment. So why this annoying fucking dance of pretending they’re not serious about this?

Maybe Ian would have left that night if he had anywhere else to go, but the idea of hearing Frank’s voice is a far worse fate than being played by Mickey fucking Milkovich.

Somewhere in the back of his head, he knows that this is karma for all the guys he’s ghosted in his past.

 

Ian is on the new couch reading some articles Lip found for him for his job interview, when Mickey returns. It’s barely eleven on a Saturday night. For a moment Ian wonders if he is going to get murdered.

Mickey stands right in front of him and says: “I’ll give you one hit.”

“Huh?”

“One hit,” Mickey says and shrugs his jacket off. “Wherever you want. If you’re still pissed after that, you can have another one.”

“I’m not going to punch you in the face, Mickey. Just say that you’re sorry.”

“In the stomach then,” Mickey suggest. “Get up. Just do it. You’ll feel better.”

“I feel fine,” Ian snaps.

“Yeah? Because it looks like you want to choke me out.”

“Just say you’re sorry..”

“Get up, you pussy.”

Ian throws his phone down on the couch and stands up. “Why can’t you just say it?”

“Say what, bitch?” Mickey says and glances down at Ian’s balled fists. “That I’m sorry? What’s that going to change?”

“It’ll let me know that you give have a shit,” Ian says.

“No, it will let you know that you got what you wanted. Again.”

“I’m not doing this,” Ian warns. “I don’t want to hurt you and I know you don’t want to hurt me either, Mickey. Let’s just fucking drop it.”

 

Ian fucks him hard that night. Ian has fucked him hard before, but not like this. Not with his fingers digging so hard into Mickey’s skin that they leave bruises there. Not with a hand snug on Mickey’s throat and not with the kind of desperation that has Ian’s heart beating in his chest like he is about to jump out of a plane.

They don’t talk about it after that. Not that night, not the next day or the day after that. It’s easier to move on, easier to forget and to try again another time.

On Wednesday morning, Ian steps into the living room with his arms spread. “What do you think?” He asks Mickey who is scooping Fruitloops into his mouth at the kitchen table.

“What the fuck?” Mickey gawks. “Are you going on a date or something?”

“Job interview,” Ian says and smooths a hand over the denim stretching across his chest. It’s tighter than anything he’d casually wear these days, but Lip had assured him that it doesn’t look like he’s trying too hard or too little. A suit or dress shirt would feel unnatural on him, he’d said and he’d been right.

“Are you trying to fuck everyone there?” Mickey asks.

“You think I look good?”

“You got the job,”

“Thank youuu,” Ian drawls and he can’t hide his pleased grin. “I’m taking your car.”

“Can you take my car, you ask? Of course, buddy. Whatever you need,” Mickey says.

“Great, because I’m picking Debs and Liam up afterwards for lunch at Juliana’s. Haven’t seen those shits in over two weeks. You want to come?”

“No,” Mickey says easily.

Ian shrugs and goes to grab the car keys out of Mickey’s jacket in the bedroom. “Alright, I’m off,” Ian says. Mickey gets up from the table and meets Ian at the front door.

“Good luck,” he says and... kisses him. Right on the lips, chaste and sweet. Ian feels his face heat up.

“And remember,” Mickey continues and puts a hand on Ian’s cheek. “If this doesn’t work out, there are plenty of Starbuckses out there who would be very lucky to have you.”

 

It’s not until he is in the car, halfway to the hospital that he realizes why Mickey’s last words sounded so familiar. There are plenty of people out there who would be lucky to have me.

“That fucking asshole,” Ian curses underneath his breath.

 

The interview goes well. Lip had prepared him for pretty much all the questions they asked and the last twenty minutes of the hour long interview is spent talking about how much of a nightmare it is to work in a prison and how comparable it might be to working in a public emergency room in Chicago.

As he leaves, Ian is suddenly terrified that he is actually going to get the job. He shakes it off and drives to the elementary school to pick up Liam and then to the high school to pick up Debbie. “Where’s the other asshole?” Ian asks as she settles in the backseat.

“Carl said he’d meet us there. His friend has a dirt bike,” Liam says.

“It was so cool,” Debbie says. “But Carl is for sure going to die on his way there.”

 

Carl doesn’t die on his way there. He shows up at the restaurant right as Ian and the kids join Lip and Fiona at the table.

Carl walks right up to Ian and yanks at his hair. “Where the fuck have you been, fuckface?” He asks before taking the empty chair at the end of the table

“Busy, Jesus,” Ian says and fixes his hair.

“For two weeks?” Carl asks.

“Does he not know I moved out?” Ian asks Fiona.

“You moved out?” Carl asks.

“He just needed to get away from Frank for a while,” Fiona says.

“I didn’t know we could do that,” Carl says.

“How did the job interview go?” Lip asks.

“Good, probably. That place was a shithole, though.”

“You’ll fit right in,” Lip says easily.

“What about the boyfriend?” Fiona then asks, and that is about where Debbie, Carl and Liam stop listening to them and start arguing about the menu.

“What about him?” Ian asks.

“That bad, huh?” Fiona says and makes a face.

“I showed you the picture,” Lip says to Fiona.

“It’s not that bad,” Ian says. “It’s fine.”

“Uhuh,” they both hum in unison. “Hey, Frank hasn’t been back in a couple of days. You can wait it out, but I think he’s gone,” Fiona says. “You can come home whenever you’re ready.”

“Yeah, you know things can get stressful if you start the new job and everything,” Lip says. “Might be better if you’re home.”

Ian tries not to be annoyed when they worry about him like that, but what can he do? What can they do? “If Frank isn’t back by Friday, I’ll come home,” Ian says, instead of what he really wants to say which is but Mickey bought a couch.

Fiona and Lip seem pleased so Ian says: “Mickey asked me to punch him in the stomach to make up for the Valentine’s Day thing,”, just to take them down a notch.

“Did you do it?” Fiona asks eyebrows shooting up to her hairline.

“Nah.”

“But you wanted to, huh,” Lip says.

Ian shrugs.

 

Fiona has to go back to work after lunch and Liam, Debbie and Carl all have their own plans which are all too cool to be shared with the rest of them. Before they part ways, Carl does ask: “When are you coming back?”

“I don’t know. When Frank is gone for sure,” Ian says.

 

Lip and Ian get a coffee at a Starbucks that’s two blocks away from the one that Ian used to work at.

Ian checks his phone, but Mickey hasn’t texted him. Not to ask about the interview and not to ask about the car. Ian drops Lip back off at the house at seven thirty and heads to the apartment. He’s hungry and he hopes to find Mickey there, so that they can share a meal.

 

Mickey isn’t there, so Ian settles in and decides to call him.

“Yeah?” Mickey answers.

“Hey, are you getting home anytime soon?” Ian asks. “I thought we could eat together.”

“Yeah, if you can wait an hour,” Mickey says. “I’m out of town, but I’m heading back now.”

“Out of town doing what?”

“Don’t ask me that over the phone, dickhead,” Mickey snorts. “Let’s do Chinese, yeah?”

 

When Mickey comes home about forty five minutes later, he is only five minutes later than the food. Ian looks at his face, examines it for bruises and scratches, but he can’t find any that weren’t already there. He looks at his hands next, as Mickey washes them. Sometimes his knuckles will be busted and bruised for days. But not today.

“What the hell are you looking at?” Mickey asks, as he dries his hands off in a kitchen towel. They have those now. No, Mickey has those now. You’re just visiting.

There is no heat behind Mickey’s words, and Ian just shrugs. He watches Mickey grab a couple of plates and put them on the table -

“Oh shit,” Mickey then says. “How did your interview go?”

 

Fiona calls Ian on Friday afternoon to excitedly tell him that Frank hasn’t been back yet.

“Oh, great,” Ian says, looking across the table at Mickey who is looking right back at him. They’d gone for a drive that morning and of course, they ended up at the pier. They’d taken a walk along it and settled for coffee at a café with an outside space. Mick has a cigarette behind his ear and he is warming his hands around a cup of coffee. He pulls an eyebrow up at Ian’s shaky voice.

“So you can come settle back in whenever you want,” Fiona says. “Let me know and I’ll pick you up. I’m sure you miss your own bed. Don’t worry, I cleaned Frank all out of the sheets.”

“Yeah, no, that sounds great. Look, I’m kind of in the middle of something right now...”

“No worries. Me too. I’ll see you soon.” She hangs up before Ian does. He lowers his phone and puts it down on the table.

“You said that was your sister. Why does it look like you got a call from El Chapo telling you you fucked up,” Mickey says.

“It’s nothing,” Ian says. “Frank left. He hasn’t been back to the house in a week.”

“So? That’s a good thing, right?” Mickey asks.

“Yeah, for sure.”

“So what’s with your face?”

Ian shakes his head. “I...” God, why is this so hard? “I told Fiona and Lip I’d go back home when Frank left.”

“Yeah, and?”

“And Frank is gone now, so...”

“So you can go visit your brothers and sisters whenever you want. What’s the fucking problem?”

Visit.

“Move back,” Ian clarifies, painfully. “I said I’d move back.”

That shuts Mickey up for a moment. He grabs the cigarette out from behind his ear and puts it between his lips. He lights it and then asks: “You don’t want to go?”

“Do you not want me to go?”

Mickey rolls his eyes like he expected the question. “Go if you want to go and stay if you want to stay. I’m not your keeper.”

“But you kind of are.”

“How?”

“You keep me in your apartment.”

“I keep you there? Like some fucking pet?”

“Mick, I like staying with you.”

“Then stay.”

“But Fiona-“

“Then go.”

Ian snatches the cigarette from between Mickey’s lips and brings it up to his own. “If I get that job, I have to go. I promised.”

“Why would you promise that?”

“Because they’re afraid that if I’m under a lot of stress, I’m going to crack and start gargling old man balls again and then slit my wrists in a ditch somewhere.”

“Ah,” Mickey says, his face softening. “They’d rather have you slitting your wrists where they can take care of you.” Mickey reaches a warm hand over the table and let’s his fingers ghost over the palm of Ian’s hand. "But if you don't want to go back there for whatever reason, I can take care of you. Whatever happens."

Ian stares at him, and wonders if anyone has ever been as in love with anyone as he is with Mickey Milkovich.

 

Ian gets the job. Of course he does. Latifa from HR calls him on Monday morning to let him know that he can come sign the paperwork on Wednesday and he can start the following Monday.

Ian is ecstatic at first. He is so happy that he wakes Mickey up to tell him. Mickey smirks at him through his sleepy haze and smacks him in the face. "'Course you got it," he says, and turns onto his side, still with his eyes closed.

Ian has been ignoring Fiona and Lip all weekend, because he is not ready to answer any of their questions about him moving back home, but he can't keep this to himself.

He texts them in their separate group chat and they congratulate him excessively, which is cute. But right behind the congratulations, Lip asks: When are you coming home?

It is… a question. Ian has been thinking about it incessantly, but Mickey has made it clear that he was not going to get involved in the decision. He was not going to ask Ian to stay. He was welcome to, but he had to make the decision on his own. And here is the thing; Ian makes moronic decisions on his own.

So, of course, he does the worst possible thing. He packs his bag while Mickey is still asleep and puts it at the door. He thinks of the Valentine’s day chocolates and about how fucking pissed Mickey gets when Ian tries to even consider the idea of anything romantic. So he figures that some tearful goodbye would just sour the mood between them for another few days. So he leaves before Mickey wakes up.

He drops all his stuff off back at the house and is surprised to see that Carl is home. “Hey, idiot, what are you doing here?” Ian asks him.

“Skipping a test,” Carl says. “What are you doing here?”

“Coming back.”

“You left?” Carl asks and Ian punches him in the stomach.

 

Lip punches Ian in the stomach on his turn when he comes home from work that night. He starts on dinner and asks Ian: “How did Mickey take it?” 

“He hasn’t said anything yet,” Ian shrugs from his spot at the kitchen bar.

“What?”

“He hasn’t said anything yet,” Ian repeats.

Lip puts down the knife he’s holding. “What the fuck are you talking about? You told him you’re moving back and he didn’t say anything?”

“Well no. Last week I told him I was thinking of moving out, and he said it was fine. He didn’t really care whether I left or stayed. I left while he was still sleeping. You know how he gets with that mushy shit. He’d just get pissed again that I’d try to have a moment or something insane.”

Lip’s eyes get wider and wider.

“What?” Ian asks.

“You’ve got to be shitting me, right? Here I thought you were all hung up on the guy,” Lip says, shaking his head.

“What do you mean? I am-“

“Then you’ve screwed yourself. Severely.”

“How? I told you, I know him. He’s not going to give a shit that I didn’t give him some tearful goodbye-”

“No, you didn’t even tell him you were leaving, Ian. You’ve been living there for a fucking month. So what? He wakes up and he sees that you’ve packed your shit and left without saying a fucking word? Whether it’s tearful or not?”

“Oh, come on. If anything, I’ve saved myself a fucking headache.”

“So you’re done with him?”

No, what the fuck are you talking about?”

“What the fuck are you talking about?” Lip snaps at him.

“What are you two talking about?” Debbie asks, sliding onto the stool next to Ian.

“Tell her,” Lip says, waving the knife at him.

So Ian does. And Debbie makes a face he doesn’t like. “I thought you really liked him?” she asks. “Sounds like you’re trying to break up with him.”

“I think someone else is going to break up with someone else,” Lip sighs. “You see what happens when you try to ignore my texts?”

“You two don’t know shit. You don’t even know him.”

“I don’t know him? He’s my weed guy. He’s practically my best friend,” Lip says. “And you are not only ruining your own relationship, but my weed hook up, too. You know how long it took me to convince him to give me a family discount?”

“Oh fuck off. I know him. I haven’t ruined shit. I’m doing him a favor. And you’re supposed to be sober anyway.”

Ian is lying through his teeth. God, he is a coward. He hopes he is doing Mickey a favor, but Ian left first and foremost, because he didn’t want to have this conversation with Mickey. He didn’t want to explain to Mickey that he would rather be home with his family in these stressful times. He didn’t want to tell Mickey that no matter how good things are going, how stable he feels, he is still too terrified to take a risk that could cause an episode. The feeling of anxiety about the job is enough to make him reach for the safety net of his family. His family who has seen him go through all of it before. His family who is not allowed to abandon him, no matter how much of a dick he is.

He doesn’t tell Lip or Debbie this. He doesn’t tell Fiona who gets involved later that night.

Mickey doesn’t call him that day and Ian doesn’t know why he is waiting.

On Tuesday, Ian is too anxious to call him. Mickey calls him that night, and Ian isn’t ready for it. He can’t. On Wednesday, he has the contract signing. Once that is behind him, he feels a little calmer.

“Are you really this much of a cunt?” Lip asks him on Wednesday night.

“What? I didn’t finish the shampoo. Carl did,” Ian says.

“Why is Mickey Milkovich asking me if you died?” Lip demands.

“You talked to him?” Ian asks and jumps up off the couch. “What did he say?”

“He asked me if you died.”

“What did you say?” 

“I told him you’re dealing with Frank’s bullshit again and you’ll call him when you’re done. What are you doing, Ian?”

“What did he say after that?” Ian pushes.

“Nothing. Call him. You’re going to be sorry if you don’t fix this soon, okay?” Lip says and pushes Ian back down onto the couch. “Where is your phone? Call him right now and tell him you’re going through some shit and you’ll reach out to him again soon.”

“I’ll do it, but you have to get out of my fucking face,” Ian says, pushing past Lip. He puts his shoes on and goes to sit on the front porch.

It takes him a few minutes to gather his thoughts before he finally dials Mickey’s number. “Yeah?” Mickey answers.

“Hey.”

“Did he tell you to call me?”

“No… I mean he said he saw you, but I was going to call you anyway.”

“For what?”

Ian pauses for a moment. God. “I shouldn’t have left without saying anything. I had a freak out. Not because of you. I’m not feeling all that great with Frank and the job and now you… I mean, it has nothing to do with you, but I get that it affects you – and I’m sorry, is all. That I left without saying anything.”

“It’s fine,” Mickey says shortly. “I just wanted to be sure you didn’t slit your wrists in that ditch.”

“No, not yet,” Ian says. “It’s nothing like that. I’m sorry, again.”

“You take care of yourself. Call me if you need anything,” Mickey says.

“I will,” Ian promises. “Look, Mick-” but Mickey has hung up already. Ian punches the wooden stair railing as hard as he can.

“That well, huh?” Lip asks from behind him.

 

Having Mickey pissed at him does not help with the stress. But it will have to wait, unfortunately. Ian texts him every day, just to make sure that Mickey doesn’t forget that he still exists. Sometimes Mickey responds, and sometimes he doesn’t.

On Monday, Lip and Fiona drop Ian off at the hospital for his first day of work. It feels like he is being dropped off at school by his parents. At least, he thinks that this is what it would feel like if he has to believe the movies; he has nothing else to compare it to, of course.

“You’re smarter than you think,” Lip tells him. “It’s all gangsters and South Side trash that come here.” It is strangely comforting.

“I love you,” Fiona says. “You’re going to do great.”

“Alright, faggots, that’s enough,” Ian says.

 

Ian has a weird first day. He expects to follow someone around all day who shows him the ropes. He does not expect to be treating a gunshot wound in the first hour. “You want to learn, you got to learn,” Marcus says, handing Ian the surgical tray. “If you fuck it up, I’m here.”

The patient, a young man barely conscious, with a bullet in his thigh is not impressed by any of this, so Ian decides to learn while he fucking learns.

 

Ian calls Mickey at the end of his shift, when he is already walking to the subway. Mickey doesn’t pick up the first time, but he picks up the second time. “Yeah?”

“Hey, Mick.”

“Gallagher?” Mickey asks. “You still out there in the world?”

“I just got off work,” Ian tells him.

“Yeah? How was it?” Mickey asks.

“Kind off gross, but I think I can fake my way through this,” Ian says. “How have you been doing? You want to meet me for dinner?”

“I can’t. I’m on run past midnight. Are you working tomorrow?”

“Yeah, but-“

“Go home, I’ll see you when I see you.”

 

Ian tries to get Mickey to meet him after work for the rest of that week, but Mickey refuses. He is always on his rounds or counting or doing some other annoying shit that Ian knows is an excuse, but he can’t really prove it nor does he feel like he has any right to question it.

It’s frustrating and also kind of nerve-wracking. What if Mickey is really just over him?

On Friday night, after dinner, Ian calls him twice without getting an answer. He texts him too, and waits half an hour for it to be read, but it doesn’t get read.

He then puts his shoes on and goes. It takes forty-five fucking minutes on the subway while it would have been less than a fifteen minute drive. He arrives just after ten. He doesn’t expect Mickey to be there, but he is ready to wait all fucking weekend if he has to.

He enters the apartment with the key Mickey had given him when he moved in. As soon as he shuts the door behind him and reaches over to turn on the light, a brick wall comes crashing into him from the side. Ian is tackled to the ground and punched, hard.

“What the fuck, Mickey!” He seethes and pushes Mickey off of him.

“Gallagher? Jesus Christ, you fucking asshole. I could have blown your goddamn head off,” Mickey pants and scrambles up to his feet. He puts something heavy down on the table and then turns on the lights.

Ian stares at the gun on the table and then lets his head fall back onto the floor. He is lying right in front of the couch. His jaw is still throbbing, but he doesn’t taste any blood. “Fuck,” he exhales. “I didn’t think you were going to be home.”

“Why the fuck are you here?” Mickey asks. He helps him up with an out stretched arm. Ian grabs his hand and gets off the floor. Mickey’s hair is tousled, he is frowning in annoyance and he is wearing a sweatshirt that is two sizes too big.

Ian kisses him. It feels like he is being pulled in by a magnet. How can he not? Mickey is right there, wild and beautiful and everything Ian has been missing for almost two weeks. Mickey kisses him back, matching Ian’s hunger every step of the way. Ian lets himself get carried away. He sheds his layers; his coat, his sweater, his t-shirt - he is about to drop his track pants, too, when Mickey pushes him away, hard, creating over five feet of space between them.

“Is this what you’re here for?” Mickey asks. “Or is there something else you want to get off your chest.”

Ian deflates a little. He hadn’t expected Mickey to be here. He thought he’d have more time. “I missed you,” he says. “I just wanted to see you for a little bit. It’s not my fault my dick gets hard every time I see you. That’s kind of your fault, actually.”

Mickey rolls his eyes and turns away, walking into the bedroom. Ian hesitates before grabbing his t-shirt off the floor and putting it back on. He kicks his shoes off and follows Mickey into the bedroom. He stays in the doorway and watches Mickey light a cigarette, sitting on his bed, leaning against the wall.

“So,” Ian says. “You not wanting to fuck me is kind of new.”

Mickey shrugs. 

“Have you...” Ian asks, as the possibility dawns on him. He looks away for a moment. “Are you getting it somewhere else?”

“What’s it to you?”

“Are you?”

Mickey flips him off. Ian is torn between leaving - just abandoning this conversation all together, or pushing forward and possibly getting shot. He steps further into the room and closes the door behind him. He gets on the bed and sits across from Mickey, cross legged. Ian can’t remember if anyone has ever walked out on him while he was practically naked and ready to go. He wonders how pissed a man has to be to not want to fuck him.

“Can we please talk like normal people?” He asks.

“What do normal people talk about?” Mickey asks. He has a hand resting on his raised knee. The ‘FUCK’ tattoo on his knuckles is mocking Ian.

“How they feel, for starters,” Ian says.

“Do they talk about when they plan on moving out of an apartment or no?”

It catches Ian off guard and he can only stare at Mickey for a moment. Mickey looks completely unimpressed.

“I know I should have said something,” Ian finally concedes. “It was a dick move. But I just... I didn’t want to make it into a thing. You get weird when I try to get emotional about anything.”

“What is emotional about saying ‘hey, man, I’m moving back in with my family today’?”

“It’s not that easy, though. I’ve gone over this a million times and all I could think about was saying goodbye to you even though I didn’t really want to go. But I knew I had to, if I want to be sure I don’t have some type of episode. What type of bitch does that make me?”

“What makes you a bitch is not saying anything,” Mickey snaps at him. “You really believe I’d think less of you because you have to go be with your family?”

“I don’t know what you think, Mickey. You have to know you’re like a ticking time bomb sometimes.”

“You going to compare this to the bullshit chocolate that you bought specifically to piss me off?”

“I didn’t-”

“Then why? Because you care about fucking Valentine’s day that much?”

Ian sighs. “Look, I don’t give a shit about Valentine’s day. But can you blame me for trying to gauge how you feel about me? It’s been four months and I still don’t know if you’re even my boyfriend. I lived in your apartment, I fucked you every day. I still don’t know, because you refuse to even kiss me-”

“I’ve been kissing you.”

“It’s not enough.”

The words hang between them, heavy and thick. This conversation has been derailed completely and Ian feels it, how they are teetering on the edge. Mickey can end this now. He can tell Ian to leave and to leave his key behind.

“I never wanted this,” Mickey then says, frustrated. “I never wanted a fucking boyfriend. I didn’t want you to be one.”

“But I am,” Ian pleads, desperate now.

“I know,” Mickey says and turns his hand around on his knee. Ian stares at it, before he grabs onto it like it’s a lifeline. “But if it’s not enough, then you have to tell me what you fucking want. You can’t just decide to leave without saying a word and blame it on you being a psycho.”

“I wasn’t trying to...” Or maybe he was? He’s not sure.

Mickey puts the cigarette between his lips and uses his empty hand to stroke Ian’s sore jaw.

Ian steals the cigarette and takes the last puff. He can’t believe this. He can’t believe he has to blink away tears. He exhales and Mickey leans forward and kisses him with a hand clasped firmly around the back of Ian’s neck.

Ian kisses him back and then he buries his face in Mickey’s shoulder until he has these bullshit tears under control.

“Come on,” Mickey says, rubbing a hand over Ian’s back. “You’re being a real pussy now.”

“Shut the fuck up,” Ian laughs and wipes his nose on Mickey’s shoulder. “I want you to say it, though.”

“Say what?”

“Whether you’ve been fucking anyone else.”

“Why would you want to hear that?”

“So that’s a yes, then.”

“No, it’s not.”

“Yeah, fucking right. There is no way you’ve not been out there getting your dick sucked by some frat boys on your rounds.”

“Are you fucking kidding me? I might let you blow me for a joint, but I’m not losing any money on mediocre head.”

“Hm. Whatever, but it ends here.”

“What do you mean?”

“No more fucking around. We’re a couple.”

“We’ve been a couple. Are you saying you’ve been screwing around?”

“No. I’ve been addicted to fucking your gremlin looking ass since we met.”

“Uhuh, you feel like fucking this gremlin right now or are you just going to cry all night?”

Ian puts a hand behind each one of Mickey’s knees and pulls them apart. He yanks him forward, so that he is lying on his back. Ian crawls over him, sliding his hands up Mickey’s thighs, over his shorts and under his sweatshirt. He pushes the shirt up to his armpits. Ian revels at the smooth stretch of skin from Mickey’s stomach to his chest. Mickey likes to tease Ian about how pale he is, but Mickey stomach and thighs are almost just as pale. Ian lets his fingers graze over his nipples before putting his lips on one of them.

Mickey threads his fingers into Ian’s hair tightly and tugs on it from the base. Just enough for it to sting and for the excitement to go straight to Ian’s cock. He feels Mickey’s nipple harden against his tongue and he can feel Mickey’s breath quicken and his chest heave. “God, you’re a dream,” Ian says softly. He moves down, trailing open mouthed kisses over Mickey’s stomach. Mickey doesn’t let go of Ian’s hair as Ian pulls Mickey’s shorts and underwear down to his knees. Mickey kicks them off and then tugs Ian’s head back down towards his half flaccid cock. Ian takes it into his mouth eagerly. It’s one of the things Ian silently likes to get off on; the feeling of a flaccid cock getting harder and bigger in his mouth. Mickey quickly grows hard and thick, Ian’s mouth stretching over the tip of Mickey’s cock.

“Fuck, Ian,” Mickey sighs. Ian hums around his cock and let’s it slip out of his mouth, just long enough for Ian to spit in his hand and to shove that slick hand down his own track pants. He puts his mouth back on Mickey’s cock, he mouths at his balls and at the base, he runs his tongue up the shaft, before going for all of it, taking all of it down his throat. He stops breathing, he hears Mickey cuss again, and Ian nuts into his own hand so hard that he is dizzy for a moment. His eyes are watering and so is his mouth. Ian brings his now cum slicked hand up and coats Mickey’s hard, wet cock with it even further. He puts his mouth back on it, reveling in the taste of the both of them. It doesn’t take long before he feels Mickey’s stomach tighten under his fingers. The grip Mickey has on Ian’s hair tightens as well as he shoots his load down Ian’s willing throat. Ian sucks him dry, keeps his mouth on Mickey’s cock until he goes soft again. He gives the sensitive head one last teasing lick and chuckles as Mickey shudders and yanks his head away. The hold on Ian’s hair loosens, but Mickey doesn’t remove his hands completely. He scratches Ian’s scalp. It feels so good that Ian closes his eyes and rests his head on Mickey’s half bare, half sweatshirt clad chest.

Mickey doesn’t stop running his fingers through Ian’s hair. Ian can feel himself drift off to sleep, but Mickey’s voice filters through: “You’re a dream.”

 

On Saturday morning Ian is staring at himself in Mickey’s bathroom mirror. The bruise on his jaw is sensitive. It is still a reddish color and Ian hopes it won’t get any darker than that. As he presses a finger against the tender skin, he remembers something that Mickey might have knocked right out of his head last night.

He decides he can let his hair air dry, for fear of otherwise forgetting about this again. He steps out of the bathroom with a towel around his shoulder. He looks for his bag in the bedroom, because he had packed some clothes in there the night before, including a pair of underwear. He quickly realizes that he must have left it in the living room.

Mickey is sitting at the kitchen table, the gun he almost shot Ian with the night before, still lying in the exact spot where he left it.

Mickey glances up at him and then does a double take. “Good morning, Firecrotch. Ain’t it a bit cold for this?”

“Hey, why were you in bed at like nine thirty last night?” Ian asks, spotting his bag in a corner of the couch. He grabs it and looks at Mickey expectantly.

“Are you going to put your dick away or what?”

Ian rolls his eyes and opens his bag. He puts the black boxers on. “Well?”

“I was tired,” Mickey says. “Come drink your coffee.”

Ian pulls a clean grey t-shirt on too, and joins Mickey at the table. He sits next to him. They have a coffee maker now, Ian notes in surprise as Mickey pours him a cup. No, Ian corrects himself, Mickey has a coffee maker. You don’t live here anymore.

“Tired from what?” Ian asks.

“I was with my dad the night before,” Mickey says.

“Ah,” Ian says and he doesn’t ask what they were doing. “I didn’t know you were still working that closely with him.”

“I don’t. Not a lot. He asks for my help sometimes.”

“Is it safe? Being around him?”

“Being around him isn’t safe for anyone, but as long as I’m not talking about how much I like cock, it’s fine.”

“Must be hard for a cock hound like you.”

Mickey smacks him in the stomach with the back if his hand.

“But, I’m serious,” Ian finally says. “If he-”

“Then I kill him,” Mickey cuts him off. “Believe me, I’ve thought about it. Speaking of dead beat dads, how is yours doing?”

“Frank?” Ian scoffs. “How would I know? Probably dead somewhere, who cares.”

“Uhuh, you’re clearly not hung up on the whole thing.”

Ian pointedly ignores that and takes a sip of his coffee. “So what do we do?” He then asks. “You want to go out for breakfast and then come back and fuck each other silly all day?”

“Yeah,” Mickey says. “But I gotta go pick up a rug at Target first.”

 

On Sunday afternoon Ian has to go freeze his ass off at Carl’s baseball game again. Mickey drops him off at the field, and Ian steps out of the car right where Lip is trembling on a bench.

“Hey,” Lip calls out. Ian is about to open his mouth, when he realizes Lip isn’t talking to him.

“I don’t have anything on me,” Mickey responds through the open passenger’s seat door.

“Wasn’t asking. You not staying for the game?”

“Nah, I got accounting to do,” Mickey says.

“You don’t know how to count,” Lip says. Mickey flips him off and tells Ian to close the door before taking off.

“You two are best friends now?” Ian asks, sitting next to Lip on the frozen wooden bench.

“I can’t help but notice there was no kiss goodbye,” Lip says.

“Why would you notice that? Unless you’re trying to make a move on my boyfriend.”

“Boyfriend, huh?”

“Confirmed it.”

“Even though you ghosted him for a week?”

“What can I say? This dick is just that good.”

“Did you cry until he took you back?”

“How do you know that?”

“I know you,” Lip laughs. “I’m starting to get the vibe that you’re either going to marry the guy, or this is going to end in a murder-suicide.”