Lip shifted his car keys from hand to hand, anxiously glancing between the door and the clock. If she didn’t show up soon, he’d have to just leave; he had to get Freddie and Kim from school soon. Lip knew Liam would do it if he asked, but he was pretty sure he was supposed to hang out with his boyfriend after school. Besides, he’d asked him to do it last week, and he didn’t want to bother him too often; Liam deserved to have the childhood he’d never had, and Lip was determined to be the one to give it to him.
As Lip sat there, he reflected on the past six years.
After he’d sold the house, him and Tami had taken Liam and Fred and moved into an apartment on the Northern side of Chicago. It was cramped, as it only had two bedrooms, but they managed. As it turned out, Tami was indeed pregnant. Lip himself was ecstatic, but Tami was a different story. She wanted to get an abortion, but she was too far along to terminate. So she went through with it, and they welcomed Kimberly Grace Gallagher into the world; Kimberly after Tami’s late mother, and Grace because it was Fiona’s middle name.
After Kim was born, things in the apartment were tense. Tami very obviously wasn’t happy with how her life was going, and she was taking it out on Lip and the kids. Add the fact that the apartment was very small, and it was like walking on eggshells. Lip knew that things had been bad, but he never expected Tami to actually do anything. Maybe the two of them weren’t working out, but Tami loved Freddie and Kim. At least Lip thought she did.
Lip had woken up one morning to all of Tami’s things gone, and a note on the counter that read ‘I can’t do it anymore. I’m sorry.’ Lip had done everything he could to find her, but she had made it impossible. She cut off her phone line, she deleted all her social media, and she didn't tell anyone where she was going. She just vanished. Lip was furious, to say the least. He was never really in love with Tami, but he still depended on her to help with Freddie and Kim, and, hell, even Liam. She had made a commitment to this family, and he was furious at her for leaving his kids.
But Lip learned how to live without her. He had Ian and Mickey, Kev and V, Brad and Cami, and Carl to help. The most surprising form of help, however, came in the form of Svetlana Fisher. She had moved back in with Kev and V after her old guy had croaked, and she started working at a diner across the street from his mechanic shop and quickly worked her way up to owning it.
Svet was crazy good with kids, and she offered to help Lip with Freddie and Kim. She babysat often, and didn’t even charge Lip for it. She even let Liam start working at the diner when he turned 14. Lip wasn’t sure how Kev and V forgave Svet, or how their weird throuple worked, but he wasn’t complaining about extra help. Speaking of Kev and V, they had another kid; a boy this time. They named him Reginald, after Veronica’s late father; Reggie for short. He was a few years younger than Kim, and Kev was ecstatic about it. He had always wanted a son, and sure he had Yevgeny, but it wasn’t the same.
Yevgeny lived primarily with Svet, Kev, and V, but he often went to stay at Mickey and Ian’s apartment. Mickey and Ian were coming up on seven years married, and they’d recently had a baby girl through surrogacy. Her name was Taylor Amanda Gallagher-Milkovich, and she was 7 months old. Mickey and Ian weren’t sure how many kids they wanted, but they had decided that Taylor was most definitely not their last one. Lip was honestly so happy for them; they were good parents and they really loved each other too. That was important for a kid's environment growing up. It was something that was sorely lacking in both Ian and Mickey’s childhood’s, that's for sure.
Debbie was definitely the Gallagher sibling that Lip saw and liked the least. After he sold the house, Debbie had taken off to Mexico with some chick. She had left Franny on Lip and Tami’s doorstep in the middle of the night, no note, no explanation, no nothing. Given how many people were already living in the small apartment, and how little money they had as it was, Lip and Tami couldn’t take in Franny. Obviously they would if they had to, but it definitely wasn’t ideal.
Surprisingly, it was Carl who volunteered to take Franny in. After he found out for sure that Tish’s baby wasn’t his, he had rented a nice 3-bedroom apartment, and continued working his way up as a police officer. Kev and V had decided not to move, so he didn’t end up buying The Alibi, but he had a comfortable salary. A few years after he took in Franny, he decided to make it official. They hadn’t heard from Debbie, but to be honest, none of them wanted to; they were sure she was going to become a new Monica to Franny if she ever came back.
So Carl went down to the court, and he had Debbie’s rights as mother terminated. It was a long process, but given that Carl had been taking great care of Franny, it was a sure one. Fiona had even come down to help with everything. Once he had legal custody of Franny, everything seemed to fall into place for the two of them. Franny started going by Hattie, a nickname of her middle name. Carl got promoted to Assistant-Sheriff soon after, and he and Hattie just seemed to really settle down nicely.
During this time, Lip was working on opening his own mechanic shop. He rounded up Brad and a few other mechanic friends, and started working on building his rep. Eventually, his shop was pretty popular, and had a reputation of being cheap and fast. He was making bank pretty quick, so about a year after Tami left, two years after he sold the house, he bought a two story, five bedroom house.
Through the years, Lip dated a few people, but none of them ever quite worked out. He was always too busy thinking about his kids and Liam, and plus he’d never truly gotten over his fear of commitment, and Tami hadn’t exactly helped.
So that brought things to now, sitting in Svetlana’s diner. Lip looked up as the bell chimed, and instantly he made eye contact with the brunette who had just walked in. His breath caught as they stared at each other.
Damn. She looked good.
“Are you just gonna sit there and stare at me, or do I get a hug?” At that, Lip cracked a smile and stood up, making his way toward her; Sierra. He wrapped his arms around her waist as she wrapped her own around his neck. Sierra was the one to pull back, and Lip led her to his booth.
“God, it’s good to see you.” Lip admitted as they sat down across from each other.
“Ditto.” Sierra agreed, smiling at him. “So how’ve you been?”
“Well,” Lip began, sucking in a breath, “I have two kids.” Sierra’s eyes widened.
“No shit. Are you being serious?” She asked.
“Yeah, yeah Freddie and Kim; 7 and 5.” Lip replied.
“Wow. That’s crazy. I know I’m a bit late, but, congratulations.” Sierra said, smiling genuinely at him. Lip smiled back before looking at his hands. “So, who’s uh, who’s the mom?” There was a note of nervousness to Sierra’s voice, and Lip looked up at her, truly looking at her for the first time in almost eight years.
He noticed the way her eyes were no longer drowned with an overwhelming color of sorrow, and how her lips no longer looked as if she bit down on them out of nervousness. Her hair seemed to have a healthy glow, and she seemed to be a normal weight finally, no longer worrying Lip with how she might just float away. The bags under her eyes that seemed to be a permanent staple of her face were no longer there, and overall her demeanor just seemed to indicate that she was healthy.
Lip finally looked back into her eyes. She seemed to be searching his face too, but her eyes snapped back up to meet his. “She’s not in the picture. Didn’t want anything to do with me or the kids.” He finally answered. Before Sierra could hit him with a sympathetic response, Lip asked her about Lucas. She seemed reluctant to just brush past his admission, but luckily she did.
She told her about how Lucas, now 15, had gotten into a really good high school for the arts on the Northside of Chicago, so that was why she was back. She mentioned that the reason she reached out to Lip was that she was hoping he could help her find a temporary job, but that mainly she just wanted to get reacquainted with him. She asked if Fiona was still working on her apartment building, and was disappointed to find out she had moved. Lip told her about Debbie, about Ian and Mickey, and about Carl. He told her about Liam and his kids, but effortlessly avoided talking about Tami. The only people he’d talked about Tami to were Ian and Fiona.
They were wrapping up their conversation as Svetlana came to the table. “I am heading out to get Yevgeny and the girls from school. I will also pick up Kimberly and Fred, but you have to drop by The Alibi on your way home and give this to Kev; he forgot it this morning and he has to pay Wyatt.” She offered, holding out a check book.
“That would be great Svet, thank you.” Lip agreed, taking the book from her.
“Mm, no problem. I will see you at dinner.” Svetlana replied, kissing the top of his head before heading to the door.
“Was that your girlfriend?” Sierra asked him. Lip turned back to her.
“Svet? God no. I love her but more like a sister than anything. Plus, she’s married.” Lip explained. “After my- after Tami left, Svetlana really helped me out. She’s been like a surrogate mom to my kids, along with V.”
“Oh.” Sierra said quietly. She spoke again after a few moments. “So- so just to be clear, you’re not, seeing anyone?” Lip chuckled.
“No, I’m not. Are you?” He inquired. Sierra shook her head decisively.
“No, definitely not.” Lip and Sierra looked at each other for a few, long moments before Lip spoke.
“Hey do you wanna, come to dinner tonight? Me and my siblings and a few friends have dinner here together a few times a week, and it’d be nice if you came. Lucas is obviously welcome too.” Lip offered. Sierra seemed to mull it over in her head.
“Yeah.” She finally answered, “Yeah I’d like that.”
“Great.” Lip smiled.
He wasn’t sure how this would turn out, but Lip was hopeful. After all, you didn’t get many chances to fix your regrets in life, and if there was anything he regretted, it was letting Sierra get away.