Ian remembers the day Lip explained the timers to him. He was six. They were walking home from school when he looked down at Lip’s wrists, the seconds ticking off, one by one, and asked.
“Hey Lip, Why do we have numbers on our wrists?”
“It’s a countdown to the moment that we meet our soul mate.” It was such a simple answer, such a simple concept, but it amazed Ian, excited him to know that somewhere out there, someone had the same exact numbers as Lip on her wrists, but he was confused, because if it was a countdown, how come his own numbers were all zero, not moving up or down.
“But, why aren’t my numbers moving then?”
“Of course they’re moving, everyone’s numbers move.” He had grabbed his wrist then, looked at it for a whole thirteen seconds, (Ian saw the numbers go down on Lip’s wrists) looked back up at Ian’s face, so confused, and said, “I don’t know, maybe your soul mate died like dad’s did” (Franks timer was stopped too, except his was at exactly 0000d 00h 00m 03s and his wasn't lit up at all, which is how it would stay still until three seconds before he died)
“but his aren’t all zero, Lip.” Lip was annoyed already, Ian had been asking questions the whole walk home sohe turned to him and said, with a sneer,
“well maybe you did something bad and now you don’t get one.”
Ian ran home crying after that, straight into Fiona’s arms and when he told her what was wrong, she looked at down at his wrist, saw the frozen numbers, and said that maybe Lip was right.
Ian wore long sleeved shirts for a week straight after that.
He remembers the day Mickey pissed on first base and got kicked off the team. He remembers because that was when he noticed that Mickey’s numbers were stuck at zero too.
Ian asked him about it the next day after school, when Mickey went to pick up Mandy, getting, in return, a shove to the ground and a “I don’t have a soulmate, soulmates are for girls like you.”
Ian never really liked Mickey, thought he was mean and dirty, but at that moment, he wanted nothing more than to feel the same way about soul mates. He wanted not to care that he didn’t have one, wanted to think they were for little girls. He wanted to not want a soul mate, but he did. He did want a soul mate, he wanted to know that he’d grow up and find love because that’s what adults do, unless they’re like Mickey’s dad and have a jail cell instead. Ian did not want to live in a jail cell for half his grown up life. So he lifted himself up onto his elbows from where he’d been pushed to the ground and gave Mickey the only argument he could come up with.
“Lip has a timer.”
“Yeah, but your brother’s gay.” with another shove, Mickey walked away, and after a lingering glance, Mandy did too.
Ian remembers the day he found out his timer wasn’t broken. He’d gone to Mickey’s house, demanded his gun back from Mickey, but Mickey was a Milkovich and there’s no way in hell he’d give the gun back without a fight. When Mickey fights, he could go so far as to kill if no one stops him, but there was no one else in that room, just him, Ian, and their matching wrists. He had Ian pinned down on his bed, ready to bash his head in with that crowbar, when their timers lit up and started beeping, together.
Ian remembers the day Mickey got married. He remembers it because there was a sharp pain in his wrists the second Mickey said “I do”
Ian knew Mickey felt the pain too because his hand had twitched in hers and he winced ever so slightly.
The light in their timers dulled back down to how it was before, the pain never went away.
Mickey remembers the day his timer turned off completely. He was lying in bed a year and a half after Ian had left for the army he felt a sharp pain in his wrist, sharper than the one he felt when he got married. He looked down in time to see the faint light of his timer go completely out. He’d never admit it, but he cried for hours straight. The pain in his wrist stayed sharp.
Mickey remembers the day his timer lit up again. It was the day of the funeral and Mickey couldn’t bear the pain in his wrist anymore. He swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills, and slashed the wrist right under the timer.
He looked down to his wrist in time to see the timer light up one last time, brighter than ever before, right before he lost consciousness.
He never gained conciousness again, but the pain in his wrist, it finally went away.