The pounding at the door will not stop and it’s setting Mickey on edge.
He groans, reluctantly lifting his head to glance at the alarm clock on his nightstand. It’s barely half past eight. What kind of fucking moron gets up this early?
Regardless, the knocking doesn’t stop and Mickey finds himself rolling off his uneven mattress, catching himself as his feet hit the floor.
The other side of the bed is empty, and it has been for the past five years. After Angie overdosed, there was no one to replace it. Not that Mickey cared.
He stumbles through his small house, the bottom of his feet echoing throughout the place as flesh meets hardwood.
He rubs his right eye and yawns simultaneously as he reaches his shitty front door. He undoes most of the locks, leaving only the chain on as he swings open the door (as much as he can).
“Gallagher? What the fuck?”
What the fuck is Lip Gallagher on his front porch, and why the fuck is he wearing a suit? After Karen died, the kid decided to bounce and take the scholarship and go to MIT. At least, that’s what Mandy had told him. Mickey could’ve given less than two shits, but it tore Mandy up inside.
“Hey Mick. Can we talk?” Mickey stares at the blond Gallagher for a moment before closing the door and undoing the final lock. He opens in again, wider this time, but positions himself so there’s no possibly way Lip can get in.
“Talk.” It’s eight in the morning, and there’s nothing Mickey wants to do less right now.
Lip shifts uncomfortably, and he’s wringing his hands together. Now that Mickey ‘s taken a good look at him, he notices the guy looks like shit. A complete mess.
“Look, Mickey –“ he starts, though pauses to cough/hiccup. “Mick, Ian’s dead.”
A lump rises in his throat impressively quickly. Mickey finds himself gripping the side of his door rather hardly, as he tries to appear calm and collected. Of course the kid told his fucking brother.
“-eral is at three. Down at St. Pat’s cemetery,” Lip’s voice breaks Mickey out of his semi trance. “He’d want you to be there.”
Mickey can’t take it anymore as he steps back and throws the door closed, not flinching a bit when it slams. He has use the wall for support as he walks back to his room. He feels wetness on his face, and mumbles something about how he really needs to fix the leaky roof.
Matty finds him with his head in his hands, sitting on the edge of the bed. The four year old bounces around excitably, yapping about a White Sox game or something. Despite what everyone though, Mickey actually took quite well to being a dad. When he saw the little shit’s face, he vowed never to be like Terry. He couldn’t. Didn’t mean he was going to be perfect, but at least he wouldn’t pistol-whip his son for liking it in the ass.
“Matty, I’m gonna give you two seconds to shut up.” He didn’t need a threat to follow it. The kid knew. As soon as those words left Mickey’s mouth, Matty was silent.
“Look, I need to do something today, a’right? I’m gonna leave you with Aunt June,” Mickey explains, his head still somewhat buried in his hands.
“Why can’t I stay with Mandy?!” The kid is screaming and Mickey is so ready to break his promise, the promise he made to himself.
A deep breath later and Mickey is raising his head out of his hands. “You will do what I say, you hear me?” He’s using a voice remarkably similar to the one his dad used to use. It works though, because he’s not screaming anymore and looks rather defeated.
A couple of hours later, Mickey finds himself walking in a dark blue sweater he didn’t know he owned and black work pants. Matty is at June’s, making Mickey’s walk uncomfortably quiet.
Mickey knew that Ian had enlisted. The kid made a point of telling him right after his and Angie’s wedding. He was gone the following week, despite many desperate, albeit shameful, pleas from Mickey.
Four years passed, and Mickey hadn’t heard anything. In fact, he almost forgot the ginger even existed.
(That’s a lie).
And then Lip fucking Gallagher knocked on his fucking door at eight in the fucking morning to tell him that Ian was fucking dead.
Ian was dead.
The same sentence repeated in his head, over and over again, until he reached the cemetery. He didn’t even know what he was going to this stupid thing. Lip was wrong. Ian wouldn’t have wanted him here. Mickey wouldn’t have wanted Ian to want him to be here.
He spots the most bizarre group of people about twenty feet away. He can see a handful of gingers, and then Frank, who’s glaring at one of the ginger’s, and then there’s Lip and Fiona and Debbie and Carl, and holy shit, he thinks to himself because the same Gallagher’s have grown. Carl’s taller than Fiona, and Debbie matches her elder sister’s height. He even spots Little Liam who isn’t that little anymore, the odd, chocolate one out.
He realizes someone is waving frantically at him, recognizing that it’s his sister. He walks, although quite reluctantly, towards her.
He’s always respected his sister, able to say tough even through the shittiest of times. But even he can spot the tearstains on her face. He greets her with an awkward side hug, which she holds onto. He can hear short, coughing sobs. Mickey rubs her back, trying to be the supportive brother he never was and never will be.
“What are you doing here? I thought you hated Ian?” He hears Mandy ask.
All Mickey can respond with is a shrug. He still doesn’t have the balls to tell her.
She doesn’t have the chance to push him any about it as the Priest Who Likes To Touch Little Kids starts talking. Mickey doubts that he offered to do this out of the kindness of his heart.
It’s not until the huge Irish family goes quiet and sits down, and the man in black robes starts talking does Mickey notice the Marines. Each one of them is holding a gun, and one of them is actually visibly upset. A badly timed flare of jealously grows in Mickey. He suppresses it by focusing his attention back to the Priest.
The bald guy is rambling off bullshit about how good of a person Ian was, how honest he was, how much he was dedicated to he church (appropriately mentioning his brief alter boy duties), how much he will be missed, and just so much bullshit.
Mickey thanks his lucky stars when the Priest stops talking. He expects to bolt, but then something worse happens. Lip goes up, standing at the head of the casket. Is he going to talk? Is he going to fucking talk?
And it’s just downhill from there. Lip talks about all the shit Ian used to do for him, how great of a fucking brother he was, how they always had each other’s backs, and all this lovey dovey bullshit. Despite his disgust for it all, Mickey feels that feeling again. That stupid fucking lump in his throat, and he has to shift to distract himself but it doesn’t work, of course it won’t fucking work.
Because Ian is dead.
Mickey does his best to drain out Lip’s voice by focusing on the casket. If he can’t hear it, than it won’t be real… right? This can’t be real. This has to be a fucking joke. It’s spring isn’t it? Is it April fools?
He stares at the red, white, and blue flag that lay over the casket. But then it starts to move. Mickey realizes it’s being folded up. He’s seen the news, YouTube videos… he knows what happens after it gets folded up.
Frank steps forward to accept the flag, but the Marine steps right past him and stands in front of Fiona instead.
And she is wrecked. Her eyes are puffy and red and she’s sobbing and hiccupping and Mickey has to look away, because it just gets louder as the Marine hands her the flag. She starts to wail, and barely anyone can hear the Priest as he says a prayer while the casket gets lowered into the ground.
He wailing is silenced with as the Marines shoot their guns. Once, twice, three times… it keeps going and Mickey wishes it’d just stop.
And it does.
But it just validates the finality of it all.
The next hour is spent with all the Gallagher family and friends throwing dirt on the black casket. People start piling out.
Mickey’s still there when Fiona and Lip finally leave. There’s a bit of a wake at the Alibi and Mickey can guarantee he’ll be attending. Alcohol is the only way to wash this shit feeling away.
He finds himself standing alone, next to a big, rectangle hole. He’s staring down, but he’s not really looking. Because this can’t be real. This can’t ever be real. He’s the one who lives on the south side. He’s on the who’s chances of being killed on any particular day are probably three in four. He was the one who was supposed to go first.
“Fuck Firecrotch,” he hears himself mumble. He reaches up to rub his eyes, and his face goes all crinkly. He squeezes his free hand in and out of a fist, his other hand still rubbing his now wet eyes.
He knew Ian wanted to leave the south side. He knew that.
The Kash and Grab had been robbed overnight, and Ian and Mickey were left cleaning up. The kid rambled on and on about how shitty the south side was and how he had no idea why Lip would ever want to stay here willingly and how he was planning to get out as soon as possible. That kind of broke Mickey’s heart.
And now Ian fucking Gallagher had gotten his wish. He would never have to come back to the south side. Not anymore.
“Fuck you. Fuck you! FUCK YOU!” He’s screaming at the casket, but he doesn’t mean it, he’s never meant it, but it’s just not fair, it’s not fucking fair.
Mickey collapses at the edge of the hole, exhausted, tired, beaten down.
It’s only then does he start laughing, almost manically. Of course he’s not really laughing. Nah, the tears are streaming down his face, into his open, toothy mouth.
He runs out of breath and silence returns. He breathes heavily, little white clouds escaping his chapped lips.
He stares down into the grave, waiting for a response.
It’s so soft, so impossibly soft.
“Guess what? You’re right.”
He breathes in, and then out again.
“I’m gay. And I guess I sorta fucking loved you.”
Better late than never, right?