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i crawl home to him

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It takes Ian a good fucking while, to be able to reach out for Mickey. For his skin to stop crawling enough to let him, giving painful pins and needles anytime he simply brushes past someone. A feather-light touch of skin against his feels more like a scratchy sweater being dragged roughly over wherever Ian was grazed over.

Which is why Mickey never minds the good fucking whiles — because when he wakes up that first day with one of Ian's clothed legs against his own bare one, or an arm draped over his torso, he smiles wide. Stays there until he genuinely can't anymore, and Mickey has turned up late to wherever he needs to go that day many times but it is always beyond worth it. Because it means that Ian's feeling a little more okay than yesterday, and Mickey could dance and sing in celebration.

It can take however long for Ian to reach out. To start squeezing Mickey's hip tight again each time he pads into the kitchen before sitting at their dining table for two. For him to let their knees touch when they're sat on the couch binging Pink Panther.

Sometimes, Ian draws back after he's finally taken that first step. Mickey gets it. He understands, he holds no grudges, but it hurts. Not because he feels rejected — but because his husband has pulled away after he was finally doing a smidge better. It hurts Mickey's heart to see it.

Like now, for instance. Over the course of two days, Ian has slowly let himself touch Mickey more. Been able to seek that human contact, which Mickey has gladly let happen and reciprocated once or twice, when he was sure Ian wouldn't react negatively. Fuck, he even got a damn hug. Mickey was remembering how to work their new stove and suddenly Gallagher was pressed against his back, a gentle arm wrapping around his hips. Mickey'd leant back into Ian with no hesitation. And Ian buried his face in the crook of his neck, the deep inhale he took sounding comfortable.

Now, however, Ian is curled up on the ripped leather armchair they took from some lawn and had V help to disinfect. Knees to his chest, blanket around him, staring blankly ahead at the wall instead of the TV. Pink Panther's playing. Mickey's alone on the couch, and he itches the side of his knee absentmindedly.

"You want some water?" he offers, acting as nonchalant as he can. Ian's eyes, the emptiness of them make Mickey's stomach fucking churn. Ian gives a short, gruff hum that sounds indifferent. Mickey gets him a glass of water.

They go back to watching TV.

Well, back to Mickey watching it, unable to help but chuckle at some bits. Ian barely moves a damn millimetre.

Eventually it gets late, and Mickey's eyes droop a little, and he's about to doze off any second. He looks over to Ian.

"Comin' to bed, Red?" he rasps softly. The TV is the only thing illumimating the room, playing quietly in the background. Ian gives a small shake of his head and Mickey just wants to kiss his head. His hair has gotten long; it's not a buzzcut anymore. Mickey can run his hands through it, and he loves it. He misses it. Ian hasn't come within touching-distance in two days, a one-eighty from the days before.

"Aight. Night, sweetheart," he offers a small smile, stretching as he gets up from the couch and drags himself to their bedroom. It takes him a little while to fall asleep, with the cold side of the bed making him frown.

.

Ian's snoring faintly beside him when Mickey wakes up that morning. Far away from him on the bed, curled up in that same tatty blanket he keeps a vice grip on when he's in this kind of episode. Mickey is deadass jealous of a piece of fabric. He doesn't blame Ian, though. Mickey still clung to a ratty old stuffed dog toy when he was a teen. Named it Thomas. Mandy keeps hold of him now, keeps Thomas safe for Mickey, even though she's miles away.

Ian gives a small, sad hum into his pillow, making Mickey, as slow as he can, raise up onto his elbow.

Ian's still asleep.

Mickey tilts his head, finally getting up, stretching as he walks into the bathroom. He's got a long fucking day ahead of him; he's definitely gonna be late home. He tried so hard to get out of it, to try change it to another day, anything. It only got increased by an hour. Mickey leaves a few notes on the fridge, ignoring the fact that he leaves a tiny heart on each one. Dots an 'i' with a little smiley face, too. Love you, Mickey signs off with, and then he's really gotta get dressed because if he does anything else he'll definitely be late for work.

Mickey checks in on Ian and watches him for a few dozen seconds, stood in the doorway, shoulder on the doorframe.

Yeah. He turns up late.

.

Mickey comes home to Ian dancing around him all skittishly. It starts off... sort of unnoticable. Just Ian rocking on the balls of his feet whilst Mickey made himself a bowl of cereal with a bunch of sugar.

Fleeting glances, his hands fidgeting by his sides, even just kind of padding about their apartment for a minute or so at one point. Mickey eats his cereal and watches. It's dark out, and Ian's spent the whole day doing god knows. But Mickey isn't worried, because the fifty or so check-up and update messages that he sent to Ian were all read within minutes. Ian's coped well. He sent back an 'i love you' and it fueled Mickey for the rest of the day.

Now, though, Mickey is a little worried. Because Ian's walking on eggshells around him and loudly crushing them all.

"You okay?" Mickey asks after he's finished the food in his mouth, taking a sip of the coffee he got on the way home. Ian looks up at him and blinks owlishly. Mickey's leaning against the kitchen counter, bowl in hand, whereas Ian is sitting on their dining table and attempting to swing his legs. He's too god damn tall.

Ian yawns and shrugs, looking back down. Mickey nods before taking the last bite of his (incredibly) sugary food. It's as good as gourmet to him.

"I'm gonna go lie down. Been a long day. You need anything?" He rinses out his bowl, getting rid of the milk that he couldn't scrape onto his spoon before putting it beside the sink. He'll clean it properly later.

Ian shakes his head with another yawn that makes Mickey yawn.

"Love you, Red," he mumbles affectionately. He's soon in bed, on top of the covers, upper back propped up on a mountain of pillows. He's playing some game on his phone, the volume down. He'll probably sleep or at least try to after he first loses.

Eventually, Ian pads in. Mickey gives him a warm smile, watching as Ian walks (well, staggers) to the end of their bed. He puts his knee on the mattress, by Mickey's socked feet, and Mickey spread his legs to make sure they don't accidentally touch. He wonders if Ian is doing some weird shit like climbing over him just for the sake of it, or if he wants Mickey's spot — shit, should he move? Or —

But Ian shuffles towards him, until his knees are nearly inbetween Mickey's, and slowly lowers his upper body onto Mickey. His head ends up on Mickey's belly, Ian's hands coming up to hug at his love's sides as best they can in this position. Mickey sort of freezes, sort of has a shock-factor moment — three days, since he's properly touched Ian.

He quickly melts, though, letting his phone fall beside him and Mickey tilts his head to the side a little.

"Hey," he confusedly says, and Ian buries his face into Mickey's shirt before resting his chin there, looking up at the shorter man. He's still not in much of a talking mood; crap, Mickey can't really remember the last time that Ian spoke. But he's responsive, and he's cuddling Mickey, and it's okay. "Missed me today?" he teases softly.

"Yeah," Ian croaks, voice like a puff of dust from his lack of using it. "A lot," he mumbles. He gets his hands under Mickey's shirt, splaying his hands over toned hips, dipping his head to plant a kiss on the slither of skin revealed. Mickey's breath hitches from the full, lovey feeling overwhelming his chest.

He tentatively reaches out to comb his fingers through Ian's messy hair, breathing out in relief when Ian makes a soft sound and immediately leans into it. He buries the whole half of his face into Mickey, eyes squeezed shut, Ian's grip like a vice on his hips.

" 'M not going anywhere, Red," he tells Ian quietly, still running his hand through soft hair. Mickey brings a hand to rest on Ian's upper back. "Promise."

"I missed you so much." Ian's voice sounds cracked, like he's about to cry. Mickey tries to pull him closer with the hand on his back, hugging his calf around one of Ian's thighs. It's surprisingly comfortable, having Ian lie on him like this, like some weighted blanket. That, plus the fact that Mickey will not be moving an inch until Ian decides he's had enough for now. He's beyond grateful that that doesn't seem to be anytime soon.

"I missed you too. Didn't wanna leave ya, I ended up running late for work," he chuckles. Ian's cheek pulls against Mickey's shirt because of his own smile.

They stay quiet for a while, breathing deep with Ian shuffling to press closer to Mickey every couple of minutes. He'll occasionally run his hands up and down Mickey's sides, just soaking him in, eyes closed. Mickey's still combing his now-tingling fingers through Ian's hair.

At one point, Ian breathes in deep, but it's shaky. And he buries the front of his face into Mickey's shirt as he takes another stuttering inhale through his mouth.

"I'm sorry," Ian sobs gently. Mickey feels his nose sting when he realises that Ian's crying. His Ian, the fucking light of his life, his god damn soulmate.

Mickey shushes him and hugs Ian closer.

"It's not your fault, Red. Nothin' wrong with you at all," he reassures quietly, vocals strained with the effort to not cry with Ian. "Good and bad, sickness and health, right man?" Mickey tries to joke. Ian gives a broken sob and a nod, resting his forehead against Mickey. "I fuckin' love you, Ian. You hear me?" he asks. Ian presses his face into him again.

Mickey moves his hands to cup Ian's face, making this beautiful fucking man look up at him. He wants the words to brandish into Ian's mind.

"I fuckin' love you. You hear me?" Mickey repeats, tears in his own eyes. Ian tilts his head to kiss his palm as he nods. Mickey moves a hand back to coarse through Ian's hair. "Need you to never forget that, Ian. Ever."

"I won't," Ian promises.

"Nothin' wrong with anything we got going on, okay? We take care of each other. I wouldn't trade this shit for the world." And he might be rambling, might be saying too much, but who gives a shit? It's nothing but true. Thick and thin, that's the baseline. Mickey couldn't ask for more, because there's nothing more that he wants.

Ian's full-on crying now, his body shaking. The pads of his fingers press down into Mickey's skin like they're clinging on for dear life. Mickey lets his head fall back and keeps Ian close, smoothing one of his hands over Ian's upper back, the other once more playing comfortingly with his tousled hair.

"Ya vas tak kokhayu," Mickey murmurs in sigh at some point, completely absentmindedly. Ian's calmed down aside from the occasional hiccup or sniffle, but they're okay.

"Wha's that mean?" Ian slurrs in a tired mumble, looking up at the other man, cheek still on his stomach. Mickey didn't realise he slipped into Ukranian.

"Means I love you so much," he smiles, meeting Ian's eyes. "Zabahato. Too much. Scares me sometimes."

Ian's eyes prick with tears again. Mickey moves the hand in his hair to swipe his thumb under Ian's eyes when a tear spills over.

Ian goes back to cozily lying all wrapped up in Mickey, visibly eased.

And they stay like that for the rest of the night. They don't speak; they barely make a noise other than mutual content sighs and a few happy hums from Ian.

Ian's clingier, the next day. Mickey manages to use some overtime hours as leverage for time off and lets Ian hold onto him like a lifeline for the majority of the day. Ian helps him make pancakes, chocolate chip ones for lunch because they woke up late, but only because it gives him a reason to share a close space with Mickey. Not that he really needs one.

"I love you, my little fuckin' parasite," Mickey chuckles when they're watching Pink Panther that night. On the couch, together this time. Ian's got his head in Mickey's lap, cheek against his thigh and a blanket around him. Mickey's got one of Ian's hoodies on to keep him warm. He grumbled when Ian couldn't hide his smile at the sweater paws Mickey has had to keep pushing up his arms since he put it on.

"Love you too, life source," Ian mumbles. Mickey feels his stomach flutter and leans down to kiss Ian's temple despite how uncomfortable it is for him to do. Ian hums, more similar to a purr and kisses Mickey's knee. It's covered by his sweatpants, but it still warms Mickey to his core.

Ian struggles, sometimes. He pulls away to the point where he may as well be running in the opposite direction.

But it's alright. Because they always end up here; holding onto each other, physically inseparable for an indefinite amount of time.

Mickey still would never ask for more.