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Nights Like These

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It’s nearly 7:30 when Mickey unlocked the front door to their apartment. The first thing he notices is how fucking cold it is inside, it’s nearly the same temperature as it is outside. The second thing Mickey notices is the lump on the couch, covered in every blanket they own.

The heater in the apartment had broken a few days earlier, and all they’d gotten from the landlord had been a brush off and a promise to get to it soon, but they knew what a scumbag the guy actually was. The freezing temperatures outside meant they spent their time inside wearing thick sweaters and multiple pairs of socks, as well as extra cuddling when it came time for bed.

Mickey shook the cold from his hands and slowly undid the snaps and zipper from his coat. He toed his shoes off and kicked them next to the shoe rack on purpose, instead of placing them inside like Ian always nagged. If he’s being honest, he loves how annoyed Ian got at the sight of his shoes next to, but not within the rack.

Mickey hung his coat up on the hook by the door and quietly made his way toward the boyfriend-sized lump on the couch. Under the low din of the television he could hear the slight whistle of Ian’s breathing, an indicator that he’d fallen asleep on his back. Tossing the plastic bag he’d brought in with him onto the coffee table, he started to pat around the top of the lump feeling for Ian’s head.

“Ow,” he heard from within the blanket cocoon, clearly Mickey was not being as gentle with his hand as he thought he’d been. Suddenly the blankets shifted and Ian’s sleepy face appeared, his eyes red and hair sticking out in every direction, having been tousled in his sleep. “When did you get home?” Ian asked.

“A minute ago,” Mickey replied. He brought his hand up and ran his fingers through Ian’s hair gently, trying to tame some of the frizz. “how ya feelin’?”

Ian closed his eyes and leaned into Mickey’s hand, the calming movements threatening to lull him back to sleep. “Better.”

“I brought that stuff you asked for,” he motioned toward the discarded bag on the coffee table with his head.

Ian had texted Mickey earlier in the day; he’d had to leave work early after getting sick and nearly barfing into a customer’s bowl of chili.

“Thanks,” Ian said with a small smile, his eyes still half closed, and leaning into Mickey’s hand.

Mickey reached out to grab the medicine from the plastic bag. He removed the protective plastic from top of the bottle and unscrewed the cap. He carefully poured out the pink liquid into the little plastic cup before replacing the cap on the bottle. “Here,” he said, handing the cup to Ian.

Ian removed an arm from the blanket nest and took the cup. He tossed his head back and swallowed the pink medicine quickly. “This sucks,” he said wrinkling his nose.

Mickey studied the label, turning the bottle over in his hand. “Says it’s bubblegum flavored.”

“Doesn’t taste like bubblegum to me,” Ian griped.

Mickey shrugged, “Long as it works.” He took the plastic cup back and placed it along with the bottle back on the coffee table.

Mickey pulled at the blankets covering his boyfriend, trying to uncover an end to throw over himself. Finding the corner of one, he yanked on it, causing Ian to jostle sideways, nearly knocking him over.

Ian glared before surrendering the blanket Mickey had gotten ahold of.

Mickey covered himself trying to rid the chill from his bones. He threw one arm over Ian’s shoulder, letting him lean farther onto him.

This was one of Mickey’s favorite things to come home to, just him and Ian, cuddling on the couch and watching TV. Normally Ian wasn’t sick, but even with that little hiccup, he’s still thankful to be here, the two of them, alone in their own home, away from anything and anyone that could hurt them.

He pushed those thoughts away and squeezed just a little bit harder around Ian’s shoulders. “You sleep all day?” Mickey asked.

“No,” Ian replied, his hand came up to stifle a yawn. “I was watching TV and I fell asleep. I tried reading too, but I couldn’t focus.”

Ian moved his hand down to rest on Mickey’s leg underneath the covers.

Mickey glanced down at the coffee table where a few old magazines sat. There were a couple issues of Guns & Ammo and an old copy of People Magazine. Both of them swore up and down that they never read that pile of shit, but somehow, every few weeks, someone would “find” a copy somewhere in the apartment. He looked to the TV; it looked like one of those old Adam Sandler movies, back before he sold out. “What were you watching?” Mickey asked.

Ian looked at the TV and squinted, “I don’t… remember,” he said with a pause. “You can change it if you want,” he added.

Mickey reached forward and picked up the remote from the coffee table and pressed the channel up button. The images flashed by, Mickey barely giving each channel pause before switching to the next. A few minutes later he was back to the same channel as before, having cycled his way through all of the ones they had. “This fucking sucks,” Mickey groaned, “there’s nothing to watch and it’s fucking freezing in here.”

Ian looked at him, his eyes lighting up, and smiled that smile that told Mickey how much he fucking loved him. “I have an idea,” Ian said, giving Mickey’s leg a squeeze. He slowly unsheathed himself from the blankets, tossing them out of the way. He stood and made his way to the kitchen.

“Where are you going?” Mickey asked.

“Just give me a minute,” Ian said over his shoulder.

Mickey watched as Ian rifled through their junk drawer, where all the shit they didn’t have a place for lived.

When he found what he was looking for, Ian made his way back to the couch and sat on top of the discarded blankets. He picked up a magazine and shuffled through the pages, looking for something.

Mickey watched Ian concentrated as he flipped through the pages quickly, his forehead wrinkled in determination the way he loved it.

Suddenly Ian stopped; he tore out the page carefully, trying not to tear it. Ian picked up the roll of tape that he’d brought back with him and tore a piece off with his teeth.

Ian stood back up and went to the television, Mickey’s eyes following his every move. Ian bent down and put the page he’d torn out of the magazine up against the TV and taped it to the screen.

Ian’s body hid the TV from view as he stood up straight and made his way back to the couch. He shuffled the blankets over both of them and leaned back into Mickey’s side.

There on the television Ian had taped up an ad for one of those electric fireplaces supposedly made by the Amish or something, the flickering light from the television gave the picture a faux fire-like glow.

“The fuck is that?” Mickey asked.

Ian looked up at Mickey, “I built you a fire, duh,” he punctuated it with an eye roll.

Ian stuck a hand out from under the covers, pretending to warm it from the fake heat of the make-believe fire. “It feels good, I’m feeling toastier already. Try it.” Ian raised both his eye brows eagerly.

Mickey sighed a heavy sigh; he shook his head before giving in and putting his own hand out toward the picture. “Yeah, I can totally feel that shit”, he said sarcastically.

Mickey,” Ian whined, “play along, I built you a fire.”

“Fuck, fine. It feels hot or whatever.”

Mickey started to draw his hand back, but Ian caught it. He laced his fingers in between Mickey’s, giving him a warm smile. He stuck out both their hands out toward the fire, “See, doesn’t that feel nice?”

Mickey looked at him, even with his hair a giant mess and marks on his face from where he’d fallen asleep on the blankets, Ian was still one of the most beautiful things he’d ever seen. He couldn’t believe how much he fucking loved him.

Mickey lifted the arm from around Ian’s shoulder and brought it up to the back of Ian’s head, pulling him and kissed his forehead softly, “Yeah, it is,” he whispered into Ian’s hair.