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We Do What We Must To Survive

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Ian awoke to a silent house. He remembered when it had been impossible to even attempt to sleep past 8am in the Gallagher house, the amount of people residing in the knackered building creating its own white noise that was impossible to quieten or ignore.

Now with just Ian, Fiona and Liam left, the place was quiet. Empty.

Carl was still in juvie, he’d been due out last month but the idiot had gotten into a fight just a few days before he was up for release and had got another 60 days added to his sentence. Ian had gone to see him and tried to talk some sense into his younger brother. He wasn’t that hopeful that his message of needing to pull himself together had got through, but it did seem that the wannabe gangster had now realised juvie wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, so all the redhead could do was hope that was enough to keep Carl from doing anything else stupid.

Till he was out at least.

Lip had been half way out the door since he’d started at college but he could always be relied on to pop in at least once every few weeks. Check on his siblings, see how everyone was doing. Now they hadn’t seen him for months.

Ian and Fiona had only been looking out for their brother when they’d mention how unwise his little affair with Helene really was. Surely he must know that it wouldn’t last, it couldn’t. In the end she was a married woman and all Lip amounted to was her latest play thing, but the supposedly genius Gallagher had refused to listen. Lip had always managed to be spiteful with his words, targeting where it would hurt most. He’d accused them both of not being supportive, of being jealous that he actually had someone.

Fiona had just looked sad, the ink on her divorce papers barely dry.

Ian was just angry. Angry and unhappy.

At the time he had just worked through the initial fuzziness that was the side-effect of his newly adjusting meds, and Lip’s words cut deep, the situation that had happened not even two months before with Mickey still so painful. He knew everything had been ruined, ruined by his own actions, the memory still burnt like a hot poker. And Lip knew that. And so Ian had backed off. He’d told Lip to do whatever the fuck he wanted, he wouldn’t hang around to watch him fuck up. Again. And when Fiona had not immediately backed Lip up, like he was used to, he’d turned on her too and they’d parted on less than friendly terms.

They hadn’t seen Lip since. Not even a phone call or a text.

While the sudden loss of his brother had left a sour taste in his mouth and a definite emptiness in his life, the anger remained and he had no urge to break the silence with him. Lip would come crawling back when it went to shit. But for now, Ian would endure the silence.

The situation with Debbie however, was a little more delicate.

After finding out about the pregnancy they’d been many screaming matches between the redhead and her big sister. Debbie was adamant that she was keeping the baby. She was ready to be a mother, have a family with Derek. Fiona had insisted that was the wrong decision but Debbie was stubborn.

Except Derek bailed. Told Debbie there was no way he could be a father, his parents weren’t willing to take her or the baby in and suddenly everything didn’t look so great for the Gallagher. The dream she’d had not ever going to become a reality.

Fiona had persuaded her to get an abortion, had gone with her to make sure she went through with it and had tried to be there for her during the expected mix of emotions that hit the teenager after.

However her guilt and sadness remained past the initial few days after the procedure, Debbie knew she couldn’t have coped with a baby at 15, but that didn’t mean she hadn’t loved it, loved the idea of it. She became reserved, wary of those around her. Especially of Fiona. While it wasn’t completely her fault, Debbie did blame her older sister. And Fiona had understood, knew she was the representation of the internal struggle her little sister was still having and if it helped her then Fiona was willing to take the scape goat role on.

Even when it meant the redhead asked to move out for a while. Just to go stay with Kev and V. It provided her with a stable home, in close contact with her guardian, but also with the space she seemed to so desperately need.

And it appeared to be working. Aiding V with the twins surprisingly helping to lift her mood, and the bond between the two sisters had slowly been mending. Ian had come home the other day to find them baking in the kitchen together, Fiona looking thrilled to have her back, even for a bit, and Debbie had the easy smile that had been so desperately missing for so long. Ian had given her a soft kiss on the cheek. His way of saying, ‘I’m glad you are here.’ Debbie just smiled coyly.

He had a feeling she would be back home soon. But for now, it was just the three of them.

After years of a fit to burst house, the space was an unexpected luxury. Fiona still had her own room and Ian had moved out into what had been Lip’s room. No point in him squashing into a tiny single bed when there was a perfectly good double bedroom available to him. That left Liam alone in the boy’s room, at least till Carl came home, and until he did Liam had made himself at home on the top bunk.

Fiona had only just stopped piling a bunch of pillows on the floor next to the bed with the fear the littlest Gallagher would roll off and hurt himself. But Liam had reminded her one day during breakfast that he was 5 now and in Kindergarten which meant he was a big boy, and big boys didn’t roll out of bed.

Ian had managed a small laugh at that, the first real one he’d managed in months, and he’d kissed his little brother sweetly on the head as he waited for his body to stop the shaking he had come to expect after his morning dose. 

It had been touch and go for a bit. After what had happened with Mickey, after he watched Sammi run him away and did nothing, the redhead had refused pills. Adamant that he was fine, he didn’t need them. It was when his recklessness during a bout of mania nearly seriously hurt Liam that Fiona had screamed at him that he had no option but to take his pills. If he didn’t, he needed to leave.

It had been the wake-up call he needed.

He’d pulled himself together and asked Fiona to take him to the clinic where they set him up on a meds programme. It had been hit and miss to begin with. One combination had intensified his lows, leaving him sobbing on the kitchen floor one evening while Fiona tried to comfort the broken man. Another batch had given him the most terrifyingly vivid nightmares.

And then they had found a happy medium, the current cocktail of drugs managing to give Ian some semblance of normality back in his life.

It was now that his head had levelled out though that he truly understood the extent of his past actions. The mania and the impulsiveness. The dangerous situations he’d put himself in, put Yev in. But most of all, the pain he had caused the one person who had done everything for him, the one person who stood by him no matter what.

Each day he woke up with the same feeling of regret as the previous one. It never stilled or lessened, he only learnt how to live with it.

He couldn’t even fully remember the words he’d said to Mickey on the porch six months ago, the whole thing was pretty blurry to him. But the brunet’s face was burned into his skull, the look of complete heartbreak. Just thinking about it made Ian feel sick. Because no matter how annoying Mickey’s interference had been, his constant attention and questioning, it could never compare to the pain of his absence.

 In Ian’s bed, by his side. In his life altogether.

Mickey had loved him, loved him far more than he had deserved and what had Ian done? Thrown it all back in his face.

Ian loved Mickey. He had before, he was sure of that, but now it was something he couldn’t even attempt to doubt. He loved Mickey Milkovich more than anything else, but it was too late, his opportunity had been missed.

It had taken him a while to pull himself together but by the time he did, Mickey was gone.

Nobody knew where he was, not his siblings, nor Svetlana. All he knew from Iggy was that the house had been repossessed and when the older Milkovich had come back from a 3 week stint at his latest fling he'd found their stuff lying out on the street, his younger brother nowhere to be found.

 

Ian ran a tired hand over his face as he pulled himself out of bed to take a piss and brush his teeth.

Changing into a pair of clean boxers, he grabbed some workout gear and quickly slipped them on, along with a pair of socks and his new running shoes which had been his present from Fiona and Liam for his last birthday, before silently as possible descending the stairs so as to not wake up the other two Gallaghers. It was barely after 7am, still too early for them to be up to send Liam off to school and for Fiona to head to her shift at Patsy’s.

Ian busied himself with making some de-caff coffee and popping a few slices of bread in the toaster. Covering them in butter once they were toasted.

When he was sure his stomach wasn’t empty, he grabbed his medication from the top shelf of one of the kitchen cupboards and shook out his three pills.

Placing the bottles back in their position away from Liam’s reach, he grabbed his remaining coffee and went to sit at the breakfast bar. He knew better than to try and take his pills standing up. Tossing them into his mouth, the redhead winced as he washed them down with his hot drink. No matter how often he took them, they still managed to taste like crap.

He succeeded in placing his mug down in time before the shakes started. Previously it had been his whole body failing to control itself. Now it was mainly his hands, but it made him feel unsteady on his feet also so he always took them sitting down to be sure he didn’t do something stupid like fall over.

He waited the side-effects out, and when the shakes were through he got up and made his way out the front door to set off on his morning run.

Fiona joined him on Saturdays but during the week it was just him, and honestly he wasn’t sure if he loved or hated the alone time.

His running had certainly deteriorated. The once fit man now ran slower, became tired quicker and had to give up sooner but he refused to be disheartened. He vowed to build his stamina back up and it felt good to do something normal again. Something that was his before the bipolar fucked it all up. The routine also helped with his treatment, and Ian wanted to do everything he could to try and keep in control of his condition.

It was as he turned a corner that he ran into someone exiting the grocery shop, knocking the man’s bag out of his hand.

“Oh Fuck, I’m so sorry man.” Ian panted, reaching to pick the bag up to hand back to the guy.

“Ian?”

Ian looked up and found he recognised the guy. It was Calvin, one of the dancer’s he had been quite close to when he’d danced at the fairy tale.

“Oh Calvin, hey. How are you?” While the reminder of his dancing days weren’t exactly welcome, Calvin had been a good friend to him back then and he was actually quite pleased to see the man again. Like Ian, he was from the Southside and understood the significance of being a gay man in their neighbourhood.

Even Mickey had kind of liked him, but Ian shook that thought out if his head, now was not the time for that and he focused on Calvin’s reply.

“I’m good thanks. Got a new job, I’m some PA bitch at a firm in the Northside. Pay might not be as good as the tips we used to earn, but it’s nice. Legit, you know?”

Ian smiled and nodded.

“You working anywhere now?” Calvin questioned.

“Er yeah, I’m a waiter down at Patsy’s. It’s not much, but it’s something right?”

Calvin nodded enthusiastically.

“I know what you mean. How you been anyway? It’s been ages since I saw you last. And how’s that Mickey of yours, still as polite as ever?” Calvin joked.

Ian felt his heart clench, all he could let out was “Not together anymore” in a mumble.

The ex-dancer could see the topic was touchy for him so just nodded sympathetically in response and much to Ian’s relief, he swiftly changed the subject.

“Hey, me and a few of the other guys from the club are actually going out tonight, bit of a reunion, you should totally come. It’ll be fun!”

Ian hadn’t been out since before everything, and he wasn’t so sure it was a good idea.

“I dunno…”

Calvin interrupted him “Come on, it’ll do you good. Get back out there and all that.”

That’s the last thing he wanted to do but he refused to tell Calvin that.

“I’m not sure. I might be busy.”

“How about this” Calvin began, “think on it and decide tonight and if you want to join us just drop me a text and I’ll let you know the plan. You can’t say no to that.”

Ian mulled it over, he could agree to that. It wasn’t a yes. “Okay, but I’m not making any promises.”

Calvin just smiled warmly, “No problem, hopefully see you tonight, but if not, don’t be a stranger.”

Ian nodded and with that Calvin set off down the street with one final wave.

 

After his literal run in with Calvin, Ian had decided to head back home. Entering through the back door he found Fiona up getting Liam’s packed-lunch together while he sat at the dining table eating a bowl of cereal.

“Ian!” Liam called out as he walked through the kitchen door, a dribble of milk falling down his chin as he smiled mid-mouthful. Fiona looked up and gave her younger brother a smile.

“Good run?”

“Hey buddy” Ian responded to Liam as he walked over to sit at the kitchen island so he could talk to Fiona. She placed a glass of cold water in front of him as he did so. She no longer asked if he took pills, mainly because she had a habit of counting them to check. Ian had learnt not to get angry at people checking up on him, especially Fiona. The stuff he'd done when he was unmedicated had affected them too. Badly. They had every right to be concerned if he wasn’t taking them. So he chose to pretend it didn’t happen, never let Fiona catch on to the fact he knew exactly what she was doing.

“Yeah it was good. I actually bumped into an old friend from the club.”

Fiona looked up quickly a look of concern flashing across her face before it went blank in her attempt to cover it up. “Oh?” Was all she said.

“Not like that. He’s alright, one of the calmer ones, he doesn’t even work there anymore and even when he did he refused all the drugs.”

Fiona looked happier in that knowledge.

“He, erm, he actually asked me if I wanna go out tonight. But, don’t worry I didn’t say yes, I’m meant to text him if I’m up for it but I probably won’t.”

“Well why not?”

Ian couldn’t help but look at Fiona in shock, he was sure she would be totally against the prospect of going out, no doubt to boys town, with all the drugs and temptations.

“You think I should?”

“I dunno, do you want to?”

Ian shrugged, sure it would probably be fun, but the idea made him feel nervous. Surely it wasn’t a good idea. “I mean, kinda I suppose.”

“Then why not? You’re doing well. Meds are working and you’ve been good for months now. I trust you Ian, maybe you need to trust yourself. You used to enjoy dancing, way before the bipolar and now you avoid it because of what went down when you were manic.”

Ian couldn't helped but feel shame when he thought back to that period of his life not that many months ago. The stuff he did to his family, to Mickey.

“Take it back Ian, don’t let the Bipolar take the things you love away from you. You’ve basically been a recluse the past few months, you need to start living your life again. Fully.” Fiona finished.

He couldn’t help but think that it already had, but he nodded and contemplated her words.

“Yeah maybe. I’ll think about it. I’m gonna go have a shower and get ready for work. I’ll see you at Patsey’s later.”

“Okay, I’ll see you later.” Fiona warmly replied before turning to Liam and telling him to go find his bag ready for school.

Ian thought on Fiona’s words all throughout his shower as well as his journey to work, going back and forth between saying yes and saying no. It was as he was putting his wallet and phone into his locker that he quickly unlocked his phone and sent a message to Calvin before he could change his mind again.

To: Calvin
[Sent:09:53am]

I’m in, what’s the plan?

 

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Ian felt nervous as fuck. He’d come home to grab a quick dinner, take a shower and get dressed ready to head out to meet up with Calvin. As he came down the stairs Fiona looked up and jokingly wolf-whistled.

“Looking good Gallagher. Your muscles are definitely starting to come back in full force.” She said with an exaggerated wink.

Ian flipped her off whilst smiling. He’d opted for dark skinny jeans and a plaid button up shirt with the top few buttons undone, sleeves rolled up to his elbows. Warm enough clothing to protect him from the harsh Chicago wind but still suitable for inside the club. He remembered when he’d have felt completely confident when he used to head into boys town, knowing to expect plenty of positive attention thanks to his looks.

But now some of that confidence had gone, replaced instead with anxiety at what to expect. He hoped he could keep it under control until he got past the initial shock of being back in the all too familiar environment of flashing lights and sweat soaked male bodies.

“I’ll try to keep it down when I get back so I don’t wake you.” Fiona just laughed sweetly.

“Oh honey it’s nice to think you actually expect me to be able to sleep. I’ll appreciate you not waking Liam but I worry when you’re out, I always worried when any of you were out late, but now, without the distraction of the others, I’m not gonna be able to stop thinking about you till you’re home safe.” Fiona managed to look hopeful and depressed all at once.

Ian leant forward and kissed her gently on the cheek.

“I know. Stick a movie on, maybe ring Debbie and I’ll be back before you know it.”

Fiona laughed and shouted out to Ian as he left through the front door. “Go get ‘erm tiger.”

 

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It turned out that Calvin was meeting up with some of the other less intense guys they used to dance with back at the fairy tale. The ones who had steered clear of the drugs and heavy partying. The ones he had gravitated towards in the beginning, until the mania had peaked and he had been pulled towards the very activities he’d originally been avoiding.

They were all happy to see him, none of them looking at the redhead with judgement in their eyes which he was indebted for. They didn’t know everything, but they knew enough and he was doubly grateful when they didn’t push when he refused a drink and continued not to for the whole evening. Their night started in one of the quieter bars on the outskirts of boys town and Ian was relieved that when they moved onto the club, it wasn’t the fairy tale. Although he would have to walk past the place on his way back to the L.

At first he felt rigid, unsure of how his body should move, failing to feel the beat of the music. But then he had started to think less, to let himself go a bit, something he hadn’t done for a long time, and he soon found it all started coming back to him. He danced, and laughed and screamed the lyrics to the music till he was hoarse in the throat and they all decided to call it a night.

The group of men stumbled out of the entrance. The others drunk and giddy while Ian was just high on the endorphins shooting around his body. They all said their goodbyes, Ian being made to promise to do this again some time, before they left to go home, Ian heading the opposite way to the rest of them.

He had unconsciously quickened his pace as he closed in on the fairy tale, almost going too quickly to notice the two figures hiding in the dark of the alley next to his old workplace.

Almost.

He wasn’t sure why they had caught his attention, but he was glad they did. As he turned his head to get a better look at the scene before him he caught on to the fact the shorter man, the one trapped against the wall, didn't appear to be happy with the way the other was touching him. Ian walked down further into the alley, his eyes now adjusting to the darkness when he realised the struggling man was being held up forcefully against the wall, his face mushed into the brickwork, his pants around his knees.

“Hey, what the fuck are you doing?” Ian shouted, startling the man who Ian could now see was strong but old, wearing a cheap suit and a dirty smirk. He seemed exactly like the usual fairy tale customer. Ian darted forward and flung the creep off the trapped man, punching him in the face before he managed to scuttle off.

The guy he’d been trying to attack had managed to pull his jeans up but was swaying dangerously as he struggled with his zipper. Before Ian was able to ask if he was okay the man started to keel over and Ian just managed to catch him before he face planted into the wall.

He flipped the now unconscious man carefully in his hold and his breath hitched when he looked down at his bloodied face. The very familiar face.

“Mickey?”

Chapter Text

Mickey awoke with the same aches and pains he did every morning, he could almost ignore them now. Well kind of. He stretched his arms above his head in an attempt to rid himself of the permanent nick in his lower back and neck. It didn’t work.

He sighed and sat up, pausing as the worn room started to tilt, still feeling the effects of the night before. When the room came into focus again he ran a tired hand over his face and used the chair that was next to his bed which he was sure was rotting, to help pull himself up. It was more of a dirty mattress on the floor with a thin sheet for some kind of warmth then an actual bed, but it was better than the floor of an alley, so he was better off than he could be. Then he had been.

When he’d managed to get himself upright he grabbed the faded towel that was draped over the back of the chair and stumbled through the door, or where the door of his room would have been if it were still there. Instead a dirty curtain hung there to give some semblance of privacy.

Mickey had quickly learnt there was no room for privacy, not here.

Making his way down the grimy corridor to the communal bathroom at the opposite end the brunet was happy to find the cramped room free. Guessing everyone was either already up and out working for the day or were still crashed out after the night before like he’d been.

Starting the shower Mickey carefully removed his clothes and folded them up on the least dirty surface he could find. The longer he can keep them clean, the longer he can go without having to pay out to use a laundrette.

Stepping into the brown tinged tub he notices the water isn’t completely cold so he must be one of the first to have a shower today. Washing himself as quickly as he can, he almost laughs. To think just a few years ago he’d been considered the dirtiest white boy in America, now, living in an even bigger shithole then before, he never failed to take a very thorough shower each day.

In his line of work he couldn’t afford to not be clean.

Rinsing off, he shut off the water and grasped for the towel, drying himself before wrapping it around his hips, picking up his clothes and heading back to his room.

Once he’d dried his hair as much as the damp towel would allow he grabbed a clean pair of boxers and looked over the clothes he had to choose from, not that he had many clothes to choose from. He didn’t have much of anything really. Everything he had to his name could fit into a small rucksack. His whole life in one small bag. Sometimes he wished he’d thought to pick up more when he’d had to leave the house, but knowing how difficult it had been just to drag around and protect the little he had he knew it was probably for the best.

Besides what did any of it mean anymore. It was just stuff. Things.

Choosing the tightest fitting pants he owned and a black tank top, he pulled his shoes on and stood up to leave. The watch he never took off was the only personal item he really had anymore. No matter how much he wished he could just chuck out the object that held so many painful memories of a past life, he couldn’t.

He had nothing else to take other than the small bottle of lube already in his back pocket. Any money he’d make tonight would be notes stuffed in the bottom of his pockets, half being spent instantly and basically the rest going to Richy when he came to collect on Sunday.

The Milkovich had started off taking condoms, but most guys refused to use them. He’d began by rejecting to go all the way with them but when he realised that if he was going to survive out here he couldn’t afford to refuse people, he gave up. Besides, saved him money anyway didn’t it.

His phone had been stolen months ago by some asshole on a particularly rough night as he lay passed out behind a dumpster. They’d been a moment when he’d considered replacing it, but when he’d thought about it who did he have to call? Nobody had tried ringing him for weeks now. Anyone he spoke to he met on street corners, so he’d saved his money and put it to better use.

And thinking of that better use now, he reached under the mattress to grab the small plastic bag he kept under there. Shaking out the two pills that were left he placed them on his tongue and let them dissolve. Pills weren’t what he was really after, but it’s all he had left and he needed to take the edge off till he could get some cash and buy a few grams of coke later. He’d used his last line the night before. Pills were a cheap and easy high so they were always his backup.

Besides, tricks would often give him samples of party favours for free thinking it would encourage him to do the fucked up stuff they fantasised about. They didn’t have to know it was unnecessary. Nothing was off limits to Mickey, not anymore.

Closing his eyes he took a few moments to feel the high begin to wash over him until his watch beeped signalling he should leave. His plan would be the same as any other night. Get out to boys town for 6 to catch the early birds, stay until after the clubs closed to deal with the stragglers then head to his dealer, have a few lines before crashing till the early evening tomorrow ready to start again.

Rinse, repeat.

 

 

 

Mickey was having a pretty slow night. He’d given a couple of blowjobs behind Spin and a quick handjob to some nervous looking thug in the alleyway besides the fairy tale. If he wasn’t so high he’d probably laugh at the irony of that.

But that barely gave him $100. If he was going to make enough for an 8 ball tonight as well as make up the rest of what he owed to Richy he’d need to find a few johns to actually fuck. Or much more likely, fuck him. One fuck should do it, and he was in the right place to find it.

Every night he was here he always thought it was kind of poetic how a place he’d despised so intensely less than a year ago was now his main haunt, where all his best money came in. He’d taught himself not to think about everything the club brought up so now all he got was a pang in his chest when he first arrived and the memories hit which he cured with a pill or two, a bump if he had any on him.

Standing at the mouth to the alley beside the fairy tale Mickey huddled into himself as much as he could while still giving off the aura of availability. His high might be numbing him but it wasn’t enough that he failed to notice the bitter Chicago wind on his bare arms. As it got colder and colder the temptation to wear his thin hoodie became greater, but it would lessen his game. His johns were reeled in by seeing exactly what was on offer, the jacket hiding his assets would cost him.

Mickey hadn’t had to endure a winter out here yet, but he’d heard from the others in the den about how harsh it could be. Of people, their friends, who’d fucked up and died from the cold. There was a reason he usually avoided these people and it wasn’t just down to his natural dislike of socialising.

It was obvious that he’d have to think of something soon, the streets were the main problem but on top of that his room didn’t even have heating, with a window that didn’t shut properly letting in a permanent draft. He was pretty fucked.

But for now he was focused on something else.

A tall guy with greying hair stumbled out of the entrance to the fairy tale running his hand down his wrinkled cheap suit, the recognisable signs of a recently enjoyed lap dance. The perfect warm up to his act Mickey always thought. The guy’s eyes were visibly scanning for someone to help fix the problem that was in his pants.

When his gaze fell on Mickey it was obvious that his interest peaked. The brunet’s height was actually an advantage out here, that and his bubble butt. The height making him look younger. At first the connotation of that disgusted him. Now he forced that out of his mind and only saw it as an advantage for himself.

Mickey turned and walked deeper into the alley with the knowledge the man would be following him down. And sure enough once he was far enough in for the noise of the main road to be muffled he heard the soft clip of his cheap dress shoes.

The brunet leant back against the brick wall as the man crowded into him, his obvious erectly pressed into his left thigh as he tried to get some friction.

“What you after?” Mickey smirked.

“That great fucking ass of yours is what I’m after.” he responded, his grabby hands making their way to grope at his target.

Unfazed the brunet just nodded.

“A hundred will get you a fuck. No kissing though.”

Pulling out a small, clear bag and waving it in Mickey’s face, the guy smirked.

“Will this sweeten the deal?”

Considering it, Mickey noticed his high was wearing off. A pill and maybe dropping it to $90 would work.

“Hmm, might knock something off but I’ll have to see how good it is first.” He teased.

The old man just leered, snatching one of the little red pills out and placing it on Mickey’s already waiting tongue.

With a swallow and a small smile it was gone.

“Good shit ain’t it? Good enough for a free taste of that sweet ass I bet.”

Mickey just scoffed and pushed the guy off and beginning to walk away. “No cash, no fuck.”

He’d only made it a few steps before he felt a hand gripping his wrist, dragging him backwards. Yet what surprised him most was that as he swung around to push the man off he felt his balance go and he managed to stumble over his own feet.

That wasn’t normal.

It was when he felt himself being held face first against the cold brickwork, muscles not co-operating to push the man off, that he realised something was really wrong and the pill must have been some bad shit. He’d been a mug and freely taken it.

The fucker had actually roofied him.

As he felt himself becoming dizzier and dizzier he caught onto the fact his jeans were now around his knees and the fucker’s wrinkly hands were pushing at his boxers in an attempt to get them down too whilst still trying to hold his struggling body up. In a last ditched effort he threw he elbow back to try and wind the guy. All it seemed to do was anger him and his attacker retaliated by grasping him by his hair and pulling his head back before slamming into the wall.

Intense pain shot through his head and he let out a panicked moan, feeling blood begin to trickle down his cheek. He was barely able to keep his eyes open let alone work on trying to stop the guy getting what was now his obvious goal.

How was this his life, how had he gotten to the point where he was just another queer boy raped in a dingy alley.

Before he was able to actually pass out the harsh weight behind him disappeared and he heard a muffled commotion behind him. All Mickey could concentrate on though was pulling his jeans up and attempting to zip them up. Trying to build a protective layer back up in case the guy managed to grab him again.

His fingers fumbled over the zip and he felt himself swaying and then falling forwards.

He prepared himself to hit a cold brick wall but was surprised when he felt warm, strong arms gripping him.

All he could think was how nice they felt, how familiar, before he blacked out.

He was sure he heard someone calling his name.

Chapter Text

Ian had crouched there in the dirty alley with Mickey in his arms for a solid minute as he tried to take in the situation that he’d suddenly found himself in.

Too many questions were going through his head.

Why was Mickey here, in boystown? Who had that guy been? Had he really seen what he thought he had seen? Why did Mickey look so… vulnerable?

It was the contemplation of Mickey’s state which unfroze the redhead.

Mickey was obviously not in a good way and Ian was concerned why he was passed out. At first he’d panicked believing the only option was that the head wound he had, the blood was stuck dirtily to his forehead, had knocked him out. It was as he looked around the alley floor as if it would grant him some insight into whether an ambulance was needed that he actually got an answer.

A small bag of pills lay there, its half empty contents spilled, evidently dropped by Mickey’s attacker. Managing to stretch over he grabbed the bag between his fingertips to inspect the two pills that remained in the bottom of the small plastic container.

It didn’t take much for him to realise what the little red pills were, he rubbed slightly at one of them until the dye came off to reveal the white pill underneath.

He’d seen Rohypnol around the club enough when he’d been working there to recognise it straight away, hell he’d ended up on it by the end of the night on occasions.

At least the roofie explained the unconsciousness, but there was still plenty of questions Ian had.

 But first he had to find somewhere safe for the man, with no coat and a sleeveless shirt, Mickey must be freezing, and the sudden blood loss wouldn’t be making him feel any better. Standing up he manoeuvred the limp man till he was holding him bridal style, allowing the brunet’s head to lean gently against his chest.

Ian tried not to dwell on how easy it was to lift up the once sturdy man but instead walked out of the alley to hail a cab back to the Gallagher house, the only safe place he could think of.

Thankfully a cab had driven past almost instantly and slowed down to a stop in front of the redhead to allow him to slide himself and Mickey into the back. The driver looked at Ian questioningly in the rear-view mirror until Ian stared him out and he returned his eyes back on the road to drive them to the address Ian gave. Paying no attention to the driver after that Ian just stared down at Mickey who laid across the back seat with his head placed gently on the redhead’s lap.

It felt almost instinctual to bring his hand down into Mickey’s soft, dark hair to stroke it gently.

Whether it was more to sooth Mickey or himself Ian didn’t know.

 

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Fiona was startled awake by the door banging open.

“What the fuck Ian?” she moaned blearily, not even looking up to check it was him. Who else would it be?

“Could be a little quieter when… WHAT THE FUCK IAN!?” she interrupted herself when she got up and turned around finally to look at her little brother only to find him standing in the doorway looking lost, an unconscious brunet in his arms.

“I didn’t know what else to do” he begged, the full force of his puppy dog eyes aimed at his older sister as he walked further into the living room to place the man down gently on the sofa she had just been occupying.

Looking down curiously she let out a soft, startled gasp when she got a proper look at the man’s face.

“Ian. Is that Mickey?” she asked, eyes wide.

Ian had hurried over to the nook under the stairs to grab a huge pile of blankets and was now proceeding to layer the Milkovich in every single one of them. The unconscious man not even stirring at the fuss.

Fiona just managed to catch Ian’s response of a shaky nod.

“What happened?” she asked, unable to look away from the blood drying on Mickey’s head.

“I.. I was walking back from the club, Past the fairytale, and found some guy getting attacked down an alley. I mean I didn’t realise who it… I stopped it, I had to. But then the asshole attacking him ran off and then the other guy he collapsed in my arms and… and fuck. It was him. It’s Mickey.” Ian had rushed over his words but it was as if his last admission had even shocked himself and he sank down, sitting roughly on the coffee table directly in front of the sofa.

The realisation of what had just happened sinking in.

Fiona quickly hurried over to sit next to her younger brother, who was quickly working himself up, and wrapped an arm around his shoulder squeezing comfortingly.

“Hey now, calm down. You stopped him. He’s okay now. You saved him.” She soothed.

Ian managed to at least stop himself hyperventilating but leant forward to hide his head in his hands scrubbing harshly at his red eyes.

“Fiona, I think… he was gonna... Mickey’s been roofied and I think the guy… he was gonna r…rape him. He was gonna fucking… His jeans were… down and... FUCK. Mickey couldn’t stop the pervert, he seemed powerless and... I don’t understand.” A sob burst out of his mouth before he managed to stop it.

Fiona took Ian’s face firmly in her hands and made sure he was looking at her before starting.

“It doesn’t matter because it didn’t happen. Nothing happened, you stopped it okay Ian? He is safe here because you got there in time.”

When Ian made no reply she grew insistent.

“Okay Ian?” He responded with a slight nod and a deep breath to try and calm himself further.

Turning back to look at his ex-boyfriend Ian couldn’t help but watch the rise and fall of his chest, any sign that Mickey was still alive Ian would cling to.

“Fiona, I don’t know what to do.” Ian sounded so heartbroken it made Fiona want to cry.

Ian felt his sister leave his side with a squeeze of his shoulder but was back almost instantly with a bowl of warm water and a clean cloth holding it out until the redhead took it.

“You help him.” She replied simply.

“You clean him up and you keep him warm and you keep an eye on him. And when he wakes up you try to do whatever you can because… Ian, he doesn’t look so good.”

Ian looked down at the man lying on the sofa. It wasn’t just the head injury or the effects of the roofie, it was something more.

His skin was deathly pale, too pale even for Mickey, the edge of what seemed like a new tattoo hidden mostly by his thin shirt standing out in stark contrast, and his face was verging on sunken. The shadows under his eyes looking almost permanent. Ian couldn’t help but think back to how he had felt in his arms either. Light, too light. The once lean and muscly man felt almost hollow now.

And that scared Ian more than anything.

Mickey Milkovich had been strong and unbreakable, an anchor of strength for everyone around him.

The man lying in front of Ian now couldn’t be further from the Mickey Ian had seen all those months ago in front of the house.

He looked weak and fragile.

Somehow the unbreakable had been broken.

But Ian had him now, he’d found the person he’d been longing and looking for, for so long. And he wasn’t going to let him go, never again.

He would clean the blood from his face and hair, and he’d stay up all night to watch him and tomorrow when Mickey woke up, Ian would do everything he could to get his ex-partner to stay because while Ian so desperately needed the Milkovich, now it seemed Mickey needed Ian now too, more than ever.

Ian sent Fiona to bed, promising to wake her if he needed anything. There was no point them both staying up to watch Mickey sleep.

When it was just the two young men left downstairs in the dimly lit Gallagher living room Ian tentatively reached his hand out to stroke his thumb gently across Mickey’s sharp cheekbone, revelling in the electricity even that simple touch created.

“What happened to you Mickey?” Ian whispered into the silence, a stray tear running down his cheek.

Ian was scared he knew exactly what, or more likely who, had happened to him.

Chapter Text

Ian sat up throughout the night, his eyes barely leaving Mickey the whole time. If he was tired he didn’t feel it. He had no urge to blink let alone close his eyes, he couldn’t help but fear that if he did something would happen.

The only problem with that was he found himself with too much time to just think, and with him right in front of him, all his thoughts were filled with Mickey and their relationship together.

How they had started. A dirty secret in a freezer, a couple caught in the act on a sofa, two kids reaping the consequences of simply being gay in a shitty place.

Mickey’s marriage and Ian’s own decision to leave for the army. To run away.

Of their time living together after he returned. After Mickey brought him home.

Sure there had been bad moments, fights and arguments, annoyance that Mickey could still not seem to manage to treat what they had as something real and serious. And after he had returned Mickey had given Ian everything and it had been some of the greatest months of his life. Getting to live with the man he’d wanted for so long, to grow a little patch of the shitty Southside for themselves.

But it had all gone awry. The bipolar had ruined everything.

No. Ian knew even back then, when his mind was all over the place, that he couldn’t completely blame what had happened on his disorder.

Some of it was down to Ian being Ian. Of pushing away those helping him and refusing to listen to anyone, even Mickey who had loved him and looked after him more than anyone else had, including his own family.

Looking over at his ex when he managed to pull himself out of his own thoughts, Ian felt a great urge to hold onto him and never let go. Except he knew it was very likely that when Mickey woke up he would want nothing to do with him anymore.

 Heck, he’d given the man no reason to want to.

But the thought of losing Mickey again after just managing to get him back again was causing a sickening feeling in his stomach so he tried to rid the thoughts of all the past mistakes from his head.

At about 5am Ian had the sudden realisation that the sofa probably wasn’t the most comfortable place the injured man could be. So as gently as he could he worked his arms under Mickey’s limp body and yet again carried him bridal style, this time up the stairs towards the bedrooms.

Ian hesitated slightly on the landing, while his first instinct was to put him in his double bedroom, when Mickey woke up it was likely he wouldn’t recognise where he was so Ian decided to put him in his single bed in his old room. Hoping that would bring some semblance of comfort when he finally came to.

Pushing open the door carefully, so as not to wake Liam, he walked in and placed Mickey down on the single bed, he was thankful it was still made up so he could bring the sheet that was folded at the end up and over Mickey’s scrawny body.

Not knowing what to do now, Ian backed up until his back met the wall next to the door and sunk down spreading his legs out in front of him to wait out the rest of the night.

 

------------

 

Mickey felt himself slowly coming to. It was the unexpected sensation of warmth surrounding him that he first noticed, but as his mind began to clear the amazing feeling of soft material embracing him lost his attention when the thudding in his head started. A sharp, lightening pain seeming to spread across his whole forehead.

He opened his eyes cautiously and quickly closed them again with a groan when he was hit by harsh sunlight. That confused him because his room was in the basement of the building, it was basically in permanent darkness thanks to the building’s electricity being a piece of shit.

But if he wasn’t there and he couldn’t possible be in an alley, which was the second most likely option, considering he was so warm and comfortable (although thinking about it that also ruled out his shithole of a room too) then where the fuck could he be?

The shuffling of another person to his right caused him to freeze slightly. He vaguely remembered something going wrong with a John in an alley last night. Shit, he’d been roofied and the guy had had him up against the brick wall. Last thing he remembered was an influx of fear at his attacker having succeeded in getting his jeans out the way.

Fuck, what if… what if the guy had taken him back to his? He could already tell his body would not cooperate if he tried to make a run for it or fight him off if he tried it on again.

Chancing it again, he opened his eyes and waited for his eyes to focus.

Directly in his eyesight, stuck to a sloping wall, were a bunch of random posters. Some for bands he kind of recognised and a few with army propaganda on them.

Mickey wanted to laugh bitterly at the fact he’d seen the posters before.

But then he didn’t want to laugh and felt a strong urge to cry out instead as he took in a little more of his surroundings. The colour of the walls around him, the draws next the bed and the other furniture around the now very familiar room.

Hell the smell, it even smelt the same.

If he hadn’t already realised with a sinking feeling where he was, the other person in the room coming into his line of sight confirmed it.

The Gallagher house.

 

 

Ian wasn’t sleeping but he had closed his eyes to rest them. The curtains hadn’t been drawn and the early morning winter sun was shining directly into his eyes and was kind of giving him a headache but he felt too exhausted to get up and close them.

The room had remained silent except for Liam’s soft snores all night so a sudden quiet but distinct groan had him wrenching his eyes open to look over to its source. His exhaustion was replaced with a sudden rush of adrenaline.

It wasn’t much but he saw Mickey stir slightly, breathing deeply a few times before tentatively opening his eyes. Ian could almost see the cogs turning in his brain as he tried to take in his surroundings.

Mickey’s eyes widened slightly, and then before he even realised what he was doing Ian had unconsciously stepped forward and bright blue eyes whipped around and were staring directly into his. After the initial moment of realising who he was looking at Mickey’s face had schooled into an unreadable expression.

Neither of them spoke for what felt like an eternity until Ian couldn’t take it anymore.

“H... Hey Mick.” He spoke unsurely.

Mickey flinched when Ian spoke, not from volume or surprise but more from the shock of hearing the redhead’s voice after so long. At the familiar nickname nobody had used in months.

“It’s okay, you’re safe. Do you remember what happened?” Ian carried on, Mickey’s silence made him want to curl up into a ball.

Finally Mickey reacted with a half nod-half shake of the head. Ian took it as a ‘kind of’.

“I found you last night. In an alley, by the fairytale. Some guy was… erm, he was trying it on and I think he roofied you but I stopped him and you kinda collapsed. I didn’t know what else to do so I brought you here.”

Mickey listened intently, seemingly unsurprised about Ian’s description of the events of the previous night apart from, it seemed, the fact he was now back at the Gallagher house, and responded with a single stiff nod.

Ian was sure that was all he was going to get until Mickey shocked him with a verbal response. His voice sounded worn and croaky.

“Well thanks then I guess. I’ll… I’ll go now.”

Mickey tried to get himself up, his attempts to leave started to panic Ian. Stepping forward to try and push him back down he didn’t manage to touch Mickey before he flinched back, away from his reach.

Ian stopped instantly and was heartbroken to see the wariness and concern directed at him.

How had it come to this?

Raising his hands to try and show he didn’t mean any harm Mickey didn’t relax at all until Ian took a step back again, no longer in arms reach of the brunet.

“You can’t go Mickey” he said instead. “You’ve got a pretty nasty head wound and you’re still wacked out from the Roofie. I doubt you would be able to stand right now, let alone leave.”

Mickey narrowed his eyes at that and Ian actually felt relief at seeing a familiar reaction from him.

“What do you expect me to do? Stay here?”

“Yes.” Ian replied simply.

Mickey let out a weak but startled laugh.

“Yeah right.”

Ian wasn’t above begging right now. “Look, I know you probably don’t wanna be here right now, with me. But I can’t let you walk away not knowing if you are alright.”

Mickey’s eyes locked back onto Ian’s after having wandered slightly.

“Why? You’ve done that before.”

Mickey’s words ripped through Ian, it almost feeling like a physical burn to his skin because that was exactly what he had done when he had stood by and let Sammi run him off, watching as his sister literally shot at his boyfriend.

That was the last memory Mickey had of Ian.

Mickey hadn’t even said it in an accusing way, more of a sad truth he had come to accept and that made it worse.

 

 

Mickey used the opportunity of Ian’s inner turmoil and proceeded to try and lift himself up properly. He didn’t even manage to get to his feet before the room started spinning and a wave of intense nausea went through him.

Looking frantically around, as best he could in his dizzy state, for something to throw up in, a blue bucket was suddenly presented in front of him and he lent forward just in time to heave up the little contents that were in his stomach.

Gagging for a while Mickey finally felt the urge to throw up dissipate and the feeling of complete exhaustion taking over, the bucket thankfully being taken from his loosening grip. Leaning back so he was lying back on the bed he had just been trying to leave he felt the covers being thrown back over him, although it seemed Ian was being careful not to touch him at all in the process.

“You can’t go anywhere like this Mickey. Look just stay here till you improve. A few days and then you can leave, but promise me you will stay!” Ian pleaded.

He knew instantly that in the long run the best thing to do, except maybe not best for his physical health, would be to leave anyway, but he really did feel like crap and he could barely keep his eyes open.

Maybe a few more hours wouldn’t hurt. Enough time to get back on his feet.

So Mickey felt himself nodding in agreement as he drifted back off to sleep. Already unsure of whether that was really the best thing to do.

 

 

 

The next time Mickey woke up he caught on a lot quicker to where he was and why.

 Although the sun was no longer blinding him it was still very much risen so he guessed he’d only been asleep for a couple of hours. Shuffling weakly his body felt more in control, if only very slightly, and he realised he really needed to piss.

Shoving the blanket off of himself he lifted himself up gingerly, making sure he didn’t do anything that would send him into another bout of heaving into the blue bucket, which he noticed had been washed out and placed next to the bed. Slowly swinging his legs of the single bed he sighed and rubbed at his eyes with his palms.

Looking up he was a little startled to see a small pair of brown eyes watching him curiously from the doorway. The boy giving him an innocent smile when he looked up at him.

“Bet you don’t remember me kid.” He said to Liam, recognising him instantly but still being taken back slightly by how much he had grown since he’d last seen him.

If he was honest, back when he’d spent most of his time here, the youngest Gallagher had probably been his favourite, bar Ian of course.

Seeing Liam made him think of another boy who would probably be unrecognisable to him now.

The thought of his son was painful though and he tried to avoid doing so at all costs.

Mickey had decided after the breakup not to let himself dwell on thoughts about his past life with Ian, but being in this house with the one person who brought back every detail so vividly was making that exceptionally harder.

Carrying Mickey back out of his mind was Liam talking.

“Yeah I do.” Liam chatted cheerily.

Mickey didn’t even have a chance to register that before he carried on.

“You’re Mickey. Ian’s Mickey.”

He laughed sadly, “M’not Ian’s. Not been his for a long time, kid. Shit, not sure I ever was.”

Deciding not to hang around for Liam to say something else that made him think of those painful memories he stood up unsteadily, allowing a few moment before he moved to make sure he was fully balanced, and stumbled slowly to the bathroom. As he stepped through the doorway that Liam had now disappeared from he almost ran straight into Ian who was standing on the top step.

Mickey wondered for a second whether Ian had heard him talking to Liam, but judging by the sad look on his face he was pretty sure of the answer to that. Deciding he didn’t, or at least he shouldn’t care if Ian’s feelings had been hurt, he looked away and carried on his path to the bathroom. Closing the door firmly behind him and allowing himself a deep breath before using the toilet.

After flushing the chain he went over to the sink to wash his hands and rinse his mouth out with the mouthwash he found in the cabinet. Spitting out he gripped the side of the basin tightly in an attempt to lessen the shakes in his hands and paused for a moment to look at himself in the mirror.

Doing so reminded him why he had started avoiding doing that when he saw his reflection staring back.

His face looked sunken, defined by sharp cheekbones and dark circles, the blueness in his eyes seemingly faded. Dimmed.

If Mickey was being honest his faced matched how he felt. Defeated. But actual physical evidence of that made it all seem so much worse so he quickly looked away and exited the bathroom on unsteady legs.

When he opened the door he found Ian still on the landing having clearly been waiting for Mickey to finish up.

He couldn’t look more awkward if he tried.

“Hey. You wanna come downstairs? I made you some food.” He asked cautiously.

While he really wanted to decline and go back to bed where he could carry on avoiding his ex-boyfriend as much as possible, Mickey couldn’t ignore the discomfort his empty stomach was causing him. It had to be at least a day since he drank anything, longer since he’d had something other than a cheap power bar to eat. While the idea of eating made him feel a little sick he understood it was probably something he should do right now so he nodded and went towards the stairs when Ian moved to the side to allow him past.

Ian followed him though and went to put his arms around him in an attempt to help him down. “Here let me help.”

Mickey instantly shrugged him off and shrunk close to the wall so he was as far away as possible without actually moving away.

“I can fucking manage some stairs.” He spat out defensively, choosing to look away from the hurt in Ian’s eyes. Mickey honestly couldn’t see how he had any right to be offended by anything he did. It was hard enough being back here but Ian being so close would be too much.

He’d hurt Mickey more than he probably realised, shying from his touch was the best way to keep all his feelings at bay.

Ian again got the hint quickly, which Mickey was glad of, and backed up and allowed Mickey to start descending the stairs himself.

But about half way down Mickey couldn’t quite manage to keep himself steady anymore and he tripped, his foot catching on the edge of one of the steps. If it wasn’t for Ian rushing next to him and grabbing him around the waist, ignoring Mickey’s weak protests, he would have almost definitely fallen.

“Don’t need your help.” Mickey tried to argue, but it seemed Ian had decided to be forceful this time and just maintained his grip on his waist, giving Mickey a hard look.

“Just shut up and let me help you down the stairs before you stumble and knock your fucking face in.”

Resolving not to push it he allowed Ian to lead him down the rest of the steps and deposit him on the sofa throwing at least three blankets over him and telling him to wait there while he brought the food in.

Despite the anger and hurt felt towards his ex-boyfriend he couldn’t help but think that his body was betraying him as he had to concentrate on trying to ignore the tingling feeling that was left behind everywhere Ian touched.

Ian returned from the kitchen with a glass of water and a plate of eggs and toast. Placing them in front of Mickey he then grabbed a bottle of painkillers from his pocket and put it beside the food.

“I’m guessing you’re not feeling so great, so after you’ve eaten something you might wanna take a few of these.” He offered politely, hesitating before deciding to sit on the other end of the sofa with Mickey.

“Right. Thanks” Mickey offered, not really sure how to act around his now ex-boyfriend.

He managed nearly a full slice of toast and a mouthful of the eggs before admitting defeat, his stomach might be empty but he still felt pretty sick and his stomach wasn’t used to much of anything these days.

Besides. His body was craving something very different from breakfast food right now.

He shakily put the still mostly full plate onto the coffee table and drank some of the water, using it to wash down two painkillers choosing to ignore the look Ian gave him at his non-existent appetite.

Unfortunately his hands were shaking too much and he kept failing at trying to screw the lid of the medicine bottle back on, only helping to increase Ian’s apprehension.

Ian was staring at him with concern in his eyes and Mickey was trying to ignore him, but that became difficult when Ian leant forward and softly removed the bottle from his failing hands and easily screwed the lid on, placing it back onto the table.

“You cold?” He asked, already looking poised to go grab more blankets.

“Nah.” Was all Mickey said in response.

“Then why are you shaking so much? Is it your head do you think?”

Before he even knew what he was saying Mickey answered Ian’s question honestly. “No, I just need a fix.”

He knew he’d made a mistake when Ian’s shoulder’s stiffened and his deep green eyes widened and he mentally berated himself for revealing so much.

“A fix? Of what?” Ian asked.

Mickey just looked away hoping he would drop it but he had no such luck, he should expect it from a Gallagher really.

“Mickey, answer me.” He pushed.

“Just a bit of coke.” He reluctantly answered, his drug habit was nobody’s business but his own, yet Ian couldn’t look more troubled right now.

“Cocaine…How much Mick?” Ian pleaded for an answer but Mickey was taken aback by the use of the once familiar nickname. Ian was looking at him with the most pleading eyes that made him want to look away, so he did as he answered.

“Couple of grams.”

“A week?” Ian questioned almost hopefully but Mickey just looked down and that was all Ian needed to know.

“No. No Mickey. That much! Why?” Ian had shifted closer and closer to himand Mickey had an intense urge to bolt.

“Helps.” He simply answered.

“Helps? Fuck sake Mickey, helps with what?” Ian actually seemed genuinely confused why Mickey had turned to drugs and for some reason that made his blood boil. Hadn’t Ian done the exact same thing back at the club? And shit, he hadn’t even been like Mickey then. Properly alone. He’d chosen to run off, to leave Mickey behind for the first of many times.

“Just helps alright! Can’t feel when I’m on it. Easier not to feel.” Mickey bites back his anger as much as possible but he can see by Ian’s reaction that some of it has seeped through still.

Ian sat there in a stunned silence, letting the admission of Mickey’s goal of numbness wash over him. Were things really that bad for him? The two men sat there for a few moments, before Ian finally asked the question that had been niggling him since he’d found Mickey. Now all the more poignant.

“How do you afford it Mickey? You don’t seem like you have a legit job and you’re not selling?”

Mickey almost wanted to laugh at Ian’s stupidity but instead decided to let him work it out for himself.

“I was on a street corner Ian. What the fuck do you think I was doing?” When Ian still didn’t quite grasp everything he decided to give him a little help.

“I was doing what I’m good at.” With that Mickey got up and walked towards the stairs. He couldn’t deal with this conversation anymore, he didn’t want to be, but he couldn’t help but feel the weight of the judgement that would come from Ian when he realised.

He had no right to but Ian still had the ability to make Mickey feel ashamed of what he was doing, something he had not allowed himself to feel the whole time he’d been working on the street.

He’d done what he had to, to survive. It was whoring himself out or letting himself die in some gutter and Mickey swore he wouldn’t let the shitty world he lived in have the pleasure of defeating him. He wouldn’t let some guy dumping him be the end of his fucking life.

Only problem was Ian wasn’t just some guy.

“I don’t understa…” Ian stood up as if to follow but Mickey just interrupted him with a harsh glare.

“I let people get what they want from me and then at the end of the night they fuck off and leave. At least with them I get paid.”

Not waiting for Ian’s response he turned away from his crumbling face and forced himself to walk up the stairs as quickly and strongly as possible until he reached the safety of the bedroom and practically collapsed onto the bed, curling up on top of the covers and finally allowing the tears to fall from his eyes as yet again the exhaustion from everything took over and he fell asleep.

Unaware of the turmoil going on in the head of the man he had just walked away from.

Chapter Text

Ian just stood there staring at the now empty spot where Mickey had been standing before he’d dropped such a massive bombshell and then made his escape up the stairs. Ian didn’t know whether to cry, scream out loud or just throw up.

Prostitution. Mickey had been… selling himself. To survive. To pay for the drugs that he was so obviously hooked on. Leading a life Ian knew would never have been a choice for him 6 months ago, and yet it was a reality now.

How the fuck had it gotten to this?

Sure Ian had worried for Mickey the last six months, wondering if he was okay. Safe.

Nothing could prepare him for the Mickey he’d gotten back now. Weak, physically and mentally, an aura of complete defeat surrounding him.

Mickey wasn’t just hooked, he was hooking.

Ian didn’t know how long he’d stood there, but it had to have been a while before a touch to his arm brought him out of his scrambled thoughts. Turning to his left he found Fiona, dressed in her Patsy uniform, looking at him intensely with concern in her eyes.

“Ian? What’s wrong?” She asked cautiously.

“I… He…” Ian didn’t know what to say. ‘Mickey’s been snorting coke and fucking men in alley’s to pay for it and it’s my fault.’ Was the gist of it but saying it out loud would feel like he was cementing it. Maybe if he didn’t it would all be a big misunderstanding and Mickey would come back downstairs and tell him he’d gotten the wrong end of the stick. That there was a perfectly innocent other meaning behind what he had said.

But Ian knew that wasn’t true. This was reality, this was Mickey’s reality.

Ian’s inability to speak only added to Fiona’s worry and she guided her brother to the sofa to sit down, her grip not leaving his forearm.

“Ian. Tell me what’s happened.” She pushed. While in general she knew to give her siblings some space, coming home to find Ian frozen in the middle of the living room with the most devastated look on his face that she had ever seen, she needed to know what had happened to cause his meltdown.

“Mickey…” was all the redhead was able to get out before he had to take in a shaky breath which seemed to be his attempt at biting back a sob.

Fiona had been expecting it to be about the Milkovich that had been carried home unconscious the night before. She’d wanted to check on the whole situation this morning but she’d had an early shift and had been reluctant to disturb them so early in the morning when she discovered they’d moved from the living room at some point in the night.

“He… fuck Fi. Coke. He’s on coke.” He managed to choke out.

Fiona felt bad that she wasn’t more shocked but the Milkoviches and drugs had always gone hand in hand and she couldn’t help but remember Ian saying they had a habit of sampling their products in the past anyway.

“Okay, but Mickey’s had coke before. Maybe it’s not too bad.” She said in an attempt to placate Ian.

“No. No, it’s… he’s addicted Fiona. He’s shaking and his body is begging for another hit. A little bit of coke here and there doesn’t cause that. He says it’s a couple of fucking grams a day and he’s paying for it by… he’s… fuck.” Ian didn’t want to share Mickey’s secret (was it a secret?) but he needed someone to talk to.

“Ian?”

Fiona’s heart had sank when she realised that it wasn’t just a bit of coke, but it only got worse when Ian spoke again.

“He’s having sex for money. He’s letting assholes fuck him to pay for his drugs because he has no other alternative. How the fuck is that his life now Fiona?” Ian could no longer keep his sobs in anymore so he just tried to muffle them instead, hiding his face in his hands as his shoulder’s shook with the force of his tears.

Fiona just closed her eyes and mentally winced when she heard what Mickey was now doing. In the beginning when she had first found out about the young couple she hadn’t liked the youngest Milkovich brother but after he’d stepped up with Ian, proven exactly how much he loved her younger brother it was impossible not to form a weird sort of bond with Mickey. She respected him, hell when things had been really bad with Ian’s disorder she’d felt an instinct to try and protect him. As if she would with any of her siblings.

When Ian had broken up with Mickey Fiona had of course been on her brother’s side, Gallaghers stick together, but she’d had nothing but sympathy for Mickey and what Ian had put him through. No matter whether it was actually Ian’s fault or not. And when Mickey had disappeared she’d just hoped that he was doing okay.

It was heart-breaking to realise that he really hadn’t been okay at all.

Reaching forwards she wrapped her arms around Ian’s shoulder and encouraged him to lean forward until his head rested on her shoulder. He didn’t remove his hands from his face but she could feel him leaning into the embrace.

All she could think of to say was “I’m so sorry Ian” but she felt it was probably Mickey those words should have been directed to. It was painful for her, and even worse for Ian, but it was Mickey that was having to live it.

She allowed Ian the time to calm himself down and didn’t speak again until the sobs had gone and all that remained was the hitch in Ian’s breath.

“What are you going to do then?”

Ian raised his head to look at his sister in slight confusion. “Huh?”

“Well obviously something’s wrong. Nobody deserves that kind of life, and definitely not that boy upstairs. Not after everything he’s done for this family.” Ian looked down in guilt at that. She wasn’t aiming to make Ian feel guilty so she tapped at his chin until he looked back up at her.

“No Ian. This isn’t all your fault. You didn’t do this. But neither did Mickey. Its shitty situations and shitty luck that have led to this. Yeah maybe you shouldn’t have broken up with him, and maybe I should have done more to help and maybe Mickey shouldn’t have started to look towards drugs for relief but it is not one of our faults. And it’s no good looking for who to blame. What’s done is done. But what we can do now is help him get back on his feet.” Fiona assured the both of them.

Ian sniffed and nodded slightly, knowing there was no way that he’d be able to simply leave Mickey to fend for himself. Not again.

“So, what are you going to do?” Fiona asked again.

“Honestly. I don’t know. But I’m gonna help him. I… I love him Fi, I never stopped loving me. And I know he most likely wants nothing to do with me, and I’ll take that. Hell I deserve that.” Ian saw Fiona go to protest but he just cut her off.

“No, I do deserve that. I failed him. I pushed and pushed until he gave me everything and then I ran off when everything got too much. So if he no longer wants me, I won’t push him anymore. But I will help him. I won’t let this be his life. I just need to work out how to do it without scaring him away.”

“I think he needs a hug.”

Fiona and Ian’s head whipped around to look at Liam who they hadn’t realised was now also in the room with them.

Ian wiped away his tears, hoping to hide his emotions from his little brother, even if it was probably obvious to Liam that he’d been crying, and smiled as much as he could at the boy.

“What’s that buddy?” He asked.

“Mickey is sad. I like hugs when I’m sad so maybe you should give him a hug. And a hot chocolate. That will make it all better.”

Ian felt himself welling up again, partly from how innocent and sweet Liam’s solution was, but also at the knowledge that no matter how nice the sentiments were a hug and a hot drink were never going to solve Mickey’s problems.

In fact Ian wasn’t sure how to help really at all.

So he opened up his arms to allow Liam to run forward and give him a tight hug hoping that, while it may not be able to do much for Mickey, it could give him the strength to find another way to help him.

 

-----------

 

An hour or so later Ian found himself walking up the stairs with a hot chocolate in his hand. It felt kind of ridiculous but it was his aim to use it as some form of comfort as well as a peace offering. Something to try and get Mickey to talk to him. Hell to look at him for more than a few moments.

Maybe if they could talk properly he could get Mickey to allow Ian to help him.

However as he reached the top of the stairs he could hear shouting coming from the boys room.

Messily abandoning the mug of hot liquid on the side of one of the steps he rushed up the rest of the stairs and flung open the door to find Mickey still lying in his bed, his arms and legs awkwardly thrashing among the covers.

“No… No fuck. You can’t do this. Please. I need…. I don’t want to. NO!” Mickey was crying out.

Ian froze and tried to work out what to do, he was pretty sure he’d read somewhere that you shouldn’t wake someone up if they were sleepwalking, but he stupidly realised Mickey wasn't sleepwalking, he was having a nightmare. And he was obviously petrified.

Without another thought Ian rushed forward and took hold of Mickey firmly, shaking him as gently as possibly while still trying to achieve his aim of waking the terrified man up.

“Mickey you need to wake up. It’s not real, you’re safe. It’s okay.” Ian found himself having to shout over Mickey’s cries but he still didn’t wake up.

“MICKEY” Ian finally bellowed moving his hand’s from holding his shoulders to gripping his face securely. Relief spread through Ian when his final shout jolted Mickey awake, and as he put up no protest, he kept his hold of his face.

Ian barely had time to think of what to say to him when Mickey suddenly lent forward to hide his face in Ian’s chest, his hands gripping tightly onto his shirt, the same one he had been wearing the night before, and his body began to shake, the only indication to Ian that Mickey was now sobbing into his chest.

It was instinctual to bring his arms around his ex-boyfriend and hold him while Mickey finally allowed himself to let out the tears he felt like he’d been fighting for months now.

Ian’s head was conflicted though. While having to hold a broken Mickey was enough to allow a tear to escape his eyes, having him back in his arms again felt undeniably right. He felt guilty for a part of him feeling a kind of relief at being able to hold Mickey again. Even if it was just for a moment. He was almost positive now that there was more going on with Mickey that he hadn't been told, but he wouldn't push Mickey any more then he already had. Hopefully his ex-boyfriend would come to him on time.

Too soon for Ian, although in reality it must have taken at least 10 minutes, Mickey began to settle down and Ian felt the exact moment when the other man suddenly caught on to what was happening, his whole body tensing in Ian’s arms. Reluctantly Ian loosened his grip and as soon as he was able Mickey didn't push Ian away but instead shifted himself away to curl back against the wall at the head of the bed, wrapping his arms around his folded legs as he worked on trying to even out his breathing still.

Ian wondered when Mickey had become so skilled at making himself take up as little space as possible in his environment.

Fighting the urge to follow Ian stayed sitting on the edge of the bed observing the slowly quietening man as subtly as possible. He obviously hadn’t succeeded though when Mickey looked at him intensely and mulled over his words before he spoke.

“Erm… thanks for that. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to… I… You don’t need to worry about me. I’ll be out of here soon.” Mickey tried to assure.

“I don’t want you to leave.” Ian found himself saying, failing to even feel guilty for letting onto just how desperate he was to keep the other man with him. “And I always worry about you Mick.” He added.

“Why would I stay?” Mickey seemed genuinely confused to a reason for sticking around.

Ian felt angry, not necessarily at Mickey but at the situation itself. “What you gonna do when you leave here Mickey? Go find a few more people to make some money off so you can go grab your next few grams.”

Mickey just sneered. “It’s nothing to do with you. I’m not your problem, why do you gotta care so much?”

“Because I do care Mickey!” Ian almost shouted, startling the both of them. Lowering his voice slightly he carried on.

“Of course I fucking care. And so does Fiona. And Liam. You know I was bringing you a hot chocolate that he suggested might make you feel a bit better when I heard you crying out.” Mickey’s facial expression didn’t change but Ian saw his posture slightly soften at hearing of Liam’s attempt at helping him out.

“I know you might not want it, especially off me, but I’m gonna help you. I want to help you because I… I care about you.” Ian stopped himself before he said I love you, knowing full well that Mickey wouldn’t appreciate hearing that, definitely not right now at least.

“What makes you think you can help me? I tried quitting before. It didn’t work, I wouldn’t be able to do it.” Mickey argued, but it didn’t feel quite forceful enough for Ian to lose faith that he could win him around still.

“But you were alone last time I bet.” Mickey’s silence was answer enough but there was something deeper in his eyes that Ian wished he knew.

“Well this time you’ll have me… us to help you. I know you don’t want to be doing this. Hooked on drugs and having to… having to raise the money how you are.” Mickey’s eyes narrowed.

“What Ian? Saying that I’m whoring myself out make you uncomfortable?” He challenged.

Ian swallowed harshly. Truthfully the idea of other men using Mickey, taking advantage of his desperation made Ian feel slightly sick. Thinking of Mickey with any guy but himself hurt and he knew how selfish and undeserved that feeling was. Mickey had used to be his but Ian had given up the ability to deny him to anyone but himself a long time ago.

“No… Look I’m so fucking sorry for everything. For what I did… I didn’t…” Mickey didn’t let Ian continue.

“Stop.”

“No Mickey listen.” Ian begged.

“NO. I don’t… I don’t wanna talk about what happened. Not anymore. Just leave it. Please.”

Seeing how much the topic was effecting him Ian listened to Mickey and didn’t carry on his apology, but he was still set on getting him to agree to stay.

“Okay we won’t talk about that now. But you want to stop this all. I know you Mickey, I know you don’t wanna be doing this. So don’t. Give it up, the drugs, the… the sex. You’re worth so much more than all that Mick.” Mickey’s eyes shut softly and his eyebrows pinched together as if he was having an internal battle with himself.

After a few moments he nodded slowly and Ian held his breath waiting for the confirmation on what the nod meant.

“I ain’t promising anything.”

“But you’ll try?” Ian questioned hopefully.

There was an agonizing pause before Mickey finally exhaled slowly and nodded again.

 “I'll... I'll stay at least. Yeah.” he said softly.

Despite everything Ian found himself smiling and he felt his smile turn into a grin when Mickey finally opened his eyes to meet his gaze and instead of a look of hurt or anger aimed towards him he was met with what almost seemed like a blank look.

Except, for the first time since he’d found Mickey there was a look other than defeat in Mickey’s eye. His eyes seemed to be shining slightly, the blue seeming brighter. If Ian wasn’t mistaken, it was a look of finally having some hope.

Chapter Text

Despite his promise Mickey had been sure he would sneak out in the middle of the night. It would be so easy after promising to stay to wait for Ian to go to sleep, he’d looked exhausted all day anyway, and just slip out the back door.

Yet he was still here. Ian had gone to bed a few hours ago after promising him banana pancakes in the morning, Fiona on a late shift and Liam asleep in the bunk-bed opposite, and despite there being nobody to catch him in the act he hadn’t left but instead was sitting on the edge of the bed trying to do anything but think about the slight shivers rolling down his spine that wasn’t because he was cold. Turned out allowing himself to think wasn’t so much of a good idea either.

Mickey wanted to punch himself, no, he wanted to punch Ian in his smug face for still having this intense hold over him. He couldn’t stop thinking about the disappointment on the redhead’s face if he woke up and found the bed empty. Of the look of betrayal that would almost definitely be a permanent fixture for the perceivable future.

 Even after all this time and everything his ex-boyfriend had done to him, Mickey couldn’t bring himself to do that to Ian. He was pretty sure that made him a complete mug, yet it didn’t stop it being true.

Mickey felt agitated. All he’d seemed to do over the last day was sleep and now his body felt wide awake, too awake. His arms were twitching and he constantly found himself running his hands through his greasy hair, pulling slightly to try and bring his attention back from the thought of the coke he knew he could so easily get in basically every direction of the Gallagher house.

It was the Southside after all.

Mickey pushed himself up and began to pace the room sluggishly, his co-ordination still all over the place.

He couldn’t help but think of just giving in and going to find a few grams. It might be better to ease himself into this, a few lines to take the edge of now and he could try again tomorrow. He could do that.

With that he exited the bedroom quietly, being careful not to wake Liam, or for that matter Ian, and made his way down the back stairs. When he reached the bottom step he paused and looked around the kitchen. It had barely changed since the last time he’d been there. Clean plates and pots piled up next to the sink, dirty ones tucked in the washing up bowl waiting to be washed, no doubt by Fiona.

Mickey became suddenly aware of how dry his throat was and he stumbled over to the sink not realising he would need a cup until the cold tap was gushing water. Looking around he couldn’t remember which cupboard the cups were in but he did notice one in the clean washing up pile, just underneath a couple of pans.

Not thinking he went to grab it and flinched when his movement caused the carefully balanced structure of kitchenware to tumble down. He was not able to ignore how his reflexes were seriously being hindered by his hazy brain as he tried to catch what he could, only managing to save one dish as a saucepan and two other plates clattered to the floor.

Flinching at the loud noise they made as they hit the tiles Mickey watched the handle of the pan break off and one of the plates chipping as it hit the other, it smashing into pieces on the cold floor.

Feeling more panicked then was probably normal Mickey dropped to his knees and surveyed the damage.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck.” he chanted under his breath.

Mickey couldn’t help but think to himself how he’d destroyed the Gallagher’s things and they would think he’d done it on purpose. They’d have to pay to replace it, he would offer to but he had nothing to give them. But he could go get some if they needed it. Yeah. All he’d wanted was a drink. No. He came downstairs for something else. Fuck, what was it? Mickey rubbed at his eyes violently and shook his head, failing to remember what he was doing before he’d fucked everything up.

Always fucking everything up.

Hunching forward he grabbed at the broken crockery and hissed when he gripped too hard and the rough edge cut into his hand, looking down at it he saw a rough cut running along his palm, the blood slowly brimming out.

It hurt but the pain was a welcome distraction.

No, he needed to clean it all up.

He went to grab at the piece again but was stopped by a hand intercepting his and Mickey couldn’t help but look up startled at its owner.

Ian knelt next to him a deep look of concern on his face, the grip on Mickey’s lower arm was warm and comforting even though Mickey knew it shouldn’t be. In a way it would all probably be so much better if it didn’t feel so good.

“Stop Mickey. You’re hurting yourself.” Ian soothed.

Looking around he remembered what he’d been doing and suddenly felt the need to explain himself.

“No… I didn’t mean to. I was thirsty. The cup was underneath… it fell. I didn’t mean to break them. And I’ll pay. I’ll replace them I promise.” He rushed out clawing onto Ian’s wrist, desperately hoping he wouldn’t be too angry.

Ian looked a little taken aback by his outburst and Mickey was surprised to see no anger on his face as he spoke.

“Hey, it’s okay. Its shitting stuff anyway, easily replaced. With Carl we never had anything irreplaceable around.” Ian offered Mickey a hand which he accepted and hauled him up, leading him through to sit on the worn sofa.

When he was sat down he became aware of Fiona standing in the doorway looking at the two men with concern evident on her face. It suddenly occurred to Mickey that despite being there for over a day now, the only member of the Gallagher brood that he’d bumped into other than Ian was Liam. He remembered not being able to move without tripping over at least one of them the last time he had been here. In fact, the house had been eerily quiet.

“I’m sorry.” he repeated, this time to the eldest Gallagher. She hadn't changed much over the last few months. Maybe a little more tired looking, her hair shorter but she still remained almost tragically beautiful Mickey thought.

All he got was a soft smile in reply and a slight shake of her head.

“It’s fine Mickey. Nothing to worry about. But let’s clean that hand up before it turns nasty.” She said as she retreated back into the kitchen.

Mickey had forgotten about his injury but when Fiona mentioned it he suddenly became aware of the sharp pain it was causing and he stared down at the cut until Fiona returned with a small first aid kit which she grabbed an antiseptic wipe from and used to clean out the cut. Not stopping when mickey hissed at the stinging, only promising it would be finished soon instead.

Fiona wrapped a bandage around his palm, securing it with some tape, and flipped the lid shut on the first aid box.

“All done.” She smiled.

Mickey nodded. He couldn’t remember the last time anyone had taken care of any of his injuries. In fact he’s pretty sure it was before his mum died. Even with Ian there had been this expectation that he didn’t need it, a big tough thug like Mickey Milkovich didn’t tend to his wounds. He drank half a bottle of whiskey and passed out. So Mickey had never asked and never let on.

Nobody would know how nice it felt to be looked after for once.

“Thanks.” He mumbled.

Fiona smiled again warmly.

“What were you after?” She asked.

Mickey just looked at her confused.

“At the sink. What were you after?” She repeated.

“I wasn’t doing anything. I didn’t mean to…” he tried to plead again. There was this intense feeling of what he could only describe as bordering on fear bubbling inside of him and he needed to make sure the Gallagher’s knew he wasn’t up to anything but Fiona interrupted him.

“I know. I know it was an accident. It’s fine Mickey.”

Still wary he looked into her eyes and found no emotion other than compassion, and maybe pity so decided to just ask for what he was after.

“Water, I needed Water.”

Fiona got up without another prompt and walked into the kitchen, the sound of the tap running confirming to Mickey that she was getting him the water he was after.

He suddenly found himself aware that Ian was sitting right next to him, almost close enough for their thighs to touch. They probably would have been if Mickey was as built as he used to be. Ian went to touch his arm again but Mickey instantly flinched away, trying to ignore the sad look it caused on the face of the redhead.

Ian grip on his arm in the kitchen had felt beyond good, it had instantly calmed him but Mickey refused to allow himself to seek it out again, to get used to it. It would only make his craving for it worse when this was all over.

He’d learnt from the past that Ian Gallagher was not his to keep.

Fiona returned with the water and handed it to the Milkovich, informing the both of them she was off to bed and promising to check on Mickey’s hand in the morning.

Mickey chugged the glass of water which caused Ian to chuckle a little and without asking took the empty glass and refilled it again. Mickey drank most of that too before he found himself quenched, his throat slightly less dry now.

There was an awkward silence between them which Mickey found himself desperate to fill and without thinking was more honest than he was happy with.

“I… I don’t know what all that was. My heads all…. fucked up.”

Ian shook his head but smiled. “It’s okay Mick. It’s the Coke.”

“I haven’t fucking taken anything.” Mickey shot back defensively.

I know. I know you haven’t. If you had your head would probably be fine.” He soothed. “But I bet you’ve been thinking about it. Just going out and getting a fix. One more to help with the cold turkey.”

Mickey glared at the redhead but found himself unable to lie and his silence was answer enough for Ian.

“I… I’ve looked it all up. Spent a couple of hours earlier just researching what we… I mean you can expect. Cravings are the most obvious. Probably the hardest at this point. But it’s gonna mess your mind up too.” Mickey pinched his eyebrows and looked at Ian.

“Mess my mind up?” He questioned.

“Anxiety, depression, maybe even hallucinations. Tiredness, moodswings. It was probably what caused your nightmare yesterday afternoon. The withdrawal is messing with your body. Something to do with neurotransmitters it said.”

“The fuck are neurotransmitters?”

Ian rolled his eyes and smiled slightly at the typical response “Fuck knows but the coke will have messed all yours up.”

Mickey looked down at his feet. “Earlier, I was gonna… you know, try and get some coke. But I got distracted and then that whole shit-show happened and I felt… weird. Anxious or something.”

Ian turned more to face Mickey and looked desperate to reach out but he seemed to hold himself back. “It’ll get better though. If you wait it out, stick around, eventually it will all get better and you won’t feel like this. You don’t wanna be hooked for the rest of your life do you?”

Mickey looked up at Ian angrily, fuck him for judging him. “Fuck you! What do you think?” He found himself saying.

“See, you don’t. So just try and stick it out. If it gets too much come to me… or Fiona, hell even Liam. Just… don’t give up. You can do this. I know you don’t wanna talk about us right now…”

Mickey opened his mouth to argue he never wanted to talk about them but Ian didn’t allow him to speak.

“I won’t push, but it doesn’t mean you have to shoot yourself in the foot and not allow yourself to… have something more. Maybe get a proper job. Afford a place of your own. I meant what I said yesterday. You’re worth so much more.” Ian was staring so intently into his eyes that it made Mickey want to look away, but he fought that urge and carried on looking at Ian’s eyes. Fuck, they looked more green then they had before.

“I ain’t doing this for you. Or for any of that but… I’m tired. I want it all to just… fucking stop.” Mickey sighed allowing his shoulders to sag as he lent back on the sofa, picking at the edge of his new bandage.

“You’re meant to be doing it for yourself Mick. I want you to do it for you.” Ian agreed.

“If I’m doing it for me then why the fuck do I have to stay here to do it?” Mickey teased as he stood up with the intention of going back to bed, although he was half serious. He was pretty sure this whole crashing at his ex’s place situation wasn’t exactly healthy.

Ian stumbled to stand, obviously feeling a need to plead the case for Mickey to stay. “You need someone to look out for you. It said so online. Said it’s better to have support from someone who cares.”

Mickey managed a little laugh, more of a scoff really, both at Ian’s words and at how melodramatic he was when he exhaled in relief when he saw Mickey’s trajectory was up the stair and not out the front door.

“And you think you’re the person for that do ya?” He questioned enjoying the flash of panic on the redhead’s face, but he didn’t allow Ian to respond and just threw out an “I want those banana pancakes in the morning.” Before disappearing upstairs.

Ian stood once again staring at the spot Mickey had just been occupying but this time with a far more positive feeling. It wasn’t forgiveness, hell it wasn’t even niceness but Ian couldn’t help but feel Mickey joking like that was a step in the right direction.

However he’d realised something earlier, when researching about needing people you care about around you during the quitting process, that there was someone he should probably contact to let them know what was going on. He reached for his phone in the pocket of his jeans and texted the familiar number.

To: Mandy
[Sent:04:03am]

Mands, think you could pop round tomorrow? It's about Mickey.

I found him.

Chapter Text

Mandy had replied instantly, asking if her brother was there now and when Ian informed her that he was, she’d promised to be around the Gallagher house first thing in the morning.

Ian had gotten up early in preparation for Mandy and grabbed a quick shower. Just before he went downstairs though he stuck his head into the boys' room to check on Mickey, finding him fast asleep with his face towards the door, his frown lines relaxed out enough to make him look like a young man again.

The only time Mickey actually looked like a 19 year old was when he was asleep, in his waking moments his face always failed to completely hide the hardship that he was going through. Asleep he looked almost peaceful.

Not having time for a run he’d grabbed a bowl of cereal and had just managed to finish it when the doorbell rang. Dropping the empty bowl in the sink as he walked past he opened the door and smiled to see his other Milkovich. Ian chastised himself, Mickey wasn’t his and he would probably punch him if he knew he’d thought that. Sighing slightly he made himself smile and welcomed Mandy into a warm hug.

“Hey Mands” he greeted.

She hugged him back and walked through to the living room as she spoke. “Hi, you look good. Everything okay?”

Ian rolled his eyes, it didn’t annoy him anymore when people asked how he was, especially not Mandy because she never seemed to push, more just checking on how he was feeling, but the same questions were tedious to answer time and time again.

“All good Mandy. Taking my meds, keeping my routine. Not fucking up.” Ian didn’t aim to be so sarcastic, but he didn’t really stop himself.

“Oi fucker, I was only seeing how you were. But seeing as we are talking about your fuck ups, where is my brother?” She didn’t mean to be cruel, Ian knew that, but the reminder of the past events with Mickey brought his guilt rearing back.

Mandy noticed Ian’s glum face and grabbed his arm to drag him down to sit with her on the sofa.

“Don’t get mopey on me. I wasn’t trying to be mean. I know you beat yourself up about it anyway.” She soothed. All Ian could do was nod.

Ian turned his head to look at the stairs when he heard what sounded like someone getting into the shower and guessed Mickey must be up and would be down soon. Turning his head back to look at Mandy who was looking at him expectantly he took a deep breath. He’d need to tell her what was going on. And fuck she wasn’t going to like it.

“Is that Mick then?” She asked, her eyes flickering to look upstairs.

“Er yeah, must be. Look we need to talk about him.” Ian began.

“Who Mickey? He alright? He explain where the fuck he disappeared to without telling anyone where he was. The asshole.” Ian didn’t doubt that Mandy was actually pissed but the small smile on her face also told him she was pretty happy he was back. He was going to ruin that happiness if he carried on, but what could he do.

“No… well yeah I know where he was and Mandy it’s not… good.” How the fuck was Ian meant to word this.

“Where was he then? Living it up in Florida? Slumming it in Indiana like me.” While she could joke about it, Ian knew the memories of her time in Indiana weren’t all good. She had managed to shake of Kenyatta a few months into her time away, and she assured him that she’d really enjoyed her stint sharing a small but nice apartment with two other girls who worked at the same bar as her after, but those earlier months had been hell. A hell that Ian still wasn’t quite clued up on all the details.

“He was here.”

“Here. You been holding him hostage or something?” She joked in her confusion.

Ian was slightly frustrated but with whom he didn’t know. “No. I mean here in Chicago. Well, Boystown to be exact.”

“Boystown?” Mandy’s tone was obviously disbelieving.

“I was out with a few old friends a few days ago and I… found him.” Had it really only been a few days since he’d seen Mickey in that alley?

“What, he got a place in fucking Boystown? He really went full gay or something?” Mandy laughed.

“No. I mean maybe he has a place there. I… don’t actually know.” Ian hadn’t actually stopped to think where Mickey was staying. If he had a place to stay at all. He hadn’t presumed Mickey was sleeping on the street considering he’d had nothing on him in the alley so Ian had just assumed there was some place that he was based.

Ian breathed deeply again and grabbed hold of one of Mandy’s hands and squeezed it comfortingly.

“There was some guy being attacked by a piece of shit in the alley next to the fairytale. As in pants round his knees, head knocked into the wall attacked. I didn’t even think I just tried to help. I scared the perv off and suddenly he was there in my arms.” Ian held his arms open, as if showing Mandy would help her understand more.

“Who Mickey!?” Mandy sat up in her seat.

All Ian could do was nod, but he had more to say.

“Except the guy wasn’t a perv. Well he fucking was, but that’s not just it.”

Mandy didn’t say anything but just stared at Ian until he continued.

“He was a John Mandy.” Ian finally almost shouted out.

“What do you mean he was a fucking John?”

Ian opened his mouth to respond but some else beat him to it.

“A John, a client, a fucking curb-crawler. What more do you need to hear?”

Both Ian and Mandy’s head whipped around to see Mickey standing on the bottom step, hair still damp from the shower and dressed in a pair of Ian’s sweatpants and a clean t-shirt. Ian had been so focused on trying to get Mandy to understand that he’d failed to hear Mickey’s footsteps on the stairs.

Mandy stood up tentatively and Mickey’s eyes followed her, the hardness that Ian had seen in them since their reunion was now completely aimed at his little sister and Ian was honestly a little surprised at that.

Why would Mickey be so angry at his sister?

 

------------

 

Mickey had woken up early and all he’d felt was dirty. While Ian had cleaned most of the blood and dirty away the feeling of it all still lingered and Mickey was used to daily showers so two days without one and he was starting to feel it.

Hauling himself up he was happy to find there was almost no dizziness as he walked to the bathroom. Hearing voices coming from downstairs he recognised Ian’s instantly talking to a female. Assuming it was Fiona he closed the door behind him, stripped off and got into the shower, running it as hot as possible. Fuck, he couldn’t remember the last time he’d actually had a proper hot shower.

Once he’d washed and got out, grabbing a towel that was slightly damp from the rail to dry himself, Mickey suddenly realised he didn’t have any clean clothes to change into and putting on his original dirty clothes wasn’t appealing at all.

Sighing he decided to just grab some stuff from Ian’s drawer and hope he didn’t make a fuss about it.

Walking down the stairs with the intention of getting some food he listened more closely to the voices and realised while the female voice was familiar, it was most certainly not Fiona.

As her familiar hair came into view he managed to catch the end of his little sister’s sentence.

“what do you mean he was a fucking John?”

Mickey didn’t know what to take on first. The fact Ian had apparently blabbed everything to Mandy already or that fact she was here, in fucking Chicago. Instead he decided to make his arrival known.

“A John, a client, a fucking curb-crawler. What more do you need to hear?” If Mickey wasn’t so pissed he would have laughed at both their gawking mouths as Mandy stood and stared at him, consciously or unconsciously moving towards him.

“Fucking hell Mick you’ve been… hooking?” She finally spoke.

Mickey laughed but there was no humour in his voice.

“That’s the thing Mands when you’re desperate you do things you never thought you would. It was that or starve. Then it was that or go without.” Mickey couldn’t help but emphasise the once familiar nickname.

“Go without?” Mandy looked between her brother and Ian for an answer.

Mickey’s turned his cold stare towards Ian then and he could see him shrink within himself slightly at his harsh glare.

“Go on then. You seem to have told her everything else.” While he was angry at what felt like everyone and everything, it wasn’t enough to hide the shame that Mickey couldn’t shift. At having to admit to how low he’d fallen. There was a part of him that hoped Ian would do it for him so he didn’t have to.

He felt a small urge to laugh when Ian did exactly that and began to talk cautiously, repeatedly glancing over at Mickey awkwardly the whole time to gage his reaction.

“He’s going through withdrawal at the moment. Cocaine. That’s why he’s here Mands, its someplace safe for him to stay while he quits.” For the first time Ian was actually straight with what he said. No beating around the bush, no stuttering. A simple explanation of Mickey’s sad, fucked up situation.

Mandy looked at Ian while he spoke but when he finished her gaze fell back onto Mickey, her eyes suspiciously wet. This time she moved towards him more consciously, still slow but it didn’t take her long to arrive in front of him. Mickey wrapped his arms around himself creating a kind of barrier between himself and any physical contact she might attempt. Mandy followed his movements but said nothing in response.

“Oh Mick. Was it really that bad? Why didn’t you get help?”

This time Mickey couldn’t help but let out his non-humoured laugh startling both Ian and Mandy as his anger rose and he spat back “Help? Get help from who ay Mandy? I’d just been dumped and practically left for dead by my boyfriend, Iggy was nowhere to be found and you were in fucking Indiana. So who was I meant to go to?”

Mandy leant back at his tirade but stood her ground. It was Ian however who spoke next, sounding choked up but successfully holding in his tears.

“I did look for you, but you were gone. It took me a couple of months to get my head straight but by then the house was empty and there was no sign of you.” Ian’s voice came out desperately but he steadied himself with a breath before carrying on.

“Iggy didn’t know where you were. I spoke to Mandy, she said you hadn’t tried calling her for months.”

Mickey physically flinched at that and turned his accusing eyes back to his sister.

“I had called you though, hadn’t I?” He simply said. Ian’s eyebrows furrowed as the look of realisation grew on Mandy’s face.

“When they were taking the house away, I was all fucked up, but I rang you. I practically begged for your help then and you told me no. You said ‘don’t bother coming to see me Mick’ so I fucking didn’t go where I wasn’t wanted. And then I fucking survived without you. I did what I could, what I had to. On. My. Own.” Mickey emphasised each of those last three words with a harsh jab into his own chest.

Mickey felt a stray tear fall down his cheek but he ignored it and carried on, willing his voice not to shake any more than it already was.

“You think I enjoyed it? Think I didn’t feel the humiliation every night of how low I had fallen? But I mean the drugs were already helping numb my pathetic broken heart, didn’t take much to make it numb the pain of selling myself every fucking night too.”

Mandy had covered her mouth with her hand as if she was trying to force all her emotions to stay in. Ian had clenched his fists, the skin around then turning white with the force of his grip.

“Everything feels so fucking good when you’re on a high. You know that don’t ya Mands? It’s when you come down that you have the real problem. So it was simple, I aimed never to fucking come down.”

 “I didn’t… I didn’t realise. I… I thought if you came to see me you would just try and drag me back home. But Kenyatta was gone and I liked it there. I was finally happy. With Ian out of the picture I thought you were just lonely.” Mickey should probably feel grateful for her honesty but all he felt was hurt and he laughed tearily, stepping back onto the next step as if increasing the distance between his own body and his sister’s would help at all.

“Was I really that bad of a brother…” he whispered tearily.

“I always looked after you, I tried to stop it all with Kenyatta but you wouldn’t let me. You knew Ian had broken up with me and when I tried reaching out you wanted nothing to do with me now your life was all fucking improved. Shows how much I’m worth to you.” Mandy shook her head.

“But you know what Mandy. I’m fucking happy that you were happy. One of us should be.” Mickey said sincerely.

“No. No it wasn’t like that…” Mandy tried to argue back.

“How can it be anything but that Mandy?” He shouted back, letting his anger bubble out.

Ian said his name, obviously getting ready to back up his best friend but Mickey didn’t let him get any further.

“You.” He growled, pointing at the redhead. “You don’t get to say anything to me. Not after what you’ve done.”

Ian’s mouth instantly shut and he gave a small nod, an action to say he was going to listen to Mickey’s command. Not allowing them the opportunity for any other comment, Mickey turned around and made his escape back up the stairs. Rubbing harshly at his eyes until his vision went patchy.

 The boy’s room was quickly becoming a safe haven but he knew that this was dangerous considering this whole set up was going to be temporary. Soon he would be back out there with nothing. Drug addiction or no drug addiction. Like everything else, it was only a matter of time.

For the first time since arriving at the Gallagher’s he thought back to the den, filled to the brim with other shitheads like him, of his shitty little room and to Richy who would be expecting his cut. Wondering why it hadn’t been delivered to him yesterday like normal.

Deciding he had enough problems to be dealing with already he cleared those thoughts from his mind and attempted to do the thing he seemed to have been getting lots of practise in lately.

Sleeping away his problems. This version thankfully involving no second party.

 

---------------

 

Ian couldn’t believe that for a second time he was having to watch Mickey escape up the stairs while he felt like his own body was crumbling. He wasn’t an idiot, he knew all those emotions must have been there for Mickey, but to finally see them come to light. To hear exactly how hurt the man was.

Nothing could have prepared him for that.

He felt selfish and ignorant but he couldn’t prevent the resentment growing towards his best friend. Of course he knew he was far from innocent in everything, but now the anger he had for Mickey’s predicament was aimed towards Mandy. For her mistakes and shortcomings towards her brother.

Ian’s brain had been helping him fuck everything up. Mandy had allowed her own preferences to prevail over her thoughts of anyone else.

Ian didn’t dwell on the fact that there would be plenty of people who would accuse him of the exact same behaviour.

Not having enough niceties in his body to go over and comfort the obviously distressed Milkovich who was still standing, frozen at the bottom of the staircase, but not angry or malevolent enough to cause her any more distress by voicing his true feelings, Ian chose instead to let himself flop down on the armchair in emotional exhaustion.

Eventually Mandy moved and came to sit on the sofa, her breath still laboured. There was a period of silence between them that Ian had no intention to break. It was Mandy who did so in the end.

“I… I fucked up.” She whispered.

“Yeah.” Ian agreed.

That was enough for Mandy’s face to go from sorrowful to angry as she looked up at Ian. “You don’t get to act innocent in this Ian Gallagher. I may have messed up but I thought I was leaving my brother in safe hands.” She sneered back.

Ian looked down and nodded, agreeing softly. “I thought you were too.”

Mandy didn’t remove the scowl from her face completely but she did seem to back off a bit.

“We need to fix this Mandy. I’ve been trying to make him see over the past few days that I’m here for him.” Ian admitted.

Mandy narrowed her eyes at him. “You sure that’s all you want from him?”

Ian laughed sadly, of course she saw right through him. “No it’s not. I still love him Mandy and I want him back. But I promise you I’m not going to take advantage of him. If he lets me, I’ll try to build something back up. But if not, then I’ll help him however he wants me to and then I’ll leave it at that. I’ve caused enough pain for him already. I won’t do it again.”

Mandy stared at him for a while, gauging how truthful Ian was being and when she saw no dishonestly she nodded.

“Okay then. But Ian, and I’m not saying this to make you feel better because you definitely don’t deserve that, but the feelings he had for you. The love he must have felt to look after you through all of the shit you two went through. That doesn’t just go away. He may be angry at you, but I can’t ever see him hating you.”

Ian closed his eyes and let Mandy’s words wash over him. Fuck, Mickey had been everything he’d wanted and more back then and Ian hadn’t even realised it and if he had he hadn’t appreciated exactly how many sacrifices his boyfriend had been making for him.

He tried to let what she was saying comfort him but Ian was struggling to believe he deserved to be taken back. And if he could understand not being able to gain his forgiveness, how could he expect Mickey to grant it?

Chapter Text

It must have been an hour or two before Mickey heard any noises from outside the bedroom. He’d dozed off for a few minutes, well cried himself to sleep but he knew for a fact that was nobody’s business but his own, but woke soon after. Too restless and agitated to lie still. The cravings for a hit reaching a new high and Mickey felt like he was jumping out of his own skin for a fix.

He could try to pretend it was just bad timing but it was obvious that the shit show with his sister had triggered the cravings. The intense need to drown his problems in the quickest high he could find.

He’d gone back and forth between pacing and sitting hunched up against the headboard. In the still moments as he cradled his head between his legs he tried desperately to not think back to what had just happened downstairs. How much of his hurt he’d revealed to his sister and Ian; how desperate he’d been.

How desperate he was.

The pity on both their faces had been more than he could take but he also knew that what he’d said had hurt them. And he was honestly glad it had.

Maybe it was time for somebody else to share in the hurt and the pain he’d been feeling for what felt like his whole life now. Even the moments that he once thought were happy, Ian living with him, before the bipolar and all the shit that went down and they’d been an honest to God couple. Those moments were tainted now. Mickey no longer saw them as good memories, just lies and deceit. It had all meant nothing in the end.

Even if it had meant everything to Mickey.

He was rubbing harshly at his red and irritated eyes when he heard footsteps outside the door and then the creak as it opened. He didn’t need to look up to know who it was.

“You here to try and make me feel guilty for what I said to Mandy? Coz don’t bother, I meant every word.” He gritted out, his words muffled into the small space between his legs.

“No. God no. I’m pissed at her too and I know I don’t even have a right to be! I’m just as bad. No I… I wanted to make sure you were alright.” Ian assured.

Mickey huffed a laugh and raised his head to look directly at Ian, his sweaty hands gripping harshly at his knees.

“I’m fucking fantastic.” Mickey put as much sarcasm into his response as he could.

“Alright. Stupid question. But I wanna help, that downstairs was… I dunno, heavy. Let me help where I can. Let me in.” Ian pleaded with Mickey.

Mickey flinched and he clenched his teeth, trying to stop the growl that was threatening to come out, he didn’t want to deal with Ian right now but he was forcing him to.

Let you in?” He asked disbelievingly.

Ian’s eyes widened when he realised by Mickey’s reaction that what he said had been the wrong thing, his mouth opened and closed but nothing came out and it made him look like a gaping fish.

Mickey carried on talking, saving the redhead from his speechlessness. “Let you fucking in? You were in Ian. Don’t you remember? You had everything off me but you didn’t want it. In the end it wasn’t enough was it, I was never gonna be enough for you. So don’t you dare fucking ask me to let you in! Not again!”

Mickey’s voice had risen and he paused, breathing heavily with the force of his words and the tears he felt brewing to the surface.

An involuntary sob came out and he was only able to half hide it. “Haven’t you done enough?” He choked out.

Ian shook his head, whether in disagreement or just an uncontrolled response to Mickey’s pain.

“No… no no no. Mickey. It was everything, we were finally together, really together and fuck… it was everything I had always wanted. It was perfect. It was my head. Everything was… wrong up here.” Ian pointed to his head, tapping his temple harshly as he spoke through the tears that were silently falling down his cheeks.

“I wasn’t thinking straight, I… fuck I made the biggest mistake of my life that day, and when I realised what I’d done. I… I couldn’t cope. But at the time my head was so fucked up it didn’t even register. I didn’t realise what I had thrown away.”

“I got shot.” Mickey hadn’t planned to say that but it had just slipped out.

“What?” Ian stalled, his eyes travelling over what he could see of Mickey’s body and finally coming to rest on his right shoulder, the edges of a scar just visible, something he hadn’t noticed before.

“Sammi. She had a fucking shit aim but she got lucky, got me in the shoulder. I managed to lose her, last I saw she was getting dragged away in a police car. And I sat there, in a fucking alley bleeding, waiting for you to come find me.”

Mickey shook his head and closed his eyes for a moment, two tears escaping.

“But you never came. I was getting cold and weak and… and then I realised it. You weren’t coming for me.” Mickey wanted to scream at himself for how heartbroken he sounded, but he needed to say this, he needed Ian to understand.

The redhead’s bottom lip was wobbling and he was barely holding it together.

“So I fucking dragged myself up and somehow walked myself to the fucking hospital. Got treated enough that I wasn’t gonna bleed to fucking death and then slipped out. Me. On my own.”

Mickey snorted when he realised something. “I saved my own fucking life because there was nobody there to do it for me.”

Ian moved forward and kneeled next to the bed, finally talking.

“I… I didn’t know.”

“YOU DIDN’T CARE.” Mickey finally shouted, backing himself up into the corner of the bed as far as he could get.

Mickey pressed at his knees harshly, shaking his head “You saw the gun, you knew how bat-shit crazy she was and you did nothing.”

“If I had thought…”

“And there’s your problem isn’t it. Thinking. You never thought did you? Not about me anyway. Sure I was a dick in the beginning, I did some… real fucked up stuff. Stuff I’ll always regret. But that was before we became… more. Before it all started properly and since then all I’ve ever done is what you want.”

Ian finally moved on from his crying and instead looked offended. “That’s not true!”

“I CAME OUT FOR YOU. I risked everything. For. You.” Mickey couldn’t help but push at Ian’s closest shoulder, jostling the man but not displacing him from his spot.

“I know you did. I know what that cost you. You were so brave and I… I loved you for that. It was everything I ever wanted.” Ian tried to assure him but all Mickey could do was sneer at Ian’s use of the ‘L’ word, it seeming dirty coming out of his mouth now, wheras months ago it had been exactly what Mickey had craved from his partner, some admittance that the bond Mickey felt hadn’t been one-sided.

Now it meant nothing, even if his heart slightly jolted to hear someone say that to him.

“Was it? I mean I thought things were great, I… I was happy.” Mickey admitted.

“Fuck Mickey, I was happy too!”

“HOW?” Mickey’s raised voiced caused Ian to flinch slightly but not back down, as if Ian had decided that now they’d started he was going to keep pushing Mickey for the chat he’d been desperate to have since Mickey had first collapsed back into his life.

“You ran away from me again and again. It was so fucking great and happy that you didn’t want me. Actively left me. For the army, your mom. Anything but me.” One of his hands hit out, thumping at his own chest roughly.

Mickey’s voice was beginning to tire, he hadn’t said this much for months, in his line of work there wasn’t much need for talking beyond the first meeting. and there was nobody else around for him to talk to. But now he’d be damned if he would back down. If Ian wanted to talk, he’d say everything he’d been bottling up for what felt like a lifetime now.

“And the pathetic thing is I never turned you away. I never… never gave you the shit you deserved.” Mickey wiped harshly at the stray tear falling from his eye, seeing Ian’s gaze follow his movement closely.

“I know. I didn’t deserve you. You should have been fucking angry at me, you should have done something.” Ian agreed but that wasn’t what Mickey wanted to hear.

He narrowed his eyes and hissed out “You blaming me?”

“Fuck no” Ian countered. “Never. I… I don’t understand why you never gave me any shit. I cheated on you, beat you, I took your fucking son and you never gave me the shit I deserved for it. The last six months I’ve realised just how good to me you were. That your constant attention and concern for everything was because you fucking cared.” Ian sighed and ran his hands through his hair roughly.

“At the time though it… fuck. I don’t even have an excuse other then everything didn’t make sense. It didn’t work. But it was because I was broken.” Mickey shook his head, the last time they’d spoken back on those steps Ian was saying the exact opposite and acting like Mickey thought differently.

“No! I never thought you were broken, I never tried to fix you!” Mickey argued back angrily.

“Oh I know Mick. But don’t you see? I was. Not because I have bipolar. That didn’t make me broken it was… everything else.” There was a deep sadness now in Ian’s voice, as if he were recounting a tragic story. In a way he was.

Ian laughed sadly. “I was broken. Me. Ian Gallagher needed to sort my life out, the bipolar just… got in the way. And when I dealt with it, when I did exactly what you’d been trying to help me do. Took my meds and actually tried to get better. It allowed me to finally see clearly for the first time.”

There was a moment of lull from both the men, Ian seemingly looking back now at the journey that had got him here. Mickey doing the same. After a moment Mickey finally broke the silence, talking calmly now. Sadly.

“I am glad you’re better. Even after everything I still never wanted you to suffer. You deserved a better life then the Southside one you’d been forced with.”

“You think I didn’t want my life with you? Didn’t think it was everything I dreamed of?” Ian asked.

Mickey shook his head sadly. “You were always destined for more then what I could give. Probably should have realised that to begin with. Thinking about it I think I probably knew at the beginning. Was why I pushed you away and tried to keep my distance. But in the end I couldn’t stop it and I should have known the days were already numbered.”

Ian looked confused “Why weren’t we meant to last? If things had gone right for both of us, you think we still wouldn’t of had a chance?”

Mickey looked at Ian this time. Properly looked at him. Seeing the same green in his eyes that he had a million times before. When they’d talked. Kissed. Fucked. Mickey knew no matter what happened he would love the man in front of him but that wasn’t enough. Because he wasn’t enough.

“I know about the firefighter.” Mickey’s words almost made Ian physically wince.

“What?” Was all the redhead could say.

“I was so fucking angry at you but I still worried about you. At the beginning, before I got… too involved with everything else, I used to come back, try to see how you were doing.” Mickey was sure how pathetic that made him but carried on anyway.

“Saw him one day, leaving yours in his uniform. And again and again. Didn’t take long for me to realise you’d moved on.” Mickey laughed sadly.

“He must have been nice. Good job. Good looking. Everything you needed. Didn’t take you long find someone better.”

Ian looked down in shame, he knew it would come up eventually but he hated the fact Mickey had seen it.

“Fuck. I’m sorry you had to see that but Mickey you gotta understand. I was manic. I was still refusing to take my meds and I was lonely. I’d fucked everything up with you and then Caleb… was just there. It meant nothing. As soon as he found out about the bipolar he got as far away as possible. He couldn’t cope with it.”

Mickey scoffed at the thought of the pussy now.

“And I’m so fucking glad he left when he did because once I started taking the meds I realised what I had been looking for in him.” Ian leant forward, his face close enough that if Mickey leant forward he could probably feel Ian’s uneven breath on his lips.

Mickey was too invested to not ask. “What was that?”

Ian smiled slightly, the first happy smile Mickey had seen in a while and it was even more beautiful then he remembered.

“You. Fuck Mickey don’t you see? It’s always gonna be you.”

Even if he tried Mickey wouldn’t have been able to stop the hitch in his breath at those words. He allowed himself to go along with the moment for a minute, closing his eyes and letting Ian press his forehead against his own.

After a moment of weakness he opened his eyes and pulled his head back, his body becoming rigid again and he knew Ian realised when he too leant back to try and give the man some space. It would be so easy to give in. To let Ian worm his way back into his life and go right back to where they were before. But Mickey was different now.

Whereas before he dreaded the inevitable break up, now he knew what it felt like. What it felt like for the one person you trusted most in the world to abandon you. Rip everything you thought you knew up into pieces and throw you out. There wasn’t much he was sure of anymore, but there was one thing.

He wouldn’t survive it again.

“I can’t…” Ian didn’t allow Mickey to continue after picking up exactly where he was going and physically held his hand over Mickey’s mouth, cutting him off, his other hand falling to the back of his neck. A touch so shockingly familiar that the warmth of Ian’s hand felt like it might burn. Mickey allowed it. He was too weak not to.

“I’m not asking anything from you Mick. You know what I want but I won’t ask it from you. Hell I don’t expect it from you after everything. But… I needed you to know alright. I couldn’t live with myself if you didn’t know. All the pain I’ve caused you, I’ll never forgive myself for it.” Ian closed his eyes breathed deeply before reopening them and fixing his gaze directly on Mickey’s, slowly removing his hand from over Mickey’s mouth and behind his neck.

Mickey almost sighed out loud at the loss of contact.

“I know what you’re gonna say. And I get it. But just… don’t. Don’t say it. I’m not asking you to change how you feel or how you act I’m just asking you not to say it. Not now at least because I’m not letting you go like this. I did this to you. And I’m gonna help you through it and I don’t think I will be able to be around you in the way I know you’re going to need me to be if you say what I know you’re gonna say. I have no right to ask for anything from you. But I am. Let me help you and then when you’re better… well we’ll deal with that when it happens.”

Ian breathed deeply. “Okay?”

Mickey knew what he should say. He should tell Ian to go fuck himself for again asking to put the redhead before himself like he’d always done. He should tell him no and walk away. Leave him and their past behind.

Instead he found himself nodding his head once and watching Ian’s mouth morph into a small but happy smile of relief.

Mickey could already see how it was going to end.

Badly.

But for now all he could concentrate on was the young man kneeling in front of him who had promised to look after him.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

The rest of the day had been weirdly… normal. After such an intense conversation the air actually seemed less thick rather than more which was probably one of the reasons why Ian had been pushing so much for them to have the chat. Not talking about everything didn’t stop it being any less true but rather made it the elephant in the room.

Now at least both Ian and Mickey knew where they stood and it made everything so much easier.

Ian had encouraged Mickey to come downstairs, informing him that Mandy had left. She would give him the space he seemed to need but she had promised that when the time was right she would be back to make things right.

Mickey wanted to sort things out with his sister but now was not the time. He had enough other problems going on without adding all those other feelings into the mix.

For now he would concentrate on getting through the next week or so of withdrawal, the period of time that Ian had educated him might be the worse according to all the articles he’d read online.

As Mickey sat on the sofa watching some crap daytime T.V, Ian went into the kitchen to heat him up some soup. He hadn’t said it out loud but Mickey was actually starving now, yet Ian seemed to pick up on it anyway and hauled himself up to go make the brunet some lunch, or more like early dinner considering it was now gone two.

Ian returned with a tray carrying a large plastic bowl of steaming hot chicken soup and a plate of what looked like practically half a loaf of bread. It was pretty obvious that one of Ian’s aims now seemed to be to fatten Mickey up.

Mickey knew he’d lost a lot of weight recently. A combination of all the drugs and simply not bothering to eat most of the time, but whereas before he hadn’t cared, being back here with Ian, now he couldn’t help but feel slightly self-conscious.

Taking the tray onto his lap he scooped up a spoonful of the steaming soup and brought it to his lips, blowing slightly before eating. As soon as it touched his lips it seemed to ignite his hunger. Mickey abandoned the spoon and took to dipping the pieces of bread in to soak up the liquid to scoop into his mouth, not bothering to wait for it to cool down causing himself to slightly burn his tongue. Though he was too hungry to care.

Within ten minutes the bowl was empty and all that was left of the mound of bread were a few stay pieces of the crust. Leaning back again he caught Ian watching him, a smile playing on his face.

"I’m guessing you were hungry then?” He asked.

“Fuck off.” Mickey replied but there was no heat in his words. Even he knew he’d gotten a bit carried away then but he was too content to care right now.

Ian stood and grabbed the tray, bringing it back into the kitchen and placing it next to the sink before turning around and re-joining Mickey on the sofa, jostling the other man slightly when he flopped down, earning him a quick glare that the redhead ignored.

“So. What you wanna do?” Ian asked.

Mickey just looked at Ian in confusion.

“Do?”

“Yeah Mick. What do you want to do today other than watch crappy T.V all day?”

Mickey rolled his eyes “What’s wrong with watching crappy T.V all day? Suits me just fine.”

“Oh come on Mickey. It’s all the same crap that’s on every day. I mean this episode of NCIS has already been repeated at least once this week.”

Mickey shrugged “Well I haven’t seen it. Haven’t seen much of anything for a while now.”

Ian could tell Mickey didn’t mean anything other than the truth in his statement but it was a harsh reminder to Ian of the life Mickey had been leading for the last six months. No daytime TV, in fact he’d bet no TV at all. Most likely a lack of food judging by the look of him. God knows what else he’d been having to put up with. It made Ian feel angry and sad all at the same time.

“Let’s do something. A puzzle, or maybe a board game. Pretty sure we’ve got a game of Monopoly lying around upstairs.” Even he felt a little silly suggesting it but at least with a board game there would have to be some interaction between them and now Mickey was no longer hating him, or at least actively hating him, Ian would take any contact he could with him.

Mickey didn’t actually say no so Ian took that as cue to go and grab the game.

 

 

 

 

 

“Pay up Milkovich, don’t make me beat it out of you.” Ian joked as Mickey landed on Ian's Illinois avenue, but his face fell when he saw Mickey’s reaction. He had shrunk within himself slightly, shoulders hunching, refusing to make eye contact.

The words seemed to hit close to home and all over again Ian felt desperate to know at least some of what Mickey had gone through over the past few months. But now was definitely not the time to pry.

“Hey. Just kidding.” Ian tried to sooth.

Mickey finally made eye contact and nodded his head hesitantly.

They carried on playing for a while but Ian could see Mickey was no longer into it, and it wasn’t as if he’d been overly enthusiastic about it before.

“Hey, erm. I’m kinda bored now, you wanna quit. Call it a draw.”

“Er yeah, sure. If you want.” Mickey agreed, attempting to hide that he was obviously grateful for that decision.

Ian nodded with a small smile and packed the game up, placing the lid back on and looking back up at Mickey who was sitting on the sofa staring off into space a look of concentration on his face.

Before Ian even got to ask what was on his mind, Mickey spoke.

“Will you do me a favour?”

“Of course. Anything.” Ian tried to hide how happy he was that Mickey was asking something of him, even if he didn’t know what it was yet.

“If I give you the address will you go get my stuff? I mean it’s not much but… it’s mine you know.”

Ian nodded vigorously.

“And…” Mickey didn’t finish his sentence but instead stood up and left, walking up the stairs leaving a very confused Ian in his wake.

The redhead was still considering following him when Mickey reappeared and joined him back in the living room this time with a wad of money in his hand.

“Take this with you. My room is downstairs, the one at the end of the hall. Green curtain. You won’t miss it. Just leave this somewhere in there. On the chair or bed or something.” Mickey shoved the money into Ian’s hand and quickly brought his hand back.

Desperate to ask Ian had to force himself from questioning why and for what this money was for, but considering everything, Ian had a few ideas. Instead he just nodded with, what he hoped was, a reassuring smile.

“You want me to go now?”

“Yeah… I mean you don’t have to. Just… whenever” Mickey stuttered.

“I’ll go now, write the address down while I get my coat on and I’ll be back in like an hour maybe.” Ian stood up from where he’d been sitting on the floor next to the coffee table they’d used to play monopoly and handed Mickey a pen and piece of paper while he went to put his shoes and coat on.

Receiving the sheet of paper Ian forced himself not to react when he read the address. He recognised it straight away. An area of boystown he’d never been to, fuck he’d never wanted to go to it, but he’d heard plenty about in his days back at the club.

Every attack he’d heard of on dancers, bartenders or… rent boys, always seemed to happen in the same area, the area that Mickey had been staying slap bang in the centre of. He could only imagine the existence Mickey would have had there for however long he had called it home.

Folding the paper up and slipping it into his pocket he smiled at Mickey who nodded back and walked out the door with a promise to be back soon.

Ian wondered if he’d ever stop fearing that every time he left Mickey alone he’d return to find the man gone.

 

 

--------

 

 

Ian stared up at the grimy building, taking in the peeling paint, the patches of it that were left at least, and the broken and boarded up windows. If he didn’t know any better he’d be sure the place was empty but this was the address Mickey had given him so he took a deep breath and pushed through the front door, not just finding it open but realising there was no lock on the door at all.

Going down the worn staircase that he encountered right when he entered, he followed the hallway going past several other doors, obvious sex noises coming from within one of them, until he found the room directly at the end covered in a green sheet as promised.

Ian felt slightly sick now that he was experiencing exactly where Mickey had been staying for what he assumed was the last half a year. This place wasn’t a rundown apartment block, hell it wasn’t even a dirty house share.

This was basically a fucking brothel.

Deciding he didn’t want to spend another moment longer than he needed to be in this shithole Ian pushed the curtain out of the way and made his way into Mickey’s room. Although seeing it he wasn’t sure you could class it as anything more than a cupboard.

There was a small window at the top of the wall he was facing which was letting in next to none of the bright sun Ian knew was shining outside and he could feel an actual breeze coming through the cracks in the woodwork. The room’s width was just long enough for a thin dirty mattress to fit in, a small blue sheet tangled on top of it was the only source of warmth Ian could see. Ian had half a memory of a similar one knocking around the Milkovich house back in the day. But that one had been used to lay over the coach, not to try and keep the cold out at night.

Next to the bed was a chair but Ian barely trusted it to hold up the small backpack that was lying on it, let alone an actual person. Deciding he would just grab that and try and clear the room of any other stuff he grabbed it and stuffed the towel that was hanging over the back of the chair along with the sheet.

Noticing a few shirts lying around, he grabbed them and shoved them messily into the backpack. He’d wash them when he got home anyway so no need to keep them neat.

As he was bustling around the room he accidently kicked the mattress, shifting it slightly to reveal the edge of something poking out.

Kneeling down Ian lifted the mattress up with little effort and grabbed the two things he found hidden underneath it.

The first was a bag, empty except for some white powder. It could either have been coke or the remnants of some pills, but Ian didn’t care. He turned his nose up at it in disgust and threw the trash into the corner to be lost. Turning his attention to the other item he realised it was a piece of paper, or something slightly thicken then paper, folded in two. It was ragged and worn but still managed to seem looked after all at the same time.

Unfolding it his breath actually hitched when he found himself looking down at himself.

Or at least his 16 maybe 15 year old self.

It was a picture Mandy had taken randomly on one of those instant printing cameras when they’d been hanging out after school after she’d stolen it off some idiot who’d had it hanging out of their bag on the L. He’s pretty sure they’d been high at the time and he thought he’d looked cool flipping the camera off.

Now it was actually kind of cringy.

But Ian wasn’t thinking about that. He was thinking about how Mickey, even after all this time and every single fucking thing Ian had done, still had it on him. Hidden and protected under his mattress.

Ian didn’t know whether to weep or laugh with joy, but he soon found a teary laugh making his way out of his mouth without warning.

Every time he thought he felt guilty enough something else came along to remind him just how badly he had fucked up and just how good what he’d fucked up had been.

“Fuck.” He whispered tearily, scraping his hand down his face to try and clear the signs of emotion from it. Standing back up he surveyed the room, finding nothing else worth taking, and zipped the bag up. Taking the money Mickey had given him he threw it onto the mattress as he’d been asked and turned to leave.

 Even though he had no memory or attachment to the place except through Mickey, he gave it one last look and turned his back on it, not just for himself but for Mickey too.

This was his past and Ian would go home now and help him work towards his future. Because Mickey Milkovich would never step foot in a place like this again if Ian had anything to do with it.

Striding out of the building he took a left and began his walk back home, unaware of the eyes watching him from across the road.

 

 

-----------

 

 

Walking into the house he wasn’t surprised to find the downstairs empty. Fiona was on shift and Liam would still be at school for an hour or so longer, he also doubted Mickey would hang around for long down here on his own considering he wasn’t to know who was going to pop up when.

Despite the wave of differing emotions after seeing that place Ian was feeling more positive then he’d been feeling earlier. As if this was finally the moment where Mickey could completely move past his old life and leave all the crap that came with it behind.

Running up the stairs two at a time he planned to hand over the backpack but was stopped in his tracks by the sound of heaving coming from the bathroom.

Not even thinking about it he pulled the bag off his shoulder and opened the door, being hit by the less then pleasant odour of vomit.

But it wasn’t that which Ian focused on, it was the image of a shaking and sickly pale Mickey curled up around the toilet as he continued to empty the contents of his stomach.

Ian bent down to rub at Mickey’s back and try to give him some support to carry on holding himself up over the basin as it looked like he was going to collapse to the side any minute.

“Hey, hey. It’s okay.” He tried to sooth.

“No…. go ‘way.” Mickey tried to protest but Ian just shook his head and maintained his grip on the brunet.

“No Mickey. It’s fine, just let me help you.” Another bout of heaving rather than Ian’s words were what stopped the protests but that was enough for Ian to reach up and grab the hand towel off the rail and run it under the hot tap till it was lukewarm and place it across Mickey’s forehead. Using it to wipe the sweat and spit off from his face in the process.

It was probably unconscious but Mickey leant into the touch, the relief obvious.

“Think maybe we overdid it with the food and stuff earlier. Your body is still going through it all. It’s okay though. This will fade soon, all the stuff on the internet said it would.”

Mickey rolled his eyes “Could have told me that before.” He managed to whisper back.

It wasn’t the usual Milkovich sarcasm he was used to but he couldn’t help but smile a little at the familiarity of that which he did manage.

It was a start.

When they’d sat there for 10 minutes and Mickey hadn’t thrown up Ian offered to help him to go lie down, no point spending the whole day in the bathroom.

Helping the weak man up he was happy to find Mickey put up no resistance to the support Ian was giving him as he lead him out of the door, although he did find the man hesitated when Ian led him into a room other than the one he’d been staying in since he’d got here. Ian explained himself before Mickey had to ask.

“Look my room is closer to the toilet in case you need it and you’ll have better privacy in there. You take that and I’ll sleep in with Liam.” Ian tried to pass it off as casual but even he could see the glaringly obvious ‘you sleep in my bed’ comment he had just made.

Thankfully Mickey hadn’t seemed to focus on that too much, Ian knew even though he was just a small kid Mickey would hate for Liam or anyone to see him weak like he was now, and allowed Ian to sit him down slowly on the bed.

“You got your own room now then. Wondered where you’d been staying.”

Ian smiled, “Yeah, I’m a big boy now with my own room and everything.”

“You’ve always been a big boy.”

It was obvious by the flush rushing along his cheek that he’d not meant to say that out loud but Ian decided to not comment on it, hoping saving Mickey from that mortification might somehow work in his favour.

Although that didn’t stop a small smile appear on his face that he hid simply by the fact Mickey refused to look at him.

Changing the topic Ian went to the hall to retrieve the backpack and bring it to Mickey. “I got all your stuff, and left the money like you asked.”

Mickey nodded and a flash of something went across his face but Ian wasn’t quite sure what. He couldn’t really stop himself asking.

“Erm, what was it for? The money I mean.”

Mickey turned to lie down facing away from Ian before he answered.

“Nothing. Just a debt I had, but it’s all paid for now so it’s sorted.” If he didn’t know Mickey so well those words would probably have worked to placate him, but there was an edge there of something he could only describe as bordering on fear, but Mickey’s back in his face told him that the conversation for now was over.

Not knowing what else to say Ian backed out of the room and closed the door but not before taking one final look at the man, lying curled up on his bed, something a week ago Ian thought he'd never get to see again.

Chapter Text

For three days Ian had spent all his time tucked away in the little house in the Southside with his ex-boyfriend.

It had been kind of awkward at moments, having to keep his distance and pretend there wasn’t this whole history between them that Ian was desperate to delve into but Mickey was adamant to avoid at all costs. Times where Ian acted too familiarly and Mickey almost physically backed away until Ian got himself in check. His heart sunk a little bit every time any sort of advance was shunned but in general Mickey did seem slightly happier, and that was enough to make Ian feel a bit better.

And mixed in with these awkward moments were others that Ian couldn’t quite label. Moments where Mickey wasn’t necessarily at ease around Ian but there were flashes of his guard coming down. A small smile at Ian’s attempt at humour, a good natured fuck off when Ian was being a bit too concerned.

There was no way Ian could pretend they were anywhere near being friends again let alone anything more, but slowly and surely Mickey seemed to be working through the problems he had with the redhead.

Mickey had also been wary of eating since his mistake with the soup, but gradually over the last few meals Ian was happy to see him attempting to eat that little bit more each time. Still not enough to start working towards putting back on all the weight he’d lost, but it was a start and Ian was happy for that.

 

It was Friday evening and it had been exactly one week since Mickey had come literally crashing back into Ian’s life. The two young men were sitting on the sofa together watching some crappy TV while Fiona cooked everyone dinner, Liam sat at the dining table colouring contently. Thanks to her busy schedule the oldest Gallagher wasn’t around much but there had been a few moments where she and Mickey had bumped into each other and thankfully it seemed the man was fairly at ease with her presence.

It was obvious to anyone that there was no judgement from Fiona, just concern for his welfare and that was enough for Mickey to allow himself a level of calm around the house. Although he had promised that when he was better he would repay her back everything he could for the food and housing.

Fiona knew a refusal would have been unwelcomed by Mickey who was obviously trying help cope with having to depend so heavily on other people by convincing himself that it was all a loan rather than a pay-out, so she’d smiled warmly and given a soft nod, knowing full well she would accept nothing from him when the time came.

If anything any help she was giving to Mickey, even how small it really was to give him one of their spare beds to use and the measly portions of food he ate, felt owed. Regardless of her insisting to Ian that they should not be playing the blame game, there was an element of guilt there for Fiona when she saw the struggle Mickey was going through. After everything he’d done for Ian and in turn for the Gallagher family at such a young age, she really was indebted to Mickey.

She knew Ian was feeling the exact same way.

He may not be talking about it but it was obvious if you caught him at the right moment that there were a million and one emotions running through Ian’s brain every time he looked over at Mickey.

Ian was doing it now as they sat together on the sofa, repeatedly glancing over at the Milkovich when he was sure Mickey was completely distracted by the TV to look at him, sitting there wrapped in one of Ian’s hoodies that completely engulfed his small frame, he’d been persistently cold for the last two days now.

Looking at everything he had given up.

Sure he’s lost some weight, the dark circles still visible under his eyes and the defeated look in his eyes still not completely gone, but under it all, Mickey was still beautiful to Ian. The same fiercely loyal, loving and sexy as fuck man still sat before him and Ian was sure that if he allowed himself he could cry at the magnitude of what he had lost by breaking up with Mickey all those months ago.

Ian was brought out of his own thoughts when he suddenly realised Mickey had turned his head and his piercing blue eyes were now focused on him.

“What you looking at?” Mickey questioned.

“Nothing, nothing just you know, daydreaming.” Ian tried to sound as though he hadn’t just been caught in the act of staring at him, but he was pretty sure he hadn’t succeeded when Mickey just rolled his eyes in response.

They both turned their eyes back to the TV and sat in silence for a few minutes until Mickey surprised Ian by breaking the silence.

“Can I ask you a question?”

Ian tried not to look completely giddy at Mickey choosing to engage in conversation with him “Sure you can.”

“Where are the others? Like there’s usually a million of you Gallagher’s running around but ever since I’ve been here I’ve only ever seen you three.” Mickey nodded his head towards the kitchen to highlight that he was talking about Fiona and Liam as well as Ian.

Ian laughed, a little sadly but not enough for it to seem more than a small huff. “Yeah, it’s just been us three for a while now.”

Mickey didn’t prod for more nor did he interrupt him so Ian took it as a silent request for more information. “Carl fucked up, got another two months added to his sentence.”

Mickey’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “He’s still in juvie?”

Ian nodded, his heart warmed at the legitimate concern in Mickey’s voice. “The idiot thinks it’s some kind of achievement that he’s had all this time added for bad behaviour. A sort of badge of honour. Although when I visited him last he looked like he wasn’t so sure juvie was all that great anymore. Think the loneliness might be getting to him now. I’m pretty sure he’ll be able to behave himself long enough to finally get out next month.”

Mickey shook his head “Juvie ain’t no place for someone like him.”

“Like him?” Ian couldn’t help but ask.

“Yeah, good. He isn’t some fuck up like me. He’s a pretty good kid, deserves more than being in a shithole like that.” Ian couldn’t believe that Mickey was being so open about his feeling, about Carl, about how he viewed himself. Even if they were in response to a fairly neutral topic.

As if sensing Ian was about to make a big thing about what he’d just said Mickey carried on before Ian could say anything.

“And Debbie?”

Ian smiled sadly. “Well, you won’t know this, we bro… everything happened before I found out but, she got knocked up.”

“Debbie?” Mickey exclaimed.

“Yeah, obvious she’s hardly in the position to take care of a child, I mean who is in Southside really, but she’s still just a child so Fiona persuaded her to get an abortion. Except Debs took it pretty badly. She’s been staying with Kev and V until she feels up to coming back. Think it’s just hard for her to be here when Fiona, well all of us really, encouraged her to get rid of it.” Ian took note of Mickey’s face. He was practically an expert at maintaining a neutral face, probably from years of putting up a front for his Dad, but there was definitely an element of unease on his face now he was hearing of the pain Debbie had gone through, maybe about hearing of surprise pregnancies in Southside in general.

Mickey may have been more connected to Ian’s family then even Ian realised. He wondered how much Debbie reminded Mickey of his own younger sister.

Ian felt a need to try and somehow make Mickey feel better. “But she comes round a lot, in fact we’ll probably see her next week or something. And I think she’ll be moving back soon. Her and Fiona have been getting pretty close again.”

“Right. That’s good then.” Mickey coughed to regain his composure after the deeper conversation then he had expected. “And Lip?” He asked.

“Lip is a dick.” Ian shot back instantly.

Mickey laughed a little but was actually a little taken back at that response. “I mean I already knew that but I’m surprised to hear you say that.”

“Me and Fiona tried to look out for him, told him this affair he was having with his professor was a bad idea, but he got all defensive. We were only trying to stop him doing something stupid but he was practically infatuated with this bitch and he got all aggressive. Mean. I suppose I’d had enough, he said some shit and I decided I couldn’t do it anymore. I was just balancing out on the drugs and my brain was fucked up enough as it was. Haven’t heard from him since. He checks in with Debs like once a month, so I knows he’s still alive but that’s about it.” Ian’s words had rushed out, as if all the anger from before had resurfaced and when he finished his spiel he allowed himself a chance to breathe and calm down. No point working himself up over something in the past.

“I’m sorry.”

Those were not the words Ian expected to come out of Mickey’s mouth. “Why are you sorry Mick?”

“I mean don’t get me wrong I’ve always thought your brother was piece of shit, but, I know how close you were. Even if it was your choice, I know this isn’t exactly what you want.”

All Ian could do was stare wide eyed at Mickey. Without even meaning to Mickey had managed to hit right on the nose how Ian was feeling about the whole situation. After all this time apart, Mickey still had the ability to understand what was going on inside his head, in a way even before Ian himself fully understood.

The more time Ian spent with Mickey and the longer he spent seeing everything he’d been missing for the past six months, the harder it made it to not blurt out all the emotions that were slowly and steadily brewing to the surface.

At some point everything was going to bubble over, but for now, looking at the wariness on Mickey’s face as Ian was staring in amazement, he would hold it down. He had no right to put it all on him. Not yet.

Not knowing what to say he simply reached out his hand to squeeze Mickey’s left hand that lay beside him on the sofa in a silent thank you, pleased to find the other man didn’t flinched when he did so.

Progress.

The touch sent a jolt shooting through his body, and Ian wondered if it was just him that felt that or if Mickey felt it too.

 

 

 

After they ate dinner, although Mickey spent most of his time sitting at the table staring off into space as he jogged his legs up and down, Ian suggested they turn in early. He’d noticed that despite the last few days having been pretty good for Mickey, he’d seemed particularly agitated today, his movements jittery and concentration completely gone, and it was a stark reminder that Mickey was still in the midst of trying to beat his addiction.

Mickey had looked grateful at the suggestion of calling it a night and quietly agreed, politely thanking Fiona for the food and giving Liam’s hair a ruffle as he stood up and made his way up the stairs as Ian followed.

They’d got into a sort of routine now.

Mickey had noticed Ian had been following his schedule and when he’d confronted him Ian made it clear that he was more than happy to have earlier nights and earlier start. It helped with his pill schedule anyway. He also reminded Mickey that if Ian was around more when he was awake he could provide a better distraction from all the shit the recovery was causing him.

No matter how awkward it got between them, Mickey couldn’t argue with that when he thought about having to sit around on his own and try to resist the ever present temptation to just go out and find himself a fix.

And so they got ready for bed together, wishing each other a clumsy goodnight on the landing before parting ways. Ian had practically bullied Mickey into continuing to sleep in his room, so Ian made his way to the boy’s room and his single bed.

Unbeknown to the other, they both fell asleep fairly quickly, taking comfort in the other being only a few steps away.

 

------

 

Ian flinched awake as a noise woke him up and his brow furrowed at the disturbance. As he woke up a little and concentrated he realised the commotion were shouts coming from Mickey’s room.

It had seemed to Ian that Mickey had been sleeping at least fairly soundly since the nightmare he’d interrupted on one of the first nights Mickey had been here so he was concerned to hear Mickey’s obvious shouts of distress again.

As soon as Ian realised what was going on he threw himself out of bed and rushed out and into his old bedroom, finding Mickey thrashing fairly violently under the covers, small whimpers accompanying his shouts.

Jumping into action Ian grabbed at Mickey’s wrists to stop his arms waving around and screamed his name, instantly getting Mickey to startle awake and quieten down. And like the last time he’d had to do this he found himself with Mickey plastered to his chest as he tried to recover from what had obviously been a disturbing dream, except this time Ian felt brave enough to bring his arms down and around the smaller man to try and give him some comfort.

Ian saw it as nothing less than a victory when Mickey allowed him to continue with the physical comfort even when Mickey’s breathing began to slow down.

After a while Mickey bashfully pulled himself away from Ian’s embrace and lay back down in exhaustion, allowing his eyes to flicker up and meet Ian’s before quickly looking away again.

“I’m sorry for that. Such a fucking pussy.” Mickey sounded angry at himself for the moment of weakness.

“You don’t have to be sorry, and you don’t need to feel embarrassed alright. You’ve got nothing to be ashamed of.” Ian assured.

Thinking Mickey would want him to leave Ian stood up to leave but was prevented from moving when he felt a hand reach out and grab his wrist.

Turning around in surprise he found Mickey grasping awkwardly at his wrist, a worried look on his face.

“Will you, you don’t have to but… will you stay. Until I fall asleep or something. I just don’t really wanna be on my own right now.” Mickey sounded so unsure as he spoke, as if he was ashamed for even asking, not knowing how it made Ian’s heart soar for Mickey to ask him to stay.

Ian nodded slowly. “Of course Mick. Do you want me to sleep on the floor or…”

Ian didn’t want to assume anything and Mickey shocked him by backing up and lifting up the covers whilst avoiding eye contact to indicate that he wanted Ian to join him in bed. Without making a big deal out of it he slid in next the brunet who was laying on his side, facing Ian with his arm’s laid beside his head.

For a while Ian lay there rigid on his back, unsure of even moving in case it upset Mickey, but he reminded himself that Mickey himself had wanted this from Ian. So he shuffled around until he was laying comfortably on his side facing Mickey. Trying not to overthink it he let himself reach out and place a gentle hand on Mickey’s arm.

Mickey was obviously still awake as Ian heard his breath hitch when their skin touched but there was no other reaction from the man and within minutes Ian could hear his breathing slowing and he was quickly sleeping peacefully. Allowing himself to smile slightly he nuzzled his head into his pillow and join Mickey in sleep.

 

Mickey couldn’t and wouldn’t have said it to Ian but his gently hold on his forearm, Ian’s presence next to him in bed, he hadn’t felt this safe for a long time.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Mickey awoke gradually, slowly becoming aware of his surroundings. The warmth of the covers, the bright sunshine he could already see through his closed eyes and finally the comfort of the hand softly grasping his forearm.

It came back to him then. His nightmare, no different to the ones he’d been having for months, Ian waking him up, Ian staying the night.

Fuck. Mickey almost physically winced in embarrassment. He’d asked Ian to stay. How fucking pathetic. And dangerous. He wasn’t meant to be letting Ian get close to him again.

Yet he couldn’t deny that just with Ian’s presence next to him, even now, he felt more at ease then he had for a long time.

Mickey could try and pretend that anyone could play the role that Ian had last night but he knew that was so far from the truth.

And that scared him. He couldn’t afford to become reattached to the redhead. Not again. It had gone so badly for him last time.

Before he was able to over think everything anymore a voice interrupted his spiralling thoughts.

“Morning.”

Mickey had yet to open his eyes and so when he did he was a little surprised to see Ian facing him, fully awake.

“Hey. What time is it?” Mickey spoke tentatively, trying to ignore the almost sinking feeling he felt when Ian removed his hand to stretch his arms with a groan.  

“I dunno. Must be gone 10 by now.” Ian answered calmly.

Mickey’s eyebrows shot up. “Fuck, I slept a long time. And what about your meds?”

Ian smiled and looked down at his hands a little awkwardly “I didn’t wanna disturb you, I got up to take them as usual and I came back to bed.”

Mickey nodded, not failing to miss the fact that Ian had woken up, got up and came back to bed to retake the same position next to him, hand on arm and everything. That probably meant something that should concern Mickey but Ian didn’t allow him to even touch on the subject.

“I know it’s not exactly Milkovich style to talk about it, but, are you okay?” Mickey wasn’t sure if Ian was joking or not because he sounded so nervous as he asked him.

Mickey scoffed. “I’m fine.”

Ian just looked at him sceptically.

“How I am don’t matter, and it especially don’t matter to you Ian.” Mickey reminded him. It sounded harsh but he felt like it was needed to try and get Ian to back off a bit.

“Bullshit.”

Mickey narrowed his eyes at the boldness of the man opposite him, deciding to make some distance between them by shimming down the bed to get out without having to go passed the redhead who was on the side by the door.

“I’m going to have a shower.”

“No, Mickey stop.” Ian pleaded. “All you seem to do is shower and ignore everything going on around you. I don’t want it not to be my problem. Don’t you see that?”

Mickey groaned angrily and harshly rubbed his hands through his bed head. “What the fuck is your problem. I told you to back off right from the beginning of this. There ain’t nothing for us to talk about. You decided that remember?”

“Well what if I want to un-decide that.”

Mickey couldn’t believe the ego on Ian sometimes. “You fucking selfish prick!” Mickey spun to direct the words directly at Ian who was now standing by the edge of the bed. The bed they had shared last night. “You did this, we are nothing to each other because of what you did. I don’t care for what fucked up reason you did it, but you did.” Mickey couldn’t stop the pain marring his words. ”After everything.”

At least the look on his face showed that his words had hurt Ian too.

“I know that. I have had to face the consequences of what I did for the last six months.” Ian took a step closer to Mickey, leaning his neck down to make sure he could see into Mickey’s eyes.

“And there hasn’t been a single day where I haven’t wished I could go back and take back what I did.” Ian professed.

Mickey shook his head and turned around but didn’t move. “You can’t.”

“I can’t. God I know I can’t. But, you being here. It’s like a second chance.” Ian placed his hand on Mickey’s shoulder. “We… we could still be happy Mick.”

Mickey remained silent for a full minute, and Ian couldn’t stop himself from hoping that Mickey would agree with him, but the older man dashed those hopes with three whispered words before leaving him alone once again.

“No, we can’t.”

 

--------

 

Mickey wanted to scream at Ian.

But at the same time he didn’t. He didn’t have the energy to do anything.

He stood under the shower as the almost blisteringly hot water poured down over his face, allowing his tears to mingle with the drops in a way in which he could almost pretend that they weren’t there.

Except he knew they were.

There had been a moment as Mickey had stood there with Ian’s hand on his shoulder and his plea echoing around his head, a moment when he realised how easy it would be to turn around and just give in. But the moment was squashed by the flood of memories of the past 6 months. Of the pain and torment he’d gone through having to face the fact Ian didn’t love him. Of his decent into drugs and sex to try and hide from the feeling of utter humiliation.

There had been constant feelings of inadequacy that had plagued him throughout his relationship with Ian. Everyone including himself reminding Mickey each day of who he amounted to in comparison to what Ian was.

Those feelings hardly compared to the actual feeling of betrayal when they came to fruition. When Ian finally had enough of him.

Even thinking it wouldn’t last, their breakup had still been a shock that he hardly coped with.

Mickey had to be honest. He didn’t cope.

The problem with putting everything on one person is when they leave they take everything of you with them. And Mickey quickly found that when Ian left, there was nothing of himself left. Emptiness was a feeling he could never have guessed would hurt as much as it did.

And that’s why he couldn’t run straight back into it again. He’d survived this time. Just. If it happened again he knew he wouldn’t be so lucky. Mickey wasn’t sure there would be anything left to salvage this time.

No. They couldn’t happen.

But there was something else that had been plaguing his mind for weeks now, even before finding himself back in Canaryville. And with his attempt at getting straight, Mickey knew this was the best time to sort things out.

 

-------

 

The two men didn’t speak to each other the rest of the day. Ian thinking it best to avoid Mickey, fearing that any minute he would walk out the door never to bee seen again. In actual fact Mickey was trying to psych himself up to ask for what he wanted from Ian.

Fiona came home from her shift and couldn’t help but notice the tension. One look at Ian and she knew not to even mention it.

Ian couldn’t help but think that he’d ruined all of the progress they’d made. There had been a moment where he thought they were even working towards being friends again. But now, nothing.

That was why when Mickey sat himself in front of him suddenly as he sat at the dining table, pretending to read the paper whilst mainly just trying to avoid the smaller man, Ian was thoroughly confused.

The confusion turned to full on surprise at the words that came out of his mouth as he looked at Ian square in the eyes.

“I want to see my son.”

Chapter Text

Ian didn’t really know what to do. He never envisioned being in this situation after the break-up, and he certainly never expected it to be this awkward between them.

After Mickey’s sudden request to see his son they’d been in this weird sort of limbo stage where Ian was trying to talk to Svetlana and organise a meeting while Mickey was doing everything he could to avoid Ian unless when absolutely necessary. A pretty skilful task considering they were living under the same roof. It basically involved him hiding out in his room.

And it had been going pretty well.

Until now.

Now they were both sitting opposite each other in Patsy’s, Svetlana thinking it best to meet up first on neutral ground, and they both had very little to say. Mickey had been staring into his cup of coffee since they had arrived and all Ian could do was watch and wonder what he was really meant to say in this situation.

I mean what do you say to your ex, who obviously still has a lot of anger towards you (rightly so), while you wait for said ex’s ex-wife and son, in a meeting that you helped organise because Mickey had no way himself of getting back into contact.

Ian went to open his mouth, not even sure himself of what kind of awkward small talk he was going to come out with that would almost definitely piss Mickey off, when he was literally saved by Cindy, one of the waitresses he often worked alongside, coming over to offer some more coffee.

“You guys want a refill?” Cindy smiled.

Ian gave a glance to Mickey’s untouched coffee and back at his empty one, but he knew he’d probably had way more coffee then he should already and so declined. “Nah, we’re good, thanks Cindy.”

“Okay. So when you back Ian? This place is killing me without you, I never knew how much work you actually did until you left.” Cindy joked.

Ian smiled. He’d always liked Cindy. She was in her mid-thirties with three kids and a useless but pretty ‘adorkable’ husband as she like to call him. She worked hard to keep her family comfortable while he looked after the kids, something he was actually good at, and while sometimes pretty blunt, Ian could rely on her to give him the advice he needed.

In fact she was one of the people who helped him get back on his feet all those months ago. Cindy managed to get through to him in a way nobody else could and for that Ian would always be in her debt.

“Erm, soon I think. Sean gave me two weeks off but not sure if I’ll need any more yet.” Ian was kind of hesitant as he spoke considering the ‘family emergency’ that had required the time off was literally sitting opposite him.

Cindy gave an inquisitive look to Mickey but left quickly with a nod and a ‘see you soon’. Ian was pretty sure she’d picked up on exactly who Mickey was but thankfully knew now was not the time to linger.

Ian gave a small smile back and a nod before turning back around in the booth to find Mickey’s eyes meeting his for what felt like the first time in three days.

“You took time off?” Was all he asked.

God Ian felt pathetic but it felt good to just hear Mickey’s voice again. He’d practically been mute since their argument. But now was the awkward moment where he had to tell Mickey, who had always been intensively independent, that he’d take time off specifically to look after him.

“Well… I mean Sean owed me time off anyway.” (Not necessarily true, he got plenty of holiday, it just usually went straight towards doctor and therapist appointments as well as the low days he’d got at the beginning of treatment.) “And, you know, thought it would just be easier, me being around. You know… just in case you needed me.” Ian cringed. That was never going to work for the Milkovich and Ian knew that, especially now when it was so obvious that Mickey really wanted nothing to do with him.

Mickey’s face was blank and Ian couldn’t get a read off what Mickey’s reaction was, which kind of made him more nervous.

“When are you due back?” Was all Mickey asked.

“With the way my shifts work I suppose my two weeks are technically up today but I don’t often work Sundays and Mondays so I’m not due in till Tuesday. And I’ll probably get like another wee-”

Ian didn’t get to finish as Mickey interrupted him with a firm “No.”

“Really it's fine.” Ian tried to placate.

“I’m not some invalid. I’m fine now. Don’t need you… always looking over my shoulders. It didn’t even occur to me that you would be missing a job while babysitting me.” There was an element of disgust when Mickey admitted what Ian had basically been doing, or at least of what Mickey thought Ian’s role amounted to, and that didn’t surprise Ian.

Mickey just looked at him straight in his eyes, when he spoke “Go. Back. To work. Ian.” There was something almost like regret at the command for Ian to go back, but before Ian could get too into the thought that maybe Mickey wasn’t actually that desperate for Ian to start leaving him alone, the look was gone.

Probably just the hope that Ian still couldn’t quite quash that made him think Mickey would want him around during the day. It was perfect really. If Ian went back to work Mickey no longer had to work so hard to make sure they avoided each other.

“Okay.” Was all Ian could say softly with a nod of his head. If it’s what he wanted then Ian could do that. He could do that for Mickey.

Mickey’s eyes flickered away from Ian as he tried to avoid eye contact, but suddenly Ian could see that something had caught his attention by the door.

Turning around he saw that Svetlana had just entered the diner with Yevgeny who wasn’t on her hip or even in a carrier as he expected. Baby Yev wasn’t really a baby now it seemed as he stood on not wobbly but not quite sturdy legs next to his mother, a tiny hand grasping Svetlana’s index finger as she sloughed slightly to accommodate for the height difference.

 He definitely wasn’t meant to hear the soft gasp that escaped Mickey’s lips, but when he turned around the amazement on Mickey’s face now he was finally seeing his son again after so long was obvious.

Svetlana smiled politely as she and Yev walked slowly over and both Ian and Mickey got up out of their booths to welcome them.

“Mickey.” She greeted.

“Hey Svet.” Mickey replied and Ian couldn’t help but think that he’d never really heard them be so polite together. Even when everything had settled down after the marriage and Ian coming back from the army, they still kept up an element of teasing, mainly for show. Ian knew that secretly they actually quite liked each other.

The tall woman turned to Ian. “Carrot boy.” The old nickname was actually quite comforting and the smirk on her face showed that she was only teasing. While he had spoken to her a few times on the phone since the break-up, to check on how she and Yev were doing and to find some clues as to where Mickey might be, this was the first time he’d seen them for six months.

“Hey Svetlana.” He replied and bent down to look and Yev. “Hey Yevvy.” Ian beamed when he got a shy smile back. God he was just as happy as when he was a baby.

Svetlana bent to pick her son up as she ushered them all back to the booth with a command to sit down. She placed Yev on the inside and sat herself next to him to ensure he didn’t go wandering off which left Ian no choice but to sit opposite, next to Mickey. The booth was small and Ian was very aware of the fact their thighs were touching and sending a warmth down his spine that nearly made him shiver.

Mickey however only seemed to have eyes for his son.

Svetlana reached into her purse and grabbed a scrap piece of paper and a red crayon, placing it in front of Yev who was standing up on the seat cushion so he was able to see over the table. Instantly he grabbed the crayon and began, pretty badly, to scribble over the paper.

“He’s not even really good at holding pen but he loves it so I let him pretend. Always seems to hold with left-hand so I think this is what he will write with.” Ian was grateful that Svetlana was so good at filling the silence that surely would have been left if she were not here.

Barely taking his eyes off the boy Mickey spoke. “Your accent. You’re talking better now.”

Svetlana rolled her eyes, “That’s what happens when you stay in a country for long enough. Soon you start speaking better English than stupid green-card husband.”

Svetlana had definitely not married Mickey for the visa, but the truth was a lot worse so it was probably the nicest thing they could have called their sham of a wedding.

Mickey rolled his eyes “Wouldn’t go that far.”

“How… how is he?” Mickey asked straight after, the joking tone quickly becoming serious. “Is he good? You know, healthy?”

Svetlana nodded. “Da. Only have been to doctor for the normal jabs so far. He’s developing pretty good too. First starting walking at about 10 months. Said mama about a month later. He pick up a few words. Car is a favourite but no-no is pretty close. He is stubborn like his dad.”

Mickey seemed to hang onto her every word as he finally got to hear about the son he had been thinking about ever since he had left.

Before they could continue though the babbling coming out of Yevgeny’s mouth startled them all into silence.

“Dada. DadDadDada.”

Mickey’s breath hitched as he listened to his son. The son he had never wanted. The son who he could barely look at let alone hold in the beginning, but the son with Mickey’s own piercing blue eyes and dark hair who he now watched colour happily and babble to himself. The son that was so obviously pure and bright, unlike the situation that had led to him being conceived, that Mickey could see there was no way he didn’t completely love him.

Ian had told Svetlana over the phone what Mickey’s situation had been. There’d been a lot of wariness from her when she realised Mickey wanted to see them. Understandable she wasn’t sure what was best seeing as Mickey had disappeared and been gone for so long. But when Ian let her in on where Mickey had actually been, the life and hardships he’d been going through and his determination to quit, she seemed to soften. Something striking a chord in her to hear that maybe she and him were not so different and which made her agree that they should meet up to talk stuff out.

And Mickey had been adamant he was going to quit. Find a better life for himself. And he’d thought doing it for himself would have been enough. But now, looking at Yevgeny as he looked back happily at Mickey and repeated those words again, Mickey knew he had found the motivation he needed.

Smiling down at his kid with a tear in his eye that he knew he could not hide he nodded. “Yeah Yev, I’m your dad.” Carrying on, his words were meant for his son but he looked to Svetlana for her reaction. “And if I’m allowed, I’d like to be around more.”

Svetlana nodded, a soft smile matching the one on Ian’s face, as she answered. “Yeah, I think Yev will like that.”

Chapter Text

 

They’d sat in Patsy’s for hours, allowing time to catch up with each other and for Mickey to have a few hours to start to get to know Yev. Svetlana revealed she’d been okay after Mickey left, she’d found a woman with a small flat which she was willing to offer to Svetlana for dirt cheap, the only condition being that she agreed to work in her salon.

It was kind of perfect.

Their place was above the shop and Svetlana had slowly been learning the ropes. Yev was able to play in the office space that was just off the reception area where Svetlana worked so she didn’t have to worry about childcare; and while the pay wasn’t amazing, she was getting by comfortably.

Mickey was so glad to hear she had been alright. There had been moments during the past few months when Svetlana and the kid had come into his mind but he usually dealt with it by getting high so he didn’t start feeling guilty for abandoning them. Over the past few weeks though, after finally coming down long enough to not only feel the immense guilt but also to realise the extent of what had been happening; he couldn’t help fear that something bad had happened to the two of them.

To hear and see that not only were they safe, but actually doing well, he couldn’t help but feel a weight had been lifted off his shoulders.

Svetlana was a lot nicer then he remembered too, but that may just because they were finally not working so hard to hate each other. He’d so wanted to blame her for what had happened to him on the day his dad caught him and Ian but he knew she was just as much a victim as he was.

She was still sarcastic, and almost a little bit too blunt. She threatened to cut off his balls if Mickey upped and left again which was fair enough, she was only trying to protect her son, but Mickey knew he wouldn’t. Never in his life had he felt such a pull to stay. To do better. He wanted to kick the drugs and he wanted to get his life on track again because he wanted to see his son. Hell, he wouldn’t even mind seeing Svetlana too.

He’d told her about the drugs, and the prostitution. Not in so many words but he’d tried to fill her in and Ian had helped tell her the rest when the shame became too much for him to continue.

Svetlana admitted that she’d been angry at him for abandoning them, for not taking being a father serious but she thanked him for in a way not putting their son at risk by forcing himself into their lives too soon. She did not judge and simply smiled knowingly, expertly changing the subject by telling him how Yev loved to crawl under his bed and hide at bedtime, pretending to be the ‘friendly monster’ that was in one of his favourite books.

Like Mickey, Svetlana wanted to help put the past well and truly behind them.

Mickey drunk every word in that Svetlana spoke about the small boy in front of him and was disappointed when Yev started to get drowsy and Svetlana announced they needed to go so she could get him into bed. But she left with a promise to bring him to the Gallagher house next week so Mickey could see his son again, and hopefully it would become a regular thing.

They stood up to leave and Ian and Svetlana hugged, the woman glancing at Mickey and then looking back at Ian. “You stay on meds this time. Yes?”

Ian looked to the floor but nodded. “Yeah. I promise. I know what going off them means.”

Svetlana looked over again at Mickey, as if he didn’t already know exactly what Ian meant by that. Mickey chose to ignore them and instead wonder how he should say goodbye to his ex-wife. Svetlana took the decision out of his hands and pulled him into an awkward hug, their son who was sat on her hip slightly squished between them, but he seemed happy enough in the contact.

It felt nice Mickey thought. To have the comfort and innocent intimacy of another human in a way other than the rough and searching hands of drunk and mean men on street corners. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt a kind hand.

There were the few times in the past weeks that Ian had held him in a way so vividly like how he used to that it hurt, but Mickey chose not to think about that. It was too painful.

Coughing awkwardly as they parted, Mickey reached a hand out to stroke over Yevgeny’s dark hair. “See ya later kid.”

Yev grinned back, bring a little hand up to give Mickey a small wave causing a smile to form on Mickey’s face that he couldn’t quite hide.

The mother and son left, and with no reason to stay the two men grabbed their coats and started to make their way out too; walking in the opposite direction to where Svetlana and Yev had gone.

 

 

Mickey was hopeful that they would make the journey home in silence, but with Ian he should have known that was not going to happen.

“God, Yev is big now isn’t he?” Ian exclaimed.

Mickey just nodded, hoping Ian would get the memo.

He didn’t.

“And Svet looks good.” He continued. “Glad they are doing well.”

Again, all he was met with was silence.

It was obvious that Ian was really desperately trying to start a conversation, he sounded far too cheerful. “It’ll be nice for them to come visit us next wee…”

“For fuck's sake Ian!” Mickey interrupted in frustration before Ian could finish his sentence. “Why are you doing this?”

Ian just looked at him with eyes wide in shock, both men now stopped in the middle of the side walk.

“I ... I don’t ... Doing what?” He stuttered.

“This whole caring thing. Us? There is no us. Why are you still trying so hard? You don’t owe me anything and I certainly don’t owe you anything.”

All Ian felt he could do was shake his head dumbly.

“You know what. Fuck off.” Mickey’s voice sounded shaken but he’d barely finished talking before he spun around and hastily walked in the direction of the house.

Ian took a slow breath to try and control his emotion and turned his head to follow Mickey’s path down the road before finally beginning to slowly make his way in the same direction.

It was obvious Mickey wanted to be alone.

 

 

When Ian reached the house he fully expected Mickey to be locked back up in his room and so he was shocked to find the man standing frozen in the centre of the living room, coat haphazardly thrown over the back of the sofa.

Both men stood still for what felt like hours, when Ian knew in reality it had been mere moments but the silence was finally broken, and Ian’s heart jerked.

“I am grateful for your help.” Mickey sounded scarily calm, “But I think it’s best if I leave.”

Ian shook his head vigorously, striding over to stand behind Mickey, his coat thrown on top of Mickey’s in the process.

“No Mickey! You can’t. Where would you go? You promised you’d stay on track for Yev.” Ian pleaded, trying to remind Mickey of how great the past few hours had been.

“And I will.” He shot back instantly.

“But you have nowhere to go. I don’t see why you can’t stay?”

“Why do you keep trying so hard with me Ian?” Mickey asked flatly, still not looking at Ian.

“Because I want to help you.”

“Why?” Mickey screamed, startling himself as well as Ian.

“Don’t you see Mickey?” Ian implored. “I love you.”

Mickey finally whipped around to glare at Ian, repeating the words that even Ian could remember saying all those months ago on the steps just yards from where they are currently standing. “What does that even mean?”

Ian physically flinched at the unwanted memories, and decides now was it. He had to go for it because he was pretty sure this was his last chance.

He reached forward to grab Mickey’s face, fully expecting him to pull away but was so shocked and relieved to find Mickey didn’t pull back from his grip.

“It means I won’t give up. Not again. It means I’m so fucking sorry for everything I’ve done in the past. To you. To us. It means I want to look after you, care for you like you were doing for me. I knows it’s a lot to ask, too much to ask. But it means I want you back. All of you.” Ian didn’t know how to make it more obvious of how desperately true the words he was saying were. “Because I fucking love you Mickey Milkovich and I’m not willing to let you go again. Never again. I want to ask you on a date, and take you somewhere you deserve, and cook you meals, and spend time with Yev and you and it means I want everything and I want it with you Mick.” Ian found himself starting to cry halfway through his speech and a single tear fell from Mickey’s own eye.

“You were the best thing in my life.” Mickey admitted.

Ian sobbed “And you were the best thing in mine Mickey.”

Mickey huffed a laugh “But you destroyed me.”

Ian found himself crying more as he nodded in agreement, faint whispers of “I know, I know” escaping under his breath but Mickey wasn’t finished. He pulled away from the redhead but didn’t quite move away.

“You say you didn’t wanna put me through hell but I was already half way fucking there! I didn’t care that you were sick, I didn’t even care what you went off and did behind my back. I mean that probably makes me a pussy right? Desperate? But it was true.” Mickey's laugh was joined with an emotional sniff and his voice cracked as he continued. “And you still turned around and walked away.”

The detox had been playing with Mickey’s emotions anyway, but finally hearing Ian say those words again, hear him plead for Mickey was like a punch to his heart.

“I remember thinking as I watched you walk into that psych ward, ‘This is the worst it’s gonna get.’ I’d managed with everything else and now you were finally getting the help you needed so when you would come out everything would be better for you. For us.” Mickey shook his head. “But it got so much worse.”

Another tear slid down and Ian instinctively reached up to wipe it away with his thumb and Mickey allowed it because while he tried to fight it, he knew that what Ian was asking for was exactly what his heart and soul were craving. But could he really accept it?

“I can’t do it again. I can’t go through you telling me you don’t want me again Ian.”

Ian stroked his thumbs over Mickey’s cheekbones softly and he had to stop himself from hoping too much when he actually lent into his touch slightly. “You won’t have to Mickey. I promise you now. You are it for me. You always were I just didn’t realise it then, but I know now. And I’m making you the promise that I’ll never fucking hurt you again, not like before. I need you. More than anything. And I just fucking hope you still want me.”

There was a pause and Mickey felt as if his whole would had flipped all over again and his mind was spinning. He felt high again yet also more completely sober than at any point over the past two years.  He stared into Ian’s eyes, and for the first time in what felt like forever everything seemed to clear up, and he believed him.

“I don’t know what to do now.” Was all Mickey could think of to say.

“Kiss me.” Ian whispered, his eyes flickering down to Mickey’s lips and back up again. What Ian wanted was clear enough but it seemed he was going to let Mickey be in control of this situation.

He shouldn’t do it. Ian had hurt him and it was risky and he was probably still a little angry too. Mickey should put his foot down and back away, he knew that was the safer option.

Except his heart and his body had very different ideas and he found himself soaring forward and smashing his lips almost painfully into Ian’s and he couldn’t even pretend to think that he would have done anything else.

Because in the end Mickey was so irrevocably in love with Ian that he couldn’t say no any longer.

Ian let a sound of surprise out of his mouth when Mickey kissed him, but the sound was lost in the embrace and Ian was instantly kissing back.

Their lips moved seamlessly together, as if it had only been hours since they’d last met instead of months. Ian’s hands wound their way around Mickey’s shoulders as Mickey leant his hands on the redhead’s hips.

When they finally pulled apart both were breathing heavily as they looked into each other’s eyes.

Ian couldn’t help but lean forward again and place a soft peck on Mickey’s pink lips which were more than accepting.

Mickey took a long breath. “I… fuck. I love you too.”

“Yeah?” Ian asked, genuine hesitation in his voice.

Mickey nodded. “I shouldn’t. Not after everything that’s happened, but I can’t stop it. No matter what I’ve tried, I can’t get you out of my fucking head. But… I don’t know what to do with that. What do I do?”

Ian’s heart practically soared to hear Mickey say ‘I love you’ and he leant his head forward so their foreheads were touching. His eyes were almost cross-eyed to maintain eye contact but Ian needed to revel in being able to be so close to Mickey again. To experience the same familiar smell and warmth that was just Mickey. “Say yes. I want to take you out, go on the date we never had. All you’ve got to do is say yes.”

There was a moment where Ian genuinely feared Mickey was going to suddenly pull away, as if he finally realised what was happening and this was all just some kind of mistake. Mickey’s eyes flicked down and back up to meet his eyes and Ian’s heart-rate steadily rose as Mickey finally opened his mouth to answer quietly.

“Okay?” It almost sounded like a question, but Mickey instantly answered it for himself. “Okay… Fuck. Yes.”

Ian full on giggled but he was too overjoyed to care. Ian’s smile was unbeatable except Mickey seemed to be doing a good job of trying, and they both let out a wet laugh.

Ian moved his hands down to wrap around Mickey's waist and hold him close, Mickey having to go up on tiptoes and throw his arms around Ian’s shoulders to maintain his balance. Both men hiding their faces in the others neck and enjoying being able to hold each other again like this after so long.

When they finally pulled away, Ian brought one hand up to stroke Mickey’s cheek lovingly and he leant forward to place another soft kiss on Mickey’s waiting lips.

 A kiss that made Mickey feel like he was finally home. 

 

Everything wasn’t fixed. They had a lot they still needed to talk through and air out and both men were under no false pretences that things wouldn’t be hard as they moved forward.

But Mickey felt like there was a future again. A future with Ian and he couldn’t even pretend that this wasn’t exactly what every part of his body and mind had been calling out for, for the last however many months of hell.

 And so for now that was enough.

Chapter Text

 

Both men’s heads had been in a daze after their emotional reunion and neither could remember who had suggested they go lie down but half an hour later Mickey found Ian completely entangled around him, his face close to his own, and neither pair of eyes leaving the other.

Ian’s hand wove around Mickey’s waist, not allowing any space between their bodies, even if Mickey had wanted it.

He didn’t.

There was the feeling of dizzying lightness at Mickey’s very core. As if finally allowing Ian back in had removed this great weight that he’d been carrying on his back that no matter what he previously tried, he could not shift.

Until Ian. Until the persistent ginger fucker wormed his way back in.

He’d come full circle, and you know what, Mickey was happy.

For the first time in months, Mickey felt good. About himself, about his life and where it was heading. He may not know what the fuck he was meant to do now. He was still in the process of kicking the coke, he had no job/house/life lined up and he wasn’t naive enough to think that the monsters from his past weren’t going to come for him eventually. But for now, right here in Ian’s bed, next to the very man who had made him question everything in the first place, he felt safe.

He felt like he could finally breathe.

He didn’t plan to fall asleep, but the warmth of the covers and the body beside him and what felt like years of not enough sleep finally catching up with him were enough to make his eyelids heavy, a dopey smile and a dash of red the last thing he saw before he fell asleep.

 

 

-------

 

Fiona had been working basically non-stop for the last however many months. It wasn’t really for the money, financing three heads was practically a walk in the park compared to the multitude she used to have to look after. The non-stop hours were more to combat the loneliness; now that Liam was at school, and was more than happy to spend as much time with V and the twins as Fiona allowed, and with Ian working too, there didn’t seem to be any point in being in an empty house, so other than a few hours to sleep and afternoons off here and there. She was basically always working.

Fiona was optimistic that Debbie would come home soon, and Carl was due out in a couple of weeks and the oldest Gallagher had decided that when they were home she would cut her hours. The money she had been raking in with all her extra shifts meant they were basically set for the winter. Comfortably set. This may be the first winter that they would actually manage to get through without some kind of hiccup. The squirrel fund was full and then some.

But until that time came, she’d take every shift she could.

Her 8 hour shift had ended an hour ago but she’d decided to walk home rather than get the L. Mainly because she wanted to avoid the pervert who always seemed to be on the same carriage as her after every Saturday shift. It wasn’t like she couldn’t hold her own if he decided to go further than leering at her with his hand deep in his pocket, but it was decent weather, and the Chicago freeze would soon take full effect so she might as well make use of the warmer weather while it lasted.

When she got home the sun had just set so she was surprised to see no lights on. Ian had mentioned that he and Mickey were meeting up with Svetlana today, but that had been hours ago.

Entering the house she flicked on the lights to see the two men’s coats flung over the back of the sofa. Fiona rolled her eyes as she grabbed them up. Was it seriously so hard to hang them on a fucking hook like a civilised human being?

Muttering to herself she entered the kitchen, turning lights on as she went, to see what she could rustle up for dinner.

There was leftover lasagne and some spinach. That would do. Liam was at V and Kev’s for the night, a sleepover with the twins, so she didn’t have to worry about fussiness. If there was one thing neither Ian nor Mickey was, it was fussy.

Although Fiona couldn’t imagine there were many good home-cooked meals during Mickey’s time in the Milkovich house. Deciding now wasn’t the time to dwell on such a depressing topic she called up to the men, guessing they were upstairs. “You good for Lasagne tonight?”

Silence was their answer and she huffed again, quickly marching up the stairs whilst tying her hair up in preparation to cook, all they had to do was answer. Save her the hassle of having to come upstairs.

Continuing to grumble she swung Ian’s door open but the words she was about to say died on her lips.

Because the two of them were definitely in, and very much occupied.

 

 

Neither man was wearing anything other than their boxers, although Ian’s were definitely on their way off, being nudged down by Mickey’s legs that were firmly wrapped around his hips, his hands feeling over every part of her brother’s body that he could reach. Ian’s lips moving seamlessly with Mickey’s.

Fiona froze, not knowing what to do, until she realised her brother was grinding his hips down, causing Mickey to let out a highly sexual groan, Ian parting his lips from the brunet’s to start sucking his way down Mickey’s jaw. This was finally enough to pull her out of her stupor and she shrieked out a curse, startling the two men.

Mickey, almost comically, yelped in surprise and pushed the redhead off him causing her brother to unceremoniously roll off the bed and onto the floor at Fiona’s feet with a grunt, both men working hard to hide their very obvious signs of interest in what they had just been doing.

Mickey was wide-eyed and Ian’s cheeks were slowly becoming the same colour as his hair.

After a few moments of equally shocked silence from all three adults, Fiona was the first to break it.

Really guys? You think this is a good fucking idea?” She switched from going to turn around to try and save them all from some embarrassment to going back to look between the two men for some answers. “I swear you men just think with your dicks, you two have got all this history…”

“Fiona” Ian tried to interrupt but his sister did not let up.

“…and it didn’t exactly end well last time and you’re just starting to get on together again…”

“Fiona” Ian tried again with no luck.

“…now you go and risk it all by giving in to your fucking horny dicks and fucking each other even though you aren’t…”

Ian signed, having enough of his sisters, long winded, and unnecessary lecture. “FIONA.” His shout was enough to finally halt Fiona’s rant and she set her eyes on her brother, her eyebrows raised in cynical surprise.

“If you shut up for one second.” He sighed, glancing over at Mickey and rolling his eyes when the look the man gave him back confirmed that he was on his own right now in trying to explain the situation seeing as his sister obviously thought this was some spur of the moment fuck rather than a pretty long awaited reunion.

“We’re not sleeping together.” Fiona just laughed with a splutter.

“Ian I’m not an idiot I’m only like 7 years older than you, I know what I just had the misfortune of walking into.”

The redhead exhaled in frustration and realised that as with anything with his sister, obvious was the best policy.

“Well yeah, we were gonna… do that.” Ian was no prude but he didn’t particularly feel liking talking about sex with his older sister. “but… it’s not just that. We’re… well we, we sorted everything out.” Ian smiled coyly as he sent a sideways look at Mickey, happy to see evidence of happiness in Mickey’s eyes, even if he wasn’t allowing his mouth to show it.

Fiona squinted in suspicion, “Yeaah, you’ve been getting on better. Kind of.”

Ian was sure his sister used to be smart. “For fuck's sake Fiona, we’re good, really good. Good as in we got back together.”

Fiona’s hand flew up to her mouth in shock and let out what Ian could only call a screech. Mickey huffed and brought his hands up to cover his ears, mainly in mocking. “Alright, calm the fuck down.”

Fiona removed her hand to reveal a happy smile, her face smoothing out to one of genuine joy for the two men. “Oh Shit. That’s great, I mean you got a lot to sort out, but, I’m happy for you both.”

It took her a moment to realise Ian and Mickey had taken in her congratulations and were now looking at her expectantly.

“Right, I should just leave now.” She commented awkwardly. “Dinner will be ready soon, but I’ll just leave your portions in the fridge. You can get it, you know, whenever.”

Ian threw the pillow he grabbed to hid his boner at his sister, who ducked it with a giggle, “Alright, alright I’m going” and as she did she called back jokingly ”and don’t forget to use protection.”

 

------

 

Ian pulled himself off the floor and flopped down on the bed as soon as the door closed behind Fiona, feeling only Mickey’s toes slightly poke into his right side as he did so thanks to Mickey having his knees pulled up to his chest under the covers. “Well that was fucking embarrassing.” Ian sighed.

All he got was a distracted hum in agreement from Mickey. Smiling mischievously Ian managed to unceremoniously flip himself over onto his hands and knees and travel up the bed towards him, ending up half leaning beside and half straddling Mickey who seemed to be very interested in the hangnail on his thumb. “I don’t think she’ll disturb us again for a while” Ian suggestively whispered into Mickey’s ear, finishing his sentence with a teasing nip at Mickey's earlobe.

Ian went to go back in for a kiss to Mickey’s cheek and managed a few with the plan of making his way down to Mickey’s plump lips but was surprised when Mickey turned his head away and pushed slightly at his shoulder, obvious signs that he wanted Ian to let up.

Leaning back onto his ankles, Ian held Mickey’s knee and looked at him questioningly. “What’s wrong, you seemed pretty into it earlier?”

Mickey gave a half dismissive half agreeing face, “I was.”

“Well good” Ian reached down with both arms to rub at Mickey’s thighs, gradually getting higher and higher, “Then maybe you can get back into it.”

Mickey reached out to still Ian’s hands but didn’t remove them so their hands stayed embraced over Mickey’s thick thighs. “With a condom?”

Ian laughed a little in confusion, “Well I don’t have any on me, and I’m not going to go search out my siblings, besides what’s the problem? We never bothered with them before.”

Ian was slightly startled at the full on unbelieving glare Mickey was now sending his way and was a little hurt by the way Mickey threw his hands away so he could escape off the bed, walking a few steps to put as much distance between them as he could without having to leave the actual room. “Same old Ian then.” Mickey spat out under his breath.

Ian was really trying to keep up with what the problem was right now. “I don’t understand Mickey, you never had a problem before?”

All he was met with was silence.

Ian slowly unfolded his legs until his bare feet met the coolness of the floor and he took the few steps he needed so he was standing right behind his boyfriend, as close as he could be without actually touching him.

“Mickey?”

“You think I’ve been using fucking protection all this time?” There was pure loathing in the way Mickey spoke and Ian realised that Mickey’s disgust was completely aimed at himself. “You think I know exactly who I slept with and if they were clean?”

This time Ian couldn’t help but reach out to place a soft hand at the base of Mickey’s neck, rubbing the short coarse hairs at his nape in comfort. For a moment Mickey allowed it and leant into the touch, but eventually it seemed Mickey became aware of what was happening and he squirmed away, turning to face Ian. “I barely remember most of them. By the time I stopped bothering with condoms I was getting high as a kite at basically every opportunity I got. I could have fucked anyone and I wouldn’t have known what I was doing.”

Ian tried to show his sympathy but Mickey would not stop.

“You think I’m gonna risk giving you all the fucked up stuff I’ve probably got from the fucking messed up life I managed to get myself… into?” Mickey’s sentence faded out as Ian reached up to hold his face firmly, leaning forward to place a hard but loving kiss on his lips, trying to convey everything that he was feeling inside, but knowing Mickey, wouldn’t understand just how much Ian’s heart soared for Mickey Milkovich.

“Even when I’m being a thoughtless dick you still manage to make yourself out to be the bad guy. I’ll be the first to admit that I hate thinking about the life you’ve had over the last few months.” Mickey looked down, hurt evident on his face and Ian wondered how he managed to convey exactly the opposite of what he meant. “No Mickey look at me.” His eyes raised almost begrudgingly. “I hate it because I hate the idea of you hurting. I hate the fact you had to do things that you didn’t want to and I hate the fact that you were in danger and I put you there.”

“You didn’t put me…” Mickey tried to disagree but Ian silenced him with another kiss before he could finish, this one soft and lingering.

“I kind of did Mick. And I’m going to do whatever it takes to make it up to you.” Mickey opened his mouth but Ian just continued, “Not just for you, but for me too. I’ve got a lot of making up to do to you.” Ian moved his hands down to hold Mickey around his waist, glad when he automatically held him back. “I have always been pretty reckless when it comes to protection, I know that. But look, I’ve got work tomorrow, after you were so insistent about me going back to work I texted Sean and he’s making me start back tomorrow.”

Mickey rolled his eyes at the way Ian pouted about having to go back to work.

“But, the day after, we can go down to the clinic, both of us, get checked out.” Mickey looked ashamed again. “But not just because I want to have sex. Although I definitely want to do that.” Ian was pleased at the smile he managed to get out of Mickey. “But also because I want to make sure you are okay. I want you safe, and this is just another step towards putting everything behind us. Okay?” Ian asked.

Mickey nodded and took a deep breath, “Yeah, Okay.”

Ian smiled playfully “We can do other stuff you know.” To support his point he brushed his hands up Mickey side softly, causing the other man to shiver.

“I don’t particularly feel like getting my dick out now after your sister just walked in. Kind of put a dampener on things.” Mickey said, pinching the skin at Ian’s waist teasingly, the redhead squirming at the feeling. “Also, you know, still not safe.”

“That’s fine” Ian agreed, soaring forwards to plant a feverish kiss on Mickey’s lips, pulling back slightly to huskily whisper “I had something more like this in mind” before leaning back in with a biting kiss to Mickey’s top lip, licking his tongue inside Mickey's mouth when he opened it to let out a moan.

Mickey didn’t verbally agree but simply backed the two of them towards the bed until they collapsed onto it together, their lips never parting.

They’d go down for their dinner later because right now it was a different kind of hunger the two of them were feeling. A hunger that they were finally able to indulge in after so many months. Ian knew that when they got to it, the sex would be great, it always had been but that’s usually what happens when you start as fuck buddies. Yet now it was Mickey’s lips and tongue that Ian sought, it used to be all he ever thought about back when Mickey had refused to kiss him, but now there was nothing Mickey was holding back from him and Ian felt more satisfied than he had in months.

In fact, Ian couldn’t remember ever feeling so content.

Chapter Text

“Ian!” Mickey managed to gasp out before his lips were occupied again by a very persistent redhead. A dreamy hum was all he got back as a response, and for a few minutes Mickey couldn’t help but give in to Ian’s distraction technique.

Opening his mouth he let Ian’s tongue slide alongside his own, his hands tangling in Ian’s mop of ginger curls, God Mickey loved seeing it without the product in. Meanwhile Ian’s hands remained under Mickey’s shirt, holding onto his waist in a way that sent shivers down Mickey’s spine.

When Mickey did finally get control of himself, a little, he pulled back, turning his head when he saw Ian desperately leaning back in for more so Ian couldn’t reach his lips, but that didn’t seem to faze Ian and he just latched on to Mickey’s neck, quickly working on a big fat hickey that Mickey would have to try and cover up.

Not because he was ashamed, more because he could already hear Fiona laughing.

The couple were leaning against the locked bathroom door, which seemed a bit redundant seeing as Liam was the only one in and he was downstairs watching cartoons, towels around both their waists that weren’t at all hiding the semis both men were sporting.

Mickey had tried to pretend that when Ian offered for them to shower together it was a completely innocent request, you know to save water, but he knew better, and just because they were yet to go to the clinic this afternoon to both get checked it didn’t stop either man making use of the stuff they could do.

Which was a lot of kissing.

And groping…

And grinding.

Mickey couldn’t remember the last time he’d cum in his pants so many times in 24 hours, although he’s pretty sure it had been Ian’s doing so it had to be at least a little while ago.

The kissing was what was really getting him going though.

Mickey had cum maybe like half the times he’d got with a guy over the past 6 months, some of them even decent orgasms, but he’d not let a single person kiss him. At least where he was with it enough to consent, or that he could remember, but now he got to kiss Ian again and it was intoxicating.

They’d been pretty innocent last night after Fiona left the room after catching them. Sure they made out for at least an hour which left their lips red raw and Mickey falling asleep with his head buried in Ian’s neck, but that was as far as they went.

But this morning Mickey had woken up to Ian’s dick poking him in the hip while its owner still slept, and while he definitely hadn’t changed his mind about waiting until he had the all clear, Mickey was far too turned on by everything not to wake Ian up by leaving hot kisses on his neck and his hand rubbing Ian’s hard on and they’d pretty much been at it since.

 

And now a good two hours later Ian was, trying, to get ready for work, despite not so subtly mentioning that he could totally ring Sean and say he needed another week off.

And while Mickey was tempted, God was he tempted, he didn’t want Ian having any more time off work now he felt at least well enough that he wasn’t totally itching to go out and find a dealer, and so he’d assured Ian that the distance would be good. They’d go to the clinic later and if all was okay, which Ian kept trying to reassure Mickey he would be, tonight would be all the more intense.

Except now Mickey was pretty sure that if he left Ian to his own devices they’d become one with the wood of the bathroom door before Ian let up on the kissing.

And so even though the way Ian was now sucking on his earlobe made Mickey’s eyes almost roll back into his head, he took a deep breath and pushed Ian forward by the shoulder, keeping his arms locked and the redhead an arm’s length away.

Ian seemed to get the message and behaved himself, staring at Mickey with the most fucked out face and God they hadn’t even fucked yet and Ian looked like that. What would he look like tonight when they, maybe, got to touch each other fully again?

Ian smirked at Mickey, placing his arms out to bracket him which thanks to his long limbs didn’t even disrupt Mickey who was holding him back. “You wanna stop?” Ian asked.

Mickey bit his lip without even thinking about it, “Fuck no I don’t wanna stop, but you gotta go to work and I’m pretty sure you’re already late.”

Ian sighed, and for a minute Mickey thought he was actually going to relent until Ian’s armed moved too quickly even for Mickey’s Milkovich reactions to help him and Mickey’s arms hunched into his side to try and protect himself from Ian’s onslaught.

Because Ian was a child and turned to fucking tickling to get his way.

Mickey couldn’t help but laugh, tears coming to his eyes as he swore at the redhead and they stumbled around the bathroom, both in fits of giggles until eventually Mickey was being held against the sink and Ian relented his torture to place his hands on Mickey’s hips, a few fingers managing to tuck themselves down Mickey’s towel.

Still breathing heavily from their play fight Mickey lent back against the sink, “You fucker” he puffed out.

Ian just beamed, his playful smirk morphing into a fond smile as he leant forward to rest their foreheads together. “I’ll never not love it when you smile like that. It lights up the whole fucking room.”

Mickey may not be great with all the lovey dovey stuff but he couldn’t help but blush and look down slightly. “Yeah, well I got no choice when some gangly fuck is trying to kill me via tickles.”

Ian laughed “Yeah, but I much prefer it when you smile yourself.”

Mickey took Ian’s disruption as an opportunity to flip their positions so Ian was now against the sink.

“Well you wanna know something?” Mickey asked.

Ian nodded and closed his eyes as Mickey leant forward and placed a lingering kiss on his lips.

It was exactly the distraction he needed and Mickey took the opportunity to dart back and unlock the door, throwing it open and rushing towards the bedroom, not having to look back to hear the groan Ian let out at being tricked.

“I’ll look a lot fucking happier when you’ve actually been to work and come home and its already this evening” he called back.

Ian followed him in with a childish and very fake pout and both men started to get dressed, Mickey pulling on a pair of sweats while Ian put on the Patsy uniform.

Mickey rifled through one of Ian’s draws until he found a t-shirt he wanted to wear, and turned around to find Ian already fully dressed, staring down at his chest.

Mickey was still trying to turn the shirt the right way around and Ian’s staring made him feel a little self-conscious. He hadn’t exactly had the opportunity to work out recently, and while not getting fat, the loss of weight, fat and muscle, made a drastic change to his body and next to Ian he couldn’t help but compare himself.

“What the fuck you looking at?” He asked defensively, finally managing to get the shirt the right way around and over his head. As he was pulling it down however Ian’s arm reached out to stop him and before Mickey could struggle Ian placed one of is warm hands over Mickey’s heart.

Or more specifically over the tattoo that was placed over it.

“What’s it mean?” Ian asked.

Mickey hadn’t even thought about how the three tattoos that adorned his body in addition to the profanity on his hands, were completely new to Ian.

It was completely against Mickey’s instinct to actually answer a question that had any semblance of being personal, but he knew things needed to be different now, and honestly was what he needed from Ian, and so it was only fair he gave a little back in return.

“There was a guy… you know, I used to see.” Mickey knew he didn’t exactly have to be coy with Ian but he didn’t want to have to say it completely how it was.

Ian just nodded in understanding.

“He was a tattoo artist, or at least he was training to be one. He was pretty decent guy actually, one of the few who was just looking for someone to help release some tension and I saw him a lot, and sometimes instead of paying me, he’d ask if I wanted a tattoo in payment instead. Help him practise at the same time. And I thought, fuck it why not? Tattoos are fucking expensive might as well let him.”

Ian reached out with his other hand to hold Mickey’s left wrist where another one of his tattoos lay.

“What do they mean?” Ian asked again.

Mickey shrugged, trying to sound indifferent “I dunno, one on my wrist he wanted to practise straight lines so he did that weird triangle thing. Other two just… looked cool I ‘spose.”

Ian’s eyebrows shot up “Two?”

Mickey couldn’t help but laugh a little. “You must have been pretty single minded to have missed the one on my back.” He tried to turn around but Ian seemed unwilling to take his hand away from Mickey’s chest, as if he thought that if he allowed Mickey to pull the top down he’d never be able to get it up again.

After a few awkward moments of staring at Ian, Mickey huffed but conceded and threw the shirt back off so Ian would let him turn around.

Mickey could see Ian’s reaction to the tattoo in the mirror behind him and he watched as Ian’s eyebrows just shot up higher and his left hand reached out but stopped short of touching the artwork, as if he was scared he would ruin it.

“Fucking hell Mickey” was all the redhead said.

“What you don’t like it?” Mickey asked spinning back around to hide the tattoo again, he thought it was good, the placement and detail on the hilt better than he expected it to be but if Ian didn’t like it then maybe he just had shit taste. Or needed fucking glasses or something.

“No Mickey that’s incredible. This guy must have had some frickin talent to draw such an awesome gun like that, almost reminds me of when you used to stuff one of your guns down the back of your pants.” Ian’s eyes flickered up to see Mickeys smile and he realised. “That the point then?”

Mickey nodded, “Pretty much. Can’t exactly say I went in with a proper plan but he had a picture up of a gun he’d done on someone else’s thigh, and I was like I want that but on my back. And here ya go. Three excruciating hours later and a bit of on the spot detailing and I had that bad boy.”

Ian nodded but his eyes were back down to the tattoo across his heart.

“A compass?” Ian questioned.

Mickey shrugged.

“But it hasn’t got any hands.” Ian continued. “It isn’t pointing anywhere?”

It was obvious that he’d framed that as a question but Mickey wasn’t really sure how to answer Ian. It had felt right to get the compass when he’d been sitting in that chair, but as soon as the guy, Harry, had gone to add on the hands, Mickey had stopped him. His excuse being that he was tired and needed to get back out to meet his dealer before he left boystown but really Mickey had already picked up his stash at the beginning of his night. He just didn’t want the hands added.

Not yet.

“I…” Mickey wanted to answer but how was he meant to word it? Ian just watched patiently and waited for Mickey to find the words for what he wanted to say.

“A compass is meant to have hands” Mickey finally started “I mean it points you in the direction you wanna go, and I suppose… I suppose I didn’t really have a direction then. I had nowhere to go, so I didn’t want the hands to rub that in my face every time I had to look at it.”

Mickey didn’t look at Ian and instead busied himself with picking up his discarded shirt and shoving it back over his head roughly.

Before Mickey could walk off or even try and pretend to do something to move on from their conversation Ian had stepped forward to bring Mickey into an embrace, both Ian’s arms braced over Mickey’s shoulders and holding him firmly against his own body.

Mickey melted into the hug, thankful that Ian sensed it wasn’t words he needed.

After a few moments of just holding each other Ian placed a kiss on Mickey’s forehead and he leant back so the two men could look at each other whilst not breaking their hold.

“They’re all so fucking awesome Mick.” He smiled, happy when the Milkovich gave him a small but genuine one back. “And maybe one day, when you find your way you can go in and get it finished.” Ian’s eyes were wide, but there was no pressure there, just maybe a little bit of hope.

It was cheesy but Mickey was pretty sure he’d already found his way, or at least the way he wanted to go. But instead of saying that he just nodded. “Yeah, maybe one day.”

 

 

----------

 

 

Ian finally left for work already a whole 30 minutes late for his morning shift.

He just chuckled when Mickey said he was going to get in trouble with his boss. Ian had to tell Mickey that Sean wasn’t the problem, it would be Fiona telling him off when he got in and joined her already half way through her shift that started at 4am this morning.

Mickey just told him good luck with that and assured him again that ‘yes me and Liam will be fine with each other for a few hours’. Not letting on to how much it really meant that Fiona and Ian trusted Mickey to watch Liam while they both worked and Liam was off school with a tummy ache.

Although Mickey would bet money on Liam faking it considering as soon as he sent Ian off to work with a sweet kiss on his cheek that had Ian leaving with the most ridiculous smile on his face, the youngest Gallagher was asking for pancakes.

But Mickey didn’t care. It would be nice to have a bit of company for the day while he waited for Ian to get back, and let’s face it, his school attendance record wasn’t exactly perfect so who was he to judge?

“Come on you little shit. I can’t make much but I can make some pretty mean pancakes.”

Liam’s response was simply to cheer and run into the kitchen, adamant he was going to help with the cooking.

Mickey just chuckled and followed him.

 

 

--------

 

 

Ian had made the 15 minute walk to the train station in 10.

He really was late.

Rushing up the stairs two at a time, Ian manoeuvred his way around the slower people and had almost made his way to the top when a man, not much shorter than himself, seemed to make no effort to avoid Ian and their shoulders collided.

Managing to steady himself Ian looked up to see a blond guy, probably in his 30s, with a tacky gold chain around his neck and an equally tacky pinky ring smiling at him in what could only be described as a fucking creepy way.

Not having time to stop and quibble over the fact it was really the other guys fault, he threw out an apology and turned to carry on, his step faltering slightly when the man replied.

“You should watch where ya walking firecrotch.”

Turning around and finding the man still staring at him Ian just shook his head mumbling “fucking creep” and carried on his way.

 

Quickly forgetting about the man who was now making his way down the steps of the L and in the direction of the Gallagher house.

Chapter Text

 

“Alright, orders up.” Mickey called, plating up two of the chocolate chip pancakes, not as good as banana but there were no bananas left in the Gallagher house which was just shitty if Mickey was honest, and brought the plate over to where Liam was sitting at the dining table and placing it in front of the youngest Gallagher.

“Thanks Mickey” Liam cheered.

Mickey smiled and ruffled his hair, “Now ya sure you don’t want syrup?”

Liam could only shake his head in reply due to the mouthful of pancake he’d managed to shove in, chocolate already smeared around his lips.

Mickey rolled his eyes. “You must be the only kid in the world that prefers to eat their pancakes without smotherin’ them in some form of sugar. You know you’re weird right?”

Liam just smiled, nodding in agreement while stuffing another forkful of the pancakes into his mouth, the previous mouthful not even finished.

“Alright slow down kid, you’ll choke if ya don’t chew it.” Micky warned, going over to plate up his own breakfast and then take a seat next to Liam. Unlike the kid, he did smother his pancakes in syrup because he was normal.

As he was drenching his plateful of pancakes Liam managed to swallow his food and watched how Mickey was doing everything with a small smile on his face.

Liam didn’t remember him loads from before but he did remember that Mickey had never smiled like that. He was always angry, and sad although he tried to hide that. Especially when Ian wasn’t feeling good and had been in bed all that time. So it was weird to see him look so happy now. But Liam liked it.

Lip used to say mean things about Mickey but Liam wasn’t so sure he’d been telling the truth now. He was kind, and funny, and didn’t care about swearing in front of Liam which he liked.

Mickey had just cut up some of his breakfast when the sound of the front door opening stopped the fork half way up to his mouth.

Chuckling to himself, Mickey put his cutlery down and pushed his chair back to make his way to the door. Ian must have forgotten something pretty important to bother coming all the way back. At this rate there really would be no good in him going to work. He’d get there and just have to turn right back again.

“What’d you forget then firec…” Mickey stopped suddenly when he saw who had just come through the door.

The tall, well-built and very ginger form of his boyfriend that Mickey had expected to see was not what he came face to face with when the person coming through the front door turned around. Instead Mickey was met with the greasy blond hair and gold jewellery that had haunted his dreams for the last six months.

Taking a stumbling and unconscious step back Mickey felt his stomach drop. “Richy?” He whispered.

Richy smiled, showing the gold plates covering his bottom teeth and looked Mickey up and down. “No baby, it isn’t your firecrotch. But I have been so worried where you’ve been baby. You weren’t meant to run away like that now was ya?”

The leering smile and fake kindness had been what he’d had to deal with since Richy had found Mickey a month in to his time in boystown. He’d had nowhere to go and had been finding someone to hook up with each night that would provide him with a warm bed, even if he did have to sleep with them.

That’s how Mickey had started. Just sleeping around for a place to stay.

It had been Richy who had encouraged him to come stay at a place he had. It took all of three days for Mickey to realise just what kind of place it was. But by that time Richy had already started him on the pills and the cocaine, and suddenly not only was Mickey hooked, but he was in debt.

Because that’s how Richy got all his girls, and guys. He took them in, showed them a good time and then reminded them that nothing was free in this world.

Richy had made it seem so easy to move on from just picking guys up to doing the same but for payment. And when Mickey had been hesitant he’d not so subtly reminded him that Mickey owed him, and if he wanted to keep his head attached to his body, Mickey would get him the money.

And Mickey wasn’t an idiot, he knew there was no other way to get the kind of cash Richy was insisting on, not without a roof over his head and some kind of backup. And the only roof he had over his head now was provided by Richy and the only person he had right now was the man forcing him to fuck for money.

And so Mickey had started escorting, because what other choice did he have? Richy’s ‘little warning’ had been a beating that rivalled his dad’s on a not so good day, and Mickey totally believed that it would only get worse the angrier he made the man.

So that night he’d fucked someone for the first time and got paid. Returning to his room, the building soon becoming known as the ‘the den’ to Mickey like it was to everyone else that lived there, Richy took his cut, which was most of what he’d earned that night and then had taken the rest in exchange for the tiny bit of coke he offered Mickey.

And however much he wanted to refuse it, Mickey couldn’t, because he’d just let some dirty geriatric tosser fuck him in one of the back alleys in boystown for cash. He hadn’t grown up with much self-esteem as a child. Most of what he had, had been beaten out of him over the years, but the little he had left, he lost that night. And if snorting some coke could make him forget who he was for a few hours, then Mickey would take it.

But while Mickey was desperate, he wasn’t stupid.

Richy was his pimp, there was no going around that, and he now had more control over Mickey then anyone had ever had. But Richy didn’t have to be his dealer. He didn’t need any more control and so the next day when Richy had offered the drugs in exchange for the rest of his ‘earnings’ Mickey had refused.

He could tell Richy wasn’t happy, but thankfully all he got was a reply through gritted teeth. “You know where I am when you need it baby.”

He’d never had to go to him, but that didn’t meant Mickey had stopped taking it, he’d just found another dealer, someone he had no obligations to other then to give the money over for what he was buying. It wasn’t much in return for everything else Richy had over him, but it was one way of trying to keep some control of the life that was quickly and devastatingly crumbling around him.

 

It was Richy taking a step towards him that tore Mickey away from his memories.

Backing up further Mickey held his hands out trying to get Richy to back off. “Richy. I gave you your money. I paid my debt, me and you have got nothing else to say to each other.”

Richy carried on advancing and shook his head, “Oh Mickey baby, you think you all paid off now? That measly sum of money you left on my mattress in my room that I let you stay in all this time. You think you free now? That you can just swan off and be with your firecrotch again?”

Eye’s widening, Mickey couldn’t understand how Richy knew about Ian. He’d never spoken about him, it had been too painful. “H… How?”

“I saw your little boyfriend as I was on my way here. He was very confused when I called him by you little nickname. But don’t you remember out night’s together baby?” Richy asked smugly. “You used to call out for him in your dream. ‘Oh firecrotch’, ‘Ian what are you doing, stop Ian!’ sometimes I had to wake you up and fuck you again just to shut you up. And you loved it, didn’t you baby? It would make you feel so good you didn’t say anything for the rest of the night.”

Mickey had remembered the nights he had to spend with Richy. They’d been more at the beginning of being under his thumb and they were some of the worst nights of Mickey’s life. The dreams that had plagued him then had been the ones Richy had witnessed. Ones where Ian was beside him in bed before the man suddenly got up and began walking away, Mickey calling out for him but never getting a response, Ian not even turning to look at a hysterical Mickey.

Now his nightmares were different. It was harsh hands rubbing up his body, pain when a dick was shoved in him with no prep, a hot, suffocating breath in his ear as Mickey had had to lie there and let Richy do what he wanted to his body. The reasons why he was silent after Richy woke him was because he couldn’t go back to sleep, too alert to the body next to his own, not wanting to have to endure being fucked again that night.

And now here he was again. The man he’d so stupidly thought he might be free of was now standing in the Gallagher house, in Ian’s home. After only just getting him back Richy was here to take it all away from him again. Calling him baby. Mickey wasn’t into pet names but he knew that wasn’t why he cringed whenever Richy called him that. While the word came out almost believably from his mouth Mickey could see the look in his eyes, could see how Richy calling him baby was not out of care, or affection but out of a command for control. Of him seeing Mickey as something he owned.

No. Mickey wouldn’t let Richy ruin his life again.

With a sudden movement Mickey sped towards the kitchen, thankful that Liam had stayed where he was instead of following him out to see what was happening, but he felt Richy close on his heels. Throwing himself at the counter Mickey grabbed the large saucepan he’d just used to make the pancakes, metal still slightly warm, and swung it around as hard as he could, bringing it down forcefully on Richy’s head.

The pimp cried out in pain, his knees buckling and Mickey used the opportunity to run around to the table and take the hand of a trembling Liam who was stood frozen by his chair.

Carefully but quickly he guided Liam into the downstairs toilet and knelt so he was eye level with the kid. “You gotta listen to me little man,” he pleaded. “You stay in here and keep the door locked until you know it’s me or one of your siblings on the other side ya hear me?”

“Who is that man?” Liam asked with tears in his eyes.

Turning around he could see Richy starting to stagger to his feet, bloody running down the right side of his face from where Mickey had hit him. Frantically turning back to Liam he stood up, putting the toilet lid down and picking the boy up to sit him on the seat. “Just a bad man, but I’m gonna deal with him and as soon as you know it I’ll be back to let ya out. Okay kid?” Liam gave a small nod.

Mickey tried to give the most reassuring smile he could, “Lock the door Liam,” he instructed before pulling the door closed. When he heard the lock click he spun around and legged it up the stairs knowing Richy would follow him.

“You fucker,” Richy screamed after him, feet roughly slamming on each step as he made his way up the stairs in pursuit.

Mickey considered entering one of the rooms, but decided he didn’t want to be trapped anywhere with Richy and so he just turned around at the opposite end of the hall and watched as Richy staggered up the stair, the man shaking his head to try and get rid of some of the dizziness the blow to his head has called.

“Oh Mickey, I was gonna be so nice baby,” Richy cooed menacingly, “but now you’ve made me angry and I don’t feel like treating you so good.” To strengthen his point, Richy reached into his pocket and pulled out a little switch blade, flicking it own and smiling at Mickey who was desperately look around for some kind of weapon to protect himself.

“Fuck off Richy. You don’t need me. Just leave now, you can get a million other guys in boystown to replace me. Guys plenty willing. It don’t gotta be me.” Mickey didn’t know what to do and so was just trying to stall him a little before he came up with some kind of plan.

Richy started slowly making his way down the hall. “But you’re mine Mickey, you’re my baby, and I don’t feel like giving you up.”

Mickey was starting to panic, he’d know Richy had seem to have a bit of a soft spot for him over some of the other guys, but he’d backed off the last few months, giving him some space and so Mickey had naively thought it had just been while he was fresh and exciting. But by the possessive look in his eye, Mickey was starting to understand the fixation his pimp seemed to have on him.

And that was not good news for Mickey if he wanted any life away from Richy.

Thinking fast Mickey turned and ran towards the set of stair’s he hadn’t just climbed up. But while Richy was disorientated, he was angry and focused and just when Mickey thought he was going to make it, he felt he attacker grab a handful of his hair, the force jerking him back painfully causing Mickey to cry out.

Not wasting any time Richy pushed him forward until Mickey’s front met the wall beside the top of the stairs and his head hit it with enough force to cause spots in his vision. Richy soon had his body pasted along Mickey’s, helping to hold the down and allow him to jerk his head back and breath hotly in his ear.

“I don’t like it when they run baby. You know that.” Mickey was breathing heavily, trying to keep his panic under some control but he could feel himself slipping. He tried to wriggle but soon stilled when he felt the cold sensation of a blade against his throat.

Richy was pleased with Mickey’s obedience and released his hair to hold Mickey neck instead, not tightly enough to choke him, but with enough force that it made Mickey feel claustrophobic.

“You gonna behave now Mickey?”

Mickey nodded waiting for Richy’s next move. To his surprise the pimp took a step back and roughly flipped Mickey around so his back was to the wall, knife coming back towards him.

Taking his chance Mickey reached his hand out, knowing it was going to hurt, and grabbed at the blade of the knife. He hissed in pain as his firm grip caused it to gouge at his hand and for blood for start dripping from his clenched fist, but now the weapon was no longer a danger he took his opportunity to bring his head forward and smash it into Richy’s face, glad when he heard the crunch of the other man’s nose breaking.

Roaring in pain Richy released his grasp on the knife in favour or trying to get his hands around Mickey’s neck, no doubt this time to squeeze as hard as he could. Mickey released his own grip on the blade allowing it to drop to the floor and brought both hands forward to wrestle with the man, smearing the blood from his hand on the both of them.

Mickey managed to get a solid punch in, but Richy soon had the upper hand and began to tirelessly throw punches at Mickey’s face and Mickey could feel is nose bleed from the impact, his lip splitting and adding to the mess of blood and already forming bruises on his face.

As a last ditched attempted Mickey brought his left leg up and kicked it forward as hard as he could into Richy’s crotch. It had the desired effect and he soon released his hold of Mickey, but what Mickey hadn’t been expecting was to wobble when Richy released him causing him to over balance and fall back.

In their struggle their bodies had turned and with the wall no longer behind him, when Mickey’s hands and arms reached out to stop his fall all he was met with was air and he went tumbling down the stair, head smashing against the bannister as he finally came to a stop at the bottom of the stair.

The pain was so intense that all Mickey could do was gasp and stare blearily as Richy stumbled down the stairs and came to a stop above him.

If Mickey wasn’t scared before, the look of panic on Richy’s face was enough to tell him that this wasn’t good. For a moment he thought Richy might actually lean down to do something to help, but quick as a flash the moment was over and with one last parting look Richy turned his back on Mickey and rushed out the door he’d entered through.

Mickey could feel blood start to trickle down his throat but when he went to move to try and stop himself chocking on it he cried out from the pain that shot through his head and leg. There was no way that it wasn’t broken.

His vision started to blur and Mickey distantly heard a door open. Wondering for a second if it was Richy coming back to help, or finish him off. He found he couldn’t find it in him to care because everything was slowly starting to fade away.

The last thing he felt before he went under completely was a pair of little hands gripping his face.

 

-------

 

Liam had been scared when he’d seen the man chasing Mickey and he’d been scared when Mickey had instructed him to lock himself in the toilet and stay there until it was safe. Liam was scared but he listened. He heard the two sets of feet on the stairs, and the muffled voices of Mickey and the strange man upstairs.

He gasped when he heard their fighting and then was confused when he heard a huge crash and then silence.

He’d sat there waiting for more talking or for Mickey to come let him out but it just stayed silent. Liam was only little and the silent waiting soon became too much for him and he called out “Mickey?”

When he got no reply Liam slid himself off the toilet and quietly unlocked the door pushing it open enough for him to peek through and look into the kitchen. Finding no sign of anyone he pushed the door further and took a tentative step out. He caught the strange man quickly running out the front door and felt relieved that he’d left until he saw Mickey lying on the floor.

Liam ran towards the man and knelt beside his head, scared by all the blood that covered Mickey’s body. He called Mickey’s name a few times but got nothing more than groans of pain in response.

Liam reached his hands out to grip either side of Mickey’s face, shaking it slightly but frowning when Mickey’s eyes rolled back into his head and his body went slack.

Liam remembered the day the ambulance men had come into school. They’d said that if they found someone hurt they should use their phone to call 911 and ask for help. Only problem was the Gallagher’s didn’t have a landline, they all just relied on their mobiles rather then wasting money on a house ohine, and Liam remembered them talking about how Mickey didn’t have a mobile and Ian promised they’d go and get him one as soon as he could.

And so Liam didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t call anyone for help.

Until he remembered the other thing the ambulance man had told him. To go find help from an adult.

Liam stood up and pulled his shoes and coat on. He knew where Fiona and Ian worked, he’d used the L to get there loads of times. So Liam was going to go to Patsys and tell them what had happened.

Without another thought Liam zipped his jacket, looked at Mickey one last time and ran out the still open front door.

 

------

 

Ian was walking down from the L station with a smile on his face.

He’d only been working half an hour when the time for his break came up, waiters too their breaks at the quietest times and so despite barely working he had to take it off then if he wanted any time off that day.

Fiona, who was actually finishing her shift at the same time as Ian’s break, and all the other waitresses had teased him when he rushed out the back to grab his coat with the intention of popping home to check on Mickey.

He was fully aware he’d basically see him for all of 10 minutes before having to turn around and rush back for the rest of his shift, but Ian couldn’t help it. He missed Mickey. And truthfully he wanted to check he was still there a little bit. It was still settling in that not only was Mickey back, but they were back together, so if he wanted to pop home to reassure himself then sue him.

 

Ian apologised but didn’t wait for Fiona to join him, knowing she’d probably just slow him down, and it paid off as Ian just managed to catch the earlier train which caused Ian to smile as walked towards the Gallagher house.

Keeping his head now and watching his step Ian glanced up every now and then in the direction he was walking, but on one look he had to double take when he saw a little black kid that looked a lot like Liam. Looking properly he realised the kid was most definitely Liam, he recognised the coat, and Ian’s smile grew when he assumed him and Mickey were on their way to visit him at the diner.

Ian’s smile instantly dropped when he looked around and realised Liam was completely unaccompanied.

Pulling his hands out of his pocket Ian slowly began to run towards Liam until as his panic grew, so did his speed.

Calling out Liam’s name as they came closer, Ian dropped to his knees and allowed his obviously shaken brother to run into his arms. Squeezing him tightly Ian pulled Liam back and tilted his head to look at him directly. “Liam what are you doing out here on your own?”

“I… I was going to ring for the ambulance, but Mickey doesn’t have a phone and so I was coming to find you and Fiona to ask for help,” Liam rushed out.

If Ian was worried before, he was full on panicking now. “Ambulance? What do you mean an Ambulance? What happened Liam, where is Mickey?”

“The strange man came, and I stayed in the toilet like Mickey said but then it was quite and I came out and the man left and Mickey was just lying there.”

Ian’s breath started to accelerate but he tried to keep his cool, if not for anything other than to try and not worry his little brother. “Why was he lying there Liam?”

Liam shook his head, “I don’t know, but he won’t wake up.”

Not needing to hear anymore, Ian stood intending to run to the house when he instantly realised he couldn’t leave Liam here. He was planning to just scoop his brother up and run with him when he heard someone calling his name from behind and was relieved to see Fiona running towards them when he looked around, her face pinched as she looked at Liam as she was obviously just as confused as Ian had been as to why he was out here alone.

“What…” Fiona began but Ian was already answering her.

“Liam says some man came to the house, Mickey kept Liam safe but apparently now he’s hurt and Liam didn’t know what to do so he came looking for us. I… I need to…” Ian found himself unable to get his words out as he starting finding it hard to breath.

Fiona reached out and gripped Ian’s hand hard, grounding him, “It’s okay, go. I have Liam now and I’ll ring an ambulance-“Fiona got her phone out of her pocket in preparation- “now go, go to Mickey.”

With a nod Ian spun and began to run as fast as he could. In fact Ian couldn’t remember ever running so fast, even in his peak fitness when he’d been working towards the army. But that’s what adrenaline does to your body when you panic.

When you’re not sure if the love of your life is alive.

Because that was what Mickey was to him, the love of his life, and Ian would give anything to be able to tell him that right now.

Nearing the house Ian could see the door was wide open, but not slowing down to turn the corner into the front yard, Ian just swung around on the fence pole and threw himself up the stair and into his house.

When Ian saw Mickey he heard himself whimper and drop to his knees and crawl the last few metres to Mickey’s lifeless body.

“No,” Ian sobbed, reaching out to stroke at Mickey’s face, wiping some of the blood away from his mouth, “No, no, no, no, NO! Mickey. Mickey you need to wake up for me. You can’t go now. I just got you back.”

Ian could hear sirens in the distance, getting slowly louder and louder, but Ian didn’t care because Mickey was in his arms and he wasn’t moving. Leaning his head forward Ian continued to sob as tried to hold Mickey as close as he could without jostling his neck. Even in his state he knew not to disturb Mickey too much in case he had a neck injury.

Ian felt a soft puff of air on his neck which caused him to gasp and lean back to stare at Mickey’s face. Mickey didn’t wake up but if Ian looked close enough he could see small movements under his eyelids, and placing his hand over his chest gently he could feel Mickey taking slow and gargled but very much alive breaths.

Ian felt a huge feeling of relief coming over him as he heard the ambulance pull up to house and the EMTs make their way up the path. Leaning forward Ian kissed Mickey’s forehead, “You hold in there now Mick, helps here, now don’t you fuck give up on me now.”

Ian was soon kindly but still very much forcefully guided away from Mickey so the EMT could get in to treat the man and all Ian could do was sit there on his knees and watch while the two EMTs tried to save Mickey’s life.

At some point Fiona made it to the house. They’d hooked Mickey up to some fluids and a heart monitor and Ian heard his sister gasp as she entered and saw the state of Mickey. Trying to shield Liam, even thought he’d seen everything earlier, she came to stand beside her kneeling brother and held his head soothingly when Ian leant his head against her leg. Not caring about the tears and snot streaming down his face.

One of the ambulance crew turned to Ian and spoke quickly “We need to get him to the hospital now, he’s bleeding internally and we’ve got to get him into surgery. I can’t let you ride with us in the back, this is too serious, but we’ll be taking him to Cook County so you can come meet us there.” The EMT didn’t wait for a response and just helped her partner get Mickey up into the gurney that he’d brought in and then they were out the door.

Mickey being wheeled out snapped Ian out of it, he allowed himself a few moments to put his face into his hands and cry, before he forced himself to pull himself together.

Standing up he turned to his sister, “Call Kev, we need to borrow the car now and get down to the hospital.” Fiona nodded and Ian vaguely heard her ring their friend and explain the situation and ask for the car.

Ian realised that right now he could be losing Mickey. What if he died on the way over to the hospital, or on the operating theatre? What if he never got to see Mickey alive again?

Without realising it Ian was chanting fuck, fuck fuck, over and over again under his breath.

And Ian realised that no matter what he did this time, there was nothing he could do to stop Mickey leaving, he was totally powerless and a devastating weight settled on his heart. He felt similar to how he did when he was on a down, except this was 10x worse because it wasn’t his fucked up condition that was causing it.

It was Mickey, hurt.

Breathing sharply, Ian couldn’t help but whisper to himself, “Don’t leave me Mickey. Not now.”

Chapter Text

Mickey did make the journey.

Or at least he did thanks to the work of the EMT who spent 15 minutes trying to restart his heart before finally succeeding. The blood loss and trauma had taken its toll on Mickey’s body and for a while it looked like it had been too much to come back from. But even in death, Mickey was a fighter.

Not that Ian had known any of this at the time. He’d arrived at the hospital to be told that Mickey had been rushed into emergency surgery to try and stop the internal bleeding and take the pressure off his heart.

Liam had been left with V and Kev who had promised to look after him for as long as was needed. He’d seen enough for the day without having to go to sit around in the ER too, and Fiona had driven Ian to the hospital in Kev’s car.

Ian’s knees had nearly buckled when they’d finally arrived, after what felt like an endless journey to the hospital, and it was explained that the EMT had had to use the defibrillator to get Mickey’s heart beating again and it had only been Fiona’s strong grip around his shoulder that had kept him upright.

Ian had seen enough medical dramas on TV to know that the heart needing to be shocked meant the person was technically dead. There had been a moment where Mickey had been dead. Ian felt like his knees were going to give out again but thankfully Fiona steered them over to a waiting area and guided Ian into one of the seats.

 

Over two hours later they were sat in the exact same spot waiting for some news on Mickey’s condition. Fiona had lied when they’d asked what their relationship to the patient was. Seamlessly lying that she was in fact Mickey’s sister and Ian was not their brother but still Mickey’s boyfriend.

If Ian was more with it he would thank her for being quick thinking enough to make sure they were counted as family and so not barred from any information, but also not making it weird when Ian acted like a concerned lover when he was meant to be some kind of relative.

Ian didn’t thank her though, he hadn’t said a single word since they’d arrived, he’d just sat there, eyes fixed on the doorway where he knew any doctor or nurse that had any information about Mickey would appear through.

Fiona had easily picked up that Ian was too fragile to try and talk to so instead she had just sat in the chair next to him, making sure he knew she was there for him, but allowing Ian to try and come to terms somewhat to what was happening.

She hadn’t thought to message anyone, not yet, she didn’t have any information to give out and she thought it would be best to wait and let Ian decide who needed to know later, and Ian hadn’t so much as looked at his phone since just after his shift, let alone contacted anyone, so that was why Fiona was slightly surprised to see their little sister walk through the door. Not that she was that little anymore.

“Debbie?” Fiona called out to her as her eyes searched the ER for her siblings when the call of her name alerted her to Fiona and she rushed over.

“Hey, V told me what happened” Debbie welcomed the hug Fiona offered when she reached them, and pulled back with concern in her eyes to carry on talking, “I was actually going to come and visit today, finally see Mickey but suddenly V comes in with Liam crying and she told me what had happened and that you were both here.”

Debbie’s eyes flittered over to Ian, who hadn’t even seemed to notice the arrival of his sister, and back to Fiona her concern only growing at the lack of response.

“Is Mickey…” Debbie’s voiced cracked.

Fiona understood that even without any contact with the man for months, Debbie still cared for Mickey, if not just for the man himself but for Ian’s sake too, “In surgery, that’s all we know. He… they had to restart his heart on the way over, but we’re just waiting to find out more.”

Fiona saw tears form in the Debbie’s eyes but she was strong, she didn’t allow herself to cry and instead turned and knelt in front of Ian, finally getting his attention. “Hey Ian” she soothed.

“Debbie? When… when did you get here?” Ian leant forward to envelop his sister into a tight hug, more for his own benefit then hers, “It’s good to see you.”

Debbie glanced up at Fiona when she could literally feel how shaken up Ian was and Fiona looked as worried as Debbie felt but she tried to give Ian a reassuring smile. “Hey, I just got here. Fiona told me you are still waiting to hear more from the doctor.”

Ian nodded and went to talk but his words died on his lips and Ian suddenly jumped up and moved forwards, startling Debbie slightly but she managed to keep her balance and stood up to see Ian rush towards a doctor who had just walked through the ER door.

Both Gallagher sisters rushed after Ian and just caught the end of him frantically asking how Mickey was. “…lease tell me Mickey is okay?”

The doctor spoke reassuringly, trying to keep Ian calm, but also quickly, knowing that as relatives they’d be desperate for information regarding a loved one. “We managed to stop the bleeding but his heart did stop again on the table-“ a chocked whine that Ian couldn’t help but let out interrupted her slightly, “-but we got him back and finished closing him up. We’ve done an MRI of his head too and there is significant bruising and pressure on his brain. Now at the moment the best thing for us to do is wait and hope it goes down by itself. We will keep him in an induced coma until we, hopefully, see some improvement and it’s safe to allow Mr Milkovich to wake up.”

Fiona didn’t want to ask, but they needed to know, “And if the pressure doesn’t let up?”

The doctor just smiled sadly, “We can do an operation to try and relieve some of the pressure if it gets worse, but I won’t lie to you, it would be a last resort. Mr Milkovich’s best chance is for his body to do the work and recover for itself. But he’s a strong young man, he’s been fighting this far, I have no doubt he’ll continue to fight to get back to you. Now they are just settling him into a room but as soon as it’s ready a nurse will be through to take you to see him.”

With one last parting smile to Ian, who had a single tear running down his cheek, the doctor turned and left back through the double doors, leaving the Gallagher’s standing there.

Fiona took Ian’s hand while Debbie held firmly to Fiona’s other arms, “He’ll be fine Ian. Mickey will pull through.”

Ian didn’t look convinced, because Ian didn’t feel convinced.

Was this really when he was going to lose Mickey?

 

-----

 

A day later, and there had been no change, the millions of machines that Mickey was hooked up to had been terrifying for Ian when he had first walked into his room, but now, hell Ian still wasn’t used to having to watch these machines keep his boyfriend alive but now he could almost block them out. The monotonous beep already ingrained into his very soul.

When the nurse had come to show them to Mickey’s room Ian had thought nothing could be worse than waiting to hear what the hell was going on. But when Ian had walked into the room and taken one look at Mickey lying there, surrounded by towering machines, he’d had to take the few unsteady steps towards the seat next to the bed and allowing himself to finally collapse.

This close he could finally see just how bad the man looked, and Ian finally cracked, falling forward into the side of the hospital bed, grabbing gently at Mickey’s hand, trying to be careful of his IV, and cried.

Eventually Ian had no more tears left but he didn’t move, outright refused when Fiona had suggested he go home with her and Debbie for the night, and thankfully Fiona had not wanted to push, she could see nothing would ply Ian away from Mickey’s side.

And she was right, Ian wouldn’t leave until Mickey woke up or… no. Woke up, Mickey was going to wake up because there was no other option here. Ian needed Mickey.

And so Ian sat there, Mickey’s hand in his as he pillowed his head on his arms beside their joined hands and waited. He dozed slightly but didn’t get more than a few minutes here and there with all the nurses and doctors coming in and out to check on Mickey’s condition. They’d quickly given up trying to get him to leave and so conducted the checks and tests they needed to around him.

Most seemed pretty indifferent to his existence, getting on with their job and leaving Ian to his own devices. There was one nurse who must have come on shift sometime in the night, her badge telling Ian her name was June. It suited her. She was an older nurse, with greying hair and kind eyes. Although she didn’t disturb Ian, she always laid a soft hand on his shoulder as she left. Obviously to try and give Ian some comfort.

That was the worst though. It felt too much like the hands people had placed on him when he’d attended the handful of funerals throughout his life. It felt too much like a condolence and Ian had to swallow thickly and try to force a smile every time she did it. She meant well after all.

But Ian hadn’t lost Mickey, not yet.

 

-----

 

Two days later Mandy appeared, Fiona finally having got around to calling her when she realised Ian was not in the state of mind to think about it.

She rushed through the door but quickly halted when she finally saw her brother.

The slam of the door startled Ian who had been dozing with his head next to Mickey’s left hand. The same position he’d spent most of the last 72 hours in, barely closing his eyes, let alone sleeping. However, when he saw Mandy he rose quickly and realised his mistake.

“Mandy, shit, I’m so sorry. I should have called you. I should have called you straight away. Fuck. I just…” Ian didn’t know what to say, and just shook his head when no more words came to him.

Mandy started towards him, anger on her face, “Yeah, you fucking should have” she spat, but rather than a punch which he half expected when Mandy reached Ian, she wrapped her arms around his neck and held him in a tight hug. Ian instantly returned it and felt warm tears dampening his shoulder as she hid her face there, Ian’s own tears falling silently. It felt good to hold and be held by Mandy, even if Ian would give anything for it to be a different Milkovich.

Taking a deep breath, Mandy whispered in his ear, “Tell me he’s going to be alright.”

There was a long pause, he considered lying and saying yes, he considered finally allowing himself to break down and scream at how scared he truly was that Mickey wouldn’t be okay.

Instead Ian leant back so he could look directly into Mandy’s eyes and slightly shook his head. “I don’t know.”

 

-----

 

A week later the doctors brought Mickey out of his induced coma. There were signs of some healing in his most recent MRI and they thought it best to try and bring Mickey around to allow the healing to continue and to also see how his body would respond.

Another week later and Mickey still hadn’t woken up.

A month after being brought in the doctors told Ian that there was nothing more they could do. The swelling had gone down enough that he was no longer in imminent danger and while there was some scarring, his brain was in a much better condition than may have been expected. His leg which had been broken in the fall was well on its way to being healed and they’d be able to take the cast off in a few weeks.

Ian had several dreams where Mickey was awake when they did that, but so far there were no signs of him waking up. The doctors promised that it was something that the body would do in its own time, but the longer Ian waited, the more he worried.

But he never gave up hope. He didn’t allow himself to.

 

-----

 

Three days before his leg cast was due to come off Ian returned to the hospital after spending the night at home. He’d refused to leave for the first week of Mickey’s hospitalisation, but when he no longer felt like Mickey was going to die if he left and he realised how bad of a state he was getting himself into, Ian knew he needed to start going home. Even if it only overnight.

Ian entered the room, trying to ignore the senseless disappointment when he opened the door to find Mickey still lying there with the tube down his throat indicating he still hadn’t woken up. It was the same every day but there was never any change.

Ian took his usual seat next to Mickey’s bed and reached out to stroke Mickey’s hair out of his face. It was getting long, longer then he knew Mickey would ever allow it to get, but he couldn’t bring himself to allow the nurses to cut it. Mickey was always so meticulous about his hair and Ian was adamant that when he woke up Mickey could decide for himself what to do to it.

“Morning Mick” Ian greeted softly, continuing to stroke his dark hair as he held Mickey’s hand with his other.

“I got a solid five hours sleep last night. Most I’ve had for a while ay?” Ian huffed a small laugh. He could already hear what Mickey’s response would have been if he were awake. ‘Good for you firecrotch’ he would say, feigning disinterest. Then he would add something like ‘get more tomorrow night you dipshit. Sleep is good for you’, because Mickey was always worrying about him. Always caring for him.

Ian closed his eyes and laid his head on the bed next to where their hands were entwined and allowed his mind to wander. Imagining opening his eyes to find the both of them in Ian’s bed at home, a normal day, leaning over to steal a kiss and smirking when Mickey complained that Ian’s breath stank but leaning in for another kiss and another.

Ian flinched when some hair fell into his face and brought his hand up to push it back up. Weirdly he found no hair there.

As he opened his eyes and pulled back he realised his hair was still firmly in place, instead one of Mickey’s fingers was flinching from Ian’s grip and lightly brushing his cheekbone.

Eyes widening in shock, Ian stood up so fast his chair went scraping over.

“Mickey?” Ian called, staring intently at his face. “Mick can you hear me?”

For a normal person eyelids barely opening would have meant nothing, but for Ian it was the most he had seen Mickey respond in weeks and he smiled and sobbed in relief.

“Nurse!” he shouted, leaning up to hit the emergency button, “He’s awake, someone come, he’s waking up.”

Soon the room was flooded with nurses and doctors and he was forced to step back to allow them space to work. But Ian didn’t care because he could hear Mickey softly gagging as the tube was removed from his throat and he saw one of the doctors shine his torch over each of Mickey’s pupils and tell his colleague “pupils are responding well.”

Ian felt like he could finally breath properly for the first time in a month.

Mickey soon fell back to sleep, but the nurses promised Ian that it was perfectly normal, his body was tired and it would be a few days before Mickey was properly able to stay awake. The smiles on their faces reassured Ian and he nodded and allowed himself to relax, taking a seat next to Mickey and smiling to himself.

Mickey was going to be okay.