Mickey was four the first time he recognized his powers. Mandy, just turned two, all tumbly limbs and annoying babble, had tripped and tumbled onto the concrete sidewalk. She was behind him, and he felt it, really. Before anything.
The flash of panic.
Then a thud.
He turned around in time to see his little sister’s face crumple in pain. Their mama crouched down, and that’s when Mickey saw the blood on Mandy’s bare knee and palms. Felt the rush of pain-fear-pain-fear thudding through her. He was at her side in half a breath. Their mama watched, unspeaking, as Mickey took Mandy’s tiny hands in his. The crying slowed to a sniffle. When he took his own tiny hands away, crouched on his heels, the bleeding was stopped. The scrapes were gone. Their mama gasped.
Mickey could feel Mandy’s calm curiosity, and his mama’s slightly more frantic one.
“Mikhailo.” She spoke gently, faint trace of an accent clinging to her words.
It was cool under the shade of a stubborn tree growing next to the road. A car sped past, and then another.
“Mikhailo, her knee.” She gestured towards Mandy’s scraped knee.
Mickey could feel his mama’s heartbeat, birdlike and fluttering. He looked at Mandy. Her eyes were wide, heartbeat steady.
He put his hand over her knee.
This time, he could feel the energy exchange. Warm and tingling. When he took his hand away, her knee was as it had been before she fell. Only marred by a single freckle. She blinked up at him.
“Mama?” He asked again.
“Oh, sweet boy.” She leaned over and cradled Mickey’s head. “You’re a healer.”
He got excited. “Like, that’s my powers!?” He cried out quietly, gleefully.
His brothers all had their powers by now. Mickey could remember the look on his father’s face when the old man had gone to smack Iggy across the face and all of a sudden Iggy was standing on the kitchen counter, wide-eyed and terrified. And having Colin drop off the ceiling where he clung like an annoying lizard was already getting old. Jamie had already gotten in trouble at school for trying to use his x-ray vision to cheat, and Joey was just like Terry. Super strong, and, in Mickey’s opinion, super mean. He knew his mama had a power, but she didn’t like to talk about it.
He looked up at his mama now. She was chewing on her lip. Mandy was digging in a crack of the sidewalk with a twig, surprisingly quiet.
“That’s your power,” Mickey’s mama said finally.
She gathered Mandy on her hip, and took Mickey by the hand. Just before they went inside, she crouched down next to Mickey, setting Mandy on the cracked porch step.
“You’re calm about this, Mikhailo.” She said, staring straight into his eyes. “It’s not a big deal.”
For an odd moment, Mickey felt a strange calm wash over him. “I’m calm about it, Mama. It’s not a big deal.”
Mickey was 7 the first time Terry saw him use his powers. Mandy was sitting next to him, her newly shifted platinum blonde hair too bright in the dusty sunlight. Mickey wanted to tell her to shift it back, but he couldn’t find the words to explain why he didn’t like it. They were licking stolen bomb pops, when Colin, who had been practicing “Bein’ like a chameleon, stupid,” on the rickety roof of their porch, took a wrong step.
Mickey had felt him up there, see. Felt his excitement bordering on fear. But he wasn’t sure how that had anything to do with healing powers, so he just didn’t say anything. But it meant he felt Colin’s wrong step when it happened, felt the moment he came careening over the edge on a broken tile, felt his screaming pain before his mouth opened.
Colin was glitching like their TV did sometimes (usually when Jamie was messing with the metal bunny ears) and started screaming.
Mickey dropped his bomb pop. It splattered on the stair. In her shock, Mandy’s hair turned black again. Mickey rushed to Colin’s side. Suddenly, Iggy was standing next to him. Mickey took in his older brother’s bloody face, his arm stuck out at a sick angle. Arm first. Gently, he took Colin’s arm in his hands. The world narrowed to that connection. He could feel the bones mending beneath his shaking hands, feel them popping back into place. It worked!
Then the screen door slammed open. “What the FUCK is the screaming ab…” Terry’s rage-filled voice cut itself off and started again when he caught up to the scene.
Mandy, hair ink black with a popsicle melting onto her fist. Iggy, panic and awe etched across his face. Colin, blood pooling on his cheek and face ashen underneath it. Mickey’s thin face screwed up in concentration as Colin’s forearm finished healing in his hands.
“What kind of fucking…” All four children looked up. Colin flexed his arm. It was good as new! “Fucking HEALING powers? Fucking pussy ass bullshit!”
In three quick strides, Terry was across the lawn. He grabbed Mickey by the arm. Mickey could feel his shoulder pop, feel his father’s rage-rage-fury , feel his siblings - Iggy’s confusion, Colin’s relief mixed with residual pain (Mickey never did get to heal his face), Mandy’s fear. Terry yanked Mickey into the house and threw him across the living room.
“Fucking HEALING powers?” He screamed. “Shoulda known it’d be some pussy ass bullshit outta you.”
Mickey cowered. His shoulder hurt. He didn’t understand.
Before it could go further, there was a knock at the door. After a short conversation with someone who’s heartbeat tasted like disgust to Mickey, Terry stalked back, yanked open the gun cabinet, pulled a gun out, spit at Mickey, and left.
A few minutes later, his siblings crept back in. Shaking and one-handed, Mickey tried to heal Colin’s face while Iggy got ice for Mickey’s shoulder and Mandy shifted her hair long and curly.
Terry was gone for three days. When he came back, he made Joey teach Mickey how to fight. It hurt. A lot.
Colin’s face scarred.
By age 10, Mickey rarely healed anyone anymore. He got caught one more time by Terry - healing a cigarette burn on Iggy’s arm - and Terry stepped on Mickey’s fingers, breaking two of them, and put another cigarette out on Iggy’s arm. His mother wrapped Mickey’s fingers and handed him ice.
“You’re alright, Mikhailo.” She said, looking him right in the eye.
The bizarre calm overtook him. “I’m alright.”
“It doesn’t hurt that bad.”
The sharp pain dimmed to a dull ache. “It doesn’t hurt that bad.”
She died two months later. Joey went on a rampage, destroyed three cars, and went to juvie. Terry left on a three week bender. The second night, Mandy crawled into Mickey’s bed, hair a long sheet of black and eyes to match. He wrapped her up in his arms and could feel the energy trying to heal everything in her that hurt.
After that, Mickey healed no one but Mandy, and even her only occasionally. He couldn’t turn off whatever the Feeling Thing was, but he stopped healing. Learned to make his hands destroy instead, brawling and beating and hurting.
Except Mandy. Always except Mandy. She’d come to him from time to time, with bruised knuckles and busted lips and black eyes, and quietly, quickly, he’d heal them.
Mickey was 15 when Iggy came crawling into his bedroom in the middle of the night. Sweating and pale and Mickey could feel the sick, fucked up pain radiating off him in waves. He didn’t seem to have any idea where he was, and he had a broken wrist and busted kneecap. So Mickey helped him lay down, he couldn’t help it. Iggy smelled like vomit and sweat. Mickey healed his wrist and knee, kneeling on the cold, buckled hardwood floor of his bedroom floor by the light of the streetlamp outside. Then he put his hands on Iggy’s temples. The energy swam and steadily Iggy’s eyes cleared.
“Mickey, no.” Iggy spoke, raw sounding, as the fog cleared.
“I…” Mickey started.
The door swung open and hit the wall. “Toldja!” Jamie shouted. “Mickey was healing him!”
Joey stood in the doorway, towering. Iggy shuffled back. Mickey swallowed and stood up.
“Fuck’s it to you, jackass?” He spat out, braver than he felt.
Joey glared. Mickey could feel his heartbeat drumming out hatred. “What did Dad say about that faggy ass bullshit?”
“He ain’t fuckin’ here.”
Joey’s fist hit his nose before Mickey could really process it. He could hear the sick crunch. Then Joey took Mickey’s smaller hand in his giant fist and crushed until it broke. Another sick crunch. Mickey crumpled.
“Too bad you can’t heal yourself, you worthless sack of shit.” Jamie crowed almost gleefully.
Mickey hissed in pain. Iggy sat frozen. His bedroom door slammed again, then the back door. Jamie and Joey’s matching hate filled heartbeats retreated. Colin walked in.
“They’re gone.” He said. “Come on.”
Iggy and Colin managed to manhandle Mickey into the bathroom. Iggy blinked away, and then blinked back. A moment later, a sleepy looking Mandy (with pink streaks in her hair and legs that Mickey was pretty sure were NOT hers) walked in.
“Ah fuck.” She mumbled. “Alright. Hold still.”
Iggy and Colin held onto Mickey. Mickey felt his sister’s sad frustration tinged with near boredom as she reached for his face. With another sick crack, a grimace, and fresh blood, Mickey’s nose was set. He tried to clean up the blood while his siblings set and taped his hand. It hurt. He could feel Mandy’s tired anger, Colin’s quiet resignment, and what felt like it might be regret or guilt thrumming under Iggy’s ribs.
When his hand finally healed, he punched a kid at school for looking at him funny, and had Colin’s friend’s older brother tattoo FUCK U UP across his knuckles.
Jamie, Joey, and Terry all went to jail for armed robbery three weeks later.
Four months in, Iggy went to juvie for breaking and entering.
Mandy started hanging out with that red headed Gallagher kid who worked down at the Kash n’ Grab (Mickey definitely does not keep stealing from that shop just to catch sight of the red headed fucker. He definitely does not delight in feeling the annoyance and attraction and frustration boiling and battling inside the lanky bastard). Mickey wanted to resent the whole thing, but watching them laugh on the Milkovich’s sofa while Mandy morphed from one brother to another made Mickey’s heart ache, so he said nothing.
Until Mandy got to him. Her “Hey DoucheFace!” was nearly perfect, so Mickey turned abruptly and threw the nearest thing to him at her - the Gatorade bottle in his hand.
“Fuck off, weirdo.” He said with an eye roll.
She - or, the him that was her sitting on the sofa (he hated when Mandy did this shit. Fuck.) - just rolled their eyes back, took a swig, and tossed the bottle back. She morphed back to herself. Her actual self, nearly similar enough to Mickey that they could be twins. Except Mandy insisted on the pink streaks in her hair. Then she wiggled her dark eyebrows, and morphed into the redheaded Gallagher next to her.
Mickey shook his head. “Fuckin’ ridiculous.”
Gallagher laughed. It sounded like music.
When Mickey laid in his bed that night, listening to the sounds outside, he thought to himself that Mandy didn’t quite get Gallagher right. His hair was bright, so bright. It looked like it was actually on fire, cackling and alive.
It was winter, three weeks after Christmas, and Mickey had had about enough of the fuckin’ cold. Terry was in jail again, Joey and Jamie were who the fuck knows where, and Mickey was walking to meet his brothers. He didn’t really want to, but they were gonna sneak into a movie or some shit. Really, it wasn’t particularly difficult for Iggy or Colin to do, but Mickey actually had to sneak in, and he didn’t want to bother. But movie theatres were warm and their house was not, so he might as well.
The streets were covered in ice, and the shitty weather was not letting up, so it was nearly empty as Mickey walked down the sidewalk. He felt a flash of panic-fear-pain up ahead of him, and for a wild moment wondered if one of his siblings was in danger. But Mandy was somewhere shacking up with her current boyfriend, and Colin and Iggy were nowhere to be found. It was incredibly rare that people who were not those three to have emotions that Mickey could feel so clearly, and he looked around him in confusion.
On the other side of the street, a couple of doors up, the red-headed Gallagher was sitting on the cold ground, clutching his leg, freckled face twisted in pain. Mickey could see tufts of his bright red hair underneath the worn Cubs beanie he was wearing. The street was empty except for a bum shuffling the opposite direction of Mickey, so he rushed over. Or, as rushed as he could with the slush and ice covering the street.
When he approached, Ian’s eyes widened and he tried to back up. Mickey could feel his fear thudding under his ribs and for a brief moment, Mickey felt like shit. But Gallagher's pain was radiating underneath the fear and he couldn’t fuckin’ ignore it.
“Where does it hurt?” He asked.
The redhead stumbled over his words. “No, no, I…”
Mickey hissed through his teeth. “Fucking hell, Gallagher, where does it fucking HURT?”
Ian just pointed to his right ankle. He was wearing these sneakers that were definitely not warm enough, but standing this close to him, Mickey can feel his entire body radiating heat, so maybe he was fine. Mickey crouched down and pulled up the redhead’s pant leg. Ian hissed and Mickey could feel the spike of pain. The ankle was all twisted and bruised and swollen. Broken.
He wrapped his fingers around the pale, freckled ankle, forcing himself not to look at the redhead.
“Your hands are cold.”
Mickey closed his eyes. “Shut the fuck up, Firecrotch.” He could feel Ian’s heart skip, not in pain or confusion or anything. It tasted like affection. Mickey swallowed.
He focused back on the ankle, and everything narrowed to that point. The energy swam and he could feel Gallagher’s bones setting, shifting and the swelling disappearing. It was healed, and Mickey leaned back. He swallowed, and forced himself to look up. Ian was staring back at him in awe. Kid was like, Mandy’s age and taller than him. Fuckin’ ridiculous. His eyes were an absurd shade of green.
Ian blinked, and Mickey could feel the rush of awe-affection roaring around. He chewed his lip. Ian pulled one of his gloves off and felt his ankle. Mickey frowned at the scarred callouses on the redhead’s narrow hands.
“You...you healed me.” Ian whispered.
“The fuck you do to your hands?” Mickey bit out.
Ian pulled his hand back. “Oh. Uh. I…”
Mickey rolled his eyes. “Fucker, I just healed a broken ankle. What the FUCK did you do to your hands?” It looked like burn marks. Ian was radiating heat.
Mickey sighed. Then he stood up, and put one hand out. The FUCK hand. Ian stared at it. Mickey raised his eyebrows, and waved the hand in Gallagher’s face. Finally, he seemed to get the picture and took Mickey’s hand, letting the older boy help him up. Mickey pulled him up and then dragged him to an alley. He was definitely gonna miss the movie. Luckily, his brothers were not the kind to wait. Or come looking for him.
“What. The fuck. Did you do. To your hand?” Mickey asked, again.
Ian looked around.
“Man, it’s a fucking snowstorm out here. Nobody’s here.”
Ian took his other glove off, pushed his sleeves up, and turned towards the back of the alley. He shook his hands out carefully, and then all of a sudden they were on fire. Mickey felt his eyes widen. Could feel the power surging under the redhead’s skin. The entire alley was warm under the flame. Then the fire went out.
“Brings whole new meaning to the phrase firecrotch, huh?” Mickey bit out before he could think about it.
Ian smirked. “Everything comes at a cost, right?” He said, holding up his hands. They were blistered now, fresh and red.
“Holy shit, man.” Mickey hissed out. “It burns you?”
Ian shrugged. “Only my hands.” He started to reach for the gloves in his pockets.
Without thinking, Mickey grabbed Gallagher’s hands, wrapping one in each of his. He could feel the blisters soothing under his own calloused fingers, could feel the redhead’s hummingbird heart pattering out affection, attraction, relief, and lust. It was a bizarre combination. When the energy stopped, Mickey let go of Ian’s hands.
Ian stared at his hands. They were still faintly scarred, but even that wasn’t as bad as it had been. “Fucking hell.”
Mickey swallowed. “Next time, just come find me.”
Ian looked him in the eye, his green eyes fire bright and glittering. Mickey could barely breathe for the depth of the redhead’s desire.
“Oh for fuck’s sake.” He muttered, and then grabbed Gallagher by a fist full of jacket. He felt the boy’s momentary panic and confusion.
But then he just crowded Gallagher against the alley wall, and kissed him. He couldn’t think clearly, and everything was warm and cold and a million feelings. Then Ian teased the seam of Mickey’s mouth with his tongue and everything faded in Mickey’s mind.
When they finally separated, Mickey breathed heavy. He could feel Gallagher’s confusion mingled with horniness and almost laughed.
“I’m not gonna kick your ass.”
“Wha…” Ian started.
“I can feel you, man.”
“Huh?” He looked dumbfounded.
“Well, not just you. Though, you are particularly clear. Which is weird. Usually it’s just…” Mickey cut off that train of thought. “I don’t know if it’s because of the healing powers, or what. But I can feel emotions. It’s real fucking annoying.”
Ian blinked a bunch of times. Mickey could feel the recognition settling over him. “Empathy.”
It was Mickey’s turn to feel dumbfounded.
“So, you can feel what I’m feeling?”
Mickey narrowed his eyes. “You tell anybody, I’ll cut your fuckin’ tongue out.”
Ian rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah. A Milkovich with healing powers. I can see how that would be…”
“Fuckin’ ridiculous?” Mickey finished for him.
Gallagher shrugged. “So...you can feel what I’m feeling?” He wiggled his eyebrows a little
“I can’t fuckin’ read your mind, Red.” He bit out. Then he trailed off into a mumble. “Just...what you’re feeling.”
Ian stepped into his space, crowding him against the other side of the alley. Heat radiated off his body. Lust rolled off the lanky bastard in waves. “You feel this, Mick?” He whispered.
“Fuck.” Mickey muttered.
Suddenly, the redhead was everywhere. Came over all the time to hang out with Mandy, and then to crowd Mickey against the wall and suck him off while Mickey shoved one fist into his mouth and the other into the fire-bright hair.
Spring was finally approaching, and Mickey was smoking with Gallagher in an abandoned warehouse. Something about JROTC training that had fallen by the wayside. Mickey could feel the redhead’s racing emotions, couldn’t make a damn bit of sense of them, but the weed seemed to slow them a little.
“Mandy know about your powers?” Gallagher asked as he blew smoke out his nose.
Weed made Mickey loose and talkative. “The healing powers, yeah.”
Mickey snorted and grabbed the joint from the redhead’s freckled fingers. They were hardly scarred anymore. Mickey had healed them a couple more times in the last year. “Yeah. Broke my fingers about it. Then Joey did it again a few years later.”
“Why didn’t you…”
“Powers don’t work on me. Can’t heal myself.”
The summer Mickey was 18 was sickly hot. Mickey sat on the sofa in ratty gym shorts, thought about trying to find Gallagher, whose rapid confusing emotions were starting to become more than a little concerning, but it was hot as fuck and he mostly didn’t want to move. Mandy was next to him in the shortest possible shorts and a sports bra. She currently had a buzzcut. She said it was due to the heat, but Mickey could feel the fear under her ribs when Terry had grabbed her by the hair and thought to himself that a buzzcut made completely sense when he saw her next. But, as usual, he said nothing.
Iggy burst through the door, breathing heavy. Which was weird, considering that that asshole never ran anywhere. He usually just teleported. But Mickey could feel fear-panic-relief thrumming under his skin and sat up straighter.
“Fuck’s wrong with you, Ig?” He asked. Mandy looked at him curiously.
Iggy swallowed. “Terry’s dead.”
Both Mickey and Mandy stood up. Mandy’s body shifted around next to Mickey, and suddenly she was her own self.
“What?” Mickey whispered.
“He...he tried to lift a semi. Was gonna steal it, I guess? Tried to lift it, and it crushed him. Joey and Jamie were there. I just found out.”
Mandy collapsed back on the sofa. Mickey could feel her gut churning with a mix of emotions.
“Dead?” She whispered. Mickey sat back down.
“Yeah.” Iggy sat next to him.
“Fuck.” Mickey muttered.
“Joey killed the driver.”
“Fuck.” Mickey repeated. “He’s gonna get life.”
“Jamie?” Mandy asked, voice shaking.
“Definitely gonna do time, probably.”
“You should call Colin, Ig.” Mickey muttered. Colin was currently doing time himself for possession with intent to distribute. Five years.
“Yeah.” None of them moved.
Then Mickey felt a rattling heartbeat outside their door. Not one he really recognized. He frowned. There was a panicked knock at the door. Iggy’s eyes widened. Mickey went to the door, opened it a crack. It was Debbie, Ian’s younger sister.
“Where’s my fucking brother!?” She cried at him. Confused, Mickey opened the door wider.
She stepped in. “Have you seen him?”
“Why the fuck…”
“Don’t lie to me, Mickey. Have you seen Ian?”
She was tiny, all red haired and flushed face like Ian. Her heart was singing in panic.
“Not in a couple days. Mandy?” Mickey turned to his younger sister. He could feel her own panic growing. And Iggy’s confusion.
Debbie collapsed into the sofa. “Fuck.” She buried her hands in her hands.
Mandy pried them apart gently. “What happened, Debs?”
She sighed and looked up. “Monica came back.” That would be their mother. Mickey remembered Ian talking about her. Crazy bitch. “Then she left, and we haven’t seen Ian since.”
Mickey thought about Ian’s racing emotions. Thought about Ian telling him how Monica was fucking crazy.
“I was hoping he was here. But…”
“Why would Gallagher be here, Mick?” Iggy asked, quietly.
“Iggy, shut your mouth.” Mickey bit back.
“Right.” Mickey could feel the recognition wash over his older brother and bit his lip. “Fine by me.” Iggy stated. Calm. Honest. Mickey breathed. “I’m gonna go call Colin and deal with that shit. You deal with this shit.”
Debbie looked around. “Shit, I’m sorry, you’re…”
Mandy shrugged. “Joey and Jamie are going to prison. Terry’s dead. Life moves on.” Mickey could feel her lie. He’d deal with that later. “We gotta find Ian.”
Mickey forced the panic back down his throat. Forced his heart to steady. Wondered if he’d be able to feel Ian, in a crowded city full of feelings and confusion.
“Where would they go?” He asked Debbie.
She blinked a few times. “Uh…Anywhere you can get drugs is where Monica would be.”
Mickey sighed. Then closed his eyes, put his head in his hands, and thought of Ian. His freckled hands searing into Mickey’s skin, his eyes bright and glittering in the dark, his fire hair. The way he tasted, smelled, felt.
“Mickey…” Debbie started.
“Hush.” Mandy interrupted.
Mickey could feel it. Faint, thrumming. The redhead’s dull confused emotions thrumming. Drugs. He was definitely on drugs. He felt like he was floating. Mickey’s heart sank.
“Boystown. Let’s go.” He started out the door.
Mandy’s arm stopped him. “Mick. Put some fuckin clothes on.”
Mickey looked down at his bare chest, ratty shorts, bare feet. He blinked, and then nodded. Quickly, he pulled on a t-shirt and jeans, slid his feet into the boots next to the door, yanked the door open, and hurried the two girls through it.
“Where are we going?” Debbie asked, breath struggling as she trotted to keep up with Mickey’s pace, heart beating fear-panic-confusion .
“Boystown.” Mickey mumbled as they walked past a group of kids playing in the street. The sky was going that pink, cotton candy color just before twilight and he swallowed around the panic lodged in his throat.
Mandy was right next to him, heart beating out a tempo of worry-worry-worry. She looked at him, he could see her gaze out the corner of his eyes. Somehow, nothing he said or did surprised Mandy anymore.
“Right, but how are we gonna…” Deb tried to ask.
Mandy cut her off. “We’ll find him, Debs. Just follow Mickey.”
They got to the row of bars, and Mickey froze on the street, trying to pick up on the sick, fucked up feeling that was thrumming through Ian. He closed his eyes. It felt like the fire that was usually Ian’s bright, too bright emotions was dulling, turning to ashe, and Mickey felt sick to his stomach. Then he turned on the spot, forced his way in through the back door of one of the bars.
“Stay here.” He demanded, looking at Debs and Mandy.
Mandy raised one eyebrow, but nodded. She still looked like herself, and for some reason that made Mickey feel calmer. Debs started to argue.
Mandy grabbed her arm. “Do you have a phone?”
“Call Lip. Or Fiona. Or someone. Okay?”
Mickey nodded and went inside. The bar was still mostly empty, but a few people sat at the bar, including a bartender with the dumbest fake blonde hair Mickey had ever seen. He pulled up a picture of Ian on his phone. It was grainy and shitty, but Ian had looked so carefree, arm tossed over Mandy’s shoulder, smile bright, that Mickey couldn’t help but snap the picture. He walked over to the stupid looking bartender.
“Where’s the fucking kid?” Mickey snarled.
“Excuse me?” The guy’s voice was grating.
Mickey rolled his eyes, flashed the picture. “The redhead. Where the FUCK is he?”
“I’m sure I don’t know…”
Mickey cut the guy off, grabbed him by the back of the neck, and slammed his face into the sticky bartop. “Where. The fuck. Is the kid?”
“Back room.” The guy muttered into the sticky hardwood.
Mickey let him up. “Now was that so fucking hard? The fuck you doing letting minors into this fucking club, man?”
The guy’s eyes widened. “I...I didn’t…”
“Oh for fuck’s sake.” With that, Mickey walked in the direction of the room the guy had pointed to.
He threw the door open. Ian’s drugged up heart was beating in what felt like it might be recognition. Two old fucks sat up suddenly in a panic, one of them urgently buttoning his pants. Mickey nearly vomited.
“I swear to GOD if you put another hand on him I will cut your fucking fingers off.”
The guy not buttoning his pants. “Hey! I paid…”
Mickey swallowed. He did not want the guy to finish that sentence. “I truly do not give a single solitary fuck if you bought out the entire fucking club for this. You touch him, you die.”
He stalked into the room. Ian’s eyes were bloodshot and dead looking. He was covered in a thin sheen of sweat, and Mickey could see fresh blisters on his shaking hands.
“Fucking Christ, Red.” He muttered.
Ian’s eyes narrowed. “Mick?” He mumbled.
“Yeah, Gallagher. Come on. Time to go home.”
“No, Mick, I’m not…”
“Don’t much care. Come on. Little Red is here, freaking the fuck out. Mand’s is here too. Time to go.”
Without another breath, Mickey lifted Ian with an arm under his shoulders, and half walked him, half dragged him out the same door he’d come in. He just glared at anyone who tried to stop him. They moved quickly at his dark look. Mickey could taste their fear and confusion and for a brief moment it delighted him. But being barely able to feel anything from Ian made him sick and confused and that was his main focus. They made it out to the alley where Mandy and Debbie were waiting.
“Lip’s on his way with a car…” Debbie started, before she fully processed Ian’s state. Then her eyes went wide and her voice trailed off.
Mickey rolled his eyes to the sky, about to complain. He fucking hated Lip. Had hated that asshole since the third grade. Then Ian collapsed onto the dirty ground and Mickey immediately knelt down to try to see if he could fix whatever it was. His heart was in his throat and his hands were shaking. A car sped up to the alley where they were. Lip jumped out of it.
“What the fuck did you do to my brother!?” He shouted.
Mickey glared. He knew Lip could read minds or whatever. Knew that asshole knew Mickey had fuck all to do with this.
“Seriously?” He spat, jumping up to his feet.
Debbie stepped between Lip and Mickey. She put her hands up in Lip’s direction and spoke very carefully. “You know this wasn’t Mickey. Mickey helped find Ian. Calm down, Lip.”
Lip breathed out slowly. “I know this wasn’t Mickey. Mickey helped find him. I’m calm.”
Mickey and Mandy stared at each other. Mickey could feel Mandy’s heart stuttering, and knew exactly what she was thinking without having to be able to hear her thoughts. Debbie sounded like their mama.
Then Lip shook his head. “Fucking hell, Debs! How many times have I told you, that shit is freaky as fuck!”
Mickey bit his lip to avoid laughing. Then Ian coughed at his feet.
“Fucking shit.” He picked up the lanky asshole and put him over his shoulder in some approximation of a fireman’s carry. Asshole was heavy. “As amusing as I’m sure this is for both of you, you know she’s right. Additionally, I don’t know if it had missed your attentive awareness, Phillip, but your brother is a little bit passed out, so I’m going to need you to stop your fucking bitching and try to help me out a little bit here.”
Luckily, that got Lip’s attention. He shot Mickey a glare for the use of his full name, but Mickey could feel the fear and concern taking precedence over the irritation. The doors to the car all opened as Mickey approached it, and part of him wanted to roll his eyes and call Lip a showoff, but it was actually useful in this specific instance.
“Isn’t it, though?” Lip sneered as Mickey gently put Ian down in the back seat.
He turned to glare. “I will punch your teeth out, asshole. Get in the fuckin’ car and drive.”
Lip looked like he was going to say something, but he seemed to finally recognize that Ian needed help and just got in the car. Mandy got in the front seat, and Debs got in on the other side of Ian in the back.
“Drive to our place.” Mandy insisted as Lip turned the key in the ignition.
“And let Terry at him? Yeah, right.” Lip started.
Mickey’s eyes narrowed in the back seat. Terry’s dead. He remembered.
Lip’s eyes widened in the rear view. “Oh. Fuck. As of when?”
Mandy rolled her eyes, picking up on the situation. “Earlier fucking today, fuckface. Drive him. To our house. It’ll be quieter than the fucking zoo you live in.”
Mickey could feel Lip’s resolve weakening. “Shit guys, I’m…”
“If you say sorry, I’ll cut your tongue out.” Mickey snarled. “Good riddance and goodbye. That fucker was a tyrant.”
Lip nodded. “Right. But, Fi…”
Deb scoffed. “All that future vision, and she couldn’t fucking predict this shit? Fuck that.”
Mickey bit his lip again to keep from laughing. He could feel the near-laughter bubbling in Mandy’s chest. And the last of Lip’s resolve leaking away.
“Alright. Milkovich house it is.”
As carefully, surreptitiously as he could, Mickey placed one hand on Ian’s head, under the guise of cradling his head. He was stirring a little, and Mickey could feel the slow energy moving. Ian continued to stir. As they pulled up in front of the rickety old house, Ian woke a little.
“Mick?” He muttered.
“Yeah, I’m here. So’s the entire goddamn cavalry. Time to go inside.”
“I’m…” His hummingbird heart made a valiant attempt to wake up but he clamped his mouth shut and the feelings seemed to go with them.
Mickey clenched his jaw. The door opened for him. Iggy stood on the porch in shorts, bare chested and barefoot, and raised one eyebrow at the group of people stepping out of the car that Mickey was pretty sure was not legally Lip’s in any way, now that he thought about it. But Iggy was good about not questioning shit too much, he just opened the front door and blinked away.
Mickey and Lip managed to frog march Ian inside, and get him laid out on Mickey’s bed. Deb was twisting her hands together, and Mandy’s hair was long and brown. Mickey hated it.
“Can I…” Deb started.
Lip turned. “No.” He said, quietly. “You can’t fix this one, Debs.” He looked at Mickey. They were eye to eye. “It’s not just drugs, is it?”
Mickey narrowed his eyes. “You can read minds, can’t you? You tell me.”
Lip narrowed his eyes back.
Debs spoke again. “Monica has bipolar.”
Mandy gasped a little. Iggy showed up with a glass of water. She took it from him.
“Colin knows, by the way. About Terry.”
“Good.” Mickey said, absently, staring at the redhead in his bed, so still, so painfully still. His emotions were everywhere, confused, too big and not big enough. “Good.”
Lip breathed out. Mickey could feel his heart strumming concern-fear-concern. “If it’s bipolar, Mickey…”
Mickey turned, sharp and insistent. “Let’s get a few things very clear right now. One. He is not Monica. Don’t even start to compare him. That’s not fair to him. He is no more Monica that I am Terry, you are Frank, or Mandy is Maria. So don’t.” Mickey could feel the jolt of sadness from Mandy, and the sharp tang of disgust from Lip. “Two. He does not need your judgement or whatever the fuck else you got in there. He is not some fucking problem that needs fixing, you absolute fucking shit.”
“I…” Lip started.
Mickey put his hand up. “No.”
He had spent his entire, confused, exhausting life feeling other people’s emotions like a road sign nobody asked for. Could feel anger, sadness, happiness. And could feel the absolute nothing of depression, the too-big-in-the-chest of mania, the sheer horror of delusional or paranoid. Had spent hours in the public library on the other side of town reading everything he could to find the right words for every single emotion he could never learn to turn off feeling.
Lip’s brow furrowed. “How do you…”
Mickey shook his head. “I’m not having this discussion with you. If it bipolar, we’ll get him help. He’s staying here for a couple of days. I’ll let you know what the plan is when he’s not strung out on coke and whatever the fuck else they pumped into his system.” He took a breath. “And if you happen to see Monica, tell her that if she touches him ever again, I’ll kill her myself. I don’t give a fuck if she’s your mother.”
Lip scoffed at that. Mickey could feel his disgust, rolling through him like poison. “I’ll help, if she’s the reason he looks like that.” He pointed at Ian.
His face was waxy. Mandy had somehow procured a damp washcloth and was holding it to Ian’s forehead. Iggy , Mickey’s brain supplied. Debs was sitting on the edge of the bed, watching.
“Right.” Mickey nodded. They seemed to have come to an understanding.
“Right. You know where to find me.” Lip said with an air of finality. “I gotta get this car back.”
Mandy spoke, quietly. “Go, Debs. I’ll come get you if anything changes. We’ll take care of him.”
She looked up, directly at Mandy. “You’ll…”
Mickey cut her off. “Stop.”
She looked up, eyes wide.
He pinched the bridge of his nose. “We know what you’re doing, Debbie. Don’t. We’ll tell you. Shit, I’LL come get you if I have to.”
She looked a little bashful. “Okay.”
Lip held his hand out to her, and she let him wrap his arm around her shoulder. They walked out the door and it slammed behind them.
Iggy popped back up. “You gonna fix him?” He asked, gesturing with his head at the prostrate redhead.
Mickey narrowed his eyes. “He doesn’t…”
Mandy cut him off. “Yeah, we get it. Doesn’t need fixing. That’s not what Iggy means.”
Iggy put his hands up. “Yeah, no. I just meant the drugs. Clear his system or whatever it is you do.”
Mickey rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah. Move, Mands.”
Mandy got up. Mickey sat where she had been. He put his hands on the redhead’s temples. His hair was getting long at the sides. The energy flowed, and Mickey could feel the nothing sitting on Ian’s chest clear from drug-addled to just nothing. Ian groaned and rolled over to the side.
“Did it not work or something?” Iggy asked.
Mickey pushed his thumb into the side of his nose. “The drug thing is solved. But I can’t heal depression, Iggy.”
“He’s...how do you…”
“Mickey’s an empath.” Mandy provided.
Mickey narrowed his eyes. “How do you…”
She smiled, sort of. “I’m not stupid, Mick.”
“Fair.” He turned to Iggy. “I’m an empath.”
Iggy’s confusion was palpable even without powers. “Like you can feel...feelings?”
“Jesus Christ, you hit every branch on the stupid tree, I swear to god. Yes, Iggy. I can feel everyone’s feelings.”
“So, you can feel his...depression?”
Mickey nodded. “It feels like nothing.”
“Nothing.” Mickey could feel that lump in his throat again. “And the mania...it’s too big. It doesn’t fit in his chest.”
“So.” Mandy said with a sigh. “It’s bipolar?”
“He’s gonna hate that.”
Mickey nodded again.
Three days later, Ian finally got out of bed. “I’m fine, Mick.”
“No, you aren’t.”
“What do you…”
“Pretty much every goddamn thing you’re feeling, Ian. You’re not fucking fine.”
Ian stuttered. “You...you called me Ian.”
Mickey rolled his eyes.
Ian laughed. “So, I’m not fine?”
Mickey smirked. “I mean, depends on your definition of fine, I guess.” He wiggled his eyebrows.
Ian raised one tired, red eyebrow. He tried to light a fire, but it was barely there. “When Monica was first here, it was almost explosive. It hurt so much but it felt so good.”
Mickey took Ian’s hands in his, healed the barely-there blisters.
“I’m not okay.” Ian said, quietly, staring at their joined hands.
“I know, Gallagher.” Mickey said, just as quietly. “I know.”
Two days later, Ian finally let Mickey take him to the clinic. Three days after that, Ian tried to flush the pills down the toilet. Lip managed to stop him, all the pills free floating in mid-air until Mandy carefully put them back in the bottle. Debbie tried to trick him, but Mickey stopped her.
“That’s not fair, Debs.”
“But…” The fear and concern was overwhelming her, and Mickey felt sick with it.
“I know. But it isn’t fair to him.”
She sighed, and then collapsed onto the sofa and started crying. Ian’s eyes widened at that. Mandy pulled Debbie up and into her room, whispering soothingly. Lip opened his mouth. Mickey narrowed his eyes at the older Gallagher. He shut it again, comically. Mickey grabbed Ian by the arm and pulled him into his room, closed the door.
“Everything feels wrong. Muted.” Ian muttered.
“I know.” Mickey said.
“It’s not fucking fair!”
Mickey grabbed Ian by the arm harshly. “If you even think about finishing that fucking sentence, I’ll cut your fucking tongue out, Gallagher.”
Ian laughed wetly. “But…”
“Nope. I’m here. And I ain’t fuckin’ going nowhere. But you heard the doctor.”
“You ain’t fuckin’ Monica.” Mickey warned. “You ain’t Monica, I ain’t Terry. Monica never let the meds work. And they will work, you just gotta let them.”
“Yeah.” Ian sighed. “It just sucks.”
“I ain’t ever been surer about anything in my life, Firecrotch.”
They bury Terry two weeks later. Mickey grits his teeth the entire time. Ian is there, arm slung over Mandy’s shoulder. Mandy clings to Mickey’s hand on the other side, just the wrong side of too-tight, but he can feel her righteous anger and frustration and something that feels like it might be sadness, so he refuses to let go. Iggy’s next to him, smoking a cigarette and still a little drunk, and he feels just dull ache from his brother. Colin gets out next week. Joey’s in for life, and Jamie’s in for at least ten years. Mandy’s been rolling through shapes, hair colors, eye colors, never the same one twice in a row, never the same for more than a day.
She leaves after the funeral. Comes back a day later with a black eye and a mark around her throat. When Ian sees her, his hands seem to light of their own accord and Mickey’s reaching for the gun on the table next to him before he can think about it.
“He’s gone already.” Mandy says, voice dull. “I pulled a knife on him and he bolted.”
Mickey pulls her to him. Ian’s flames calm down, mostly, but Mickey can feel them smoldering. Part of him is thankful - the meds are working and Ian’s back to closer to baseline. The proof is in the fire.
As Mickey puts his hands on his little sister’s bruises, her disguise fades until she’s herself, very nearly his twin, and her bruises are gone. Then she bursts into tears on him and he can feel her falling apart, so he just lets her get his shirt sleeve soaking wet with salty tears. Finally, her breathing steadies, her heart steadies to a calm ache. She leans back.
Mickey smiles a little. “Missed you, dumbass. Was sorta starting to forget what your face looked like.”
“Oh, fuck off.” Mandy says with half a laugh.
Ian’s sitting there, lopsided grin on his face and a hand on Mandy’s back. The flames have died. Mickey’s gonna have to heal the blisters again. He doesn’t mind. It’s kind of like holding hands.
“I don’t…” Mandy starts.
“You should go somewhere.” Ian says. “Like how you said. Don’t hafta end up here.”
Mickey shakes his head, cuts her off. “He’s right. Go. Be this Mandy for a while, somewhere else. See what’s it’s like.”
“Like this one the best, anyway, fuckface.”
Two weeks later, Colin’s home and Mandy’s got a duffle bag and a bus ticket to Detroit.
“Call me.” Ian orders her when they walk her to the bus station.
“Of course.” She says, scandalized that he would think otherwise.
Mickey can feel her nerves. He wonders if he’ll be able to feel them in Detroit. She turns to him, hugs him.
“Try not to get hurt, okay?” He says, trying to smile.
“It’ll just give me an excuse to visit, right?”
He breathes out a laugh. “Right.”
Two months later, the roof of Terry’s house gets a leak, so Colin and Iggy get a shitty apartment and Mickey and Ian move into the Gallagher house temporarily.
They sell Terry’s house and the property to some fuckin’ hipsters trying to make the neighborhood nicer or some shit. Mickey and Ian use the money to get an apartment. One with bedroom doors that lock where they don’t have to wear clothes or share the bathroom with a half dozen other people. Ian goes back to school and Mickey starts working at a garage with this guy who can bend metal like Jamie did, but apparently decided to use it for good instead of generally douchebaggery. So, not like Jamie did.
They still have dinner at the Gallagher house once a week. Mickey and Lip have a quiet understanding. Debbie talks to Mandy maybe more than Ian does. Carl seems fascinated with Mickey’s shitty tattoos, and Mickey very quickly tires of his trickery. Liam’s still quiet, but everything inside of him is so quick, so quick that Mickey almost can’t feel it. Almost.
When Fiona announces she’s moving, Mickey can feel everything all at once, but under it all, a subtle thread of relief from five of the six Gallaghers present. Fiona is radiating freedom from her chest. Lip raises one eyebrow at Mickey, and Mickey looks down at the burger on his plate. Not that it does much good, because he can feel Lip kick him under the table. Whatever. Nobody else needs to know, and Mickey knows Ian won’t ask.
Fiona had been gone a little over a year and a half. Mandy visited for holidays. Mickey still didn’t heal many people, but he was warming up to the idea. Then, one day, at the start of spring when the entire world was slush and trees trying to figure out how warm weather felt again, Ian came home from college (fucking college. Incredible) with birdcage panic fluttering under his ribs and grabbed Mickey by the arm from where he was stirring macaroni and cheese at the stove.
“What the fuck is wrong?” Mickey said, already turning the stove off and pulling his sweatshirt off the back of one of their mismatched kitchen chairs.
“Lip’s kid?” Mickey asks, unnecessarily, stupidly. Lip’s weird ass baby mama had the kid shortly after Fiona left.
Ian nods wordlessly as Mickey slips into his sweatshirt and boots at the same time.
“What kind of sick?”
“Don’t know, but Lip’s freaked out. V doesn’t have anything, and nobody has any money for an ER visit, and with the whole social security thing…”
Fucking Fiona. Fucking Debbie. Jesus.
“Alright. Deep breath, Red.” Mickey says, as they’re rushing down the slushy sidewalks to the Gallagher house.
Carl is outside on the porch when they get there, smoking a cigarette. “The fuck is Mickey gonna do about it?” He says with a smirk. Like he maybe already knows.
Mickey rolls his eyes, stalks through the open door with a sigh.
Lip’s pacing the living room with his one-year-old on his hip. The baby is screaming and red in the face. Mickey can feel Lip’s panic and fear, Liam’s fear, what feels like guilt rolling off Debbie. Babies were always weird, but their emotions were pretty simple. Sick - scared - sick.
“Give ‘im here.” Mickey says, reaching out for the baby without even taking his sweatshirt off.
Lip looks at Ian like he’s insane, but Ian nods, and whatever it is that Lip can read in Ian’s mind seems to make him acquiesce. He still looks suspicious as fuck when he hands Mickey his kid. Mickey ignores it and just takes the baby in his arms. He’s boiling.
“Hey there, little man.” The energy starts flowing. The room narrows to the whimpering baby in his arm and his hand on the baby’s tiny chest.“Yeah, there you go. You’re just fine, huh? Uncle Mick's gotcha. There you go, little man.” The whimpering faded, the temperature faded, the fear under Freddie’s tiny chest faded. “Feeling better? Yeah, you are. I’m good, huh?”
He hands Lip back his kid, takes the freshly lit cigarette out of Carl’s hand from where the kid had moved to standing right next to him, and puts it in his mouth. Lip’s mouth made him look like a truly hysterical fish. Mickey could feel a mix of relief and confusion and gratitude around him, plus a hint of self-satisfaction from Ian.
“Should just call me direct if it happens again.” Mickey mutters around the cigarette.
“Healing powers?” Lip squeaks out, clutching his kid.
“Fuckin’ called it!” Carl cries, dropping his voice as Freddie stirred in Lip’s arms.
Lip just sounds baffled. “Healing powers?” He asks again.
Ian rolls his eyes, waves his faintly scarred but otherwise unmarred hands in his older brother’s face. “Did you fail to notice the lack of burns or wrappings on my hands that started when I met Mickey, or…?
“Fuckin’ healing powers…” Lip mutters, looking down at his kid.
Liam pipes up. “Uncle Mick?”
Mickey just throws his hands in the air and turns on his heel. “I’ll be outside. Somebody do something about dinner. I’m fuckin’ hungry.”
Fuckin’ healing powers.