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Mickey Milkovich took a deep drag on his cigarette as he kept his eyes focused on the Kash and Grab convenience store across the street. He and his brothers, Iggy and Colin, had been staking the place out for nearly two hours, waiting for the perfect opportunity to pounce. Their father had ordered the brothers to do the job, and there was no other way around it but to get it done. If their father wanted something to happen, they made it happen—no questions asked—or they risked facing their father's unrelenting wrath.

He didn't know much about Ian Gallagher. All he knew was that the kid was sixteen (with freckles and stupid red hair), and Ian's dad, Frank Gallagher, owed his dad, Terry Milkovich, a whole lot of money. For months, Frank had skirted around the issue, always finding typical and nonsensical excuses to get out of paying up, and Terry was sick of playing Gallagher's games. It was time to collect.

“Come on, asshole, it's fuckin’ cold out here. I'm freezin’ my nuts off,” Iggy whined from behind him, his breath coming out in puffs in the frigid night air. “Can't we just go in, grab the little shit, and call it a night?”

“Hold your fuckin’ horses,” Mickey snapped. “We can't go in for the kid with towelhead in the way. We gotta do this right. We gotta wait for the kid to leave, so we can catch him from behind when he's alone.”

“Why can't we go in, knock towelhead the fuck out, then snatch the little fucker?” Iggy groused. “It could be hours before he leaves!”

“Security cameras, fuckhead! We can't risk it,” Mickey exclaimed. “Just calm down and chill, alright? You're givin’ me a goddamn headache.”

Iggy sighed in irritation and huddled deeper into his bulky coat. “I don't get this shit, anyway. Why go after the asshole's kid? Why not just go after Frank?”

“Because no one gives a shit about Frank, that's why. We kidnap Frank, no one would bat an eyelash, let alone give us the money,” Mickey snapped. “Quit asking stupid questions!” He sighed and glanced back towards the store. He chewed on his lower lip as he contemplated his next move. “Fuck it, wait here. I'm gonna go inside and scope the shithead out. Plus, I need alcohol in my system to put up with you fuckin’ morons.”

Despite his brothers’ bitter protests, he left his crouched position from behind the garbage cans and swaggered across the street, eager to get inside the warm store to thaw out a little. He flicked his cigarette away, opened the door, and narrowly missed running into an elderly woman on her way out.

“Watch where the fuck you're going!”

The woman—whose kind smile quickly faded—looked away and hurried past him.

After sneering at the woman's retreating form, Mickey entered the small store and glanced around. The place was empty, and no one was behind the counter. He decided to take full advantage of the opportunity and made his way over to the coolers. He shoved a forty-ounce bottle of Old Style inside his coat and a handful of Slim Jims into his pocket. He normally robbed the Get-n-Go over on 89th and State Street. He thought maybe the Kash and Grab could be his new spot. The security was absolute shit.

“You gonna pay for that?”

Mickey spun around and was immediately faced with his target. Sure enough, Ian Gallagher was just as Terry had described… skinny, freckles, stupid red hair. He had expected someone who looked like the character from MAD Magazine or some shit. The kid certainly wasn't that.

“The fuck you gonna do if I say no?” he snapped.

“I'll call the cops,” the kid retorted, crossing his arms over his broad chest.

Mickey scoffed and eyed him up from head to toe, secretly admiring his take-no-shit attitude. He also had a strange feeling he'd met the asshole before, but he couldn't recall where or when.

The kid continued to look Mickey up and down too, his eyes inevitably lingering on his knuckle tattoos. “You're Mickey Milkovich.”

“How the fuck do you know my name?” Mickey shot back, taken completely off guard by the kid.

Ian dropped his arms to his sides and smirked knowingly with a tilt of his head. “We've lived in the same neighborhood our whole lives, Mickey. You're two grades higher than me at school… or were, but didn't you flunk a bunch of times?”

“Fuck you,” Mickey snarled, not liking that the shithead had the upper hand and knew so much about him. The whole kidnapping thing would go a hell of a lot smoother if the kid didn't know who he was.

“We were also on the same little league team when we were kids,” Ian continued with an endearing smirk, his stiff demeanor finally softening. “I remember when you whipped your dick out and pissed on first base. Fuckin’ badass.”

Suddenly, memories of a freckle-faced kid with goofy hair wearing a number ten jersey on second base popped into his head. “Whatever, man,” he scoffed, moving to head towards the door, eager to get away from those piercing green eyes and that cocky smirk. Gallagher had certainly grown up, that was for fucking sure.

“So, you gonna pay for that beer or what?”

“Fuck off,” Mickey snapped as he shoved his way roughly past Ian and out the door. He threw his middle finger up as a parting gift.

“I'll just put it on your tab, asshole!” Ian called out before shaking his head with a resigned sigh and heading back behind the counter.

“Who was that?” Kash asked when he appeared from the back of the store, looking disheveled and in the process of refastening his belt.

“No one important,” Ian murmured as he placed a five-dollar bill in the cash register to cover the stolen beer. “Just some dumb thug.”

Outside, Mickey crossed the street and crouched back down behind the garbage cans. His brothers gave him matching, questioning glares. “The fuck’re you looking at?” he snapped, still bristling from his interaction with the irritating redhead.

“So?” Colin asked. “You gonna tell us what the fuck happened in there?”

“The kid's ugly as shit, that's what happened,” Mickey retorted as he opened his stolen beer and took a long chug to help calm his jittery nerves.

Almost an hour later, Mickey was going out of his mind listening to his brothers’ inane nonsense. They were taking turns telling dirty jokes to pass the time, and he was seconds away from snapping. The situation would be a lot more bearable if they would just shut their mouths. He couldn't even think straight with their constant babbling.

“How d’you know you have a high sperm count?” Iggy asked Colin since Mickey had made it clear he was in no mood to partake in their childish bullshit.

“How?” Colin asked around his cigarette, humoring his brother.

“She has to chew before she swallows,” Iggy finished with a shit-eating grin.

“That's fuckin’ gross,” Mickey snapped, giving Iggy a baleful look.

“Since when are you a prude, bitch?” Iggy sneered. “It was fuckin’ funny!”

“Like fuck it was funny,” Mickey groused, huddling deeper into his coat. “How about you two dipshits shut the fuck up and keep your heads in the game? I'm tired of hearin’ you.” He really fucking hoped Gallagher appeared soon. He didn't know how much more he could take.

Finally, the door to the Kash and Grab opened, and the Milkovich brothers straightened in anticipation, all joking aside. They watched with bated breath as the store owner locked the door, then turned to face the kid. The pair said something incoherent to each other before the man leaned in and kissed his employee tenderly on the mouth.

“The fuck is this shit?” Colin snapped. “They're gay for each other?”

“Fuck, man,” Iggy said. “Isn't towelhead like fuckin’ fifty?”

Mickey sat quietly stewing as he watched Ian and the man kissing. He averted his eyes and swallowed down the bitter lump in his throat, convincing himself it was the blatant display of gay affection that made him sick to his stomach. The only thing that really made him sick was that the man was old enough to be Gallagher's dad. Fucking pedo.

“The kid is leavin’ with towelhead, just fuckin’ great!” Colin hissed, pulling Mickey away from his thoughts as the odd couple headed towards a white van parked at the curb. Mickey and his brothers certainly hadn't seen that coming. “The fuck are we gonna do now?”

Mickey retrieved his gun from the waistband of his pants and turned to look at his brothers, his eyebrows raised to show he meant business. “We gotta do this fast, then.”

Within a matter of seconds, the brothers shot up from their hiding spot, pulled their masks down over their faces, and confronted the kissing couple head-on.

“Get your hands in the air!” Mickey shouted.

Iggy added, “Don't do anything stupid, numbnuts!”

The startled pair shot their arms high in the air, their faces stark-white with shock and fear as they spun around to face their attackers.

“Get down, asshole!” Mickey ordered, kicking Kash hard in the back of the knee, causing the man to collapse to the ground with an agonizing yelp.

“What the fuck! Why did you do that?” Ian exclaimed, his arms still high in the air, even though it was obvious he was resisting the strong urge to bend down and help his boyfriend.

“Shut the fuck up!” Mickey yelled, aiming his gun at Ian as his brothers relentlessly and maliciously kicked the shit out of the older man. He grabbed a distressed-looking Ian roughly under the arm and dragged him away from the brutal display, feeling a strange obligation to spare Ian at least that much. 

“Let's go, fuckheads!” Mickey screamed at his brothers as he looked around the dark, deserted street. He knew the street wouldn't stay deserted for long, so they needed to hurry shit up. As much as he enjoyed watching Kash get the shit beat out of him, they had to go. “We don't got all night!”

Iggy and Colin gave Kash a few rough kicks for good measure, leaving him bloodied, battered, and sputtering on the dirty ground.

Mickey roughly pushed Ian, causing him to stumble and nearly fall before catching himself. “Walk,” he ordered, his gun pressed hard into the small of his back.

“Why are you doin’ this?” Ian asked once they reached the Milkoviches’ beat-up car. “Where are you taking me? What did I do?”

“Just shut up and get in. Stop askin’ questions,” Mickey snapped, opening the door and shoving Ian roughly inside. He got into the backseat with him, while Iggy and Colin hopped in the front, both out of breath and running high on adrenaline.

They all pulled their masks off as the car started. They peeled out on screeching tires, leaving a thick cloud of exhaust fumes behind them.

Mickey laughed wildly and slapped the back of Colin's seat excitedly, his breathing heavy. He glanced over at Ian, seeing the recognition dawning on his face, his eyes questioning and sad.

“Mickey?” Ian asked, his voice small and almost childlike as he realized exactly who his abductors were. “What's goin’ on? Why’re you doin’ this?”

For a split second, Mickey froze and regretted all of it. He then forced himself to toughen the fuck up and dug his gun harder into Ian's side, getting his head back in the game. “What did I just say to you? Shut the fuck up, or I'll shut you up.”

He watched as Ian turned his head to look away, but not before catching the wetness rimming his eyes.

Fuck, he had a feeling the kidnapping wasn't going to be as cut and dry as he'd originally thought.