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Ian Gallagher And All Of His Mistakes

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It takes Ian two weeks to find the perfect apartment. He had visited five apartments in total, trying to stay under two grand for rent, but they were all either too small (they would definitely not survive living in a studio) or didn’t allow pets or weren’t up high enough for the view that Ian knows Mickey wants.

The first time he steps into the apartment on the thirty second floor of the Lakeshore View building with the building manager, he immediately knows that Mickey is going to love it. The lay out is vaguely similar to their current apartment with the differences being that their current apartment opens directly into the living room rather than in a hallway and that their current apartment is literally half the size. The living room is massive, but the first thing that strikes Ian are the floor to ceiling windows making up the wall furthest from the entrance. All Ian can see through them is blue. A light blue for the sky and a darker blue for the lake. As he comes closer to the windows, the other buildings appear. "Jesus Christ," Ian sighs. "So that's why people pay so much to live up here, huh." It’s almost twice as expensive as the other apartments Ian visited and he really only wanted to check this one out to see if it is really that much better than the others. It is. a lot better.

"Well," the lady who introduced herself as Eleanor The Building Manager starts, "the view has a lot to do with it, but people also enjoy the amenities. It's nice to have a gym in the building and the pool is also very popular in the summer months. Not to mention all the appliances are new. It has a modern luxury bathroom and washroom.”

"That's nice for me, but Mickey's not going to give a shit about that," Ian says. "Do the bedrooms have windows like this?"

"I'll show you," she responds with a little smile.

And well. Not only does the bedroom have the floor to ceiling windows, but it has a large glass sliding door that opens up to a balcony that's larger than the back deck they have at the house.

"One bedroom?" Ian asks.

 

"This is a one bedroom, yes. We have a two-bedroom option, but that option does not have a balcony and the living room is also a bit smaller. The living room in this apartment has a pretty large dining area which would make a very nice nook for a dog," she assures him. "If you want to see the two-bedroom option, we can walk that way after this."

"I think the balcony is kind of a nice," Ian says. "Something my boyfriend would definitely enjoy, you know? I don't know if we need another bedroom, just figured it could be nice to not have friends and family sleep on the couch when they come over. But I really like this," Ian says, stepping back into the living room. What's not to like? The kitchen is spacious and it has enough cabinets that they won't have to store anything in any weird places. It seems to have an oven that doesn't look like it could explode at any moment. Ian has started to enjoy cooking some more since Mickey is home most evenings again. The whole apartment is flooded with light from the windows and Ian can only imagine what it would look like at night.

"You can take time and discuss it with your partner," Eleanor says lightly. "I think this is a great inbetween space, you know? We often get couples who are in search of a nice place, but aren't quite ready to buy a house.”

“It’s perfect, honestly,”  Ian sighs. “It’s just… a lot. The rent, that is. I’d have to talk to my boyfriend before deciding.” 

“Of course. Would you like to make an appointment for him to come see it for himself?”

 

Mickey has been back home most evenings for the last two weeks. He now works from home a lot, which is truly a bizarre sight that Ian still has to get used to. Mickey used to work from home a lot when he still sold on the street. Counting money, making joins, weighing things. That never seemed strange to Ian. Now, Mickey is typing emails and asking Ian how to spell things. He is making Excel sheets using actual equations and shit.

Is Ian ever going to get used to seeing those tatted hands typing on a three thousand dollar MacBook? Probably not. Is Ian going to yell at him every time Mickey uses the laptop as a coaster for his coffee mugs and beer bottles? Yes, and it happens a lot.

Anyway. “Are you free Friday night?” Ian asks him, a couple of days after his meeting with the building manager. Mickey just put the laptop away and is now occupying his hands by scratching Misha behind the ears. Ian has been working on dinner for the last thirty minutes, so she hasn’t really been getting much attention since they got home.

“What’s Friday?” Mickey asks absently. “Are you taking me on a date?” 

“Ah, not really. We should probably do that, too.” 

“Then what do I need to be free for?” 

“It’s a surprise.”

“Did you finally find an apartment?” Mickey asks, craning his neck to look at Ian in the kitchen.

“How did you know?”  Ian laughs, knowing full well he’s done a shit job of hiding it.

“Maybe because every time I look at you, you’re on fucking Zillow,” Mickey snorts. “You could literally be a real estate agent now, that’s how much time you spend on that site.”

“How do I find the perfect apartment for us, if I don’t see literally every home in all of Chicago? I also found the house we’re going to buy in five years. It costs two million dollars and has already been sold, but you’ll figure something out.”

“Great, so that’s the plan for in five years. What about Friday?”

“I want to see if you like it. The lady said she’d need an answer by Saturday afternoon,”  Ian explains, as he starts scooping the spicy garlic chicken and rice soup into bowls. “Can you fix Misha’s dog bowl?”

Mickey pushes himself off the couch and Misha follows him without a second of hesitation. “If you liked the place, you can tell her we’ll take it,”  Mickey says, snatching the bag of dog food off the top of the cupboard.

“It’s an expensive place, Mick. You might not think it’s worth it,” Ian says, drizzling a little bit of garlic chili oil over the top of their bowls.

“But you do and you’re the cheapest bitch I know,” Mickey says. “What’s the rent?” 

“Twenty five hundred,” Ian says. “So only about five times the rent you pay here.”

“This place barely has running water. Do I have to bring anything? Bank statements or whatever? Misha, sit down for a second.”

Misha sits down, eyes very intent on the bag of dog food in Mickey’s hand as he pours it into her bowl.

“She gave me a list of what type of paperwork she’ll need if we decide to take it.” 

Mickey scratches Misha under her chin as a sign for her to dig in. “Should I bring it on Friday?”

“I guess, if you think you might sign the lease on the spot,” Ian says, vaguely feeling butterflies in his stomach at the thought of them actually moving into a place like that. It still seems too surreal.

“Maybe we will,” Mickey shrugs. “Can I finally eat that? It smells so fucking good.” 

“Yeah, wash your hands.”

Mickey growls at him, but washes his hands.

“There is one more thing,” Ian says. “Before we get too excited about anything. It’s a really fancy place and there is no fucking way that they don’t do a background check.”

Mickey dries his hands on the hem of Ian’s t-shirt. “That’s what we get for being dirty criminals. Can we eat now?”

“You’re worse than Misha, you know that?” Ian snorts.

 

It’s what they get for being dirty criminals, sure, but it still makes Ian a little bit nervous. He went from not really wanting to move at all to wanting the best possible apartment for Mickey and Misha to be happy in. The living room is big enough for Misha to roam around in. It’s not a yard, no matter how you look at it, but this is probably the best they can do for now for all three of them.

 

They get to the apartment at seven on Friday evening, and Ian was right to think that the view is just as breathtaking as it is in the day time. He can immediately see that Mickey is impressed by it, and that only adds to Ian’s nervousness. If Mickey loves it and they don’t get it because of the background check, Ian might have to fight Eleanor.

Misha roams around the empty floor and Mickey follows Eleanor around for the tour. Ian stays behind in the kitchen. Mickey had handed him a small stack of papers in the car, telling him it’s all they asked for on the list. Ian shuffles through the papers; copies of their driver’s licenses, proof of insurance for both cars, contact information for their previous tenant. And the bank statement.

I’m hesitates. The paper is folded over and all Ian can really see at first glance is the bank logo at the top of the page, printed on the other side. If he folds it open and turns it around, he’ll see exactly how much money Mickey has in his bank account. For some reason, Ian feels weird about finding out this way, though curiosity is clawing at him.

Without unfolding the paper or turning it over, Ian slides the page back in between all the other paperwork.  Mickey and Eleanor join him in the kitchen a couple of minutes later. “The bedroom has it’s own air-conditioning system,” Mickey says.  “Isn’t that your dream?”

“It’s pretty nice,” Ian says, stacking the papers up neatly. “I think Misha likes the view.”

“It’s not a bad view,” Mickey says.

“You can see the lake in the daytime,” Ian tells him.

“Huh,” Mickey hums, sauntering over to Misha who is still looking out the window.

“Hey,” Ian says, turning to Eleanor. “If we decide to take the place, what are all the next steps?” 

“Well, we request your paperwork and we run your social security through our background and credit checker. If everything goes well, you’ll get confirmation by Monday afternoon. Then we sign the lease and you could start moving in by Tuesday,”  she says cheerfully. “We have two other couples who are interested in the apartment. If all three of your decide to go for it, it’s first come first serve. You’re second on the list.” 

“Right, right. And how serious are these background checks?” Ian asks softly, hoping Mickey doesn’t hear him.

Eleanor blinks up at him and then taps her nails on the counter. “Pretty serious,” she then sighs in a hushed tone, eyes fluttering towards Mickey. “I’ll just be honest; we don’t rent to people who have felonies on their records. It’s really nothing personal.” 

Ian kind of hates that she immediately assumes that Mickey is problem, but then again, Ian’s horrible tattoos aren’t visible. Mickey turns around at that moment and saunters towards them, looking around the place. “But there are options, right?” He asks.

“Excuse me?” 

“We can pay six months up front on a one year lease,” Mickey says. “Isn’t that what those kids of Russian oil tycoons do?”

“That’s fifteen thousand dollars,” Ian says, stupidly.

“Well, yes, that is an option,” Eleanor then says, seemingly unfazed by the proposal. “If that’s what your offering, I can take it into consideration.”

“Can you give us a minute?” Ian asks, and shoves Ian towards the bedroom. The door to the balcony is open and Mickey steps though it. Ian had only looked at it from the inside, and now that he is standing there, he realizes it’s bigger than he thought it would be.

Mickey gets a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and holds it up for Ian to slip one out. Mickey lights them with his silver lighter.

“So,” Mickey says after taking his first drag.

“We can keep looking,” Ian says. “Who wants to live with these assholes, anyway?”

“Why are you always so surprised to find out I have money?” Mickey muses.

“Because you look so poor,” Ian says. “How did it happen? Last time I checked you said you had two hundred grand and I thought you said you invested all of it into switching the business over. How did you make so much of it back in four months?” 

“By working very hard,” Mickey shrugs.

“I work very hard too, but I don’t have twenty grand to blow in one go,” Ian snorts.

“Yeah, and that’s why I sell drugs to dispensaries all over Illinois. Apparently that’s worth more than saving lives or whatever it is you do all day,” Mickey says.

Misha shows up in the entrance of the balcony and lies down. “How much money do you have that’s yours, right now?” Ian finally asks.

Mickey snatches the stack of papers out of Ian’s hand and unfolds the bank statement. He hands it back and says: “That’s the business account. I have four employees who have to be payed, there’s rent and utilities for the warehouse and all that shit. But it’s taxed and all. So let’s say half of this.”

Ian stares at the number that is close to half a million dollars. “How?” 

Mickey rolls his eyes at him again, hard. “Weed costs money. I have weed. People pay me money for it.” 

“So?” Ian asks. “You could technically buy a house.” 

“Yeah, some piece of shit house,”  Mickey says. “I’d rather budget now and buy you that two million dollar house you want in a couple of years.”

“You know I was kidding about that,”  Ian says.

“I wasn’t,” Mickey shrugs. “This is a nice place for now.” 

“Yeah, it is,”  Ian agrees. “Are we taking it?”

“Sure, why the fuck not. You like it, I like it. She seems to like it,” Mickey says, nodding towards Misha at their feet. “And we got the money.”

"Apparently we do," Ian says around a sigh as he revels in the view. “They still have to decide if they want two criminals living amongst them.” 

“You know, people really don’t give a shit once they’ve got cash in their pockets,”  Mickey tells him.

“I hope so. I really like it,” Ian admits.

“You better, because we’re not going on vacation anytime soon if they give us this apartment,”  Mickey says. “We gotta buy a bunch of new shit for this place, too. I don't think that what we have is going to fill up even half of it. Probably need a new couch, too."

"Why? It hasn't even been two years since we got our couch," Ian says.

"There are literally a thousand cum stains on that couch at this point," Mickey says. "I don't know about you, but I'm not going to clean those out. Besides, that was like a six hundred dollar couch from Target. If we're going to have people staying over, getting a nice couch they can sleep on is the least we can do. At least for Liam. Don't really give a shit about anyone else."

"Will you at least let me buy that stuff?"

"No, you're going to go for cheap shit."

"I'm not that broke. I don't pay any bills other than my medical bill, car insurance and our food. I have a pretty good salary. I have money left over."

“And you should save it. We don't know if you're going to get the grant money for school again next year," Mickey says.

"I hadn't thought about that," Ian admits. "That's a very good point. Do I get to pick some stuff out at least?”

“I’ll think about it,”  Mickey smirks and flicks his cigarette bud off the balcony.

 

For the first two week, they don’t unpack anything. For those two weeks, the only functioning piece of furniture in the new apartment is their bed. It is nostalgic and kind of fun, to come home after a long day of work and to just order in food and get into bed with their iPad for the night. Misha sleeps at their feet, since her couch didn’t make the move.

After that first week, Ian finally gets a few days off for Thanksgiving. He convinces Carl to here him unpack on Wednesday, with the promise that he can have anything out of Ian’s closet (as long as Ian doesn’t want it anymore).

As they unpack the living room, Ian quickly realizes that they really don’t have that much stuff. The living room in their last apartment had a couch, a coffee table and a tv stand in it, and it had felt like there wasn’t space for anything else. The kitchen had a small round dining table with four chairs in it, and they could barely walk around it.

Now, they can put all their furniture in a heap and still have three quarters of the apartment left.

Mickey put in the order for a new couch the week before they moved, and they still have another week left before it gets delivered. So until then, their living room is just going to keep looking like a weird, empty space with a great view.

But Ian is obsessed with their bedroom.

It’s just their bed, night stands and the rug that used to be in their living room that is now way too small for the new living room. For two weeks, they fished their clothes out of suitcases, because they  were too lazy to unpack all of it and put it in their spacious walk in closet. They don’t have clothing hangers, is the thing. In their old apartment they’d had a dresser that they’d just shove clothes in and only wear the things that weren’t wrinkled beyond salvage with a good stretching.

But their bedroom is kind of perfect. One of the first things they bought for the new apartment were curtains, something Ian had no fucking clue could be so fucking expensive. The windows are so big that they had to have them custom made, and  Mickey ordered them in a light grey, just like the color in their bedroom walls - Ian is currently still teasing him for having actual taste.

So the bedroom is as good as done, though Mickey did say something about putting some chairs out on the balcony at some point. It's been freezing cold for the last couple of weeks and that high up, it's almost unbearable to be out there for more than five minutes at a time. Mickey mentioned having some heat lamps left over at the warehouse, so Ian is pretty excited about that, too.

After the living room is unpacked, Ian takes Carl with him on a Target run. He goes there for clothing hangers and cleaning supplies, but somehow leaves the store with a receipt for three hundred dollars worth of shit. Who fucking knew trash cans were so fucking expensive? And Ian hasn’t touched an actual printed out picture in years, but he sure as hell bought five picture frames for some reason.

Well, he knows the reason. The reason is that it still kind of feels like they shouldn’t be living there. It feels like a hotel suite that they’re squatting in, rather than their actual home for the next few years. It feels too big, too empty and they’ve been holed up in their bedroom for the last two weeks because of it.

By the time Ian and Carl return to the apartment, the dryer is done with its cycle and Misha is asleep in front of it. They’ve been trying to leave her alone for a couple of hours at a time, just to see how she does, and as it turns out she’s been doing pretty great without them. Ian has been starting to realize more and more how truly insane it is that someone just abandoned this beautiful animal to the extent that she was about to be put down.

Ian instructs Carl to put together everything that needs putting together and to put away all the cleaning supplies, while Ian unloads the dryer and puts a second load in there. It is immediately very clear to him that he bought nowhere near enough clothing hangers. When did they gather so much clothes, anyway? When he moved in with Mickey the first time, he literally brought one duffel bag with him and Mickey had half a trash bag full of clothes at the time.

“How much of this is going to be mine?” Carl asks, when Ian dumps all the currently clean clothes on his bed.

“None of it, if you don't build that book case and unpack the kitchen and put everything where it needs to be. And you better put everything in the dishwasher first, too."

“Jesus, if you're rich enough to live here, you should be rich enough to hire people to unpack your shit," Carl complains.

"I'm hiring you, aren't I?" Ian shoots back. "When you're finished, you can pick whatever you want as long as it doesn't fit me anymore and Mickey doesn't wear it. I'll make a pile for you."

"It better not all be cheap shit," Carl complains once again and leaves the bedroom.

 

By the time Mickey comes home, Ian has convinced Carl to mop the floor and clean the kitchen, too, in exchange for a whole Nike tracksuit that Ian didn't initially want to part with. All the boxes are gone, their closet is organized and there is finally food in their fridge and pantries. They can start eating off real plates and with real forks again.

"Come on," Mickey says once he's done greeting Misha at the door and finally saunters over to where Ian is cooking a late dinner in the kitchen. "Haven't you been running around all day? You didn't want to order something in?"

“Excuse me, I thought you liked my cooking," Ian says.

"Yeah, sure, but who the hell wants to cook after you've been unpacking all day?" Mickey asks.

"You hate cooking whether you've been unpacking all day or not. For some of us, it's actually very relaxing."

"Hm. Did you take a shower already?" Mickey asks, reaching a hand up to Ian's damp hair. "Thought we would be saving money on water now that the shower is big enough for two."

"After everything was put away and cleaned, I was the nastiest thing in this place," Ian says. "This has a couple of more minutes to go, so why don't you go clean up and look at our fancy new closet," Ian suggest.

"Is it going to look different from the five pictures you sent me of it today?" Mickey snorts, as he makes his way to their bedroom. 

"You want to keep living out of fucking suitcases?" Ian calls after him.

"I literally don't give a shit," Mickey calls back, barely audible.

"The man will spend all that money on rent and then just live in this place like it's a crack den with nice curtains," Ian complains to Misha who has stretched herself out on the floor next to his feet.

 

On Thanksgiving day, Ian wants nothing more than to stay in bed all morning. Not because, because he's depressed or anything like that, but because his muscles have been aching for days now and now that he is actually free, and all they can do is wait for their new furniture to be delivered, Ian is not exactly in the mood for a party. He's not in the mood to be in a crowded room, he's not in the mood for a Frank appearance and he's not in the mood for Turkey, if he's honest. The only thing that gets him to begrudgingly put on pants that morning and get ready for the day is the fact that he hasn't seen Fiona's baby in a while.

They arrive around noon and Ian fully intends to play with Finn for about an hour or so and then come up with an excuse for why they should leave, but Liam seems to be having a really good time playing with Misha and Finn doesn't wake up until an hour after they even get there. Before they know it, it's nine p.m and Ian actually has to get home because he didn't bring any meds with him. 

 

 

When Ian and Mickey get home, they spend the rest of the evening arguing about what five pictures of their vacation in Mexico they want to print out and frame.

 

"Are you on that website again? Mickey, we can not order more shit from Restoration Hardware. Is that really how you want to go bankrupt?" Ian asks, when he leans over the table between them to tap the ash off his cigarette. It’s Sunday night and they got their balcony lounge set just that morning. Lip installed the heater for them yesterday, but Ian still had to go back inside to put his coat on after sitting out there for five minutes. He also brought a blanket with him and draped it over Mickey’s legs. “Is this going to be a habit of yours? You getting high and ordering way too expensive furniture?”

"Shut up, you broke bitch. Just tell me which one of these rugs you like better,” Mickey says, turning the screen towards Ian.

Ian recoils at the prices listed under then. "Why can't we just get one like we have in the bedroom, from Target?"

"Because we live in the goddamn sky now, asshole."

"Misha is going to be drooling on it either way. And you're even worse. You're going to drag your shoes all over it and before we know it -"

"Dark blue or grey," Mickey yells over him. "That's all I fucking asked you."

"Fine. The blue one."

"If I hear one more complaint out of you about how expensive this shit is, I'm not letting you step on it. Not letting you sit on the couch or touch the curtains or put your feet on the goddamn coffee table."

"You know this is the gayest thing about you, right? You being a whole ass interior decorator?"

"Do you think I haven't noticed you googling fucking house plants all week?"

"I do like house plants, but I'm afraid Misha will start eating them when she's home alone," Ian sighs.

"Then train her not to. Or hang them up.”   

"You're such a visionary, Mick. Do you think that in another life, you’d be an interior designer?” 

“Oh, I think I’m unemployable in every life I could ever have. You’re very lucky to have found me in a life in which I actually have money. Could have been real fucking different.”

“If I ever become a doctor, you can quit and decorate shit all day,” Ian offers, curling an arm around Mickey’s shoulder and presses a loud kiss to his temple.

“No offense, but doctors are nowhere near rich enough for where I’m trying to be in five years.” 

“Where’s that?” 

“On a fucking yacht or something.”

“Am I invited on this yacht?”

“I don’t know, are you going to let me get this rug?”

“I just don’t understand how you’re going to spend all this money on this rug - not to fucking mention the couch - and save money for a yacht.”

“You know that when you’re working, you can spend money and then the next month you make more money and then you get to spend that money too.”

“Thanks for the lesson on economics. Since you’re such a baller, do you think you’re ever going to buy something for yourself that I don’t also use, probably even more than you do? Like a jacket, maybe?”

“What’s this obsession with my body temperature, huh?”

“I don’t want you to get sick and die, is all.”

“Oh, is that all?” Mickey chuckles. He stands up, grabs the blanket and drapes it around his shoulders before pushing Ian’s arms out of his lap and getting onto his lap.

“Oh,” Ian says. “I don't want to be presumptuous, but I don't think I can get hard when it's this cold."

"You got pretty hard when we used to bang in my car," Mickey retorts. "Suddenly you're too fancy for some outside fucking?"

"Hey, I like outside fucking as much as the next guy-"

"More, I think."

"-but I prefer it on a warm day, maybe on a beach in Mexico," Ian finishes.

"I got a pretty warm mouth," Mickey then says, and, well.

 

Getting into med school was a lot harder than being in med school, Ian finds out over the course of the next couple of months. It's not hard, at least not for him. It's just a lot to be in school, still working and only having one full day off a week. He tries to stay productive and at the same time he tries to heed the warnings of Dr. Jackson and of the voice in his head that tells him that he won't know that he's overwhelmed until he's overwhelmed and by that time it's too late.

So he gets into the rhythm to prevent all of that, according to doctor's advice. He works and he goes to school, he only studies on Mondays and Tuesdays except for his exams and he makes time for the gym and he makes time to cook, because those are two things he actually enjoys doing. He likes spending his evenings in their new kitchen. The space he has now seems to have cleared his head some more, and he is able to play around with recipes and experiment with things that are secretly healthy that Mickey will like. He is also very much getting into taking care of plants, which Lip insists is the new gayest thing about him, but Mickey seems to appreciate Ian's new hobby a little more. And Ian shouldn't be surprised, should he? He shouldn't be surprised that Mickey knows a lot about soil and that he knows about all different types of plant food and how to care for plants in a real and proper way.

Mickey does all of it for a living and he's been doing it for years, but Ian hadn't put two and two together to realize that Mickey's knowledge of growing cannabis extends to different types of plants as well. Ian finds himself actually enjoying the fact that he learns something new about his boyfriend after all this time together. He remembers being annoyed and upset at these types of revelations when they first starting seriously dating. Along the way Ian has learned to appreciate the fact that this gremlin of a man is going to keep surprising him for as long as they live.

Ian also starts getting invited to parties again, which literally hasn't happened since before he went to prison. He goes to a couple to indulge his classmates who are nice enough, and then decides that he would much rather be at home with his dog and his boyfriend or spend an evening with Fiona and the rest at the house.

"Christmas party?" Mickey snorts when Ian tells him about the class text chain he's been put on for some reason. "How old are these people, anyway?"

"Our age. It does sound kind of juvenile, huh?"

"I was going to say it sounds like something a middle aged couple would organize," Mickey says. "So? Are you going?"

"Fuck no," Ian says without missing a beat. Ian has just put his books away, dimmed the lights and curled up next to Mickey on the couch. Misha is dozing off on Mickey’s other side with her head in Mickey’s lap, the tv is buzzing with Love on the Spectrum on it and Ian has been trying to balance his tea in a way that won't spill on his boyfriend or his dog or his phone. "I have two more finals and after that I don't want to see or think about anything or anyone that has to do with school for three weeks. All they do is get wasted and say dumb shit at those parties anyway. I've done enough of that to last me a fucking lifetime."

"You literally sound like someone's grandfather," Mickey says.

"That's what happens when you start going to night clubs and doing drugs when you're fifteen. By the time you're twenty five that shit's real boring," Ian snorts. "But you think I'm boring now, huh?"

"You and me both," Mickey then shrugs. "Haven't been in a fist fight with anyone in like six months. That can't be normal."

"That's actually very normal. You know there are people out there who go their entire life without getting into a fist fight. You better not go out there and start getting into trouble on purpose."

"I don't think I've ever gone a whole year without getting stabbed or breaking something," Mickey continuous, ignoring Ian's comment. "I don't even fight with you anymore."

"We fought literally fifteen minutes ago," Ian reminds him.

"No, we didn't."

"You yelled at me."

"You were chewing on that pencil so loud, you’re lucky to be alive, honestly”

"It's abuse."

"Then call the cops."

Ian snorts at that. "You are the only person I know who is practically rich now, and who has the fucking nerve to miss prison."

"Say what you will about prison, but at least the people there were interesting."

"Oh, so I'm not interesting enough for you anymore, huh? You want me to start stealing some babies and talking to god again? Just to spice things up?"

Mickey rolls his eyes at him hard. "It's not about you. These people at work - the clients - they're just so..."

"Professional?"

"I didn't know people were really like that."

"Like what?"

"I had a meeting with some guys in suits today."

"A meeting in person?"

"Yeah, they were like fifty."

"And they were wearing suits? Where was this meeting?" Ian asks, interest piquing.

"At some fancy restaurant."

"Who's were they?"

"They own like fifteen dispensaries in Illinois and another ten in Michigan. I already supply  a couple of them, but I only talked directly to the managers before. Now the owners wanted to meet in person to talk about a deal."

"This is making me sweat already. What were you wearing?"

"What I wear every day."

"Did it make you feel self conscious? You want to go out and buy some cute little suits?"

"Fuck no. All I thought the whole time was how there is no chance that I'm ever going to be like them."

"Why would you want to be like them? You've done pretty damn good just doing you," Ian reminds him.

"Maybe doing me isn't going to buy us a yacht," Mickey says.

"Fuck the yacht, then. Mick, you're literally the most successful person I know. The doctors at the hospital I work at look real fucking jealous when I ride up in the Audi. They'd kill to be as free as you are and have half the money you have."

"So your advice is to just be myself?" Mickey snorts. "Let million dollar deals slide, and just be a free spirit?"

Ian stares at him for a few seconds. "A million dollars?"

"More or less."

"Someone is going to give you a million dollars?"

"Don't think so."

"Why not? Because you weren't wearing a goddamn suit?"

"Would you trust me with a million dollars if you saw me roll up to a meeting?"

"No, of course not, but I don't know anything about business," Ian says. "These people should be able to recognize how hard you work and how smart you are with this stuff."

"When it comes to this type of money, people don't tend to give anyone the benefit of the doubt," Mickey explains. "No one wants there to be a possibility that you can run off with their money at some point and never deliver a product. Or even the possibility that I might end up in jail again for whatever reason."

"Jesus Christ. I don't even know what to say. So that's it? You think the meeting didn't go well?"

"I don't know. I just know they definitely expected someone else to show up," Mickey sighs, dragging a hand over his face.

"Maybe you'll win some points if you tell them you're gay. Make you a little softer in their eyes," Ian tries for humor. "You know they're the assholes for judging you like that, right?"

"I don't know if they are. I'm a criminal. I give off that vibe. If they don't want to be in business with someone like that, they have a right to tell me to fuck off, don't they?"

"Yeah, but you've clearly worked your ass off for the last few months. And they don't know about the years you spent in a fucking basement working just as hard. Ugh, you got me very worked up," Ian says, taking a sip of his tea.

"Do you think I should get rid of these?" Mickey then asks, grazing the fingers of his right  hand over the FUCK tattoo'd on the knuckles of his left hand.

"No," Ian says without missing a beat, with plenty of outrage in his voice. "Absolutely not."

“Not even for a million dollars?”

“Is that one of the stipulations they made? You get your tattoos removed and they give you a million dollars?” Ian rolls his eyes.

“There was no real deal on the table yet. Just talks about possibilities or whatever,” Mickey continues. “Don’t think they’re going to come back.” 

“Fuck ‘em. You just got started, Mick. There’ll be other offers.” 

“And if there aren’t?” 

“Then we go broke and move back to a shitty apartment without windows. It wasn’t so bad,” Ian shrugs.

“I like the windows.”

“When I’m a doctor, I’ll get the windows back,” Ian promises.

“Alright, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I’m not actually going out of business just yet,”  Mickey then sighs. “I’ve needed to take a piss for like an hour now, but this stupid dog of yours fell asleep on me.”

“She’s been running around a lot, today,”  Ian says. He hoists himself up and puts his mug on the coffee table. He moves to Mickey’s other side and slides his arms in between Mickey’s thighs and Misha’s massive head. Mickey slides out from under her smoothly and Ian takes his place, without her even twitching her ears.

 

Ian has another day to study before his last exams on Monday. He’s pretty much done already, and he fully plans on the only actual activity of the day being that he takes Misha for a nice long walk. He tries to convince Mickey to stay home with him, but unsurprisingly fails, because Ian is supposed to be studying and Mickey still has a lot of work to do before the holidays.

But Lip doesn’t, so he shows up around noon. Ian refuses to let Lip quiz him, and instead they order in lunch and argue about what Christmas is supposed to look like this year. They didn’t get a Christmas tree this year, even though the tree they got last year would probably look great near the window. Ian hadn’t really stopped to think about it until a couple of days ago and Mickey never brought it up.

But the tree is the least of Ian’s worries at the moment. The conversation Ian had with Mickey the night before has been running through his head all morning. It doesn’t sit well with Ian that Mickey had felt so bad about the meeting. They hadn’t delved very deep at all, but for those couple of minutes Ian knew Mickey felt defeated and Ian had of course failed to make him feel any better.  And on top of that, Ian doesn’t have a gift for him yet. Not for Christmas and not for his birthday.

“You think he got you anything?” Lip asks. He has been playing tug of war with Misha for the last ten minutes and is starting to get out of breath.

“You mean other than everything you see around you?” Ian says. They just finished lunch and Ian is in the kitchen making Lip a cup of coffee and a mug of tea for himself.

“Why don’t you just get him a ring already?” Lip suggests. “Bet he’d like that.”

“Oh, fuck off,”  Ian snorts. “We aren’t getting married until I’ve graduated, at least.”

“You guys talked about that?” Lip asks.

“Sort of. Last year we said in five years. Four years left to go.”

“And you’re counting down the days?” Lip chuckles. He replaces the rope toy in Misha’s mouth with on of her other chew toys and saunters over to the kitchen island, taking a seat on the stool across from Ian.

“Look, if it was up to me, we’d be married tomorrow, but I need to give him at least five years to fully understand how crazy I am and then he can decide for himself,” Ian explains.

“You’ve been pretty sane these days,”  Lip notes.

“Relatively, you mean.”

“Are you still going to therapy?” 

“Of course.”

“What about the two of you? You two still getting along?” Lip then asks, and Ian has to look up at that.

“What do you mean?” He asks.

“I mean you guys got a lot going on. New apartment, new dog, new job, new school. It’s a lot,” Lip says.

“It is a lot, and one of the reasons I’m not losing my mind is because he’s with me every step of the way. He makes all those things easier, not harder,” Ian explains. He wants to ask Lip then, what he knows about the meeting Mickey had the other day. Ian knows that he’s not supposed to tell Lip that Mickey clearly felt self conscious about the meeting, so he’s not sure how to bring it up. Maybe it’s better not to bring it up at all, right? What’s the point? How is Lip going to help him? He should probably just keep his mouth shut about it and ask Dr. Jackson tomorrow.

“So,” Lip finally says. “No gift ideas?”

“Well, I have an idea,” Ian admits and slides the cup off coffee over the counter towards his brother. “But I’m not sure if it’s too crazy or not.”

“I’ll be the judge of that,” Lip says. “What is it?” And then when Ian tells him his idea with burning cheeks, Lip says: “For sure. You should definitely do that. Sleep on it, you know, but if you still want to do it tomorrow, why not?”

“What if he hates it? What if it’s chocolates on Valentines day times ten?”

Lip laughs at that. “You’ve come a long fucking way since then, wouldn’t you say?”

 

Ian’s exams on Monday morning go pretty well, and in his therapy session afterwards he mostly talks about Mickey and his job. The only advice Dr. Jackson has for him is that he needs to be unconditionally supportive and not to try to fix problems that Ian knows nothing about.

Ian also tells her about his idea for a Christmas gift for Mickey, if you can even call it that. And just like Lip, she laughs first and then shrugs and says: “If you think it’s a good idea, why not?”

“Because the last couple of times I did something like this, I was manic,” Ian admits.

“You’re not right now.”

“I’ve just always regretted it afterwards.”

“Do you think you’ll regret it this time?” 

“No, I don’t think so. But you never know if you’re going to regret something beforehand, do you?”

“Usually when you make a decision with a clear mind, your judgement is good. Sure, you might still regret it in the long run, but your chances of making a good decision are much better now.”

“He still might hate it.”

“Do you think he will?” 

“No, I don’t think he will. But if he does… it’ll be bad. For me.” 

“You know, you can always discuss this with him first. Maybe he’d like to go with you,”  Dr. Jackson suggests.

“That’s not how surprises work, is it?”

“If you’re feeling anxious about this yourself, then maybe it doesn’t need to be a surprise. Maybe it’s just an intimate moment between the two of you.” 

“That is way scarier than just doing it.” 

“You still have a couple of days to think about it,”  Dr. Jackson says with a smile. “Don’t put too much pressure on it. Things like this are supposed to be fun, remember that.”

Ian holds on to that and when he gets back into his car, the first thing he does is make an appointment at the tattoo parlor for the end of that week.